|The Biblical Examiner
An Examination of Biblical Precepts Involved in Issues at Hand
In this issue:
In Memory of My Godly Wife, Carol Need
Antinomianism Illustrated (a letter defending Antinomianism, and condemning a web artical by Pastor Need, "Grace and Law, Is there a conflict."
Errors, Heresies and Sovereignty
Errors and Heresies
Conflicts and Strife (Identifying and Avoiding the Heretic)
The Heretic (defined by Mr. Thomas Taylor, c. 1619)
Bill Gothard and Booklet 52, or Law Resource F
Gothard's Homeschoolers, By Pastor Bob Cosby
The Death of Victory
Added to Web edition - Gore picks an
as running mate.
In Memory of Carol
Jessica, Christina, Ovid, Carol
This EXAMINER is in Memory of my godly wife, Carol Need, who
went to be with the Lord at 11:40 AM, June 20, 2000.
This issue (hard copy) was paid for by funds given in memory of Carol. She loved to read, and her heart was in the printing ministry.
(This issue is quite late - spring was spent in the hospital, and after Carol's going home, our youngest daughter and I took a three week "vacation." The Lord willing and if he supplies the funds, we will now publish more frequently.)
The following notes describe Carol better than I can. She was everything mentioned below, and then some. She was the perfect pastor's wife, who spent many hours in prayer and with her children, passing along the Christian faith to them. The following notes, along with her husband, praise her - she was a Godly woman who loved people, and who feared the Lord. (Pro. 31:20.)
From Tim Nash, a man who went to school with Carol:
From Pastor Larry Lilly, a man who knew Carol in college before I met her:
From Pastor Tom and Jeanette Berry, under whom we served for three years:
From Eva Voshell, a fellow church staff member under Tom Berry:
From Louis Cradduck, who, for seven years, was a lay person where I served as an associate pastor for seven years:
From Pastor Greg Wilson, whom we have known for about 15 years:
From Rick and Ann Miller, a couple I married several years ago:
When the cancer first came up last year, I offered to resign the Linden Baptist Church, so I could take care of my wife. They said that would not be necessary, and they stuck with me, and supported us during the long months when we were unable to do anything other than show up on Sunday to preach. I want to thank the good people of the Linden Baptist Church for their faithful support for the last many months.
I also want to publically thank Pastor Gene and his wife Dody Riker. We met while I was layman on the staff of Lifegate Baptist Church (under Dr. Ford Porter, author of "God's Simple Plan of Salvation") in about 1970. The church had a college, Indiana Bible (latter "Baptist") College where Bro. Riker was a student, as was Carol Love - they were in the same freshman class. Carol and I were married in 71, and I went full time on the staff in 72. In 73, the Rikers went to Maryland under Dr. Tom Berry. Shortly after Bro. Riker went to Elkton, he recommended me for a position there. Carol and I remained there for three years as a staff member alone with Bro. Riker. Carol and I then went to Merrywoods Baptist Church in Haughton Louisiana, where we remained for seven years. Bro Riker went to Indiana, and in 1982 he recommended me to the Linden Baptist Church, where we have been since. Thought we live about 100 miles apart, Dody and Carol were closer than sisters, much like Johnathan and David. Bro Gene and Dody were invaluable during the days immediately following Carol's death and through the funeral.
Another invaluable help was Bro Dan and his wife, Brinda Aldrich, and his church, the Freemont Street Baptist Church (Jessica graduated from the Academy, and Christina presently goes there; it is about 30 minutes from us). Bro Dan and his wife have been a real encouragement through the whole situation, starting last November. The Freemont Baptist Church helped greatly for the meal after the funeral, for the crowd was so large that our small group would not have been able to accommodate it properly.
At the end of October, 1999, I had a heart attack the night before Carol was scheduled to see the doctor about the lump in her right breast. Needless to say, her appointment was put off for a couple of weeks. At that time, the doctor sent her right to another who did a biopsy. The biopsy came back malignant. The doctor did not even call with the news, but had his receptionist call and tell Carol it was too large for surgery, and she must start chemotherapy right away. This was the first of November.
Carol was a woman of prayer. She loved to pray, and was greatly distressed in the pastorate because she felt she no longer had the time to pray as in the past. The expectations of a pastor's wife were more than she (or I, for that matter) ever dreamed of. I left the treatment decision up to her, and she spent a lot of time in prayer about the situation. She told me many times over that she felt the Lord would have her use non traditional means to deal with the cancer (Inflammatory Breast Cancer), so we did. (I do not know how many times she told me, and every one who visited her in the hospital, "No regrets; don't look back.")
As time progressed, she continued to pray about how the Lord would have us deal with the matter, and we did not go the chemotherapy route until her lungs started filling up with fluid, which was about 6 months from the initial diagnosis.
During this time, we spent many hours on the road to the dentist (mercury fillings and root canals) and the doctor (chelation for mercury poisoning). We spoke many times of what was going on, and the continual conclusion we both reached was the that the Lord was in control, and he was working his plan. (Eph. 1:11, 3:11, 2 Tim. 1:9.) We both agreed every time we spoke about the matter that he was preparing us for a larger and better ministry.
Carol went into the hospital May 8th. We brought her in 6 days previous for fluid in her right lung cavity, then we had to come back again in three days, then in two. The last time we came in, they had to keep her. They placed two chest tubes in to remove the fluid, and left them in for a week. We were then placed between a rock and a hard place, with no choice but chemotherapy - the infection makes the body "leak." They took out the tubes, and two days later, gave the first chemotherapy treatment. The tumor dissolved so quickly that her kidneys almost failed, and she came very close to death. (Her doctor called us that night, and insisted we make life support decisions.) She made it through that night with a lot of prayer and encouragement.
For her final three weeks, Carol was in a "suite" - a private room with an attached family room. The connecting doors of the family room could be left open, and the patient watched. As I watched her deteriorate day by day for the last three weeks, the thing that keep it all in proper perspective was the faith that the we were both walking the path the Lord ordained for us to walk. Both of us agreed continually that the Lord was directing our paths (the way the Lord has supplied all our needs to this point has confirmed many times that he indeed is in charge, and this is indeed the path he has chosen):
As I watched her, the thought kept going through my mind: "We
are walking the path God has determined that we must walk."
Obviously, things did not work out as we had hoped and prayed for - the Lord called Carol home. But does that mean that the Lord hates us, and he is out to beat down his people? Does that mean that the Lord is through with those remaining? Does that mean that the Lord sent those remaining down the wrong path? Or does that mean that those remaining are to look forward with great expectation and anticipation to what lies ahead for them in God's kingdom work on earth? Either God works all things according to his sovereign purpose preparing the living for more effective for him, or he does not.
We preach Romans 8:28ff. freely, and we should. V. 29 tells
us that the purpose of the Lord's work in the lives of the living
is to form Christ in them. The purpose of Christ being formed
is to make those left in the land of the living more effective
for his kingdom work here on earth. Therefore, the future holds
"bigger and better" things for those left here on this
earth, if they will continue in faithful service to him.
I know an eighty two year old man who lost his wife back in the 60s. For the past several years, he has been anxiously awaiting the day he can see her again - and the older he gets, the more he looks forward to death, to where now he is praying that he will die, so he can go be with her (as he longingly looks at an old family picture). I really do not know any place in Scripture that tells us to look forward to death, so we can be with loved ones. Rather, we are to look forward to life and more effective service to our Lord. I am looking forward to what the Lord has in store in his kingdom work here on earth. And this is the attitude Carol would want, for her continual desire was the same - to be more effective for the Lord; those who knew her will gladly testify to this fact that this was her sincere desire.
A dear pastor friend sent the following to me some time ago:
So here I am with the best legacy Carol could leave behind:
two lovely Christian daughters with whom she spent multiplied
hours with in prayer and in personal instruction, one 15 and at
home, and the other 23 and married. We have been left looking
forward, by faith, to what our Lord has in store for the three
of us (four, counting Jessica's husband, Corey).
Thank you for your concern and for your prayers.
Our thoughts again are turned to the presidential elections. It seems to me that the "feeling in the air" is that if we can get the right man in the White House, then our ills will be over in these united States. Certainly, I would like to see a godly person in every place of civil authority, but even if there were, our country would still be on the fast road to destruction. How many times has godly leadership resulted in a godly nation? It is a rear exception that godly leaders result in a godly nation. Far and away more common is that God gives leaders after the general consensus of the people.
We all know the situation with Old Testament Israel, and Israel's rejection of God as its King. Instead of God, Israel wanted a human king "like all the nations around it." (1 Samuel 8.) Even after Samuel warned God's people what kind of rulers they would have when they rejected the Lord, they still wanted a king. The Lord answered Israel's cry, and gave a king - Saul. Through a series of events, Israel's new king led Israel in a great victory over Israel's enemies. After the victory, the people want to follow Saul, and they establish him as the king as they should have done after he was "elected."
