I. While trying to address a set of questions that several of the men here received indirectly, I found it necessary to study material that I strongly believe is behind the questions.
A. For most older Christians, the material is obviously false. A few people who attempted to read the material told me how nauseating the material is to read. We are people who love God’s truth and to see someone twist the truth twists our guts.
B. I’ve been spending some time thinking about why this material is so appealing, despite its obvious falsehoods.
1. It struck me in the last week or so how often the author presented his erroneous teachings in the form of questions.
2. Often, he would not come out and directly state his belief, but rather question our understanding of the Scriptures.
3. (Show example)
4. For this lesson, I’m not so interested in the topic of the questions, but the way the questions are expressed.
5. The writings of this man and others are full of series of questions such as the one you are looking at.
C. All questions are not alike. It is a mistake to assume that every question is a desire to learn an answer and we can prove this to ourselves from the Scriptures.
II. Honest Questions
A. Questions used to learn
1. The disciples of Jesus asked questions about his teachings - Luke 8:4-9
a. They didn’t understand and they wanted to know the answer.
B. Questions used to teach
1. The Greek philosopher, Socrates made an art of the asking of question to an art-form.
a. Teachers know that stating a fact doesn’t always register, but when a student struggles to find an answer, the answer sticks with him.
b. So leading questions are employed to direct a student’s mind down a particular path.
2. Jesus often used this form of teaching with his disciples. Topics were often introduced in the form of a question.
a. Mark 8:27-30 - Jesus was able to get the disciples to realize what they believed.
b. Questions were used to draw out what a person needed to learn - Mark 9:31-34
(1) Even though they did not answer Jesus’ question, the question prepared them to receive his answer.
c. The very attempt to answer a question can make a person realize how little they know - Luke 20:1-8
(1) Because they were unable to answer the question to their own satisfaction, Jesus’s question shows they were not in a position to question his authority to teach.
(2) Another example - Matthew 22:41-46
C. Questions used to motivate people to action
1. David questioned the people as to why no one answered Goliath’s challenge - I Samuel 17:26-30
a. Eliab saw David’s questions as wrong because he thought David wanted to see a battle, so he was stirring people up with his questions.
b. David was asking questions because he wanted people to serve God.
III. But not all questions are productive. Not all questions are sincerely asked.
A. Some ask questions, but they do not expect an answer because they believe they already have the answer
1. Pilate asked what is truth - John 18:37-38
a. We know he wasn’t interested in the answer, because he left before a reply was made.
b. By his very question we learn that Pilate does not believe there is an absolute truth. His question is a statement of his belief.
B. Some ask questions to entrap. They are not looking for an answer or to instruct another, but searching the reply for errors to accuse the person.
1. It doesn’t take long in reading the Gospels to see how often the Jews used questions in an attempt to trap Jesus
a. Matthew 22:23-28 - The Sadducees’ question was insincere because they asked about something they didn’t believe in.
(1) It is like someone telling me they rode in a flying saucer and I asked them what color was the upholstery.
b. Next come the Pharisees - Matthew 22:34-35
(1) The Pharisees believed the question was unanswerable.
(a) A claim to not know, would open Jesus up for ridicule
(b) Putting one law above another would be judging the word of God.
(2) Jesus was able to answer the question, because He was the author of the law.
C. Like David, some ask questions to stir up people, but instead motivating them for the good, the questions are designed to cause controversy
1. False teachers use controversial questions to create friction - I Timothy 6:3-5
a. When people disagree, when they are divided, they are easy to destroy - Luke 11:17
b. Unity strengthens - Ecclesiastes 4:12, so Satan and his minions try to divide.
c. That is why Titus was warned to avoid the foolish controversies of a factious man - Titus 3:9-11
2. We must recognize that some questions are simply asked to cause quarrels - II Timothy 2:23
a. When we don’t see this, we have lost the battle.
D. Notice that Paul also referred to ignorant speculations. Some questions are asked about things we do not know and cannot know.
1. The ignorant spend time asking and debating them because it makes feel scholarly (The old “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” question.)
2. I Timothy 1:3-8
a. These men were not using the law correctly
b. In their pride, they wanted to teach, but they did not know enough
c. They make up for their ignorance by asking foolish questions and waste time in fruitless discussion.
d. It not only causes dissension, but notice the end of verse 3, it is the teaching of strange doctrine!
e. A person can and does espouse false doctrine by their pursuit of speculative questions.
E. People wrangle about the meaning of words, not to promote understanding, but to waste time and effort - II Timothy 2:14-18
1. Wrangling over the meaning of words ruins the hearer - (“It depends on what your definition of the word ‘is’ is.”)
2. Empty chatter leads to further ungodliness.
3. It is used by men who have gone astray from the truth!
4. Unchecked, it spreads like gangrene, causing more to leave the faith!
IV. I hope, brethren, you see that questions are a serious matter
A. This is why Paul told women to ask questions at home - I Corinthians 14:34-35
1. Questions can be used to teach, but women are not to have authority over men - I Timothy 2:11-12
2. Questions can be asked in an honest effort to learn, but it is very easy to cross the line of using questions to steer discussion and to espouse your own beliefs.
B. Too often we are tolerant of those who are in the process of destroying us - II Corinthians 11:19-20
C. Consider this list of questions (show list)
1. The brother sent these as a representation of questions that he stated on numerous occasions that the brethren here cannot answer. Yet, oddly enough, several of the older men had to beg for months to get even this list.
