What saith the word?
Love The Brotherhood
(I Peter 2:17 [KJV]) Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. The word “brotherhood” here is translated from the Greek word “adelphotes”. It appears only twice in the New Testament, both times in First Peter (2:17; 5:9). The King James renders it “brethren” in 1 Pet 5:9, but then renders it “brotherhood” in 1 Pet 2:17. The Greek word shows a brotherly relationship, and therefore can be accurately described as “a brotherhood”. It is clear that Peter uses the term to refer to this community of believers throughout the world. In 1 Pet. 5:9 he compares the sufferings of those immediate brethren addressed in his epistle to that experienced by their “brethren” in other parts of the world. 1 Pet 2:17 is clearly a contrast to “all men.” Therefore, when we as brothers and sisters in Christ speak of “the brotherhood”, we are speaking of ourselves along with all the faithful in the world that share in this great relationship with Christ
Peter tells us to love this group of believers. Yet, it seems to me that in recent years we have lost much of that sense of brotherhood that Christians once enjoyed. Today, the brotherhood is splintered into “conservative”, “liberal”, “non-institutional”, “mainstream”, and even “Hyper-preterists”. And, because of these factions, most have done a pretty good job of teaching that each local congregation is autonomous and independent of any other congregation in the world, in order to retain the splintered factions. We have rightly pointed out that the congregations of which we are members can exist and scripturally function as if there were no others cogregations in the world. We have also emphasized that each member of a congregation has a relationship and responsibility to the local church. I fear that during all of this we may have developed a mentality that congregations are a bit too “independent.”
As a result of this often overemphasized sense of independence, brethren have almost isolated themselves from any real concern, contact or sense of fellowship with their brethren elsewhere. Have we forgotten how to carry out Peter’s admonition to “love the brotherhood?” The brotherhood, of which Peter wrote, is not a brotherhood of churches organized together as a unit of “sister congregations”, nor is it a brotherhood of Christians organized solely by the name above the door. It is a relationship that must exists between all Christians which share the common faith (Jude 1:3) or at least claim they hold to this faith. While New Testament congregations were not tied together organizationally speaking, they were tied together doctrinally because they subscribed to the same standard. Paul declared that what he taught and ordained in one church he ordained in all (1 Cor. 4:17; 7:17). Thus, all congregations are to be bound to the same doctrinal teachings.
Many have become confused today regarding our autonomy and fellowship with other congregations. I do not have the right to interfere in the non-doctrinal choices of another congregation and infringe upon their autonomy. Each congregation can decide, without any interference from me or you, its meeting times, when or if they will have a gospel meeting, who will do its teaching and preaching, who will lead its singing and praying, etc. But, because of my duty to “love the brotherhood,” I have an obligation to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) to my brethren everywhere I have the opportunity to do so, just as I have an obligation to preach the word because I love all men’s souls. It is not interference in the affairs of other congregations when I demonstrate my love of the brotherhood by teaching them the truth of the scriptures and warn them of departures from the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3). In fact, it is loving to recall to their remembrance that Bible teaching governs the entire brotherhood as we exercise our autonomy. Let us “love the brotherhood” as a whole, enough to “reprove, rebuke and exhort (2 Tim. 4:2-4), because some will turn away their ears from the truth, and “depart from the faith” (1 Tim 4:1).
Understanding Romans 14
The very first verse tells how to deal with one weak “in the faith”, the same expression in Greek and English (Acts 6:7; 13:6; 14:12; 16:5), where it is clear that “the faith” refers to the system of faith, which is the New Testament gospel system. While this chapter does deal with matters that pertain to “the faith” (v. 1) – it deals with those matters of “the faith” that govern a Christian’s personal conduct before God. The chapter is not dealing with moral matters (questions of what is morally right or wrong). Included in this moral law are things that Paul would refer to as being right (“clean”) or wrong “unclean of (themselves)” (v. 14). These are things that man is without excuse for forgetting or not knowing (Rom. 1:18 -32). This chapter does not deal with lying, stealing, adultery, licentiousness, fornication, homosexuality, drunkenness and similar sin, as these are not matters based on ones personal faith because they have already be condemned by the law of Christ. Those weak in the faith are equated to those weak in knowledge in 1 Corinthians 8. Their knowledge and discernment under the faith had not yet developed to the point of the strong in non-doctrinal matters such as eating meat offered to idols. The strong are required to bear with them in their weakness of thinking this was a sin, while they realize that an “idol” is nothing and therefore the meat is acceptable. The weak should not be allowed to judge (condemn) the strong because they eat this meat. Each should allow the other to practice these non-doctrinal matters as he believes“the faith” requires of him in an atmosphere of peace, patience and learning – an atmosphere conductive to growing in the faith. As long as each keeps “it to himself before God” (v. 22), that is to say he does not make it a condition of “receiving” (v. 1) the other, they can still work together in those things that they must do in common (congregational matters).
