"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY" The Care Of Widows (5:3-16)


The Care Of Widows (5:3-16)


1. In the New Testament church, the care of widows was 
   an important concern...
   a. The church at Jerusalem made sure none were neglected 
      - cf. Ac 6: 1-7
   b. James described caring for widows as "pure and undefiled religion"
      - Jm 1:27
   c. Paul charged Timothy to "Honor widows who are really widows"
      - 1Ti 5:3

2. Yet it was not a responsibility simply to be thrust upon the
   a. The local church has its limitations
   b. Family members have their obligations
   c. Even widows themselves bear some responsibility

[In the text for this study, 1Ti 5:3-16, the apostle Paul instructs
Timothy regarding "The Care Of Widows."  We first note the 
care to be given widows...]


      1. "...let them first learn to show piety at home" - 1Ti 5:4
      2. "The word is commonly used to denote piety toward God, but it
         is also used to denote proper reverence and respect for a
         parent." - Robinson
      3. This is one way that children "honor" their parents 
          - cf. Ep 6: 1-2

      1. "and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable
         before God" - 1Ti 5:4
      2. Think of the care and sacrifice parents make for their children
      3. "This debt can never be wholly repaid, but still a child should
         feel it a matter of sacred obligation to do as much toward it
         as possible." - Barnes

      1. Refusal to provide for one's own family is a denial of true
         religion - 1Ti 5:8; cf. Jm 1:27
      2. Even unbelievers care for their own:  "Every man should take
         care of his own family" - Cicero
      3. Dare we do any less?

[Families should care for their widows, for "widows indeed" are those
who are left alone and trust in God through prayers night and day 
(1 Ti 5:5).  They are certainly not ones who "live in pleasure" (1Ti 5:6-7),
of which Paul will say more later.  Next Paul writes of the care given
to "widows indeed"...]


      1. I.e., included on a list of those cared for by the church
         - 1Ti 5:9; cf. Ac 6:1-7
      2. From the qualifications (see below), some conclude these 
         widows would be given special duties to fulfill for the church
      3. Since it was not uncommon for the church to provide for 
         its own on special occasions (cf. Ac 4:34-35), this appears
         to be list for those given long-term care by the church

      1. Over sixty years old, the reasons for which given later - 1 Ti 5:9
      2. The wife of one man - 1Ti 5:9
         a. Assumed by many to mean one husband at a time
         b. Otherwise Paul would later tell younger widows to do that
            which disqualify them for any help in the future - cf. 1 Ti 5:14
      3. Well reported for good works - 1Ti 5:10; cf. Dorcas, 
          Ac 9: 36-39
         a. Brought up children
         b. Lodged strangers
         c. Washed the saints' feet
         d. Relieved the afflicted
         e. Diligently followed every good work

[Such qualifications were required because the church does not
have the ability to help everyone (cf. 1Ti 5:16).  For younger widows
especially, Paul writes of the care given to widows...]


      1. The church is not take younger widows "into the number" 
          - 1 Ti 5:11; cf. 5:9
         a. That is, into long term care by the church
         b. Though short term care might be provided along with others
      2. Reasons to refuse younger widow
         a. They will want to remarry, forsaking the commitment 
            expected of those taken into the number - 1Ti 5:11-12
         b. They will become idle gossips and busybodies, saying and
            doing things they should not - 1Ti 5:13; cf. 2Th 3:11;
            1Pe 4:15

      1. This is what Paul "desires", it is his opinion or counsel 
         - 1Ti 5:14
      2. For younger widows to marry, bear children, manage the
         household - cf. Tit 2:4-5
      3. To give no opportunity to the adversary to speak 
          reproachfully - cf. Tit 2:5,8
      4. For some have already turned aside to Satan - 1Ti 5:15; 
         cf. Ph 3:18-19


1. "The Care Of Widows" should be an important concern for 
     us today...
   a. Such care is a mark of pure religion
   b. Such care is an expression of due respect toward those 
      who have done so much

2. Yet the church has many obligations, it cannot afford to 
    become burdened by this one - 1Ti 5:16
   a. For this reason families must accept their responsibilities
   b. Younger widows must accept their own responsibility
   c. Today, even governmental assistance is often available

For those who are "really widows", left alone, trusting in God, 
and who meet the qualifications listed in our text, then 
"The Care Of Widows" is a duty not to be neglected 
 by the Lord's church...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016
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Is God Immoral for Killing Innocent Children? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Is God Immoral for Killing Innocent Children?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Dan Barker and many of his atheistic colleagues claim that atheism offers the world a superior system of morality when compared to the moral system presented in the Bible. In fact, near the end of Dan’s ten-minute rebuttal speech during our debate, he stated: “We can know that the atheistic way is actually a superior intellectual and moral way of thinking” (Butt and Barker, 2009). One primary reason Dan gave for his belief that the Bible’s morality is flawed is that the Bible states that God has directly killed people, and that God has authorized others to kill as well. In Dan’s discussion about Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, Dan said that Abraham should not have been willing to obey God’s command. Dan stated: “By the way, Abraham should have said, ‘No, way. I’m better than you [God—KB], I’m not going to kill my son’” (Butt and Barker, 2009).
In his book godless, Barker said: “There is not enough space to mention all of the places in the bible where God committed, commanded or condoned murder” (2008, p. 177). The idea that God is immoral because He has killed humans is standard atheistic fare. In his Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris cited several Bible verses in which God directly or indirectly caused people to die. He then stated: “Anyone who believes that the Bible offers the best guidance we have on questions of morality has some very strange ideas about either guidance or morality” (2006, p. 14). In his landmark atheistic bestseller, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins wrote the following as the opening paragraph of chapter two:
The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive,    bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal,    genocidal,   filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully (2006, p. 31, emp. added).
After listing several Old Testament verses pertaining to the conquest of Canaan, Dawkins referred to God as an “evil monster” (p. 248). Christopher Hitchens wrote that God’s actions and instructions in the Old Testament had caused “the ground” to be “forever soaked with the blood of the innocent” (2007, p. 107).
Is it true that atheism offers a superior morality to that found in the Bible? And is the God of the Bible immoral for advocating or directly causing the deaths of millions of people? The answer to both questions is an emphatic “No.” A close look at the atheistic claims and accusations will manifest the truth of this answer.


