Wednesday, August 31, 2016



The teachings of the Scriptures covering the relation of believers to litigation set forth two spheres in which lawsuits may occur: among believers, and with unbelievers (1 Cor. 6:1-11; Matt. 5:40). In each case the proper response and obligation of believers is set forth. The instruction covering lawsuits among believers will be treated first, for it is the longer and clearer of the two passages. And the teaching covering lawsuits with unbelievers will follow.

(1 Cor. 6:1-11)

This is by far the longer of the two passages dealing with lawsuits, and it is by far the clearer. It is specifically directed to Christian people, and therefore its proper application is clear.

1.  All courts for deliberate wrong are absolutely forbidden to Christians initiating wrong (1 Cor. 6:8-11). "Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren" (vs. 8). This is a charge brought against the Corinthian believers to the effect that they were guilty of perpetrating sin, and were actually engaged in robbing their brethren. The courts of the world simply provided a successful way of stealing from brethren what did not belong to them. And the nice thing for them was that the courts of the land not only provided the way but also placed the seal of approval upon it. But it was deliberate sin nevertheless, and sin against brethren in Christ. Against this the apostle delivers a terrible blast. . . .

2.  Worldly courts for rectifying wrong are absolutely forbidden innocent Christians seeking redress for grievance (1 Cor. 6:1-3). "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?" (vs. 1). To the apostle the taking of issues between saints before worldly courts was a case of the most daring disrespect. It was inappropriate, out of order, a topsy-turvy move, if there ever was one. . . . In the plans of God He has exalted the church to the place of occupying the highest court in the universe and judging the world. If God has deemed the church worthy for that task, then surely the church is worthy to judge in small matters which pertain to this life. . . . How absolutely indiscriminate and inconsistent the church has become. How inexpressibly and inexcusably low the church has fallen to place herself below the world.

3.  Church courts are the only human resort for innocent Christians seeking compensation for grievance (1 Cor. 6:4-7). . . . This passage certainly makes it clear that there are wrongs which need redress within the church. And it is right that these wrongs should be made right. But there is one place for this to be done, and that is within the church. . . . But in case the last extremity of the church is exhausted and there is still no reimbursement for great wrong, what then? The answer of the apostle is-this, "Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?" (vs. 7). One must then leave the whole matter to the Lord.

(Matt. 5:39, 40)

It has been suggested by some that when it is impossible to get an honorable hearing before the church, or believers guilty of sin are unwilling to hear the church, that on the basis of Matthew 18:17 they may be treated as heathen and publicans, meaning action may be taken against them in the courts of the world. This may be true, but the reader is urged to consider carefully the teaching of Matthew 5:39, 40 before drawing his conclusion. As nearly as the writer has been able to determine, believers are commanded to do the following things, according to this passage.

1.  Believers are commanded to resist not unbelievers who make use of the courts against them (Matt. 5:39, R. V.). The passage reads, "But I say unto you. Resist not him that is evil." And this is followed with several matters where nonresistance should characterize the believer's conduct, among which is the matter of litigation (vs. 40). While it is difficult to settle on the meaning of the phrase "him that is evil," it seems best to conclude that this means more than a believer who does evil. The words "whosoever" (vs. 39), "any man" (vs. 40), and "whosoever" (vs. 40), suggest that this reaches far out beyond the Christian community to include believer and unbeliever alike. . . .

2.  Believers are commanded not to seek amends when they suffer the loss of property (Matt. 5:40, R. V.). "And if any man would go to law with thee, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also." The implication of the passage goes on from that of non-resistance to relinquishing the property for which suit is being made. Behind this there must not only be the command to refuse civil authority as a means of rectification, but also the promise of the Lord with that command. "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written. Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord" (Rom. 12:19). . . .

3.  Believers are commanded to demonstrate righteousness which exceeds the mere justice of the law (Matt. 5:40b, R. V.). In this passage Christ says, "Let him have thy cloak also." The coat for which the man is suing is an inner vestment with more or less value to the man who owns it. But the cloak was an outer mantle, a garment that was thrown over all the clothing and often, was very costly. This outer mantle might best be used by others to some advantage, but not so with the inner garment. However, when one sues for the garment of less value, not only should the believer resist not, not only seek no return of the coat, but far and away in response demonstrate a righteousness that will utterly amaze the unbeliever, by voluntarily offering to him his outer and more costly mantle. This will be heaping coals of fire on the head of the enemy to the end that one might "overcome evil with good" (Rom. 12:20, 21).

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


The Course of Government Today:
How Should the Christian View It?

The consummation of the age must be upon us, for today there is "upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity ; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming upon the earth" (Luke 21:25-26). But whether the consummation of the age is upon us, or not, we are nevertheless seeing the world plunge with vicious rapidity into a seething, boiling, political Maelstrom which will ultimately engulf the entire world, and hasten the end of the age. And as the Christian views the governments of the world in their mad rush for power and prestige, he is compelled to consider them in relation to the plan of God, and in relation to his own personal responsibility. With this in mind, let us search out the mind of God in this matter.

In the first place, God presents the NATURE of world government under the figure of wild beasts. "And four great beasts came up from the sea .... The first was like a lion ... a second like a bear ... another like a leopard ... and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible" (Dan. 7:1­7). And while these four beasts, here mentioned, represent four specific world governments, it is worth noting that the nature of each is like that of a beast, which establishes the fact that the nature of all world government is bestial in the eyes of God.

Moreover, it is the wild, ferocious, undomesticated beasts of the jungles that are used to represent world government. Such beasts have been termed wild because they are willful, moved by their own selfish and vicious appetites. And what could more properly depict the greed and self-will among nations today, as they look with covetous eyes upon the territory and possessions of others. This willfulness produces lawlessness and the failure to control these covetous passions, and hence treaties and agreements become mere scraps of paper. With eyes of passion upon coveted things, and bound by no law except the law of their own desire, the nations like beasts break into violence of the most fierce and character to attain their ends. Is it any wonder, that such beasts, under which figure world government has been placed, are described as undomesticated animals which contribute nothing of real and lasting benefit to society?