This chapter is not dealing with the fundamentals of the faith, or the “first principles of the doctrine of Christ.” The Romans receiving this letter were already “in the faith”, though some were weak in it. To be in the faith they would have had to believe and obey the first principles of the gospel. So, it is not talking about working together while holding to different doctrines involving those fundamental matters. This chapter is not dealing with questions of congregational practice. There is not one thing in the chapter that deals with what Christians are do together as a church before God. Everything in the chapter deals with personal conduct regarding personal morality. Examples today would be things like having a Christmas tree in the house or celebrating Halloweeen. For some their conscience allows it while other do not participate. In such matters of personal (and morally right) conduct there can be “unity in diversity”, which is a far cry from the “unity in diversity” advocated by some regarding doctrinal matters. However, when it comes to matters of corrupting congregational worship and work there can be no “unity in diversity.” When the instrument was introduced into congregational worship division came because it forced those who opposed it to sing with it or not sing at all. In either case it would violate their consciences, so they had to worship separately and mark those who brought it in as “those who cause divisions.” (Rom. 16:17).
Again, I emphasize, Romans 14 does not cover matters of “the faith” that apply to congregational activity, but those matters (right within themselves) that apply to individual personal practices where Christians may differ while they grow together (Eph 4:13 [KJV]) Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
What Are The Results of “Youth Ministry”
Where do we read of youth ministers in the bible. Well, we don’t. I know many will completely disagree with this assessment, but both history and the scriptures are clear about the role and functions of the local church, and there is no mention of youth ministers in our holy scriptures. We read of Minister, Elders, Deacons and teachers, but not “youth” ministers. So where did this all begin and how did it become prevalent in the churches of Christ?
In the 1940s, Jim Rayburn began a ministry to teach teens at the local high school, which became Young Life. Their mission was to introduce adolescents to Christ and to help them grow in their faith. At the same time, Youth for Christ (YFC), was holding large rallies in Canada, England, and the United States. They quickly organized a national movement that turned to local Bible clubs in the late 50s and 60s. By the early 70s, churches began to desire ministries to appeal to teenagers and began hiring youth ministers. In an effort to reach the local youth and the youth in the congregation, youth ministers began to utilize modern methods of attraction. Many became focused more on entertaining than on Bible study and memorization. This process continued in the denominational and community churches, and like in many others areas was adopted by some churches of Christ in an effort to promote faithfulness. What was the result? Separating the youth from the more mature Christians and the congregational Bible studies.
The Results are easily seen in many congregations. Students in many churches no longer engage with “adults”, do not benefit from inter-generational relationships, and do not participate in the “in-depth” studies of the “adult-class”. Additionally, many churches now have an entertainment-driven atmosphere instead of a Bible study atmosphere focused on knowledge. Many youth are not learning to truly study as commanded. (II Timothy 2:15 [KJV]) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. It is interesting that many churches are opposed to youth worship, but have no problem with “youth” ministers. However, in reality, youth worship came about due to youth ministry. It was a natural progression which mimicked the denominational and community churches. As a result of those youth now being grown into adulthood, today’s “adult church” has in many cases become just a slightly toned-down version of yesterday’s “youth group” mentality. This has led to a environment where many today desire to be entertained in worship and hear “feel good” sermons which tickle the ears. We ought not be surprised. (II Timothy 4:3-4 [KJV])  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;  And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. This warning is appropriate based on recent trends within the churches of Christ. In recent years, increasing numbers of congregations which were once faithful are beginning to falter. In reality, we now call them mainstream, or some may call them liberal. Do not misunderstand. No one opposes occasional sermons targeted at particular segments of the audience (married, single, adults, youth), nor do we underestimate the value of young Christians getting together. However, when Bible studies for young people take on a more entertaining atmosphere and true bible study becomes a rarity, we will continue to lose our young people because we did not prepare them for Christian adulthood through example or study.