The extreme irony of the atheistic argument against God’s morality is that atheism is completely impotent to define the term “moral,” much less use the concept against any other system. On February 12, 1998, William Provine delivered a speech on the campus of the University of Tennessee. In an abstract of that speech, his introductory comments are recorded in the following words: “Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3)    no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent” (Provine, 1998, emp. added). Provine’s ensuing message centered on his fifth statement regarding human free will. Prior to delving into the “meat” of his message, however, he noted: “The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them” (1998).
It is clear then, from Provine’s comments, that he believes naturalistic evolution has no way to produce an “ultimate foundation for ethics.” And it is equally clear that this sentiment was so apparent to “modern naturalistic evolutionists” that Dr. Provine did not feel it even needed to be defended. Oxford professor Richard Dawkins concurred with Provine by saying: “Absolutist moral discrimination is devastatingly undermined by the fact of evolution” (Dawkins, 2006, p. 301).
If atheism is true and humans evolved from non-living, primordial slime, then any sense of moral obligation must simply be a subjective outworking of the physical neurons firing in the brain. Theoretically, atheistic scientists and philosophers admit this truth. Charles Darwin understood this truth perfectly. He wrote: “A man who has no assured and ever present belief in the existence of a personal God or of a future existence with retribution and reward, can have for his rule of life, as far as I can see, only to follow those   impulses and instincts    which are the strongest or which seem to him the best ones” (1958, p. 94, emp. added). Dan Barker admitted this truth in his debate with Peter Payne, when he stated: “There are no actions in and of themselves that are always absolutely right or wrong. It depends on the context. You cannot name an action that is always absolutely right or wrong. I can think of an exception in any case” (2005).
If there is no moral standard other than human “impulses and instincts,” then any attempt to accuse another person of immoral behavior boils down to nothing more than one person not liking the way another person does things. While the atheist may claim not to like God’s actions, if he admits that there is a legitimate standard of morality that is not based on subjective human whims, then he has forfeited his atheistic position. If actions can accurately be labeled as objectively moral or immoral, then atheism cannot be true. As C.S. Lewis eloquently stated:
My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust...? Of course, I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too—for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist—in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless—I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality—namely my idea of justice—was full of sense. Consequently, atheism turns out to be too simple (Lewis, 1952, pp. 45-46, italics in orig.).
If there truly are cases of justice and injustice, then God must exist. Furthermore, we will show that the God of the Bible never is unjust in His dealings with humanity. On the contrary, the atheistic position finds itself mired in injustice at every turn.


Generally, the atheistic argument against God’s morality begins with blanket statements about all of God’s actions or commands that caused anyone to die. When the case is pressed, however, the atheistic argument must be immediately qualified by the concepts of justice and deserved punishment. Could it be that some of God’s actions were against people who had committed crimes worthy of death? Sam Harris noted that he believes that the mere adherence to certain beliefs could be a legitimate cause for putting some people to death (2004, pp. 52-53). Almost the entirety of the atheistic community admits that certain actions, such as serial killing, theft, or child abuse, deserve to be punished in   some   way. They do not all agree with Harris that the death penalty may be appropriate, but they would argue that some type of punishment or preventive incarceration should be applied to the offender.
Once the atheistic community admits that people who break certain laws should be punished, then the only question left to decide is   how  they should be punished and   to what extent. Atheists may quibble with God’s idea of divine punishment, but it has been sufficiently demonstrated that their arguments cannot be reasonably defended (see Lyons and Butt, 2005, 25[2]:9-15; see also Miller, 2002). Knowing that the idea of justice and the concept of legitimate punishment can be used effectively to show that their blanket accusations against God are ill founded, the atheists must include an additional concept: innocence.
The argument is thus transformed from, “God is immoral because He has killed people,” to “God is immoral because He has killed   innocent  people.” Since human infants are rightly viewed by atheists as the epitome of sinless innocence, the argument is then restated as “God is immoral because He has killed innocent human infants.” Dan Barker summarized this argument well in his debate with Peter Payne. In his remarks concerning God’s commandment in Numbers 31 for Moses to destroy the Midianites, he stated: “Maybe some of those men were guilty of committing war crimes. And maybe some of them were justifiably guilty, Peter, of committing some kind of crimes.   But the children? The fetuses?” (2005, emp. added).
It is important to note, then, that a large number of the instances in which God caused or ordered someone’s death in the Bible were examples of divine punishment of adults who were “justifiably guilty” of punishable crimes. For instance, after Moses listed a host of perverse practices that the Israelites were told to avoid, he stated: “Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the   punishment of its iniquity  upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:24-25, emp. added).
Having said that, it must also be recognized that not all the people God has been responsible for killing have been guilty of such crimes. It is true that the Bible documents several instances in which God caused or personally ordered the death of innocent children: the Flood (Genesis 7), death of the first born in Egypt (Exodus 12:29-30), annihilation of the Midianites (Numbers 31), death of the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15), etc. Using these instances, atheists claim that God cannot be moral because He kills   innocent  children. Atheists then insist that modern-day atheism would never approve of such, and thus atheism is morally superior to the morality of the biblical God.


