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Vol.XX No.III Pg.1
May 1983

Official Swearer

Robert F. Turner

In "Safed and Keturah," by William E. Barton, John Knox Press; Safed becomes Official Swearer and Scolder. We have condensed this to fit space.

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They laid a water pipe in the road; and the soil was stubborn and rocky. And when the men came for to dig, I took a Spade and digged with them. Likewise did I with the Pick and the Crowbar. And the men said, Thou canst do work such as we do save it be only in one thing. For if we strike more Rock than we expected, or if the water flow into our trench, or if peradventure it cave in so that we must dig it out again, canst thou do thy part of the Swearing?

And I answered and said, I will do it all. And they said, It is liable to be a Large Contract. And when the ditch caved in, or the water stood in the trench so they had to pump it out, or they struck rock and had to blast, then did they say one to another, Swear not, for that is Safed's job.

And thus it came to pass that no Swearing was necessary, but only Muscle and Pumps and some Dynamite. Now I considered how many people there be who swear by the use of Profane words, or by the Slamming of Doors, or by Scolding, and I thought it would be well if there might be appointed an Official Swearer for all such occasions, and that he should consider the matter carefully before Swearing or Scolding and see if some other way would answer just as well. For if the digger strike rock, and must use Dynamite as well as swear, he might as well use Dynamite instead of Swearing. And if Kindness will do the work instead of Scolding, then is the Scolding wasted or maybe worse.

Therefore am I open to Employment wherever there is need, to take the responsibility of all the Swearing and all the Scolding that shall be required, and if it be left to me there will not be much of either.

For one should neither Swear nor Scold if there be any other way to accomplish the result desired; nor unless it is sure that Swearing or Scolding will do good. For there is a lot of wasted Swearing and Scolding; and to scold is to swear.

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Vol.XX No.III Pg.2
May 1983

Godly Courage

Robert F. Turner

When Sanballat heard that Nehemiah and others were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem (Neh. 4:1-f) he set about to stop this good work — and his methods are still being used to hinder or stop scriptural work today. He mocked their feeble efforts — they are small and insignificant (v.2-3). And he conspired with other enemies, uniting the forces of evil against truth, and offering "unity" (?) as compelling reason to "return unto us" (8-12).

Internal weakness also hindered the work, and it was necessary for the faithful to "clean house," even as the same is necessary today if our work is to succeed (5:1-19).

But as internal problems were corrected, and the work grew, Sanballat tried another tactic. "Come, let us meet ...in the plains of Ono. Compromise would stop the work of course, but more — "Why should the work cease whilst I leave it, and come down to you?" (6:1-4). Genuine studies together are profitable, but often what is supposed to be a "study" is nothing but public relations propaganda that goes on interminably, and stops the work of the Lord for that time! (6:1-4). And if we do not fall for that ploy, Sanballat and his kind will slander us. "It is reported..." Nehemiah covered it when he said, "There are no such things but thou feignest them out of thine own heart. (5f)

Then Sanballat and Tobiah tried trickery. They hired men to cultivate an atmosphere of fear — trick Nehemiah into appearing to lose faith — to cringe at the enemy's approach. Bold Nehemiah would not hide. He could not be intimidated by threats to put his own safety above the need for God's work to continue (6:10-14).

"So the wall was finished..." and Nehemiah gave credit where it belonged: "this work was wrought of our God" (6:15-16). God works with those who have the faith and courage to do His bidding against all odds. Who go steadily forward, unshaken by Satan and his wiles. Who allow neither mockery, conspiracy, internal troubles, compromise, slander, or carnal tricks to move them from their course.

This offers no encouragement to those who confuse bluster, unethical tactics or character assassination with the fight of faith. If we are truly co-workers with God we do not need carnal methods to succeed. The courage of the saints is marked by meekness and poverty of spirit, true signs of trust in God and His power. We sorely need men with godly courage who can do all things in Him..."

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.XX No.III Pg.3
May 1983

The Great Delusion

Dan S. Shipley

In the night of His betrayal, Jesus tells His disciples, "All ye shall be offended in me this night." (Matt. 26:31). But Peter thought otherwise and said so. "If all shall be offended in thee, I will never be offended" (v.33). Peter was saying, in effect, what so many others have said down through the years: "It won't happen to me:" — but it did.

"It won't happen to me" is a pernicious but popular form of self-deception that blinds us to truth, facts, and reality. This was brought home to me recently when a friend of a friend of mine was hospitalized as a result of a serious motorcycle accident. One of his visitors remarked that she would like for her son to come up and see first-hand what happens to people who ride those "awful machines". The answer coming from the hospital bed was not what she expected. "It won't do any good for your son to see me like this", he replied. "They all think it won't happen to them." Having two grown sons and another "going on grown," I can appreciate his reply. Citing accident reports, death and injury statistics, personal testimonies, and the like to teenagers with "motorcycle fever" is like talking to deaf people — because, like the man said, they think it won't happen to them. However, would-be motorcycle jockeys are not the only ones who suffer from such delusions.

Consider, for instance, the multitudes of grown, intelligent people (including some anti-motorcyclists) who choose to ignore the frequent and competent warnings linking smoking to cancer and heart disease. They know the risks, they know that tobacco will contribute to nearly 130,000 cancer deaths this year, yet somehow conclude, "It won't happen to me." Shortly before dying with lung cancer a dear friend once told me, "We always think it just happens to the other fellow, don't we? — too late we learn better." But the cherished delusion doesn't stop here.

Think of the mountain of evidence drinkers choose to ignore. Over 55% of all highway deaths are alcohol-related; over 6 1/2 million Americans have become alcoholics and 3 million teenagers are headed in the same direction. Alcohol contributes to broken homes, neglected children, lost jobs, and countless other problems yet the drinker, even when sober, comes to the irrational and preposterous conclusion that "It won't happen to me."

Foolish? Consider the fact that one out of six unmarried women will become pregnant this year. Some of them will be Christians, taught from youth to "flee fornication" and to keep themselves pure. Think, too, of young Christians who choose to marry and spend the rest of their lives with a non-Christian. They have heard of the dangers, the weakening influences in such a relationship, yet they continue to think what they want to believe, "It won't happen to me."

Finally, consider the host of unfaithful who have become spiritual dropouts through the years. Most never thought they would; they didn't plan to. Perhaps, they too, lived with the Great Delusion of Peter. Do you?

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Vol.XX No.III Pg.4
May 1983

Conveying The Message

Robert F. Turner

It's Saturday morning, the children are watching TV, their rooms are a mess, and mother needs their help in getting things cleaned up. The problem? How to convey that message (and hopefully not incite a riot.)

Mom has an idea. She begins by setting an example: doing what she wants them to do in hopes that her example will be followed. No luck.

Another approach is taken. This time mother makes a necessary inference. She says, "Children that dont help with cleaning their rooms don't get to go outside and play. You all are not helping clean up your rooms, so..." The kids just change positions on the couch.