Did Jesus Turn Water Into Alcohol?
First, the word translated "wine" in English (οινου in Koiné Greek) can refer to either alcoholic or non-alcoholic wine. Today, the term "wine" is used exclusively for alcoholic wine, but let us never be guilty of interpretation based solely upon modern day definitions. We must remember every time one sees the word “wine”, the context determines whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic grape juice.
The immediate context of John 2:1-11 is quite clear. The guests at the marriage feast of Cana were able to discern between the quality of the drink that the Lord had made and that which had already been served. If intoxicating wine had been served, and people were "well drunk" then they would not have had such keen discernment. Being well drunk is like being well-fed, and simply means they have had plenty. Though the amount is not specified as to what they had previously drunk, if they consumed the six waterpots that Jesus had the servants fill with water and which contained "two or three firkins apiece" (verse 6), then they would have consumed somewhere between 106 to 162 gallons of alcohol before Jesus provided more! This is far more than enough to make the most casual drinker drunk.
If Jesus provided alcohol to those who had already consumed over 100 gallons of alcohol, he both aided and encouraged their drunkenness, which would make him a sinner. Consider what Habakkuk wrote by inspiration, Habakkuk 2:15 (KJV) 15 Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness! The sin Habakkuk is rebuking is the sin of contributing to drunkenness. However, we know Jesus was without sin (1 Pet 2:22), so that he could be the propitiation (sin offering) for us (1 John 4:10). Jesus knew what was recorded by Solomon when he wrote by inspiration, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise" (Proverbs 20:1).
The common daily drink of grape juice (οινου) was often made from a concentrate (paste) which was preserved in wine skins to keep it from fermenting. This paste was mixed into the waterpots, much like we mix kool-aid to give the water flavoring. There was fermented wine also, which was produced for the purpose of intoxication. We have many verses condemning the drinking of this fermented alcohol. In Titus 2:3 and 1 Tim. 3:8 we see the phrase “not given to much wine”. The phrase “to much” can be translated “in any respect”, thus resulting in the understanding of “not given in any respect to wine”. This agrees with Eph 5:18 (KJV) 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;. The word “drunk” is “μεθυσκεσθε” which is describing the process of becoming intoxicated and not the end result of drunkenness. Thus, Jesus could not aid in the process of their becoming intoxicated by providing Alcoholic beverage. Why? Because science has confirmed what the Bible has continuously warned; one starts to become intoxicated with the very first drink of alcoholic beverage. With close examination, we must conclude that the Lord did not make intoxicating wine at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee.
Many churches today observe a tradition setting the children apart from the worship service so that the adults can engage and appreciate the music, and hear the message uninterrupted by children who, as they say, cannot understand anyway. Sometimes the children are placed in “kids worship”, while others simply place them in a room to tell bible stories or allow them to play. Why wouldn’t that be a fitting decision at Portage church of Christ today?
God commanded His people to teach His word to children. First, parents were given the commandment to ensure their children were taught about God and his requirements. God’s word was never meant to only be heard by, or learned by, adults. When God told the people to hear the Law read in full every seven years, He commanded that they gather “all Israel” and that included “the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates” and the purpose was so that “that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law.” (Deuteronomy 31:10-13) This is in addition to all of the commands that God gave to the people to teach their children His laws in person. (Deuteronomy 4:9-10; 6:6-7; 11:18-19). Therefore, God’s will is to be publicily proclaimed to both young and old alike that they may grow in knowledge. Furthermore, we are not to divide the assembly (1 Cor. 14:26), and this is seen when Paul directly address the youth in the assembly (Eph 6:1, Col 3:20). It is evident from the New Testament that the children were always included in the assembly and worship of the 1st century church.