A closer look at atheistic morality, however, quickly reveals that atheists do not believe that it is morally wrong to kill   all    innocent children. According to the atheistic community, abortion is viewed as moral. In his debate with John Rankin, Dan Barker said that abortion is a “blessing” (Barker and Rankin, 2006; see also Barker, 1992, pp. 135, 213). One line of reasoning used by atheists to justify the practice is the idea that humans should not be treated differently than animals, since humans are nothing more than animals themselves. The fact that an embryo is “human” is no reason to give it special status. Dawkins wrote: “An early embryo has the sentience, as well as the semblance, of a tadpole” (Dawkins, 2006, p. 297)
Atheistic writer Sam Harris noted: “If you are concerned about suffering in this universe, killing a fly should present you with greater moral difficulties than killing a human blastocyst [three-day-old human embryo—KB]” (2006, p. 30). He further stated: “If you are worried about human suffering, abortion should rank very low on your list of concerns” (p. 37). Many in the atheistic community argue that unborn humans are not real “persons,” and killing them is not equivalent to killing a person. Sam Harris wrote: “Many of us consider human fetuses in the first trimester to be   more or less like rabbits; having imputed to them a range of happiness and suffering that does not grant them full status in our moral community” (2004, p. 177, emp. added). James Rachels stated:
Some unfortunate humans—perhaps because they have suffered brain damage—are not rational agents. What are we to say about them? The natural conclusion, according to the doctrine we are considering, would be that their status is that of mere animals. And perhaps we should go on to conclude that they may be used as non-human animals are used—perhaps as laboratory subjects,   or as food  (1990, p. 186, emp. added).
Isn’t it ironic that Dan Barker protested to Peter Payne that God could not cause the death of an unborn human “fetus” and still be considered moral, and yet the bulk of the atheistic community adamantly maintains that those fetuses are the moral equivalent of rabbits? How can the atheist accuse God of immorality, while claiming to have a superior morality, when the atheist has no moral problem killing babies?
In response, God’s accusers attempt to draw a distinction between a “fetus” in its mother’s womb, and a child already born. That distinction, however, has been effectively demolished by one of their own. Peter Singer, the man Dan Barker lauds as one of the world’s leading ethicists, admits that an unborn child and one already born are morally equivalent. Does this admission force him to the conclusion that abortion should be stopped? No. On the contrary, he believes we should be able to kill children that are already born. In his chapter titled “Justifying Infanticide,” Singer concluded that human infants are “replaceable.” What does Singer mean by “replaceable”? He points out that if a mother has decided that she will have two children, and the second child is born with hemophilia, then that infant can be disposed of and replaced by another child without violating any moral code of ethics. He explained: “Therefore, if killing the hemophiliac infant has no adverse effect on others, it would, according to the total view, be right to kill him. The total view treats infants as replaceable” (2000, p. 190, emp. added; see also Singer, 1983).
He went on to argue that many in society would be aghast at killing an infant with a disability like hemophilia—but without good reason according to his view. He argued that such is done regularly before birth, when a mother aborts a child in utero after prenatal diagnosis reveals a disorder. He stated:
When death occurs before birth, replaceability does not conflict with generally accepted moral convictions. That a fetus is known to be disabled is widely accepted as a ground for abortion. Yet in discussing abortion, we say    that birth does not mark a morally significant dividing line. I cannot see how one could defend the view that fetuses may be “replaced” before birth, but newborn infants may not (2000, p. 191, emp. added).
Singer further proposed that parents should be given a certain amount of time after a child is born to decide whether or not they would like to kill the child. He wrote: “If disabled newborn infants were not regarded as having a right to life until, say, a week or a month after birth it would allow parents, in consultation with their doctors, to choose on the basis of far greater knowledge of the infant’s condition than is possible before birth” (2000, p. 193). One has to wonder why Singer would stop at one week or one month. Why not simply say that it is morally right for parents to kill their infants at one year or five years? Singer concluded his chapter on infanticide with these words: “Nevertheless the main point is clear:   killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Very often it is   not wrong at all” (p. 193, emp. added).
It is clear, then, that atheism does not have moral constraints against killing all innocent babies, but rather only those innocent babies that the atheistic community considers “worthy” to live. How in the world would a person make a moral judgment about which children were “worthy to live?” Singer, Harris, and others contest that a child’s age in utero, mental capability, physical disability, or other criteria should be used to formulate the answer. Dan Barker has given his assessment about how to make such moral decisions. He claimed that “morality is simply acting with the intention to minimize harm.” He further insisted that the way to avoid making mistakes in ethical judgments is to “be as informed as possible about the likely consequences of the actions being considered” (2008, p. 214).
Using Barker’s line of reasoning, if God knows everything, then only He would be in the best possible situation to know all the consequences of killing infants. Could it be that all the infants born to the Amalekites had degenerative genetic diseases, or were infected with an STD that was passed to them from their sexually promiscuous mothers? Could it be that the firstborn children in Egypt, or Abraham’s son Isaac, had some type of brain damage, terminal cancer, hemophilia, etc.? The atheistic community cannot accuse God of immorally killing infants and children, when the atheistic position itself offers criteria upon which it purports to justify morally such killing.
Once again, the atheistic argument must be further qualified. The argument has moved from: “God is immoral because He killed people,” to “God is immoral because He killed innocent babies,” to “God is immoral because He killed innocent babies that we feel would not have met our atheistically based criteria for death.” Ultimately, then, the atheistic position argues that atheists, not God, should be the ones who decide when the death of an innocent child is acceptable.


As with most logically flawed belief systems, atheism’s arguments often double back on themselves and discredit the position. So it is with atheism’s attack on God’s morality. Supposedly, God is immoral for killing innocent children. Yet atheists believe the death of certain innocent children is permissible. Have we then simply arrived at the point where both atheistic and theistic morality are equally moral or immoral? Certainly not.
One primary difference between the atheistic position and the biblical position is what is at stake with the loss of physical life. According to atheism, this physical life is all that any living organism has. Dan Barker stated: “Since   this is the only life we atheists have, each decision is crucial and we are accountable for our actions right now” (2008, p. 215, emp. added). He further commented that life “is dear. It is fleeting. It is vibrant and vulnerable. It is heart breaking. It can be lost. It will be lost. But we exist now. We are caring, intelligent animals and can treasure our brief lives” (p. 220). Since Dan and his fellow atheists do not believe in the soul or any type of afterlife, then this brief, physical existence is the sum total of an organism’s existence. If that is the case, when Barker, Harris, Singer, and company advocate killing innocent babies, in their minds, they are taking from those babies all that they have—the entirety of their existence. They have set themselves up as the Sovereign tribunal that has the right to take life from their fellow humans, which they believe to be    everything    a human has. If any position is immoral, the atheistic position is. The biblical view, however, can be shown to possess no such immorality.