But mom doesn't give up. She makes a simple statement: "Your rooms need to be cleaned up and I need you to help me." You would think the kids were deaf.

Finally, in a tone of voice that can no longer be ignored, mother issues a command: "Get up from that couch, turn off the TV, and help me clean up your rooms." Success at last.

Example, necessary implication, statement, and command. What other forms of communication could this mother have used in order to cause these children to understand what she wanted them to do? What other forms of communication are available to all of us as we seek to cause others to understand what we want them to know and do? "Getting the point across" means we must set examples, we must necessarily infer, we must make statements, or give "orders." A man is reading his Bible, wanting to know what God's will is. His desire is to know what kind of conduct meets with God's approval. But how is this man to know God's will?

As he reads the life of Christ and notices His teaching methods, he soon realizes that Jesus communicated His will to others in various ways. When He wanted to teach about humility He set an example of one way in which it could be demonstrated (Jo. 13:15). He used necessary inference when teaching important truths about Himself (Matt. 22:41-46). When talking about entering the kingdom our Lord made a simple statement (Jo. 3:3-5). And, when giving the Great Commission to the apostles, He gave commands (Matt. 28:18).

This man also sees that the teaching methods in the epistles are no different. Inspired men urged following of examples (Acts 20:35; Phil. 3:17); taught by necessary inference about the priesthood of Christ Heb. 7: 11-17); made statements about what baptism does for us Gal. 3:27); and gave commands regarding disciplinary action 2 Thss. 3:6).

Examples, necessary inferences, statements, and commands: God communicates His will to us in the same way we communicate ours to others. Thus, understanding God's revelation and establishing authority for religious practices should pose no problem to the man truly desiring to know and do the Father's will.

David Smitherman

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Vol.XX No.III Pg.5
May 1983

Use Your Bible

Dan S. Shipley

"CANNOT SEE, AFAR..." (2 Pet. 1:1-14)

Intro.

1.The context deals with condition of spiritual myopia (nearsightedness) a. Peter speaks of heart-vision, not eyesight b. Such a heart is only concerned and influenced by the here and now

I. Such Blindness Cannot See Far Behind

A. Forgets what it has escaped (v.4) a. The filth, corruption and defilement of the world (2:20) b. Paul reminds the Ephesians of what they once were (2:1-3) c. Remembering what we were without Christ helps us to appreciate what we have become in Christ

B. Forgets "cleansing from his old sins" (v.9) a. Men need to retain the disposition that prompted their conversion b. Men need to remember the faith that led them to change in repentance c. Men need to remember the beginning of a new life in Christ and how they once confessed Christ as Lord

Ii. Such Blindness Cannot See Far Ahead

A. Avoids facing the reality of death a. Amazingly, one of the few certainties of life is its end (Heb. 9:27), and yet, is often the least prepared for

B. Does not see ahead to the judgment (2 Cor.5:10)

a. Another sure appointment (Acts 17:30) b. Paul implies that knowledge of judgment ought to affect our present manner of life and bring us to repentance (Acts 17:30,31)

C. Does not consider the latter end a. A problem with Israel (Deut. 32:28,29) b. It is foolish for any man to ignore his eternal destiny

Iii. Such Blindness Cannot See Far Within

A. Such is the man who will not examine himself (2 Cor. 13:5) 1.Some have closed their eyes (Matt. 13:15) 2.Others look, but straightway for et what they see (Jas.1:24) 3.Such become like the Laodiceans (Rev.3:17-19)

B. Making our calling and election sure (v.10) requires looking inward 1.When the Prodigal saw himself as he was, he came to himself (Lk. 15) 2.When the Psalmist thought on his ways, he turned to the Lord (Ps. 119:59)

CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION

1.Have we forgotten what's in the past and in the future? Look within.

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Vol.XX No.III Pg.6
May 1983

The Church Died

Robert F. Turner

Impressive churches dot the pages of Bible history — Antioch, Ephesus, Jerusalem, Phillipi, Rome. From more recent restoration history, a host of names are recalled. But what finally happened to those churches? A few remain; most are gone. They died! Is this destined to be the final chapter of this church? Why did they die?

Did the churches become outdated? A new T-model Ford is as good as ever but not suited to the demands of our day. Man has not changed. Sin and the truth have not changed. Man's spiritual needs are the same. God's church is perfect in design and needs no improvement. That is not the problem.

Was it persecution that destroyed those grand churches? All churches felt the lash of persecution, but that is when they multiplied their numbers. They died later. Churches die from within — not from outside pressure.

Churches die at the tables of compromise. When the churches fought the world, sin, and false doctrine — asking no quarter nor giving any, they prospered. Brethren bore scars; they lost a battle now and then, but they did not lose the war. In their hand was a two edged sword, and on their side a divine defense none could penetrate. Compromise opened the gates and sheathed the sword. "Let's not dispute with people..." That appeal is the cankerworm and caterpillar that devours a church — and it is at last dead, stripped of its courage and faith.

Churches die of indifference. All churches lose members — they die, quit, or move away. Laziness just revises the directory and waits for move-ins and births. No effort is made to restore the fallen as scripture demands. No seed is sown. No one has home Bible studies. There is no zealous pursuit of souls. That church naturally — gradually — eventually but ever so surely dies.

Churches die from misdirection. They adopt worldly religious ideals. They see the church as a social reform agency, a general benevolent society, and a recreational institution. Its spiritual mission is forgotten. The harder they work, the worse the church becomes. Finally it is but a grotesque caricature of the Lord's church. Somewhere along the way, the church died — the victim of apostasy. Other churches have no direction at all. They are content to open the doors three times a week, have a meeting once a year, and paint the building when it begins to peal. They go in circles constantly wearing the ruts deeper and deeper. They press without a real goal, running on the treadmill until the church dies.

Is such inevitable? Must our work be wasted? No! The Lord has a prescription: "Preach the word; ... in season, out of season;..." "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life,..." "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." May we have the zeal, faith, and backbone to take the medicine.

Joe Fitch, San Antonio, TX.

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Vol.XX No.III Pg.7
May 1983
? You Know What?
Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Tell us HOW TO STUDY the Bible, to really understand its content. L. P.

Reply:

BIBLE STUDIES, by G. Dallas Smith; or more recent "surveys" of the whole divine library will give subject matter, and will help you select a book for special attention. But to study that book, try reading it all the way through — then reread, then reread. Read rapidly, do not stop to study details, read for general content. NO SUCCESSFUL STUDY can be done without diligent reading and rereading.

After several readings, try making an analysis (on scrap paper). What is the main theme? Try putting the chief message on a postcard. Is the writer proving something, reproving for something, urging some action, warning of something? Written to whom? Why? At this stage do not try making application to yourself or today's problems.

