“God’s Judgments & Punishments” by Jim R. Everett


“God’s Judgments &Punishments”

(A Review of Homer Hailey’s book, “God’s Judgments And Punishments”)

  4. MARK 9:48; ISAIAH 66:18-24; MATTHEW 3:12
  6. 2 THESSALONIANS 1:6-10
  8. REVELATION 20:10-15; 21:8


Such is the title of the last book of brother Hailey’s illustrious career. Brother Hailey was writing excellent, resourceful material well past his 70th birthday. However, if I live to be 70, I will probably quit writing. That is not to denigrate others who write so ably when they are much older. I suspect that my mental faculties will be diminished and I would hate to put something in writing that is a not a product of clear thinking.
Brother’s Hailey’s writings have reached far beyond his life and will continue to influence the thinking of myriads of minds. In the many years that I heard him teach and preach he made God’s prophets come alive by a very vivid presentation of God’s justness in dealings with nations — you could almost hear the rattling of the chariot wheels and the crack of the whip. In all those years, never once do I remember him remotely alluding to a denial of individual, eternal punishment. In fact, his earlier comments on Rev 20:10, are exactly the opposite of what he argues in this work. He makes an excellent argument on pp. 398-399, of his Revelation commentary that will be quoted later in this material. However, in the Preface to his book on God’s Judgments, he refers to his comments on Rev. 20:10 -- “The comment on Revelation 20:10 in my Commentary on Revelation is correct to an extent. But it is not the full exegesis of the verse,” (p. xv) — but he did not answer his own argument! And, it seems that he forgot what he wrote many years before as found in “Hailey’s Comments,” pp. 708-711. His thinking and reasoning on “The Nature of Eternal Punishment” there are very sound and irrefutable.
It is regrettable that in his later years he would produce a work that is being used by men like Stanley Pahyer and Edward Fudge to promote their error. And, though LeGard Smith endorsed brother Hailey’s book, he was careful to praise only the part dealing with God’s punishment of the nations and not the second part that deals with the soul annihilation theory. At least, with brother Hailey, one never had a problem knowing where he stood.
A deceased author cannot reply, so reviewing his material requires a fair and honest assessment of his arguments. However, even as one shows respect for those who have passed from this life, it is critical to expose the fallacy of reasoning. And, even as I undertake this distasteful task, I feel like “Who am I?” that I should take issue with one whose knowledge far surpassed my own? However, the greatest of men are not immune to weaknesses that affect thinking processes. Knowing brother Hailey as I knew him, I know that he believed he was right and that he taught what he taught in harmony with his conscience. Brother Hailey frequently pointed out to his audiences that he didn’t care what brother so-in-so believed or taught on a subject — it was what “The Book” taught that mattered to him. He would not want anyone to accept his position because of who he was — that would be an insult to him. In referencing his arguments in this work, he says, “On the other hand, if my reasoning or deductions are illogical, then the error will be on my part and I will gladly retract my interpretation,” (Preface, p. xv). But these remarks did not appear until after his death. His arguments are deficient and his interpretations not true to “The Book” but he has no opportunity to retract them. It is my conviction that if his mind had remained as reasonable as it was in earlier years, he would never have written this book.
In my judgment a denial of eternal punishment will become a real issue within a few years. Recently, I wrote a tract entitled “Watering Down Hell” which was first published in a series of articles in Biblical Insights. In that material I answered the basic arguments brother Hailey makes, because those arguments are common to all those who hold the annihilation view of individual punishment; however, brother Hailey gives a little different twist to some of the arguments. For instance, he affirmed that “their worm dieth not” (Isa 66:18-24; Mk 9:48) referred to the persecution of God’s people under the new covenant. And, contrary to the belief that man’s soul is conditionally immortal, he believes Lk 16:19-34 to be truth and not a myth. It seems, without realizing it, he develops a greater inconsistency than other conditional immortalists do. Men like Fudge are forced to a certain consistency upon accepting death as annihilation — Fudge’s position demands that if man’s soul is not immortal, then when he dies, he ceases to exist. And, in seeking consistency, Fudge alludes to a belief that if Christ had not been raised, then he would have ceased to exist. Brother Hailey does not go that far.
In his Introduction, he laid out what would be a two-pronged approach in his book. First, he notes that man is limited in understanding eternal things since he can only reason in a mundane, time-frame reference. To this I would certainly acquiesce and have so affirmed in other materials. But his conclusion is that since Gehenna, eternal fire, the lake of fire, and other such expressions describe things metaphorically, because they are beyond our comprehension, then we must not interpret them to mean that men will be punished eternally. If that were the case, then he should also have affirmed that since eternal life is spoken of metaphorically and is beyond our comprehension, then we could not affirm that it is eternal in duration. Brother Hailey mentions that Heaven is spoken of as having a street of gold and that is not literally true but he seems to overlook the fact that though eternal truths are conveyed in a symbolic way, it does not deny the reality of existence. Heaven is described symbolically just as Hell is described symbolically — we fathom neither fully. But to affirm that since Hell is described symbolically; then Hell cannot mean eternal existence in punishment, necessarily means that since Heaven is described symbolically; then Heaven cannot mean eternal existence in the presence of God.
Next, brother Hailey follows a procedure he said he was first taught as a young man of taking a piece of paper and noting on one side what a passage says and then on the other side what it doesn’t say — not a bad procedure for anyone to follow but care must be exercised so that one does not force an interpretation into the process. For instance, in passages that deal with figures such as the vine and branches, wheat and tares, etc., there must be a consistency maintained in the figures. It would be a distortion of the figure to affirm that branches lived after they were cut off and burned or tares survived their being plucked up. The passages deal with physical vegetation and not the spirits of men. If we followed brother Hailey’s process, we would have to put on the right side of the page that the passage does not say that branches live for ever. And, based on that we would have to conclude that “eternal life” is only age lasting — only as long as a disciple lives. Physical branches and wheat do not live eternally and cut off branches and chaff are consumed by fire. His objection to eternal punishment from the parables (vine and branches, wheat and tares, wheat and chaff) by which Jesus paralleled physical truths with eternal truths demands a distortion of the physical part of the parable. Both reward and punishment are taught but the duration of neither is described in these parables.
As an illustration of the fallacy of requiring more of figures than is intended, Calvinists try to explain away passages that clearly demonstrate the fallacy of “once saved always saved.” One argument on the proverb Peter used (2 Pet 2:20-22) is that dogs are always dogs and hogs are always hogs. They affirm that the reason that the sow returned to her wallowing in the mire was because she was a sow, which meant that the person Peter described only pretended to be saved, but really was not. Based on that approach to scripture interpretation, we might say, “Peter didn’t say that a sow or a dog changed into a sheep.” I realize there is other pertinent information in the whole context but in considering the “proverb” just as a metaphor, this kind of sophistry requires a twisting of the illustration. This is a common equivocation employed by those who take issue with “eternal punishment.”


