God Designed Institutions

272746_l_srgb_s_glWilliam P. Young wrote a work of fiction titled The Shack in 2007.  He wrote: “I don’t create institutions-never have, never will.”  The institutions of the church, government and marriage are the “man-created trinity of errors that ravages the earth and deceives those I care about…It’s all false” (p. 179).  Albert Mohler called the book “deeply subversive,” “scripturally incorrect” and downright “dangerous” (usatoday.com).

Are the institutions of the church, government and the home “false” and not important to the God of Heaven?

Church

The church is composed of all Christians (Matthew 16:18; Hebrews 12:22-24).It consists of only one church (Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:4).  It began on Pentecost (Acts 2; 11:15) and is entered by being added by the Lord (Acts 2:41, 47).  The Lord keeps the books of membership (Hebrews 12:23; 2 Timothy 2:19) and consists of all the saved (Ephesians 5:25-27; cl. John 15:2, 6; Romans 11:19-22; Revelation 3:16).  We must be in this church to be saved (Ephesians 5:23).

Government

Read Romans 13:1-7.  God has appointed the authorities who have governmental power (vv. 1, 2).  Civil rulers are a “terror to bad conduct” (v.3).  They give “approval” or praise to those who do what is good (v. 3). Governmental officials serve God. (vv. 4, 6).  Government officials are doing “good” as they carry out their work (v. 4).  Government authorities execute God’s wrath on wrongdoers and carry out retribution (v. 4).

To make such submission to earthly governments seem more reasonable and necessary he informs them that all power is of God, and that civil governments are ordained of God. He who denies this fact denies the voice of inspiration. The fact that governments sometimes turn out bad, and do unjust things, does not prove Paul’s statement to be untrue. The devil sometimes controls the actions of governments, but that does not prove that all governments belong to the devil. The devil sometimes gets into churches and causes them to do evil and unjust things, but that does not prove that the devil owns and controls all churches. The design of civil government is to promote the security and the well-being of its citizens; and there would be no security of life and property, if there were no human governments (RL. Whiteside, A New Commentary On Paul’s Letter To The Saints At Rome, p. 258).

When we spread Biblical values and God-honoring leaders in our cities, states, and nation, all persons are blessed (Psalm 33:12) and liberty is maintained so that the church can evangelize without restrictions.

Marriage and the Home

Jesus tells us where to begin:  at the beginning. The Pharisees came to Him with the problem of divorce:  And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:3-6).  The “beginning” to which Jesus referred here is that which is read about in Genesis 1- 2.   If we are going to have a house built on the rock (Jesus) then we must follow Jesus to where He takes us for the blueprint which we are to follow for building a house on the rock. The blueprint is found “at the beginning.”   At the beginning, God created the first home. The home is not an invention of society (Genesis 2:18, 22).  This is what God joined together (Matthew 19:6).

God created these three institutions, each with a distinctive purpose.  Each of the institutions functions best when Biblical doctrines serve as the foundation.   

 

Steve Miller

Symptoms of Sabotage

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Many illnesses have varying symptoms.  A person who has the flu is likely to run a fever.  The fever is a symptom highlighting that something is wrong such as an infection, etc.  If something is malfunctioning (in our body, computer, smart phone, or car or similar device or machine) there will be symptoms (various issues) that may appear signaling a deeper problem.

When there is an issue in our homes, friendships, at work,  or in the church, there is a good reason to believe there is an underlying problem causing the issues (symptoms).

We are called to separate ourselves from the world.  “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).  One brother linked “worldiness” with the spiritual problems we often experience.

What is “worldliness”? Worldliness is sin. Worldliness is conforming to the world. Worldliness is anything that is opposed to being transformed. Worldliness is “world likeness” in anything. Worldliness is anything that is not Christlike or that hinders “Christlikeness.” Worldliness is a wedge that sin drives into the heart of the member of the church, disuniting his own will and God’s will for him, making his actions incompatible with his spiritual potentialities, because he allows selfish interests to usurp the place of God in his life (Franklin Camp).

Majoring in Temporal Instead of Spiritual Things

We sing “I’m just passing through” but we sometimes live as though we will be here forever.  Our citizenship is in heaven (Colossians 3:1-2) for eternity and our time here on the earth is temporary.  As Christians we must not allow the world to take precedence over our Spiritual responsibilities.  Is that ballgame really worth being absent from worship or studying God’s Word?  Is my overcommitment that allows my children’s overcommittment God’s fault?  Do we really believe our young people will put Christ and His Church first when we allow and encourage them to do the opposite?

