All posts by Jon Mitchell

Worth Quoting

Let the world call us mad if it wants to, and let the false teachers rant and rave all they please…I still believe the clarion sounding forth of Truth will be received by the discerning hearts of those who really are hungering and thirsting after righteousness (Matt. 5:6).  As the “pillar and ground” of the Truth (1 Tim. 3:15), the true church of the Lord will always boldly proclaim His Word without favor or compromise!  Truth is distinctive.  It always has been and it always will be.

My prayer for the brotherhood of Christ is that we will have enough good sense to reject the madness and follow of him wisdom and cleave to the revelation of God’s will, and to preach it boldly, yet in love (Eph. 4:15).

Maxie B. Boren, “Truth or Madness,” Voice of Truth International, Vol 75, p. 50

Editor’s Page, September/October 2013 – David R. Pharr, Editor

It is surprising that a Baptist preacher would write a book to expose the error of instrumental music in worship.  John Price, who is a Baptist preacher, has provided an excellent work, Old Light on New Worship (Simpson Pub. Co. 2007).  The book includes detailed reviews of Scripture and history regarding use of instruments in worship.  His conclusion is firmly against the practice.

Other than footnote citations he makes no reference to a capella worship in churches of Christ, yet the form of his argumentation is very much parallel to the points we would make.  Consider this paragraph on page 46:

The regulative principle of worship remains, and what God has not commanded in the New Testament we have no authority to use.  He has not commanded the use of any musical instruments as he did in the days of Moses and David.  Therefore, we have no authority to bring them into the worship of His church.  The complete silence of the New Testament on musical instruments is a most compelling argument that they are not to exist in the church.  Only singing is commanded (1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).

It is especially noteworthy that the author comes to these conclusions in spite of having a religious background that continues to use instruments.

The author traces the historical evidence from the earliest post-apostolic writers down to the 20th Century.  “The early Church Fathers were unanimous and vehement in condemning musical instruments in the worship of the church.”  Further, he observed:  “How can it possibly be assumed that musical instruments existed in the apostolic church when they were absent from the periods immediately prior and following?”  Further, the book provides a large collections of quotations on the subject from centuries of theologians and commentators, including an appendix listing over two pages of names and groups who have opposed instrumental music in worship.

Mr. Price shares our disdain for what is advertised in worship in the modern setting.

In many worship services today, little difference can be found between a rock-and-roll concert and the music of the church.  It was in the atmosphere of these musical instruments that the development of “Contemporary Christian Music” took place… (139).

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A poisonous influence came out of the Richland Hills (TX) church when they announced their decision to include instrumental music in their worship.  Their preacher, Rick Atchley, preached three sermons to argue that it is scriptural to worship either with or without the involvement of instruments.  His arguments have been published abroad and apparently have given excuse for some liberal congregations to tilt farther to the left.  Alan Highers in The Spiritual Sword and Dave Miller in his book, Richland Hills and Instrumental Music, published effective biblical responses to Atchley’s position.  Another careful and thorough response is in the book by Thomas C. Alexander, Music in Worship (Gospel Advocate, 2010).  Though all three of these capable brethren cover much of the same ground and hold the same conclusions, each of their presentations has its own special value.

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Not many congregations in our area have been troubled by the strange doctrine called “Realized Eschatology” which, having been aggressively advocated by one Max King and his sympathizers, has devastated churches of Christ in other parts of the country.  However, there are indications of its influence coming into the Carolinas.  This is sometimes called “The 70 AD Theory” because of its contention that all Bible prophecy was fulfilled at the time of the Romans’ destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  This includes (according to the theory) even the second coming of Christ, the resurrection, judgment, and the end of the world.  Yes, it is insisted that prophecies of the consummation of the world (as foretold in 2 Peter 3:10) were actually only the end of the Jewish system.  To those not yet exposed to such extremities of interpretation, this might seem to fantastic to entertain.  It happens, though, that by redefining terms and manipulating scriptures, the King movement has caught the fancy of some who are “unlearned and unstable” (2 Pet. 3:16).  Two books by King set out his theory: The Spirit of Prophecy and The Cross and the Parousia of Christ.  Other publications by King and his henchmen have continued its promotion.

I remember the late Burrell Prince’s reply when he was challenged to read King’s book.  He was urged to read it all the way through.  He said he had read enough to know he need not waste more time.  He said, “If I get on a train and soon discover it is headed to the wrong destination, I don’t want to stay on it to the end of the line!”  He had read enough to know the book was trying to take him in the wrong direction.*

For solid and clear refutation of the Max King doctrine, I recommend the book by Wayne Jackson, The A.D. 70 Theory (Courier Publications).  Brother Jackson is always thorough and careful in his explanations.  He shows the errors of false definitions of terms and inconsistencies in the appropriation of texts.  It is a small book (just over 100 pages).  It is needed anywhere there are issues related to Bible teaching on eschatology (“last things”).