After looking at passages in the Old Testament where people on the earth were consumed by the earth opening or burned by fire, brother Hailey’s conclusion under his category of “WHAT IS NOT SAID,” was, “That they all burn forever.” However, the references in context to which he referred apply to the physical existence of men while on earth — they passed from existence on the earth; their bodies being consumed either by the earth itself or by fire from heaven. Even brother Hailey’s statement verifies that truth — “These illustrations reveal the meaning of ‘consume,’ and what the scriptures mean by the phrase ‘Our God is a consuming fire.’ It meant total and complete destruction from the face of the earth,” (p. 138). Nothing, in these passages, however, addresses the eternal punishment of their souls, unless, perhaps, by implication from the teaching of other passages that deal with the eternal destiny of the wicked.


In his classification on the right side of the page, “WHAT IS NOT SAID”, brother Hailey wrote, “Nothing about continuous burning, or of being burned again in the future,” (p. 146), yet he contradicts that observation by affirming on p. 179 that the wicked will be raised and cast into the lake of fire. Brother Hailey does not elaborate on this passage but his conclusion conforms to others who hold that view. His position presents a necessary inconsistency. By saying that since Sodom and Gomorrah suffered the vengeance of "eternal fire" which was the annihilation of the cities and their inhabitants, it must necessarily follow that there will be no resurrection of the wicked, for if they have been annihilated by fire and brimstone, and that was their eternal punishment, then they are burned up and for ever gone. On the one hand he argues for “the vengeance of eternal fire” being the destruction of the cities that took place in just a few minutes — “If they serve as an example, what do they teach except that those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire are to exist no more?” (p. 142). On the other hand, he believes that the unrighteous will be raised to suffer “eternal punishment” when their resurrected bodies will experience the second death.
For instance, in his comments on Rev. 20:10 (pp. 178-179), he references Lk. 16:19-31, as a true representation of the state of the dead and that the evil begin their conscious suffering in Hades. That necessarily means that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah went into Hades after they were destroyed by “eternal fire.” But, if it was “eternal punishment” when fire and brimstone consumed them and they existed no more, then how can it be “eternal punishment” at their resurrection? And, if physical destruction equals eternal punishment, one can never affirm the resurrection of the wicked, for at the moment they are consumed that is their eternal punishment!!! Some annihilationists accept that conclusion. Others, however, like brother Hailey who have a greater respect for Scripture, realize the quandary that postulation puts them in by virtue of Jesus’ affirmation in Jn 5:28-29 and other passages, so they theorize that the wicked will be raised and then cast into their physical Gehenna and killed again.
Obviously, the physical cities and people were destroyed by the fire and brimstone; however, if Jude’s picture does not reach beyond the events recorded in Genesis 18-19, then there would be no need to describe the fire as “eternal fire,” because any fire would have accomplished the destruction of physical things.

MARK 9:48; ISAIAH 66:18-24; MATTHEW 3:12

To minimize the duration of eternal punishment as taught by Jesus, brother Hailey’s unique interpretation of Mk 9:48 is that the expression “their worm dieth not” refers to the persecution of the faithful righteous during the present reign of the Messiah (pp. 154-156). There are a couple of fallacies in the way he ties passages together in this section. For instance, he mixes Mt 3:12 with Mk 9:48, and said, “He characterized the fire as ‘not quenched’ with the ‘unquenchable fire’ of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:12),” and from this concludes that God’s wrath “burns up.” While both passages mention “unquenchable fire” they are different in the figures presented. It would have been inconsistent with the figure Jesus used in Mt 3:12 for him to have said that fire keeps on burning the chaff.
The plausibility of his interpretation that the phrase, “their worm dieth not,” refers to the persecution of the righteous under the present reign of the Messiah, is destroyed by one simple fact. In Jesus’ statements in Mk 9:43-48, it is Gehenna that is the anticipated, eternal future of those who live for the pleasures of the world — it is there that “their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” and not the present reign of the Messiah.


I will here bypass comments on the general context of Romans and accountability to law by brother Hailey and address the particular points of controversy that are found in ch. 2:6-8. Paul here defends the justness of God. He makes a specific application to the eternal judgment of men — God will be absolutely, perfectly fair to all men in the final judgment. In Paul’s assessment of God’s righteousness, there is a balance of contrasts that must be observed. God will render to those who by patient continuance in well doing, eternal life. The balance in contrast to “eternal life” is an application to all those, both Jew and Gentile without respect of persons, who do evil — they will receive “tribulation and anguish.” “Tribulation” is a word that means “affliction,” and “anguish” is a word that is also translated by “distress.” Both words appropriately describe conscious feelings experienced. Jesus used the same kind of balance in contrasts in Mt 25:46, and by choosing the word “everlasting” to describe both, he necessarily gave a qualification, of DURATION to both. In both expressions there are quantitative as well as qualitative concepts. But annihilation of the wicked is not an appropriate balance in contrasts to eternal life for the righteous — if the righteous experience glory, honor and peace for eternity, then by a balance of contrasts, the wicked experience affliction and distress for the same period of time.
Brother Hailey observed here that “…the judgment of the final day will bring terrible suffering to the wicked,” (p. 162). That, within itself, is an acknowledgement of conscious anguish of some duration. But annihilation is not suffering — it is non-existence. Or, perhaps, we might conclude from his statement that God is going to lengthen, for some time, his indignation and wrath at the final judgment — that he is going to prolong life in the body of the wicked so they can suffer more — that in some way, the terrible fires of Gehenna will not immediately consume the bodies of the wicked? How long is it, theoretically, supposed to take for the wicked to suffer terribly? To argue for the lengthening of duration for the suffering of the unrighteous is to destroy the most commonly held position of annihilationism; that is, that the body will be burned up immediately and; therefore, the wicked will be extinguished forever. Brother Hailey vacillates between his studied conclusions earlier in his life and an inability to correlate information later in life — intermixing the two without being conscious of the contradictions. Here he presents an unconscious incongruity, because when God is supposed to kill the wicked, then, once they have been killed there is no consciousness, because there is no existence; hence, there can be no affliction and anguish.