Indifference to Moral Values

Unless our head has been in the sand in recent years, we cannot help but take note of the fact that our society in general has declined considerably when it comes to moral values.  The Humanistic, Atheistic, and liberal concepts and ideologies along with  a government led indoctrination of a “new tolerance” has seriously compromised all those who have grown up in recent decades.  The recent Grammy Music Awards is a classic example of what is happening and what is being tolerated morally today.  Words such as  immoral, immodest, homosexual, promiscuious, lascivious, and  indecent characterize the filth that we are watching; apparantly with no filters and no shame for what is being broadcast.

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),  that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”  “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).    “But test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

 


Steve Miller

 

TTBE Journal

The Truth Between Extremes Journal makes its debut.  We are excited about this opportunity to produce a themed journal twice a month.  The current issue focuses on America and the blessings she has received and also reminds us of God’s expectations to honor Him and be obedient to His Word.

Click the link below to begin reading:

TTBE July 13, 2013TTBE

Buried in Baptism

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Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).

Baptism is a burial in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). It is essential to salvation (Mark 16:16). “Therefore we are buried” (Romans 6:4) and, “Buried with him in baptism” (Colossians 2:12). Using our God-given reasoning powers and conclusive evidence in the New Testament; baptism is a burial in water.

An incident in the life of James A. Garfield, our twentieth President, brings out the fallacy of arguing against baptism as immersion. While at a young age, Garfield went to work for a farmer one summer. In the fall, he found himself in the middle of an argument on the subject of baptism:

James was digging potatoes in October, and putting them into the cellar. On going to the house with a load one day, he found a neighbor discussing the subject of baptism with his employer’s daughter. “Sprinkling is baptism,” James heard him say. “Immersion is no more. A drop of water is as good as a fountain.” “Sprinkling is not baptism, according to Alexander Campbell,” replied the young woman; “and I don’t see how it can be.” “I said, according to the Bible. I don’t care a fig for Alexander Campbell,” the neighbor rejoined. “That makes your position harder to support,” interrupted James, with the design of affording relief to the farmer’s daughter, whom he very much respected. “What do you know about it?” exclaimed the neighbor, somewhat annoyed at the boy’s interruption. “You know more about potatoes than the Scripters, according to my idee.” “You can’t prove that sprinkling is baptism, from the Bible,” added James. “That’s all you know about it,” retorted the man. “See here,” continued James, thinking he would surprise the disputant by his familiarity with the Scriptures; “how do you get along with this?” And he proceeded to quote from Hebrews: “Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” “There you see it says ‘sprinkled,'” interrupted the neighbor, quite elated. “But, hold on!” replied James; “wait, and hear the rest of it. You are in too big a hurry.” And James repeated the remainder of the text: “and our bodies washed with pure water.” He laid stress on the word “washed,” adding: “Now tell me, if you can, how you can wash your body in a drop of water.” Without waiting for a reply, he hurried away to the potato-patch. (William M. Thayer, From Log Cabin To The White House, pp. 180-182)

We must remember that the Bible is the final authority.  As James A. Garfield turned to the Scriptures in the above incident; so must we, in all things that pertain to life and godliness! (2 Peter 1:3).

Steve Miller

Religious Division

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Do different denominations have a scriptural right to wear names unauthorized by the Bible, teach different and conflicting doctrines, and promote unscriptural practices?

What is a denomination? It is a religious organization larger than the local church, smaller than the redeemed in the aggregate. Therefore, it comes in between separate and distinct from the church of the Bible at both ends of the line. How is the church used? It is either a local congregation or it embraces all Christians. Now a denomination stands between these, and, therefore, it is a thing unheard of and unknown in the Bible; and, I say it cautiously, respectfully and yet firmly (Hardeman’s Tabernacle Sermons Volume 1, 1922. pp. 226-227).

A religious body with a distinct name and doctrine which separates it from other religious bodies that does not claim to be the church as a whole but only a part of it, or section of the body of Christ.  We must be careful with using the terms “Undenominational” or “non-denominational” because they are are often used when “all denominational” is meant.

Denominationalism is unscriptural because:

It Opposes God’s Eternal Purpose and Plan to Redeem Man (Galatians 4:4).

It Destroys the Bible as the Sole Authority in Religious Matters (2 Peter 1:3).

It Creates Confusion, Making Jehovah Unreliable (1 Corinthians 14:33)

It Would Make Jesus A Hypocrite, Contradicting Himself (Matthew 15:7-9)

It Denies What the Bible Teaches About the Oneness of the Church (Ephesians 4:4)

It Makes the Lord’s Death Worthless (Acts 20:28)

Charles Hodge has reasoned:

Obviously God had a church in the Bible, the first century. Denominations of men (in error) came centuries later! So? Men made denominations. Then they came up with a definition as to what a denomination was. Then their definition is forced upon all. God’s church is rejected, put down, men’s denominations are promoted, glorified (Keynoter, 1996).

