Vol. 12 No. 1 January 2010
How Long Did Job Suffer?
Louis Rushmore, Editor
How can we know or estimate the length of the time of Job’s sufferings. I have read 12 months and I have read 9 months and I have read years. What source can I use to find out? ~ Kaye English
This is a question that has been posed before, for which I did not have much definitive information. See:
This question falls under the scope of Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” Evidently, we do not need to know how long Job suffered since God did not cause that information to be revealed. However, God did cause to be revealed everything we do need to know: “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3).
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Can you please give me your comments as to why in Leviticus 23:18 for the burnt offerings one young bullock and two rams are required, but then in Numbers 28:27, in speaking of the same feast, two young bullocks and one ram are required?
Commentators that I consulted made two observations respecting the inquiry. One, the first five books of the Old Testament, or Pentateuch, represent history. Therefore, they respectively represent the details of events at different times. Hence, one would not expect necessarily for exact duplication from one historical event to another, especially if God expressly were directing how He desired to be worshipped at different junctures in history. Two, some commentators suppose that differences in details between Leviticus 23 and Numbers 28 pertain to additional feasts and sacrifices in Numbers to those appearing in Leviticus. Third, I offer that the two texts substantially corroborate each other and counting language differences do not materially disarm that general agreement, especially in a law of God that is no longer in force for people living today.
Is the Church of Christ a Cult?
Good morning, So I was surfing the net and came across this website that seems like a support for ex-members of the church. It had some points that made me think. This along with other teachings in the world is having a major effect on the faith (doctrine) I have been learning. I am apart of the church and am in a state of questioning my faith more then ever. When you get a moment, can you review this site? I’d like to hear what you think about this and if there points are valid in any way. I may need to learn more about logic and reasoning but at times I feel confused, especially when I hear things about the church. I just want the truth and sometimes I don’t know if I have found it.
The title of this article was derived from the subject line of the email that bore the question above. The word “cult” does not appear in the Bible; however, the dictionary definition of “cult” is:
1: formal religious veneration : worship. 2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also: its body of adherents. 3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents. 4: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator 〈health cults. 5a: great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad. b: a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion. (Merriam-Webster)
The first two definitions are not derogatory, and the fourth definition does not apply to religion. Definition three is the intended meaning of defamatory remarks aimed at a religious group, in this case the churches of Christ. Definition 5a may be intended likewise as accusatory declarations affirm that the churches of Christ arose from a movement rather than owing their beginning to Jesus Christ Himself. Definition 5b may be intended as well respecting the number of members of the churches of Christ versus other religious groups; there are millions of members of the churches of Christ around the world compared to many more millions of some religious groups claiming an affinity with Christianity, and many more millions numbered in some world religion other than Christianity.
First, the numbers are irrelevant as to whether the churches of Christ, for instance, are the church of the Bible. The principle of Exodus 23:2 is as applicable today as it was thousands of years ago: “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil…” Second, are the churches of Christ really “unorthodox or spurious” as far as the Scriptures are concerned? Yes, in some ways, the churches of Christ differ from contemporary denominations, but to anyone more concerned about pleasing God than man, that is of little consequence. After all, whose pleasure ought we to court, man’s or God’s (Galatians 1:10)?
Third, the comparable word for “cult” that does appear in the Bible is the term “sect.” Specifically, twice in the New Testament it is applied to the Lord’s church (Acts 24:5; 28:22). “Sect” comes from “hairesis,” also behind our word “heresy.” “Sect” means, “properly, a choice, i.e. (specially) a party or (abstractly) disunion” (Biblesoft’s). Therefore, contemporary fellows are not the first to slanderously accuse the Lord’s church of being a sect or a cult or a denomination.
The churches of Christ are not trying intentionally to be different from anybody or anything. More accurately, the churches of Christ are trying to be identical as much as they can be to the church of the New Testament, for which Jesus Christ died to establish, over which He alone is Head and for which one day He will return to take back to heaven. Trying to be that church of the New Testament, we are known by one of the biblical names for the Lord’s church that appears in the New Testament. There are several not so much names but biblical descriptions such as “church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2) as well as “churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16). In addition, we attempt to worship God in His own appointed way, practice Christian living according to the New Testament, perform Christian service according to the New Testament and believe Christian doctrine that appears in the pages of the New Testament.
We view the New Testament as the sole, absolute authority in religion today. The New Testament, of course, rests on the foundation of the Old Testament, which yet has numerous valid principles applicable today (Romans 15:4). The churches of Christ view the New Testament as the only authority in religion today because it claims that status for itself (1 Corinthians 14:37; Galatians 1:6-9; Revelation 22:18-19), and it is divinely inspired.
The Restoration Movement by which some accuse the churches of Christ as beginning as a denomination depicts several Bible believers migrating from trusting in denominational faiths such as found in the Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist churches to relying on the Bible itself aside from denominational faiths. We all understand the sense of restoring something as opposed to reforming something. Rather than a hybrid plant, the churches of Christ attempt to be the same plant today as 2,000 years ago that germinated by the planting of the seed of the kingdom (the Word of God) into honest hearts, without admixture of manmade doctrine or the surgical removal of inconvenient divine doctrines. God has persistently called mankind back to Himself, and why should anyone attempting to answer that call of God be worthy of slur? In 2 Kings 22:8 and 2 Chronicles 24:15, 29-33 the Law of Moses was rediscovered, and Josiah caused his fellow Israelites to participate with him in the restoration of Judaism, which involved removing idols and practicing Judaism again. The churches of Christ attempt no less with the New Testament.
Yes, some members of the church are cranky or divisive (Titus 3:10-11; 3 John 9). Our goal, though, is not to restore the departures from the New Testament faith or duplicate the sins warned against in the New Testament Scriptures, but to practice the ideal that Jesus Christ and His apostles stipulated in the New Testament for the church. Wisely, God chose autonomous congregational organization (Acts 14:23), which means one or more congregational departures from Bible truth do not ruin every congregation.
Prejudicial and inflammatory wording by individuals or organizations against the worship, salvation, etc. of the churches of Christ does not make it so. If true religion is unattainable, why practice any religion at all? Further, who appointed mere man to decide what religious practices and beliefs are either satisfactory or unsatisfactory? There is a volume (the New Testament) from which one can discern without confusion how God desires to be worshipped, about salvation from past sins, Christian living, Christian service and much about Christian doctrine (teaching).
The churches of Christ are not a cult or a sect, even in the intended derogatory ways. Further, the churches of Christ that remain true to God’s call of mankind to Himself are not a denomination either. Note my tract, The One True Church of the Bible.
Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 1994.
Merriam-Webster, I. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. 10th ed. Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 1993; CD-ROM. Seattle: Logos Research Systems, 1996.