Brother Hailey’s comments here focus primarily on the word “destruction” by a brief definition and a comparison with other passages where the word is used. One simple fact he seemed to have missed is that by Paul’s attaching the word “eternal” to “destruction” it would not reasonably be interpreted as “annihilation,” for if the word “destruction” by itself, in this context, means “annihilation” then it would necessarily be eternal in nature — it would be redundant to call it “eternal” annihilation. But “eternal” destruction is associated in this context with a time when the wicked will be punished with eternal separation from the presence of the Lord (v. 9). Logically, in order for them to be separated from the presence of the Lord, they must exist. It cannot be said of non-existent souls that they are separated from the presence of the Lord. Furthermore, the punishment of the wicked with eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord, is offered as an explanation of God’s righteousness in v. 6. There it is said that God would recompense affliction to those who were afflicting them — affliction cannot be recompensed to the non-existent.
In 1 Tim 6:9, which also contains the word “destruction”“…hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” — brother Hailey comments, “A drowned man is no longer conscious, but is dead.” Obviously, he is no longer conscious of this world’s existence; however, brother Hailey believes that even a drowned man continues to exist. Then he connects Rm 9:22, where Paul uses the figure of men who are vessels of wrath fit for destruction and says, “A vessel destroyed in one’s wrath is no longer a vessel, but a pile of fragments.” The word “destruction” (apoleia) suggests not the loss of being but the loss of well being — while the vessel no longer exists as a vessel it does exist in fragments.


Rev. 14:9-11“…If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever; and they have not rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” Brother Hailey does not refute his previous argument on the text, for it is irrefutable --
“It should be observed that “they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Torment (from basanizo) conveys the idea of torture, severe distress, and pain of body and mind. The torment of the locusts "was as the torment of a scorpion, when it striketh a man" (9:5); and those who worshiped the beast would be tormented with fire and brimstone, and the smoke of their torment would ascend for ever and ever (14:10f). And now the devil and his former helpers suffer the torment of the lake of fire and brimstone for ever and ever.
There are many who question the eternal duration of this torment, but these must explain away biblical teaching. Jesus said that at the judgment those on His left hand would be told, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels and these shall go away into eternal punishment; but the righteous into eternal life" (Matt. 25:41, 46). Both the punishment and the life are eternal. In Revelation it is said of these two groups that those before the throne "serve him day and night" (7:15), and the wicked "have no rest day or night" (14:11), and that with the devil they are tormented (25:41, 46), a torment which is "day and night, for ever and ever." There is no day there, for it is "outer darkness" (Matt. 22:13; 25:30). Since the day is in heaven and the night in hell, and since the one group serves Him day and night while the other group is tormented night and day, it follows that the night endures as long as the day. But since God is the light of the eternal day, the day (and, consequently, the night) will never end. The period of this torment, "for ever and ever," is the same in duration as God, for He lives "for ever and ever" (4:9). If there shall be total annihilation of the devil and the wicked it is not revealed.” (Revelation Commentary, pp. 398-399)
Notice significant parts of these statements in this context:
  1. “If any man…” — There are parts of Revelation that deal with destruction of a nation under the symbol of the beast and the harlot. However, this context deals with the eternal state of individuals who embrace the idolatry of the nation.
  2. “…he shall be tormented…” — To be tormented necessarily requires existence.
  3. “the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever…” — Brother Hailey’s position in his book makes a very subtle change in the wording here to explain away the time frame reference “for ever and ever.” He refers back to David’s statement about “the smoke of (God’s) nostrils and the fire out of his mouth (which) devoured,” (Psa. 18:8). Then says, “It is the smoke of His wrath that continues for ever and ever; He never changes,” (p. 175). Notice that brother Hailey’s answer shifts from what is happening to the worshippers of the beast to what comes from God — a change that significantly distorts the meaning of the text.
  4. “…and they have no rest day nor night who worship the beast…” In order for this language to be accurate, there must be existence of the wicked in eternity. It cannot be said of non-existent ones that they have no rest day or night.
  5. This is said of the same individuals of v. 9-10 who worship the beast and upon whom the wrath of God is poured out. These are the same ones who shall be tormented with fire and brimstone. The language of the angel would make no sense, if the ones who worship the beast were annihilated and non-existent.

REVELATION 20:10-15; 21:8

This is an interesting section in that it puts brother Hailey at odds with Fudge, though Fudge commends brother Hailey’s book for a “careful and honest hearing” and then says, “Readers blessed with a Berean spirit (Acts 17:10-11) will give it nothing less.” Perhaps Fudge is not so blessed, for brother Hailey clearly affirms, not only the existence of the evil after death, but, a continued existence in torment in Hades as proven by Lk 16:19-31 (pp. 178-179). Brother Hailey says of Luke’s account, “It should be viewed as historically true for persons known only to Jesus and those of the unseen realm. However, the truth is the same, both teach the same lesson. One of the lessons learned is that the torment of the damned begins in Hades at the death of the individual. It is consummated in the resurrection and the final judgment when the individual is cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death (Rev 20:14-15). ”
In explaining 21:8, brother Hailey says it refers to spiritual death associated with the sins enumerated in the verse (p. 179). He then explains spiritual death by referencing Eph 2:1; Col 2:13-14“made alive when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins” and the woman who gives herself to pleasure as being “dead while she liveth” (1 Tim. 5:6). His conclusion is that spiritual death is extinction, as will be true of death and Hades, but that conclusion does not logically follow from his premises. Notice that man is not EXTINCT when he is spiritually dead in sins nor is the woman giving herself to pleasure NON-EXISTENT. Death (thanatos) by definition means “separation.” Physical death is separation of body and soul (Jas 2:26) but, as brother Hailey affirms, the soul continues to exist. Unlike what happens to death and Hades at the end of time, whose purposes have ended as time has ended, the second death is not extinction — it is eternal separation from God. And the “lake of fire” for individuals can signify nothing less than what is associated with torment and torment necessarily argues for conscious existence.


If brother Hailey is correct and hell is nothing more than a moment of suffering ending in total extinction, then eternal punishment is an irrelevant fantasy, invented by man. But everyone who sets his hand so to affirm finds himself beset by grave inconsistencies that eventually require him to question the very source of all inspired truth that he, himself, uses to defend his position -- but worse — in time, if he is logically consistent, he will deny man’s cherished hope for eternal life. Without an anchor for his soul, he is then set adrift with no nobler purpose in life than selfish indulgence and no worse anticipation of punishment for his wrongs than, in a moment, being snuffed out into non-existence.
Jim R. Everett
Fri, 30 Jun 2003 22:35:00 CDT

"THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS" How To Be Free From Anxiety (4:6-7) by Mark Copeland

                    "THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS"

                   How To Be Free From Anxiety (4:6-7)


1. If anyone had good reason to be anxious, it could have been the
   apostle Paul...
   a. His beloved friends at Philippi were disagreeing with one another 
      - Php 4:1-3
   b. There were preachers in Rome who were filled with envy and strife,
      and out to "get" Paul - Php 1:15
   c. To top it off, Paul himself was under house arrest, awaiting trial
      and his possible execution!
   -- Yet we have seen that throughout this epistle the keynote repeated
      again and again is "rejoice!"