Apparently, there was the thought that since now they had a king after the manner of the pagans, they could live after the manner of the pagans, and still have safety in the land. So, after the great victory, Samuel warned the people of some dire consequences if they did not follow the Lord.
Samuel's message to God's Israel in 1 Samuel chapter 8 is a well known passage concerning the actions of civil government when God is rejected. A not so well-known passage is Samuel's message to God's Israel after they got their king, and after their victory under that king's leadership, 1 Samuel 12. This section also contains very applicable instructions concerning God's people and civil authority today, unless one is antinomian; then Samuel's recorded message is little more than a good speech with no warnings for our day (see e-mail below). The chapter easily divides into three sections: vv. 1-5, 6-15 and 16-24.
Vv. 1-5, Samuel tells them that he had made himself servant to the people, and had tried to set a good example for them. They agreed that they could make no claim of wrong doing against him.
V. 6, Samuel, rather than rebuking the people for rejection of God as their king, urges them to continue in their duties toward God and his word. The natural inclination would be distress over the people's rejection of the just and righteous rule of God under godly judges, e.g., Samuel. Samuel reminds the people that God is the one who advanced Moses and Aaron, and who brought the people up out of Egypt.
V. 7, stand still, and let me reason with you. Samuel reasons with the people of the righteous acts of God, both past and present.
V. 8, when the people cried out to God, he sent Moses and Aaron, who brought them to their present good land, Canaan.
V. 9, though in the "promised land," when they forgot the Lord (i.e., ignored his laws), the Lord sold theminto the hands of their many enemies. And he was righteous when he did so as he gave his people what they deserved. Being in the "promised land" did not exempt them from God's just judgment for sin.
Vv. 10, 11, in their bondage to their enemies, they cried to the Lord and confessed their sins, and the Lord raised up judges who delivered them out of the hands of their enemies. Their enemies were on every side, yet they dwelt safely in the land under the judges.
V. 12, despite the deliverance by the mighty hand of God, they lusted after a king, so they could be like the pagan nations around them (nations they were told to destroy). In doing so, they rebelled against their legitimate King, the Lord their Deliverer.
V. 13, Samuel reminds them of the king whom they chose, and that the Lord established him because they wanted him.
V. 14, though they chose their king in rejection of the Lord's kingship, they can still have God's blessings upon them, IF they will fear the Lord - that is, serve him, obey his voice and keep his commandments.
V. 15, But if ye will not obey... The purpose of Samuel's reasoning is to remind them of their fathers errors, the just judgments of God for their errors and God's deliverance; thus Samuel shows them that they cannot avoid the results of righteousness or the results of sin no matter how hard they try. (See Lev. 26:14-30, Isa. 1:20, Rom. 2:8, 9.)
First, v. 7, the ministers' work is to reason with people, not only to exhort and direct, but to persuade, to convince of sin and of judgment to come, and so to gain their wills and affections. (MH. See Isaiah 1:18, Acts 24:25.)
However, even with all the labor saving devices - e.g., computers, microwaves, fast food and fast cars - few people have time to stand still, so a minister can reason with them concerning righteousness and judgment. Moreover, even those who might have time to stand still do not really want to be reasoned with aboutrighteousness (public character, justice and right between God and man and fellow men), temperance (self-control, morality), and judgment (the account of all our deeds done in this body) to come. Rather they desire to be made to feel good about God, about themselves and, so it seems, even about the devil. And fewer yet have the inclination to stand still so they can be reasoned with from Scripture, but they do have time for recreational activities.
In addition, we need ministers with the Bible knowledge, wisdom and boldness to reason of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come without fear of the loss of money and people. "Reason" includes well-grounded, thought out, sound arguments. In other words, reasoning speakers uses well studied and researched Scriptural arguments, not loud argumentative words, nor what they have been taught by men. (I know some who depend upon their ability to out argue their opponents, rather than depend upon their own sound Biblical research; without the notes put together by someone else, they have no arguments.)
Second, v. 14 is worded strangely - it says that those who fear the Lord and desire to serve him and obey his voice without rebellion against him, they will continue to follow the Lord. In other words, the Lord will keep faithful to himself those who sincerely fear him and want to serve him. Thus one does not keep himself, but the Lord keeps those who sincerely want to follow him.
SALVATION IS OF THE LORD was a lesson Jonah learned in the belly of the big fish (Jonah 2:9), and we can add, "It is all of the Lord." Even in the Old Testament, we find grace abounding. (Samuel was a "Sovereign Grace" preacher, Ph. 2:13.) It was the Lord who gave Abraham both the call and the power to follow his word. V. 14 seems to say that man's free will decides to follow the Lord, and then the Lord enables him to do that. However, we also know that no man has the desire within himself to follow the Lord (Ps. 14); accordingly, from the very start, those who have a desire to seek after the Lord, their desire had to be from the Lord, even in the Old Testament. (Ps. 14 is in the O.T., long before Paul wrote Ph. 2:13.)
Third, Samuel tells them that though they are now under a human king after their own choosing in rejection of the Lord, the same conditions still apply. Deuteronomy chapters 28 and 29 apply no matter what kind of government the people are under. In other words, though the people desired a king as the pagans around them had, they could not live as the pagans did - knowing human nature as I do (I have one), there may well have been a hidden desire that a king would exempt them from God's laws. In other words, did the people think they could avoid God's judgment if they chose a king other than the Lord? (The god of a people is determined by whose laws they obey, the Lord God [the Ten Commandments], or the surrounding pagan gods [man-mad and antichrist laws].)
Many people today seem to think that because a nation has civil rulers, that nation is exempt from obeying the command word of God; and if the right kind of rulers are in a nation, then that nation will be the right kind of a nation.
Samuel makes it very clear that having a man as their king will NOT free them from the blessings and curses according to their obedience to the word of God. The human king could not stand between them and the Lord, and protect them from the results of their disobedience against their rightful king. Their choice of a king did not relieve them of their responsibility to obey God and his command-word. Their prosperity in the land and under a king still depended upon their obedience to God and his law-word - v. 15, IF YOU WILL and IF YOU WILL NOT...
As the reader will see from the letter below, there are professed Christians who feel that because they are in the "promised land," - i.e., Christ (Heb. 4) - they are exempt from having to obey the laws established by God - the Ten Commandments.
Note: "Historic Covenant Theology" accepts that God requires obedience to the Old Testament teachings unless specifically abrogated by the new Testament (e.g., Col. 2:14). On the other hand, "Dispensational Theology" rejects the Old Testament teachings unless they are specifically reaffirmed in the New Testament. However, not all dispensationalists hold to this radical antinomian (lawless) view. Accordingly, the true dispensationalist can easily justify every man doing what is right in his own eyes; he also rejects the teaching that the Lord himself gives his people over to the hands of the wicked as just retribution for their rejection of him (rejecting his laws and commandments rejects the Lord God). The above is developed much more in detail in my book, "Identifying Identity."
Fourth, note where Samuel places the responsibility for God's blessings upon the nation - upon the people. Thus a king (human, civil ruler) could not exempt them from the commandments of God. Civil laws cannot override God's laws. In other words, God's blessings upon a nation are dependant upon the people's relationship to the Lord and his commandments, not upon the "king's" relationship to the Lord. (This point will be further developed below, vv. 16-24.)
The fall elections are coming, and one of three men (Gore, Bush, Buchanan) will be elected. But God's hand will continue against this nation because of the ungodliness of the people of the nation.
Below is an e-letter I received in response to an article I have on our web site. Those who wonder what Antinomianism stands for will find it well defined in this letter. The writer quotes from my article, and makes his comments. (He quotes some from the "Law vs Grace" article posted, and makes comments. Emp. his.) Quoting:
Editor's (Bro. Need's) Comments:
The above letter is so obviously antinomian (anti-law) that most of those reading it can see what is being offered by the writer. The antinomian, lawless attitude reflected above came in thanks to J. N. Darby's tireless efforts in the 1800s to destroy the Ten Commandments as man's continuing standards of life and thought. His lawless attitude was carried on by C. I. Scofield. (See The Death of Victory, by this pastor.)
First, antinomianism separates the word of God into two parts, Old and New Testaments, and thus it serves two gods, an Old Testament god and a New Testament god.
Paul wrote to those that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Cor. 1:2.) That is, he wrote to everyone who claims the name of Christ throughout all generations from Christ to the end. To these saints, Paul later wrote,
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. (1 Cor. 10:1-8.)