Atheism has trapped itself in the position of stating that the death of innocent children is morally permissible, even if that death results in the loss of everything that child has. Yet the biblical position does not fall into the same moral trap as atheism, because it recognizes the truth that physical life is    not  the sum total of human existence. Although the Bible repeatedly recognizes life as a privilege that can be revoked by God, the Giver of life, it also manifests the fact that death is not complete loss, and can actually be beneficial to the one who dies. The Bible explains that every person has a soul that will live forever; long after physical life on this Earth is over (Matthew 25:46). The Bible consistently stresses the fact that the immortal soul of each individual is of much more value than that individual’s physical life on this Earth. Jesus Christ said: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).
Although the skeptic might object, and claim that an answer from the Bible is not acceptable, such an objection falls flat for one primary reason: the skeptic used the Bible to formulate his own argument. Where is it written that God is love? In the Bible, in such passages as 1 John 4:8. Where do we learn that the Lord did, indeed, kill or order the death of babies? Once again, that information comes directly from the Bible. Where, then, should we look for an answer to this alleged moral dilemma? The answer should be: the Bible. If the alleged problem is formulated from biblical testimony, then the Bible should be given the opportunity to explain itself. As long as the skeptic uses the Bible to formulate the problem, we certainly can use the Bible to solve the problem. One primary facet of the biblical solution is that   every human has an immortal soul that is of inestimable value.
With the value of the soul in mind, let us examine several verses that prove that physical death is not necessarily evil. In a letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul wrote from prison to encourage the Christians in the city of Philippi. His letter was filled with hope and encouragement, but it was also tinted with some very pertinent comments about the way Paul and God view death. In Philippians 1:21-23, Paul wrote: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to   die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire    to depart  and be with Christ,   which is far better” (emp. added).
Paul, a faithful Christian, said that death was a welcome visitor. In fact, Paul said that the end of his physical life on this Earth would be “far better” than its continuation. For Paul, as well as for any faithful Christian, the cessation of physical life is not loss, but gain. Such would apply to innocent children as well, since they are in a safe condition and go to paradise when they die (see Butt, 2003).
Other verses in the Bible show that the loss of physical life is not inherently evil. The prophet Isaiah concisely summarized the situation when he was inspired to write: “The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart; merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous    is taken away from evilHe shall enter into peace; they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness” (57:1-2, emp. added). Isaiah recognized that people would view the death of the righteous incorrectly. He plainly stated that this incorrect view of death was due to the fact that most people do not think about the fact that when a righteous or innocent person dies, that person is “taken away from evil,” and enters “into peace.”
The psalmist wrote, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15). Death is not inherently evil. In fact, the Bible indicates that death can be great gain in which a righteous person is taken away from evil and allowed to enter peace and rest. God looks upon the death of His faithful followers as precious. Skeptics who charge God with wickedness because He has ended the physical lives of innocent babies are in error. They refuse to recognize the reality of the immortal soul. Instead of the death of innocent children being an evil thing, it is often a blessing for that child to be taken away from a life of hardship and evil influence at the hands of a sinful society, and ushered into a paradise of peace and rest. In order for a skeptic legitimately to charge God with cruelty, the skeptic must prove that there is no immortal soul, and that physical life is the only reality—neither of which the skeptic can do. Failure to acknowledge the reality of the soul and the spiritual realm will always result in a distorted view of the nature of God. “The righteous perishes...while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil.”
We then could ask who is moral: the atheist who has no problem approving of the death of innocent children, while believing that he is taking from them the only life they have? Or an all-knowing God Who takes back the physical life He gave the child, exchanging it for an eternal life of happiness?


Once the atheistic position is forced to concede that it advocates the killing of babies, and that if there is an afterlife, then the biblical description of God’s activities could be moral, then the atheist often shifts his argument in a last ditch effort to save face. If death can be, and sometimes is, better for the innocent child or for the Christian, why not kill all children and execute all Christians as soon as they come up out of the waters of baptism (see Lyons and Butt, n.d.)? The atheist contends that if we say that death can be a better situation for some, then this position implies the morally absurd idea that we should kill every person that death would benefit.
Before dealing with this new argument, it should be noted that we have laid the other to rest. We have shown that it is impossible for atheism to accuse God of immorality in His dealings with innocent children. Since atheism’s attack against God’s character has failed on that front, the maneuver is changed to accuse the follower of God of not carrying his belief about death to its alleged logical conclusion by killing all those who would benefit. One reason that atheists argue thus is because many of them believe that humans have the right to kill those who they deem as “expendable.” Of course, atheism does not base this judgment on the idea that certain   babies  or other    innocent   people  would benefit, but that   society  at large would benefit at the   expense  of those who are killed. Here again, notice that God is allegedly immoral because He “sinned” against innocent children by taking their lives; yet atheism cares nothing for innocent children, but for the society of which they are a part. In truth, atheism implies that once a certain category of people, whether unborn babies, hemophiliacs, or brain-damaged adults, is honestly assessed to be “expendable,” then humans have the moral right, and sometimes obligation, to exterminate them. The atheist berates the Christian for not taking his beliefs far enough, in the atheist’s opinion. If certain people would benefit from death, or in atheism’s case, society would benefit from certain people’s death, then the atheist contends we should be willing to kill everyone who would fall into that category. If we are not so willing, then the atheist demands that our belief involves a moral absurdity. Yet, the fact that death is beneficial to some cannot be used to say we have the   right  to kill all those that  we think  it would benefit.