Our brotherhood has been greatly blessed by Wayne Jackson’s writings on a wide variety of subjects.

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While yet on the subject of books, perhaps it is acceptable for me to reference five of my own.  Churches over the country and in other parts of the world continue to use The Beginning of our Confidence, lessons for new Christians (21st Century Pub.)  It has been translated into four other languages.  Thy Kingdom Come (Publishing Designs Co.) is a simple refutation of the errors of Premillennialism.  It is in English and Russian.  Many have used it privately and in classes for a simplified refutation of the more prominent errors of popular millennial theories.

A Happy Coincidence on a Desert Highway (Firm Foundation Pub.) is a collection of sermons.  Modern Messages from the Minor Prophets (Quality Pub.) contains full sentence sermon outlines on all the Minor Prophets.  These sermons seek to apply their Old Testament concerns to our current needs.  It has also been translated into Russian.

Voices of Calvary (Publishing Designs Co.) has thirteen lessons on things Jesus and others said at the time of his crucifixion.  Bible students know of the seven statements of Jesus from the cross.  Each has a wealth of spiritual implications.  In addition there are statements made by others at Calvary and each of these deserve more than a passing glance.

*Brother Prince was the first preacher in the church of Christ I ever heard.  It was with what is now the Broad Street congregation in Statesville, NC.  At the time they were meeting in the American Legion Building.  In later years, when I was with the East Tennessee School of Preaching, we became closely associated with him and several times stayed in their home in Nashville.

Departures From The Faith – Jon Mitchell

I remember well the first time I ever read 1 Timothy 4:1-3.  I was in college at the time and dating a Catholic girl who was interested in learning more about the Lord’s church.  After learning that we were studying the Bible together, my father suggested I show her Paul’s prophecy to Timothy while discussing the Catholic doctrines surrounding Lent and the celibacy of the priesthood.  Reading that passage for the first time, and then seeing the impact it had on her once she read it, had a profound effect on my faith, especially in regards to my trust in biblical prophecies and my high regard for scriptural teachings concerning apostasy.

The term “apostasy” comes from the Latin apostasia, which in turn is derived from the Greek aphistasthai, the word Paul used under Spirit inspiration which is translated “will depart from” (1 Tim. 4:1, ESV).  Thus, “apostasy” means “to depart from.”  Accordingly, Merriam-Webster defines “apostasy” as “renunciation of a religious faith” and “abandonment of a previous loyalty.”

We see why secular dictionaries correlate a religious tone to the definition of “apostasy” when we read how the Spirit explicitly warned Paul just a few decades after the beginning of the church that some would apostatize or depart from “the faith” (v. 1).  This would be  the “one faith” (Eph. 4:5) that comes from hearing only God’s Word (Rom. 10:17), “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).  This apostasy would happen “in later times,” a reference to these “last days” and “end of the ages” which began alongside of Christ’s covenant and church two thousand years in Jerusalem following his death and resurrection and continues on until he comes again (Matt. 28:20; Acts 2:14-17; 1 Cor. 10:11; Heb. 1:1-2; 9:26; 1 Pet. 1:20).

Before the church began, Jesus prophesied of those who would lead people astray (Matt. 7:13-27; 24:11, 24; Mark 13:22).  Almost from the very beginning of the church, attempts were made from within it to depart from the faith.  Judaizing brethren attempted to add to God’s Word by requiring Gentile converts to obey tenets of Mosaic Law, prompting Spirit-inspired teaching to the contrary throughout the New Testament (Acts 15:1ff; Rom. 3-11; 1 Cor. 7:18-19; 2 Cor. 3:3-11; Gal. 1:6-5:15; Eph. 2:1-22; Col. 2:8-23; 1 Tim. 1:3-11; Tit. 1:10-11; 3:9-11; Hebrews).  Other false doctrines and those who would promote them were warned about and condemned as well, some specifically and others generally (Acts 20:29-31; Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Col. 2:8; 2 Thess. 2:1-12; 1 Tim. 4:1-7; 6:3-6, 20-21; 2 Tim. 2:14-26; 3:1-13; 4:1-5; Tit. 1:9-2:1;  James 5:19-20; 2 Pet. 2:1-22; 3:3-5, 15-16; 1 John 1:8, 10; 2:4, 18-27; 4:1-6; 2 John 7-11; Jude 3-16; Rev. 2:2, 9, 14-16, 20-24; 3:9; 13:1-18; 19:20; 20:10; 21:8, 27; 22:15, 18-19).  The reader can see here the amount of scripture relating to apostasy in the New Testament alone, which should show how seriously God takes departures from the faith and why this subject is worthy of our attention and study.

