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RELIGIONS

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Tip Of The Tongue

Thursday, August 17, 2017
Hello.  I have a question that deals with the interpretation of tongues.  So here it is; I’m going to explain it the best that I can.  Can a person that speaks in tongues be his own interpreter?  There has been some confusion between my mother and I about this subject.  It states in the Bible that there has to be an interpreter, but it doesn’t really explain past that (or if there are any restrictions on who it can be).  Hopefully, you can be of some assistance.  Thank you.

Sincerely,
Seeking A Translator

Dear Seeking A Translator,

The problem with answering your question is that the modern practice of speaking in tongues is nothing like the Bible account of the topic.  Speaking in tongues was a miraculous gift that allowed a person to speak in other actual languages (such as German, French, etc. – see a list of some of the languages in Acts 2:6-11).  The modern teaching of speaking in tongues has people speaking in “hidden” or “spiritual” languages that have no bearing on society.  Speaking in tongues was a tool God gave to the first century christians to help spread the gospel to people of many cultures without facing the language barrier – it wasn’t for the church’s edification; it was for evangelism (1 Cor 14:22).  Modern speaking in tongues is exactly the opposite.

Furthermore, speaking in tongues was a gift from the Holy Spirit.  The way that people received those gifts was through an apostle laying his hands on them (Acts 8:17-18).  Since it took an apostle to convey the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gifts would cease with the death of the last person that the last living apostle laid his hands on.  In fact, God promised that this would happen.  Paul says that spiritual gifts would eventually perish once God had given us the complete and perfect Bible (1 Cor 13:8-9 – read more on this subject in “Gifts That Stop Giving”).  So when you ask if you need an interpreter, we are hard-pressed to give an answer for an issue that is no longer applicable within the Lord’s church.

Trouble At The Top Pt. 2

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

(This post is a follow-up to “Trouble At The Top”)

First of all, I wanted to thank you for the answer to a recent question about the doctrinal problem I was having in the church I attend.  But because of the answer, I have other questions I would like to ask.  They are:
  1. Why is this truth of Acts 20:17 not taught?
  2. All the churches in the area that I know of have a pastor, two to three elders, and deacons.  Where is this type of church government found in the Word?
  3. If it is not, why is it so popular and allowed?

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Skeptical

Dear Skeptical,

There is a constant battle in the religious world between doctrinal purity and ecumenicalism.  Ecumenicalism is the teaching that we should accept anyone and everything just as they are.  It is impossible to accept everyone as they are and still remain true to the teachings of Jesus Christ.  As people move toward tolerance of all, they move away from Christ.  Sadly, most churches in America flourish under the banner of total acceptance… this is why Acts 20:17 (among other simple but unpopular biblical teachings) isn’t taught.

The Bible even warns us that such things would happen.  Paul told Timothy that most churches would eventually stop teaching truth and start preaching whatever peoples’ ears itched to hear (2 Tim 4:3-4).  Whenever the main goal of preaching becomes to make people happy, false teaching abounds.  Paul also warned that there would be a “falling away” in the years following the Bible’s completion (2 Thess 2:3).  Every time a church shoves the Bible to the side and begins to do what is popular instead of what is faithful (faith comes by hearing and applying God’s Word – Rom 10:17), it falls away.  That is what began to happen to the Galatian church.  Paul warned them that they were misusing the Bible.  The Galatians were warping and twisting the Word, and that is just as bad as not using the Bible at all (Gal 1:6-9).  Many churches do exactly what the Galatian church did; they add or subtract from the Bible whenever it suits them, and consequently, they stop being a faithful church (Rev 22:18-19).

The biblical pattern for a congregation is for a plurality of elders to lead the church (1 Pet 5:1-2).  Those elders must meet the qualifications of 1 Tim 3:1-7 and Tit 1:5-9.  If there are men qualified to be deacons, they should be appointed to serve as helpers for the elders (‘deacon’ means ‘servant’).  Deacons must meet the qualifications found in 1 Tim 3:8-13.  There is no example in the Bible of a leadership structure other than that.  The single-pastor system is totally manmade… popular, to be sure, but still manmade.  We’ve all seen that many things in this life that are popular are also wrong.  The Bible is God’s tool to bring us salvation (Rom 1:16-17)… if we want that salvation, we must stand firm and not let Satan delude its influence.  The only way to stay doctrinally pure and pleasing to God is to test every church practice against the Bible (1 Jn 4:1).