What we teach our children will impact their future. As soon as children are old enough to understand our words, we begin to teach them how to go “potty”, brush their teeth, and perform the basic functions to become self sufficient and care for themselves. Why is teaching our children the basics of caring for themselves in life more important that caring for themselves spiritually. If we do not train our children when they are young, they are that much more likely to depart from a godly way of living. We have so many good examples of faithful people who learned God’s will when they were young. Therefore, it seems obvious that we should try to invest in that same future. (II Timothy 3:14-17)
We have a dangerous enemy who will devour the ignorant. If you knew for a fact that there was a dangerous person why was actively seeking to kidnap and your children, what precautions would you take? Would you teach them how to be safe? Would you teach them how to avoid danger? How young would be too young to start giving them the tools they would need to survive an encounter with this type of enemy? We have such an enemy, and he is characterized as a “roaring lion seeking those whom he may devour.” (I Peter 5:8) Those who are fooled by His tricks are “taken captive by him at his will”(II Timothy 2:26). Let’s be honest and logical, if our children are taught the scriptures and know the will of God from an early age, they themselves would never send their own children to children’s worship when they are adults. So, how did this all start within the Lord’s church? It is not because one searched the scriptures, but rather because some wanted to be like the people around them, just as Israel desired in 1 Sam 8:20.
A Self-Check Of My Christianity
Certainly, Christians should have the goal to achieve a eternal home in heaven. So, since I am on a journey to reach this heavenly reward (2 Tim 4:7-8) how can I check myself to verify I am not a lukewarm Christian. Lets just take a short personal assement. I may be a luke-warm Christian if:
Does God Hate?
Proverbs 6:16-19, Jeremiah 44:3-4, Isaiah 61:8, Amos 5:21-23, Zechariah 8:17, Malachi 2:16, and Revelation 2:16 are the inspired words from God which describe the fact that there are indeed things which God hates.
To put it simply, God hates sin. We have to keep in mind that we as Christians are opposed to sin, yet we live in a society in which many people love to partake in sin. God hates “workers of iniquity” and “abhors…deceitful man” (Psalms 5:5-6). A righteous God and judge must hate those things which are contrary to His nature. Yet, we also know God desires that all would be saved (1 Tim 2:4) and has instructed us as Christians to reach out to all men in this sinful state (Matt 28:19-20).
Because God has a standard for all men, he hates anything which is contrary to that standard (Luke 6:46, John 12:48, etc.). The distinction between the sinful and the righteous can be seen in Psalms 11. Psalms 11:5-7 (KJV) The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup. For the righteous LORD loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.
Many people today are willing to overlook sin and a lifestyle which contradicts the manner in which the Bible instructs us to live. However, God’s word says He will not overlook these “sins” and “abominations” (Matt 25:46, 2 Cor. 5:10, 2 Thes 1:9, etc.). This is not a well-received teaching in today’s world, yet it is a Biblical teaching.
The good news is that everyone who is in this position with his deeds being hated by God, was given a method by God to rectify the situation. Such a person involved in sin which God hates can repent of their sins (Acts 17:30) and be baptized (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16), and their sins are removed when they are added to the church (Acts 2:47). Christians have then been further blessed in that we have a continual method of cleansing these “sins” which God hates by confessing our sins and remaining faithful (1 John 1:7-9).
Yes, God hates sin! Yet, he loves us enough to provide a solution to the problem of sin!
God tells us clearly that these "gifts of the Holy Spirit" were to cease. In I Cor. 12, the apostle Paul lists those gifts. Then in the next chapter, he wrote: 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 (KJV) 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
Notice that each gift was a "part", but when "the perfect" was come, the parts were to cease. The expression "the perfect" is from the Greek "to telion" which literally means: "complete, full-grown, fully developed." So, when the revelation of God's Word was completed, and confirmed, then the "parts" were done away. Note that Paul says, "For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even also I was fully known" (I Cor 13:12). This is explained by James, "But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves. For if any one is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror; for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing" (Jam 1:22-25). Some contend that these "gifts of the Spirit" were to continue until Christ comes, and we then see Him and the Father "face to face." Yet, look at the passage again: "Now we see in a mirror, darkly, but then face to face" (I Cor 13:12). No one looks into a mirror to see God, or anyone else. We look into a mirror to see ourselves. To shave, to put on makeup, etc., we need to see "face to face." That is the purpose of the mirror. And the Word of God is "the perfect law of liberty" (Jam 1:25), a spiritual mirror, into which we look to see our spiritual condition as God reveals it in His Word. That is what Paul says in I Cor 13.