Paul warned elders that false teachers would rise from among their own ranks, leading many astray (Acts 20:29-31).  He also warned of a “rebellion” which would come before and last until Christ came back, a rebellion which would reveal “the man of lawlessness,” also described as “the son of destruction” (2 Thess. 2:1-3).  This “man of lawlessness” would “take his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God,” and would come “by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception” lead astray the perishing who refuse to love the truth (2 Thess. 2:4, 9-12).  Paul also warned Timothy of insincere people with seared consciences who would apostatize by paying attention to the doctrines of demons which forbid marriage and require abstaining from certain foods (1 Tim. 4:1-3).

A study of church history reveals the fulfillment of these prophecies not long after the apostles died (cf. 2 Thess. 2:6-7).  It started when elders in the church started making changes to the governmental organization of the church, changing it from the scriptural pattern of autonomous congregations overseen by pluralities of elders (Acts 14:23; 20:17, 28; 1 Pet. 5:1-2) to a collection of congregations in a particular region being under one bishop.  From then it wasn’t long before there was one bishop over all the other bishops, a man who became known as the Pope.  Roman Catholic history reveals that the Pope was thought of as God on earth, and that he consolidated his power among the superstitious by the performing of “miracles.”  He and the leaders under him came up with doctrines such as forbidding priests to marry and requiring parishioners to abstain from certain foods at certain times.  Other man-made doctrines such as instrumental music in worship, praying to Mary, the idea that Mary was a perpetual virgin and our intercessor, the paying of indulgences, Purgatory, apostolic succession, the Apocrypha, sacraments, transubstantiation, the canonization of saints, the forgiveness of sins by the church and assignation of penance for those sins, and many more.  Most recently, the current Pope made it known that he would grant indulgences to his followers on Twitter.

Meanwhile, during the first thousand years of Christianity other departures from the faith were taking place outside of the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church.  After the Judaizers and Gnostics of the apostolic era, other man-made doctrines emerged in the form of Marcionism, which promoted rejection of the Old Testament and limited usage of the New Testament; Montanism, whose founder, Montanus, and his followers were a copy of the future Charismatic movements when they claimed to be given uncontrollable miraculous spiritual gifts of prophecy; Monarchianism, which taught that Jesus was born a man and became God at his baptism; Manichaeism, whose founder, Mani, believed that he was the manifestation of Christ on earth; Donatism, a movement which taught that those who gave communion to others must be free from sin; Arianism, a copy of the future Watchtower movement in that they believed the Son of God was a created being; Nestorianism, whose founder, Nestorius, taught that Jesus as man and God was nothing more than a “merging of wills;” the Paulicians, who held the writings of Paul to be inspired while teaching that the rest of the Bible originated from an evil spirit; there were others also.

The next five hundred years would see the rise of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which eventually would denominate and organize itself into various Orthodox Churches along national lines; the Waldensians, who preached a doctrine of “apostolic poverty”; the Cathars, who were Gnostic in their theology; and the Hussites, precursors of the Protestant Movement about one hundred years before Martin Luther, who would usher in the Reformation in earnest.  His followers, who would call themselves Lutherans, initially sought to reform the Roman Catholic Church, and, failing that, formed their own denomination.  Around the same time, the Anabaptist Movement would form and coalesce behind Menno Simons, thus forming the Mennonites.  From them would split another group who followed Jacob Amman and became known as the Amish.  Meanwhile, John Calvin established a theology around the notion that God has already determined the fate of every person, and thus saves man by grace alone.  His Calvinism would produce the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, later Puritanism in England, and from them the United Church of Christ of today.  English King Henry VIII, upset that Catholicism would not grant him an annulment to his marriage with Catherine of Aragon, formed the Church of England, known as the Anglican Church in England and the Episcopalian Church in America today.

  

The 1600’s saw the rise of the Baptist movement begun by John Smythe, a group who – initially, at least – taught the need for immersion in water for remission of sin, only to later embrace several Calvinistic tenets.  Meanwhile, George Fox started the Religious Society of Friends after supposedly receiving divine revelations; his followers came to be known as “Quakers” due to how they shook with emotion during their worship assemblies.  After the Pietist movement split from Lutheranism, John and Charles Wesley would be influenced by them and decide to attempt to reform the Anglican Church by founding within it a “Methodist society;” eventually in America the Methodists would split from the Episcopalians to form their own church.  The “holiness theology” promoted by Methodists would form many Holiness Churches, which would consolidate into the Church of the Nazarene in the 1900’s.  About one hundred years before that, Ireland would produce a group known as “the Plymouth Brethren,” whose promotion of dispensationalism and premillenialism would influence many American denominations in the 1800’s and the modern Evangelical movement.  The 1800’s would also see the rise of Mormonism, the Watchtower Society (also known as Jehovah’s Witnesses), and Pentecostalism.  In 1865 William Booth of England would modify aspects of Methodist doctrine to form the Salvation Army, called such due to its organizational doctrine literalizing biblical military metaphors.

