by Kenneth E. Thomas
Often one will read an article or hear a sermon and immediately think or say, "I wish I had written or preached that." When this is the case I often do a lesson with the same title or a modified one with some of the same points, giving it my style but nonetheless using some of the good thoughts since they impressed me, in the hope that my version will be sufficiently impressive to get a good reception and do a lot of good to my readers or listeners. I suppose most preachers do this since it is rare for one to think of something completely new. In fact, someone said once, "If it’s new it’s not true and if it’s true, it’s not new." That’s somewhat like Solomon’s saying, "...there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). There are two reasons for giving credit for ideas gleaned elsewhere: 1) No one wishes to be caught or thought to be guilty of plagiarism; 2) Honesty demands it. Having said the above, let me admit that the title of this lesson and some of its sub-headings appeared in a weekly church bulletin from what I will call a "liberal" congregation of the Lord’s people in Mississippi. The author’s name is "Wayne Jones." I have never met the author, but aside from his misuse of the word "anti" or "antism" which is often given to those of us who oppose local churches of Christ financing benevolent and edification societies, the so-called sponsoring elderships, and recreational activities , due to the lack of authority for such, his article was as the young folks are often heard to say, "right on brother!"
"Antism" Properly Defined
When the "institutional issues" were in full swing in the 1950s and 60s, those of us who stood up against the unscriptural support from the church treasury of benevolent societies, the sponsoring eldership "method of cooperation" and the Bible college in the local budget along with church supported recreation, were called "antis". When someone branded you as such that generally ended the argument insofar as getting the innovators to listen to why we are "anti" certain things. It was then and it is to this day, "a matter of authority." Everyone must be an "anti" to some degree. The word simply means "against." I am against the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship. I am against church support of human institutions in benevolence or edification. I am against church provided and supported youth activities involving recreation and other unauthorized activities. I am opposed to elders of one local church attempting to activate the church universal through one eldership and calling it "cooperation." Due to being against those things if one will properly represent that of which I am "anti" or against, I resent not the term. When it is used without specifying what I am "anti" and, why, it is just a prejudicial handle the "liberals" often give us "conservatives" to create prejudice so people will not listen to why we are "anti" those things listed above and others which could well be. If we aren’t careful we can misuse the term "liberal" the same way the "liberals" misuse the term, "anti."
Some are unscriptural "antis" due to the fact that they often "bind where the Lord in His word does not bind." This is as sinful as is "loosing where the Lord in His word has not loosed." Only the apostles were given "binding and loosing powers." See (Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18; Acts 2:42; 15:24). Please take the time to stop and read these Scripture references before proceeding. Those who are unscriptural "antis" are those who deny us the biblical right to break up into Bible classes for all ages as a "method" of local church edification (I Thessalonians 5:11-21; Ephesians 4:11-16). Often these same "antis" will forbid a woman to say a word in the assembly which would disallow her to be a part of the edification accomplished through congregational singing (I Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16-17). Some are so "anti" women saying a word that when a lady comes down the aisle to be baptized into Christ she is taken outside of the assembly and even outside the meeting house before they will as they express it, "take her confession of faith in Jesus Christ." Now that’s "antism" at its condemnatory worst in this scribe’s estimation. Some times, though not always, those who take this "unbiblical antism" to this extreme of binding where the Lord did not, are also opposed to multiple cups or containers in the distribution of the cup among the worshipers. All who respect divine authority are aware that there are Biblical restrictions placed upon women in the Lord’s church which forbid them "teaching over the man" or being in "authority over the man." (I Timothy 2::9-15). Theirs is a submissive role howbeit a very important one when everyone respects what restrictions are God-given and do not place their own restrictions which sometimes go beyond the biblical limitations.
As we think about "The Truth About Error," let us consider the fact that Satan’s arsenal seems to be more abundant today than ever. In secular education, Satan can attack through humanism and or evolution. In our government, Satan can attack through abortion, homosexuality and a misapplication of the "separation of church and state." In our schools, Satan can attack through drugs., alcohol (and alcohol is a drug) and sexual immorality. In the religious world, Satan can attack through man-made doctrines and a lack of concern for authority. In the church, Satan can attack through "unbiblical antism" that is binding where Christ has not bound, liberalism, that is acting without divine authority or "loosing where Christ (through His apostles) has not loosed" and indifference or apathy, in Scriptures once called being "lukewarm" (Revelation 3:14-16).
