Jesus And Division by Allan Turner


Jesus And Division
by Allan Turner

In Isaiah 9:6, the prophet referred to Jesus as the “Prince of Peace.” In the New Testament, He is called the “Lord of peace” (2 Thessalonians 3:16). And at His  birth, the angels and the heavenly host said: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14). Around Christmas time we hear folks quoting these passages as if they were originally intended as a remedy for the sad state of affairs in the world (i.e., “wars and rumors of wars”). Contrary to what many people think, these passages are not addressing Jesus' connection to peace between nations. Neither are they saying that His primary mission was to bring peace between men. Jesus did not come to bring peace in the way we normally think of the word. I know this is true because the Bible says so.  In Matthew 10:34-36, Jesus said:
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes shall be they of his own household.”
Again in Luke 12:49-53, the Lord said:
“I came to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how distressed I am till it is accomplished! Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
So, as shocking as it may sound, Jesus said that He came into this world to bring division. But, before we pursue this subject any further, it is absolutely essential that we understand the statements made in Isaiah 9:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:16; and Luke 2:14. First of all, one can be sure that these statements do not contradict what Jesus said in Matthew 10:34-36 and Luke 12:49-53. The Bible, the inspired word of God, does not contradict itself! In Luke 2:14, the angels and host of heaven are speaking of the peace that would, as a result of this child's work, be able to exist between God and man. As Romans 5:1 says, “having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This peace was being bestowed upon all of mankind “through Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36), and the “glory” for all of this belongs to “God in the highest.”
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:4-9).
In other words, all of mankind became the enemies of God through sin, and the only way they could be at peace with Him was through His goodwill or grace. This, and this alone, is that of which Luke 2:14 speaks. Yes, it would be true that men who were at peace with God through Jesus Christ would also learn how to be at peace with each other (Romans 12:18; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 3:11), but this was clearly secondary to, and dependent upon, the peace that could, through Christ, exist between God and man. With this truth firmly fixed in our minds, it is now time for us to try and understand what the Lord meant when He said He came to cause division.
Jesus Christ Must Be Taken Seriously
Although many seem to miss it, the Bible makes one thing very clear: Jesus Christ expects to be taken seriously! If one does not kiss (worship) the Son, then He will be angry with him (Psalm 2:12). Those who think Jesus will be tolerant concerning their religious beliefs are sadly mistaken. Jesus made it quite clear that He is not a way to the Father, but He isthe way (John 14:6). Peter taught the same thing when he said, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Consequently, in order to spend an eternity with God in heaven, one is going to have to make the right decision about Jesus of Nazareth (John 8:24; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 7).
For instance, our Muslim friends honor Jesus as a prophet of God. In the Qur'an (Koran), Mohammed wrote, “The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, is but the apostle of God and His word” (Sura 4:169). He had previously written, “We have given Jesus the son of Mary manifest signs, and strengthened him b y the Holy Spirit” (Sura 2:54). Even so, Mohammed rejected, as do our Muslim friends, the truth that Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnated (John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16; etc.). Mohammed believed and taught that Jesus, although a prophet, was just a man. As a result, there is a great division that exists today between those who practice Islam and those who follow Jesus Christ as Lord.
The Jews, who had been entrusted with the oracles of God and therefore should have known better (Romans 3:1-2), failed to “kiss the Son,” and they felt His terrible wrath when He came in judgment against their nation and their religious institutions in the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (see Matthew 24:4-34). Since their rejection of the Messiah, there has been a division between the Jews and Christians.
Hindus believe there are many paths that lead to heaven. They believe that Jesus is but one of those ways (i.e., they believe Jesus is way). But, again, Jesus clearly said that He was the way (John 8:24). When Christians teach that Jesus is the only way to the Father, there is a great rift that develops between the Hindu and the Christian.
Now, I've said all that to say this: What one thinks about Jesus causes division, and Jesus emphatically said it would! So sharp would be the divisions caused by Christ, that He said:
“For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a mans enemies will be those of his own household’” (Matthew 10:35-36).
Again, in Luke 12:52-53, He said:
“For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
This sharp division over Christ will one day culminate in the great judgment scene where the wise and the foolish, the sheep and the goats, those on the right hand and on the left, and the doers of the word and the hearers only, shall be divided for an eternity (Matthew 7:21-27; 25:31-46).
If all this is true, then why is it that we hear so many Christians complaining about disagreements and divisions taking place in churches of Christ over God's word? Did anyone who loved the truth back in the Fifties and Sixties not think that institutionalism, unless repented of, would cause division? When the current false teaching on marriage and divorce began circulating (i.e., the unbeliever is not amenable to Christ's marriage law), did anyone who loved the truth think that this would not, without repentance, cause division? These divisions occurred and will continue to occur because the word of God does exactly what the Lord intends it to do—provide a criterion for separating the spirit of truth from the spirit of error (1 John 4:1-8), and ultimately separating sheep from goats (Matthew 25:31-33).
It is extremely unfortunate that some who make a plea for the restoration of New Testament Christianity are caught up, quite erroneously, in the pipe dream of a golden era of the church when there were neither problems nor divisions. But when was that? Churches of Christ have always been plagued by strife (Philippians 1:15-16), false teachers (2 Peter 2:1-3), perverse and destructive leaders (Acts 20:29f., Jude 4), the preaching of a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9), servants of Satan (2 Corinthians 11:13-15), and divisiveness (3 John 9-10). This is why Jude exhorted Christians “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3b). This is why Paul admonished Christians to: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13, NIV). What the kingdom of God needs today are more soldiers of the cross and less spiritual pacifists, who only stand around bemoaning what they say is a lack of love among brethren, and who frequently point accusatory fingers at those whom they consider to be much too strident.
Now, I realize that those who are at peace with God through Jesus Christ ought to be at peace with each other (James 3:18). And if we were all what we ought to be, then this would be the case. In fact, the objective standard for the peace mentioned in James 3:18 is clearly set forth in 1 Corinthians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 4:3; Philippians 1:27; 1 Peter 3:8; and John 17:21. Unfortunately, the redeemed do not keep this standard perfectly. Yes, it is certainly wonderful when brethren live together in the unity of the Spirit and faith for which Christ died (Ephesians 4:3, 13), and we ought to cherish those times and circumstances, but because Jesus Himself is the standard of authority for God's people, there will be times when we will have to oppose those who teach or practice error. Furthermore, if we do not keep the standard, we, too, will have to be opposed. This is simply the effect of following a standard outside o f ourselves. Of course, when compelled to oppose error, we need to be very careful that we don't fall into some sin ourselves (Galatians 6:1). Nevertheless, heresies, contentions, dissensions, and other works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) must be opposed. When this happens, divisions usually occur. As uncomfortable and unpleasant as this is, this is as it ought to be when the truth is at stake. Consequently, let those of us who follow Christ not grow weary in well-doing, but let us confront, oppose, and identify those who do not obey God's word (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15).
In the final judgment at the end of time, all things will be set right. In the meantime, the tares and the wheat grow together in the same field (Matthew 13:24-30). Let us determine to spend our time here in this world proving ourselves to be the “good seed” sown by our Lord, Jesus Christ. Remember, the churches at Pergamum and Thyatira, who basked in the twilight of the 1st-century, were condemned by the Lord for tolerating false teaching. Reflecting in the twilight of the 20th-century, let us make sure that we are not guilty of the same misdeed.