Now, compare your summary with the introduction summaries in a few good commentaries. These introductions are often far more valuable than verse-by-verse comments, yet are frequently ignored. Read them critically. Do your notes and those of the commentator agree? If not, reread the section under consideration and reevaluate it. Both of you may be wrong!

ONLY AFTER SUCH PREPARATION WORK should you begin to study details. Now read slowly, checking words you do not understand or that are critical to the argument: in Vine's N.T. Dictionary, a Greek Interlinear, and Word Study books — in this order. Cross-reference to companion passages in other books can help, and eventually must be used to get the complete picture, but don't rush off to other scripture until you have exhausted the immediate context. The same words in a different context may have other meanings.

If you have access to a good religious library (church, school, or the preacher's books) check for special studies on critical subjects, but do not swallow all you chew. DO NOT MARK BORROWED BOOKS — RETURN THEM PROMPTLY.

NOW, you are ready to re-outline the book in greater detail; and fit "hard" passages into this context. If you think this is time-consuming hard work, you are certainly right. But this is Bible study. Add prayer, and self-application, and the rewards are great. WARNING! Do not become high-minded about your conclusions. You may have to revise that outline when you do this again some months later. But with diligent study and self-application, you can serve God with convictions, and acceptably.

Recommended "Tools" For Study

1. American Standard Version with cross-reference. If you prefer King James, check NEW K.J. (Nelson Publ.) Avoid exotic one-man translations, or modern paraphrases, American idioms. 2. Vine's N.T. Dictionary. 3. Nestle Greek-English Interlinear. 4. Robertson's Word Studies (and his Grammar, if you are capable of using it). 5. Expositor's Greek N.T. for critical exposition of passages, and concise introductions to books.

But Most Important: Plenty Of Time, Scrap Paper, And Plain Old Good Common Sense.

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Vol.XX No.III Pg.8
May 1983

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

On a recent C.B.S. "Morning News" Diane Sawyer told of a man who came to a preacher requesting baptism. In the process he stole the preacher's wallet. He should have known preachers do not carry large sums of money in their wallets. They must appear lean and hungry; so their wealth is put into stocks, bonds, or CDs, and kept in a bank lock box.

But the unmitigated gall of the man requesting baptism is oft repeated. Some boy is baptized ("ducked") in order to get parental approval to marry a certain girl. I once talked with a person who thought baptism was a fraternity type "initiation" into the church. There are many cases of pseudo-conversions as part of a "con" game, to get money, food, gas, or lodging from unsuspecting brethren.

Some years back a man duped a number of southern California churches by "going forward," being "baptized" (?), and then "taking" them for money and other valuables. A chance communication between two preachers revealed the farce, and further investigation showed its extent, but by now the culprit had left for parts unknown. A few years later a So. California preacher was in a meeting in Texas and at the invitation the fraud came down the aisle asking to be baptized. The local preacher was about to follow the usual procedure, but the California evangelist asked for permission to speak. He praised those who would truly give their life to the Lord: dying to their old life, and being buried with Christ in baptism, arise to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-11). "But there are deadbeats —" and he began to pour it on. As more and more details were revealed, the "candidate" began to squirm. Finally he could take it no longer, and arose to leave the building. The speaker stopped him with, "Hold on, I'm not through with you yet"; and continued to expose the man for what he was.

Wouldn't it make a great story if the man had acknowledged his sins, and been baptized for the remission of sins, through the mercies of God? (Mk. 16:15-16, Acts 2:38) It didn't turn out that way, sorry to report. As in John's day, people are baptized for improper reasons (Matt. 3:7-f) but this does not negate scriptural obedience nor our obligation to teach it.

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Vol.XX No.IV Pg.1
June 1983

Write Up Experience

Robert F. Turner

During my very early years as a Christian I heard preachers use Jn. 9: 31 ("God heareth not sinners") as saying only the baptized would be heard. This was usually aimed at "mourner's bench" religion, where aliens ignored God's commands (repent and be baptized) and tried to "pray through." Then one day while riding with an older and more experienced preacher he said this conclusion was partly right but the exegesis was faulty.

"The 'sinner' (Jr. 9:16,31) was in rebellion against God as a manner of life  walking in darkness. A baptized person could be in that condition. In fact, the Jews "knew" this by reference to such scriptures as Psa. 66:18, Isa. 1:15; 59:2 where those in covenant relation with God would not be heard because of their rebellious ways." To the ears of one who had preached it with the limited application, this was false teaching.

A few weeks later I was riding with another older, experienced man, who had been quick to "write up" many with whom he differed, and who expressed "doubts" about the man with whom I had earlier traveled. I did not have the good sense to keep my big mouth shut, but told him of the man's erroneous (as I thought) view.

He did not correct me (though later I learned he knew the proper use of Jn. 9:31) but seemed to enjoy my "discovery" of what I thought was the first man's unorthodox interpretation. It was not until I had made careful study of the scriptures involved that I realized the first man was trying to help me, while the second seemed to be looking eagerly for something "on" a brother, to "write him up."

Those travel companions are dead now — this incident long past. I am shamed by this memory, would like to forget it, but it comes again to mind as I have the feeling its principles are being repeated by others. The seasoned preacher, as well as the inexperienced, could have erroneous concepts. Error needs correction; but little of this will be done by arrogance or "brotherhood police" tactics. The "spiritual" must correct error in meekness, considering himself, lest he also be tempted (Gal. 6:1).

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Vol.XX No.IV Pg.2
June 1983

To "Our" Theologians

Robert F. Turner

"Theology" refers to religious knowledge and belief, especially when methodically formulated. Whatever you believe about God may be called your "theology," but the bulk of our brethren have been content to accept a conglomerate of Bible facts without trying to build a "system." This means less depth, more "surface" knowledge; but it has also prevented our trying to "explain" things unrevealed. We accept Bible statements, use them in sermons, without having to fit them into some form of systematic theology. But a subtle change is taking place.

We have long recognized the substitu- tional nature of the death of Jesus but now it seems some want to explain the details, with mechanical exactness. The Son had to be separated from the Father by sin, they say; but just how He was reunited remains an unsolved mystery. Our human limitations prevent our knowing how the incarnate One could be both deity and human; but it has led some to argue the Son of God could not sin during His personal ministry. Makes us wonder about His temptation (Matt. 4:).

With some, justice as an inherent nature of God demands a legalistic accounting for man's sins, leading to fanciful concepts of the imputation of Christ's perfect life to us. God must have His "pound of flesh" though mercy seems equally inherent of God. "Walking in light" is sinless perfection with some; and with others it seems a casual stroll and "automatic" forgiveness — for which no one seems to accept another's definition. "Walking" in light or darkness loses its contextual usage. Mechanics of prayer grow more rigid as "our" theologians struggle to separate deity and yet keep ONE God. In such a climate it is not too surprising one fellow is now mailing out an old B.W. Stone paper, denying that the Son is co-eternal with the Father. III-prepared writers and editors seem anxious to promote another "issue" over concepts of deity, judgments that belong to God, or equally unrevealed details of heaven.