With these things in mind we should be reminded that the nature of wild beasts never changes. Animal trainers, whose years of experience with these beasts of the jungle have taught them some things, will testify that wild beasts are never tamed or changed. They are trained, but the nature remains the same, and may at any moment break out in all of its wild ferocity. And so it is with the nations, for their underlying nature remains the same. And though there may be periods of apparent peacefulness and docility, it should never be forgotten that underneath there is that wild, untamed, lawless spirit belonging to this world, which at the moment least expected, will break forth with savage onslaught upon people and nations of any sprawl. Nor will there ever be at time that the nations of the world will be safe until men are all regenerated and the Lord Himself sets up His own kingdom in the earth.

In the second place, the CREEDS of government are the creations of the nations which they possess. In that connection it was the Psalmist who said: "Why do the heathen rage and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed" (Psa. 2:1-2). And since it is out of the heart that evil thoughts proceed, the Psalmist is here making note of the fact that the people are imagining a vain thing and the rulers are taking counsel against the Lord and His Christ, all of which are the fruits of unregenerate, savage nature.

Keeping in mind the fact that a nature produces a creed like the nature, let us analyze some of the creeds of world governments today. Since the very essence of the nature of wild beasts is selfishness, we may expect to find that the root of the creed of every world government includes this and in some way provides for its political expression. Moreover, we may further expect to find that this selfishness will in some way manifest its hatred of the Lord and His Christ, just as the Psalmist declared.

Among world governments today that take prominence in our thinking, there are Russia, Germany, and Italy, Japan and some few others, each possessing a political creed that properly represents their nature, and provides the basis for their political operations. For instance, in Russia the political creed is communism, the very heart of which is an attack upon God, the plan being to spread atheism over the entire earth. In Germany the creed is Nazism, which holds that Germany is for Germans and the pagan faith. Hence, away with Jews and the Jewish Bible. Thus it can be easily seen that this too is ultimately against the Lord and His Christ. Then in Italy the Creed is Fascism which likewise holds that Italy is for the Italians, but even more than that,—the world is for the Italians, therefore a greater Italy. Anyone can see that this creed too is without regard for God. It need hardly be said here that Shintoism, which is the religious as well as the political creed of Japan, is pagan and sees only the selfish expansion of Japan beyond her own borders. Then it may also be said that what is true of the creeds of these nations is likewise true of all nations.

This leads the Christian to wonder what may happen in the government of the United States. And in answer to this, one should be reminded that our government is just another one of the governments of this world, and like all the rest possesses a beast-like nature. While up to the present the beast has shown a peaceful disposition, and of late there has been manifestations that the wild, untamed nature in her, and when we least expect it, it will break forth with complete, savage violence. The Christianity of the founders has been utterly denied and God has been replaced with the desires of the human flesh and a fast movement in the direction of unbelief. And it can only be expected that sooner or later the savage, unregenerate nature which it possesses will show itself with law utterly abandoned being misused.

It need only be said here in passing that nature and creed form the two sources from which the wild, uncontrolled, savage violence of the nations proceed. The nature supplies the moral source, and creed supplies the intellectual source of political operations. And just as we have seen persecution of the faith and the faithful proceeding from these two sources in other lands, and now we see such is the experience in this land of ours. In view of these things, what is the responsibility of the Christian?

In the last place, let us note the RELATION of the Christian to world governments as set forth in the word of God.

First, there are some facts concerning world government which the Christian should recognize. He should recognize that world government belongs to an order which is evil, for the apostle John says: "For all that is in the world ... is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 John 2:16). He should also recognize that world government belongs to a passing order. Here again John says: "And the world passes away and the lust thereof” (1 John 2: 17). And yet again, he should recognize that world government shall come into a period of judgment into which the Christian shall never come, for the promise is to the Christian that "because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth" (Rev. 3:10).

Second, in view of these facts, there is a certain responsibility that rests upon every Christian. In the first place, since world governments belong to an evil order, the Christian should "Love not the world, neither the things in the world" (1 John 2:15). For in loving the world or anything in the world is an evidence that such a Christian is merely a professed Christian. And how important it is at the present time for every Christian to realize that his love should not be set upon any form of government. With government everywhere now showing the evil nature which lies underneath what used to appear as lamb-like exterior, there is more reason than ever for the Christian not to set his loves and his hopes upon them.

Then in the second place, in view of the passing character of world governments, the Christian should be doing the will of God. And the will of God for the believer is not only that of being separated from the world, but the propagation of the Word of God that by some means some might be saved out of the world (1 John 2:17). One of these days, "The kingdoms of this world" will "become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever" (Rev. 11:15). And all those men and women who make up the present kingdoms of the world and who know not Christ will perish. Therefore, it is necessary for the believer to be about the task of witnessing in order that some might be saved.

And finally, in view of the fact that the Christian must now go through trial, but will be saved from the hour of awful trial to come upon the whole world, he should be patient and longsuffering toward the world that as much fruit as possible may be gathered in the harvest. James has that very thing in mind when he counsels oppressed brethren to "be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord" (James 5:7). He has in mind the fact that it is the prerogative of the Lord to execute judgment, and the reason He now withholds judgment is that every effort may be expended to bring the news of salvation to lost men. The great husbandman looks to the harvest of souls, as should the Christian likewise (James 5:7).