Around forty years earlier, Thomas and Alexander Campbell would seek to restore pure, unadulterated New Testament Christianity in America.  Congregations who remained true to the biblical pattern would come to be known as churches of Christ (Rom. 16:16; Matt. 16:18), but over time the congregations who decided to stray from the New Testament doctrine would form other man-made churches.  The Christian Church, known also in some circles as the Disciples of Christ, began over their decision to embrace the Catholic doctrine of instrumental music in worship; in recent months they have voted to allow unrepentant homosexuals in leadership roles.  The International Church of Christ, also known as the Boston or Crossroads Movement, was also started recently by Kip McKean.

The current and previous generation has seen the rise in popularity of various religious movements in Western society such as evangelicalism, which promotes a “salvation by faith alone” doctrine mixed with various Calvinistic tenets; ecumenism, which attempts to embrace unity among all churches by ignoring differences in doctrine; and fundamentalism, which sprang from evangelicalism in its efforts to promote not only biblical doctrine but also human tradition.  The Community Church movement has resulted from a combination of evangelicalism and ecumenism, the largest congregations of which have come to be known as Megachurches.  Most recently, many evangelicals have embraced the Emergent movement, which promotes post modernistic concepts of Christianity.

Sadly, we see now how far Christendom has come from the unity prayed for by Jesus and commanded by divine inspiration by his apostle (John 17:20-23; 1 Cor. 1:10-13; 3:1-3; Phil. 2:1-2; cf. Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4-6).  Our God knew this would happen and why: the selfishness, greed and arrogance of unmerciful, hedonistic man who purposefully turn from the truth towards liars who will scratch their itching ears with myths (2 Tim. 3:1-9; 4:3-4).

Let us pray that we instead remain faithful and preach nothing but God’s Word!  (2 Tim. 4:1-2)

jonandelizabethmitchell@hotmail.com

The Faith Once Delivered – J.T. Wheeler

“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you, exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”  (Jude 3)

We have the truth.  And we have to fight for the truth.  Evil men hinder the truth (Rom. 1:18).  Righteous men spread the truth (Eph. 4:15).  Why is this corpus of revelation, this presentation of supernatural reality, this thing called the faith – why is it so important to us?

The Heavenly Body of Truth

Did you know that, before any word of Scripture was set pen to paper, the Message was enshrined in the holy halls of heaven?  It is true.  The Bible speaks of there being books in heaven (Rev. 20:12).  The psalmist declared, “Forever, O Lord, your word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89; see also Ps. 56:8 and 139:16).  Before Ezekiel was to write or speak a word, he had to consume the heavenly volume containing the message he would deliver to the Jewish refugees (Ezek. 2:8-10).  In the New Testament, the apostle John was told to do the same (Rev. 10:8-11).  Daniel, before he wrote down his final vision and interpretation, was told by the heavenly messenger, “But I will tell you what is noted in the Scripture of Truth” (Dan. 10:21a; notice also Dan. 7:10).

That the New Covenant, or Testament, was established in heaven first is seen in Hebrews 10:7, 10, and in Acts 2:23.  Think about it.  If the covenant had to first be written down by men before it would be real to men, then Peter would have had nothing to say that first Pentecost after the Lord’s resurrection, certainly nothing authoritative; for nothing of the New Testament was written on earth at that time.  And nothing would be written, as far as our Scripture is concerned, until around fifteen years later.  So the New Testament had to exist, real and in force, before Peter and the other apostles opened their mouths as authoritative messengers of this covenant.

Catholicism states that the Church as they understand it gave us the New Testament.  But we should see clearly that the church did not originate or even authorize any canon as God’s Word.  Such is beyond the ability of men (Matt. 16:19).

Did the New Testament exist in its fullness in the time of the acts of the apostles?  If not, what authority – what covenant – were the apostles demanding allegiance to (Acts 2:42)?  What would be the efficacy of the blood of Christ that the church would celebrate the first day of every week (Matt. 26:28; 1 Cor. 11:25)?  The Old Covenant ceased to be in force after the crucifixion of Christ (Col. 2:14-17).  And John’s ministry certainly concluded its course with the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).  Yet the word, beginning in Acts 2, was preached with authority that validated the New Testament, the testament now in force because the risen Christ was on his throne (Acts 2:32-33; Heb. 9:15-17).

The message of the Bible is from the mind of God.  It is not arbitrary or capricious.  Rather, the Lord our God has graciously revealed what has been established in the will of God from eternity (Acts 15:18; Eph. 3:8-11).  This is good for us, because we could not know these things any other way (1 Cor. 2:7-10).