We are so grateful for thousands of saints who are satisfied with Bible teaching without having to develop theories of "explanation"; who are content to express Bible thoughts in Bible words. (See John Smith's plea at a meeting of Campbell and Stone disciples in Lexington, Ky.; "Life of Elder John Smith.") (P.T. V.1, N.6.) If, as it seems, some are now engaged in the process of "digging deeper" to develop a "theology," we pray they will not mistake muddy water for deep, and will excuse us for not swallowing their theories until better proven.

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Vol.XX No.IV Pg.3
June 1983

Down On Self?

Dan S. Shipley

Professional people tell us that low self-esteem is a serious and wide spread problem affecting just about every strata and age level of our society. I believe it. Failure, unattractiveness, obesity, lack of formal education, feeling of not being needed, lack of confidence and the like are the culprits robbing many of a sense of worth. They produce feelings of inferiority and self-pity that can be detrimental to both sinner and saint — especially if the saint happens to be weak in faith.

Of all people, God's people ought to have a lofty, yet humble sense of worth. In the first place, every man is a kinsman and offspring of the almighty God (Acts 17:29). That makes every individual special in a way that deserves appreciation. The "inward man" (2 Cor. 4:16) is fashioned after God's own image (Gen. 1:27). As we have "fathers of our flesh," we also have a "Father of spirits" (Heb. 12:9). There is within every man that which does not and cannot come from fleshly parents but only from our spiritual Father. What consolation to remember that this spirit shall one day "return unto God who gave it" (Eccl. 12:7). We should say, with the little boy pictured on a poster, "I know I'm SOMEBODY, 'cause God don't make no junk!"

But, not only am I the offspring of God, I am the continual object of his love and concern. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time; casting all your anxiety upon Him, because he careth for you" (1 Pet. 5:6,7) Yes, "God so loved the world..." but that means He loves YOU! Paul viewed it in personal terms when he says of Christ that He "loved me, and gave himself up for me" (Gal. 2:20). So should we. And here's something else God's people need to remember. Since God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34), He sees you and me as His children and objects of His love as much as Paul, Timothy, Peter or any Old Testament worthy. As the popular writer, Francis Schaeffer put it, "With God there are no little people." The question is not whether I am a great apostle, elder, preacher, or teacher, but whether I am glorifying God in my life, where I am, wit what I have, now? 1 Pet. 4:11 Many deceive themselves into thinking that they could do more for the Lord in some other place and at some future time if they only had more resources or talents. Being down of self causes one to think of "what might have been" and hinders possibilities of rewarding service now.

No person is worthless and viewing self as such is deceiving and hurtful. We have been redeemed at the greatest cost ever paid for anything, "with precious blood ... even the blood of Christ" (1 Pet. 1:19). We have a soul appraised by the Lord as being of inestimable worth (Matt. 16:26). In Christ we have been made truly rich (2 Cor. 6:10). DO WE REALLY BELIEVE IT?

To walk by faith is to recognize that apart from the Lord we are and can be nothing. But in Him, thanks be to God, we have a greatness that we need to remember, appreciate, and reflect in our daily living!

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Vol.XX No.IV Pg.4
June 1983

Precious Letters

Robert F. Turner

The letters are brown and brittle with age and enclosed in envelopes that are well-worn. In 1910-11, when the letters are post-marked, postage was just two cents. The letters were written just before and immediately after a marriage that was to last for over sixty years. Their author was a young man who was deeply in love with a young lady. In them he spoke with clumsy eloquence of his love for her.

She had saved her precious letters all these years, and the badly torn envelopes indicate she had often removed and read them. The sentiments in the old letters took on new meaning with the passing of time.

But now her husband was near death. Sixty-four short years of marriage were about to end. And knowing that soon she would no longer have him with her, she carried the precious letters with her around the house. She would cling to his words of love that had bound them in life and from which she would not be separated in death.

After her death, the letters were passed on to family members. They will be cherished by those who knew and loved the couple. They, too, will want to read the loving sentiments. But will the possessor of the letters give them away? Never! He prizes the letters and prefers to keep them. Loan them to those interested? Not likely: they might become lost or damaged. Perhaps he will make himself copies and send the originals to the other family members? No, he will make copies for them, keeping the originals for himself. And so with great care he copies each word from the old letters, accurately reproducing each original. He thus gives to others what they, and he, really want: not the original letters, but the messages they contain.

We see a similar attitude toward and treatment of some other "precious letters" written two thousand years ago. The epistles of inspired men to specific churches and individuals were intended for distribution over a wide area (1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:2; Col. 4:16) and Peter indicates this was done by the time he wrote (2 Pet. 3:15-16). But how? By a hand copying process (the only way possible) in which the copies were carefully made, authenticated, and transmitted (Rom. 16:22; 1 Cor. 16:21; Gal. 6:11; Col. 4:18; 2 Thss. 3:17).

In this way those receiving copies considered them as much "scripture" as an original (Lk. 4:21; Acts 8:32; 17:11; Rom. 16:26; 1 Tim. 5:18 — the word "scripture" in these texts is not likely a reference to an original but to copies of copies of copies.)

Copies of these copies have been faithfully made and providentially preserved. Our copies speak to us today as accurately as the originals did to those in the first century.

Thus we cherish the old letters of inspired men — not the paper on which they have been copied, but what they say — in somewhat the same way that I cherish those precious letters I have that my grandfather wrote to my grandmother over seventy years ago.

David Smitherman

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Vol.XX No.IV Pg.5
June 1983

Use Your Bible

Dan S. Shipley

The Honest And Good Heart

Intro.

1. The popular parable of the sower (Lk. 8:4-15) depicts different attitudes men manifest toward the word of God. While the parable deals with four kinds of "soil", in reality there are only two; the kind that will not receive the word (effectively) and the kind that will, the honest and good heart. Note some characteristics of such a heart....