Thus the New Testament saints are the heirs of the Old Testament fathers who were in Egypt, and were delivered by the mighty hand of God. (For a much more in-depth study on this subject, see "Identifying Identity" by this pastor.)
Relationship between Israel and the Church - Historic Covenant Theology holds that the church is spiritual Israel, in continuity with true Israel of the Old Testament. Historic Dispensational Theology holds that the church is the spiritual people of God, distinct from Israel, the physical people of God.
Second, antinomianism changes the God who changes not into a god that will allow man to go his own way and still have the blessings of their god. Antinomianism's god is not the God of the Scripture, for the Christian God, the Lord Jesus Christ, did not change the requirements of God's moral commands from his people. (Comp. Deut. 30:16 & Jn. 14:15.)
Third, antinomianism's god offers blessings for his people regardless of their actions, removing Romans 13:8-14 from the word of God.
Note the writer above referred to Hebrews, but he did not refer to Hebrews 10, for there we are told that God's people since Christ who despise Moses' law are worthy of much sorer punishment than were God's people of old, for today we trod under foot the Blood of Christ (because the new covenant has with it the Spirit of Grace to enable us to keep the law) when we ignore Moses' law. (Heb. 10:25-31; note that the vengeance andjudgment of vv. 30, 31 is addressed to those who have been sanctified and sealed with the blood of the new covenant, not to the unsaved. Moreover, Heb. 12:28, 29, is addressed to God's new Israel also. This pastor does not see how anyone can read passages like Hebrews 10 and 12 and even imagine that they can have the blessings of God just because they are sanctified regardless of how they live. I am convinced that it is a supernatural, i.e., judicial, blindness as was the blindness when Christ himself walked among men; it is a blindness that must lead to God's righteous vengeance and just judgment against his people, 12:30.)
Fourth, antinomianism removes passages from their context, saying that the New Testament authors did not use the context of the Old Testament passages they quoted, e.g., Peter, q.v.
Fifth, antinomianism offers a god that judges motives not actions. I would ask how motives and actions can be separated? It appears that if the antinomian adulterer's motives are right, then the adultery is overlooked by his god. Notice that Paul passed harsh judgment against those who did evil deeds in the body, making no mention of their motives, and he defined evil by God's everlasting law. (1 Cor. 5:3. See also Rom. 14:12, Ecc. 12:14, 2 Cor. 5:10, &c.)
Sixth, antinomianism has no definition of sin nor does it have a righteous standard by which its followers are judged by their god. (1 Jn. 3:4.)
Accordingly, an antinomian nation, such as the united States today, will have antinomian leaders, whether Clinton, Gore, Bush or whomever the Lord sees fit to exalt. For even God's professed people, missing 1 John 3:4 from their Bibles, have no firm standard by which to judge their leaders.
Samuel was clear - the temporal blessings of God upon a nation are according to its relationship to God's laws and commandments, and all man's efforts to separate the righteous and holy Lord God from his laws and commandments will fail.
A final word for this section: Antinomianism has no standard for God's people other than one's motive; therefore, it has no standard to which to hold national leaders -- antinomian "Christians" have no grounds to condemn Clinton for his evil actions.
1 Samuel 12, continued.
We have two main points in this section:
First, vv. 16-19, Samuel convinces the people of their great wickedness in the sight of the Lord in asking for a king. Second, vv. 20-25, though they sinned in their desire for a king, if they will follow the Lord, they can still have his blessings upon them.
Vv. 16-19, Samuel calls down fearful thunder and rain upon the people at a most unusual and a very bad time of the year (harvest). Though there had been a great victory under their new king, that did not change the fact that they had sinned in asking for a king. The fearful storm at this unusual time showed that the victory was not a sign of God's approval of their request; rather, it reinforced God's displeasure over their sin.
V. 16, stand and see. In v. 7, Samuel said, Stand still that I may reason with you. Now he sais Stand and see.
V. 18, Samuel prayed, and the Lord answered him out of heaven. The thunder and rain proved that Samuel was indeed speaking for the Lord when he tried to reason with them.
Vv. 18, 19, though Samuel's actions startled the people, causing them to admit, we have sinned in asking for a king, they did not repent, for they did not "send the king back." Rather they ask that Samuel pray for them. Did they want to continue to prosper in their sin?
First, though we may get out of the right and lawful way of God (take the wrong fork at a critical point in our lives, e.g., marry the "wrong" person), we can still have God's blessings upon us if we will be obedient to his word from that point on.
Second, though we may "prosper" in the way of wickedness, that prosperity does not mean God has changed his mind nor that we should think more favorably of what we did. In other words, prosperity is not necessarily God's stamp of approval upon an action. Only his word can give that approval.
Third, stand and see - if we will not stand still and let the Lord reason with us, if the Lord cannot reason with us, then we will stand still when we see the results of our sin. It is far better to let the Lord teach us from his word than to be taught from his voice and hand of judgment. This terrible storm in the time of harvest was not a pleasant thing to see, nor was it easy on the pocketbook.
It is far better to hear the reasonings of the Lord from his word (the still small voice), than to have to see the hand of the Lord. Too bad we cannot be taught from his word rather than from his hand of power.
Fourth, God, at a moment's notice, can send his answer to prayer - he can change the clear sky to storm, and he can change the storm to a clear sky, both literally and spiritually:
Fifth, Samuel still had his prayers answered, though he may
have failed as a father. The Lord hears and answers prayer for
his Son's sake and for his great name's sake, not for any righteousness
on our own.
Sixth, the Lord thundered upon the Philistines in his displeasure (7:10), and now he thunders upon his own people in his displeasure. Whey do we think we can ignore the Lord and follow after the manner of the heathen (they asked for a king like the pagans around then), yet avoid the Lord's actions against paganism?
What foolishness to desire a king to save them rather than the Lord God when they knew that the Lord could and would thunder out of heaven against their enemies (he had in the past, Jud. 5:20; see also Ps. 18:6ff). So now they, rather than the pagans, inherit the thunder. Could their king command the heavens as could their prophet by prayer? (MH)
Seventh, most of us will not own up to sin just from the word of God - Samuel reasoned with them. Rather, it takes some serious thunders from heaven to make us admit to our evil deeds. Moreover, Samuel did not extract this confession from them before they chose a king; he did not want to make it appear that he was forcing himself or his boys upon the people. (MH)
Eighth, they asked Samuel to pray to HIS God for them:
The second point from the last half portion of this chapter. Samuel tells then that though they sinned in their desire for a king, if they will follow the Lord, they can still have his blessings upon them. Two points:
First, even in our wrong decisions, we can still have the Lord's blessings, if we will follow his word.
Second, we must follow the Lord regardless of the "king." They did not. God's people do the same today. The warning is to follow the Lord regardless of which direction human leadership goes, but most people do not.
V. 20, fear not... The terrors of the Lord should "frighten" people to serve the Lord, not "frighten" them away from the Lord.
Vv. 20, 21, twice Samuel tells them turn not aside from following the Lord, warning them against turning to the gods of the heathens around them. They had asked for a king like the surrounding nations, and they had a victory under their king. So Samuel continually reminds them that the victory under Saul did not mean God's approval of Saul, nor that they could depart from following the Lord. The victory under Saul would be very tempting to say that God now approved their sin, and they could go even further away from God.
The false gods (including the antinomian's god) are broken cisterns:
The Old Testament calls the idols broken cisterns - that is,
they offer something they cannot produce, nor can they hold the
water of life. Peter calls the false teachers, those who operate
under the name of Christ yet have not the truth, wells
without water, clouds that offer rain for a thirsty land,
but have none. (2 Peter 2:10-21.)
I have dealt with Peter's words elsewhere, so I will not again here. But I will say that Peter's warning is obviously based upon Jeremiah's, for both warn against God's people seeking after wells that have no water - that is, they follow after teachers who, in the name of the Lord, sound good, yet have very little if any of the water of life in them or in their messages. Furthermore, both Peter and Jeremiah speak with amazement that God's people would rather have "fluff & stuff" than they would have the meat of God's word, a sad fact that I have found to be true. (See Heb. 6.) When I try to really get into serious teaching, people who have been Christians for years "choke."
And turn ye not aside... Thus the natural tendency is to turn aside from the serious words of the Lord that require commitment to an easy believeism that requires little or no effort on the individual's part.
V. 22, Samuel's purpose is to confirm the people in their religion, and he does this with a fear not:
There is an end to the storm, though we may not see it. We
can rejoice in the end results after the storm passes. (See Streams
in the Desert quote above. Also, see Heb. 12.)
Fear not, though the Lord may frown and thunder upon his people for their sins, he will not forsake them, for they are still his people.