One extremely significant reason humans cannot kill all those people that we think might benefit from death is because we do not know all the consequences of such actions. Remember that Dan Barker stated that the way to make moral decisions was to “try to be as informed as possible about the likely consequences of the actions being considered” (2008, p. 214). Could it be that human judgments about who has the right to live or die would be flawed based on limited knowledge of the consequences? Certainly. Suppose the hemophiliac child that Singer said could be killed to make room for another more “fit” child possessed the mind that would have discovered the cure for cancer. Or what if the brain-damaged patient that the atheistic community determined could be terminated was going to make a remarkable recovery if he had been allowed to live? Once again, the biblical theist could simply argue that God is the only one in the position to authorize death based on the fact that only God knows all the consequences of such actions. The atheistic community might attempt to protest that God does not know everything. But atheism is completely helpless to argue against the idea that if God knows everything, then only He is in the position to make the truly moral decision. Using Barker’s reasoning, when God’s actions do not agree with those advocated by the atheistic community, God can simply answer them by saying, “What you don’t know is....”
It is ironic that, in a discussion of morality, Barker offered several rhetorical questions about who is in the best position to make moral decisions. He stated: “Why should the mind of a deity—an outsider—be better able to judge human actions than the minds of humans themselves...? Which mind is in a better position to make judgments about human actions and feelings? Which mind has more credibility? Which has more experience in the real world? Which mind has more of a right?” (1992, p. 211). Barker intended his rhetorical questions to elicit the answer that humans are in a better position to make their own moral decisions; but his rhetoric fails completely. If God is all-knowing, and if God has been alive to see the entirety of human history play out, and if only God can know all of the future consequences of an action, then the obvious answer to all of Barker’s questions is: God’s mind.
Additionally, there is no possible way that humans can know all the good things that might be done by the Christians and children that live, even though death would be better for them personally. The apostle Paul alluded to this fact when he said that it was better for him to die and be with the Lord, but it was more needful to the other Christians for him to remain alive and help them (Philippians 1:22-25). Books could not contain the countless benevolent efforts, hospitals, orphanages, soup kitchens, humanitarian efforts, and educational ventures that have been undertaken by Christians. It is important to understand that a Christian example is one of the most valuable tools that God uses to bring others to Him. Jesus noted that when Christians are following His teachings, others see their good works and glorify God (Matthew 5:13-16). Furthermore, the lives of children offer the world examples of purity and innocence worthy of emulation (Matthew 18:1-5). While it is true that death can be an advantageous situation for Christians and children, it is also true that their lives provide a leavening effect on all of human society.


The mere fact that only God knows all consequences is sufficient to establish that He is the sole authority in matters of human life and death. Yet, His omniscience is not the only attribute that puts Him in the final position of authority. The fact that all physical life originates with God gives Him the prerogative to decide when and how that physical life should be maintained. In speaking of human death, the writer of Ecclesiastes stated: “Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return   to God who gave it” (12:7, emp. added). The apostle Paul boldly declared to the pagan Athenians that in God “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). If God gives life to all humans, then only He has the right to say when that life has accomplished its purpose, or under what circumstances life may be legitimately terminated.
In addition to the fact that God gives life and, thus, has the authority to take it, He also has the power to give it back if He chooses. Throughout the Bible we read of instances in which God chose to give life back to those who were dead, the most thoroughly documented example of that being the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Butt, 2002, 22[2]:9-15). In fact, Abraham alluded to this fact during his preparations to sacrifice Isaac. After traveling close to the place appointed for the sacrifice, Abraham left his servants some distance from the mountain, and said to them: “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and   we  will come back to you” (Genesis 22:5). Notice that Abraham used the plural pronoun “we,” indicating that both he and Isaac would return. The New Testament gives additional insight into Abraham’s thinking. Hebrews 11:17-19 states: “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten...accounting that   God was able to raise him up, even from the dead...” (emp. added). Since God gives physical life to all, and since He can raise people from the dead, then any accusation of injustice that fails to take these facts into account cannot be legitimate.


It is evident that atheism has no grounds upon which to attack God’s character. Atheists contend that a loving God should not kill innocent babies. But those same atheists say that killing innocent babies could be a blessing under “the right” circumstances. Atheists contend that God is immoral for taking the lives of innocent children. Yet the atheist believes that it is permissible to take the lives of innocent children, when doing so, according to their belief, means that those children are being robbed of the sum total of their existence. Yet, according to the biblical perspective, those children are being spared a life of pain and misery, and ushered into a life of eternal happiness. Atheism contends that its adherents are in a position to determine which children should live and die, and yet the knowledge of the consequences of such decisions goes far beyond their human capability. Only an omniscient God could know all the consequences involved. The atheist contends that human life can be taken by other humans based solely on reasoning about benefits to society and other relativistic ideas. The biblical position shows that God is the Giver of life, and only He has the authority to decide when that life has accomplished its purpose. In reality, the atheistic view proves to be the truly immoral position.


Barker, Dan (1992), Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist (Madison, WI: Freedom From Religion Foundation).
Barker, Dan (2008), godless (Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press).
Barker, Dan and Peter Payne (2005), “Does Ethics Require God?,” [On-line], URL:http://www.ffrf.org/about/bybarker/ethics_debate.php.
Barker, Dan and John Rankin (2006), “Evolution and Intelligent Design: What are the Issues?,” [On-line], URL: http://www.ffrf.org/about/bybarker/ID_Debate.mp3.
Butt, Kyle (2002), “Jesus Christ—Dead or Alive?,” Reason & Revelation, [On-line], URL:/articles/121.
Butt, Kyle (2003), “Do Babies Go to Hell When They Die?,” [On-line], URL:/scrspeak/2003/ss-03-18.htm.
Butt, Kyle and Dan Barker (2009), Butt/Barker Debate: Does the God of the Bible Exist?(Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Darwin, Charles (1958), The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, ed. Nora Barlow (New York: W.W. Norton).
Dawkins, Richard (2006), The God Delusion (New York: Houghton Mifflin).
Harris, Sam (2004), The End of Faith (New York: W.W. Norton).
Harris, Sam (2006), Letter to a Christian Nation (New York: Alfred A. Knopf).
Hitchens, Christopher (2007), God is Not Great (New York: Twelve).
Lewis, C.S. (1952), Mere Christianity (New York: Simon and Schuster).
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (no date), Receiving the Gift of Salvation, [On-line], URL:/pdfs/e-books_pdf/Receiving%20the%20Gift%20of%20Salvation.pdf.
Lyons, Eric and Kyle Butt (2005), “The Eternality of Hell: Part 2,” Reason & Revelation, 25[2]:9-15, February.
Miller, Dave (2002), “Capital Punishment and the Bible,” [On-line], URL: /articles/1974.
Provine, William (1998), “Evolution: Free Will and Punishment and Meaning in Life,” [On-line], URL: http://eeb.bio.utk.edu/darwin/DarwinDayProvineAddress.htm.
Rachels, James (1990), Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism (New York: Oxford University Press).
Singer, Peter (1983), “Sanctity of Life, Quality of Life,” Pediatrics, 72[1]:128-129.
Singer, Peter (2000), Writings on an Ethical Life (New York: Harper Collins).