Delivered by the Miraculous Work of God

This Message was given to men as God chose to deliver it to us.  Speaking of Old Testament concerns, God delivered the revelations as he saw fit, but always with the same end in view (Heb. 1:1-3).  Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20-21).

The term is verbal, plenary inspiration.  It refers to God giving the writers of Scripture the very words to use to convey the message He was revealing to them (1 Cor. 2:12-13).  Since it is God’s message from God’s mind being revealed and communicated, to think of inspiration in any lesser terms becomes illogical – and certainly unscriptural.  The fact that the Scripture indicates that God used the vocabulary and communicative skills already familiar to the writers shows us God’s gentleness in his use of men (1 Cor. 14:32), but not God surrendering to their understanding of what was to be revealed (1 Pet. 1:10-12; 2 Pet. 1:20-21).

And now the mind of God has been fully revealed as that mind speaks to our life and godliness (John 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:16; 2 Pet. 1:2-4).  It has been given by the authority of Jesus Christ through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  It is the New Testament which now establishes the apostles of Christ as the revealers, interpreters, and guides for all who would follow Christ (2 Cor. 3:3-6; Eph. 3:1-7; Phil. 4:8-9; 2 Tim. 2:1-2; 3:10-17).

For All Men of All Time

The Message is for all everywhere, for all nations (Matt. 28:18-20), for every creature in this sphere of existence who can believe it and be baptized in obedience to it from the heart (Rom. 6:17-18; Mark 16:15-16).  It is for all time, the eternal covenant which will not be abrogated (Heb. 13:20-21).  It will never pass away (Matt. 24:35).  The Message stands with us forever (2 John 2).  It does not matter that the Message is 2,000 years old.  It is as relevant and pertinent to us today as it has ever been (2 Cor. 6:1-2; Heb. 3:15).  It cannot be lost to humanity (though we may ignore it), so it will never need to be re-given to us.  There is no such thing with God as the restoration of revelation.

What Our Disposition Toward It Should Be

Notice that the Message is called the Faith.  That is telling and instructs us as to our response to this wonderful gift from God.  We are to believe it, trust it, be fully convinced of its truth.  Some brethren struggle with whether the word “faith” deals with subjective understanding or objective revelation.  The fact is that, most of the time, it references both.  The fact that the objective revelation from God, known to God from eternity, the fact that this is called the Faith demands that we hold it personally, intimately, subjectively in our own hearts.  The Faith does you no good unless it becomes your faith (Heb. 11:6; Rom. 4:13-25; 10:17).

What to say about this gift that is appropriate, adequate, impressive?

We are able to save our souls from eternal destruction because of this gift.  We can learn a depth of love beyond ordinary human comprehension.  We can commune with the Divine and make his realm our home.  We can see the invisible.  We can know the unknowable.  We can experience the best of the unspeakable.  The past is explained; the present is understandable; the future is relatable.

We can beat our weaknesses and promote our strengths.  We have a clear vision of perfection while we are able to see our own failings.  Community is enhanced while we still hold to individual worth, dignity, and honor.  Circumstances are seen as transient while we understand that real value is in the internal and eternal.

To surround yourself with Bible believers is to touch heaven.  To have a home where the Bible is believed, taught, and celebrated is to know peace, love, enrichment, and empowerment.  Children grow up secure and ready to take hold of challenges, understanding the greater good to be all important, as God himself has defined such.

Freedom is real, but to be used for the good of others.  Everyone gets a hearing but no one gets to control the soul.  With the revelation of God delivered perfect and complete, nothing new is to be feared, because nothing else is allowed authority over the soul (Eph. 4:5; Gal. 1:6-9).  Peace rules and good advances.  And the Kingdom of God is realized on this earth!

All of this and so much more are found in the wonderful treasures that God has revealed to us in his Holy Bible.  We can know God with it.  We can know how to worship God with it.  We can know what redemption is, what sin is, what righteousness is, what real hope is.

Such a thing cannot be exaggerated.  Such a gift cannot be overstated.  Such a book cannot be spoken about too much.  Oh, the terrible consequences if we were to lose this gift!  The horrible darkness that would enshroud us, the ignorance that would relentlessly beat down on us, the loss of all that could bring good and prosperity to friend and neighbor!

But if we do not appreciate this gift of God’s grace, this divine act of intervention into the affairs of men, this demonstration of love beyond all love, then we will lose the blessings it brings – for ourselves, for our children, for our society.  It has happened before.

Israel lost their focus on God’s revelation and lost great blessings, until at last the word was rediscovered by efforts of reform (2 Kings 22:1-20).  The Great Apostasy occurred with the failure to keep faith with the word of God; and the world was plunged into the Dark Ages until men determined to relearn and re-teach the truth, at the cost of their lives, families, and fortunes.  To honestly think that we can treat such treasure lightly and still keep it is to fool oneself into blindness.