V. 22 presents us with three unknowable, yet foundational, doctrines which cannot be comprehend with our finite mind - Divine Sovereignty, Sovereign Election and the Divine Perseverance of the Saints:
For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.
First, the Lord is the one who makes his people his people. Second, the Lord is the one who keeps his people his people. Though they many times sin and come short of his glory, he will not forsake them, for his great name is at stake. And third, the reason he makes them his people - because it hath pleased him to make them so; that is to say, Divine Sovereignty chose to make certain people his saints while overlooking other people, leaving them in their sins.
Every transgression in the covenant, though it displease the Lord, yet does not throw us out of covenant, and therefore God's just rebukes must not drive us from our hope in his mercy. The fixedness of God's choice is owing to the freeness of it; we may therefore hope he will not forsake his people, because it haspleased him to make them his people. Had he chosen them for their good merits, we might fear he would cast them off for their bad merits; but, choosing them for his name's sake, for his name's sake he will not leave them. (MH)
I suppose the third point is the most difficult for the natural man to accept, for it must be accepted by faith - why does God chose some while leaving others behind? (I was sent a lengthy study to review - the study was put together by a pastor, and someone he gave it to sent it to me. The entire study was a tome against the Biblical fact that God chooses some people to come to himself while leaving others happy in their sins. That pastor just could not understand how God could leave some behind, so he spent many pages and empty words trying to reduce the everlasting, infinite God to his own finite understanding.)
V. 23, they desire him to pray for them, v. 19, and Samuel assures them he will. The natural inclination would have been to tell the people to go ask the king whom they desired so greatly to pray for them - that is, kind of rub their noses in what they did. But Samuel assures them he will continue to pray without ceasing for them despite the fact they rejected him. In fact, he sais it would be sin to allow personal feelings to interfere with sincerely praying for them.
Note, It is a sin against God not to pray for the Israel of God, especially for those of them that are under our charge: and good men are afraid of the guilt of omissions. (MH)
How easy it is to allow personal feelings to inter in; if someone "rejects" us or does us wrong, we are tempted to no longer pray for them. Though they rejected Samuel, he still cares for them as he assures them he will continue to teach them the good and right way, v. 23.
It is the minister's responsibility is not only to pray for the Israel of God, but he must teach them the good and right way. Then they are responsible for what they do with that teaching. It is sin on the minister's part not to teach, and it is sin on the people's part not to heed and do the right way.
Samuel concludes this charge to the people:
1) Only fear the Lord:
Those who fear the Lord depart from evil, and follow his commandments.
2) Serve him in truth with all your heart:
3) Consider how great things he hath done for you.
Samuel warns them not to forget what God has done for them; it was not the king who did the great things, but God. If nothing else, gratitude for God's past mercies should bind us to serve him only, and not the heathen gods around us.
Note that past memories of God's goodness should lead us to righteous living.
4) ye shall be consumed.
He ends with a negative reminder - if they
do wickedly, then they will be consumed. God
only does righteous acts, and his judgment against sin is righteous,
v. 7. He did them good in bringing them out of Egypt, and he will
also do righteously in consuming them for their evil.
5) if ye do wickedly, both you and your king will be consumed.
Note that Samuel did not say that if your king does wickedly, you will be consumed; rather, he said if you do wickedly. He places the responsibility squarely on the people - a nation falls not because of wicked leaders but because of wicked people.
A favorite theme today is that America is going to the devil because of wickedness in high places, and there is plenty of it. But the word of God is clear - America is going to the devil because of wickedness in low places:
if ye do wickedly, both you and your king (civil rulers) will be consumed.
Of course, blaming the leaders for the nation's ills relieves one from the feeding of guilt before God, e.g.,"America is in the shape it is in because of corrupt leaders." And people will pay good money to hear someone justify blaming the wickedness in high places for the consumption of our nation. America is in the shape it is in because of corrupt people who name the name of Christ.
V. 25 is almost identical with vv. 14, 15. So the conclusion of the matter is:
1) The people are responsible to follow the Lord whether or not the civil rulers follow the Lord.
2) Though they sinned, they can still have God's blessings if they will follow the word of the Lord.
3) The success of a nation before the Lord depends upon the people, not on the leaders.
No doubt Solomon was referring to vv. 24, 25 when he said,
Errors, Heresies and Sovereignty
Several times, Paul warns Timothy about the false teachers who would creep into the church with their clamorous, cancerous words - words that undermine the gospel and overthrow the faith of some. (2 Tim. 2, Acts 20:29.) The answer Paul gives Timothy to counter the grievous wolves is serious, prayerful study of God's word, and avoidance of vain men - teachers - and their babblings. He warns Timothy that those teachers wouldincrease unto more ungodliness, which probably refers primarily to the increase in the pleasant sounding, erroneous teachers (e.g., Hymenaeus and Philetus; see 2 Tim. 3:13); however, it could refer to the increase of erroneous doctrines. If Timothy did not depart from those vain men, operating under the name of Christ, Paul warned that he too would be in danger of being carried away with their babble and errors.
Note that if Paul needed to warn his son in he faith, Timothy, of the danger of getting swept away with the errors of the profane and vain babblings, then how much more serious must preachers and teachers today take the warning.
Paul's warning in 2 Timothy 2 primarily concerns respected Christian leaders who speak in the name of the Lord. Paul's warning also applies to Christians in general. The danger to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is from within -- the danger is from false teachers who speak pleasant words in the name of Christ. The danger is to sincere Christians who, though desiring to serve the Lord, get caught in the smooth words. Paul concluded on a hopeful note, telling how to rescue those leaders who are in the devil's snare. (2 Tim. 2:22-26.)
There are several good points worth pursuing from 2 Timothy 2:16 through the end of the chapter. One has to do with Errors and Heresies - the major heresy being the replacement of God's Holy Spirit with human wisdom and knowledge (an extremely prevalent heresy in our day, but it is not new). Another has to do with the common grounds for fellowship among Believers, Required Peace. Another has to do with God's sovereignty and man's "free will," Divine Sovereignty & Free Will. Though each will stand on its own as a separate study, I will leave them all together for convince and space's sake. As the following follows the context of the rest of the chapter, the first point seems to be a little misplaced.
Errors and Heresies
A prevalent error of our day, as it has been since Eve, is exalting knowledge over the calling of God. (See quotes from William Law at the end of this study.) Paul warned Timothy concerning this error:
Study the truth; shun the error. The context of v. 16, v. 17, shows that Paul is telling Timothy to stay away from ("stand above," because Paul expects better of Timothy; see JFB) the babblers -- the teachers of profane babbling, i.e., empty discussions of useless matters:
Ver. 17. And their word will eat as doth a cancer:
Or "gangrene", which gnaws and feeds upon the flesh, inflames and mortifies as it goes, and spreads swiftly, and endangers the whole body; and is therefore to be speedily taken notice of, and stopped. It is better rendered "gangrene", as in the marginal reading, than "cancer".
Though Gill's definition of gangrene is old, it fits well with the context of Paul's words. Paul warns many times against errors and heresies of false teachers. Barnes' makes the same application:
The babblings of false teachers and their erroneous doctrines
will corrupt the whole Christian body of local believers if the
teachers are not dealt with as required by God. Thus Paul's warning
is not only on a personal level, but it must also be seen as a
warning concerning the church in general.
"Erroneous doctrines" include emphasizing the importance of knowledge over the calling of God; it has eaten as a canker; it HAS robbed the church of its power that was so evident in the first century, a point we will develop later in this mailing.
V. 18, Who concerning the truth have erred... "No man can safely hold to a single error, any more than he can safely have one part of his body in a state of mortification." (Barnes') Gangrene will set in if the error is not dealt with.
The resurrection is past already... They may have thought that the dead passing on to their eternal reward was all the resurrection there was. (Barnes'.) They may have held the resurrection to be already past, a spiritual thing, "a quickening merely of the soul's activities to newness of life; and thus, by their excess in spiritualizing, the loosened the very foundations of the Christian system; for the position they assumed involved by necessary inference the denial of Christ's resurrection, and the saving efficacy of His death (1 Cor. xv. 12-19)." (Fairbairn.)
The error of a few will overthrow the faith of many.
There are at least three views of the resurrection:
1) one view involves at least three resurrections: A) of the righteous at the time of a "rapture"; B) of the unrighteous; and C) of the righteous again at the end of all things.
2) another view says that the resurrection is all spiritual, an idea referred to by both Barnes and Fairbairn -- that is, no resurrection but that which occurs in the soul; and with this I must disagree. (Acts 1:9-11, a cloud received him..., and in like manner he will return, is seen by this second group as referring to his coming against Jerusalem in judgment, 70AD.)