Monday, August 29, 2016



One of the amazing paradoxes of our day is the increase of crime and its viciousness on the one hand, and the growing softness of society toward the administration of punishment to the criminal on the other. There has come before the Supreme Court of the United States the issue of the constitutionality of capital punishment. By far the greater number of the states have ruled out the death penalty, and in other states where this law is still on the statute books the highest executives want the infliction of this penalty to be inflicted by a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

In a recent action of the California Supreme Court, the ruling was handed down that the state's death penalty is unconstitutional, which means that 107 men and women on Death Row in that state will never see the inside of San Quentin Prison's apple-green gas chamber. In issuing its decision, the California Supreme Court made it clear that regardless of what the Supreme Court of the United States does, "death may not be exacted as punishment for crime in this state." The court further explained the basis for its ruling. The California State Constitution uses the words "cruel or unusual punishment" while the United States Constitution says "cruel and unusual punishment." So the judges in this six-to-one decision insisted that execution is both cruel and unusual punishment in today's world. "It degrades and dehumanizes all who participate in its process," and "it is unnecessary to any legitimate goal of the state and is incompatible with the dignity of man and the judicial processes." Therefore the court ordered that all death penalties be changed to life imprisonment at once.

It is not surprising that at that time Governor Reagan joined the long list of thinking men who view with alarm the trend that is growing across this land. He assailed the court's decision and announced that the state would petition for a rehearing of the case. He declared that if the decision "goes unchallenged, the judicial philosophy inherent in this ruling could be an almost lethal blow to society's right to protect law-abiding citizens and their families against violence and crime."

The Judicial Philosophy

Recognizing that there are degrees of heinousness in crime, what sort of judicial philosophy is it that assesses the most vicious crime as unworthy of the death penalty? Pious language and humanitarian phraseology provide a very convenient smoke screen behind which to veil the real truth. And this will sound plausible to most people, especially people who are conditioned over the pattern of thinking in this present day. But behind this the real truth is taking its desperate toll.

In today's world, society is groping blindly for the essential causes for crime. Not too many years ago a commission was established by the President of the United States to study this matter. It was pitiful, the kind of answers they came up with, and for which they were paid thousands of dollars. When the task was finished they were not any nearer to the real answers. At least three theories are extant: (1) that certain men on the physiological side are born criminals This is a sort of fatalistic explanation, and if it were true, then such a person is not blameworthy; (2) that on the psychological side, a man may not be well adjusted to society, and so he turns out to be a criminal: and in this case what he needs is not a prison, but a physician, a psychiatrist; (3) on the sociological side, a man may be the victim of the circumstances in which he lives, such as poverty, slums, ostracism.

There is some truth in all these suggestions. But in each case there is an almost ingenious detour of the real issue. Actually, each one of these suggestions deals with effects growing out of the real cause, and the proposed treatment in each case is for the effect. If the case is diagnosed as physiological, then isolate the person so he cannot molest others; if the case is diagnosed as psychological, then assign him to a sanitarium; if the case is diagnosed as sociological, then change the environment. In no one of these proposed treatments in the judicial philosophy of our day does the prescription get at the real cause of crime.

The Biblical Philosophy

It is true in our day that little credence is given to the Bible as the possible source of information that might solve some problems. But this writer believes that the Bible is the eternal Word of God and at every point is inviolable truth. At the very outset of the Bible a command was issued to our first parents, and for disobedience to this command a penalty was attached (Gen. 2:16-17). That penalty was death. There was no possibility of explaining their disobedience as physiological in origin, nor psychological in origin, nor sociological in origin. And death was not prescribed as a sort of rehabilitation process. Death was final and irrevocable.

This must mean that the punishment meted out by God was retributive and in no sense corrective. In death there can be no correction. But in death there can be the execution of a penalty that is retributive and commensurate with the enormity of the crime. God legislated this way against sin, because sin is a crime against God that imparts infinite heinousness to it. Nothing short of death, physical and spiritual, can approximate its blameworthiness. On the human level, when God established human government, He authorized men to exact the penalty of life for the taking of life (Gen. 9:6). And this was ordered of God because of the dignity of man; a dignity and worth which he acquired by being made in the image of God.

Herein lies the essential and basic reason for the execution of the death penalty. It is retributive and not corrective. The penalty should take this form for certain crimes in society, for there is no other in society that can reach this dimension and thus express the full desert incurred by the criminal. Any lighter sentence is to regard the crime lightly and encourage society to indulge themselves in it.

God demonstrated His retributive wrath upon sin by inflicting death upon His only Son at the cross. His Son, Jesus Christ, needed no correction, so the only sort of punishment He could possibly experience was retributive in nature. Since He was innocent, in this respect He suffered the retributive wrath that sinners deserved, and by so doing opened up a way for men to appropriate that ministry by faith and thus escape their just deserts before the law of God. "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 15:3), "the just for the unjust" (1 Peter 3:18).

The present trend in judicial philosophy is moving more and more in the direction of the remedial view of punishment. This means that crime is being viewed as sickness and not as sin. Therefore the punishments being prescribed are intended to be corrective in character and not retributive. Rights and wrongs for action are disappearing, and in their place a view is developing that prescribes a treatment for correction which returns the criminal to society without changing him. The only thing that can be expected is a relapse into former conduct and the further degradation of society. The entering wedge is the removal of the death penalty for capital crimes. But this will not be the end. In due time this philosophy will cover all crime.

Let it be understood right here, that God does not underestimate the ill-desert of sin. It is worthy of death. And this death was paid by His Son. He did not spare His Son. And this came first to deal with the problem of sin. But in this great display of retributive wrath at the cross, the foundation was laid to deal with the correction of sin in the life of the sinner. That sinner who will accept the work of Christ on the cross to cover God's wrath against sin will also receive a new life from God, and the life of the Holy Spirit who will give him the power to live a life of holiness (Gal. 2:20). Many professing cannot achieve the blameless state and attempt to say that happens at His return instead of obedience to the Spirit’s leading making the Bible’s teaching on this issue a myth to those in power over this issue (2 Pet. 3:14; Phil 2:15).

