Monday, March 16, 2015

The Other Scriptures

     In the context of 2 Peter 3:14-18, Peter says Paul's letters "contain some things that are
hard  to  understand, which  ignorant  and  unstable  people  distort."  Then  Peter  uses  a
phrase that is not only remarkable, but  its  implications  are  profound!  The people about
whom he writes, not only distort Paul's letters, but  they  do  the  same  thing  to "the other
scriptures" (tas loipas graphas). (v.16)

     First, Peter implies that Paul's letters are scripture. He said ignorant people distort Paul's
letters, "as they do also the other scriptures." (ASV-1901) The word "other"(Grk.loipos)
connotes "rest of." So, the  uninformed  distorted  Paul's  letters  as  they  did  the rest of
the scriptures. No  human  council  or  legislative  body  determines  what  does and does
not constitute scripture. God has made that determination. When  an  apostle and  others 
who  were "carried  along  by  the Holy Spirit,"  (2 Peter 1:21)  put  "pen  to  paper"  in 
revealing truth  from  the  mind  of  God (1 Corinthians 2:13), they were writing scripture! 

     Second, since the apostles and other supernaturally guided men wrote scripture, their
writings are authoritative, and serve as an inerrant guide in all religious matters. Paul told
the  Corinthians,   "The  things  I  am  writing  to  you  are  the  command  of  the  Lord."
(1 Corinthians 14:37) He even commended them for "maintaining the traditions" as he had
delivered them. Traditions refers to apostolic instructions. Paul informed the Thessalonians
that when they heard the word from him, it was not "the  word  of  men," they received,
but "the  word  of  God" that  was  at work in them.(1 Thessalonians 2:13) He told the
believers  in  Rome  that  they  would be judged by the message of good news that he
preached. (Romans 2:16)

     Third, therefore, inasmuch as there is a  body of literature  that  has been "breathed
out by God" ( 2 Timothy 3:16), it is not only futile but also eternally disastrous for people
to  distort  it. Those  who  twist  the  scriptures,  do  so  to  "their  own  destruction!"
(2 Peter 3:16)  We are to remain in the teaching of Christ (2 John 9). The faith, that is,
the body of eternal truth has been "once for all delivered to the holy people." (Jude 3)
God has supplied mankind with "all things that pertain to life and godliness." (2 Peter 1:3)
No other  written  message will  be given. We  have  the  mind  of  God  verbalized  in
Paul's writings and "the other scriptures."

                                                                                                                      R. Daly
Copyright 2015 


Friday, March 6, 2015

Religous Errors Refuted by The Letter to The Ephesians

     Paul's  letter  to  the  Ephesians  is  rich  in  theological content! It  is a masterpiece of
doctrinal and practical instruction. If a person studies the letter a thousand times, the next
time they look into its meaning new information will be uncovered. Ephesians refutes many
commonly  taught  ancient  and  modern  religious  errors. In  this  post  we  will  examine
several errors that are demolished by the letter to the Ephesians.

    Denominationalism is refuted within the Ephesian letter. Most denominational people
believe a person has the right to "join the church of their choice." This concept was not
taught by any any apostle of Christ, neither did such an idea enter the mind of God. In the
Ephesians letter, Paul said, "There is one body." (Ephesians 4:4) One is one more than
zero  and  one less  than  two.  It is singular!  Paul  himself  identifies  this  body  as "the
congregation which is his body." (Ephesians 1:22-23) One body is one congregation of
the redeemed.

     Calvinism is refuted by the Ephesians letter. One of the tenets of Calvinism is the idea
that sin is inherited. Calvinists teach and believe that human beings are born with a sinful
"nature." Paul informed the believers in Ephesus that sin resulted from their practice not
their birth. He told them, "You were dead through your trespasses and sins, in which you
once walked...we also once lived in the lusts of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh
and mind..." (Ephesians 2:1-3) He is discussing how they lived, not how they were
born. In  verse  3  he  says  they  were "by nature children of wrath." The word "nature"
(Grk. phusis) does not refer to a birth state but "a mode of feeling and acting which by
long  habit  has  become nature." (Thayer's Greek and English Lexicon, page 660)
The  context  confirms  Thayer's  comment. In  this  context,  phusis  connotes  "in this
condition," that is, the way the Ephesians formerly lived, thought, and acted.