I. AN ATTENTIVE HEART ("having heard the word..")

A. Even the powerful gospel cannot influence those who do not hear (Rom. 10) 1. Those who will not hear God's truth (all of it) will forever be making wrong and prejudiced decisions in spiritual matters

B. When God speaks, men need to hearken 1. Jer .6:19 "they have not hearkened unto my words..." 2. 1 Sam. 15:22 "..to hearken (better) than fat of rams" 3. Lk. 10:16 To hear apostles is to hear Father and Son

II. A DISCERNING HEART (recognize and value Divine truth)

A. As the Bereans (Acts 17:11) determined "whether these things were so" 1. Encouraged in Philippians (Phil. 1:10), see footnote in ASV 2. Commended in the Thessalonians (1 Thss. 2:13) 3. Source test always important ("from heaven or men?", Matt. 21:25)

B. "Prove all things" (1 Thss. 5:21) 1. Without proving, cannot know or hold fast to that which is good

III. A FAITHFUL HEART ("holds fast the word")

A. Ultimate purpose of Truth realized in this quality 1. From "KATECHO", "to hold firmly, to keep firm possession of", i.e., allowing Truth to influence disposition and deportment continually. 2. Note the condition of faithfulness in 1 Cor. 15:1,2 ("if ye hold fast..") 3. Encouraged, 2 Thess. 2:15

B. Implications of holding fast the word 1. Allowing it to completely control our lives, refusing to compromise it for peace, favor or gain 2. Hold it fast when tempted, tried, discouraged, "in season and out" 3. Lest we drift (Heb. 2:1)

IV. A FRUITFUL HEART ("bring forth fruit..")

A. Fruitfulness always in connection with the word (i.e., doing Truth) 1. Herein is God glorified (Jn. 15:8) 2. This is His word working in His people (1 Thss. 2:13) 3. The fulfillment of Paul's prayer (Col. 1:10) 4. May we all cultivate such a heart....

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Vol.XX No.IV Pg.6
June 1983

As Thy Day

Robert F. Turner

...and as thy days, so shall thy strength be" (Deut. 33:25). Thus Asher is blessed with the other tribes of Israel. The words stir my spirit and remind me of God's care for me. Adverse challenge is implied in the text, but God controls the challenge. God is not our adversary and adverse conditions do not originate with him. He is rather the source of every good and perfect gift (Jas. 1:17) Furthermore, God limits the activity of our adversary, Satan, who seeks to devour us (1 Pet. 5:8). Do you remember Job? According to the devil, God would not allow any adversity to touch Job — "Hath thou not made a hedge about him" (Job 1:10). With the permission to tempt Job, the devil was still forbidden to touch the person of Job in the first temptation (1:12), and forbidden to kill him in the second temptation (2:6). God set the limits on temptation — and he still does. God does not allow a test of man above what he is able to stand (1 Cor. 10:13). Without such limits, none would stand. The devil would overwhelm or destroy us completely.

God also regulates the duration of the temptation. I can stand almost any pain if the time is not too long — like about three seconds! Even lesser challenges become a serious burden when the time is unlimited. Remember the old dripping water torture? The judgement on Jerusalem was a tribulation of absolute destruction "except those days should be shortened" (Mt. 24:22). But God was in control and shortened them "for the elect's sake." The devil's full measure of tribulation — "ten days" — is sure to be no longer than we can bear and be faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10). "Sufficient unto the day is the evil (adversity) thereof" (Mt. 6:34).

Finally, God supplies strength to meet the challenges of our day. "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being...strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness" (Col. 1:10,11). I would not venture to explain how God does this, but there is much that is beyond our power when God is not in the picture. "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Rom. 5:6). God supplied what man had no strength to do. He does the same for man to maintain man in his service. Paul's trouble in Asia "pressed (him) out of measure" and "above strength" so that he "despaired even of life" (2 Cor. 1:8). How could he bear what was "above strength"? It was above his strength, but not God's. As with his thorn in the flesh, God said, "My grace is sufficient for thee: my strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9). No day overcomes us in the strength of our omnipotent God.

"I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower." "Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great" (Psm. 18:2,35).

Joe Fitch, San Antonio, TX.

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Vol.XX No.IV Pg.7
June 1983

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

In Acts 4:31, what relation does prayer have with the coming of the Holy Spirit? How related today? A.R.

Reply:

Prayer "has relation" to whatever one may legitimately do in the course of his walk with God. Christians have prayed for "daily bread" (Matt. 6:11), an imprisoned Apostle (Acts 12:5), or forgiveness (Acts 8:22). Today, we do not pray for an imprisoned Apostle because there are no Apostles today imprisoned and needing our prayers.

In the cited text, these first century Christians prayed for "boldness" to speak God's word (v.29) — a boldness they felt would come as God continued His work of confirming the word with healings, signs and wonders (Cf. Mk. 16:20, Heb. 2:3-4). God granted their petition, and "they spake the word of God with boldness" (v.31). The confirmation of the word (establish, render valid by formal assent) has been accomplished. It is wholly inconsistent for anyone to say they believe the Scriptures have a divine source, and then expect God to continue the "confirming" signs as if such proof had never been given. Just as we do not pray for an imprisoned Apostle (see above), we also do not pray for confirming demonstrations.

Thus, prayer for signs and wonders via the H.S. were in order for saints of the early church; but are not in order for saints of today. The prayer for forgiveness (Acts 8:18-24) was in order because Simon wrongly sought the miraculous power of the H.S. — a sin modern seekers should well ponder. Dear bro. Turner:

How does one determine the time of songs sung for worship? We note a growing tendency to race through the songs being used in worship. G.I.

Reply:

There are still sections of the country where brethren sing with a slow, measured pace that suggests the singers are half-asleep; but we agree that "racing" seems on the rise. My personal opinion is that the whoop-n-holler type songs in two popular songbooks are responsible for a degeneration in the quality of worshipful music heard in many churches today. It may also be that trends in popular secular music (country western, and the so-called "gospel" songs sung by country-western stars) has had a bad effect on music sung in churches. We can say, "Keep the books, but don't sing those type songs." but that invites further conflict.

We are told, "It's a matter of different tastes..." and that is true; but are we singing to satisfy our taste, or to worship God? Is there no propriety involved in public worship? Is Rock-and-Roll (with "gospel" words thrown in between the beats suitable for praise of the Infinite Being? We are increasingly shocked by races through "Have a Little Talk..." etc., that sound more like a festival than people seriously worshipping God.

The "time" of a song should fit the mood established by its words. We pray, praise, exhort, plead, give our thanks, etc., in different moods, and song leaders should adjust accordingly: in worship, not in a "hoe-down."

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Vol.XX No.IV Pg.8
June 1983

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

Various campaigns to curb or stamp out the use of tobacco for smoking or chewing have my approval, and the following stories should not be taken as endorsement of the filthy habit. But the general disapproval of tobacco use among saints, though still often violated, was not always as strong as it is today. At the risk of shocking the younger generation...

I have held meetings where men put the weed in their mouth before going into the meeting place, then sat near an open door so they could discharge excess "amber" during services. After dinner at one home, the men went out in the yard to chew and smoke, and my wife says the women passed the snuff around. (She declares she didn't take any, and I believe her.)

One day an older and very popular preacher rode in the car with Vivian and me, and asked me to bear a message to my father. "Tell him," he said, "that E.G. Creasy is a gentleman!" Naturally I wanted to know what this meant — and finally he elaborated, "E.G. no longer uses that filthy stuff!" Of course he knew I knew they were both long-time chew-n-spitters. I gave my dad the message — he laughed — and kept on using the stuff until convinced it was killing him. But the kicker is yet to come. Four years later I passed near the Creasy farm, and decided to drop in for a visit. I found E.G. on the gallery, chewing and spitting up a storm. We had a nice visit, and then as I was leaving I said, "Oh yes, bro. Creasy, my dad said to give you a message. He said to tell you, "I don't believe it!" (It worked. He had forgotten.)

