|Volume 19 Number 2 February 2017||
I have read the Bible through multiple times over the course of the last few years. Many of those times have been in a congregational setting as part of a class or group study. One thing that has always kind of shocked me about this sort of thing is the reaction that folks have to the more “fantastic” portions of the Bible. For instance, when we read about Elijah departing his earthly existence in a whirlwind or the ground opening up to swallow Korah and his followers, without fail we like to think about what it would be like to have been there. Almost without fail someone says something like, “It would be surprising to see that it actually happened the way the Bible says it did.”
Many of us would never verbalize such, but perhaps have had that thought. It would be surprising to see what God has actually told us is real. Perhaps it is because we do not live in the times of the miraculous—using the word "miracle" in the strictest biblical sense and not as we often do today to describe some unknown, but positive phenomenon. In our age, ministers do not touch the eyes of the blind and heal them instantly. In our age, the paralyzed victims of tragic accidents are not told to instantly “rise, take your bed and walk.”
There are most certainly other reasons, but too often when we read these accounts, we fail to connect with the larger meaning and how they impact us because we are drawn to their fantastic nature and “seek a sign.” “Oh, if we could have lived back then and have seen these wonderful things.” Granted, these signs and miracles were designed to produce faith, especially in those times when the whole of God’s plan was being revealed. Today, we have the fullness of God’s revelation. In other words, God has given us all that we need to know and to understand to seek and find Him. Such miraculous occurrences in our age would be superfluous, given the abundance of them that exist in history.
As Paul wrote, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” Coupling that with the statement that faith “comes by hearing the word of God,” what we find is that God’s expectation for us today is to allow revelation through the Word, His Son and the wonders of this world to reveal Him to us and produce that faith or strong conviction. This faith, then, leads us to live the Christian life in the absence of such overt manifestations of God. Hence, several things are key. First, we must know and study the Word of God. Second, we must allow that faith to dictate our walk. It is in that walk that we’ll find the wonderful working of God as He answers our prayers and works in us providentially. The miraculous served its purpose, but one does not need it to have a strong faith today.
Donald R. Fox
A clash because of an opposition, a different point of view is common between people and between nations. We all have experienced such clashing and conflicts because of our diversity of ideals. As we use the word “ideals,” these are what we consider a standard and what we deem as right. We may say of a friend that we admire that he has high ideals of a religious person. This admiration is based on his conduct and his excellence as he practices that which he believes is right. It is vexing when one has a clash of his or her ideals. Sometimes a system of belief, a dogma that was never considered, is propelled into one’s daily life. When that happens, that conflict intrudes and interferes with one’s principles. This will cause confusion and bewilderment and, thus, a clashing of ideals.
I have observed many times that God-fearing and Bible-believing folks go through such a clashing of ideals. This happens when their learned doctrines obtained from manmade creeds clash with the Word of God, the Bible. It is also observed that too many choose their religious church creed over what the Bible teaches. This is very worrisome and sad (Matthew 7:13-14)!
It has been over forty years since I had an impromptu Bible study with Betty. Betty was basically a good person, yet she was very ignorant of what the Bible teaches. We were at the kitchen table drinking coffee, and she started to ask questions concerning “the Scheme of Redemption for mankind.” With an open Bible, we studied together. At one point, I asked her to read Mark 16:16. We remember that the Kings James Version of Mark 16:16 reads, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Betty read the verse in part as: “He that believeth and is not baptized shall be saved.” After a few more tries to get Betty to read it correctly, I read it. I will never forget her response! She said, “I have never seen that verse in my life and further more I do not believe it!” With that said, we concluded the Bible study. To disregard plain Bible teaching to comply with a church creed or the following of mere men who teach falsely is very sad and full of folly.
The Word of God Foretold
a Departure from the Truth
Let us remember that a great departure from the truth was foretold. Further, this apostasy of the church of Christ can be easily traced through verifiable history. The apostle Paul warned the Ephesian elders, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:28-30 KJV).
The Apostasy and the
Beginning of Clashing of Ideals
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12)
[Editor’s Note: Humanity is called upon to discern between false and true. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1 NKJV). However, knowledge of God’s Word must precede one’s ability to adequately discern between good and evil. “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
Finally, one must possess the disposition to esteem God and His revealed will above oneself or other mere mortals. “…let God be true but every man a liar…” (Romans 3:4). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]