     Faith Only and Grace only as  a  means of salvation are refuted by the Ephesians
letter. The Methodist discipline and the Baptist manuals affirm that a person is justified
by faith alone and grace alone. They affirm what Paul denies! Paul said, "by grace you
have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of
works, that  no  one  should  boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)  Since  salvation  is "by" grace
"through" faith, it is by neither alone! Furthermore, in the Ephesians letter Paul attributes
their  salvation  to  other  elements  such  as "through his blood," (1:7); "the word of truth,
the good news of your salvation," (1:13); "Christ." (5:23) In Paul's mind, people are not
saved by anyone or anything alone. Several factors contribute to salvation from sin.

     United  Pentecostalism   is   refuted   by   the    letter   to  the  Ephesians.  United
Pentecostalism teaches  that  there  is  only  one  person in the Godhead, namely Jesus.
Paul wrote in the letter about "God our Father," (1:2) "the Lord Jesus Christ,"(1:2) and
"the Holy Spirit of promise." (1:13) He also wrote, "there is one Spirit," (4:4), "one Lord,"
(4:5), and  "one God and Father of all." (4:6) The Godhead consists of three persons not

     Seventh Day Adventism is refuted by the marvelous Ephesians letter. Seventh Day
Adventists believe the Old testament law regulating the sabbath day is still binding. Paul
says Christ has "abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained
in ordinances." (2:15) The  law  that  contained  the  sabbath  day  regulations  has  been
terminated or nullified. It is no longer binding.

     Premillenialism is refuted by the letter of Paul to the Ephesians. One of the elements
of premillenial doctrine is that Christ came to establish the kingdom of God, but the Jews
rejected him, and the "church" was established as a substitute until the thousand years
reign on earth, then the kingdom of God will be established. Paul said the assembly or
congregation of God was the result of divine planning. It was "the eternal purpose of God
which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (3:10-11) The establishment of the Lord's
congregation  was  no  afterthought, it  was  God  plan  before  the  ages! Inexhaustible, 
unfathomable, unlimited wisdom with rich variety underlies the existence of Christ's body.

     Religious Institutionalism is refuted by the letter to the Ephesians. Only one religious
society has any right to exist by divine decree. No human religious institutions, regardless
of how "worthy" their aims, have the right to supplant the mission of the Lord's congregation
by  preaching the good news of salvation in Christ! Heaven is honored and God is glorified
"in the congregation and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen." (3:21)
God is glorified in this way because "the congregation" is his saved people, and "Christ
Jesus"  is their Savior. Together they reflect and represent the summary of all that God set
in order for the eternal good of humanity.

     Universalism is  refuted  by  the  Ephesians letter. Universalism asserts that all human
beings will eventually be saved. But  Paul  wrote,  "Know  this  of  a certainty, no sexually
immoral person, nor unclean person, nor  greedy  person,  nor  one  who  is  an idolater
has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God." (5:5) Christ  is  "the  Savior  of the
body."  (5:23) According to Paul, there are people who will not be saved.

     Ecumenism is refuted by Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Ecumenism is the movement
designed to "unite all churches" by overlooking doctrinal differences. Paul wrote, there is
"one faith." (4:5)  There  is  one  system  of  belief. There  is  one "word of truth." (1:13)
It must not be compromised. Ecumenism is like rheumatism; if it isn't put in check, it will
spread to other parts of the "body." Paul says believers are in a war, not in a truce signing
ceremony. (6:10-20)

     The Non essentiality of immersion  is also refuted by the Ephesians letter. Nearly
all denominational organizations deny that immersion is necessary for salvation from past
sins. They reason: "Baptism is a work. We are not saved by works. So, we are not saved
by baptism." They fail to realize we are not saved by works of human origin, neither are
we saved by works that permit boasting. Immersion is not a humanly prescribed work,
and immersion does not allow boasting. Immersion is an act commanded by God. (Acts
10:48), and when one is immersed, they are saved by grace. (Acts 19:1-5; Ephesians
2:8-9) The Ephesians had been immersed "into the name of the Lord Jesus," (Acts 19:4-5)
and they "were saved by grace through faith." (Ephesians 2:8-9) They were in the body
of Christ. So, Paul wrote to them and said the Lord has "cleansed it (the assembly of the
saved, RD) by the washing of water with the word." (Ephesians 5:25-27) The "washing
of water" refers to the purification from sin that God granted when they were  immersed.
(Acts 22:16; Titus 3:5)