A man can do everything the Bible teaches him to do to be saved and never be a member of a denomination.  He has to do something in addition to or instead of what the Bible teaches to be a member of a denomination.  From Pentecost on no person in the Bible was ever saved outside of Christ’s church, and in the Bible no saved person was ever added by the Lord to any denomination.

 Steve Miller

“May I Speak to the Pastor?”

 

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It would be considered an unusual week for the church office not to receive a call from someone asking to speak to a “pastor.”  The titles of “reverend” and “pastor” are liberally applied when someone speaks to a preacher.  What’s the problem?  Most people seem to believe that they are showing respect to those who minister on a full-time basis.  Is it being too critical to call attention to the fact that the terms “reverend” and “pastor” are misused and misapplied?  “But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call not your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:8-10).  Jesus answers the question!  Where is the New Testament passage authorizing use of the term “reverend?”  We should be interested in calling Bible things by Bible names and that includes using the appropriate, scriptural designations.

Our study briefly focuses on three passages of scripture.  “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28, NASB).  “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:  shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly” (1 Peter 5:1-2, ESV).

A word study on the term pastor:  W.E. Vine:  “a shepherd, one who tends herds or flocks (not merely one who feeds them), is used metaphorically of Christian ‘pastors,’ Ephesians 4:11.  Pastors guide as well as feed the flock; Acts 20:28, which, with verse 17, indicates that this was the service committed to elders (overseers or bishops); so also in 1 Peter 5:1, 2, ‘tend the flock…exercising the oversight,’ this involves tender care and vigilant superintendence” (P. 167).   The noun poimen (pastor) has a corresponding verb, poimaino (feed)in Acts 20:28). “The verb means “to feed, to tend a flock, keep sheep” (Thayer, p. 527). The one who does the work of feeding/shepherding is a poimen (i.e., the one who does the work of shepherding is a shepherd or pastor).  Who is it that does the work of “shepherding the flock?   The shepherds or overseers in the local congregation of the church of Christ.

J. W. McGarvey addressed the misunderstanding back in 1870.

“The evidence that this term designates the overseers or elders is conclusive and may be briefly stated. The Greek term for shepherd is poimeen, and the verb poimaino means to do the work of a shepherd. Now, he to whom this verb applies is a shepherd, just as he who sows is a sower, he who reaps is a reaper, he who speaks is a speaker, he who sings is a singer, etc.,etc. But Paul exhorts the overseers in Ephesus “to be shepherds to the church” Acts 20:28, and Peter exhorts the elders of the churches to which he writes, “Be shepherds to the flock of God which is among you, and promises that when the ‘chief Shepherd’ shall appear, they shall receive a crown of glory. They then, were shepherds and Christ the Chief Shepherd.”

“The term pastor, the Latin for shepherd, has come into common use from the influence of the Latin version of the Scriptures. There is one all-sufficient reason for preferring our own Anglo-Saxon term ‘shepherd’. It is found in the fact that ‘pastor’ has become perverted by sectarian usage, and designates in popular phraseology, an entirely different office from the one to whom it is applied in the Scriptures. It has become a synonym for a settled preacher, and is often used for the purpose of distinguishing the preacher from those who are scripturally called the ‘pastors’ of the church. It will perhaps be impossible to recover the term from this abuse, and therefore, it is better to throw it away.

Another good reason for preferring ‘shepherd’ is, that its primary meaning is familiar to the most illiterate reader, and the metaphor by which the overseer is thus styled is perfectly intelligible to every one; whereas, the term ‘pastor’ is known to the masses only in its appropriated sense (A Treatise On The Eldership).

It is one thing for individuals who are ignorant or indifferent of the teaching of the scriptures on the meanings of words as meant to be used by God to call a preacher “reverend” or “pastor” and quite another when members of the church who have been Christians for years to utter these titles!