Sunday, August 28, 2016




At intervals through the history of the church, beginning with Pentecost, an amazing phenomenon attributed to the Spirit has been experienced within the professing church. The instances of speaking in tongues recorded in the New Testament can be received as genuine demonstrations of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2, 10, 19), and the discussion of Paul in 1 Cor. 12-14 witnesses to an experience that was genuine. But many other such instances within the professing church must be viewed with suspicion.

In recent years within certain areas of the professing church there has been a resurgence of speaking in tongues. Even more recently this phenomenon has appeared on college campuses across the Nation. The bold claims for genuineness and the high values placed upon this experience lead one to a closer scrutiny of the teaching of the Word of God on this point. Some are saying that these speaking’s are manifestations of the Holy Spirit, that they indicate a spiritual awakening, that people are experiencing an encounter with the living God.

Christian periodicals have given wide publicity to these events among Evangelical believers with intimation, if not clear approval, of the demonstration. It is asserted that these speaking’s are the work of the Holy Spirit. Some say such speaking is the evidence of die presence of the Spirit, and the speaking issues from the power of the Spirit. It is argued that speaking in tongues is the direct result of the filling of the Spirit, or the baptism of the Spirit, and is a gift of the Spirit. In one case, the editors, in referring to an article appearing in their magazine, state that "this is not an attempt at theological interpretation—but is presented as a personal witness."

In the light of these facts, it does seem that the movement has reached sufficient proportions to require a theological discussion. This article does not presume to examine each set of circumstances in which such speaking appears today, but rather to set forth what the Word of God has to say about measuring and controlling the genuine exhibition of this spiritual phenomenon. If the accounts of tongues in Acts and First Corinthians refer to the same kind of speaking, then the Book of Acts gives us the historical manifestation, while Corinthians gives us the theological interpretation. By clear statement the instruction of 1 Cor. 12, 13, 14 was not only for the local congregation in Corinth, but also for the entire church through all of its earthly sojourn (1 Cor. 1:2). The teaching of the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul therefore pertinent to the situation today.

Theological Instruction on Tongues Was Given To Provide a Correct Evaluation of Their Worth in the Church

Two kinds of speaking were prevalent in the Early Church, both of them gifts of the Spirit; namely, prophecy and speaking in tongues (1 Cor. 12:10). Like all spiritual gifts, they were bestowed for the welfare of the entire congregation (1 Cor. 12:7). But by virtue of intrinsic nature, some gifts were more valuable to the congregation than others, and therefore these people were exhorted to desire the best gifts (1 Cor. 12:31), and in any event, gifts were to be exercised in love so that they might accomplish their purpose (1 Cor. 12:31; 13:13).

By direct assertion the value of tongues and prophecy are thrown into contrast in relation to the public assembly. "In the church . . . five words with . . . understanding" are worth more "than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue" (1 Cor. 14:19). This is a categorical statement that has no exceptions attached to it, and it is almost equivalent to saying that speaking in tongues is practically worthless in the public gathering. It is no wonder that Paul insists that "greater is he that prophesies" (1 Cor. 14:5) because he "speaks unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort" (1 Cor. 14:3), whereas the man that "speaks in an unknown tongue, speaks not unto men, but unto God" (1 Cor. 14:2), and "he speaks mysteries" (1 Cor. 14:2), and "edifies himself” (1 Cor. 14:4). While interpretation may enhance the value of tongues for use in the public assembly, the value is still so small that it should be used only in private.

The rather dire associations in the exercise of this gift cast a dark shadow on its usefulness in the church. The Corinthian congregation was full of problems. It was rent asunder with divisions (1 Cor. 1:10). One of the lowest forms of fornication was present (1 Cor. 5:1). Litigation and carnal license were practiced (chap. 6). Problems of divorce and remarriage confronted them (1 Cor. 7). There was a cold indifference toward weak brethren (1 Cor. 8-10). Inappropriate dress of women serving as leaders and indecency at the Lord's Table were shocking (1 Cor. 11). The inability to recognize the best gifts and to exercise those gifts for the benefit of all demanded special instruction (chaps. 12-14). Even doctrinal defection striking at the very heart of the Christian faith was present in this church (1 Cor. 15:12).

In addition to all this, the Apostle's appraisal of the spiritual condition of this congregation casts even darker shadows upon the spiritual value of tongues in its public meetings. Paul was unable to write to them as spiritual people (1 Cor. 3:1). For even though they may have known a great deal about spiritual things, they were not submitted to what they knew. Instead they were characterized by carnality, envy, strife, and factionalism (1 Cor. 3:3). It seems quite apparent that there was a woeful ignorance concerning the Scripture, as well as unconcern for what they knew (1 Cor. 4:6; 6:2, 9, 15, 19). Like immature children, they were self-centered, without understanding, and purposeless as attested by their fascination for the spectacular and emotional element in tongues (1 Cor. 3:1; 14:20). Edification of their fellow brethren in the public assembly was far from their thoughts (1 Cor. 14:5, 12), and evangelization of the lost was impossible because no clear message of truth was ever conveyed in the exercise of tongues (1 Cor. 14:21-23). In its public gatherings, when tongues broke out, there was nothing but disorder, confusion, and distraction, which called for a message correcting its abuses and reappraising of its values (1 Cor. 14:23, 33, 40).

The pastor of this church was not meeting the credentials that was needed to bring this church to the ministry that it was afforded by the Teacher and the Lord (John 13:13). He was not their doctrinal Leader (Matt. 23:10 NASB). They were not getting a blameless display by their pastor and therefore their display was not blameless (2 Pet. 3:14; Phil 2:15). The Lord through Paul was giving them a chance to perform their duty (1 Thess. 5:23).

Theological Instruction on Tongues Was Given To Prevent General Demoralization in the Public Gathering

Since people are intelligent beings, these qualities must characterize public gatherings. There must be purpose, order, and understanding. If these are absent, such meetings will degenerate into mere uproar with a demoralizing effect upon everyone. This was happening in the exercise of tongues in the Corinthian congregation.