2. Evidently Paul had found the secret of overcoming anxiety, and
   fortunately for us, he shares that secret in Php 4:6-7

[We shall examine what that secret is, but first, let's take a closer 
look at "anxiety" itself...]


      1. The word "anxious" (careful, KJV) is from "merimnao"
      2. As defined by THAYER...
         a. It means "to be pulled in different directions"
         b. For example, our hopes pull us in one direction; our fears
            pull us in the opposite direction
         c. Thus, to be anxious is to be "pulled apart"!
      3. The word "worry" (a synonym for anxiety) in its English origins
         presents a different, yet enlightening picture
         a. It comes from a word meaning "to strangle"
         b. If you have ever really worried, you know how it does indeed
            strangle a person!
            1) In fact, worry (or anxiety) has definite physical side
               effects:  headaches, neck pains, ulcers, even back pains
            2) Worry affects our thinking, our digestion, and even our

      1. From a spiritual perspective, anxiety is:
         a. Wrong THINKING and wrong FEELING about circumstances, people
            and things
         b. The greatest thief of joy
      2. It is not enough for us to tell ourselves, "Quit being anxious",
         in an effort to stop the thief from stealing our joy
         a. Anxiety is "an inside job"
         b. It takes more than good intentions to get the victory over

[The "antidote" to anxiety is revealed by Paul in our text, which we 
will now look at closely...]


      1. In which we pray about "everything"!
         a. Like the hymn, Paul counsels us to "take everything to God
            in prayer"
         b. To put it another way, "Don't worry about ANYTHING, but pray
            about EVERYTHING!" is Paul's admonition
         c. We are prone to pray about the "big things", and forget to
            pray about the "little things"
            1) But "little things" left unattended grow up to become "big
            2) Therefore, God would have us talk to Him about
      2. In which we pray by "prayer and supplication"
         a. "Prayer" is the general word for making requests known to God
            1) It carries the idea of adoration, devotion, and worship
            2) Whenever we find ourselves filled with anxiety, our first
               action ought be to spend time alone with God in prayerful
               adoration and worship
            3) Adoration for God helps us to remember the greatness and
               majesty of God
               a) We must remember that He is big enough to solve
                  problems we cannot
               b) Too often, we rush into His presence and hastily tell
                  Him our needs
               c) But freedom from anxiety comes when we spend more time
                  on Who He is, rather than on what our problems are!
            4) Having spent time in prayerful adoration, we are now ready
               to move on...
         b. "Supplication" is where we begin making our requests known to
            1) It involves an earnest sharing of our problems and needs
            2) Freedom from anxiety does not come from half-hearted,
               insincere praying!
               a) While we know that we are not heard for our "much
                  speaking" - Mt 6:7-8
               b) Still we should realize that our Father wants us to be
                  earnest and persistent in our asking - Mt 7:7-11
            3) An example of this sort of praying is found in He 5:7
               a) Jesus offered up "prayers and supplications"
               b) He did so, "with vehement cries and tears", suggesting
                  true earnestness in making His requests
      3. In which we pray "with thanksgiving"
         a. This implies "appreciation" on our part
            1) Certainly the Father delights in hearing His children say
               "Thank you!"
            2) Yet so many people are like the nine lepers healed by
               Jesus - cf. Lk 17:11-19
            3) Are we eager to ask, but slow to appreciate?
         b. Note that this "thanksgiving" is to be offered at the same
            time we make our requests!
            1) Doing this serves to remind us of all the other things God
               has done and is doing for us
            2) Which in turn helps to keep our problems in perspective

      1. God may not always remove the problems that were the initial
         cause of our anxiety, but He promises a "peace which surpasses
         all understanding"!
      2. It is a peace that the world cannot provide, but He can! - cf.
         Jn 14:27; 16:33
      3. It is a peace that "guards" (to guard, garrison like a fortress)
         our "hearts" and "minds"
         a) Guarding the HEART (which is susceptible to wrong feeling)
         b) Guarding the MIND (which is susceptible to wrong thinking)
      4. This does not mean the absence of trials on the outside, but it
         does mean...
         a) A quiet confidence within
         b) Regardless of circumstances, people, or things that would
            otherwise steal our joy!


1. This wonderful peace, this freedom from anxiety, is the result of
   letting our requests be known to God through the right kind of
   a. Praying about everything
   b. Praying with prayer and supplication
   c. Praying with thanksgiving

2. But note well, all this is possible THROUGH Christ Jesus (Php 4:7)!
   a. He is the source of every spiritual blessing from God, including
      the peace that surpasses understanding - cf. Ep 1:3
   b. And we must be IN Christ if we desire this peace of which Paul
      writes in our text

3. Do you desire the "peace of God"?
   a. Then you must be IN Christ (to see how one gets INTO Christ,
      consider Ga 3:26-27)
   b. And then you must commune with God frequently in the kind of
      praying taught by Paul

Are you in Christ?  Do you commune with God as you should?  If we can
assist you in either way...

Be Fair When Interpreting the Bible by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Be Fair When Interpreting the Bible