Imagine such a book forgotten on a dusty shelf, trampled as a foot stop, thrown around as a paper weight.  Imagine such a book given less time than is given to an empty TV show or a crass movie.  Imagine children being taught that their secular school work was more important than to study God’s word, or that their job carried more weight than their soul or their God.  Unfortunately, we do not have to imagine, do we?  Such absurd attitudes and declarations are all too familiar in our fellowship.

What would such a treasure demand of us?  What would be the appropriate response to a real revelation from God?  Well, the Bible gives us plenty of historical examples of the wisdom found in those who listened to God and positively responded to him, and the foolishness of those who did not.  In other words, as always, so now, too, when God speaks, we are to listen.  He has spoken, and the Message reverberates to this hour, and will continue to do so, to the end of time and forever more.

charsaint@aol.com

“Does 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 Teach That Women Should Wear A Covering When Worshiping God In The Church Assembly Or When Praying At Home?” – Doug English

There are two main views of what Paul had reference to in this text. While each view approaches the passage from a different perspective, they both reach the same conclusion in its bearing on Christians today.

Briefly, the first view follows the belief that Paul is pointing out that it was customary in eastern countries for women to wear veils. This was done to show the woman’s submission to the male or husband. Thus, not wearing the veil was a sign of rebellion. For a Christian woman this would be a sin, not being in subjection to her husband. Since the wearing of veils is not a part of our society today, this becomes a matter of expediency, in the same category as greeting with a holy kiss (Rom. 16:15).

Paul tells us about expediency in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, where he states that he became all things to all men. In Acts 16:3, this was put into practice when he circumcised Timothy because of the Jewish disposition against the uncircumcised Gentiles. Yet Paul pointed out that circumcision has no value. “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision…” (Gal. 5:6a). Circumcision is a matter of indifference in the salvation of the soul. However, caution should be observed in the usage of expediency, for it must end where doctrine or personal example begin.

The second view has to do with the sinful conditions that existed at that time in Corinth. The apostle warned that these things should not creep into the church. Most particularly, he addressed the women cropping their hair, as did the priestesses (prostitutes) of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. To appear to be one of them would be conduct totally out of character for a Christian woman. It is interesting to note that katakaluptos, sometimes translated “veil,” simply means to be covered. It does not indicate what the covering is or what is to be covered. Only mentioned once in this text peribolion, which would indicate a “veil” and Paul says the woman’s hair is given her for a covering (v. 15).

Paul tells us that the covering God has given us is the hair. Thus, to cut the hair off and appear as these prostitutes would be sinful for a Christian woman. Not only must she live a pure life, but her example must be the same.

In both these positions the conclusion is the same. The wearing of an artificial covering on the head of a woman today neither makes her righteous or unrighteous.

701 N. Duncan By-pass, Union, SC 29379

Editor’s Note:

The late Guy N. Woods also cited the “holy kiss” as comparable to the woman’s covering. “The kiss was a common greeting in the ancient culture and such greetings were to be practiced in holiness. But such were not enjoined upon all congregations for all times…Though Paul enjoined both the covering and the kiss, I do not believe that he intended that either must be practiced in our land and in our day.” (Questions and Answers, Vol. 1, pp. 96f)

When The Water Settles! – Terry Gunnells

Several years ago a resident at one of the apartment complexes in Montgomery, Alabama went to the dumpster to empty her morning coffee grounds and when she did, she thought she heard a baby whimper.  She strained to look over the side of the dumpster and much to her horror, she saw that she had dumped her coffee grounds in the face of a newborn baby.  The mother had given birth somewhere else, brought the baby to the complex, and thrown it in the dumpster.  Before you panic, the baby is now a healthy young girl in the home of a loving adoptive mother and father, loved and nourished and probably not even aware of her horrific birth story.

Are we stirring the baptismal waters and then throwing the new babes to the mercy of the world?  As the parable of the soil and seed teaches (Luke 8), we can’t control the hearts (soil) of converts but we must love and nourish them (the little plants) and give them the best chance of survival.  Even with the best of everything, only about one out of four will become mature Christians and effective leaders in the Lord’s church.

When Jesus gave the Apostles the Great Commission, He made the after baptism education equally as important as the before baptism teaching.  While wondering why those converted on the Day of Pentecost remained in Jerusalem, could it be partly because they were being nursed on the milk until such time as they could be weaned?  When they were persecuted and forced to scatter they could survive on their own.  A wonderful serendipity seemed to be that they went everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:4; Heb. 5:12).