Is Faith a Gift from God? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Is Faith a Gift from God?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And    this  is not your own doing; it   is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV).
For centuries, Bible commentators have differed on the precise reference of the pronoun “this” ("that" in KJV, ASV) in Ephesians 2:8. Does “this” (touto) refer to faith, as many have stated (e.g., Augustine, Chrysostom, Westcott, Lenski, etc.), or, does “this” refer to salvation from sin? Is   faith  “the gift of God,” or is this gift   salvation  by grace through faith?
Admittedly, from a cursory reading of Ephesians 2:8, it may appear that the demonstrative pronoun   this    has   faith  as its grammatical antecedent. Those who believe that faith is a gift (i.e., miraculous imposition) from God, often point out that in this verse “faith” is the nearest antecedent of “this” (“For by grace you have been saved through   faith. And   this    is not your own doing; it   is the gift of God”). However, when one examines Ephesians 2:8 in the language in which it was written originally (Greek), he finds that the pronoun   this   (touto) is neuter in gender, while the word   faith  (pistis) is feminine. Since the general rule in Greek grammar is for the gender and number of a pronoun to be the same as its antecedent (Mounce, 1993, p. 102,109,), then some extenuating linguistic circumstance, special idiomatic use, or other mitigating factor would need to be demonstrated to justify linking “this” to “faith.” If such reasonable justification cannot be made, then one is compelled to continue studying the passage in order to know assuredly what “this” gift of God is.
When no clear antecedent is found within a text, Greek scholar William Mounce wisely recommends that the Bible student study the context of the passage in question in order to help determine what a pronoun is referring to (1993, p. 111). The overall context of the first three chapters of Ephesians is man’s   salvation  found in Christ.
  • “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (1:7).
  • The heavenly “inheritance” is found in Christ (1:11).
  • After believing in the good news of salvation through Christ, the Ephesians were “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (1:13).
  • Sinners are made “alive with Christ” and saved “by grace” (2:5).
  • Sinners are brought near to God “by the blood of Christ” (2:13).
  • Paul became a servant of Christ “according to the gift of the grace of God…by the effective working of His power” (3:7).
Not only is the theme of salvation the overall context of the first three chapters of Ephesians, but the immediate context of Ephesians 2:8-9 is of salvation, not of faith. These two verses thoroughly document how a person is   saved, not how a person   believes.
  • Salvation is by grace.
  • Salvation is through faith.
  • Salvation is not of yourselves.
  • Salvation is the gift of God.
  • Salvation is not of works.
Paul was not giving an exposition on    faith  in his letter to the Ephesians.   Salvation  was his focus. Faith is mentioned as the mode by which salvation is accepted. Salvation is through faith. Just as water is received into a house in twenty-first-century America through a pipeline, a sinner receives salvation through obedient faith. The main focus of Paul’s message in Ephesians 2:8-9 was salvation (the living “water that springs up into everlasting life”—cf. John 4:14), not the mode of salvation.
Faith is not a direct gift from God given to some but not others. Rather, as Paul wrote to the church at Rome, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). Faith in Christ as the Son of God is only found in those who have first heard the Word of God, and then believed (cf. John 20:31).


Mounce, William D. (1993), Basics of Biblical Greek (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).

Is Faith "Infused" Directly by God? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Is Faith "Infused" Directly by God?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

According to Catholic Catechism 153, “Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him.” Unlike other religious peoples who use Ephesians 2:8 as a proof text to teach (erroneously) that faith is a direct gift from God, Catholics base their view of infused faith on a statement Jesus made to Peter during His earthly ministry. Once, after Peter confessed to Jesus, saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:16-17). The Catholic Church believes that Jesus’ statement proves that faith is given directly and supernaturally by God. Faith comes, not from “flesh and blood,” but purportedly is “infused” directly by the Father above.
The central problem with the 153rd Catholic Catechism is that Jesus did not say that God gave Peter    faith  in Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus stated that God    “revealed”  to Peter that Jesus was the Son of God. There is a difference between   revealing    to someone a truth (e.g., the deity of Christ), and   compelling  someone to believe that truth. If a teacher quizzes a class in preparation for a final exam, and, in the process, reveals every answer to the class that they need to know in order to score a 100 on the exam, one or more students still may fail. Students might fail because they    chose  not to take the exam. Some could fail because they did not take heed to the revelation of facts given by the teacher during the review session. Still others could fail simply because they deliberately wrote the wrong answers on the test, thinking it was fashionable to make low grades in school. Even though the teacher   revealed    all of the knowledge needed for every student in the class to make a perfect score on the exam, each student still had a choice as to whether he or she would   act  upon that knowledge wisely and ace the test.
Similarly, even though God revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Son of God, that does not mean that God directly infused faith into Peter. Faith is a commanded action on man’s part that comes   after   revelation, not before, or simultaneously (Acts 16:29-34; John 7:24; Romans 10:17). The Bible never speaks of faith as being given directly by God. Rather, it is self-developed following revelation from God. In Peter’s case, such revelation did not come from “flesh and blood” (Matthew 16:17; cf. 17:5). Today, biblical faith is developed by hearing or reading the written revelation from God—the Bible (John 20:30-31; Romans 10:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).


Catechism of the Catholic Church, [On-line], URL: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s1c3a1.htm.

Is Denominationalism Scriptural? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Is Denominationalism Scriptural?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