"Don't believe WHAT?" he asked. And I played it cool: "I don't know — he just said to say, 'I don't believe it.' Neither one of you fellows make any sense to me."

"But Robert, there must have been some context to his statement. What caused him to say that?"

"Well, I gave him your message — 'E.G. Creasy is a gentleman!' — and he said, 'Tell him, I don't believe it!' It all sounds crazy to me. I'm just an innocent bystander." As I recall, bro. Creasy said, "You may be a bystander, but you are not innocent." (Try getting some good out of this.)

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Vol.XX No.V Pg.1
July 1983

The Embarrassed Church

Robert F. Turner

A young lady "came forward" and told the preacher she had "embarrassed the church, and wished to make it right." He dutifully reported this to the congregation, a prayer was offered in her behalf, and everyone seemed happy. Others might say they "brought reproach upon the church," or "have not been faithful to the church." In one sense "the church" or "called out" saints represent the cause of Christ; and misconduct on the part of professed saints makes it more difficult to promote that cause. But is that our concern and emphasis?

A subtle change in emphasis may take place. Our personal or corporate reputation may be at stake. Are we more interested in preserving our image than in correcting sins against Christ? Why do we not say, "I have sinned against heaven..." (Lu. 15:21).

David said, "I have sinned against Jehovah" (2 Sam. 12:13); and Nathan said he had "given great occasion to the enemies of Jehovah to blaspheme" (v.14, Cf. Rom. 2:24). God has been reproached, not man. Or, when Simon had sinned (Acts 8:18-24) Peter seemed more concerned with Simon's lost condition than with the reputation of the saints. Is this our concern? Have you noticed a difference in treatment of the little-known sinner, and one from a prominent family? In well known but non-sensational sin, and one that made headlines — especially if "the church" was mentioned? In such cases each member must examine his conscience, making a sincere effort to put the cause of Christ and salvation of a lost soul before personal or corporate pride.

True saints are converted to Jesus Christ; being baptized into Christ, striving to be faithful to Christ. If they ignore the command to assemble they ignore Christ's command (1 Cor. 11:23-f). Fornicators and adulterers break their marriage vow to God (Jas. 4:4, 1 Cor. 6:15-f). When our miserly contribution lies about our prosperity, we lie to God (Acts 5:3-4). Certainly we have failed our brethren with whom we have covenanted and who depend upon us to "do our part"; but it is a sinned-against Christ whom we must meet in final judgement, not an "embarrassed church."

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XX No.V Pg.2
July 1983

Who Is God?

Robert F. Turner

We had just mailed last month's editorial (To "Our" Theologians) when we received a booklet, "Except Ye Believe That I Am." It was written by three college students (Tom Hamilton, Jerry Crolius and Doug Raymer) in reply to a paper "Who Is God?" by Thomas, Faye and Eric Honea. The Honea paper was widely distributed last year by Eric Honea, and he solicited the reply. These young writers have, in my estimation, done a wonderful job — and have maintained the humility and awesome respect that we believe should accompany such a study. We quote...

"It would be a tragic mistake for us to state that the subject of knowing God is a simple matter. It would be equally tragic for us to belittle anyone who doesn't agree with every argument in this paper. We do believe our arguments are sound; we believe they are honest; and we accept full responsibility for them. However, because the subject is such a difficult one, we wish to force our conclusions on no one. We are not scholars or experts, but merely believers who wish to present our understanding of the subject. We encourage, even insist, that the reader study the subject for himself in the light of Bible teaching." What a model for older writers!

The Honeas have not cornered the market on "Who Is God?" A reprint of an address by Barton W. Stone, with addenda, "Who Is God?" has been distributed by Adrian C. Swindler. He offers to affirm in public debate, "The Father is the ONLY True God." We sincerely hope if and when his challenge is accepted it will be by one with the above "model" attitude.

Hamilton, Crolius and Raymer write, "There are two major presuppositions around which all the doctrinal arguments in "Who Is God?" revolve..." (They are) "1) a qualitative infinite God can be fully understood in quantitative finite terms, and 2) statements applying to Jesus' relationship to God after he became a man necessarily apply to Jesus' relationship to God before he became a man." They are saying, of course, that neither of these presuppositions are true.

In a personal letter a "Father only" advocate said, "...no law of language permits the trinitarian concept. The same for mathematics." And he is right! No law of human comprehension permits GOD in any absolute sense. We need not and do not accept man-originated dogma regarding "The Trinity," but we must believe that "I Am" is rightly applied to the Christ (Jn. 8:24), as well as to the Father (5:18, Ex. 3:11-14). Finite man can "understand" deity only through faith in revelation, NOT by physical laws.

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Vol.XX No.V Pg.3
July 1983

Advice To Avoid

Dan S. Shipley

"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly..." (Ps. 1:1).

God's people, above all others, ought to be a happy and joyful people. Why, then, are so many of them so often otherwise? Simply because they either ignore or forget to apply Bible truth to situations and circumstances of everyday living! — such as that found in this text, for example. God is saying, in effect, "If you want to be happy, don't be influenced by the counsel of ungodly people."

But, who are the "ungodly"? Many tend to view them as the base, immoral, and criminal elements of our society. However, the ungodly may be respected citizens, good neighbors, and even people of high morals. The thing that makes them ungodly is that they are simply without regard and reverence for God. God does not rule their lives. They either have disregard or defiance for the person of God. Now, why does God want His children to avoid the advice of such?

In the first place, they are foolish people. Of the few men God refers to as fools in the Bible, one is the man who says, "there is no God" (Ps. 14:1); the other is the man who lives as if there is no God. He is a practical atheist, something like the foolish farmer of Lk. 12. No doubt he professed faith but, like so many of his modern counterparts, he had no time for God. Finally, his selfish planning is interrupted one night with these words: "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee..." "This night" shall come to every such foolish man — and, with it, the belated realization that life without God is a tragic mistake. It is foolish for man to say, "There is no God" or to live like it. But it is also foolish to be influenced by the counsel of men who refuse to be influenced by the counsel of God!

Furthermore, and as you might expect, the counsel of ungodly people ignores spiritual relationships and needs. This is one reason why Christians should be very careful in the selection of a professional counselor such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or lawyer. It is not unusual to hear of ungodly "pros" offering solutions and encouraging conduct contrary to God's laws. Doesn't Paul touch on this principle in shaming the Corinthian Christians for going to law with brethren before pagan judges? (1 Cor. 6:1-8) Those who "live by bread alone" are ill equipped to render judgments affecting moral and spiritual issues — and Christians need to remember that! (Especially those seeking help from ungodly marriage counselors!)