I do not believe there is one exact way to teach new converts, but they must immediately learn the fundamentals of the faith in order to survive.  These basic doctrines must be repeated over and over again.  The three rules of learning are (don’t miss this):  Repetition!  Repetition!  Repetition!  They should hear it at home if they are from a Christian home.  They must hear it in the Bible classes.  They must hear it from the pulpit.  They must hear it in conversations with their Christian friends.  But let’s face it – none of this will take the place of a loving elder or mature Christian man or woman, sitting down with them in their home and teaching them to read the Scriptures for themselves and learning how to find answers as to how to live the Christian life.  How long this spoon fed nourishment lasts depends on the needs of the convert.

I love David Pharr’s book, The Beginning of Our Confidence.  It’s never too far from my sight.  But to give it to a babe who can’t hold his or her Bible yet is not nearly as effective as a loving Christian brother or sister discussing David’s book with them face to face once or twice a week.

Brother Stewart Schnur uses Christian Development, published by Sunset International Bible Institute, which is a 52-lesson fundamentals of the faith based material.  That, too, is most effective under a Christian tutor.  I am sure there are many other good faith development programs available.

Warning!  This one-on-one relationship of which I am writing has one objective: to make the new convert strong and independent.  If you as a mentor make them dependent on you and you control them, you have the wrong motive.  Control freaks have no place teaching new converts.  Paul did not encourage Timothy to teach men so he could control them, but so they could teach others (2 Tim. 2:2).

Church leaders need to spot this kind of unhealthy relationship and break the pattern as soon as possible.  No “prayer partners,” please!

There are some things that happen to young Christians that are tragic and could be fatal if they are not guided through them with gentle hands: the ugly dismissal of the preacher, withdrawal from an errant member, a church fuss or split.  They will even encounter those who have been in the church for years and who are still juveniles in Christ.  These weak brethren should not be allowed to harm new Christians with their frivolous behavior such as childish public complaints and argumentative spirits.

Church leaders should curtail silly arguments over Christmas trees, bearing arms, voting, etc., and of course, matters of opinion.  When the new convert is exposed to such distasteful, immature antics before they are ready to digest them, they can be led through them with little or no damage by good elders or mature mentors.

There is definitely a biblical and common sense rule that dictates what each new convert needs.  Some have come from mature Christian homes and are way ahead of the game.  Others have been converted from denominationalism and must “unlearn” many bad habits and especially the language of their past religion.  This requires patience.

Unfortunately, our brethren are not always patient with the ones who use the “language of Ashdod” such as “pastor,” “reverend,” and call denominational people “brothers,” etc.  We treat them like a piñata and take a blind swing at them without taking into consideration their spiritual age.  This is where a good, caring tutor can rescue them from well-meaning but insensitive brethren.  One brother said to my wife when her father died, “Well, we know where our daddies are.  They both split Hell wide open.”

New Christians need an abbreviated introduction to the Restoration Plea.  When the first century doctrines are compared to the dogmas of the Catholic and Reformed faith groups, the new convert’s faith formation is well on its way.  If they internalize such slogans as “No Creed But Christ” and “No Book But The Bible,” they will be hard to lead astray.  New converts need to learn who the apostles were and what it means to follow such examples of the early church in Acts 2:42 and Acts 20:7.  Add the slogans “Speak Where The Bible Speaks, Be Silent Where The Bible Is Silent,” and “Call Bible Things By Bible Names.”

Have the new convert learn how the Bible teaches:

  1. By statement of fact (Gen. 1:1; John 1:1-2)
  2. By command (Acts 2:38; 10:48; 1 Cor. 14:37; Matt. 26:26-29)
  3. By approved example (Acts 20:7)
  4. By necessary inference (Acts 8:35-36 – it is inferred that preaching Jesus included preaching baptism.)

Have them learn the rules of specific and generic commands.  When a command is specific, it cannot be changed or substituted for in any way, shape, or form.  If it is generic, one can accomplish the command by whatever means are available to him or her, such as Noah selecting the tools to build the ark even though the dimensions could not be altered.

The new convert must have a healthy abiding love for Christ and an equally abiding love for His word.  The initial teaching emphasizes the belief in Christ that leads to baptism.  The same care must be given to the teaching that matures the convert into a full-grown Christian (Eph. 4:11-14).  Please, brethren.  Let’s not “duck ’em and turn ’em loose.”

teg8891@aol.com

The Minister’s Tax Return – Paul Kirkpatrick

As a minister of the Gospel and a representative of the church where one labors, it is imperative that one maintains his finances above reproach.  One of the areas that few elderships understand and sadly many preachers lack understanding is in the area of 1040’s, W-2’s and the like.  One who serves among churches of Christ needs to know not only the tax advantages for a minister, but also the rules that govern such advantages.  One’s reputation is certainly at stake and there is also that one does not want to start a prison ministry from the inside!