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Twenty-first-century Americans think very little about how contradictory our communication sounds to those unfamiliar with modern American English. Driving on parkways and parking on driveways seems very illogical given the definitions of parking and driving. Receiving shipment from trucks and cargo from ships sounds equally bizarre, though not to Americans. We have feet that smell and noses that run. We eat hamburgers made of beef and hotdogs made of pigs. What’s more, we drive on interstate highways that never cross into other states (e.g., Hawaii’s interstate H1), and we are programmed to read speed “limit” signs as speed “minimum” signs.
One of the most awkward questions Americans ask is, “You didn’t do that, did you?” How are we supposed to answer such a question? We generally say “No,” but mean “Yes,” and if we mean “No,” we say “Yes.” Recently I asked my two young sons a similar question. One said “No” and the other said “Yes,” but they meant the same thing. They simply were confused as to how to answer such a question. When one pauses to consider the many figures of speech Americans use in communication, he is overwhelmed with the number of paradoxes we regularly invoke.
It is essential for students of the Bible to recognize that the inspired writers also used many figures of speech. If we fail to identify these idioms, we may ignorantly draw the same conclusion that so many Bible critics have drawn—that the Bible writers made mistakes. In actuality, the “mistakes” are on the interpreter’s part, not God’s or His penmen’s. When skeptics allege that Jesus lied when He stated He would rise from the grave “after three days” (Mark 8:31), because on other occasions He indicated that He would rise “the third day” (Matthew 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; cf. Acts 10:40), they fail to recognize a common figure of speech in ancient times. “After three days” and “on the third day” frequently meant the same thing (cf. 2 Chronicles 10:5,12; Genesis 42:17-18; Esther 4:16-5:1; see Lyons, 2004). Even Jesus’ first-century enemies used these expressions synonymously (Matthew 27:63-64).
One critic of Christ has condemned Jesus for calling His mother “woman” in John 2:4 (see McKinsey, 1995, p. 134). Allegedly, the Son of God would not use such an impersonal noun in such a disrespectful way. In truth, however, though this expression may sound rude in the 21st century, 2,000 years ago it was used in a most respectful manner (cf. Matthew 15:28; John 19:26; 20:15).
If Bible critics would pause to think of the plethora of figures of speech we use everyday (which to some sound perplexing at best, and contradictory at worst), likely far fewer alleged discrepancies would be levied against the Bible. A fair approach to Scripture is one that takes into account its many figures of speech, rather than simply assuming the worst of its writers.


Lyons, Eric (2004), “Three Days and Three Nights,” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/570.
McKinsey, C. Dennis (1995), The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).

America's Real Problem by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


America's Real Problem

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The list is lengthy. America’s life-threatening maladies have multiplied in the last 50 years to the point that it is widely acknowledged that the nation stands on the brink of catastrophe. No doubt about it, the issues in question are serious:

The Economy

Massive government spending has created historically unprecedented national debt, while politicians continue to raise the debt ceiling. A host of ailments radiate forth from this oppressive situation, including stifling taxes, federal bailouts of corporations, entitlement programs from health care to cell phones, a depleted social security trust fund, billions in earmarks and pet projects at taxpayer expense.

Illegal Immigration and Border Security

The situation places a heavy financial burden on the American taxpayer. Those who enter illegally are lawbreakers—hardly to be expected to be law-abiding citizens. What’s more, the uncontrolled influx of unassimilated illegals threatens to alter the economic, social, and ideological complexion of the country.


Americans have been made to realize that national security is not certain. When terrorists can come to American soil, commandeer airplanes and murder some 3,000 citizens, we realize we are extremely vulnerable to those who hate us. The ongoing measures being taken to protect the homeland notwithstanding, Americans remain open targets.

Energy Crisis and Oil Dependency

Gas prices continue to soar, politicians haggle about the environment, and America remains unbelievably energy dependent on foreign nations and hostile sources.

Unprecedented Crime Rates

The average citizen of today, unlike the average citizen 60 years ago, lives daily with necessary security measures—from locking doors to setting alarms. Drive by shootings, burglaries, shoplifting, muggings, rape, and a host of other criminal infringements on peaceful existence are rampant and seemingly uncontrollable. Prisons are full to overflowing with continual efforts to provide more prisons and more law enforcement personnel.
Yes, all these issues are critically serious. But according to the Founders of the American Republic, they are only symptoms. And they are fully to be expected when a sizable percentage of the nation’s population has lost sight of the single, quintessential, most pressing concern. This concern was stated emphatically over and over again by the Founders at the very beginning of the nation throughout the tumultuous years of the Revolutionary War. Issuing 15 supplication proclamations to the nation, the Founders reiterated their belief that their hope of establishing and perpetuating the Republic depended on citizen attachment to the God of the Bible, the Christ of the New Testament, and the Christian principles taught in the Scriptures. Here is one example of this forthright affirmation, issued by the Continental Congress in November of 1777:
FORASMUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God…. It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these UNITED STATES to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for SOLEMN THANKSGIVING and PRAISE: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD through the Merits of JESUS CHRIST, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth “in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost” [Romans 14:17—DM]…. God save the United-States of America (Journals of…, 9:854-851, emp. added).
The Founders were intelligent, wise, insightful, savvy men. In the midst of the multitude of concerns and worries that confronted them in their defiance of Britain and their attempt to launch the grand American experiment, they perceived with crystal clear precision the central issue: citizen acknowledgement of the one true God and the one true religion. Only with this recognition could the Republic be established and maintained. In light of this critical realization, Americans desperately need to awaken to the nation’s real problem—and react accordingly as the Founders outlined in the above proclamation. Make no mistake, this is America’s only hope. If the true malady is cured, i.e., if America could experience a widespread spiritual awakening and return to God and His moral principles, the symptoms will be eliminated. But if the true malady is not remedied, we ought to fully expect more harmful symptoms to present themselves. [NOTE: For more information, see Christ and the Continental Congress.]


Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789 (1904-1937), ed. Worthington C. Ford, et al. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office), Library of Congress, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/amlaw/lwjc.html.