But, ungodly professionals are not the only ones that dispense advice worth ignoring. You can get it free. You can get it from an ungodly professor in school who ridicules the Bible and teaches our monkey ancestry or who encourages situation ethics. You can get it from people in high and influential places like Washington and Hollywood and Nashville. They live it, they sing it, and they write it. Advice to be avoided may even come from an ungodly parent or friend. Ignore them and "hear ye Him."

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.XX No.V Pg.4
July 1983

The "Name" Of Jesus

Robert F. Turner

Jesus has a "name" that is above every other name (Eph. 1:21; Phil. 2:9) but that "name" is not just an arrangement of letters to spell that word: J-E-S-U-S is not this name. It is much more than a title or designation.

In scripture, "name" is often equivalent to "revelation!" what is revealed by or known about some one or some thing. The "good name" in Prov. 22:1 is not that "Mary" is better than "Sue" but that each Mary and Sue have good character. Their reputation is their "name."

Thus the "name" of Jesus is what is known about, revealed by Him. The texts above are affirming that what is known about Jesus — what He reveals Himself to be — is far above anything known about or revealed by any other individual.

An action "in" this name is one that is done in harmony with it. We do things "in the name of" Christ when those actions are based upon and in harmony with what Christ has made known or revealed.

All men are called upon to BELIEVE in the name of Christ (1 Jo. 5:13, Jo. 1:12). This is done when men accept all that Jesus claims to be (Jo. 8:24) and all that He has revealed (Jo. 8:31; Lk. 6:46). Simply believing that Jesus was a good man is not believing on His name for He has revealed many other things about Himself (Jo. 5:18; 8:46,58) that must be accepted also. And, while Jesus said we must love one another (Matt. 5:44; Jo. 15:12), there are other things of equal importance that we must do. Such as

CALLING upon his name (Acts 2:21; 22:16; Rom. 10:12-14). This is not an audible pronouncing of a word but an appeal to Him because of what He reveals Himself to be. Paul "appealed" (same Grk. word as "call upon") unto Caesar (Acts 25:11) because he recognized that it was before him that justice would be served. So our appeal is made to Christ: only Jesus reveals Himself to be the one who can effectively deal with our sins. This "appeal" is to His word, which will judge us in the last day (Jo. 12:44-50). In His word He speaks of...

BAPTISM "in the name" (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38. The thought is not that the "right words" (whatever they are) need to be said. But that the action be done out of a regard for what our Lord had said. One might have "the right words" said over him as someone sprinkled water on his head but this would not make the action "in the name of" Christ for Christ has said nothing about such an action. Likewise, the "right words" spoken as one is immersed for reasons other than the remission of sins is not an "in the name of" action for Christ said nothing about other purposes.

After baptism, ALL THAT WE DO in word or deed (Col. 3:16) is to be done "in the name" of Christ: every action and each uttered thought is done out of a regard for and based upon who Christ is and what He has said.

"Take the name of Jesus with you...take it then, where'er you go." David Smitherman

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Vol.XX No.V Pg.5
July 1983

Born-Again" Christians

Robert F. Turner

"Back there," before the TV era, radio quiz shows were very popular. On one such program, one of the contestants, when called upon to introduce himself, proudly announced, "I am a born-again Christian." The MC replied, "I didn't know there were any other kind!" Are there any MC's still living who know that every one that is a Christian has been born again? There just aren't any Christians who have not been born again.

While on earth, Jesus taught many lessons under figures of speech. He spoke of entering the kingdom of God under the figure of a birth. He declared, "...except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (Jn. 3:5). Jesus used a figure of speech in his conversation with Nicodemus. This figure, as well as others, must be interpreted in the light of literal statements made about the same thing.

The case of the rich, young ruler (Matt. 19:16-25) will contribute to our under- standing of our Lord's declaration to Nicodemus. The young ruler came with the question of what to do to "have eternal life." Jesus told him what to do to "enter into life," and further described it as "enter(ing) into the kingdom of heaven." That all these expressions had to do with being saved is evident from the disciples question, "Who then can be saved?" When it is learned what I must do to be saved, I will know what I must do to be born again.

"What must I do to be saved?" (Ac. 16:30) is the question the jailor asked. The apostle's answer is to "believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved" (v.31). The actions of the ,jailor, under the direct guidance of the apostle, shows what it is to "believe on the Lord Jesus." The apostle continued by speaking the "word of the Lord" unto the jailor and his house (v.32). The jailor took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his immediately" (v.33). Following this, it is said, ...and he brought them up into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly...having believe in God" (v.34). The jailor was "born anew"; he was now a "new creature Christ" (2 Cor. 5:17). I surely hope that people don't begin saying, "I am a born-again new creature!"

Any responsible person who is in Christ has been "born anew." And a cording to the word of God, "Ye are all sons of God, through faith, Christ Jesus. For as many of you were baptized into Christ did put Christ" (Gal. 3:26-27). Have you be baptized into Christ? Those, who the authority of Christ, have been baptized for the remission of their sins (Matt. 28:18-19, Mk. 16:15-16, Ac. 2:38 etc.) are in Christ, where every blessing in heavenly places is available" (Eph. 1:3).

People need to study the book Acts and interpret the figurative language which Christ used in his teaching, while he was on earth, in the light of the plain statements of the truth which the Holy Spirit guided the apostles to use in telling them what to do to be saved. ROBERT FARISH, Sherman, TX. 75090

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Vol.XX No.V Pg.6
July 1983

I Am Somebody

Robert F. Turner

Who says I have no right to hold my head high? I am somebody! God made me so. "What is man...thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor" (Psa. 8:5). By creation, God set me above all his creatures and but little beneath his angels.

Second thoughts assail me. I recall that man is not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think (Rom. 12:3). But examining that verse closely, it demands high self-esteem — "think highly of himself." It condemns an exaggerated opinion — "too highly." And humility does not demand I call myself a worm and deny that I am worth anything. In fact, I cannot treasure — love — my neighbor as myself without thinking highly of myself.

Now, I see where God has further exalted me. I was one of those who were not a people" — nobodies (] Pet. 2:9,10). But God changed that. By his redemptive plan, I am not only somebody, but somebody special! I have been elevated to a "holy nation," a "royal priesthood," the "people of God," and a "peculiar people" — not weird but special to God. I must lift my head — and my ways. God's somebody cannot live like a dog or a heathen. God's somebody cannot follow "fleshly lusts which war against the soul."

In fact, God has exalted me even above the angels. Now, that is being somebody! You doubt that? Let me explain. Christ's superiority is shown by what he is called — "son" (Heb. 1:5). In comparison, "unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my son and again I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?" Being God's son declares he is above the angels. Right? Well, I am a son of God! "For it became him in bringing many sons to glory...For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one...he is not ashamed to call them brethren...And again, I and the children which God hath given me" (2:10-13). Being a son certifies that I am a "somebody" exalted even above the angels.