3) another view of the resurrection is of one general resurrection, which was the orthodox view until 150 years ago. The weight of Scriptural evidence holds that the "new birth" is the first resurrection (Eph. 2:1-6, &c., which we will only mention in this present study), and then there will be the general resurrection of the just and unjust at the end. For the first resurrection, being a spiritual resurrection, does not void the second resurrection when we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thess. 4:15, 17.)
One of the better known resurrection passages is the one commonly used at a grave side -- it calls for one general resurrection, 1 Corinthians 15:51-58; note v. 52, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. Here Paul speaks of only one general resurrection at the last trump -- that is, at the end of time (see also 1 Thess. 4:16):
Spiritual reign or literal reign? There are godly men on both
sides of this question. I lean toward spiritual reign,which for
1800 years was the historic orthodox position. (See Eph. 2:5,
Conflicts and Strife
Identifying and Avoiding the Heretic
Paul gave identical instructions in another "Pastoral
Epistle," Titus. The Spirit's emphasis on the subject reveals
the importance of paying attention to what the Spirit is saying
about foolish questions. Paul told Titus to,
... avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. (Titus 3:9-11.)
In avoiding unprofitable and vain questions, Paul is not talking about compromising the word of God. He tells Titus to remove the heretic.
Mr. Thomas Taylor (c. 1619) gives a good definition of a heretic. Commenting on Titus 3:10, he said:
The heretic's actions are completely proper, but his doctrine
is fundamentally in error, e.g., justification through anything
except faith, righteousness through other means than Christ, salvation
by race rather than by grace and that grace available to all races,
&c. Though clearly shown truth from God's word, the heretic
argues and continues in his error. Accordingly, adulterers, &c.,
who claims to love God are not heretics, but hypocrites of the
worse order. The pastor who lives right in every area yet preachers
error in adding something to faith in Christ for justification
is an heretic when he refuses to change when confronted with the
truth, e.g., "Identity" teachers are heretics, for they
knowingly add "secular" history to Scripture in order
to make Scripture support their theories -- they refuse to accept
Scripture as the final authority.
Thomas Taylor continues:
Certainly, errors abound, and many times they are presented by good, sincere men. William Law said:
Law placed his finger upon a serious problem among Christians
where Scripture is professed to be the final rule for all faith
and practice; that problem is though professing to be followers
of the humble Lamb of God, many refuse to give up a system of
theology when confronted with the clear teaching of the Lamb,
because they happened to have taken their education under that
system. Though exalting the word of God with their mouths, they
exalt friendships and traditions with their actions. They are
thus identified with the "letter-learned knowledge blinded
Jewish scribes and Pharisees," for whom Christ had no good
words. They are heretics.
How can we know the errors from the truth? The best counter for error is consistent Christian living (Jn. 7:17), and consistent searching of the word of TRUTH so one can obey the truth. The work of the Holy Spirit is to guide the serious seeker into more TRUTH (Jn. 16:13).
The Lord assures us that heresies are needed and will continue in the church; his people must stay close to him in his word and in fellowship, or they will be caught up in heresies. Refusing to willingly submit to the clear teaching of God's word, heresies separate the sheep from the goats, the proud from the humble, the false teachers from the men of God, &c. Heresies show who belongs to the Lord and who does not. The sad results of heresies is that those who reject the truth give themselves over to serious error. (Ja. 1:22 - the man deludes no one but himself.)
First, sin is the cause of heresies: pride, lust, greed, lack
of love for God and his word, covetousness, &c. As long as
sin remains, heresies will continue. Though converted, God's people
are targets for heresies because sin still dwells in the flesh.
Second, false teachers who change basic Bible doctrines ever so slightly, heretics, are allowed to rise up "among his people." The Lord allows them in order to prove who will cleave to him and his word over physical and emotional attachments. As Paul told Timothy, God's people must study all scripture so they will be grounded in sound doctrine, or they will be easy pray for the heretical teachers. (If people would spend as much time searching and studying Scripture under the influence and inspiration of the indwelling Spirit as they do studying the writings of other men, "secular" histories included, they would probably not get caught in the heretics' trap.)
Third, through the means of heretics, those who reject God's word are cast off, being recognized by God's people.
Fourth, when the truth of the word of God is rejected, "antichrist shall come in with all lying wonders, and shall prevail." Thus supernatural "wonders" did not cease with the Apostles -- false teachers with great influence and supernatural "lying wonders" are common when the truth of God's word is rejected, and the more God's word is rejected, the more common are lying wonders. Paul warned Timothy, that evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived (2 Tim. 3:13):
We must ask, How many today would do what Drummond did, and
renounce the "magical arts" when those arts will draw
a crows? As "Christian" leaders depart from the word
of God, the "magical arts" become more common; they
are used to lead people to men and programs rather than to sound
doctrine from God's word. (Note that Paul does not say Christianity
will fall before those "arts. Remember Moses! whose God was
far more powerful than those who practiced the "arts.")
Fifth, when people reject the truth from one godly man, e.g., Micaiah, the Lord removes him, and sends "grievous wolves" (more than one) to spoil the flock.
Sixth, God blinds those whom he will judge. Quoting Salvian's comments concerning the fall of Rome:
First, the Gospel Church--the New Jerusalem--is identified
as the Jerusalem in Psalms 122:6. (See Heb. 12:22, Isa. 62:6,
7.) Christians are thus to work and pray for the peace of Jerusalem
-- that is, peace among Believers, 2 Timothy 2:22. See also CHS,
Treasury of David, and John Gill on Psalms 122.
Second, the Lord glorifies himself through heresies -- he proves his people, trains his people in his word and trains them in humility, obedience, &c.
Third, God magnifies his word above everything, including above peace. In other words, Christians are forbidden to seek peace at the cost of compromising the word of God.
First, it is important that one confront the heretic, but it
is more important that he avoid getting caught up in heresies.
Second, remember that every person - including ourselves, other Christians and non-Christian - is prone to heresies. Because of the Fall, every person has the propensity to love a lie, and accept it over the truth. (Rom. 1:25, 2 Thes. 2:9-12, Rev. 22:15.) In other words, we love heresies and heretics; we love to be told what we want to hear. (Pro. 16:25, 2 Tim. 4:3.)
Third, remain continually humble, ready to be taught by God's Spirit through his word. We must be willing to remain within the bounds established by all scripture, for it alone is given to instruct us in doctrine, reproof, correction and righteousness. (2 Tim. 3:16.) Those who try to establish doctrine, &c., from other sources --- including from friends, respected teachers, history and from traditions --- are identified as heretics to be avoided.
Fourth, learn to love God's word. In fact, those who do not love God's word and God's will above all else are not his. (See 1 Jn. chaps. 3, 4.)
Fifth, "beware of heretical books and company." Beware also of those who exalt philosophy over the practical aspects of the Christian faith:
Accordingly, even a thorough knowledge of Scripture is not
a sign that one is sound in the Christian faith. Even the devils
quote Scripture, and the religious leaders who confronted Christ
quoted Scripture regularly as they sought to take the Lord in
his own words.
Taylor continues by developing how Titus was to act toward "such men," the heretics, which we will not go into at this time. (See our web site for Taylor's complete comments on Titus 3:10.) The Spirit tells us to,
Taylor's definition of the heretic fits in well with 2 Timothy
2:22, a pure heart. When doctrinal errors in the fundamentals
of the Christian faith are made clear, e.g., "justification
by works" rather than by faith, the pure heart is humble,
and it readily yields to godly admonitions and to the word of
God. Does the person honestly love the Lord, and is he sincerely
trying to serve him? If so, then we are to work at getting along
with him, and avoid arguments about the mysteries of God.
We would end our examination of this passage here, but notice Paul's warning, v. 26, the snare of the devil. So we will "work" our way to that warning.
V. 24, servant of the Lord refers primarily to ministers, for their "occupation" is recovering those held captive by the devil. A major qualification of a minister is not a brawler. (1 Tim. 3:3, Titus 1:7.) However, the same qualifications must be met by all who desire to see those captive to sin freed.
[M]ust not strive, which is basically the same word as in v. 23. The servant of the Lord must not engage in quarrels and wars of words. However, he must confront those who would compromise the gospel, the heretic. (Jude 3.)
The saints in Jude 3 are identified as the Old Testament saints. Though "hidden" from them, the gospel of grace and faith was delivered to and through them.
As pointed out by Taylor, q.v., tough the servant[s] of the Lord must be men of peace, peace cannot be obtained at the expense of compromise.
Apt to teach -- skillful in teaching.
V. 25, the ability to change someone's opinion is not found in the ability to argue; rather, it comes from proper use of the truth as given with a meek and quiet spirit. (See 1 Cor. chps. 1 & 2.) God is the one who must give repentance to the acknowledging of the truth. The key word here TRUTH, or the word of God. The goal of the Christian, ministers especially, is to have his hearer acknowledge the truth with his actions, not acknowledgethe speaker's opinions about the truth.