All Avenues Through Which Satan Works Are Dependant on Error
All of Satan’s "devices" have one common theme: Their foundation for survival is dependant upon error being accepted. Without error, there would be nothing on which these attacks could feed. Error being (taught believed and obeyed) is the source of Satan’s attack. Thus, Satan is ever vigilant to ensure that error remains in power. Secularly, governmentally, socially and religiously. Nothing puts Satan and his ministers to flight as does the truth of Jesus Christ as taught by His apostles. (John 8:31-32; Acts 13:8-11). Consider how when tempted Jesus often said, "It is written" which put Satan to flight (Matthew 4:1-11).
The Christian’s Task Is to Support the Truth
We support the truth by first believing and obeying the same then by ordering our lives by its principles and by all means passing it along to others through teaching the gospel message from Matthew to Revelation as time, ability, opportunity present themselves (II Timothy 2:1-2; Acts 8:4; Hebrews 5:12-14).
Truth is revealed by Christ (John 1:17) and recorded in the Word of God (John 17:17; Ephesians 3:4; I Corinthians 4:6). When studied believed and obeyed, the truth will make one free of sin and error. Jesus Himself said so, "...the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). In this study, we are discussing "the truth about error." Satan will look on with distrain as we study about the importance of truth and as we learn how detrimental error is to the human being. He realizes that if the truth about error is known and believed on a worldwide basis, his arsenal would be emptied and his attacks would be useless. The truth about error is that...
Error Promotes and Preserves Division
The unity of God’s people is of the utmost importance to Him. By inspiration, the Psalmist described unity as good and pleasant in (Psalm 133:1). Christ earnestly prayed in the Garden for the unity of believers (John 17:20-21). By inspiration, Paul instructed the Corinthians as to how they could restore unity to a situation of division (I Corinthians 1:10ff). Unity promotes love, peace, harmony and forgiveness among God’s people.
Unfortunately, the Lord’s people are often found "biting and devouring one another" (Galatians 5:15). Some by binding where the Lord did not, others taking liberties to act without divine authority, and each blaming the other for the resultant division in congregations across the land. When we demand "book, chapter, and verse," or authority for what the "liberals" would press upon the local churches in those things already mentioned above, we are accused of causing a breach of unity. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The one engaged in or advocating a practice for which no authority exists is the one guilty of causing division, not the ones opposing his innovations. Unity has never been threatened by the truth. In fact, truth strengthens and sustains unity as we are content to "speak as the oracles of God" (I Peter 4:11), and to "...do all in the name of the Lord Jesus..." (Colossians 3:17). Liberalism is the source of most division today.
Error is division’s life support. Teach and practice only the truth and there you will find unity exists automatically. There is a current trend (even among churches of Christ) to seek "fellowship" with denominations. Joining hand in hand with religious groups founded on error and acting as if we can get along despite doctrinal differences, simply adds to the confusion and division in the religious world (while our liberal brethren are the ones doing this for the most part, still some claiming to be conservatives aren’t falling far behind ). Just putting a Baptist, a Methodist, a Lutheran, a Presbyterian, and a Christian in the same assembly doesn’t make them united. Biblical unity is realized only when we all conform to Christ’s divine standard of authority, the New Testament which contains "all truth" (John 16:13); "all things that pertain to life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3); the "perfect law of liberty" (James 1:25); and furnished us to every good work (II Timothy 3:16-17).
God’s Seven Plank Platform For Unity
- One body = The church= Unity of relationship
- One Spirit = The Holy Spirit = Unity of revelation
- One Hope = Heaven = Unity of reward
- One Lord = Jesus Christ = Unity of authority
- One Faith = The New Testament = Unity of doctrine
- One Baptism = Immersion for the remission of sins = Unity of salvation
- One God = the Father = Unity of the object of worship
When God’s prescription for unity is followed by all, division will be eliminated. However, as long as some hold to erroneous doctrines without regard for God’s divine standard, division will remain.