How To Establish Bible Authority by Allan Turner


How To Establish Bible Authority

Definition of Authority: “Legal or rightful power; a right to command or act; dominion; jurisdiction.”
First of all, we need authority in the home, school, business, or the nation. Weights and measurements are established by some sort of authority. The quality of our food and drugs must be set by some authority. The speed limits are set by governmental authority. Even the money we use is determined by some sort of authority. If we are going to have any kind of order in our lives, we must have some authority by which we do things. For example, if you went to the butcher and asked for a kilogram of beef, you would be quite upset if the butcher decided to give you half a kilogram instead, and even more so if he charged you for two kilograms. If you agreed to buy something for fifty shillings, and when you tried to pay for it, the seller demanded one-hundred shillings, claiming fifty shillings and one-hundred shillings were all the same, you would think he had lost his mind. In other words, we depend on some sort of authority for practically everything we do. We just cannot get by without some kind of authority in our lives!
From a biblical standpoint, we learn that one of the most confusing and backward times in Israel's history was a time when God's people had no respect for His standard of authority. In Judges 21:25, the scriptures say, “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Incidentally, this is the reason for all the divisions in the religious world today. All the religious groups are simply doing what is right in their own eyes. This is extremely unfortunate because the Bible says that Christians ought to “all speak the same thing” (I Corinthians 1:10), and that we should all walk by the same rule (Philippians 3:16). In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus says that many would be rejected at the judgment because of iniquity or lawlessness. In 2 John 9-11, the apostle says: “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.” In other words, walking outside the rules that the Lord has set up for us will send us to hell!
This brings us to our main point: There are two, and only two, sources of authority in religion. This is illustrated by Matthew 21:23-27, which says: “And when He was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto Him as He was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell Me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; He will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him? But if we shall say, Of men; we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet. And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And He said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.” In this passage the Lord makes it very clear there are only two sources of authority in religion—heaven or men.
Unfortunately, we live in a world where many people, like the ancient Jews, are content to establish their own man-made righteousness. Listen to the apostle Paul in Romans 10:1-3: “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” This, of course, is the sad state of affairs in the denominational world even today.

All Authority Belongs To The Father
Those of us who are members of the church of Christ are trying, to the best of our abilities, to follow the authority from heaven. We are trying to speak as the “oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11). We are trying to “speak the same thing” (I Corinthians 1:10). We are all trying to “walk by the same rule” (Philippians 3:16). As such, we recognize God the Father as the one ultimately with all authority. Although the Bible says He gave “all authority” to His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18,19; Philippians 2:9-11), nevertheless, He (the Father) is the only one exempted from the rule or authority of His Son (I Corinthians 15:27).

All Authority Has Been Given To The Son
In Hebrews 1:1, 2, the Bible says: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds.” Furthermore, when Jesus was transfigured, the Father spoke from heaven saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him” (Matthew 17:5). Finally, in John 12:48, Jesus says, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” The words of the Lord Jesus Christ are going to judge us all on the last day. No one is going to be exempted from His authority.

Jesus Has Given His Apostles Delegated Authority
In John 17:18, the Lord said, “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” This means that the apostles had delegated authority on earth to “bind” and “loose” what had been bound in heaven (Matthew 16:19; 18:18). To aid them in this work, Jesus said the Father would send the Holy Spirit to the apostles in His name, which means by His authority (John 14:26). The Lord went on to say, “He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” This was for the express purpose of guiding the apostles into all truth (cf. John 16:13,14). In Matthew 10:40, Jesus said, “He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and he that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me.” This clearly shows that the apostles were the official representatives (ambassadors) of Christ on earth (cf. II Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:20).
In connection with the “binding” and “loosing” work of Matthew 16:19 and 18:18, Peter, an apostle, was promised “the keys of the kingdom.” The term “key” is frequently used in the Bible to represent authority. For example, in Isaiah 22:22, God had this to say about the authority He would give to Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah: “And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.” As one can see, the term is used in this passage to mean power and authority. This same expression and idea is conveyed in Revelation 3:7, which says, “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.” In this passage, the “key of David” represents the authority of Christ. As apostles, the twelve plus Paul had the authority to bind and loose. This means they had the right to command those who heard them (II Peter 3:1,2; I John 1:3,4; I Corinthians 2:10-13; 14:37). None of this meant that they could make up the rules themselves! What it meant was that they were the ones authorized by the Lord to inform the world what had been bound and loosed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Speaking As The Oracles Of God
The Holy Spirit guided the apostles into all truth (John 16:13) so that they could ultimately guide us into all truth. The apostle Paul put it this way: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:1-11).
The word of God teaches us that the Holy Spirit would continue to directly inspire men until the Bible was completed (cf. I Corinthians 13: 8-13). But in Jude 3-5, we learn that we are to contend for the faith which was “once for all delivered to the saints.” Again, in James 1:25, we learn that the gospel of Jesus Christ is referred to as the “perfect [the word means complete] law of liberty.” And, in II Timothy 3:16, 17, we find out: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect [the word means complete or mature], throughly furnished unto all good works.” Finally, in II Peter 1:3, the Bible clearly says that God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. In light of these passages, it is safe to say that all the scriptures have been completed. This is why the apostle Peter admonished: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” Contrary to what some think, there will be no latter day revelation!
Doctrine does not come from direct inspiration today; it comes, instead, from the word of God—the Bible. If we allow ourselves to be reproved, corrected, and instructed by the completed word of God, it will, in turn, make us perfect or complete, and will completely furnish us for every good work (II Timothy 3:16,17). In other words, if the religion we practice is going to be from heaven and not men, then it is going to have to come from the Bible. Consequently, what the Bible says, and does not say, is very important!