I would encourage elderships and preachers to obtain a tax guide each year to keep up with changes in the tax code.  Publication 517 from the IRS is a free publication.  I ahve relied on B.J. Worth’s Tax Guide for years.  It is very readable, plain, and “user friendly.”  It contains sample W-2’s, 1040’s, Schedule C’s, Schedule A’s, etc.

I would also encourage church representatives/elders and their minister to have a written contract that outlines the minister’s responsibility to the church and the church representatives/elders’ responsibility to the minister.  Included in this contract would be details concerning the minister’s tax details.

Church of Christ Status

A minister of the church of Christ is a dual-status minister.  That means that he is considered an employee of the church for computing income tax to the Internal Revenue Service, and is considered to be self-employed by the Social Security Administration.  In view of this status the minister can ask the church to withhold appropriate amounts from his check or he can elect to exempt from withholding.  It is to the minister’s advantage to elect to be exempt from withholding because many treasurers do not want to be involved in the complexities of ministers’ taxes.  In either case either the treasurer or the minister himself must make quarterly payments.  Social Security payments must be made whether he expects to owe income tax or not.

Parsonage Allowance

In many church/minister compensation packages there is occasionally a house provided and/or utility allowance.  The IRS and the SSA have guidelines governing what expenses can be deductible.  When a house/utility package is not provided (such as when a preacher purchases his own house), the minister is usually afforded a double tax advantage if he itemizes deductions on Schedule A and also excludes the Parsonage Allowance from Box 1 on the W-2.  This reduces taxable income which provides a great deal of savings in taxes.  The SSA says he must also compute the Fair Market Value (rental value) of the house and pay 15.02% of the FMV to the SSA.  This applies to the preacher who receives a house provided by the church.  The SSA views the housing allowance as income.

For the one purchasing a house, the Parsonage Allowance can include the house payment, utilities, homeowner’s insurance, cost of repairs, yard maintenance, furniture and appliances, household supplies, etc.  Records must be kept.  (All actual housing expenses may be included in a housing allowance provided they are actually paid, whether the minister is purchasing the house or not.)  However, the Parsonage Allowance must be estimated in advance and must be recorded in minutes/records of the church.  The best time to create a Parsonage Allowance agreement is at the time of employment or before January 1 of the next tax year.  Adjustments to the amount of Parsonage Allowance must always be in advance.  The housing allowance can be more than will actually be spent, but any overage must be reported as “other income.”

Income

Ministers who work for congregations (as earlier stated) are considered employees of the church.  Money that they receive from that church is considered as income and must be reported on a W-2.  The IRS determines with clear criteria whether a minister is dual-status or self-employed.  Churches cannot assign a status of “self-employed” unless one meets the criteria established by the IRS.  If the church violates this rule, it can be fined and possibly lose its 501(C) tax exemption.

For many years there has been an understanding that the church gives their minister a 1099 and not a W-2.  The rule was changed, I believe, in 1975.  When I preached in South Carolina, the state began to require a state ID number on the W-2.  When I went to inquire at the State Department of Revenue in Columbia, their taxpayer representative told me that I didn’t need this as I should get a 1099.  I argued with him that I was a dual status minister and required a W-2.  When he went to his supervisor he came back and said that I was right!  He had been at this position for eleven years and did not know the requirement.  Thank you, B.J. Worth!

The rule is different if one receives compensation from another church.  We typically pay ministers to come for various reasons such as gospel meetings, VBS adult class teachers, summer series speakers, etc.  The IRS calls this type of compensation an Honorarium.  Dual-status ministers record the amount of Honorarium and insert the amount on Schedule C.  You might have car expenses, gasoline, airline tickets, etc., that might incur that can offset the amount and lower the Self-Employment tax one might pay.

Miscellaneous Deductions & Business Expenses

Again, let me express to you that a good tax guide that specializes in ministers’ taxes and publications from the IRS are essential for you to take advantage of areas where the IRS and SSA allow.  My philosophy about this is that I want to pay the IRS and SSA all that are due them, but not a penny more!

You may be able to deduct/exclude premiums for health insurance, limited amount of insurance premiums, personal liability policies, and business and professional expenses.  You may be able to deduct actual expenses you incur in traveling to hospitals, home visits, etc., but documentation is essential for making these deductions.  If you are ever audited and you do not have documentation for your deductions and allowances, you may face fines and penalties that may go back three years.  Prosecution is not out of the question either.  It is possible for these expenses to be excluded from income and not reported as income on your W-2.  However, there are rules that apply and both the minister and the treasurer must understand the requirements.  Again, it is essential to have professional guidance, such as the book by B.J. Worth mentioned above.

You only have one reputation and trying to “skirt” the rules may have a devastating effect on you and the church you serve.

I had advised preachers to know the “ins and outs” of the tax code that pertains to them just as much as one might study Scripture.  Your eternal life and your reputation depends on it.

Paul@warnerschapelchurchofchrist.org