Going For Pope Pt. 2

Thursday, August 03, 2017
Based on your response regarding the authority to interpret the scriptures under the heading “Going for Pope”, I was hoping you could clarify a few things.  How can two local congregations, relying on Scripture alone for all matters of faith and practice, still be diametrically opposed doctrinally?  This is from my father-in-law’s local independent Baptist church under the “what we believe” section of their website:
  • The Bible (KJV) to be the infallible, inerrant Word of God (II Peter 1:20,21)(I Peter 1:23-25)
  • The Bible is to be the sole source for all matters of faith and practice (II Timothy 3:16)
  • There is one true and living God revealed to us as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three separate personages in one divine being (I John 5:7)
  • The only way of salvation is by grace through faith in the atonement and righteousness of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8)
  • It is the duty of all to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:9)
  • Nothing can separate true believers from the love of God and they are kept by His power through faith unto salvation (I John 5:10-13)
  • In the pre-millenial return of the Lord Jesus Christ, that the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment but the righteous unto life eternal (I Thessalonians 4:15 18) (Revelations 21:8)
  • In the autonomy of the local church, and that it is to be self-supporting, self-governing, not dependent on any ecclesiastical organizations; solely dependent on the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:16-19)
  • The church is the divine means of spreading the gospel and it is our duty to support missions at home and abroad (Matthew 28:18-20)

The pastor of that congregation has studied the Bible for over forty years and can provide scriptural support for every doctrine that he teaches.  They consider themselves a model New Testament church and believe they are lead by the Holy Spirit when interpreting Scripture.  They rely on no creeds or traditions and go as far as teaching that any other congregation that doesn’t hold similar beliefs are not truly “saved” christians.  In direct opposition to what your local church of Christ congregation teaches, they believe baptism is symbolic only and not necessary for salvation.  Once a believer is saved, they are always saved. You must tithe ten percent or be cursed by God.  They practice communion once every four months.  They use musical instruments in worship service.  They believe in a pre-tribulation rapture of the church. They use all the same criteria you mentioned in your previous responses (Bible as the sole rule of faith), and yet, you would disagree with them (using the very same Scriptures)!  Can you elaborate on your previous answer given this scenario?

Sincerely,
Needing More

Dear Needing More,

We will admit that Baptist churches are much more Bible-centered than most of the denominational world, but just because they say that they do exactly what the Bible says doesn’t make it true.  Many of the things that your father-in-law’s congregation believes are right, but there are some glaring practices that simply ignore Scripture.  Remember, if you avoid or ignore verses, that is just as bad as adding creeds (Rev 22:18-19).  We have to take every Bible teaching, no matter how unpopular, and accept it in order to truly call ourselves a “Bible-only” congregation.  We don’t disagree with your father-in-law when he uses Scriptures; we would disagree with him when he ignores or avoids Scripture.  So let’s take a look at a couple of areas that this Baptist church is ignoring obvious Bible text.

  1. Baptism is necessary for salvation.  This is one of the clearest teachings in the New Testament.  Peter literally wrote, “Baptism saves you” in 1 Pet. 3:21.  Mark 16:16 teaches that when you believe and are baptized, you are saved.  There is not a single example of someone becoming a christian without baptism.  If a church is teaching that baptism is only symbolic… it is ignoring the text.  In fact, the Baptist church’s manual (which is a lot like a creed) specifically says, “Baptism was the door into the church; now it is different” (Standard Manual for Baptist Churches pg. 22).  Feel free to read our article “Baptism” for further Scriptures on this topic.
  2. The Bible openly teaches that you can lose your salvation.  Gal 5:4 says that people can be “severed from Christ” and “fall away from grace”.  1 Tim 4:1 also warns that people will fall away and follow false teachings.  Heb 3:12 also mentions falling away because of an unbelieving heart.  The clearest verse on this topic is Heb 6:4-6 because it talks about someone who was “enlightened” and had “tasted the heavenly gift” and yet were “crucifying Christ again”.  Once again, these are simple verses with clear and direct implications.
  3. The Lord’s Supper.  Your father-in-law’s congregation only takes the Lord’s Supper every four months.  Where is the Bible authority and support for that?  Where in the Bible does it show christians taking communion every four months?  Acts 20:7 mentions christians taking the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week.  Once again, this is a plain teaching with a simple consequence.  If we want to be like the first-century christians… we take communion every first day of the week.

This is hardly an exhaustive answer to everything that your father-in-law’s church does, but it should be enough to give you an idea that there are some clear verses that are being avoided by this Baptist congregation.  God tells us to test all teaching against the Scripture (1 Jn 4:1).  No congregation advertises that they are ignoring parts of the Bible, but many churches do exactly that.

Due to the lengthy nature of these answers and our backlog of questions, if you have further questions on this topic, please include your e-mail address, so we can contact you in a timely manner.