The purpose of the public gathering should have been to edify every person who attended the meeting (1 Cor. 14:12, 26). But this was absent in the exercise of tongues. Those who spoke in tongues were speaking to God and not to men (1 Cor. 14:2). They were uttering mysteries; that is, secrets (1 Cor. 14:2), the effect of which was to edify themselves and no one else (1 Cor. 14:4). And without interpretation, not even the speaker received any value from the speaking (1 Cor. 14:13-14). Like children without any self-control, they were engaged in meaningless gyrations, uttering senseless noises, and giving vent to personal emotion (1 Cor. 14:20, 23, 32).

In the nature of the case, order in the public gathering was necessary to carry out the purpose of the meeting. But this too was absent in the Corinthian assembly. The qualities of indecency and confusion made it impossible for the unlearned to say "Amen" to the things that went on (1 Cor. 14:16). Visitors from the outside were filled with consternation as they watched all of them speaking in tongues and concluded that they were "mad," meaning crazy (1 Cor. 14:23). Lack of self-control added to the confusion and produced revulsion in people. It was this that led to admonition on these points (1 Cor. 14:27, 29, 32-33).

Basically, understanding was necessary if purpose and order were to be apparent in the public meeting. But this was woefully absent. Since the speaking in tongues was purely selfish in purpose, providing an opportunity to indulge in riots of emotion, they were perfectly happy to utter secrets without interpretation (1 Cor. 14:2, 5). Since no one understood what was being said, the message had no effect in the lives of the hearers (1 Cor. 14:6-10). The ultimate result was that one person was to another in this assembly as a "barbarian" uttering a sort of foreign, weird, gibberish (1 Cor. 14:11).

This was demoralizing for all. The confusion produced spiritual instability, which is the meaning of the word "confusion" in vs. 33. This was just the opposite of peace and quiet and rest of which God is the author, and which every public meeting of the church should contribute to its attendants. Instead people went from these gatherings in a condition of emotional agitation and spiritual tumult. This could only lead to spiritual decline and disintegration. The God of peace did not attend here. He was on the outside knocking through Paul.

Spiritual Edification in the Public Assembly

Beginning with the premise in 1 Corinthians that all spiritual gifts were bestowed for the purpose of communicating benefit to the entire church (1 Cor. 12:7), the Apostle Paul argues that there is just one reason for the saints to gather in public. That was for edification (1 Cor. 14:3-5, 12, 17, 26). To omit oneself from the gathering together is sin (Heb. 13:25). Therefore, nothing should be permitted that does not carry out this purpose (1 Cor. 14:26). This means that if tongues are to be employed in the public assembly, there are certain things that must characterize their exercise.

There must be the interpretation of the tongues because God has decreed that spiritual edification be mediated through understanding (1 Cor. 14:5). Any person desiring to speak in tongues should be sure that he can interpret (1 Cor. 14:5), or he should pray that he may interpret (1 Cor. 14:13), or make sure that one is present who has the gift of interpretation (1 Cor. 14: 27-28). Otherwise he should "keep silence in the church" (1 Cor. 14:28). It is understanding of the spoken message made intelligible by distinction of sounds and certainty of meaning that provides the power to produce an effect in the hearers (1 Cor. 14:7-10). Without interpretation, tongues are an unintelligible gibberish that makes the hearer conclude that the speaker is a foreigner (1 Cor. 14:11), who is acting like a maniac (1 Cor. 14:23). The result so far as spiritual edification is concerned is nothing, for such a one is speaking into the air (1 Cor. 14:9). Faith, then it can be concluded that this is a genuine manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and therefore to be approved and promoted within the church.

Second, submission to the regulations laid down by the Apostle Paul is in reality submission to the commandments of God. "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord" (1 Cor. 14:37). These commandments include the orderly procedure for exercising the gift of tongues within the public assembly in order that the purpose of spiritual edification may be realized for everyone in attendance. If there is anyone who is determined to resist these commandments, he gives fair evidence that he is not under the direction of the Spirit of God nor exercising the genuine gift of tongues. He that loves Me does My commandments (John 14:15).

Third, limitations are clearly placed upon the exercise of the genuine gift of tongues. This gift, like all the other spiritual gifts, is distributed according to the sovereign will of the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 12:10-11). Not every believer is given every gift (1 Cor. 12:28-30). Though the Apostle Paul might wish that all might speak with tongues (1 Cor. 14:5), yet he knows perfectly well that this neither can, nor will, be the case. It is therefore important to understand that though this is the work of the Holy Spirit, it is His work in imparting gifts to the members of the church as He sees fit. Tongues are therefore not to be traced to the work of the Holy Spirit in spiritual awakening, nor to the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation, nor to the work of the Holy Spirit in indwelling, nor to the work of the Holy Spirit in baptism, nor to the work of the Holy Spirit in filling. These works of the Holy Spirit are for every believer (1 Pet. 1:2; Acts 2:38-39; 4:31; Titus 3:5; John 14:16-17; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 5:18). Any movement, therefore, that promotes the speaking of tongues for everyone is not Biblical, and it is very likely not to be genuine.

Fourth, the cessation of this gift very probably took place when the canon of Scripture was finished, just as did the gift of prophecy. Paul declared both of these gifts would cease to be exercised (1 Cor. 13:8). The gift of prophecy was necessary in the Early Church, for this new society of believers had needs that were not met in Old Testament revelation. When the New Testament writing prophets had completed their work, and the New Testament was finished there was no longer need for prophets. And from the days of the Apostle John after completing the Book of the Revelation, there has never been any new revelation. By the same token, tongues, another type of speaking, likewise finished its purpose, and was therefore no longer needed (Mark 16:17; 1 Cor. 14:21-22). This could mean that any manifestations of this phenomenon from A.D. 100 to the present are not only simulated counterfeits of the genuine gift, but actually are of satanic origin.

Fifth, the positive prohibition of tongues was forbidden by the Apostle Paul for his day, but he did lend his counsel to the promotion of prophecy (1 Cor. 14:39). When the Book of the Revelation was completed the gift of prophecy ceased to be exercised, for it was no longer needed in the church. It is also very possible that the day of usefulness for the gift of tongues was completed simultaneous with that of prophecy (1 Cor. 13:8). But in case it was not, the comparative little value of tongues to the church as over against the proclamation of the revealed Word should lead any pastor to weigh carefully the wisdom of employing tongues. In the event that it is decided that tongues must be promoted in public, there is the clear admonition, "Let all things be done decently and in order" (1 Cor. 14:40). This calls for an application of the entire body of theological instruction in the New Testament. It is very possible that rigid application would completely eliminate their employment.

Elimination of Improper Demonstrations in the Church

Since the advocates of tongues for the public assembly so vigorously insist on the blessing this experience brings to believers, it seems only right to examine more carefully what the Bible says on this point. Almost immediately it will be noticed that the Bible points to the spiritual effects on men, while present-day advocates are laying stress on the ecstatic experience in men. This seems strange if the present-day manifestations are actually genuine fulfillments of the Biblical teaching.

Upon examining the accounts of speaking in tongues set forth in the Book of Acts, several things are apparent. This phenomenon as then experienced was produced by the Spirit of God working in believers (Acts 2:4). The subject of their speech was the wonderful works of God (Acts 2:11). The purpose of this speaking was to magnify the Lord (Acts 10:46). There was understanding of the language on the part of the hearers, which could mean that there was interpretation (Acts 2:7-11; 10:46). The effect was twofold. Among the unsaved there was amazement, doubt, and mocking as to the meaning of this unusual demonstration (Acts 2:12-13). Among the saved there was the conviction that the tongues were a confirmation of God's Word (Acts 2:14-18; 10:46-47; 19:6). Peter's explanation from the Book of Joel (Acts 2:17-18), and Luke's explanation in the Book of Acts 19:6, both give strong reason to believe that this speaking had more to do with prophecy than the gift of tongues discussed in First Corinthians.

Unusual attention should therefore be given to the contrast drawn between the purpose of tongues and prophecy as declared by Paul (1 Cor. 14:21-22). Since he was himself a prophet (Acts 13:1), and spoke in tongues more than the Corinthian believers (1 Cor. 14:18), and is now writing under the direction of the Holy Spirit, his explanation should be heeded.

According to the law and Old Testament prophecy, God had to speak in other tongues as a judgment upon Israel because the people refused to obey the plain words of His prophets (Deut. 28:45-51; Isa. 28:11- 12). "In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord" (1 Cor. 14:21). Foreign nations came and destroyed their land and carried the people away into captivity. But even this did not turn Israel to God. Israel's response merely proved that the nation was confirmed in its apostasy and that God was just in His dealings.

The Apostle Paul now makes the application to tongues. "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serves not for them that believe not, but for them which believe" (1 Cor. 14:22). This means that when a group of people set aside prophecy in preference for tongues, they exhibit the fact that they do not want to hear God's Word plainly given to them. They prefer rather ignorance of His Word and an experience of emotion. This means that they are in rebellion against God and are rejecting His Word. By rejecting prophecy and choosing tongues, they close the door of God's approach, and all opportunity to reach God is withdrawn. Tongues then become a sign of confirmed unbelief and as a result the judgment of God is now resting upon them.

The illustration of contrast between prophecy and tongues in the instance that follows is impelling. If one, who is unacquainted with Christianity or is in opposition to it, attends the public gathering, and he witnesses everyone in the assembly speaking in tongues, his conclusion is that these people are crazy (1 Cor. 14:23). The speaking was unintelligible and God has no clear message through them to his heart. Thus the judgment of God fell upon him. But on the other hand, if all prophesy, the situation is altogether different (1 Cor. 14:24-25). Prophecy brings a revelation of God, the effect of which is to produce conviction in that man because it carries on an examination of his life that results in the manifestation of the hidden things of his own heart. The outcome is amazing. As a result of conversion, this man falls upon his face in adoration of God and makes a confession of the reality of God in them. Thus, by prophecy, the way to God was opened up for this man. The message of life and hope spoken by the prophet has won a man to Christ.

Interpretation of tongues may provide sufficient virtue to justify their use in the public assembly. But it must never be forgotten that at best their value is greatly limited. Nor should the perils that lurk in the very intrinsic nature of tongues be overlooked. Rigid regulation is necessary to safeguard their use, lest emotion get out of hand. And absolute discrimination against women must be insisted upon. If God's people are really desirous of realizing the largest good in the public meetings, then they would be wise to seek the best gifts (1 Cor. 12:31; 14:12). This would counsel the employment of prophecy instead of tongues (1 Cor. 14:19, 39). Inasmuch as there is strong reason to believe that tongues as a gift has ceased (1 Cor. 13:8), and any attempt at simulation could be false and Satanic, the church is left with one kind of speaking for the public assembly. That is prophecy. But even this kind of speaking has ceased in the technical sense (1 Cor. 13:8) because the body of revelation is finished. Since the Apostle John completed the Book of the Revelation, there has been just one valid type of speaking in the church; namely, that of preaching and teaching the written revelation, the Bible.

Saturday, August 27, 2016



There is just one passage in the entire New Testament that gives instruction to the church on physical healing—James 5:13-20. "Gifts of healings" (1 Cor. 12:9, 30) are to be explained in relation to this passage. All other references to healing in the New Testament are merely historical accounts of what happened, and are not in any sense to be construed as directions for the church. Had the church observed this, it would have been protected against the false healing movements that have swept across Christendom and today are growing in magnitude.

James is the first book of the entire New Testament to be written. There are reasons why it came first. The infant church was born into a world of hostility. Upon every side foes were pressing in upon her. But from within as well, perils arose of one kind and another. As a result the church needed instruction on how to meet the temptations or tests she was facing. This is found in the Book of James. In the first chapter, the science of testing is discussed. In chapters 2 and 3, the tests within the church are explained —the social test in chapter 2, and the speech test in chapter 3. Chapters 4 and 5 discuss the tests within the world—the separation test in chapter 4, and the suffering test in chapter 5. In the realm of suffering sickness appears. And it is evident that God has made ample provision for this need.

The treatment given to James 5:13-20 in general has almost nullified its value down through the years. Protestants have generally ignored it. Others have explained it in terms of spiritual healing. Catholics have associated it with extreme unction, the last rite for those who are about to die, and make it mean a spiritual preparation for death. Extreme dispensationalists push the fulfillment of it over into the Millennium and restrict it for Jews. Certain movements through the centuries have used this passage to support mass healing services. The true view is scarcely known today. But this will be presented in this article.

 The People Involved

Two parties are specifically identified in James 5:13-20, the sick person and the elders.

1. The sick person is a Christian, for he is "among you" (vs. 14) and a member of the local "church" (vs. 14). The nature of his physical condition is serious. The word "sick" (vs. 14) means without power for recovery. This is strengthened by another term in vs. 15 ("sick") which means bedfast. From this prostrate position "the Lord shall raise him up" (vs. 15).

It is the responsibility of the sick one to initiate this service. He is commanded to call for the elders (vs. 14). And the clear command is that he shall call the elders to himself. This can only mean that this service is private and personal.

2. The elders of the church can only mean the officials of the local congregation (vs. 14). There are no other kind of elders. In number, there must be more than one. This will safeguard against any person claiming healing powers. In sex, they must be men and not women. The word elders is masculine. This too is in accord with New Testament teaching. Because they are officers within the local congregation, these men will know the sick person, and the sick person will know them. If the sickness is caused by personal sin, the elders will no doubt know this. The sick person will also have the advantage of knowing the character of the elders. The qualifications of eldership are clearly defined in 1 Tim. 3:1-7. In position, these men are of high esteem, blameless and upon this basis are chosen for the office. Much depends upon this, for it is the prayers of such men that are heard.

 The Procedure Followed

1.  Obviously self-examination and confession comes first. Vs. 16 would strongly imply that this is the proper order. If the sickness can be traced to personal sin, there can be no healing until it is confessed and forsaken. But this may not be the case. Even so, there is no better time for self-examination than when one is prostrate upon his back and the only way he can look is up. When physical powers are exhausted is the most appropriate time for spiritual introspection.

2.  Anointing with oil in the name of the Lord follows naturally upon self-examination (vs. 14). The translation, "having anointed him with oil" brings out more clearly the fact that this precedes the prayer. The oil is not medicinal. It is not the oil that heals, as the passage so clearly indicates. The oil has a twofold value. In the first place it provides a physical thing to which the sick one can join his faith. In the second place it serves as a symbol of the Holy Spirit who indwells the believer (1 Cor. 6:19). Application in the name of the Lord can well include the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

3.  At this point, "the prayer of faith" is prayed by the elders. This will be done as the elders lay their hands upon the sick person. Sometimes only one of the elders voices audibly the prayer, though the others join with him. Most often each elder prays. The content of the prayer will vary, though this prayer is always centered upon the sick person.

4.  The means of healing is not explained in this passage, though the source of the healing is from God. God may use one way or another, but if there is any healing it must come from God. God might choose to use a doctor, in which case God's children should not despise the services of a doctor. But God may choose to perform the healing without the use of a doctor. In either case the healing is from God.

 The Prayer Effectual

Inasmuch as a declarative statement is made that "the prayer of faith shall save the sick" (vs. 15), this requires some explanation. At least three things must be noted about this prayer.

1.  This is a prayer of worship. The words "pray" (vv. 13-14), "prayed" (vv. 17-18), and "prayer" (vs. 15) lay emphasis upon worship and devotion. This pictures the suppliant bowed before God in the posture of body and soul as one who looks up to and adores God, recognizing that He is great, good, wise, and merciful. A prayer of this sort never orders God around. A prayer of this sort testifies that God's wisdom is best and His grace is sufficient.

2.  This is a prayer according to God's will. It is described as "the prayer of faith." More literally this reads: "The prayer of the faith" (vs. 15). The presence of the definite article means that this prayer is one that is according to the faith; namely, the revealed body of truth. The revealed body of truth is God's will. When a prayer is according to His will, God will answer that prayer (1 John 5:14-15).

3. This prayer is God-wrought. This is explained in vs. 16. The KJV reads: "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." But a better rendering is

"The prayer of a righteous man which is energized [wrought] in him, accomplishes much." When God gives "the prayer of faith" to the elders, healing will follow. But God does not always give this prayer. In such cases it is best for the sick one not to recover.

This provision has been made for the physical well-being of God's people. And His people should take courage. "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are" (vv. 17- 18), and God gave to him the prayer according to His will and answered it. It is not the greatness of the man who prays that gets results, it is the greatness of God unloosed through the discernment of His will.

Friday, August 26, 2016



Hell is an awful contemplation and a fearful reality from which men are vainly seeking to escape by means of self-delusion and subtle reasoning. Yet hell is no less a reality and the danger of falling in is no less sure. It is not strange that men should desire to escape from bitter torment. But it is strange that men who boast the scientific spirit should so utterly ignore the necessity for a hell. The reason is obvious; namely, the Devil's first lie now more than 6,000 years old: "Thou shalt not surely die." With these words Satan induced Adam and Eve to forsake holiness for crime. Those same words are enticing men to sin today. If Satan, the god of this world, can persuade men that sin does not end in death and that there is no need of a Savior, then he is winning in the great battle against the Son of God.

It is not the purpose of the writer to rely upon instinct or reason to determine the actuality, the description, or the duration of hell, although all of these are valid avenues of approach and supply indisputable evidence. Revelation alone can speak with authority upon the states of life and death beyond the grave. And the Word of God has spoken. So we rely wholly upon the Bible for our information.


Instinct anticipates a place of punishment beyond the grave. It is an inborn trait of men to know that there is something wrong with themselves, and that there must be a reckoning sometime, somewhere. Every heathen temple, every heathen altar, every heathen sacrifice, every heathen prayer is unimpeachable testimony that punishment awaits the man who does not appease the wrath of God. Upon one occasion John the Baptist addressed the Pharisees: "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" He was appealing to something innate and self-evident in every man.

But reason certainly goes a step further, for it demands that there be a place of punishment. The paradox of the centuries has been, why do the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper? And they do here and now. The answer to this problem comes only through revelation. And while the wicked do prosper now, they shall suffer in the hereafter, while the righteous who suffer now shall be duly rewarded in the hereafter. And while reason cannot give the answer as revelation can, reason knows the answer and what it must be if this world is really a moral world, and men have minds that are able to think.

It is left to the Bible, however, to declare authoritatively that there is a place of punishment. All we know about hell is recorded in the Word of God, just as we must rely upon the Word of God for our information about heaven. The Bible often speaks of them in the same breath. And strange as it may seem, the One whom we trust as our Savior spoke more about hell than any other prophet among men. His words were with finality, from which there is no appeal. Those same words are the groundwork upon which the doctrine of hell rests. It was Jesus who said: "Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matt. 10:28). So there is a hell.


There is a hell because God must punish the criminals of the universe. Hell may be called God's great penitentiary. No country, state, or city could operate long without maintaining laws, promoting justice, and providing protection. For those who break the laws, defy justice, and endanger others, there must be a place of confinement and punishment. Why is there a hell? It is God's great penitentiary for the criminals of the universe. In Matthew 25:41 Christ declares that hell was prepared for the Devil and his angels.

But why for the Devil? Because the Devil was a murderer and a liar from the beginning. He attacked and still does attack the two most precious things in all the universe; namely, truth and life. Every man who has bowed down to His Satanic Majesty, has refused to accept the life that is in Christ Jesus, has been murdered, and his murderer is the Devil himself. And the reason he is the murderer is because he corrupted the truth of God in the beginning.

The very basis for life in Christ is the truth of God as it is revealed in Christ Jesus. But this truth has been distorted by the Devil's lie, so that the unsaved man is led away from eternal life in Christ. This makes Satan the greatest criminal in the entire universe. It was for him and his brood that God's great penitentiary was prepared.


It may be asserted on the authority of the Scriptures that hell is a place not on earth. Though many have consoled themselves with the thought that all the hell there is, is upon the earth, they are actually prophesying out of their own hearts. The Word of God declares that it is (Prov. 15:24), and that there are those who shall someday be cast into hell (Psa. 55:15; Matt. 11:23). Apparently hell is so deep and large that it will provide ample room for all the wicked, and solitary confinement for the most wicked (Prov. 9:18; Isa. 5:14).

Not only is hell a place of confinement for the wicked, but it is also a place of eternal confinement. Every reference to the punishment to come upon the wicked marks it as eternal punishment. Since the sin which finally brings the wicked down to hell is eternal in character (Mark 3:29 ASV), the punishment upon the wicked will never come to an end. To release incorrigible souls from this penitentiary would be to endanger the entire universe and catapult it back into the danger from which it has been rescued.

Moreover, this hell will be conscious torment for the wicked. In every reference to the state of those confined in this prison, the Bible depicts them as consciously suffering the punishment inflicted upon them. There will be no blotting out of existence. Destruction simply means that there will be a marring of body and soul. "And the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night" (Rev. 14:11).

The most terrifying thing of all about hell is the fact that it consists in destruction which is separation from the Lord. Those final words to the wicked, "Depart from me" (Matt. 7:23; 25:41), will strike awful terror to the hearts of the lost, for they "shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power" (2 Thess. 1:9). They shall go out into the night of eternal separation to wander in loneliness, despair, doom, and death. Is this not reason enough to ask the question: "Who shall go to hell'?"


We have discussed the reason for a hell. It is for the punishment of all those who have broken the laws of God and have become criminals in His universe. But we must remember that it is not sin or sins merely that send a man to hell. If it were, then not one man in the whole universe would escape, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Then what will send a man to hell, and who is it that finally will be cast into hell?

A great cry has gone up in the modernized age to the effect that God will never send a man to hell because He is too loving. And in some sense of the word this idea is exactly correct. God will never send a man to hell. In fact, He never prepared hell for men in the first place. But men will go to hell just the same. God will not send them, for He is too loving, so loving in fact that "He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish" (John 3:16). But men will go to hell. For in spite of all that God has done to turn men away from the path which leads to hell, they deliberately persist in following that path which will eventually reach the brink of the abyss.

The sins of men will not send them to hell either, for their sins were covered at the Place of the Skull. But one thing will send them to that place of everlasting torment. That one thing is unbelief in the Son of God, the refusal to take Him for a Savior and Lord. "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God . . . and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:18, 36).

If any person now reading this goes to hell, he will be like the young man whose godless dissipation and sin broke his mother's heart and sent her to her grave. The first night after the funeral the old father sat brokenhearted and numb with grief by the fireside. The home was so empty. Its light had gone out with the mother. The vicious son came downstairs, picked up his hat and prepared to leave. The father inquired: "Where are you going, son?" "I am going downtown," was the answer. The father remonstrated: "Son, don't go. This is the first night Mother has been out of the house, and I'm so lonesome; sit there where Mother used to sit and stay with me tonight." But the son objected: "No; I've got an engagement." And as the old man continued to plead with him, he said: "Step aside, for I am going out." The old man threw himself on the floor and said: "Son, if you pass out tonight, you will go over my body." With a curse the boy trampled him under his feet and opened the door and went out into the night.