Paul confirms this. We were once "dead in trespasses and sins — the children "of disobedience" and "of wrath" (Eph. 2:l-). That is a dead-end street — real nobodies. "But" — what a wonderful word of contrast and change — "God...quickened us to together with Christ...and...raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ. In "the heavenlies" is not geography, but a term of exaltation. God exalted Christ, setting him in the heavenlies (1:19-) and exalted us, sitting us with him. Yes sir, I definitely am somebody!

Meanwhile back at the ranch — a brother laments work neglected in the congregation. "What ever happened to hospitality? Our visitors need to be greeted and later visited. Somebody ought to be doing that." "Right:" say I. Another complains, "Brother John is surely slipping. Somebody ought to go talk to him." I nod agreement. And still another adds, "We aren't seeing any conversions. Somebody ought to get out and teach the lost." I nod. BUT WAIT A MINUTE! I am somebody! And somebody has a lot of work to do.

Joe Fitch, San Antonio, TX

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Vol.XX No.V Pg.7
July 1983

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Oct. 13,82 L.A.M. wrote, "You have never written anything on 1 Cor. 13:8-10. I am not going to let you get away with that.

Reply: (admittedly delayed)

I believe Shipley and I have written on this, but will never exhaust the matter. For whatever it's worth...

Paul says prophecies and knowledge shall be done away, tongues shall cease. He likens these miraculous gifts to "that which is in part," and contrasts them with to teleion, "the perfect" ("thing" because neuter). He further explains this "perfecting" by comparison with the growing-up process: "when I was a child" (vepios) with "now am become a man."

Note likeness of this language to Eph. 4:11-f. Christ "gave some to be" apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. These gifts were for perfecting of saints, work of ministering, building up of the body, "till we all attain unto...a full grown (teleion, 'complete') man" — v. 14, "that we may be no longer children (vepioi). Or, compare with Phil. 3:11-f. where Paul depicts the new life as a progressive struggle or trying. "Not that I...am already made perfect" (from teleios), but "I press on toward the goal..."

These passages have one thing in common: the "perfect" means "complete or mature" and represents the goal to which the parts contribute. I believe that is the key to this study.

There are scriptures (1 Thes. 1:10, 2 Thes. 2:1-f) which indicate 1st. Century Christians expected an early return of the Lord. 1 Cor. 1:6-8 even relates gifts to that expectation. The point may be that anti- cipation had an ethical value, intensifying their faith for a time (Cf. 1 Cor. 15). But if time setting was involved they were mistaken. (Study 2 Tim. 4:3-8.)

The neuter gender ("that which") of 1 Cor. 13:10 does not fit with the actual return of Christ. (We would expect "He who...") Further, the "perfect" (full grown, mature) of our text must be interpreted as the goal toward which the "parts" progress. Were the miraculous prophecies, knowledge and tongues "parts" of Christ's personal return, or "parts" of the revelation of His will, the New Covenant? I think the latter.

We are told all revelation is consummated in the personal coming, and in a sense this is true, but it seems to strain this particular context. Paul was urging the Corinthians to "grow up," to cease acting as though "gifts" were their own end. They were the means to the attaining of a full grown (full of love) life in Christ.

Miraculous gifts were for the purpose of confirming the source of the gospel message (Mk. 16:20, Heb. 2:1-4), and reason dictates they would cease when this was accomplished. "Now we see in a mirror, darkly..." etc., may refer to progressive revelation, consummated in the complete word. I would not hesitate to so use it. But v.12 could also fit the progression on the part of all saints (including Paul, Phil. 3:12-14) toward a full-grown Christian life. Think about it!

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Vol.XX No.V Pg.8
July 1983

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

Many years ago a preacher called long-distance to tell me he had just signed a debate proposition with a "Jesus Only" man, and wanted me to give him some pointers. I asked him to read the proposition, and it was something like, "The Scriptures teach that one administering valid baptism must say, 'in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.' "I told him I did not believe I could help him on that, and when he asked why not, I said I was on the other side. He said, "Quit kidding, this is a long-distance call."

But I was not kidding. I explained he had offered to prove something he could not prove. Baptizing "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" is not the same as saying those or certain words. His opponent would cite Acts 2:38 "in the name of Jesus Christ" as a practice of the great commission, and conclude that "Jesus Christ" IS the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. ("Jesus only" see!!)

Of course one may cite Acts 19:5 where some were baptized "into the name of the Lord Jesus," and point out there is no uniformity in a formula; but more basic is the fact that baptism is not a "sacrament" which is "administered" by some clergy priesthood, nor does it have a verbal formula essential to its validation.

The preacher "saw the light" and asked, "What am I going to do?" My suggestion was to admit the proposition was an error, make appropriate explanation concerning the meaning of "in the name," and then tackle other misconceptions of deity. Yes, he took a lot of ribbing over that, but it is better to honestly acknowledge error than to fight vainly to defend it.

All this comes to mind as current studies of deity are reviewed. (Just hope I didn't use this story in some earlier, forgotten issue.) We often have some over-simplified concept of great Bible themes. If these do not violate some basic truth they may be very helpful in teaching. At the very best, conceptions of deity and eternity are "seen through a glass, darkly" as finite minds wrestle with revelation from infinity. But there is a point where we must be content with Bible language to explain Bible matters, and we must not go beyond.

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Vol.XX No.VI Pg.1
August 1983

When The Fire Flickers

Robert F. Turner

Conversations with students and young preachers frequently reveal discouragement with what they find in many churches. "These people couldn't care less — they are not on fire for the Lord's work."

My first thought is "How long have you cared — when did you catch fire?" The newly enthused likely fall into three groups: (1) new converts (perhaps starry-eyed, but we need their freshness as much as they need our experience); (2) new preachers, elders, deacons, teachers, etc., where new responsibility has awakened eyes to see brethren in a different light; and, (3) brethren shaken out of complacency by the influence of those faithful few" who plug on regardless of what others do.

The new converts may "burn out" or line up with the majority, as many of them do; the new teacher may quit in frustration, and the young preacher "move on" looking for Utopia. But none will have served his Lord with honor. The cause of Christ depends on those who stay on fire, lighting others; whose flame is not the flaring rocket of a celebration, but the glow and warmth of the home hearth — feeding the family, welcoming strangers. These make the converts, shake the complacent, and with their help continue the work others quit in disgust.

One can be realistic without being a pessimist; can work with the status quo without accepting it as final. We must recognize our problems in order to work on them. Saying the church consists of imperfect people is another way of saying we have a job to do — on ourselves, and others.

The teacher must not quit because the pupils lack interest. It is his job to create interest in the subject matter. The zealous young preacher, with maturity enough to control himself and put his talents to work, is just what that dead church needs. By example we can teach those new converts that all of us are but striving for perfection. There are yet "seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal" (Rom. 11:4), and the Lord is counting on us to find them, and join hands with them, to salt and light the world in which we live.

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