Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 1 January 2018
Page 4

It’s Too Hard to Understand!

Royce Pendergrass

In discussing God’s Word with folks, I’ve sometimes had them say that they don’t read it much because it’s too hard to understand. I’ve never accepted that as a legitimate excuse because God didn’t give His Word to men as the means by which they can know how to avoid Hell and get to Heaven, and then make it too difficult for them to understand. If that was so, what good would it do for those who say it is too difficult? That’s not God’s will for men because He affirms that He would have “all men come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). The definition of knowledge is “full discernment.” Discernment means comprehension or understanding. If God’s Word is too difficult to understand, men would not have a chance of full discernment.

The Inspired Word speaks of those who don’t come to a knowledge of God’s Word by saying they are “ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). In the previous verses in front of this Scripture, God said these people are “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, without self-control, fierce, despisers of good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying the power of God, ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” What a catalog of self-righteousness!

God’s Word condemns all these things saying that “these resist the truth” (verse 8). The truth is that God created mankind who did resist the truth from the beginning when Adam and Eve were tempted in the Garden of Eden and succumbed to Satan’s temptation. If they had heeded God’s commandment to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and of evil, Satan would have had no power over them. However, they did it their way and brought sin into the world

In Proverbs 1:7, we read that “fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” God wants men to understand this concept. He would have men to be “filled with the knowledge of His will” (Colossians 1:9). If, as professed by the unbelievers that God’s Word is too difficult to understand, the believers would have no chance of being filled with that knowledge. Thereby, all is doom and damnation with no hope of anything else.

Fairly often, we hear this verse quoted, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). God created man and his surroundings, and in turn, He expects faithfulness and obedience to what He has said we must do. Moses had a hard time convincing his people how very important it was for them to know God’s rules and live by them. He said, “What does God require of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him and serve Him with all your heart and all your soul?” (Deuteronomy 10:12-13). Again in Deuteronomy 11:1 we read, “You shall love the Lord your God and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments and His commandments always.”

These commandments of old remind us how important it is to always love and obey what God has said. There is no option of doing it our way. Men must study, know and do the will of God. Because that is what God expects of mankind, it absolutely is not possible that God would make it “too difficult to understand.” God would be defeating His own purpose of His creation if man were unable to understand His Word.

Christianity in Action

T. Pierce Brown

T. Pierce BrownIn Acts 2:42, we read, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers.” For all those who are interested in the idea of having a life or a church patterned after what Christ ordained, a continued emphasis on the four aspects of Christianity mentioned here should be valuable. In this article, we will have space for only the first one.

First, we need to consider the apostles’ doctrine. What was it? How do we discover it? What difference does it make? Is it good for us to continue steadfastly in it? I never thought I would live long enough to hear those who claim membership in the Lord’s church to teach that doctrine is not important. Paul said to Timothy, “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” (1 Timothy 4:5). If Paul’s language to Timothy does not teach that doctrine is important, what does it teach?

In taking heed to the apostles’ doctrine, we need to make some significant distinctions. First, we need to make distinctions between the Old and the New testaments. It is amazing that there are still those connected with the Restoration Movement who try to prove their practices (like those of using mechanical instruments of music in worship) by the Old Testament. I received a letter recently from a preacher who said something like this, “If God approved of instrumental music in the Old Testament, what makes you think He has lost His taste for it now?” Whoever made an argument that instrumental music is not appropriate in New Testament worship because God does not like the sound of it? Does anyone assume that God authorized the burnt offerings of the Old Testament because He liked the smell of them? Then, because His taste changed, He failed to authorize them in the New? David showed that even in the Old Testament God had not commanded burnt offerings because He had delight in the offering (Psalm 51:16). The things He had (and has) delight in is a broken and contrite heart that is willing to do what God authorizes in the way He wants it done (Psalm 51:17).

We need to continue to emphasize that there is a definite distinction between faith and opinion. Faith comes from hearing the Word of God. Opinion is guessing about what God wants. I have faith that Peter preached as recorded in Acts 2. I may have an opinion about why God chose him instead of John.

We need to distinguish between the things that were temporary and those that were permanent. I still hear those who should know better refer to God’s providential acts of today (and what they assume to be such) as miracles. They say, “It is a miracle that the Berlin wall is down.” “Our defeat of Saddam Hussein was a miracle.” There is and always has been a difference in the providential and miraculous. Miracles could be seen and verified as absolute evidence of the power of God and confirmation of the Word of God.

We need to make a distinction between the circumstances of a situation and the requirements of the situation that apply to us. When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He had the disciples follow a man bearing a pitcher of water and prepare an upper room, and our Lord reclined at the table with the twelve. There are those who seem to think that if we follow Jesus, we must follow His example and meet in an upper room. I had a friend who said she wanted to be baptized in running water, like Jesus. He was not baptized in a baptistery. I told her that if she really wanted running water, I could open the faucet and the drain and get that. She said, “No, I mean a river.” I replied, “Then, if you are consistent, it should be the Jordan.”

We need to understand the difference in the principles underlying an action and the means of expediting the command. In 1 Corinthians 14:26-40 there are at least four principles set forth. (1) All things should be done decently and in order. (2) God is not the author of confusion. (3) Women are to be in subjection. (4) All things are to be done unto edifying. The means of carrying out those principles may differ in various circumstances.

We need to know the difference between divine law and a statement concerning the custom of the times. The holy kiss and the wearing of veils can be shown to be customs. The principles underlying those commands are constant.

The general principles underlying these things are: We are obligated to do certain things at certain times and in certain ways. Sometimes we have a choice. How do we tell when we are bound or not bound? There are those connected with the Lord’s church who teach that we are not bound to take the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week. It is admitted that they took it then, but they also took it in an upper room. How do we know that the day is bound, but the place is loosed? Whole articles or books could be written on the subject, but the simplest and easiest way to tell for those who honestly want to know is that when the inspired instructions and example show that any aspect of the activity was important, we need to be aware of it. There is nothing in any record at any time that shows there was significance or importance in the upper room. Everything about the example and command indicates that the day was significant.

The second aspect of Christianity is continuing in the fellowship. We need to determine what is meant by fellowship, with whom we are and are not to have fellowship and determine to practice that. Space does not permit us to dwell on that, but I only mention it here because it is so closely related to the first. If a person does not continue in the apostles’ doctrine, we are to have no fellowship with him as a brother (2 John 9-11).

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