The High and Mighty by Ben Fronczek


The High and Mighty

Acts 12:19-24  (Based on a sermon by Steve Shepherd)
How many of you like people who act like a ‘big shot’, a ‘know it all’, or one who come across as superior?  Not too many of us do.   Unfortunately, sometimes we may even become guilty of this without even realizing it. If we are not careful we can develop a high and mighty attitude.
Our text today deals with a man who had this problem. In Acts 12, we read about King Herod who had a high and mighty attitude. As we look at this text, consider these thoughts about the high and mighty:
#1) They like to throw their weight around.
#2) They like to portray themselves as being great.
#3) They seek the praise of men.
#4) We see, that they at some point will be brought down.
Illustration:  A farmer got pulled over by state trooper Jon for speeding, and the trooper started to lecture the farmer about his speed, and in general began to throw his weight around acting somehow superior trying to make the farmer uncomfortable. Finally, trooper got around to writing out the ticket, and as he was doing that he kept swatting at some flies that were buzzing around his head. The farmer said, “Having some problems with those Circle Flies are ya?”
The trooper stopped writing the ticket and said, “Well yeah, if that’s what they are—I never heard of Circle Flies.”
So the farmer said, “Well, Circle Flies are common on farms. See, they’re called circle flies because they’re almost always found, circling around the back end of a horse.”
The trooper said, “Oh,” and went back to writing the ticket. Then after a minute he stopped and said, “Hey, wait a minute, are you trying to call me a horse’s rear?”
“Oh no, officer. I have too much respect for law enforcement and police officers to even think about calling you a horse’s rear.”
The trooper said, “Well, that’s a good thing,” and went back to writing the ticket.  After a long pause, the farmer said, “But it’s hard to fool them flies though.”
That leads us to our 1st point.
#1) The High and mighty like THROWING THEIR WEIGHT AROUND
It might be a lawyer or a police officer. It might be a politician, Hollywood actor, or someone with a lot of money, someone very attractive, even some preachers or elders can act like this.
But Jesus said, “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God” Matt. 5:3
ILL.- The Prime minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, is worth 10 billion dollars and is quoted as saying, “There is no one on the world stage who can compete with me.”
He sounds like the kind of guy who would definitely throw his weight around. Often people of wealth think they know everything and have all the answers, so everybody better listen to them.
I believe Jesus condemns such an attitude because people with a high and mighty attitude are more concerned about themselves, and what they have, than they are about others. It’s very hard for them to demonstrate love and mercy like Jesus.
King Herod not only had some wealth, he had power which he abused.  Read Acts 12:19 “After Herod had a thorough search made for him (Peter) and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.”
Herod cross-examined the guards and simply ordered that they be executed. WOW! If that isn’t throwing your weight around, I don’t know what is!
Any time someone is in a position of authority and power there is temptation to order people around and sometimes even abuse them. Of course this is just wrong.
What about us? Is it possible for us to get caught up in doing something like this? You bet!  Any time we misuse the authority we have, or abuse what power we have over another, that’s just wrong! Not like we don’t need bosses and supervisors or leaders, we do. But it is their attitude that makes all the difference.
Jesus had more power and authority than anyone could ever possess, yet He came not to be served, but to serve. It doesn’t sound like He abused anybody. The only one we see Him giving a hard time to was the Pharisees and leading Jews, because they were abusing others.
In Phil. 2:3-4 Paul writes “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
I Peter 5:5 it says,  “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
It’s important that we learn how to be a bit more humble around one another.
If we think that we are smarter or better than others or,… you know.., we just may find ourselves start to becoming more abusive in speech,  and abusive in the way we treat others.
Read Acts 12:21 “On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people.
Some people put on a show and try to appear greater than they really are.
Josephus recorded this incident in more detail than Luke did. He added that Herod appeared in the outdoor theater at Caesarea. He stood before the officials from Tyre, Sidon, and his other provinces on a festival day dressed in a silver robe. When the sun shone brilliantly on his shiny robe some flatterers in the theater began to call out words of praise acclaiming him a god.
I think too many people try to portray themselves as something they are not. They buy clothes, cars, and homes they cannot afford so that they’ll somehow look better or more impressive to others.
Romans 12:3  “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”
You know, it should not be our mission to try to impress anybody with who we are by putting on a false air about ourselves. God made you the way are for a reason, and He love you and has a plan for your life. Sure we should do our best to take care of ourselves and look nice. But it should be more about pleasing Him, and not others.  Most folks will eventually see through you anyway.
Read Acts 12:21-22
“On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.”
Why do you do what you do?
Is it for the applause of men? Or do you want to please God, do a good job, and help others?  I hope you chose the latter answer. Man’s applause is shallow and brief at best.   God’s approval has eternal benefits!
Paul wrote to the Colossians in 3:23 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
Now I’m not saying that we should never compliment another for a job well done. A certain amount of this is needed to give encouragement to others. Whenever someone does something good or something worthy of praise, then applaud them. Offer a compliment or kind word of encouragement.
We should all give give some kind of applause when people do well in life. But the other side of the coin is SEEKING after hungering for that applause from others.  Person who crave praise of others sometimes cn become arrogant and proud as they lust for that applause. One eventually may begin to think they are better than others because of it?
Those who are humble servants of our Lord should turn give glory to God when they are complemented. Why? Because He is the one who blesses us with the talents and abilities that we have.
#4) The high and mighty will at some point be brought down.
Where there is a sowing, there is also a reaping.
ILL.-  Muhammed Ali was one of the greatest boxers that ever lived. I remember my dad and I watching him box when I was younger. On thing I remember about Muhammad Ali, was the fact that he was not a very humble man at his peak. He had a catch praise that he’d always say. Do you remember it?  “I am the greatest?” How arrogant!    But where is he today crippled with Parkinson disease, and a humble humanitarian.
No man is a match for our all-powerful God! Not Muhammad Ali, or any of the great boxers, not any of the famous or infamous world leaders, not Hitler, not Saddam Hussein, not Osama Bin Laden, not  Gaddafi, and certainly not old King Herod!     Read Acts 12:21-24 “On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.”
In Isaiah 42:8 it says “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.”
In Luke 18:14 Jesus said, For anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
In Josephus’ writings he said this: “ When the sun shone brilliantly on his shiny robe some flatterers in the theater began to call out words of praise acclaiming him a god. Immediately severe stomach pains attacked him. Attendants had to carry him out of the theater, and five days later he died.
Doctor Luke (author of Acts) saw Herod’s attack as a judgment from God and gave a more medical explanation of his death than Josephus did.
Usually nothing good comes out of pride and arrogance, acting high and mighty, lording over others.   Do you remember the Pharaoh in Moses time. Where did his pride get him?
Do you remember when King Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel got thinking too highly of himself?  Before long he was humbled and could be found out in the fields grazing like a cow until he eventually raised his eyes up and praised and acknowledged our holy Lord.
Are these lessons for the high and mighty today?  You bet they are!   Can it be that no person attains any great position in life (political, financial or otherwise) without God’s help? And if so, doesn’t God deserves the glory, the praise, and our thanks?
And if a person doesn’t give God His rightful praise, could that person be destined for certain trouble? I’ll let you think on that one.
No matter how successful a person becomes in this life, I believe they still needs bow before our great God. And the more blessed a person is, whether it be financially, or with power and authority, good looks, many possessions, the more that person needs to spend time on his knees before God. Not only should we be thanking Him, we should also asking Him for wisdom and how to use what we have to Glorify Him.
I believe that’s why God loved Abraham and David so much. Because God always came first in their lives whether they were rich or poor, great or weak, they put God first.  What about you?
I now close this with something the wisest man who ever lived wrote in the book of Proverbs chapter 3:1-12  “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years  and bring you peace and prosperity.
Let love and faithfulness never leave you;  bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;  fear the LORD and shun evil.  This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.
My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
May God richly bless you! 

Be Proud To Be A Christian by Alfred Shannon Jr.