Cash Cow

Monday, July 31, 2017
Your take on the word of faith?  I am currently a member of a Four Square church with phenomenal growth, although they are moderate in context of extreme examples like Haggen, Hinn, etc.  I came from the Calvary Chapel movement which taught against this.  I have found discipleship and ministry involvement, but I still question the constant repeated claims of, “Speak this exercise, your faith is a force to change circumstances, don’t ever admit poverty, lack, sickness, etc.”  They are always alluding to financial blessings, sowing to reap, etc.  I see Biblical precedence, yet it seems a spin on what God intended to tell us through

His Word.  Declaring all God’s promises has not helped me keep my home, jobs, deliverance from bondage to tobacco, sin, and financial need.  Help me put this into perspective.

Sincerely,
More For The Money?

Dear More For The Money,

The theology that your church is ascribing to is called “the prosperity gospel” – and it is a lie.  The prosperity gospel doctrine teaches that the more faith you have, the more money, health, power, etc. you will receive.  They teach that all sicknesses, poverty, and suffering are caused by a lack of faith.  This is simply wrong.

Jesus suffered more than anyone – and yet He was perfectly faithful and never sinned (Heb 4:15).  When Jesus was asked why a certain man was blind, His answer was, “That God’s works could be revealed in Him” (Jhn 9:1-3).  That blind man wasn’t blind because He had sinned, He was blind because it gave God an opportunity to use him.  The apostle Paul had a “thorn in the flesh” (some sort of sickness) that God gave him… even though Paul was exceptionally faithful (2 Cor 12:7).  Job suffered at the hands of Satan BECAUSE he was so faithful (Job 1:8).  And last, but not least, God clearly states that we must suffer in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Acts 14:22).

The idea that serving Christ will provide you with every physical blessing you could ever want is a perversion of the Scriptures.  It is a preaching that is based upon selfishness and the love of money – both of which God abhors (2 Tim 3:2, 1 Tim 6:10).  Christians should condemn and flee from this kind of false teaching.

Going For Pope

Friday, July 28, 2017
If apostolic authority was meant to end with the last apostle, how are autonomous local congregations meant to settle doctrinal disputes?  The sheer number of differing Protestant denominations only proves that leaving the church with the Scriptures alone only leads to division and fragmentation.  Calvinists believe in predestination, Lutherans believe in baptismal regeneration, Baptists believe in symbolic adult full-immersion baptism, Pentecostals believe in speaking in tongues, the church of Christ believes in no musical instruments, and Seventh Day Adventists worship on Saturday.  All of these local congregations are interpreting the same Scriptures, and yet, all are divided on any one of a number of important doctrinal positions. They can’t agree on the nature of baptism, the causes of salvation, the gifts of the Spirit, the study of eschatology, and so on.  The differences are endless.  Why would Christ leave His church with a set of Scriptures but no authority to properly interpret them?

Sincerely,
Needing More

Dear Needing More,

Religious confusion isn’t because of the Scriptures.  The Scriptures aren’t the weak link; people are.  If you look at the vast majority of religious organizations, they don’t take the Scriptures as their only guide.  They allow religious tradition, personal whims, various creeds, etc. to sway them from basic Bible teachings.  It is when people warp and pervert the Scriptures that they get the divisions and fragmentations that we see today (Gal 1:6-8).  False teachers disguised as ministers of righteousness infiltrate churches and lead many astray (2 Cor 11:13-15).  False teachers are described as “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matt. 7:15) because they pretend to teach Bible, but instead, they teach their own devices.  False religions spring up when people are tired of the pure and simple Bible pattern and itch for a more comfortable message (2 Tim 4:3-5). The problem isn’t that we have too much emphasis on Scripture – it is the exact opposite!  If you want to remove division and chaos, return to simply studying Scripture and expel all creeds, traditions, and personal preferences from religious discussion.

Your assertion assumes that the Scriptures alone aren’t powerful enough to teach and prepare people to meet their God.  The Bible teaches that the Scriptures are the power of God for salvation (Rom 1:16).  2 Pet 1:3 says that the Scriptures provide every answer to life and godliness.  Peter said that the apostles wrote down the wisdom God had given them so that long after they departed, we would still have it (2 Pet 1:12-15).  When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, He condemned them for their lack of Bible knowledge (Matt 22:29).  Jesus believed the Scriptures were plain enough for anyone to understand if they had an honest heart and applied some effort… He believed it enough to be angry with the Pharisees when they didn’t know their Bibles.  When Paul taught the people, he reasoned with them using only the Scriptures (Acts 17:2).  The Berean converts were praised as being noble-minded for not accepting the apostle Paul’s teachings without first examining the Scriptures for themselves (Acts 17:10-11).  The Bible is sufficient for our salvation, and there is no need for anyone to have modern abilities to “interpret” the Bible for us (2 Pet 1:20-21).

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