Determining What The Bible Says
There are three ways in which we determine what the Bible says: (1) direct statements, (2) approved examples, and (3) necessary conclusions. Direct statements, approved examples, and necessary conclusions are all equally binding. When God employs any of these methods, He is instructing us in what we should know about His will for us. Let us spend some time with each one of these methods.

(1) The Direct Statement
The Bible instructs us by direct statements. For instance, in Acts 17:30, there is a direct statement or command to repent: “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” In Acts 2:38, the Bible teaches by means of a direct statement that repentance and baptism are both necessary in order for one to obtain the remission of sins. In Hebrews 10:25, we are taught by a direct statement that we ought not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. And, in Colossians 3:9, we are taught (again, by a direct statement) that it is wrong to lie. This is what is meant when we say that one of the ways the Bible teaches us is by direct statements.

(2) An Approved Example
In addition to teaching by direct statements, the Bible also teaches us through approved examples. For instance, in instructing His disciples about partaking of the Lord's supper, the Lord said about the bread, “And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me” (I Corinthians 11:24). And about the fruit of the vine, He said, “After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me” (I Corinthians 11:25). Now, using direct statements, the Lord instructed His disciples that they should partake of the Lord's supper in remembrance of Him; but, He did not tell them when they should do so. Even so, when is determined by an approved example found in Acts 20:7. In this passage, we learn that the early church partook of the Lord's supper on the first day of the week, which is Sunday or the Lord's day (cf. Revelation 1:10). We call it approved in that an apostle was there when it was done and did not speak against it being done on the first day of the week. In other words, he approved it. In fact, Acts 20:6 tells us that Paul stayed in Troas for seven days. This seems to indicate that he waited in Troas so he could partake of the Lord's supper with the Troas church. So, here we have an approved example of when the early church did what the Lord told it to do.
Another example of an approved example is churches relieving other churches in the case of benevolence (Acts 11:29,30). The context tells us that there was a famine throughout the whole world and that Judea was especially effected. Then, the Bible says: “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.” Here, then, is something the early church participated in that was approved by the apostle Paul. Therefore, by this approved example we know that churches of Christ can send relief to other churches of Christ when those churches are in need.
These examples serve to teach us that God's word instructs us as to what is acceptable by means of approved examples. But, in addition to teaching by direct statements and approved examples, the Bible instructs us by a third method. It is to this third method that we now turn our attention.