Error Disrespects Christ’s Authority
Christ claimed that "all authority" was given unto Him by the Father in heaven (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 5:22-33; I Corinthians 15:24-28). Christ delegated authority to His chosen apostles and sent the Holy Spirit to guide them into "all truth" (John 16:12-13). I believe He did exactly as He promised (II Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:25; Revelation 22:18-19; Galatians 1:8-9). Thus God demands that we respect Christ’s word as the "living active agent" through which we are converted to and by which we are to faithfully follow Christ (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:13; James 1:18-25). Error does not have such respect. Error feeds off of ignorance and disregard of God’s word. Error does not mind changes and alterations in the unchangeable and the unalterable things of Christ’s word. In short, error and those who promote error do not respect the Word of God nor the authority of Christ, period.
Error Uses Gimmicks
Although many who endorse error suggest that they are working for Christ, in reality, they care little or nothing for the authority of His word. Their efforts are done more to draw in the crowd than to exalt in the name of Christ. Consider that when Christ said one church (Matthew 16:18), false teachers claim that "one church is as good as another." When the Bible says the gospel is God’s power to draw and to save the obedient, (John 6:44-45; II Thessalonians 2:13-14; Romans 1:16-17; Mark 16:15-16), false teachers say we should have a kitchen and a playroom perhaps a gymnasium so we can attract the young folks to the "church," and that men are saved by "faith alone." See (James 2:14-26). While the Bible says the obedient are added to the Lord’s church (Acts 2:22-38, 40-41, 47; Colossians 1:13-14), error says "there are saved people in all churches" and that the church is unrelated to one’s salvation.
Error Often Resembles Truth
A counterfeiter knows that if he is to pass on his bogus "money" it must appear to be "the real thing." No one would take a fake twenty-dollar bill knowing it to be fake. Just so, those who teach error will often get just close enough to the truth by quoting a passage of Scripture or by thumping on their Bible and claiming respect for its contents, when the very point he is making is a perversion of the scripture cited, and the people often drink in his every word as if it were truly the will of Christ. Such will be among those of whom Jesus spoke in Matthew 7:13-23. They will get all the way to the judgment never having been recognized by the Lord as belonging to Him, all the while being very religious and even sacrificial in their misguided attempts to serve their Lord Jesus and the heavenly Father. I can think of nothing that saddens me more.
Honesty and sincerity in religion will not change error into truth! If one goes to the medicine cabinet with a view to taking a particular medication for a physical problem and the bottle with the proper medication resembles the proper one, but actually contains something to which you are deathly allergic and you take that by mistake, in all likelihood you will get a violent reaction and possibly hasten your own demise while thinking you are taking the proper medication. Error can be extremely dangerous and even fatal to one’s physical well being. With much greater emphasis let me point out that your soul may miss heaven and languish in hell for eternity if you ingest error into your mind instead of the soul-saving truth. Error will damn one's soul regardless of how honestly and sincerely one may accept it in the place of truth. Listen to Paul along these lines: "...with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them a strong delusion, that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Thessalonians 2:10-12). Conversely, read what Peter says about the truth when believed and obeyed: "Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (I Peter 1:22-25).
Half-Truths Are Whole Lies
I don’t know who came up with the idea of "half-truths" to begin with. I suppose it was from the fact that Abraham told what some may call a "half-truth" when he had his wife Sarah say she was his sister. That was "half right," she was his half-sister (Genesis 12:13 and again in Genesis 20:2). Even before this event in history, Satan told Eve a "half-truth" about the "forbidden fruit" in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 3:4-5). However each was an attempt to deceive, and each was a "whole lie."