                                                                                                                       R. Daly

Copyright 2015




Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Tradition of the Elders

     In Mark's account of the life of Christ, we read about the "tradition of the elders."
We encounter the phrase twice in Mark chapter 7 verses 3 and 5. It has reference to
the oral law of the rabbis. Josephus refers to this as the "tradition of the fathers."
(cf. Josephus' Antiquities XIII.16.2, 408) Pharisees believed that not only had Moses
given the written law at Sinai, but that he had also given an oral law which had been
preserved by word of mouth. This oral law was considered equally binding with
the written law. (Josephus Antiquities XIII.x.6, 297) This was finally collected and
written down by Judah the Prince, about A.D. 200, and formed the Mishna. The oral
law actually constituted the body of customs to define the points of law. It was a
body of commentary in addition to the law!

     Jesus referred to their oral law, the tradition of the elders, as "your tradition," 
differentiating it from the "commandment of God." (Mark 7:9,14) He also refers to
their tradition as "the tradition of men." (v.8) By doing this, he refused to accept the
authority of their tradition. He challenged the binding nature of their oral law! Their
code of customs was not "the word of God." (Matthew 15:6) The rules they were
seeking to impose on the Lord's disciples had no divine authority, and the Lord
Jesus rejected them. Jesus did not strive to be politically correct, but he was always
religiously correct. His mission was to practice and teach the will of his Father in
heaven, not to submit to uninspired human traditions. (John 5:19, 30; 6:38)

     Human  tradition  is  like  the  talons of an eagle holding a fish. When it takes
hold, it is hard to break away from its grip. The longer human tradition is practiced,
the deeper it sinks into the heart, and the harder it is to "cry freedom." Efforts to
renounce man-made traditions are often described as heresy or damnable. One
reason for this is the fact that people do not like to be different, and they suspect
anyone or anything that is different from what they have always believed and
practiced. Divine "traditions" (teaching from God through the apostles) are binding
(1 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6) , but doctrines and practices imposed
by human beings must not ever be thought of as laws from God. They must be rejected.

     I have known elders and leading men within the congregations of Christ that have
made the law that only the King James Version of the Bible may be used in public
reading, preaching, and teaching. Some have even said, "Look at where the KJV has
brought us. It has been used successfully in debates with denominational preachers.
Thousands have been saved from sin by the KJV." The KJV is a useful translation,
but King James onlyism has no place among the people of God or anyone else.
It cannot be defended. Not even the KJV translators believed in King James onlyism.
A person who prefers to use a version  that  speaks  through older archaic English
forms  will  likely  enjoy  the  KJV.  But  they  have  no more right to bind their
preference on others, than the Pharisees had  to  bind  the necessity of washing of
one's hands before eating. (Mark 7:1-8) Neither do they have the right to criticize
other versions of the Bible on the basis that they differ from the KJV. Rejecting
human tradition does not make a person a "liberal." Jesus said the Pharisees, the
lawmakers, the ones who bound human traditions were in error because they "were
teaching human rules as their doctrines." (Mark 7:7)  That is the taproot of liberalism;
breaking away from the word of God to follow man-made rules.

     In response to the statement that "The KJV is not the only acceptable version
of the scriptures that a person may use," it is sometimes said, "The elders are to
guard the congregation from doctrinal error, therefore, we only use the KJV."
It is true that the overseers are to protect God's congregations from false doctrine.
( Acts 20:28-31; Titus 1:9) But it is not true that King James onlyism is the proper
response to the problem. In order to demonstrate this, one question is appropriate:
is   there any   doctrinal  error in the KJV?  If   you  answer  "No," look  at  two
frequently quoted verses of scripture; (Acts 2:47 and Acts 3:19). Notice the phrase
"such as should be saved" in 2:47, and the phrase "be converted" in 3:19. Neither
translation is what the Greek text says. Both phrases are incorrectly translated, and
are therefore doctrinal errors. Someone  may  respond,  "But the person reading
or teaching from the KJV can explain this fact and teach the truth to the people."
The respondent is correct. And since this is true, why can't the same thing be done
if a person uses the ASV, ESV, RSV, and NIV when teaching and preaching if
they encounter errors in the text?

     Jesus exposed the inconsistency of those who were attempting to bind "the
tradition of the elders." The same thing should be done whenever people bind any
human traditions. No one has the right to make and bind  laws God did not make.

                                                                                                                 R. Daly
Copyright 2015