(3) A Necessary Conclusion
That Christians are to partake of the Lord's supper is taught by direct statement (I Corinthians 11:24,25; Matthew 26:26-27). That we are to do so on the first day of the week is taught by an approved example (Acts 20:7). That it is to be taken every first day of the week is taught by a necessary conclusion (Acts 20:7). We will have more to say about every first day of the week, but before we do so, we must be sure that we understand what is meant by a necessary conclusion.
A conclusion is a conclusion reached by inference. For example, a teacher, upon being told that many of his students are sick, might conclude that one particular student who is absent is absent because he is sick. This, of course, may or may not be true. In other words, the teacher has come to a conclusion, but the conclusion is not a necessary one. In fact, the particular student who is absent might be absent for any number of reasons. In our daily lives, we make conclusions practically every day. Some are correct and some are not! The difference between a conclusion and a necessary conclusion is that a necessary conclusion is the only conclusion one can come to based on the information provided. For example, the same teacher as mentioned above is informed that all his students are sick. He knows that a particular individual is his student; therefore, he necessarily concludes, based upon what he has been told, that this particular individual is sick.
As people generally seem to have a problem with this concept, let us look at another example. Suppose you are told that all cats are white in color. You are then told that Tom is a cat. If I were to then ask you what color Tom is, what would you say? The only conclusion you could make is that Tom is white in color. In other words, based upon the information you have been given, the only conclusion you can come to on the color of Tom is that he is white.
Let me give you a Bible example. In Matthew 3:16, the Bible says, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.” Now, consider the italicized text out of the water. If words mean anything, then the only conclusion one can come to—thus, a necessary conclusion—is this: If Jesus came up out of the water, then He must have been in the water! One simply cannot come up out of something he was never in. Consequently, although the Bible does not say by direct statement that Jesus was in the water, it does teach by means of a necessary conclusion that Jesus was in the water.
Let us consider yet another example of a necessary conclusion. In Genesis 12:5, the Bible says: “And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.” Then, in verse 10, the Scriptures say: “And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.” When this information is combined with Genesis 13:1, then one is forced to make the necessary conclusion that Lot went down to Egypt also. In Genesis 13:1, the word of God says: “And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.” In other words, Lot went up out of Egypt with Abram, and although the Bible nowhere by direct statement says that Lot went down into Egypt, nevertheless, we know that he could not have come up out of Egypt unless he had first been in Egypt.
Many seem to disregard the importance of necessary conclusions. This is a serious mistake and is, in fact, the exact same mistake that some made in Jesus' day. In Matthew 22:23-33, the Bible says: “The same day came to Him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked Him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at His doctrine.” When we combine this information with Acts 23:8, which says that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, angels, or spirits, we realize that these Sadducees were not really honest in their question. Nevertheless, Jesus informs these Sadducees that they made an error in not knowing the scriptures (verse 29). What had they missed? They had failed to understand a necessary conclusion. What was the necessary conclusion? Simply this: When speaking to Moses, God had said: “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” If God would have said “I was” (past tense) then the necessary conclusion would have been that there was no life after death. But, by saying “I am” (present tense) the only conclusion one could make was that there was life after death—that is, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were still alive in the spirit. What does all this mean? Simply this: The Bible does not just teach us truth by direct statements and approved examples, but it also teaches us through necessary conclusions. When we study God's word, we had better be serious. In other words, we had better be willing to “pull up our socks!”
All this has been said so we can now consider what the Bible teaches about the frequency of partaking of the Lord's supper. Our text says, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” As we have already learned, this is an approved example of what day the early church partook of the Lord's supper. Nevertheless, the question remains as to how often they partook of it. In other words, did they only partake of it on the first day of the week every month? Did they only partake of it on the first day of the week every year? Well, based upon the information that is provided in the text, we can necessarily infer that the early church partook of the Lord's supper every first day of every week. Faith, you recall, comes from hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). Furthermore, the word of God says that everything that is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). Consequently, if we are going to know what to do, then it is going to have to come from God's word. The frequency of the Lord's supper is understood by necessary conclusion. If God wanted us to partake of it once a year, He would have provide us with the month and day. If He wanted us to partake of it once a month, He would have provided us with the day of the month. If He wanted us to partake of it once a week, He would have told us the day of the week. This is exactly what He did! Therefore, by faith, we partake of the Lord's supper the first day of every week. When God said, “Remember the Sabbath, and keep it holy” (Exodus 20:10), He did not have to say every week. Why? Because every week had a Sabbath. The Jews, then, understood that they were to keep every Sabbath of every week holy.
Let's summarize what we have learned so far. The Bible teaches us by direct statement that we are to partake of the Lord's supper in remembrance of Jesus Christ. Then, the Bible teaches us by an approved example that the Lord's supper is to be eaten on the first day of the week. Finally, the Bible teaches us by a necessary conclusion that the Lord's supper is to be partaken of on the first day of every week.

What The Bible Does Not Say Is Also Very Important
Even after we get people to understand how the Bible teaches us, there are still two attitudes about the silence of the Scriptures. The first of these attitudes says that when the Bible is silent, then the reader is at liberty to act as he thinks best. If the Bible does not expressly prohibit something, then it is permissible. This attitude is reflected in the actions of many religious people. The second attitude says that when the Bible is silent, then the reader is not at liberty to act, but must be silent also. This, of course, is exactly the attitude taught in the Bible. In I Peter 4:11, the Scriptures say, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.” In Romans 10:17, the Scriptures say that faith comes by hearing God's word. And, again, in Romans 14:23, the Bible says that whatever is not of faith is sin. Therefore, the silence of the Scriptures does not give consent, as too many people think, it prohibits! In I Corinthians 4:6, the apostle Paul teaches that one is not to think of men “above that which is written.” This means that the word of God—the Scriptures—is the absolute standard of authority in all things religious. Ultimately, what men say or do not say is not important. What is important is what God says or does not say!

Noah As A Positive Example
In Genesis 6:14, God told Noah to construct an ark out of “gopher wood.” In doing so, God did not have to say, “And thou shall not construct it from cypress, ebony, or any other kind of wood.” All He had to do was tell Noah what kind of wood to use. The fact that He specified the type of wood eliminated every other type of wood. In Hebrews 11:7, the Scriptures say: “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Here the Bible clearly tells us that Noah was saved by faith. Of course, Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing God's word. Noah, upon hearing God's word, moved by faith to prepare the ark as God had instructed him. In doing so, he saved himself and his family. Even though God did not specifically say not to, we are convinced that if Noah would have built the ark out of any other kind of wood than gopher, he would not have been saved. What is the point? Simply this: What God does not say is just as important as what He says!

Nadab And Abihu As Negative Examples
In Leviticus 10:1, 2, the Bible says: “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.” These men were priests of God and were involved in religious activity, but God was very displeased with their actions. They were clearly involved in unrighteousness in that the “strange fire” they offered had not been commanded by the Lord. In other words, what God has not commanded is just as important as what He has commanded. These two men were destroyed because they thought it was okay for them to go beyond what is written in God's word. They were dead wrong!

The Priesthood Of Christ As An Example
In Hebrews 7:14, speaking of the priesthood of Jesus Christ, the Bible says: “For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.” Under the Old Covenant, Jesus could not be a priest because He did not come from the order of Aaron in the tribe of Levi. In regard to the Levitical priesthood, Moses said nothing about Judah. Consequently, in order for Jesus to be a priest, there would have to be a change of the law. Jesus, then, our current high priest, is the mediator of a “better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22). Again, the word of God impresses us with the fact that what God does not say is just as important as what He does say! With this in mind, where does the New Testament say anything about...
Sprinkling for baptism?
Burning of incense in New Testament worship?
Holy water?
Baptizing infants?
Elders over two or more churches?
Instrumental music being authorized in N.T. worship?
Women preachers?
The use of the title “Reverend” by men?
Consequently, these things are not from heaven but from men!