What is a “denomination”? Does God approve of denominations? These are extremely significant and critical questions. They deserve answers from the Word of God.
When we go to the New Testament and examine God’s Word with a view toward ascertaining what His will is with regard to religion, we find that there is a clearly defined system of religion—God’s  religion—in the New Testament. It is the religion of Christ that has come to be called Christianity. We also find that Satan does everything he can to blur the distinctions that God wants observed. We should not be surprised at that. Think about the great hoaxes that have been perpetrated upon mankind. For instance, the doctrine of evolution is almost universally believed by the scientific elite of many societies. So it is with many political, philosophical, and religious systems of thought like Communism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Those who have examined the evidence—objective truth—on these matters know that those systems of thought simply are not true. Yet large numbers of people adhere to them. Large numbers of people believe the tenets of those systems.
In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul spoke about the fact that Satan endeavors to take advantage of people. He said that we should not let Satan take advantage of us, “for we are not ignorant of his devices.” The word “devices” could easily have been translated “schemes.” We must be aware of the fact that Satan uses deceitful, deceptive ploys in an effort to trick people to get them to believe and practice various things that simply are not true. In a similar statement, Paul used the phrase “wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Most people are oblivious to this fact. Many people do not even believe that Satan exists—anymore than they believe that God exists. Yet if the New Testament is true, it is clear there is a Satan, and he will do all he can to fool, trick, and deceive people. He wants to blur distinctions that God wants observed—distinctions that are scriptural and biblical.
It is clear that this is the case with   denominationalism. Consider the following dictionary definitions (American, 2000, p. 485). The term “denominate” means “to give a name to; designate.” “Denomination” is “[a] large group of religious congregations united under a common faith and name and organized under a single administrative and legal hierarchy; a name or designation, especially for a class or group.” “Denominator” refers to “[t]he expression written below the line in a common fraction that indicates the number of parts into which one whole is divided.” “Denominationalism” is “[t]he tendency to separate into religious denominations; sectarianism.” Think about these meanings for just a moment. The very word “denomination” means a named or designated division. Denominationalism occurs when religious people and groups divide and segregate themselves on the basis of different designations or church affiliations and different doctrines.
Have you gone to the New Testament and read Jesus’ prayer for unity in John chapter 17? There He prayed    against    religious division, and prayed to God that believers in Christ would be unified! Paul made the same point to the church of Christ in Corinth: “I beseech you brothers by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Here is a passage that says denominations are not even to exist! “Let there be no divisions among you.” If a denomination is a “designated division,” then denominationalism is clearly unscriptural! It is against the will of Christ. The passage continues, “but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
I assure you, I have nothing against any particular religious group. I have no biases or prejudices against any one church or denomination. But we must go to Scripture and be objective in our appraisal of New Testament truth. It is clear when we go to the Bible that denominationalism, though viewed innocently by millions of people worldwide, is an approach to religion that is out of harmony with New Testament teaching.    God does not want denominations to exist. He wants all of us to understand His will in the New Testament, and then to bring our lives into conformity and our spirits into submission to that will.