Be Proud To Be A Christian

In the eyes of the world a Christian may be nothing, but we are God’s nothing; And God’s one nothing is far greater than all the somethings this world has to offer, though all combined. For if we are the children of God, who is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, that makes us royalty. Don’t be ashamed to be a Christian, be proud, and let your light so shine!
1 Sam 2:8; Rom 1:16; Rom 10:11; Mt 10:32,33; 2 Tim 1:12; 1 Jn 2:28; Jam 2:5; Tit 3:7;1 Pet 4:16; 1 Pet 2:9; Mt 5:16




“And the Word became Flesh,” says John. He didn’t say the Word liked flesh or that the Word looked like flesh or that the Word visited flesh or even (in this text) that the Word made flesh—he said the Word became flesh!
In his poem The House of Christmas GK Chesterton adds homey warmth to John’s astonishing truth of God’s incarnation and the imagery he uses brings down to earth what could become a mere doctrinal statement. His poem allows us to imagine ourselves—all of us—all living in the same town and house where God lives—an “open” house where  everyone is welcome; a house we go “home” to.
To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.
In stressing the glory of Jesus, the writer of Hebrews pays special attention to his humanity; to the incarnation. It was God’s purpose to bring humans to glory and because that was so the Savior didn’t come as an angel (2:16). The writer tells us this:
“In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers…Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (2:10-15)
To be faithful to the gospel we must make the cross of Jesus central and crucial but not even the cross is to be isolated as though it is the entirety of the gospel. The resurrection and the glorification of Jesus are indispensable parts of the gospel Story. But none of these are possible without the truth of the Incarnation; it was God incarnate who lived among us, who was crucified, who rose again from the dead and who ascended to glory and who came in and as the Spirit to indwell a chosen nation of gospelers.
It is the Word incarnate that tells the complete Story; it is in and as the man Jesus that God finally and fully says to the human family, “This is what I have purposed for you humans; life in and with me, life lived gloriously, evil known and recognized for what it is (see Isaiah 32:3-8), righteousness embraced as a joy, freedom from sin and fear, peace and adventure without end! All this I show you in and as the man Jesus Christ whose life is your model, whose death exposes and condemns visible evil and the invisible satanic forces that show themselves in the corruption and brutality and oppression of humanity by humanity and whose resurrection and exaltation says that all wrongs will be righted!”
Quoting Martin Luther King as he raged against satanic blindness and brutality, Charles Campbell has this: “Let them get their dogs and let them get the hose, and we will leave them standing before their God and the world spattered with the blood and reeking with the stench of their Negro brothers… (it is necessary) to bring these issues to the surface, to bring them out into the open where everybody can see them.” (1)
As the Body of Christ, as the extension of the Incarnation of God Christians suffer along with non-Christians to demonstrate that God is not indifferent to the world’s awful pain. “Look at us,” they say! “We seek no exemption and we seek no exemption because God himself sought no exemption and because God even now seeks no exemption as He suffers in his covenant People. We weep with others and we are ‘weeping witnesses’ that what is happening to you will NEVER go unnoticed. All wrongs will be righted! See us and if you can, believe that God is saying, ‘See them sharing the pain you experience and know that they are my witnesses via suffering that I have been where you are in and as Jesus Christ and that I am even now where you are in and as the corporate Suffering Servant. Whoever you are, think noble thoughts of me—believe and vibrantly hope one day you will see and experience the ecstasy of fulfillment! ‘ “
King and all who endured the humiliation and brutality of this era not only exposed the slavery of African-Americans, they also exposed the slavery in any corner of the world, and exposed the evil of all and any who approved, silently or overtly this blatant and cruel injustice. African-Americans in America rightfully raged against a visible and felt enslavement while the powerful White culture worked as slaves to invisible and malevolent forces and justified their slavery. (2)
It’s at this point that the message of the incarnate Word speaks with such clarity. God, as the man Jesus Christ identified himself with all the victims of brutal injustice before and since his own crucifixion. He exposes “the world” for what it is and brands as satanic and demonic the spirit that leads to all that is unlike the Holy Father. (3)
The brutal killing of Jesus was not as painful or as horrible as the deaths of multiplied millions! That’s never the point of the Gospels witness! You only have to read the NT to see that Jesus’ mistreatment, at the physical/social level, was little indeed when compared with the countless sufferers down the ages. Preaching and teaching that makes more of the physical pain of Jesus than the NT does is not helpful. Now and then we hear the gory details dwelt on in a way no one in the NT does though it can make some of us squirm because we have been blessed to escape prolonged humiliation and cruel physical mistreatment. But there have been multiplied millions who would gladly have swapped Jesus’ passion experience for what they went through. Simply Google the history of punishment and think of Auschwitz, the Gulag, the Death Marches, ancient and modern. Think of those who are even now enduring torment that defies description.
No! The central truth in the suffering and death of Jesus has its power in who it is that suffered and why he chose it.
The Christian will tell you that Jesus Christ is God being a man and that one of the things he does is to hang in solidarity with every man, woman, girl or boy in any age, in any part of the world who is being tormented, humiliated, imprisoned and used. In him, God as a man not only condemns the evil and exposes it for what it is—he does that by sharing it.
It’s wrong for preachers to say he suffered more than others—to say he did is not only nonsense; it’s needlessly offensive to those who know it is false. But it is profoundly and vitally important for teachers to make it clear that in coming into our world and choosing to share our pain (daily in anguished love at the sight of world agony and finally in death—see Matthew 8:16-17—God walked from Selma, he lay on operating tables in the Nazi camps, he sat for years in freezing cold and stink in cells in the Gulag and now huddles with women, little girls and boys in filthy cellars and cattle-cars—terrified by heartless and willing slaves of the satanic and demonic. And He’s doing it again in the People who constitute the corporate Body of Christ. In that People He isn’t saying that Christian suffering is worse than what the world endures—He didn’t even say that when He  suffered in and as Jesus Christ. Let me say it again, what He is saying is this: “I see and know what is happening and trust me, I WILL make it all right! I am with and for a world in pain and this truth I tell you as you my covenant People suffer with you. These are my witnesses.”
Whatever else the incarnation and the cross mean—they mean that much. And in exposing “the world” for what it is God meant not only to generate rage and outrage against injustice and cruelty he threw his weight into the struggle to open the eyes of the drones of malevolence and bring them into the light also. The way Selma did! The way the holocaust did! These events that to some degree opened some eyes that will not close again are shadows of what the resurrection of Christ says will be finally and fully accomplished in a day yet to come.
  1. Charles L. Campbell, The Word Before the Powers, WKJ, 2002, page 63
  2. This evil was/is practiced by Africans against Africans in Africa to this very day; it was practiced by Jews against Jews—OT record—Chinese practiced it against Chinese, Irish against Irish, English against English, Muslims against Muslims, Russians against Russians and on and on. This demonic behavior is as old as Cain and Abel and at our worst we need no excuse in particular. Gang warfare and Drug Cartels where family-members torture and butcher family members illustrate the point that needs no “So why was he/she killed?” gang members have often been asked and one of the frequent answers is: “Maybe it’s because it’s Tuesday!”
  3. John 12:31, where Jesus is speaking of his death. “The world” is used often in the NT as evil in its organized wholeness. 1 John 2:15-17 and James 4:4. That’s how I mean it here.