The God-Breathed Word Is Able To Make Us Complete
In II Timothy 3:16, 17, the Bible says: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The words “given by the inspiration of God” is a translation of the Greek word theopneustos, which literally means “God-breathed.” Therefore, Scripture, in order to be Scripture, must be God-breathed, that is, it must come from the very mouth of God. Scripture is authoritative because it comes directly from God. This is borne out by II Peter 1:20, 21, which says: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” It is further illustrated by I Corinthians 2:10-13, which says: “But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” In II Peter 1:3, the apostle Peter writes: “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” The knowledge we have of Jesus Christ through the God-breathed word of God provides us with “all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” What more do we need?

This material was presented in a Bible seminarin Nyeri, Kenya, East Africa on April 19-22, 1994.

"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Chapter Twenty-Eight by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                          Chapter Twenty-Eight
On the first day of the week following His crucifixion, Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week and appeared first to the two Marys, giving them instructions for the disciples to meet Him in Galilee (1-10). Meanwhile the chief priests and elders bribed the soldiers to say that the disciples stole the body (11-15). When the disciples met Jesus in Galilee, He charged them to go and make disciples of all the nations (16-20). POINTS TO PONDER * The circumstances of Jesus’ resurrection * The details of the Great Commission REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The resurrection of Jesus - Mt 28:1-10 - The soldiers are bribed - Mt 28:11-15 - The Great Commission - Mt 28:16-20 2) Who came to the tomb at dawn on the first day of the week? (1) - Mary Magdalene and the "other" Mary (cf. Mt 27:56,61) 3) What had happened by the time they got there? (2) - An earthquake, and the stone from the door removed by an angel of the Lord 4) What were the two women instructed by the angel to do? (7) - Tell Jesus’ disciples that He is risen from the dead and for them to go to Galilee 5) Who appeared to the two women on their way to the disciples? (9-10) - Jesus Himself, who gave them the same instructions as did the angel 6) What makes the soldiers’ lie about the body of Jesus fatally flawed? (13) - If the soldiers were asleep, how did they know it was the disciples? 7) When the disciples saw Jesus in Galilee, what was their reaction? (16-17) - They worshiped Him (cf. Mt 28:9), though some doubted 8) What did Jesus claim had been given to Him? (18) - All authority in heaven and on earth 9) What did Jesus charge His disciples to do? What did that involve? (19-20) - To go and make disciples of all nations; baptizing and teaching 10) What did Jesus promise His disciples? (20) - "I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Chapter Twenty-Seven by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                          Chapter Twenty-Seven

Prevented by law from carrying out execution, the religious leaders sent
Jesus to Pilate who  condemned Him to be crucified (1-2,10-31).
Meanwhile, Judas returned the betrayal money and hanged himself (3-9).
Crucified along with two thieves, Jesus expired after six hours (32-56).
His body was buried in Joseph’s tomb, secured by Roman guards (57-66).


   *  The events leading to the crucifixion

   *  The abuse Jesus suffered prior to His actual death


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Jesus before Pilate and his soldiers - Mt 27:1-2,10-31
   - Judas hangs himself - Mt 27:3-9
   - Jesus’ crucifixion and death - Mt 27:32-56
   - Jesus buried and tomb secured - Mt 27:57-66

2) What did Judas do when he realized Jesus was condemned? (3-5)
   - Returned the betrayal money and then hanged himself

3) What did Jesus confess to Pilate? (11)
   - He was the King of the Jews

4) Who was released instead of Jesus? (15-26)
   - Barabbas, a notorious prisoner

5) What abuse did the Roman soldiers inflict on Jesus? (26,28-31)
   - Scourged, stripped, crowned with thorns, mocked, spat upon, struck
     with a reed

6) Who helped bear Jesus’ cross?  Where was Jesus crucified? (32-33)
   - Simon of Cyrene; Golgotha (Place of a Skull)

7) Who blasphemed and mocked Jesus as He hung on the cross? (39)
   - Those who passed by, including the chief priests, elders, and

8) What did the guards confess after seeing the events following Jesus’
   death? (54)
   - "Truly this was the Son of God!"

9) Where was Jesus buried?  Who saw where He was buried? (57-61)
   - In Joseph’s tomb; Mary Magdalene and the "other" Mary (cf. Mt27:56)

10) Why was a Roman guard placed at the tomb of Jesus? (62-66)
   - To prevent the disciples from stealing the body and saying He rose
     from the dead

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Chapter Twenty-Six by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                           Chapter Twenty-Six
This lengthy chapter describes the flurry of events leading to Jesus’ arrest and trial, with the plot to kill Jesus (1-5,14-16), Jesus’ anointment by Mary (6-13), the last Passover supper and institution of the Lord’s Supper (17-35), Jesus’ prayers in the garden (36-46), the betrayal by Judas and accompanying arrest (47-56), the appearance before Caiaphas and the council (57-68), and Peter’s denial as foretold by Jesus (69-75). POINTS TO PONDER * The events leading to the arrest of Jesus * The institution of the Lord’s Supper * Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial REVIEW QUESTIONS 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - The plot to kill Jesus - Mt 26:1-5,14-16 - Jesus anointed at Bethany - Mt 26:6-13 - The last supper - Mt 26:17-35 - The garden of Gethsemane - Mt 26:36-46 - Betrayal and arrest - Mt 26:47-56 - Before Caiaphas and council - Mt 26:57-68 - Peter denies Jesus - Mt 26:69-75 2) Who plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him? (3-4) - The chief priests, scribes, elders, along with Caiaphas the high priest 3) What did Jesus say would be done for Mary who anointed Him? (13) - Her kind deed would be proclaimed throughout the world as a memorial to her 4) For how much did Judas agree with the chief priests to betray Jesus? (14-15) - Thirty pieces of silver 5) What did Jesus institute while eating the Passover? (26-28; cf.
    1Co 11:17-34)
   - The Lord’s Supper

6) What did Jesus predict would happen that night? (31-35)
   - All His disciples would stumble, Peter would deny Him three times

7) What did Jesus pray for three times in the garden of Gethsemane (39,
   - "let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless not as I will, but as You

8) What claim was Jesus willing to accept at His trail? (63-64)
   - That He was the Christ, the Son of God

9) After Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, what did he do? (75)
   - He went out and wept bitterly

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Chapter Twenty-Five by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                          Chapter Twenty-Five

Jesus continued His discourse on the Mount of Olives with two parables
illustrating the need to be prepared and productive:  1) the wise and
foolish virgins (1-13), and 2) the talents (14-30).  He concluded the
discourse by predicting His judgment of the nations on how they treated
His brethren (31-46).