Denominationalism conflicts with New Testament teaching on a variety of subjects. Consider New Testament teaching on the subject of the one church. Passages like Isaiah 2:1-5 and Daniel 2:44 predicted that one day God would set up a kingdom, a church, a house—what Isaiah called the “Lord’s house.” In Matthew 3:2, John the baptizer preached that people should repent and get ready because the kingdom of heaven was at hand. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” In Mark 9:1, He said, “[T]here are some standing here who will not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God come with power.” These passages speak of the same institution. In Acts 2, we find the actual establishment of Christ’s church on Earth. Jesus Christ Himself built His church in the city of Jerusalem in approximately A.D. 30 on the day of Pentecost. Its inception is described in Acts 2.
In Colossians 1:13, Paul spoke of Christians as those who had been removed by God from darkness and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son. In Ephesians 1:22-23, the body of Christ is referred to as the church, and later we are told that there is only one (4:4). Those two passages alone should cause us to recognize that the existence of denominations is out of harmony with God’s will. Ephesians 4:4 says there is one body. That body is the church of our Lord. He established it; He built it; He purchased it with His own blood (Acts 20: 28). If there is only one church, God is not pleased with the division, the named designations, of competing churches with various names, doctrines, and practices. In 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul wrote to Timothy that he might know how to conduct himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God. Most people just do not realize that New Testament truth is that simple, that plain, and that uncomplicated. The denominationalism that has gripped western civilization is so entrenched and so entangled in the minds of people that they seem to be unable to detach themselves from it, and to go back to the New Testament to get a clear conception of the New Testament church. They seem unable or unwilling to embrace pure New Testament teaching and to repudiate all denominationalism.
Another concept that we find clearly depicted on the pages of the New Testament is the idea of scriptural names, that is, names for both the church itself and names for individual members of that church. In Romans 16:16 we find the expression “churches of Christ.” In 1 Corinthians 1:2, we have a reference to “the church of God.” In 1 Corinthians 3:16, we find “the temple of God.” And in Ephesians 4:12, we have the phrase “the body of Christ.”
These expressions are not intended to be technical nor formal names for the church. They are descriptions. They are labels that describe Christ’s church. Additional ones may be found as well. Most of the time in the New Testament, Christ’s church is just referred to as “the church.” But here is the point: Most of the names that people are giving to their churches today are not in the New Testament. They therefore are formulating names and founding churches that cannot be found in the New Testament. That’s denominationalism!
The same thing is true with regard to the names that God wants individual Christians to wear. In Isaiah 62:2, the prophet foretold that God with His own mouth would give a name to His people. We find the fulfillment of that prophecy in Acts 11:26. The name  that God wants individual members of His church to wear is the name “Christian.” In Romans 1:7, we find the term “saints,” and in Acts 5:14, we find the term “believer.” In other passages we find the word “disciple” and family names like “brother” and the “family of God.” The names that denominations and their members wear are conspicuously absent from the New Testament.
New Testament truth on the matter of names is simple. How contrary to that New Testament pattern are the churches and the individuals who have taken the names of men and applied them to themselves and their churches. Some churches designate themselves by a particular practice or doctrine. I urge you to study your New Testament and realize that God is not pleased with man made names. He will not sanction or extend His grace to groups and individuals who have chosen to stray from His will and His pattern for religion. Those who formulate for themselves their own religions, their own churches, and their own names, will be rejected by God. The Bible records that down through the annals of human history, God has never tolerated human invention in religion.
The same is true with regard to worship. The New Testament contains specific instruction concerning how God wants to be worshipped. Yet in the denominational world, all sorts of worship practice may be found. For instance, in the New Testament, Christians met for worship on the first day of the week—Sunday. Acts of worship took place on other days—for example, New Testament Christians could and did pray anytime, anywhere. But Sunday is pinpointed in New Testament Christianity as the special day on which Christians gather together to worship God (Acts 20:7). Christians are required by God to attend worship assemblies. Yet many people in our day never attend worship services, and apparently think, “Hey, I can be a Christian at home and worship God in my own way; nothing says that I have to go to church to worship with other Christians.” Most people have not read their New Testaments. The Bible teaches the necessity of assembling in Hebrews 10:25. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). He was referring to the church. So if I am going to put the church first and seek it first in my life, obviously I am going to assemble with the church—fellow Christians—for worship on Sunday.
A further contrast between denominationalism and the New Testament church pertains to what Jesus would have us to do in the realm of music in the church. In Ephesians 5:19, Paul wrote: “[S]peaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” New Testament instructions for musical worship are that simple and unencumbered. There is no authority in the New Testament for playing musical instruments in worship to God. There is no authority in the New Testament for performance groups like choirs and praise teams. The music in the New Testament is very clearly   congregational,   vocal   singing. It’s that simple.
We also find that communion, the Lord’s Supper, was served in the New Testament to Christians on the first day of the week. Acts 2:46 and 20:7, and 1 Corinthians 11:20-34 and 16:1-3 inform us that the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament church was observed    every first day of the week. All Christians partook of both the fruit of the vine and the bread. In addition, every first day of the week Christians are to contribute a percentage of their income to a general treasury so that the church may carry on its work. Acts 2:42 speaks of the importance of continuing in prayer. Praying is a part of Christian worship. The same verse speaks of continuing in the apostles’ doctrine, i.e., the teaching, preaching, and examining doctrinal truth. These five acts of worship are part and parcel of public worship assemblies—no more and no less.
Yet churches all over the land are not patterned after the one church of the Bible. They have unscriptural names for their church and for their individual members. Their worship services engage in many practices that are not taught in the New Testament. Their activities are mere inventions and doctrines of men (Matthew 15:9). Do we want to be exactly what Jesus wants us to be according to the New Testament?
The same is true with God’s plan of salvation. What does the New Testament teach with reference to how one becomes a Christian? So much diversity and widespread misconception exists. Most religious groups teach salvation is solely by faith, without any further acts of obedience. They say that all you have to do is “accept Jesus as your savior,” which means orally saying, “I believe in Jesus Christ, I accept him into my heart as my personal savior.” Denominationalism teaches that   at that moment  the person is forgiven of sin and he becomes a Christian. The New Testament does teach that a non-Christian must    believe  (Mark 16:16)—but that is not all. He or she also must   repent of sins  (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38),   confess Christ    with the mouth (Romans 10:10), and then be   immersed in water   with the understanding that the blood of Jesus washes away sin at the point of water baptism. Acts 22:16 indicates that it was at the moment that Saul was immersed in water that his sins were washed away (cf. Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21). Most people in the religious world believe that a person is forgiven of sins    before    they are immersed. But, once again, that is a departure from New Testament teaching.
The New Testament is equally explicit on the subject of Christian living. It is frightening that American civilization as we have known it is deteriorating and moving away from the fundamental behaviors that were common to our way of life from our inception as a nation. But it is happening. Many people are showing the same lack of knowledge and disrespect for God’s instructions in this area as they are in the other areas we have noted. Our society is getting farther away from the Bible. Many do not even believe the Bible to be a supernatural, inspired (i.e., God-breathed) book. They think it is just a collection of Jewish myths, a bunch of fairy tales, and the writings of mere men.
We have reason for alarm. Any civilization that does not structure itself around the mind of God as revealed on the pages of the Bible, cannot last for long. Look back over the centuries of human history and you will see this truth. Every nation that rejected God and His principles for living, eventually deteriorated from the inside out and fell to pieces, crumbling into the dust of human history. American civilization is rushing headlong down that same course. So what does the Bible teach concerning Christian living and Christian morality?
For example, regarding marriage, Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:9 are sufficient to demonstrate how far our society has deviated from God’s will. Those verses show that God’s will is that one man (never married before) marry one woman (never married before) and that those two individuals remain married for the rest of their lives. Only death should separate them. And only one exception is given to that rule. If one of those mates is sexually unfaithful, God permits the other mate, the innocent partner, to divorce the guilty mate   for fornication, i.e., for sexual unfaithfulness, and to marry an eligible partner. The New Testament is that clear and that simple. Yet our society as a whole is so far from that simple teaching that it is frightening to consider whether we could ever recover our spiritual and moral senses.
What about the use of alcohol? People all over our society consume alcoholic beverages in restaurants, in homes, on airplanes, and at ball games. You cannot go to a football game without people freely drinking alcoholic beverages without giving it a second thought. They appear oblivious and unconcerned about the fact that the Bible speaks definitively and decisively against consuming intoxicating beverages (e.g., Proverbs 23:29-35). If you are honest and love God and desire to follow His will, you will examine what the Bible teaches on this matter.
What else is occurring in our society? People use foul language and take God’s name in vain. How often do we hear people say, “O my God”? The expression has saturated our society. But the Bible condemns the vain use of God’s name (Exodus 20:7; Ephesians 4:29). It is sin, and it offends God. Likewise, the practice of lying and deceiving is commonplace, though God hates such acts (Proverbs 6:17; Ephesians 4:25).
What about gambling? The lottery has been legalized in most states, along with horse racing and other forms of gambling. Large numbers of people flock to these activities as if they are perfectly acceptable and moral. My friend, I don’t mean to offend you in any way, but I am telling you that the Bible speaks decisively and clearly against these practices. They are immoral, they are unchristian, and they are ungodly (Matthew 7:12; Ephesians 4:28; 5:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Timothy 6:9-10).
Our society says, “People ought to be free to believe what they want. Don’t be judgmental. You don’t have any right to say they are wrong.” But such propaganda is wrong.   God  has a right. He is the Creator, and He said in His Word that we must know His truth, and we must be right about that truth, and we must obey that truth (Hebrews 5:9). Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). He also said, “[Y]ou shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Paul spoke about the time when people would not want to hear healthy teaching (2 Timothy 4:3). They would reject it. But God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).
The New Testament teaches that we must stay with   God’s  words. We are not free to deviate, or to believe and practice whatever   we  choose. We must not do it (2 John 9; 1 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 1:8). In the final analysis, denominationalism is what results when humans assert their own religious inclinations, formulate their own religious doctrines, and originate their own churches. Solomon’s words ought to cause every single person to refrain from affiliation with denominationalism: “Every word of God is pure. He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words lest He reprove you and you be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6).


American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.