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Vol.  9  No. 12 December 2007  Page 20
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Since You Asked By Louis Rushmore

Names may be included at the discretion of the Editor unless querists request their names be withheld. Please check our Archive for the answer to your question before submitting it; there are over 1,000 articles in the Archive addressing numerous biblical topics. Submit a Question to GGO.

Louis Rushmore

Same Thoughts and Principles About God

Hello. In reading certain material (and a book I’m currently reading) that was written by those in denominations, and talking to them face to face, I’ve always been puzzled by something. We disagree on the major things, such as, faith only salvation, outward show of inward grace baptism, etc. The strange thing is, we seem to have the same thoughts and principles when looking toward God. What I mean is, alot of their experiences and expectations are exactly the same as us in the church of Christ. This creeps into my mind alot, because, in refuting what they teach, I know that their description of the Christian walk is exactly what we teach. Even the personal details are the same. I silently struggle with this. What are your thoughts concerning this? Do you think it has anything to do with how everyone, no matter who it is, responds to temptation (I Corinthians 10:13- although this verse seems to be speaking of Christians only)? Thank You- Anthony Grigsby, Dayton, Ohio, USA

    Denominationalism is categorically wrong because of the specific doctrinal errors wherein it differs from the Christianity represented upon the pages of inspiration, namely the New Testament. (Incidentally, the churches of Christ and the Christians who compose the Lord’s church can and sometimes do journey down the same road of specific doctrinal errors; how many doctrinal errors must one adopt or embrace before he and other Christians like him become essentially denominational?) Yet, I know of no one among the churches of Christ who insists that everything believed, taught and practiced by denominational people is doctrinally incorrect. To illustrate, I once heard someone remark (correctly so) that we don’t have to enter and exit our church buildings through the windows because denominational people enter and exit their buildings through doors. Therefore, we should expect that religious people who profess their interest in Christianity and further at least pay a token respect for the Holy Bible would (1) believe some Bible truths, and (2) demonstrate some biblical principles in their lives.

    Remember that the “major things” including salvation (what Bible doctrine is trivial?) suffice to disqualify denominationalism as a satisfactory religious pursuit. Our Lord rebuked religious leaders of his day for tampering with Judaism (Matthew 15:9), and He further spoke to the eternal disfavor these would garner for their counterfeit religion when called before the Judgment Bar (Matthew 7:21-23). Frankly, it is little wonder that religious persons who do not view the Bible as the final, absolute authority in religion would deviate from some Bible doctrine while holding to more convenient Bible truths.

The Secret Transfiguration

Why did Jesus tell the disciples not to tell anyone of the experience they had on the mountain at His transfiguration? ~ Nancy Trimble

    The Transfiguration was not the first occasion for Jesus to direct his disciples to keep a secret regarding Him (for a time, not permanently; after all Matthew later disclosed these “secrets” in his Gospel record). Whereas the Transfiguration occurs in Matthew 17:1-9, earlier in Matthew 16:16-20 Jesus advised his apostles to not openly declare that He is the Christ. Our Lord’s prohibition on declaring the Transfiguration publicly was temporary, only restricted before his resurrection. “And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead” (Matthew 17:9).

    Various commentators make these interesting observations regarding our Lord’s Transfiguration, witnesses to it and why Jesus instructed that it not be immediately disclosed to others. For instance: (1) The restriction at the time not to tell anyone about the Transfiguration was spoken to three apostles who were present, and they may have been prohibited to tell even their fellow apostles at that time. (2) Jesus chose three of his disciples to observe his Transfiguration, the precise number required under Judaism to authenticate something (Deuteronomy 17:6; Hebrews 10:28). (3) It was not time to emphasize Jesus’ Messiahship publicly, and arouse even more animosity among the religious leaders than arose already because of our Lord’s ministry.

  For everything there is a time, and it wasn’t time for public proclamation of the Transfiguration, the point of which was to verify the Messiahship of Jesus Christ. It was, though, appropriate to reinforce the divinity of the Messiah to the apostles, as well as equip them to be corroborating witnesses of the Messiahship of Jesus Christ through their later testimony about the Transfiguration.