   *  The importance of being prepared and productive

   *  The basis upon which nations are to be judged


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Parable of the wise and foolish virgins - Mt 25:1-13
   - Parable of the talents - Mt 25:14-30
   - The judgment of the nations - Mt 25:31-46

2) What parable illustrates the importance of being prepared? (1-13)
   - The parable of the wise and foolish virgins

3) Why is it imperative that one always be prepared? (13)
   - "for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man
     is coming."

4) Which "coming" is Jesus talking about? (13)
   - Either His coming in judgment on Jerusalem or His Second Coming,
     possibly both

5) What parable illustrates the importance of being productive? (14-30)
   - The parable of the talents

6) Based on this parable, what does Jesus expect of His disciples? (15,
   - To use what "talents" we have to the best of our ability and

7) In the judgment depicted, who is being judged?  On what basis? (32,
   - All the nations; their treatment of Jesus’ brethren (His disciples)

8) Where is there a similar judgment portrayed in the Old Testament?
   - Joel 3:1-2,12-14, in which nations are judged based on their
     treatment of Israel

9) Even if such "judgments" are limited to the nations, what do they
   - The coming of the Lord to judge all men at the end of time, cf. 
     Ac 17:31; 2Co 5:10

10) How are punishment and reward described in this chapter? (34,41,46)
   - The righteous:  inherit the kingdom, go away into eternal life
   - The wicked:  into the everlasting fire, go away into everlasting

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Chapter Twenty-Four by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                          Chapter Twenty-Four

This chapter records the beginning of the Olivet discourse, prompted by
questions following Jesus’ prediction of the destruction of the temple
(1-3).  It involves the destruction of Jerusalem which occurred in 70
A.D., though many also see intertwining references to the Second Coming
of Christ (4-51).


   *  The fulfillment of events foretold by Jesus in this chapter

   *  The importance of being prepared and productive


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - The destruction of the temple foretold - Mt 24:1-3
   - The sign when things would soon occur - Mt 24:4-28
   - The tribulation and events immediately after - Mt 24:29-35
   - The need to be prepared and productive - Mt 24:36-51

2) What questions were prompted by Jesus’ prediction? (3)
   - "When will these things be?  What will be the sign...?"

3) What did Jesus say would not be the sign? (4-13)
   - False christs, wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes,
     persecution, lawlessness

4) What would happen before the "end" would come? (14)
   - The gospel preached in all the world (cf. Mk 16:15; Ro 10:16-18; Co

5) What would be the sign for those in Judea to flee?  (15-16; cf. Lk 21:20-21)
   - The abomination of desolation (Jerusalem surrounded by armies)

6) What would happen immediately after the tribulation of those days?
   - Cataclysmic events involving celestial bodies (sun, moon, stars)
   - The sign of the Son of Man, His coming on clouds of heaven,
     gathering the elect

7) Where else is language like this used to describe judgment upon a
   - Isa 13:6-13; 19:1-2; 34:4-6; Nah 1:1-5

8) What would not pass away before these things would be fulfilled? (34)
   - That generation

9) Why did Jesus stress the importance of preparation and productivity?
   - No one knows the day or hour
   - The Son of Man will come unexpectedly
   - His servants will be judged by their faithful service

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Chapter Twenty-Three by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                          Chapter Twenty-Three

With the religious leaders silenced by their inability to entangle Jesus
with their questions, Jesus proceeded to decry the hypocrisy of the
scribes and Pharisees in a series of scorching rebukes (1-36).   Despite
His strong condemnation, His love for them was manifested by His lament
for the people of Jerusalem (37-39).


   *  The hypocrisy of the scribes and the Pharisees

   *  Jesus’ grief over the apostasy and fall of Jerusalem


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Jesus denounces the religious leaders - Mt 23:1-36
   - Jesus laments over Jerusalem - Mt 23:37-39

2) What does Jesus tell people to do in regards to the scribes and
   Pharisees? (3)
   - Do what they say, even though they do not practice what they preach

3) List some things for which Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees
   - They say, and do not
   - They bind burdens on others they themselves would not bear
   - Their works they do to be seen of men
   - They make their phylacteries broad, enlarge the borders of their
   - They love the best places at feasts, best seats in the synagogues
   - They love greetings in the marketplaces, to be called "Rabbi"

4) What did Jesus tell His disciples not to do?  Why? (8-11)
   - Not to use religious titles like "Rabbi", "Father", "Teacher"
   - Rather then be esteemed by such titles, they were to be humble

5) List the reasons for the eight woes expressed by Jesus (13,14,15,16,
   - Preventing others from entering the kingdom of heaven
   - Devouring widows’ houses and making long, pretentious prayers
   - Making proselytes twice the sons of hell as themselves
   - Making inconsistent distinctions between the swearing of oaths
   - Paying tithes of minute things while neglecting justice, mercy,
   - Cleaning the outside while neglecting the inside
   - Outwardly appearing righteous while inwardly full of hypocrisy and
   - Building the tombs of the prophets while persecuting prophets

6) What did Jesus say was the condition of Jerusalem? (38)
   - "See! Your house is left to you desolate"

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Chapter Twenty-Two by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                           Chapter Twenty-Two

Jesus told a third parable directed toward the religious leaders:  the
parable of the wedding feast (1-14).  The leaders responded as various
factions tried to trip Jesus with questions.  Pharisees and Herodians
asked Jesus about paying taxes to Caesar (15-22), Sadducees presented an
argument against the resurrection of the dead (23-33), and a lawyer
asked what was the greatest commandment of the Law (34-40).  Jesus
answered easily, and then silenced them with a question of His own
regarding the Christ as David’s son (41-46).