All the truths and doctrines of Scripture have but one errand; to call men to Christ... (Power, p. 43. His proof text, Mat. 11:28, ed.)
Here again is one of the mysteries of the mind of God -- man is responsible, but God must give fallen man the spirit of repentance. The spirit of repentance causes one to accept the truth of God's word as the final authority, and then the Spirit changes his actions accordingly.
V. 26, God, in his sovereign purpose, must give the spirit of repentance, but man, with his "free will," is responsible to recover himself; such a "contradiction" can only be understood by faith. In addition, the one attempting the recovery is also responsible for his attitudes as well as his words. (And many times, God in his sovereignty moves despite the spirits of those involved.)
Snare of the devil. Snare is an interesting word. It refers to something that suddenly and unexpectedly entangles and catches birds and animals. It catches them unawares -- they think they are safe until they are caught.
Thus people reject the truth, the word of God, and because the sentence against that evil is not executed speedily, they think they have gotten away with it. (Ecc. 8:11.) Actually in rejecting the truth, they have accepted the antichrist. Snare implies also that the "victim" does not see the snare, or what lies ahead, and the one attempting the recovery must approach him carefully. Such action is the real "Operation Rescue" -- that is, rescuing those who are caught in devil's snare. (Gal. 6:1.)
First, man's free will and God's sovereignty is, among many other things, one of the deep mysteries of the mind of God. We can only understand this mystery by faith. God says it, and I believe it.
Second, unity among Believers is based upon the common determination to call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Third, many are left in the snare of the devil because those attempting the "recovery" fail not only in good knowledge of the truth, but also they fail in the meekness of spirit. Many seem to think that the spiritual victory can be won by a loud and overbearing attitude. Is it any wonder that the devil keeps so many in his snare?
Extra comments about "Errors, Heresies and Babblings."
Though William Law wrote hundreds of years ago, he dealt with a very prevalent problem in the church today. Hence, let me call attention to a few statements from The Power of the Spirit with the prayer that he may call some Christians to repentance. Anyone who has been around the Christian community for long should recognize Law's warning against looking to human knowledge, wisdom and understanding instead of to the Spirit of God. The idolatry that exalts education above the inner workings of the Spirit in accord with God's word is very prevalent today.
By presenting the following, I am not implying that those who seek to serve the Lord should not get a good education; I am saying, however, that it appears that most "Christian" education seeks to replace God's Spirit with human wisdom. If the result of exalting education 300 years ago was a church "in a fallen and apostate condition," (p. 64) then what has it devolved to today? Observe:
Bill Gothard and Booklet 52
As an introduction to an article by a man who was involved in Gothard's homeschool program, I feel it worth referring the reader to an article about Gothard's view of Civil Government. I first published it in October, 1992. My review of Gothard's "Law Resource F" is posted in its entirety on our web site. I will send a hard copy to those wanting one. When I first published the article, a reader contacted Gothard's office about obtaining a copy of "Law Resource F." The Gothard person spoken with denied the existence of the Booklet. I have a copy somewhere, but midst my mess, it would probably be impossible to find it. It is certainly a sad day for "Christianity" when "Christian" organizations deny the existence of published material. It is even worse when the Christian community supports and follows after those kind of organizations.
It is very important to note that Gothard was invited to present his ministry in the old Soviet Union. This alone should cause those of us who hold individual freedom, free enterprise and private property dearly to exercise extreme caution, understanding that Gothard's views concerning civil government are accepted by totalitarian governments. Even though we hear of the great changes taking place within the old USSR, we have not yet seen any dramatic change of property from the state to individual families; rather, we hear many reasons why the state must retain a controlled society. As evidenced from Booklet 52, the primary message Gothard takes into the old Soviet Union is one of submission to a civil government no matter how corrupt that civil government might be. It is commonly said that Carl Marx called Christianity "The Opium of the People. " According to Gothard's opening remarks in Booklet 52, he also propagates an opium which will subdue the populace to ungodly authority.
Gothard's Law Resource F, Booklet 52, successfully mixes church & state, giving the state almost unlimited power over the church and over the family (both Christian and non Christian), all under guise of submission to proper authority. Though I will not, for space's sake, be able to reproduce my article, I will mention some things from that October, 92 article.
The Indianapolis News, 8/20/1992, reported that the city of Indianapolis was considering a link with Gothard. The quotes from the News article speak for themselves: "'They say that it's not a religion. Yet Gothard in his remarks kept referring to his ministry. How do you separate those two?'" asked city Council member Frank Short. (According to Bro Cosby below, Gothard does indeed promote a religion, but not the Christian religion.)
Furthermore, "Lambart (representing Gothard) said the group does not promote religion or church, but simply deals with 'non-optional, universal principles of life.'" (This sure sounds suspiciously like paganism's "universal life principles." Ed.) And "'The concern within the social services community is that we help a person... without any sectarian overtones,' Beckham (Community Centers of Indianapolis) said." Thus, Beckham would let Gothard help if his "ministry" has no "sectarian overtones."
The article concluded with this very interesting statement: "(Mayor) Goldsmith said he heard about the institute from some local ministers who told him of the group's work with schools and orphanages in Moscow. Officials there reportedly have sought the institute's help in bringing Biblical principles into their education system." Note: Gothard is trying to convince the city that he helps the community without any sectarian overtones. (I personally find it strange that one who claims to be totally Bible based emphasizes that he is only teaching non-optional universal life principles, and that he is not representing religion with sectarian overtones. Is this consistent with God's word? Why will he not say that he is teaching the law-word of God? I have been to the seminars: Basic, Advanced and Pastor's. I have most of his material, and it is extremely well documented with Scripture and case history. The difficulty comes with his doctrine of state sovereignty. He seems to advocate total submission to the state to a point just short of Revelation 13 - literal idolatry. The modern state would be foolish to make such a demand; why should it when it can accomplish the same basic thing (worship of itself as sovereign) through licensure, regulations and "ministers" such as Gothard?
Whose side is this man on, the Lord's or the state's? Booklet 52 clearly shows that, although his foundation (basic universal life principles) appears totally Scriptural, he is working against God's sovereignty and for the state's. Thus he is placing the "principles of God's word" under the control of the state, not under the control of the Spirit. It appears to this pastor that Gothard's ministry is to make the individual more "holy" and more "docile" to the state. Is it any wonder that some of those in civil authority not only welcome him into their midst, but invite "his ministry?"
Gothard and Authority
Gothard undermined Pastor Sileven's pastoral authority while Sileven's church was in the midst of the heat of battle for freedom from state interference. Therefore, he has no right to talk about anyone not "obeying Biblical Principles" concerning authority - he grossly violated Scriptural authority when he stood against Sileven's pastoral authority. Furthermore, pastors who will stand against Billy Graham as being a liberal will support Gothard, yet are not both Graham and Gothard out of the same "bolt of cloth" with no threat to wicked authority, or the Russian government would not invite them into their totalitarian country?
I must admit that though the wicked might consider Gothardism's version of Christianity harmless, even helpful to their cause, we know that the word of God is sharper than any two edged sword, whether the listener believes it or not. In other words, I believe that the word of God can have a powerful affect regardless of who uses it.
Pastor Ovid Need jr.
By Pastor Bob Cosby
Years ago, when I was a young evangelist just starting out, a dear pastor friend of mine told me, that he was going to come into a windfall and that he wanted to pay for me to attend the Institutes in Basic Youth Conflicts seminar by Bill Gothard. Since I have never been one to turn down a gift, I accepted and a few months later I attended my first seminar in San Diego, California. To say that it was a valuable time would be to grossly understate the facts. Very few ministries have impacted my life in as positive a manner as this one did. Over the next several years, we attended the Advanced Seminar, All Day Pastor's Seminar and every seminar put on by the IBYC. We read the "Character Sketches," "The Pineapple Story," "The Rebuilder's Manual," and all of the books they produced. We even kept copious notes in our "Life Notebook".
Bill Gothard broached some subjects that had not been dealt with for many years. For one thing, Bill tried to raise some standards for dress and conduct in a time when doing so was almost universally considered to be "legalism." The present movement toward Biblical "courtship" and away from romantic dating really began in his teachings on moral purity. He stood against contemporary music in circles where he was almost a lone voice. He preached on paternal responsibility when the norm was matriarchal. He stood against churches being in debt when all conventional wisdom encouraged debt. I think my father hit it on the head when a year after I attended my first seminar, he attended and his comment was, "This is revival material."
For my wife and I, the most important area that Bill "pioneered" was in home schooling. When Cathy and I first started home schooling it was because God had called me to an evangelistic ministry, and I did not believe in traveling all over the world while leaving my family at home. My father had made the same decision when I was young and I will be eternally grateful that my father chose to leave evangelism rather than be away from his family. If we were to continue in evangelism it meant we would have to home school. At that time the idea of home school was almost unheard of and we felt it a great sacrifice to do so. However, in time we began to realize that maybe this wasn't so bad after all. We began to see things happen in our home that we believed to be very positive. We didn't say anything about them because we were afraid of sounding too radical, but we were pleased none the less.
Then I had the opportunity to attend an All Day Ministers seminar in Atlanta and Bill began to teach on the advantages of home schooling and I sat in the audience dumfounded. Many of the things he was saying were things we had already experienced and to hear someone else articulate what we had experienced was indeed a thrill. So when Bill announced that they were starting a home school program sometime in the future, I signed up immediately to get the information. Some time later, we received an application for the Advanced Training Institute of America and to make a long story short, we were one of the 102 pilot families for the program. We had the opportunity to attend the training seminar at the Northwoods Conference Grounds in Michigan and were in on the ground floor of the program.
Evangelist Mike Greene once told me, in a conversation about the IBYC seminars, "Don't check your brains at the door." This was excellent advice and as we attended the various seminars we were constantly aware that Bill Gothard was not the sole authority for faith and practice, even though he had some excellent materials. In time we began to realize that Bill had some vocal critics. Some of the most vocal criticism comes from people who never attended which tended to lessen their credibility, but some were people who had attended and had seen through some things. Our position, when we were chosen to be in the program was that we would "chew the fish and spit the bones."
In the mean time, Bill was not without his own problems. Bill has never married, basing his doing so on 1 Corinthians 7:8 "I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I." There have been reports of major problems developing from this position but the real problem has developed in the fact that his ministry has become a family ministry and he has never had a family. He is the coach who never played the game. Sometimes the result of this curiosity is funny. When we were at the Northwoods for our training seminar, Bill decided to get off on birth control and by the time he was through, he had prescribed that all married couples be, for all intents and purposes, celibate. When Cathy and I got back to the room she almost incredulously asked, "What did you think of that?" To which I replied, "You can tell that boy has never been married." On the one hand what he said was so ludicrous, it does not even bear any description. On the other hand, we were not going to miss what we perceived as a tremendous opportunity for our children because he was stupid in one area.
Some of the things that arose from this lack of practical knowledge was far more serious. Since he had no idea what it was like to have all of the interruptions that come from having a large family living in the parsonage, he demanded things that my wife and I simply could not deliver. More times than I care to remember, I came home to find my wife in tears and had to assure her that she did not have to match up with the "perfect" mom as described by Bill. But all of these things can be overlooked because of the meaty teaching in other areas.
The most serious error in the teaching of Bill Gothard involves the area of authority and the Christians response to authority. At the time when Bill first began to minister, our nation was filled with anarchy and unrest. If there was ever a time for a balanced and Biblical look into the area of authority, we were in it. Our nation in general, and Christians specifically, needed to be reminded that there are some absolutes and that God had instituted and established certain human authorities. Bill taught the things that most students of the Word of God recognize in the area of authority, that God had established and ordained three spheres of human authority:
The Home - Genesis 2:24
The Church - Hebrews 13:17
Civil Government - Romans 13:1-7
But Bill adds a fourth institution of human authority which he calls "business" by using verses such as Colossians 3:22 and substituting the position of an employee for that of a servant. There are several reasons why I completely reject this position. 1) The economy that God instituted was agrarian and not commercial. In fact, Revelation 18:4 gives us a solemn warning concerning our involvement in the commercial system. 2) Business is not based on position but upon contract. Both employee and employer are servants to the contract that binds them. 3) There is no mention of business as an authority. This fourth area will be the source of a lot of the unbiblical positions that Bill takes as we will see later on in the article. 4) A master owns the labor of the servant while the employer buys the labor of the employee.
The basic position that Bill takes is that these institutions are placed over us, not only to perfect an orderly society, but that they are there for the purpose of God working out his good pleasure in our lives. Relying heavily on Proverbs 21:1 "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will," Bill takes the position that God uses authorities to teach us in the same way that a tool is used by the craftsman. "Each of us has a multitude of character deficiencies that need to be perfected. God uses those in authority to do this. God assures us that the heart of one who is in authority is in His hand, and that He turns it in the same way he does a meandering river by using the pressure of current and time."
There is therefore almost no circumstance where an authority is not justified in what he commands. Even wicked rulers, ruling by and for their own caprice, are considered to be acting for our benefit and are to be obeyed almost without question. The Apostle Paul, writing under inspiration of God in Romans 13:4 tells us "For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." Bill would interpret this to mean that governments do good without realizing that there are rulers like King Manassah who in 2 Kings 21:9 ". . . seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel."
In a mailing sent to introduce the ATIA the following position of the ATIA was stated: "The curriculum content of ATIA applies the principles being taught to a family's relationship to government officials and church leaders. Accordingly, every effort is made to comply with government regulations unless doing so would directly violate Biblical commands." On it's face we would have no problem with that statement. However we have some real problems with the way this principle is applied.
Mark 13:9 says, "But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them." Here we are told that the eventuality for the believer will be to come into conflict with the rulers. It is hard to be a witness against the King when we are obeying his unjust and unbiblical commands. Even the most casual of Bible students has to recognize that there will be conflicts develop between the believer and government.
So what do you do when an "authority" asks you to do something that is wrong? Bill has a seven-step outline based upon the confrontation of Daniel with the Melzar in Daniel 1.
1. Check our attitudes
2. Clear our Conscience
3. Discern basic intentions
4. Design creative alternatives
5. Appeal to our authority
6. Give God time to change our authority's mind
7. Suffer for not doing what is wrong
I do not want to be guilty of throwing the baby out with the bath water so I will preface my remarks by saying that in general, this is pretty good advice. There is no question that there are many instances where there seems to be a conflict between the Word of God and the orders of an authority when in fact the real problem is on the side of the one under authority. However there are a couple of problems with this plan. The first question that needs to be asked is, "Does the person giving this order have the authority to give this order?" For example, King Saul ordered his army not to eat, but Jonathan ate without knowing the order. When Saul ordered his son executed the people overruled him, in essence saying that although he was the lawful King, he did not have the authority to make that order.
David was the King but had no authority to order Uriah to sleep with his wife.
Ahab was the King but had no authority to ask Naboth to sell his vineyard.
Saul was the King but had no authority to offer a sacrifice at Michmash.
Uzziah was the King but had no authority to burn incense.
In each of these situations, a person would have been wrong to obey the order given because the person giving the order had no authority to give it.
Then, step three "Discern basic intentions" causes the whole system to fall apart. Bill assumes, almost universally, that the intentions of the one in authority will always be right. The Word of God and experience will evidence that nothing could be farther from the truth and if it is not true, the other steps are an exercise in futility. If the one giving the order has sinister designs, nothing good can ever come out of obedience. Several years ago in Nebraska, Churches were fighting licensure for their schools and took this approach, assuming that the purpose for licensure was to assure a better quality education. They had their children independently tested and the average score was well in advance of their counterparts in the public school but when that information was brought into court, it was not allowed. The issue was not quality of education, but control.
It was upon these two principles that we split from the ATIA. At that time the State of Arizona had a statute requiring that home schooled children be registered with the State. It was our firmly held conviction that the Word of God did not mandate or even allow for such, as education is not a ministry of the State but a ministry of the home. If they had no authority then we could not conceive of a situation where it would be right to do so. And then we looked into the purpose for the statute to see if there was some legitimate purpose they were trying to accomplish and since the courts had already ruled that quality education was not the goal, we could not conceive of any possible legitimate reason for their wanting to do so.
When I explained this to Bill's second in command, our position was dismissed with "Well, we do a lot of things that the government has no business in. For example we get marriage licenses." Well, it just so happened that we had discovered the real purpose and intent of the marriage license and mailed it back the week before. Needless to say, at this point communications broke down.
And then I want to look at the area of business being an authority. The place where Bill errs biblically, is in the assumption that the servant/master relationship in the scripture is equal to that of the employee/employer relationship today. The fundamental difference is in the fact that the servant is, either because of debt, capture or by volunteering, a subject to the master. All of his labor belongs to the master. In the employee/employer relationship, both sides are servants to the contract made between them. The employee is responsible to accomplish that which he agreed to accomplish, while the employer is responsible to the precise terms of the contract. Neither side has any right to try to hold the other to more than was agreed to at the beginning nor can they shirk on their end of the bargain. Both are servants to the contract.