Can we be the church of the New Testament? Yes, if we hold fast the New-Testament pattern of sound words by Roy Davison


Can we be the church of the New Testament?
Yes, if we hold fast the New-Testament pattern of sound words
Continual shelling during the First World War reduced the countryside in West Flanders, Belgium to a sea of mud. More than a million men died.
The beautiful Weaver’s Guild-Hall at Ieper, built in the 12th century, was reduced to rubble. After the war, the British wanted to leave the whole city of Ieper in ruins as a memorial to the war! Understandably, the people of Ieper thought otherwise! Some wanted to replace the Guild Hall with a modern structure. But city architect Jules Coomans insisted that the Weaver’s Hall be rebuilt.
And with the help of fellow architect, P.A. Pauwels, the building was restored to its original grandeur. When the restoration was complete in 1959, the building looked exactly as it did before. This was possible because they used the original building plans and the same type of stones.
Jesus built His church in the first century (Matthew 16:18). Two millennia later the world is full of denominations that are very different from the church Jesus built. People have used their own plans and their own stones to establish thousands of denominations according to their own liking and for their own glory.
Churches of Christ exist in all parts of the world because certain people want to be nothing more and nothing less than the church of the New Testament. They must endure much criticism, however, from those who call this an impossible dream, an unattainable objective, an impracticable ideal.
Can we be the church of the New Testament? Why not, if we use the original building plans and the same stones, if we follow the pattern of the New Testament?
The question is: Do we really want to be the church of the New Testament? Or do we prefer something else, something modern or something medieval? Do we want to serve God His way or our way?
Many, if not most people in Christendom do not even try to be the church of the New Testament. Is that acceptable to God?
Jesus said about religious groups in His time: “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch” (Matthew 15:13, 14).
If we belong to some religious group other than the church Jesus built, we will be uprooted. If we blindly follow blind guides, we will fall into a pit. We must be the church of the New Testament if we want to be saved.
People in denominations -- which are conspicuously different from the New Testament church -- often try to justify the difference by claiming that it is not possible to be the church of the New Testament.
Can we be the church of the New Testament? Can we be the same church we read about in the Scriptures? Certainly, if we use the original plans, if we follow the original pattern.
Is the New Testament a pattern for the church?
People who want to do their own thing, do not like patterns. Thus, they simply declare that the New Testament does not provide a pattern for the church. What does the New Testament itself say?
Does the New Testament claim to be a pattern?
Paul told Timothy: “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:13). Paul told Titus to “speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).
An elder must hold “fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9). The law is for anything “contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:8-11). Apostate Christians “will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:3, 4). Thus, these ‘sound words,’ this ‘sound doctrine’ is a pattern that is to be held fast by preachers and elders, and this pattern will be rejected by people with itching ears who want to please themselves rather than God.
Paul wrote to the Romans: “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered” (Romans 6:17). ‘Form of doctrine’ can be translated ‘pattern of doctrine’. Notice that it does not say that this pattern of doctrine has been delivered to us, but that we have been delivered to a pattern of doctrine! Rather than being subservient to sin, we are now subservient to a pattern of doctrine that we must obey from the heart!
The New Testament is our pattern. Only false teachers claim otherwise.
We certainly can be the church of the New Testament if we hold fast the New-Testament pattern of sound words.
To follow the New-Testament pattern, our speech must be pure. We must avoid theological formulations, and use Scriptural words to express our faith.
These words are not accidental. They are from God. Paul wrote: “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches” (1 Corinthians 2:13). Peter wrote: “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). To be the church of the New Testament we must use the language of the New Testament in our teaching and preaching.
Human interpretation of these Spirit-taught words is not allowed. We must observe their true meaning. “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:19-21).
These Spirit-taught words come from Christ. We can be the church of the New Testament if we abide in the word of Christ. Jesus tells His followers: “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31, 32). His word will judge us: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him -- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).
Jesus has given us His word through the apostles and the Scriptures.
The first church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine” (Acts 2:42). The church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). If we continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, we will be the same church.
The holy Scriptures, inspired by God, provide all the information we need to be the church of the New Testament. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul said: “These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:14, 15).
In his second letter Paul admonishes Timothy further: “But as for you, continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
This pattern is normative and must be followed accurately. Paul told the Corinthians not to go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6). John warned: “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9).
Yes, we can be the church of the New Testament, but only if we have the same faith and obey the same gospel contained in the New Testament. Jude wrote: “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). Paul wrote to the Galatians: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8).

The New Covenant must be kept.

In Greek, the word for testament and for covenant is the same [διαθήκη]. A covenant is a formal, solemn and binding agreement relative to the performance of certain actions. A confirmed covenant cannot be annulled or changed (Galatians 3:15).
The New Testament is a God-given covenant! It was ratified when Jesus died on the cross (Hebrews 9:16, 17). Through this covenant God grants blessings on specified conditions. This new covenant lays down the requirements for being a Christian and a church of Christ. These specifications cannot be changed. God, as sovereign Lord, has defined the conditions. We can be the church of the New Testament, but only if we comply with the provisions of the covenant God has given us.
Under the old covenant, God told Moses exactly how the tabernacle was to be made: “According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it” (Exodus 25:9). “And you shall raise up the tabernacle according to its pattern which you were shown on the mountain” (Exodus 26:30).
The necessity of following this pattern is mentioned twice in the New Testament. Stephen said: “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen” (Acts 7:44). In Hebrews it is explained that the tabernacle was a “copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle. For He said, ‘See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain’” (Hebrews 8:5).
God foretold that the old covenant would be replaced: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah -- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke” (Jeremiah 31:31, 32).
Can we be the church of the New Testament?
Yes, certainly. If we follow the pattern of the New Testament, if we comply with the conditions and provisions of the new covenant, if we abide in the word of Christ, if we continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, if we hold fast the pattern of sound words, if we use the Scriptures for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction, if we obey from the heart that form of doctrine to which we have been delivered, if we do not go beyond what is written, if we hold fast the faithful word, if we have the same faith and obey the same gospel, if we abide in the doctrine of Christ... we can be the church of the New Testament.
Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive