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Why Have Denominations?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by bmerr, Apr 30, 2005.

  1. Eric B

    Eric B Active Member
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    You could use some help with the Bible, because you can't stop reading your own arguments into it. Perfect example, next.
    So now, they "state". At first, you admit that it is silent, but then silence is supposed to be prohibitive. From this, we get a definite statement, after all! Amazing!
    Now, it's about "silence" again! This argument shifts back and forth. Do you really "just want the truth of the new testament"; or are you just looking for some reason to one-up everyone else?
    This is being discussed in the Baptism thread. You say you do not teach this, but then question "which command can you ignore and still please God?" The obvious answer is none. So the point is; who can be saved? (We agree, "none", but since we all still do anyway, any salvation is based on God's grace, not our works). This does not even get into the issue where one must be baptized, and into the Church of Christ, in order to be saved!
     
  2. Frank

    Frank New Member

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    Eric:

    The new testament is specific as to the act of singing. A specified act eliminates a general act. The five points make it clear that singing is specified. Therefore, it eliminates any general act. It is called implication or necessary inference, which is one of the three ways language works. For example, I ask my daughter to go to the store and buy skim milk and whole wheat bread. She would not buy white bread or whole milk. Why? The specific words of the instruction prohibit the purchase of the second items.
    Your claim of inconsistent argumentation on my part is unsubstantiated. Once again, it is a misunderstanding about the way language works.

    Have you found the new testament scripture that specifies playing? Let me help you with the answer to the question. It is found in Book 000, Chapter 000, Verse 000.
     
  3. Frank

    Frank New Member

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    DHK:
    I have not read much about J.W. McGarvey. I have read one of his books about the geography of the land of the middle east in particular Jerusalem.
    I have no clue as to which argument you are mentioning.
     
  4. Frank

    Frank New Member

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    Eric:
    quote:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I have never taught that someone must do so many good works to earn heaven. This is not a biblical. Therefore, I do not teach it. However, for those who do not believe they are essential I would ask, which command can you ignore and please God?
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This was directed to Charles. He made a statement about the church to which I responded.

    Quote
    This is being discussed in the Baptism thread. You say you do not teach this, but then question "which command can you ignore and still please God?" The obvious answer is none. So the point is; who can be saved? (We agree, "none", but since we all still do anyway, any salvation is based on God's grace, not our works). This does not even get into the issue where one must be baptized, and into the Church of Christ, in order to be saved!

    Eric,
    Jesus said he would judge every man according as his works shall be. Rev. 22:14-17. Paul affirms he will render to every man according to his deeds. Romans 2:9-11. Jesus rewards who faithfully work in his name. Rev. 14:13.

    There is a difference between faithfulness and flawlessness. Zacharias and Elizabeth were blameless walking in ALL of the commandments of the Lord. Luke 1. They were faithful, not flawless. No one is espousing earning salvation. Biblical faith requires obedient active service to the commandments. Rev. 2:10; 22:14.
     
  5. DHK

    DHK <b>Moderator</b>

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    My mistake Frank. I believe it was mman that was referring to McGarvey, and posted from him quite a bit. So I looked up who he was. He was a man that had a large influence in the beginning of the COC movement. He is best known for his commentary on Acts. He also has some strong sermons against the use of instruments in the church. It is quite possible that the COC acquired their beliefs concerning musical instruments from this man's teaching in the mid-1800's. That is why I posted that portion of his sermon and the link to it. Hope that sheds some light on the subject.
    DHK
     
  6. Eric B

    Eric B Active Member
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    All you've done is substitute another physical example like the ones I just answered regarding tribes of Israel or types of wood. So now it's "types" of milk and bread. She could either get one kind instead of the other, or she could get both kinds of each. The one case; you are not getting what you asked for at all. The other case, you do get what you wanted, but if she has no reason to get the other types, it would be a waste. But once again, these are physical things. Singing and playing are not the same. So it doesn't have to be "specified", as if it were EITHER/OR, and they couldn't exist in the same space-time together. (Plus, if she was given liberty to get her own milk and bread, then it would not violate the order at all). Once again, your analogies just don't match up!
    People without Christ are judged according to their works. People with Christ are saved by grace through faith alone, and rewarded (or rewards "burned up") according to their works. This is what people pushing "works" have universally missed.
    And being not "flawless" must mean that they were missing in some of the commandments. Any label of "Faithful" must have been "counted to them" because of their "faith" (Gal.3:6--note; v.5, "hearing of faith"; not "works of faith"!). That's all we are arguing. Else, then, there has to be a "cutoff" point; a number of works where if you fall below that, you are not "faithful", or your service not "active" as you call it. It is either all or nothing with God, and "faithfulness" can only be counted to us by faith, not by amounts of works. Just admit it begins with faith.
     
  7. Frank

    Frank New Member

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    DHK:
    No problem. I have not read McGarvey's commentary. However, the beliefs about instrumental music are based on the clear teaching of the new testament.
    The scriptures make it clear by specificity that verbal communication is the accepted practice in worship to God. I have posted all the evidence from the scriptures about this subject. I have made five points that demonstrate that acapella singing is and was the accepted practice. I realize many so not like it. Conversely, many use mechanical instruments just because they like them, not for biblical reasons.

    I am not bashing any one particular group for their use of them. However, it is a historical truth they were not used in new testament worship for over five hundred years. It is also obvious they were not used because of the lack of biblical support from the new testament.

    The Catholics began the practice of instrumentation against the will of many of their followers. In fact, the rebellion against the practice was so vehement the practice ceased for approximately 50 years. The time frame would be 600- 700 A.D.

    I enjoy mechanical instruments. I just do not like them in worship to God. Mat. 26:30, Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16, I Cor. 14:15, Romans 15:9, Acts 16:25,26, Hebrews 2:12.
     
  8. Frank

    Frank New Member

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    Eric:
    Quote/
    All you've done is substitute another physical example like the ones I just answered regarding tribes of Israel or types of wood. So now it's "types" of milk and bread. She could either get one kind instead of the other, or she could get both kinds of each. The one case; you are not getting what you asked for at all. The other case, you do get what you wanted, but if she has no reason to get the other types, it would be a waste. But once again, these are physical things. Singing and playing are not the same. So it doesn't have to be "specified", as if it were EITHER/OR, and they couldn't exist in the same space-time together. (Plus, if she was given liberty to get her own milk and bread, then it would not violate the order at all). Once again, your analogies just don't match up!

    The eight scriptures that address this issue specify the act. Just becasue you do not like it does not make it untrue. By the way, have you found the verse that SPECIFIES PLAYING? I suppose no is the answer to this question. I already now why. You cannot answer because your argument is a ZERO.
    By the way, the five points I made from the text make it clear they do not and cannot exist together. Which new testament scripture specifies these simultaneous acts? Which scripture provides an example of these simultaneous acts? Which new testament scripture implies these simultaneous acts? The answer is NONE.
    Quote/
    People without Christ are judged according to their works. People with Christ are saved by grace through faith alone, and rewarded (or rewards "burned up") according to their works. This is what people pushing "works" have universally missed.

    This statement is not only unsubstantiated by scripture it is wrong. God is not repecter of persons. Romans 1, 2, II Cor. 5:10, Mat. 25:19-46. All men according, to the text, will be judged by their works. According to Rev. 14:13, our works do follow us.

    Quote/
    And being not "flawless" must mean that they were missing in some of the commandments. Any label of "Faithful" must have been "counted to them" because of their "faith" (Gal.3:6--note; v.5, "hearing of faith"; not "works of faith"!). That's all we are arguing. Else, then, there has to be a "cutoff" point; a number of works where if you fall below that, you are not "faithful", or your service not "active" as you call it. It is either all or nothing with God, and "faithfulness" can only be counted to us by faith, not by amounts of works. Just admit it begins with faith.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The text uses the action verb WALK and also the word ALL. They text teaches they were not missing any commandment. It must mean what it says, not what you want it to say. Biblical faith is always active. cf. James 2:17. You have constructed a false dichotomy. Faith and works go together. cf. 12:42-44. They are inclusive of one another, not exclusive.
     
  9. Eric B

    Eric B Active Member
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    So they MAKE IT CLEAR, now? How is that? You are putting all this burden on us to show where something is "specified"; but it for your statements to be true, the burden is on you to show where it is "forbidden". Remember, you are the one coming and reading a "statement" (let alone, a "clear" one, at that!) from pure silence! If you could show that it says "sing ONLY", or make the melody "in your hearts ONLY", then you would have a point. So your "specification" is just as ZERO 0:0 as mine! That means this is a ridiculous argument over nothing. Who started it? That's who the burden is on!
    And that's exactly what I said. "WE must all appear before the Judgment seat of Christ". This is not the Great White Throne. There is no damnation to Hell, or "salvation" from it here. Just receipt or loss of rewards for our works (service, obedience/disobedience, etc). Matt.25 is addressing those (unbelievers) who receive or reject the apostles and their message of Christ: note v. 40 and 45. No Christian is saved or lost based on not giving to the poor enough (unbelievers have been having a field day using this passage to prove there are non-Christians who will "get to Heaven" before Christians because they are "more giving"!). Rom 1 is addressing unbelievers, of course, and ch.2 is clearly addressing (in the first verse) those who judge, over "the LAw" yet "doest the same things" (see also v.20-23). These are unbeliving Jews (v.17)amidst the Christians.

    This right here highlights the problem of your system. There is no distinction between believer and unbeliever! (for you to lump all of man in those passages, and not separate who is being described). Why have this "Christ's true Church" then, and call ourselves Christians? All are in the same boat before God; so just everyone/anyone do good works, and you will be saved!
    So you are just picking verses without even seeing what they are really talking about. That's how issues like this always come about.
    So they DID keep ALL of the commandments, then? But you said they were "not flawless"! So then, what was their "flaw"? A "flaw" would be SIN, and sin is trangression of the Law! The dichotomy is there! All have sinned (Rom.3:23), and continue to have sin (1 John 1:8). You cannot have it both ways.
     
  10. Frank

    Frank New Member

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    Eric:
    Faithfulness does not mean sinless perfection. All men sin. Romans 3:23. However, all men do not practice sin. I John 1:7. There is a difference.

    What part of sing do you not understand. It is the single act described as using words reciprocated by people. The burden of proof is for you to find one scripture that supports the use of instrumental music by singular or simultaneous act. This is your position, not mine. How can you hold a position and not provide evidence? Amazing! I provided eight for my position.

    All men will be judged by the same STANDARD. In John 12:48, JESUS said, He that rejecteth me and receiveth not my words hath one that judgeth him, the word that I have spoken the same shall judge him in the last day. Mat. 25 addresses the principle of faithful service. Faithful service is required by all who would be saved.cf. Mat. 7:21-24. Romans 1 and 2 place all men under condemnation whose sins are not forgiven.

    ALL men are amenable to the laws of Christ. I Cor. 9:27. Just because one is not a citizen of our country does not give them the right to break our laws without consequence. The same could be said for those who are not citizens of the kingdom of his dear Son. I Pet. 2:9, Col. 1:12,13.
     
  11. Eric B

    Eric B Active Member
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    Faithful service is what is rendered by those who believe. Those in Christ are not under the Law, so you cannot place them in the same constant danger of damnation as the unbelievers. This is God's "standard"! People who persistently "practice sin" ("walk in the darkness", etc) are questioned by most of us, also. But that does not give you the license to make one single work the determination of salvation, as that is what this discussion is really about. If you want to be that meticulous, then once again, ABSOLUTE PERFECTION is God's standard, and no "flaws" would be tolerated, and no one could be saved. If someone is not baptized, then the question is "why". Perhaps the church doesn't baptize until they go through the classes, and become a member. You say you would baptize on the spot (And I don't see how that is always possible!), but most other churches (incl. CofC, as the others here have not said they baptize on the spot) do not. Perhaps a person accepted Christ and couldn't find a Church to "join" right away (My case. It took me 10 years to find a church I trusted enough to be baptized into. And people will not always be convinced thet the CofC is the "true Chruch", and some of your particular doctines like this instruments issue. Salvation is in Christ, not in some questionable sect among hundreds of others all claiming to be the true church!) So do we deny them salvation? wouldn't this be at most a case of one of those "flaws" of the Christian otherwise "practicing faithful service"? You would apparently say no. But those scriptures you are citing do not support this.

    You have not even dealt with the point that "sing" and "play" are not physical SUBSTANCEs like wood, a tribe of Israel, meat or milk that can only occupy one place at one time. You just repeat your assertion, and proof-text references (that do not SAY anything near what you claim they are saying), and call that "evidence". Once again; YOU're the one coming with some argument from silence, not us, so YOU need the evidence; and I mean a clear prohibition; not your own speculation on what a particular act includes or excludes. We did not argue anything about instruments until certain groups like yours came around. (and the Reformers and others from centuries ago are not our standard either. We follow them on some issues, but they too are to be subject to scripture, and do not have the authority to read their own prohibitions into it).
    I can say that the references to "harps" in Revelation are evidences, but you'll just dismiss that as "allegorical" or "that's in Heaven, not now", but (contrary to piney's and others' teachings) the fact that it is used in such a positive light (even if it was allegorical) shows God does not "forbid" it. We never see idolatry, adultery or blasphemy used as symbols of good things! I don't think I've ever seen any of you respond to the point others have made, that the word used in Eph. means something to the effect of pluck an instrument. Even if you can explain that away; it is still an evidence.
     
  12. Frank

    Frank New Member

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    Eric:

    Your argument about instruments is dealt with by the meaning of the words in the context of the eight scriptures that deal with this isssue. You have not provided ONE VERSE THAT SUPPORTS YOUR ARGUMENT. ZERO! Your argument holds no water. There is no biblical evidence for your position, and for over five hundred years there is no historical evidence for the practice. DEAL WITH THIS! Prove your own position. I Thes. 5:21.

    You will not becausse you cannot. I do not represent a group coming around. However, the new testament is clear as the word clear could ever be clear. You just do not like it. If I had to try to prove your position with no evidence from scripture I would not like it. Your positon is impossible to prove. Faith comes from the word of God, not the absence of it. Romans 10:17.
    Quote/
    Faithful service is what is rendered by those who believe. Those in Christ are not under the Law, so you cannot place them in the same constant danger of damnation as the unbelievers.
    This statement is false. The bible says in I Cor. 9;21,  To them that are without law, as without law, (being NOT WITHOUT LAW TO GOD, but UNDER THE LAW TO CHRIST,) that I might gain them that are without law.! (caps, EMP.mine)
    Quote/
    But that does not give you the license to make one single work the determination of salvation, as that is what this discussion is really about

    Jesus said, in Revelation 22:12  And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his WORK shall be. Jesus disagrees with your statement.
    Jesus said, in Rev. 22:14  Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
    Question: Which commandment can you not keep and enter heaven? How do you know?

    Quote/
    If you want to be that meticulous, then once again, ABSOLUTE PERFECTION is God's standard, and no "flaws" would be tolerated, and no one could be saved. If someone is not baptized, then the question is "why". Perhaps the church doesn't baptize until they go through the classes, and become a member. You say you would baptize on the spot (And I don't see how that is always possible!), but most other churches (incl. CofC, as the others here have not said they baptize on the spot) do not.

    God requires faithfulness, not perfection. SEE HEBREWS 11. Read the whole chapter.

    The Bible teaches in Acts 8 and 16 men are baptized straightway. It is possible and should be done this way as per the new testament.
    Quote/
    And people will not always be convinced thet the CofC is the "true Chruch", and some of your particular doctines like this instruments issue. Salvation is in Christ, not in some questionable sect among hundreds of others all claiming to be the true church!) So do we deny them salvation? wouldn't this be at most a case of one of those "flaws" of the Christian otherwise "practicing faithful service"? You would apparently say no. But those scriptures you are citing do not support this.

    All men will not be saved. Mat. 25. All men will not be a part of the blood bought body of Christ. Acts 20: 27,28. Some will fall away. I Tim. 4:1-5: II Tim. 4:1-4, I Tim. 1:16-18. I have denied salvation to no one!! Knowing the terror of the Lord I persuade men to be saved. Some will; Some will not. Mat. 7:13,14. Jesus teaches the few will be saved , not the many.
     
  13. dean198

    dean198 Member

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    This is the arguement of the Eastern Orthodox proponents, who base their use of incense upon the example of the Book of Revelation. This book is prophetic imagery, not liturgy! Come on people!

    Dean
     
  14. Frank

    Frank New Member

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    Dean:
    I am familaiar with Revelation 14:2. Let's examine what it says. The bible says in Revelation 14:2  And I heard a voice from heaven, as the VOICE of many WATERS, and as the VOICE of a great THUNDER: and I heard the VOICE OF HARPERS harping with their harps:
    Dean, if it is literal. and it is not, note the following:

    1. The voice thunders, waters, harps. I do not know of any voice that does these things. Do you?

    2. If literal harps are in view, why were they not used in the new testament worship?

    3. If literal harps, why were they not authorized in the eight passages that teach us to sing? Did God forget to tell us?

    4. How does a literal harp speak to others with words that teach a spiritual meaning.

    5. When did a harp become a personal pronoun? Speaking to YOURSELVES, and YOU?

    I will say your statement about them (harps) being in heaven and not used on earth is correct. You are very perceptive about the context.
    I look forward to your response.
    Frank
     
  15. av1611jim

    av1611jim New Member

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    "I heard the voice of harpers, harping WITH their harps."

    Hmmm. Singing AND playing at the same time? How 'bout that? [​IMG] [​IMG]

    You CoC fellers really slay me. Speak where the Bible speaks and silent where the Bible's silent, (except when we don't like it).


    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    In HIS service;
    Jim
     
  16. Bro. James

    Bro. James Well-Known Member
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    Make a joyful noise unto the Lord--with whatever He has blessed you. Lots of noise and lots of applause can be heard--who is getting the glory?

    The Lord knows them that are His.

    Now let us discuss: the "efficacy"of Baptism.

    Sorry--the question on the floor is: Why have denominations?

    "The powers that be" have decreed: one must be Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or "other". NRP (no religious preference) is in there somewhere too. That includes everybody--except one: THE BRIDE OF CHRIST.

    "Denominations" is rendered to a basic fact: WHO started it? Jesus? or a man/woman?

    If you survive that paradigm, you are not in a denomination.

    Summary: One either belongs to the Assembly which Jesus is building or one does not. There is no middleground.

    Selah,

    Bro. James
     
  17. Eric B

    Eric B Active Member
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    I just DON'T BELIEVE THIS STATEMENT! You're whole argument is summed up in the word "ABSENCE", and you continue to call it "clear" and then accuse us of making an ARGUMENT from "absence". It is YOUR argument that is impossible to prove from scripture (proving is it a carnal "division" (see Rom.16:17, 1 Cor.1:10-12, 3:3, 11:18, Gal.5:20, 1 John 2:19) and NOT "of faith"; but I can't say you do not like it. Our flesh loves this sort of one-upmanship, as the Gal.5 passage shows!) And you haven't proven it; just reiterated it with 8 "proof texts" that DO NOT SAY IT, (along with the shifting sand of the "testimony" of Church history, which the Church of Christ rejects as not NT Christianity, anyway) yet you insist it is "clear"! You "deal with THIS"!
    Don't try to tell me what I like or don't like. either. I could care less about instruments in church. I really believe the Church should be a small fellowship, maybe without its own building (once again, that was never officially "authorized " in the NT either!), and there might not be instruments. The music has often become entertainment.
    It's you who are trying to come and "corner" us like in a trial, as I told a couple of sabbathkeepers awhile ago. That's all these issues are about.
    Ripping a snippet of a passage, that doesn;lt say what you're saying. The "law of Christ" is not the old "law of sin and death", by which we depend on our own works, being desinted to fail.
    That's right; which one can we not keep? Which one do you not keep, just like the rest of us? Who then can be saved? Yet, you keep repeating:
    So it's just that one work that saves, then we can slide a little, but still be considered "faithful". Once again, just like any nominal Catholic. But it's this whole idea of "which commandment can we not keep? None", that you substantiate this claim about baptism on. Yet, once you are past that, then "it's not perfection" anymore! YOu are just playing both sides of the fence when as it is convenient for you. Either we are "under tha Law" and thus cursed if we "continue not in EVERYTHING" (Gal.4:10--absolute perfection), or we have "faith" which is "counted to us for righteousness" or "faithfulness"(Rom.4:3,5), and THEN "worked out" (Phil.2:12), out of love (1 John 4:18, 5:2,3)
    Who suggested all will be saved? We're talking about how one is saved.
    You both have missed the point. We were talking about "EVIDENCE" that instruments were not "PROHIBITED". The fact that theyu could even be used in such a positive light shows that that is not so. Incense was specifically associated with SACRIFICE rituals (Rev. CLEARLY tells us, that the "incense" now IS our prayers (5:8). No such association is ever made with instruments.
     
  18. Frank

    Frank New Member

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    Jim:
    The verse uses the harp as a metaphor. Please note the use of the word as and the coordinating conjunction and. Imagine an english speaking person not understanding the word use for his natve tongue. LOL!

    By the way, when you get to heaven, you will not find a harp or any instrument as heaven is a spiritual place where spirt beings reside. Phil. 3:20,21, I Cor. 15:50.The former things will have passed away. II Pet. 3:9,10.

    The harp in heaven is the voice of those singing the new song of Moses and the Lamb. It is a metaphor for our spiritual praise to God. It has nothing to do with a literal harp.
     
  19. Frank

    Frank New Member

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    Eric:
    Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17. Please post one scripture that teaches us to sing-play in worship as per the new testament. Is that to much ot ask from someone who argues for them.
     
  20. Frank

    Frank New Member

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    Eric:

    It will be the contention of this article that both the Old and New Testament amply demonstrate that one is not allowed to engage in any religious practice for which there is not scriptural authority (either in a generic or specific format).
    Old Testament Evidence
    1. The difference between Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam, was the difference between respecting what Jehovah had authorized, and what he had not. Cain offered the produce of the field; Abel offered the firstlings of his flock (Gen. 4:3-4).
    The latter act was “by faith” (Heb. 11:4) - which comes by hearing what the Lord has spoken (Rom. 10:17) - not what he has left unspoken! The former act was obviously of human inclination, and so Cain was rejected by the Creator. Not all “Cains” have passed from earth’s scenes!
    2. Similarly, when Noah constructed the ark, he did so “by faith” (Heb. 11:7), which means the patriarch did “according to all that God commanded him” (Gen. 6:22), or, as the NIV renders the clause: “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”
    Though the question is frequently ridiculed these days - when authority is held in contempt - it is still appropriate to ask: Would Noah have been preserved if he had acted upon the presumption that “whatever is not forbidden is allowed,” and so had altered the divine pattern for the building of the ark?
    3. Nadab and Abihu were sons of Aaron, the first Hebrew high priest. When they employed “strange fire,” i.e., fire not taken from the altar of sacrifice (cf. Lev. 16:12), they were destroyed by God. What was their crime? The inspired text states that they offered “that which [God] had not commanded them” (Lev. 10:1), or, to express it in another way: “[T]hey offered unauthorized fire before the Lord".
    4. One of the sacred items of the tabernacle system was the ark of the covenant. The Mosaic law specified: “Jehovah set aside the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant” (Deut. 10:8). The Levites were thus authorized to carry the ark. There was no specific prohibition regarding the other tribes; the law was simply silent as to their privilege of transporting the holy vessel.
    Was that silence prohibitive? Yes it was, for a parallel passage explicitly states: “None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites, for them Jehovah has chosen to carry the ark . . .” (1 Chron. 15:2). When the Levites were specifically authorized to bear the ark, in the absence of supplementary authority, that clearly implied that “none else” should function in that capacity. Silence excluded!
    Furthermore, the Levites were to bear that ark by poles, which were passed through rings on the side of the golden box (Ex. 25:12-14). David, however, had borne the ark on a “new cart” (2 Sam. 6:3). Was such a sin, inasmuch as the law was silent respecting the matter of carts? Israel’s great king clarified this matter when he later confessed: “. . . we sought [God] not according to the ordinance” (1 Chron. 15:13), or, “in the prescribed way” (NIV).
    One is not at liberty to go beyond what has been “prescribed” in a religious practice, any more than a pharmacist is allowed to add more to your medicine than what the physician prescribed!
    5. The very first commandment of the Decalogue stated: “I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:2-3). Of course the nation of Israel egregiously violated that prohibition across the centuries.
    There is an interesting commentary on this matter in the book of Jeremiah. God’s prophet was instructed to stand in the gate of the temple compound and urge the nation to: “Amend your ways” (Jer. 7:3). What was their transgression? Among other things:
    “[T]hey have built the high places [centers of idol worship] of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded not, neither came it into my mind” (Jer. 7:31).
    A comparison of this passage, with the original law forbidding idolatry, plainly shows that a practice which the Lord has not commanded is equivalent to an explicit prohibition. The Bible is its own best commentary!
    New Testament Evidence
    The New Testament record is equally lucid with reference to our obligation to acknowledge the principle of biblical silence.
    1. In his first letter to the Christians at Corinth, Paul addresses the problem of attaching oneself to a church leader and forming a sect around that individual. The apostle condemns the practice by the use of some rhetorical questions: “Is Christ divided?”, etc. (1 Cor. 1:12-13).
    Later, he apparently alludes to the issue again when he says:
    “Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written . . .” (1 Cor. 4:6 - ASV).
    The reference to “myself” and “Apollos” is “a veiled allusion to those who were actually responsible for the church factions, tactfully withholding their names . . .” (W. E. Vine, 1st Corinthians, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1951, p. 61). When one goes “beyond the things that are written,” he has entered the realm of silence. And the inspired apostle says that one must learn not to do that.
    2. In Paul’s letter to the saints at Colossae, he condemned the practice of “will worship,” a disposition which is “after the precepts and doctrines of men” (Col. 2:22-23). W. E. Vine defines “will-worship” as “voluntarily adopted worship, whether unbidden or forbidden” (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Westwood, NJ: Fleming Revell Co., 1962, Vol. IV, p. 236).
    We have no difficulty in understanding what it means to do that which is “forbidden.” But what does it mean to do that which is “unbidden” - if it is not doing that about which the Bible is silent?
    Noted lexicographer J. H. Thayer described “will-worship” as “worship which one devises and prescribes for himself . . .” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1958, p. 168).
    Everett Harrison commented that “will-worship” is that which “is not prescribed by God but only by (the will of) man” (Colossians: Christ All-Sufficient, Chicago: Moody Press, 1971, p. 72).
    Here is the issue: If one may, with divine approval, operate in the realm of silence, why can’t he “devise and prescribe for himself” whatever pleases him? And yet, it is this very thing that is censured.
    3. In the opening chapter of Hebrews, the inspired author argued for the superiority of Jesus Christ over the angels. One of his points was this: One may not place angels in the same class as God’s Son. Why not? Because the Father never “at any time” said to an angelic being: “You are my Son” (1:5).
    The principle is this: When God is silent about a matter, humanity has no right to be presumptive, and thus to speak (or to act) without his bidding.
    4. One of the most powerful arguments setting forth the “silence” principle is found in Hebrews 7-8. In 8:4, it is affirmed that Jesus Christ, if on earth, could not function as a priest. And why was that the case? Because, as indicated in 7:14, the Lord Jesus was from the tribe of Judah (not Levi). Here is the crux of the matter. Concerning priests from the tribe of Judah, “Moses spake nothing,” or, to say the same thing in another way: He was silent about it!
    Silence amounts to no authority, and is thus prohibitive. One scholar expresses it in this fashion:
    “It was from the tribe of Judah that our great High Priest descended. The Mosaic legislation never authorized anyone from that tribe to be a priest” (William McDonald, The Epistle to the Hebrews, Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1971, p. 102).
    Or note the comment of the renowned scholar John Owen, in his monumental seven-volume set of commentaries on the book of Hebrews:
    “And this silence of Moses in this matter the apostle takes to be a sufficient argument to prove that the legal priesthood did not belong, nor could be transferred, unto the tribe of Judah”(An Exposition on the Epistle to the Hebrews, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, Vol. V, p. 442).
    Could a matter be clearer? This argument has never been answered by those who ridicule the “silence-is-prohibitive” concept.
    5. An inspired apostle wrote:
    “Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9).
    There is an objective body of truth designated “the teaching of Christ.” To step beyond it - either into that which is specifically forbidden, or into the unauthorized realm of “silence” - is to transgress the will of God.
    There has been considerable technical discussion over the grammar of this passage. Some have contended that the verse addresses only the nature of Jesus, but not peripheral matters of doctrine. The fact is, one of the most ludicrous positions that one can entertain is to allege that one must accept the New Testament teaching about Christ, but he may, with impunity, ignore the instruction that is from the Lord!
    The “silence” principle is quite valid, and a repudiation of it leads to abject apostasy.
    The Consequences of Rejecting the “Silence” Principle
    We must at least give brief attention to the logical consequences that attach to rejecting the “silence” concept. Once one abandons this principle, “anything goes” becomes the name of the game. One of the leading digressive voices of today argued this very point:
    “If it were the case that anything not expressly forbidden in the New Testament is permissible in the Christian religion, then we could not only use pianos to accompany our singing but beads to aid our prayers, crucifixes to focus our devotion, and hashish to enhance our sensitivity. We could also initiate an organizational network similar to that which has been protested so strongly in Catholicism or begin financing church projects with bingo games (where legal) on Tuesday evenings. Not one of these things is explicitly forbidden in the New Testament, and no one who denies the legitimacy of the authority principle as outlined above can consistently argue against any of them” (Rubel Shelly, Sing His Praise! A Case For A Capella Music as Worship Today, Nashville, 20th Century Christian, 1987, pp. 33-34).
    A Recent Twist
    We conclude this study by citing a recent “twist” to the “silence” controversy that, quite frankly, we have yet to decipher. In April of 1988, Alan E. Highers and Given O. Blakely (of the Independent Christian Church) debated the instrumental music issue in Neosho, Missouri. In that encounter, Blakely broke new ground in that he contended that “authority” is wholly irrelevant to the issue of worship. Our friend utterly rejects the “silence” principle. Amazingly, though, in the July, 1996 issue of Banner of Truth, the gentleman wrote these words:
    “God’s silence is not a governing factor in matters pertaining to life and godliness. The whole idea of ‘silence,’ as those of the anti-instrumentalist position have used the term, requires the interpretation of fallible men. If God did not say it, then how can we be sure that men have said what He meant, but did not say? How dare mortal men to take upon themselves to thus unauthorizedly speak for God?".
    If I understand the point being made, it is this: It is not legitimate to use the “silence” argument because God has been silent regarding the “silence” argument, and if God is silent with reference to the “silence” argument, then the “silence” argument is unauthorized, hence is improper as an argumentative device.
    There are two things that may be said in response. First, as we have demonstrated already, God has not been silent regarding the “silence” principle.
    Second, in view of Blakely’s reasoning - if God has not said it, it is unauthorized - why is it not the case that the employment of instrumental music in Christian worship is improper, inasmuch as the New Testament is silent concerning its use, and thus it is unauthorized?
    Conclusion
    There is but one hope of maintaining the purity of Christianity, as that system existed under the leadership of inspired apostles. We must plead that men remain within the guidelines of New Testament authority. That can be done only when the principle of the “silence” of the Scriptures is revered. Wayne Jackson, Christian Courier.Com
     
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