Because we have the revealed and written Word of God, confirmed (proved) by the miracles which the apostles did, we no longer need those "parts" which brought it into existence. So they have ceased and been done away. That includes all the miracles -- healing, raising the dead, etc. So, yes, the age and purpose of miracles have ended. We have the completed Word of God confirmed by these miracles and therefore there is no more need for such miracles.
Many today believe or teach that the Holy Spirit needs to directly do something to man for his coming to the faith, or his remaining in the faith. Below are some of the favorite verses used to prove this false position and a response to those positions.
Acts 16:14 (KJV) And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. This is a favorite passage by many who teach the Holy Spirit Directs man. The claim is that “The Lord opened Lydia’s heart to heed the things of God”. Her heart was opened, but notice how. Paul spoke first. The opening was done through his preaching of the Word (Rom 10:17). Those who misuse this verse error additionally, in that “The LORD opened her heart”. In Scripture, the Holy Spirit is never referred to as the Lord.
2Acts 11:21 (KJV) And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Some state this is the Holy Spirit leading the preacher. This verse deals with providence. The hand of the Lord was with them, not the preachers. Additionally, this is not even the hand of the Holy Spirit. Clearly they are trying to make a verse fit their doctrinal teaching.
John 6:44 (KJV) No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. Their argument is that those that come must be drawn by the Holy Spirit. The problem is this leaves out the next verse. John 6:45 says they will be taught. Through teaching (Rom 10:17) there is a drawing. The indwelling teaching of the Holy Spirit also replaces the Father’s “drawing” with the Holy Spirit “drawing”.
Luke 24:45 (KJV) Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, Many teach the Holy Spirit had to open their understanding. Jesus did this, not the Holy Spirit, by explaining the scriptures to them. They were taught, not directly operated on by the Holy Spirit.
A number of other verses could be viewed here, but the result is the same in every case. The direct operation theory of the Holy Spirit contradicts God’s impartiality. If He saves some and not others, He become partial (Acts 10:34). It violates the principle of the free-moral agency of a man. The person has no choice in a direct operation. It violates the principle of Divine Economy. Devine economy: God uses the most expedient and intelligent mode of operation in whatever He does. The direct operation theory of the Holy Spirit violates the necessity of the great commission (Man’s command to teach, baptize, and continuing to teach those believers).
Jesus and Peter Use Noah As An Example
In Hebrews 11:7, we see that Noah had the faith to follow through on God’s commands even though no one alive at that time had ever seen a flood. Notice his faith: Hebrews 11:7 (KJV) By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
In Matthew 24 Jesus is speaking to the Jewish religious leaders about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., but in verse 35 He begins speaking about the end of the world and warning them of events that had not yet been seen, just like God warned Noah in his day of a world-wide flood. Matthew 24:36-40 (KJV) “36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. 37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” Jesus noted in Noah’s day that many people were occupied with the daily activities of eating, drinking and being married, but they were oblivious to the coming destruction of the flood. Jesus applies this fact of history to the Jewish leaders to point out the coming destruction of Jerusalem (24: 1-34-) as well as the end of the world (24:35-25:46) which will occur someday.
A lesson we can learn from this is that many are busy with life, but should be aware of the coming judgment day. Many today do not believe the historical account of Noah’s ark, but Jesus both knew it was true and used it to teach a lesson about the judgment day. Peter builds upon this lesson in 1 Peter 3:21 (KJV) “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Jesus taught there was a judgment day coming, and Peter emphasizes that obedience to God allowed water to save Noah and his family from the sinful world. In a similar fashion, obedience to God’s commands allows water to save us from this sinful world.
These are provided for your personal study and growth.