Steve Miller

A Dark Day for America, January 22, 1973

Abortion is the planned, deliberate destruction of a human life while yet in the womb.  “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13) has been a principle of every age.  Proverbs 6:17 reminds us that God hates “hands that shed innocent blood.”  This is a God issue that has been politicized and tragically viewed as nothing more than an election topic.  Because of the Supreme Court of the United States ruling on January 22, 1973, over 50 million unborn children have been slaughtered in this country.  Tragically, our President has been heralded as the most pro-abortion President ever. It should be no surprise to realize that God will not bless a nation that practices and promotes abominations.  The discussion rages as people try to distinguish between the fetus and baby; between prenatal and postnatal life. Remember, our language is not in harmony with Bible language. The fetus is used in our society so as to deny that the unborn has life or is a baby. In Luke 1:41, it is said that John the Baptist as a “babe leaped in her womb.” The word “babe” in the original means “an unborn child, embryo, fetus; a newborn child, an infant, a babe.” – (Thayer. p.105).  This word is also used in Luke 2:12 to refer to the Christ child in a manger.

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HUMAN BEINGS DO NOT HAVE SOVEREIGNTY OVER OUR BODY.  A woman may say, “It’s my body and I will do as I please with it.” But such is not the case. In the first place, it’s not her body that is being destroyed in an abortion. It’s someone else’s body. God said in Ezekiel 18:4, “All souls are mine”; soul being used for the total person. No, we do not have control over our bodies. We belong to God. As Creator, He must have the final say over our body. We must recognize His ultimate authority and power.

CONCEPTION IS A GIFT FROM GOD.  Notice the following two scriptures: Genesis 4:1: “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.” Psalm 127:3: “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” According to Scripture, children do not just happen. God is involved in the process. They are His gift. Children are evidence that God condescended to spend personal thought and intimate attention with that one family. Can we afford to despise that which is evidence of His intimate thought and care?

GOD IS INVOLVED IN THE CHILD’S DEVELOPMENT.  If God is involved directly with the development of the child in the womb, who would dare to presume to interfere with the wondrous work He is performing? “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:13-16).  How awesome is this thought; God is busy in the womb, using skilled craftsmanship to design a great living work.

A CHILD IN THE WOMB IS A PERSON.  The real issue to a Christian is what God reveals about the child in Scripture. How does God view that which is in the womb? Notice the following:  “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139: 13). David thought that what was in the womb was himself. David was covered in his mother’s womb. It did not become David at birth or right before birth. While the inward parts were being formed, David acknowledged that it was him. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou calmest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations”(Jeremiah 1:5). Yes, it was Jeremiah in the womb. What is in the womb is a human being; a person in the sight of God.

Action Items: Be compassionate. Promote and support pro-life organizations. Vote.  Pray.  “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

Steve Miller

You Haven’t Got A Prayer!

imagesAre You Sure You’re a Christian? “You need to do five things to become a part of God’s family. If you haven’t already done this, I urge you; if you’re sincerely ready; to do them now: 1. Admit your spiritual need. “I am a sinner.” 2. Repent. Be willing to turn from your sin and, with God’s help, start living to please Him. 3. Believe that Jesus Christ died for you on the cross and rose again. 4. Receive, through prayer, Jesus Christ into your heart and live. Pray something like this from the sincerity of your heart: Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe You died for my sins and then rose from the grave. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and life. I receive You as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank you for saving me. Amen. 5. Then tell a believing friend and a pastor about your commitment (Seven Promises Of A Promise Keeper, p. 10).

Compare this example of the false doctrine of the sinner’s prayer with what the Bible teaches, regarding how one becomes a New Testament Christian (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:1-47; 8:4-12; 8:26-39; 9:1-22; 22:12-16; 10:30-48; 16:11-15; 16:19-34; 18:5-8; 19:1-7).

If a sinner could pray only, and receive salvation, then consider the following biblical data concerning this view!  For what should the sinner pray?

Not for Christ to come unto him – Matthew 11:28

Not for God to love him – John 3:16

Not for light – Psalm 119:130

Not for understanding – Psalm 119:130

Not for the Spirit – John 14:16-17

Not for God to be reconciled to Him – 2 Corinthians 5:20

Not for grace – Titus 2:11

Not for pardon – Isaiah 55:7

Not for faith – Romans 10:17

Not for salvation – Acts 11:14

Not for the new birth – 1 Peter 1:22-23

Not for God to purify their hearts – Acts 15:9

Not for freedom from sin – Romans 6:17

Not for God to purify their soul – 1 Peter 1:22

Not for God to send saving power – Romans 1:16

Not for religion – James 1:27

Not for God to accept him – Acts 10:35

Not for remission of sins – Acts 2:38

Not to be made clean – John 15:3

Not for repentance – Acts 17:30

Not for mercy – Proverbs 28:13

Not for God to be willing to save him – 2 Peter 3:9

Not for sanctification – John 17:17

Not for conversion – Psalm 19:7

The sinner’s approach to God must be in humble obedience (belief + baptism) to the Master’s Will.

Steve Miller