Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 9 September 2018
Page 14


Donald R. Fox

I consider myself an average fellow. I understand that there are many things I do not comprehend. Although I may not understand something, it does not mean I will not accept it. For example, the medical profession can do great and wonderful things for us. I may not understand a surgical procedure. Yet, I can accept a surgeon’s knowledge and expertise to perform an operation. Frankly, I do not understand the creation of the universe. Nevertheless, I accept it. I accept it because there is no other explanation that makes sense. How can an explosion per the “Big Bang” hypothesis produce order? We know that dead matter—rocks, dirt or a pit of slime—cannot produce all that lives on our earth. The whole universe runs like a “well-oiled machine,” and it is beyond complexity. Therefore, I believe, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Geneses 1:1).

 I understand right from wrong because I accept the Word of God, the Bible, as the only true source for worldwide morality. These ethical precepts are extremely simple to understand. Man can understand these principles, and yet, he can refuse to accept and to obey them. There are many reasons why mankind refuses to recognize the rightness of God-given commandments. The point is, men can understand correctness and do not accept it because of rebellion. Countless people will not accept nor comply with God’s commandments in their entirety. “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them!” (Psalm 139:17 ASV). A greater sadness is when men understand God’s plan of salvation and will not accept it. We need to ponder and ask ourselves, “Are we creed bound?” “Is the reception of the pure Word of God difficult or even unacceptable to us?” It would be wise for all of us to examine our faithfulness. “Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:3).

The following, “Let a Man Examine Himself,” is very worthwhile. I do not remember the source, and the author is unknown to me.

Let a Man Examine Himself
1 Corinthians 11:28

 When we examine others, we justify self—but when we examine self, we are more disposed to justify others. Let a man:

Explaining Away the Scriptures

Ernest S. Underwood

Ernest S. Underwood“O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10 NKJV). Denial of God’s Word is as old as the Garden of Eden. It was to Mother Eve that Satan stated, “You shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). God had told Adam and Eve that if they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they would surely die. Satan proceeded to “explain” that God just didn’t want Adam and Eve to become as wise as Him.

On top of Mt. Sinai God was writing, “You shall not make for yourselves a carved image…” (Exodus 20:4). At the foot of the mountain the people were proclaiming, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt,” concerning the golden calf that Aaron had fashioned (Exodus 32:1-4). In Matthew 15:1-14, Jesus stated that men offered vain worship to God when they did so according to the doctrines of men. These were people who “explained away” God’s directions and substituted their own.

Modern man hasn’t changed, at least not for the better. On every side, we find those who still attempt to “explain away” God’s authoritative message, whether it be in morals, doctrine or both.

Jesus stated to His apostles in plain and understandable words, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). Does anyone not understand this plain language? Is there a young boy or girl who is in the sixth or seventh grade who cannot tell us exactly what is said and what is meant by this statement of the Lord? Then, come along those who say that the Lord does not mean that one must be baptized to be saved, because, according to these persons, baptism is not essential to salvation. One well-known denominational preacher, in a lesson several years ago in Memphis, Tennessee, made the statement: “Baptism is a command, but it is a non-essential command.” He didn’t even try to “explain it away,” but with one bold stroke placed himself in the place of God, saying that a command given by Him was not essential. One should tremble at such high-handedness and arrogance.

Others try to explain away the Lord’s words by claiming that He did not say, “He who does not believe and is not baptized shall be condemned.” Again, any schoolboy should be able to see how illogical such an argument really is. If one does not believe, there is no way that he can be scripturally baptized for the remission of sins. There is no such thing as “baptismal salvation,” just as there is no such thing as salvation by “faith alone.” Though the Lord requires both for salvation, man wants to “explain away” His words.

There are those who have much to say about “another testament of Jesus Christ.” However, the Scriptures are plain and emphatic on the matter of the completeness of the Old and New Testaments. Jude encouraged his readers to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). The apostle Peter, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, stated that God in “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3). In his rebuke to the churches of Galatia because of their forsaking the truth, while turning aside to a perverted message, the apostle Paul gave the stern warning: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel [another testament of Jesus Christ] to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8). Would it interest the reader to know that each of the above passages of Scripture was given by the Lord nineteen hundred years before the alleged “another testament of Jesus Christ” made its deceitful appearance? How do those who promote this work attempt to “explain away” these plain and inspired passages of Scripture? They arrogantly claim that these passages, and any others that disagree with their false doctrine, have not been correctly translated. The apostle Peter warned his readers that false prophets would come and through covetousness would “exploit you with deceptive words…” (2 Peter 2:1-3).

Some of those who live in and practice the sin of homosexuality sometimes attempt to “explain away” every reference in the Scriptures that condemns their sin. However, many who practice this sinful life no longer are concerned with what God says.

In Matthew 19:9 Jesus said, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality [“fornication” KJV], and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” Perhaps because of the high rate of divorce in our land, many people attempt to “explain away” this plainly stated passage of Scripture given by Jesus Himself. We hear such arguments as: “This applies only to those who are Christians, and it does not apply to one until he becomes a Christian.” “If we accept this passage at face value, as stated by the Lord, it will cause the breaking up of homes.” One of the popular “dodges” of this passage is that if those in this situation will just be baptized they will then be fine, and then, they can continue to live in the adulterous marriage. The argument is made that “baptism washed away their sin.”

We would ask this question, does baptism make an unscriptural thing scriptural? If the answer is, yes, then we have the doctrine of baptismal salvation, separate and apart from any other obedience. Yet, the Scriptures plainly teach that before one can be scripturally baptized for the remission of sins, he must first have faith, and repent of his sins. Repentance involves dying to the former sinful life, that is, not continuing in practicing that which is sinful. According to the language of the text, Jesus said that anyone who continues to remain in such a marriage continues to commit adultery.

Also, if baptism makes an unscriptural thing scriptural, then will it not do the same thing to practicing homosexuals who wish to continue to live and to practice their ungodly lifestyle? Will it not also apply to those who have more than one wife? Can a man who is living with more than one wife, and there are still places in this world where this is a reality, keep all his wives after he and they have been baptized? If not, why not? Of course, the answer to these questions is an emphatic, “No!” We know this because the Scriptures teach it, just as they teach that one who is living in an adulterous marriage must discontinue doing so if he expects the Lord to forgive him of his sins.

When man attempts to thwart, change or explain away God’s divine Word, he not only is not successful in doing so, but he grievously sins. He places himself in the place of God, rather than being in submission to Him and to His Word. If one wants to please God, have his sins forgiven and have the hope of eternal life within him of Heaven, then he must accept His Word as He has given it. “Forever, O Lord, your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).

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