Our Baptist Friends and Baptism
In the Hiscox Standard Manual for [Southern] Baptist Churches, several pages are devoted to proving that baptism is to be administered only by "immersion" and that infants are excluded from this practice since they cannot believe. He also spends several pages devoted to why they do not invite those who practice another "baptism" to the Lord’s table with them, considering those who practice sprinkling or pouring of water not to have been baptized at all, and rightly so. However, after making all of those good arguments against infant baptism and against sprinkling and not inviting those who engage in such to commune with them, they admit that they do not believe baptism to be essential to one’s salvation (ibid. pgs. 20-21). However, they say, "it is essential to obedience since Christ has commanded it. It is also essential to a public confession of Christ before the world, and to membership in the church which is his body. And no true lover of his Lord will refuse these acts of obedience and tokens of affection" (ibid. pg. 21). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the contradictions in the above quotations. I wish I could tell you the times that some Baptist has told me that one can go to heaven and never be baptized, using as their supposed proof the penitent thief on the cross whom they say "Jesus saved without baptism." What does this affirmation do to the above quotations? If they are correct this means:
- You can be saved outside of the Baptist church since one is immersed into a local Baptist church when baptized by the so-called, "pastor." How can the Baptist church be the blood-bought church of the New Testament if men are saved apart from membership therein? (See Acts 20:28; Ephesians 2:13-16; 5:22-33; Acts 2:22-38, 40-41, 47.)
- One can be saved without ever doing that which they claim is "essential to a public confession of Christ before the world..."
- One can fail to be a "true lover of his Lord" by never being baptized if one can be saved before and without immersion into Christ for the remission of alien sins!
- According to the Baptist claim, since baptism is "essential to obedience but not to salvation," then one may be saved without obedience if one may be saved without baptism, yet Jesus will save only the "obedient" (Mark 16:16; Hebrews 5:9; Matthew 7:21). The facts are that immersion in water into the name of Christ for the forgiveness of sins and into the one body, the church are essential teachings of Jesus and His apostles (I Corinthians 1:10-13; Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; I Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 2:13-16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-29).
The thief on the cross beside Jesus requested of Him to be remembered when He came into His kingdom was indeed saved by Jesus and no doubt went to paradise as promised. Whether or not he was ever baptized matters not for they were living under the law of Moses and before the "great commission" of Christ was given to His apostles after His resurrection (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16;16-20; Luke 24;45-49). A testament is of force only after men are dead (Hebrews 9:15-17). Jesus had power on earth to forgive sins on any condition he chose or with no conditions for that matter (Matthew 9:6). To the rich, young ruler, Jesus said "sell what you have..." is this a requirement for us today? I never heard any of those who denigrate the essentiality for water baptism use this example as binding on men today. Did you ever wonder why?
If this isn’t plain enough, notice what the apostle Peter said in I Peter 3:20-22: "Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 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: Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him." I have been careful in this study to teach you "the truth about error." There are a few more Scriptures I would like to use in bringing this lesson to a close that would take some professional help for one to misunderstand.
Error Renders One’s Attempts To Worship God Vain
Let me call our attention to Cain and Abel in (Genesis 4:1-4). Compare this passage with Hebrews 11:4 and the point it unmistakenly made that each of these boys attempted to worship God, but only the one who did as bidden (acted by faith) accomplished it successfully. Compare (John 4:23-24; Colossians 3:17; John 12:48).
Next we wish to call attention to Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron the high priest who each "offered strange fire before the Lord which He commanded them not" and were burned to death at their post of duty before uncle Moses and their dad as an object lesson to you and to me (Leviticus 10:1-4; Romans 15:4; I Corinthians 10:11).
More Truth About Error
Jesus said: "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Matthew 15:8-9).
Paul said: "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8-9).
Paul said: "Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you. Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." (Romans 16:16-18).
John said: "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds" (II John 1:8-11).
John wrote: "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen" (Revelation 22:18-21).
We are being judged by the standard of the word of Christ each day. When we die we will each know immediately what is our fate as we await the judgment day to come in one of two divisions of Hades. (See Luke 16:19-31). What will your eternal fate be come judgment? (See Acts 3:22-23; John 12:48; Matthew 25:1-46; II Corinthians 5:10-11; Romans 14:12; Jude 1:14-15; Revelation 20:12-15).