2. What does it tell you when the list is not even sent to the older men who requested the questions, but was sent to one of our younger women? (Not to disparage that sister, she is capable of answering the questions, but I wonder why a young woman was targeted and not any of the older men?)
3. What does a question, such as “What constitutes a Christian?” tell you about the person asking the question, especially knowing he has been a Christian for several years?
4. Be objective!
a. Is this man looking to learn more about the Bible?
(1) Then why ask a woman who is not to teach or exercise authority over a man and ignore the offers of older men who are responsible to teach the younger men?
b. A sister, who also left, stated, “I applaud xxx for having the courage to search ... people have asked/said ‘Well, they haven’t talked to me!’ or ‘They won’t talk to us!’ Well, many people are unaware of the talks/discussions that these individuals have had – and they all end the same way ... (i.e. they end with the statements / rationalizations listed earlier as reasons why these individuals must feel this way ...) Conversation has simply proven futile ... And since I’ve found all these conversations typically end in the same way, I haven’t seen the point in having them any more.”
(1) Notice that she acknowledges that they were selective in whom they approached.
(2) Notice that the answers were consistent, but not to their liking. Instead they charge that the answers were mere rationalizations. If so, the brethren, who claim to be knowledgeable enough to spot a rationalization, should have been able to use the Scriptures to show the error - II Corinthians 10:5-6
(3) So why weren’t these questions asked of those willing and perhaps able to answer their questions?
c. If you haven't had your answer, this same sister answered why these people left. “xxx are growing spiritually and emotionally – experiencing a freedom, openness, and closeness that’s allowing them to heal ... for the first time they are getting close to being past that limited, restrictive, minimalist cookie cutter approach to / view of the Christian experience . . . they are asking questions, being allowed to feel AND express differently about religious opinion kinds of things.”
(1) Notice that it isn’t just the asking of questions but the ability to express their opinion (let’s re-read I Timothy 1:3-4)
(2) Notice that the consistent response is disparaged as being limited, restrictive, minimalist, and a cookie-cutter approach. (re-read I Timothy 6:3-5)
d. She is also straight forward about their goal. “You see, I had the ideal young person’s view that I could facilitate the change this congregation’s personality.”
(1) I will be blunt, it wasn’t just the personality but the whole approach to doctrine that they wanted changed because later she expressed her disappointment that everyone here was satisfied that our doctrine was right.
5. While learning is to draw us together, these folks glory in division. The sister talk about the “host of other young Christians that have left.” The number was 4 and is now 6. A sad number to see depart, but certainly not a host. But recall that it is the factious who stir up strife and division (Titus 3:9-11). Their leaving should be a cause of weeping
D. What disturbs me most is that a snake was in our midst, it left out of frustration, and my brethren are trying to invite it back in without demanding a change. - (reread II Corinthians 11:19-20)
V. Brethren, my charge to you today is the same as the beloved Paul - II Timothy 4:1-4; I Corinthians 15:58
Going Beyond What is Written by Cecil Hooks
Our great stress has been on the need for authority for all that we do in worship assemblies. We have emphasized the ritualistic aspect of worship. But where is our authority for segmenting worship from our daily and constant offering of self in whole-life worship? Where do the scriptures say that our assemblies for edification are to be changed into "worship services" with a different set of rules to govern them? Where do we read such expressions as "go to worship" (regarding Christian assemblies), "begin our worship service," "after the worship is over," and "missing worship"? Where do we read of the "five acts of worship" or a list of specified activities for our assemblies? Where do we find a limitation of the means whereby we may praise God and edify one another, either in or out of assemblies? Has our privilege of praise been granted in only a few activities? Is it a privilege of praise or a fulfillment of the demands of law to praise? Do we worship only in rituals? Are assemblies for the purpose of performance of rituals? Seeking answers to these questions led me to many exciting new (for me) insights.
Here is a partial list of things we’ve been thinking about:
1) Evangelism - What does it mean? and what constitutes it?
2) Authority for Men’s Business Meetings?
3) Is it scripturally correct to condemn people to hell when they do not believe the same things we do?
4) What is the Preacher’s role?
5) What is the Law of Liberty?
6) Can we worship with Christians who hold differing views of doctrine? i.e, can we worship with someone who believes it is ok to give to orphans homes as long as they are not binding it upon us? If so why? Why not?
7) What does the New Testament mean by older teaching the younger?
8) What constitutes a Christian?
9) Is our worship to the Lord limited to the five acts of worship? (Prayers, Singing, Lord Supper, Giving of our means, Sermon)
10) What is worship? Does worship only take place in the assembly or can it be done outside the assembly?
11) What is the difference in the reasoning for a church building and the reasoning for a fellowship hall?
12) Is our Christian walk with Christ a check list of activities we must accomplish? and once accomplished we are saved?
13) Is it possible for someone to get to heaven if they differ with us on doctrinal issues?
I applaud xxx for having the courage to search ... people have asked/said ‘Well, they haven’t talked to me!’ or ‘They won’t talk to us!’ Well, many people are unaware of the talks/discussions that these individuals have had – and they all end the same way ... (i.e. they end with the statements / rationalizations listed earlier as reasons why these individuals must feel this way ...) Conversation has simply proven futile ... And since I’ve found all these conversations typically end in the same way, I haven’t seen the point in having them any more.
xxx are growing spiritually and emotionally – experiencing a freedom, openness, and closeness that’s allowing them to heal ... for the first time they are getting close to being past that limited, restrictive, minimalist cookie cutter approach to / view of the Christian experience . . . they are asking questions, being allowed to feel AND express differently about religious opinion kinds of things.