   *  Many are called, but few are chosen

   *  Paying taxes, the resurrection, and the greatest commandment

   *  How Christ is both David’s son and David’s Lord


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - The parable of the wedding feast - Mt 22:1-14
   - Pharisees with Herodians:  Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?
     - Mt 22:15-22
   - Sadducees:  What about the resurrection of the dead? - Mt 22:23-33
   - Lawyer:  What is the great commandment in the Law? - Mt 22:34-40
   - Jesus:  How can Christ be both David’s son and David’s Lord? - Mt22:41-46

2) What two groups are depicted in the parable of the wedding feast?
   - Those who refuse the invitation; those who accept, but improperly

3) How did Pharisees and Herodians try to entangle Jesus in His talk?
   - By asking whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar

4) What did Jesus reply that prompted them to marvel? (21-22)
   - "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to
     God the things that are God’s."

5) How did Sadducees try to trip Jesus? (23-28)
   - With a hypothetical situation intended to show the resurrection is
     an impossibility

6) What two-fold answer did Jesus give the Sadducees? (29-32)
   - Marital relations don’t exist after death; Exo 3:6 proves the dead
     still exist

7) What were the two greatest commandments in the Law? (37-38)
   - Love God with all your heart, soul, mind; love your neighbor as

8) How can Christ be both David’s son and David’s Lord? (45)
   - His son by virtue of physical ancestry, his Lord by virtue of His

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Chapter Twenty-One by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                           Chapter Twenty-One

Jesus began His Last Week before His crucifixion with a triumphant entry
into Jerusalem (1-11), followed with dramatic acts like driving the
moneychangers from the temple (12-17) and cursing the barren fig tree
(18-22).  His authority was soon challenged (23-27), and in response
Jesus told the parables of the two sons (28-32) and the wicked
vinedressers (33-46), understood by the religious leaders to be directed
toward them.


   *  The significance of the triumphal entry, cleansing the temple,
      cursing the fig tree

   *  The conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - The triumphal entry - Mt 21:1-11
   - Jesus cleanses the temple - Mt 21:12-17
   - Jesus curses the fig tree - Mt 21:18-22
   - Jesus’ authority questioned - Mt 21:23-27
   - The parable of the two sons - Mt 21:28-32
   - The parable of the wicked vinedressers - Mt 21:33-46

2) What prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus’ triumphant entry into
   Jerusalem? (4-5)
   - The prophecy by Zechariah, Zec 9:9

3) Why was Jesus angry at the merchandising going on in the temple? (13)
   - God’s house of prayer had been turned into a den of thieves

4) Why were the religious leaders angry with Jesus? (15)
   - For what they saw Jesus doing, and what they heard people saying

5) What might the cursing of the barren fig tree signify?  (19)
   - The Lord’s displeasure and coming judgment upon Israel’s leaders

6) Where does authority in religion come from? (25)
   - Either from heaven (the Word of God) or from men (teachings of men)

7) Who did the two sons in the parable represent? (28-32)
   - The first son:  tax collectors and harlots who repented at the
     preaching of John
   - The second son:  religious leaders who did not believe John

8) What prophecy foretold that religious leaders would reject Jesus?
   - The one found in Ps 118:22-23

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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What Good Things Can You Say About Islam? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


What Good Things Can You Say About Islam?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


“There are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world. Islam can’t be all bad. What good things can you say about Islam?”


Truth is not determined by the number of people that accept or reject it. Nor is any religion, ideology, or philosophy totally evil, false, or bad. No doubt Satan himself has some attributes that some may consider “good.” But this observation misses the point. If a religion is false, it must be rejected—even if it possesses some positive qualities. If the central thrust of an ideology is out of harmony with what both the Bible and the American Founders called “true religion” (i.e., Christianity), then ultimately it will be harmful and counterproductive to American civilization. Philosophies and religions impact life and society. If America loses its Christian moorings, dire consequences will follow—consequences that we are even now seeing in the form of increased crime, the breakdown of the home, and the dumbing down of our educational institutions. Christian principles are responsible for elevating America to the envy of the nations of the world. Remove or replace the Christian platform on which the Republic is poised and disastrous results will follow.
Is there some good in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam? Certainly. But that is a superfluous observation. The real question is: what has been the impact of those ideologies on the countries where their influence has prevailed? Answer: Poverty is rampant (except where the Western Christian nations have given assistance and technology—such as drilling oil wells), women are abused and mistreated, children are treated as chattel, the lower classes are treated with contempt, etc. Simply look at one of the premiere atheistic nations of the last century—Russia. Look at the most prominent Hindu nation on Earth—India. Consider the Buddhist countries of the world, from Thailand to Cambodia to Vietnam. Examine the premiere Socialist nations from Cuba to Central and South America. Look at the major Islamic nations of the world, from the Middle East to North Africa to Indonesia. Even a cursory examination of the societal conditions that prevail in all these nations causes the traditional American to shrink with horror and disgust, shocked at the extent of man’s inhumanity to man.
In stark contrast, what has been the result of Christianity’s influence on America? Christian influence has been responsible for the abolition of slavery, and the construction of hospitals, children homes, and the benevolent societies of our nation. Christian influence has created an environment that is conducive to human progress. Hence, America excels other nations in a host of categories of human endeavor. Indeed, where else in all of human history has a greater percentage of a nation’s citizenry achieved a higher standard of living? (Most “poor” in America do not even begin to compare with the poor of other nations and history.) America has orchestrated an unprecedented amount of progress—achieving what one author styled a “5,000 year leap” of technological advancement and progress in just 200 years (Skousen, 2006). Only one explanation exists for this extreme disparity: God has blessed America (Psalm 33:12).
Please give sober consideration to the words of Founding  Father, Jedidiah Morse (father of Samuel Morse who invented the Morse Code), who cogently articulated the thinking of the Founders and most early Americans regarding the importance of Christianity to America’s survival:
To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoy. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation, either through unbelief, or the corruption of its doctrines, or the neglect of its institutions; in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom, and approximate the miseries of complete despotism (1799, p. 14, emp. added).
Whatever “good” might be acknowledged concerning Islam and all other non-Christian religions is, in fact, irrelevant and diverts attention away from the real issue: Is it true, i.e., of divine origin, and if not, what fruit will it produce in a nation? Abundant evidence exists to know the answers to these questions. [NOTE: See the author’s book The Quran Unveiled and DVD on “Islam, the Quran, and New Testament Christianity” at apologeticspress.org].