Benevolence and "All Men"

Deuteronomy 14:29 regarding the tithes for the levites, strangers, and the fatherless, and the widow. can you explain this and what is the connection in our daily living as a christian. I read a track title “The Benevolent Work of the Church” by Jesse G. Jenkins, In 2 Cor. 9:12-13, that the “unto them” means (poor jewish saints in Jerusalem) having their want releived and “unto all men’ means (other Jewish saints) giving thankgiving to God for their Gentile brethren. They use Acts 2:14 the word “all” means JEWISH SAINTS. In Acts 2:45 refers only to believers of verse 44. and He said the same also in Acts 4:35 where “all men” is again is used, means believers of verse 34. Is their any text or strong materials to use to explain this (UNTO THEM AND UNTO ALL) or the original word (greek) so that it will understand correctly. please give some explanation. ~ Brod Omar S. Agustin, Philippines

    Sincere maybe, but hardhearted and practitioners of a religion unlike the disposition of Jesus Christ are those whose doctrine about benevolence restricts the church from helping needy non-Christians. Sincere maybe, but this benevolence doctrine is all about money, which supposedly has already been given to the Lord’s church and which should not be the object of a covetousness temperament, but it is. Consider this example from the ministry of our Lord. Matthew 15:22-28 relates that a non-Jewish woman sought healing from Jesus Christ for her daughter, whereupon our Lord first responded to her that his ministry pertained to the Jews rather than to the Gentiles. Nevertheless, Jesus healed the Gentile girl. That our Lord’s ministry was purposed toward the Jews did not preclude the extension of it toward non-Jews. Our Lord’s compassion was broader than restriction to the Jews. Add to this the salient point made by Jesus Christ respecting the interaction between the saved and the unsaved.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48 emphasis added)

    Deuteronomy 14:29, being a part of the Old Testament, which is no longer the law of God to which people today appeal for divine instruction (Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14; Romans 7:6-7), does not directly apply to the implementation of Christianity in our lives today. However, we can make the indirect observation that even under Judaism that the “stranger” (foreigner, hence the non-Jew) was the divinely sanctioned recipient of benevolence when needed. We shall see that the disposition of God, which appears in divine instruction in the New Testament, has not changed regarding those outside of his covenant (today, the New Testament).

    In each reference cited in the question, the original language words for “all” and “every” mean precisely and no more or less than the concepts of “all” or “every” as we typically understand them and use them in our conversations today. The words “all” and “every” depend upon the respective contexts in which they are found to define their contextual applications. Therefore, “all” and “every” in verses aside from, for instance, 2 Corinthians 9:13 do nothing to further the application of “all” in 2 Corinthians 9:13. Context is everything in the proper interpretation of Scripture. The “all” in Acts 2:14, according to the context refers to residents of Jerusalem, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the subject of benevolence. The “all” of Acts 2:44, according to the verse, refer to believers. The “all” of Acts 2:45 certainly would include in its application believers, but there is nothing material in verse 45 to restrict the benevolence exclusively to Christians; any doctrine of benevolence respecting Acts 2:45 that prohibits benevolence toward non-Christians is injected into the text rather than extracted from it. The exact same observations pertain to Acts 4:34-35.

    Now, notice 2 Corinthians 9:12-13: “For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men.” Saints or Christians are the objects of the benevolence under consideration, but the application of the benevolence was to “them” (poor saints) plus an “all” beyond the “them” (poor saints). An exact parallel to 2 Corinthians 9:13 appears in Galatians 6:10, which reads: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” Clearly, under consideration are two groups, Christians and non-Christians, with an emphasis primarily on attending to the benevolent needs of Christians, but not excluding non-Christians from benevolence. In both passages, needy saints are the motivation for the benevolent contribution, and yet non-Christians are specifically included in the application of those benevolent church funds.

    Christians who adopt a doctrine of benevolence that excludes non-Christians from the possibility of being the beneficiaries of benevolence from the Lord’s church are either: (1) sincerely misguided, (2) permeated with hardhearted bias against non-Christians, or (3) lovers of money more than lovers of other men’s souls. In any case, the disposition of the God behind Deuteronomy 14:29 and the Son of God represented in Matthew chapters 5 and 15 is not the disposition of these Christians. Armed with and exhibiting confidence in the Holy Word of God, no Christian and no congregation of the Lord’s church would categorically prohibit the extension of church benevolence toward non-Christians.

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