The important thing to keep in mind here is that there is no natural obligation. Nobody is born an employee but becomes one by contract. When Tennessee Ernie Ford sang "I owe my soul to the company store," he did so, not because the "company store" had any Biblical or natural authority over him, but he had contracted so deeply into debt that he had no way to get out.
In my opinion, the reason Bill must include business as an authority is because without this as an authority, he has no authority. The IBYC is not a home, (Bill has never even been married), it is not a Church, (a fact that leaves it on very shaky Biblical ground) and it is not the government. The only authority that Bill actually has is in reference to those who have actually contracted to him under the terms and conditions of the contract. It was at this point that we were forced to break ties with Bill.
We were in the ATIA for two years and do not regret the opportunity. Overall it was a positive experience that we would like to have continued. When we started we knew that we did not agree altogether with Bill's position on authority but had no problem in the program because in the beginning he constantly used the word "suggest." "This is how we suggest you do things." Where we disagreed with Bill we simply didn't follow his suggestions. However, toward the end of the second year, there was a subtle change in the language being used. Suddenly it was, "This is how we do things." The problem was that his way of doing things within the legal structure of the State of Arizona, was to effectively give our children over to the State, something I was not about to do. When it came time to sign up for the third year, I called and asked whether this was a requirement or a suggestion. That question still has not been answered. Bill would never say we had to do it but he made it clear that he really didn't want us to continue with the program. We finally resigned from the program. That which we had felt was simply a difference in application was seen as a complete divergence in doctrine.
Since then, he has begun to include unbiblical relationships into the contract in certain areas anyway. For example, if a parent sends his child to the (Gothard's, ed.) "college" program in Indianapolis, he must agree not to have any contact with his child for a period of time, and then he can only go to eat every once in a while, or call on a very limited basis.
Bill not only uses his contractual authority to rule unnaturally over the home, but tries to overrule the Church. Another of the "pilot" families in the ATIA was a couple who went to a foreign nation as missionaries sent by their local church. Because they were in the program, they offered to act as liaisons for the ATIA and set out to do so. In time, they decided to cut back on their ATIA involvement and Bill promptly ordered them to come home from the mission field, even though they were sent by their local Church!
In all of these cases, Bill seems to see his contractual position as head of the ATIA as more important than the real authority in the matter.
In conclusion, I do not desire to imply that there is no benefit to the IBYC, the ATIA or any other of the ministries of Bill Gothard. There is tremendous benefit to those who are able to "chew the fish and spit the bones." However, if one is not careful, he will choke to death on the "bones" of this ministry.
Pastor Bob Cosby is pastor of the Honey Creek Baptist Church.
(E mail, 4/7/2000.)
Recently the drama "Heaven's Gates and Hell's Flames" played in my town in the high school gym. I don't know if you are familiar with this "play". The idea is to present a number of acts in which the people involved die, and wake up to view a group of angels and the steps leading to the gates of Heaven. If their names are written in the "Book of Life", they are received into heaven. If not, Satan comes out of Hell and claims them for his own. The only basis for entrance into heaven is that one has "asked Jesus into their heart." My pastor was a counsellor at the drama and I mentioned to him that my major concern with this drama was that the word "repentance" was never mentioned even one time in the play. He assured me that the counsellors he was involved with for those going forward during the "invitation" were presented with the fact that this was not just "fire insurance" and that fear of going to Hell was not going to cut it.
I just wanted to alert you to this ministry if you haven't already heard of it, and to ask your permision to print copies of your book, "The Other Jesus", which I just downloaded form you web site, for educational purposes for my Pastor and the church.
I thank God for your ministry in this area and enjoy "The Biblical Examiner".
Dear Carol, Jessica, Christina and dear Ovid.
May God richly bless all of you and your work which you're doing in the name of Jesus.
Thank you so much for newspaper which you sent for me. I'm sorry for my latter answer. Tell me how are you and your church family?
Novikov Sergey, Zaaporozhye region, Ukraine
Dear brother Need:
My name is Tonny Mollerskov, I labor at Faith Baptist, Lincoln, Kansas, Bro. Mark McReynolds is my pastor. My wife and I are called to go to my native country of Denmark to minister the gospel and translate the Textus
Receptus/Authorized Version into Denmark.
I would like to ask, if you can send us one copy of each of the booklets you publish, and 50_100 of "The other Jesus _ the gospel perverted", I booklet I was yearning for, as I heard a tape from another preacher recently on the "easy believism" plague _ bringing back the law of God into preaching _ not just "ask Jesus into your heart". If your cost per booklet is more than $1 please send me only 50 of the latter! ...
We look forward to hearing from you, this is no rush. We praise the Lord for "The other Jesus", it was sent to us from a brother in Finland.
Your servant and co_laborer,
Missionary to Denmark
Greetings to you. I wanted to drop you a note to tell you how much I appreciated your little book "The Other Jesus - the Gospel Perverted". I could not agree more. Thank you for putting this in print. I'm sure you will get some flack from some circles if this gets out widely, but so be it.
The book is deep, in that it needs more than passing through in it's [sic] reading, but it is well worth the effort. Plus, I can't think of any way to "simplify" it either.
Thanks my brother.
With all my sins forgiven, Pastor, Sioux Falls, SD.
My name is Mario Arruda. I am from Brazil. I am a christian, and I like The Biblical Examiner. It's very well. If you have any material for me, please send me by e-mail.
Thank you, Fraternalmente em Cristo, Mario Arruda
Thank you, Moscow Missions.
Please send me The Biblical Examiner, preferably hard copies, Thanks, Tse Ming Wan, Hong Kong
Folks; thanks for your site it is really wonderful. I am working in Japan and need to read some good Christian material. It is safe here but extremely Godless. Keep up the good work. My wife and I teach a Bible study in a small Baptist church and I teach English. We could always use some preaching tapes if your church or another can send us some out occasionally we would be very happy. God bless your love and efforts in the Lord. Heb. 6:10
Thanks James and Nora Benedict in Japan
Bibles, book covers cause school grief
CONROE, Texas -- A legal watchdog group has filed a lawsuit against the Willis Independent School District, claiming it violated the federal and state constitutions by denying several students freedomof religion and speech.
In one case, the group charged, Cara Flotman, a middle school teacher, tossed the Bibles of two students into a trash can, saying, "This is trash." The plaintiffs are Angela Harbison, 15, and her sister, Amber, 13. The lawsuit also claims the school district told three students to remove book covers with the Ten Commandments printed on them. One of those students, Jeremy Pasket, and his parents, also are plaintiffs.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Houston by the Florida-based Liberty Counsel. Willis school district officials declined comment, saying they had yet to see it. (-Wire Reports, Lafayette Journal and Courier, Saturday, June 3, 2000.)
Online Bible CD
Don't forget, we have the latest version of Online Bible. It is the best study tool on the market: *14 English Bible Versions *Over 40 Foreign Translations *Homeschool Resource Index *17 Lexicons & Commentaries (e.g., Barnes' NT Notes, Matthew Pool, Matthew Henry, JFB, John Gill, A.W. Pink, Robertson's Word Study Pictures, Treasury of David) * Colorful Maps, Illustrations & Graphs *Step-by-Step Tutorial *Fast & Powerful Word/Phrase Search *Complete Manual with Index included. Furthermore, the program is updated regularly on the web for downloading (no cost). $52, post paid.
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We are now accepting articles for publication in The Biblical Examiner. Electronic format only (ASC II, WordPerfect (preferred) or MS Word. Order extra copies to pass out. This newsprint holds printing and shipping costs down. (The total cost now for each mailing is about $600, which is out of reach for our small group of believers. I have been told that the average size of a Reformed congregation is about 40, which is some more than we have. As a Baptist, by Reformed, I mean the pastor holds to the London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689.)
The Death of Victory
I have been sent the final proof for The Death of Victory by the publisher. Check our web site for information when it will be ready.
GORE PICKS AN ANTICHRIST FOR RUNNING MATE
Gore Picks Sen. Lieberman for VP
By Ron Fournier
AP Political Writer
Monday, Aug. 7, 2000; 1:38 p.m. EDT
WASHINGTON Al Gore selected Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman to be his running mate Monday, rounding out the Democratic ticket with the first Jewish vice presidential candidate in American history...
And thus we have the first open Antichrist running for an elected office in a supposedly Christian nation. See the several articles about Jews in The Biblical Examiner, March, 2000. I will raise the question: Did Gore select an antichrist intentionally? Probably not, for I imagine he is hypnotized by the same delusive spirit that has a large percentage of Christians in its grasp that is, Jews today are a race of people rather than simply a religion such as Mormon or JW. However, we have proved several times that "Jew" today simply refers to a religion, and no more.
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