Morse, Jedidiah (1799), A Sermon, Exhibiting the Present Dangers and Consequent Duties of the Citizens of the United States of America (Hartford, CT: Hudson and Goodwin),http://www.archive.org/details/sermonexhibiting00morsrich.
Skousen, W.C. (2006), The 5000 Year Leap (Malta, ID: National Center for Constitutional Studies).

Why Did God Postpone the Writing of the New Testament? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Why Did God Postpone the Writing of the New Testament?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Why did God wait approximately 20 years after the church was established to begin writing the New Testament? Why such a long span of time?


Normally when we discuss the penning of the New Testament, we do so in view of the fact that God inspired men to write about Jesus and His will for the church within only about 20-65 years of the Savior’s death and resurrection. Perhaps even more impressive is the abundant amount of evidence for the New Testament’s first-century origin. Due to the volume of ancient manuscripts, versions, and citations of the New Testament documents, even many liberal scholars have conceded that the New Testament must have been completed by the end of the first century. Whereas the extant copies of Plato, Thucydides, Herodotus, Tacitus, and many others are separated from the time these men wrote by 1,000 years, manuscript evidence for the New Testament reaches as far back as the early second century, which has led most scholars to rightly conclude that the New Testament is, indeed, a first-century production (cf. Lyons, 2007; Bruce, 1953, p. 16; Geisler and Nix, 1986, pp. 408,475; Comfort and Barrett, 2001). As Irwin H. Linton stated regarding the gospel accounts: “A fact known to all who have given any study at all to this subject is that these books were quoted, listed, catalogued, harmonized, cited as authority by different writers, Christian and Pagan, right back to the time of the apostles” (1943, p. 39).
Still, some wonder why God chose to wait approximately 20 years to begin writing the New Testament. Why didn’t the first-century apostles and prophets begin penning the New Testament as soon as the church was established?
The simple, straightforward answer is that we cannot say with certainty why God waited two decades to begin penning the New Testament. [NOTE: Conservative scholars generally agree that the earliest written New Testament documents, including Galatians and 1 and 2 Thessalonians, were likely written between A.D. 48-52.] We could ask any number of questions regarding why God did or did not do something: Why did God wait some 2,500 years after Creation and some 1,000 years after the Flood to write a perfect, inspired account of these events? Why did God only spend 11 chapters in the Bible telling us about the first approximately 2,000 years of human history and 1,178 chapters telling us about the next 2,000? Why did God discontinue special, written revelation for over 400 years (between Malachi and the New Testament)? There are many questions, even specific ones about the makeup of God’s written revelation, that remain unanswered, yet God simply has not revealed this information to us.
Having made that disclaimer, we can suggest a few logical reasons why God waited to inspire first-century apostles and prophets to pen the New Testament. First, the early church had the treasure of the Gospel “in earthen vessels” (2 Corinthians 4:7), meaning the apostles were miraculously guided by the Spirit in what they taught (Galatians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16). The Spirit of God guided them “into all Truth” (John 16:13). Also, those on whom the apostles chose to lay their hands in the early churches received the miraculous, spiritual gifts of prophecy, knowledge, wisdom, etc. (Acts 8:14-17; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11). Even though the church lacked the inspired writings of Paul, Peter, and John for a few years, God did not leave His new Christians without direction and guidance. In a sense, they had walking, living New Testaments. When the miraculous age ended (1 Corinthians 13:8-10; see Miller, 2003), however, the church would need some type of continual guidance. Thus, during the miraculous age, God inspired the apostles and prophets to put in permanent form His perfect and complete revelation to guide the church until Jesus’ return (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Second, it was necessary for God to delay the writing of the New Testament, instead of penning it immediately following the church’s establishment, because the books and letters that make up the New Testament were originally written for specific audiences and for specific purposes(though they are applicable to all Christians). For example, the epistles that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth could not have been written until there was a church at Corinth. If the church at Corinth was not established until the apostle Paul’s second missionary journey (ca. A.D. 49-52), then Paul obviously wrote to the Christians in Corinth after this time. Furthermore, since in 1 Corinthians Paul dealt with specific problems that had arisen in the church at Corinth (e.g, division, immorality, etc.), he could not have explicitly addressed these matters in detail until after they had come to pass. Thus, there was a need for time to pass before the New Testament documents were penned.
Although some may be bothered by the fact that God waited approximately 20 years to begin penning the New Testament through His inspired writers, we can rest assured that He had good reasons for this relatively brief postponement. Admittedly, God did not explicitly indicate why He delayed putting His last will and testament in written form. Yet logical reasons exist—most notably, the fact that the documents that make up the New Testament were written to specific peoples and for specific purposes.


Bruce, F.F. (1953), The New Testament Documents—Are They Reliable? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), fourth edition.
Comfort, Philip W. and David P. Barrett (2001), The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House).
Geisler, Norman L. and William E. Nix (1986), A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody), revised edition.
Linton, Irwin H. (1943), A Lawyer Examines the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), sixth edition.
Lyons, Eric (2007), “Inspired Writers and Competent Copyists,” Reason & Revelation, 27[3]:17-23, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=587#.
Miller, Dave (2003), “Modern-Day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation—Extended Version,” Apologetics Press,http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1399.