Monthly Archives: September 2001

Tarzan Underwear is Dangerous

Only a parent knows the mind of a child, especially a parent who has tried to potty-train a two-year old boy. Lori and I are currently trying to potty-train William. We have tried everything. Currently we are simply putting underwear on William and hoping for the best. Should the worse occur, we hope that discomfort will (eventually?) persuade him that going in the potty is preferable to going in his undies.

If parents are born as opposed to made, I clearly lack the potty-training gene. When Lori and I attempted to entice – persuade – order William to wear a pair of briefs adorned with the Lord of the Jungle, we were rebuffed with the wild and dramatic cry, “I can’t wear them; they’re dangerous!” I am presently searching the Internet to see if Depends makes sizes appropriate for little people.

William does not understand the necessity of potty training. After all, everything has worked well for him so far. He goes. We change him. He goes again. What could possibly be easier and more convenient for him? Clearly, William is thinking as a child. One day, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, William will believe that he should use the potty.

The Bible understands that people mature, and grow in knowledge (Heb. 5:12-6:2). The Bible describes those in need of instruction as “babes” (Heb. 5:13; 1 Cor. 3:1). Paul and the writer of Hebrews (quite possibly Paul again) use our familiarity with children as an illustration to describe new converts because we understand that babies are ignorant of many things they must learn to survive in this world such as walk, avoid hot stoves, and (hopefully) how to use toilets.

Nonetheless, there are those who believe and teach that unless a baby is baptized, it will not go to heaven even if it dies as a baby. Thus, uninspired men have created the unbiblical doctrine of infant baptism.

The Bible describes baptism as an “elementary principle” that must be taught (Heb. 6:1-2). Philip undoubtedly explained baptism to the Ethiopian Eunuch because Philip had to explain the necessity of belief before baptism (Acts 8:36-37).

William is having a difficult time understanding the necessity of toilet training and wearing underwear. As his father, I am confident he cannot appreciate the necessity of baptism, what it accomplishes, or why. William believes wearing Tarzan underwear is dangerous, but he will survive this. However, teaching people that infant baptism saves children, now that is dangerous.

Original Sin, Blaming it all on Adam by Bill Blue

Some people believe in “original sin.” Although this phrase is used nowhere in the Bible, it is defined by one encyclopedia as follows:

“(1) The sin that Adam committed; (2) a consequence of this first sin, the hereditary stain with which we are born on account of our origin or descent from Adam.”

Believers of original sin cite Romans 5:12ff as support for their theory. Multiple faiths believe in original sin. According to this doctrine, everyone is born in sin as a result of Adam’s sin and children are born without grace (the thing that saves us, Eph. 2:8):

Encyclopedia: “The absence of sanctifying grace in the new-born child is also an effect of the first sin, for Adam, having received holiness and justice from God, lost it not only for himself but also for us.”

The above encyclopedia also says that infant baptism is necessary because of original sin and infants who are not baptized do not go to heaven, but are excluded from the presence of God.

Encyclopedia: “The fate of infants who die without baptism must be briefly considered here. The … teaching is uncompromising on this point, that all who depart this life without baptism, be it of water, or blood, or desire, are perpetually excluded from the vision of God. … Moreover … those who die in original sin, without ever having contracted any actual sin, are deprived of the happiness of heaven….”

One church’s creed book restates these principles as follows:

Creed book: “Following St. Paul, the Church has always taught that the overwhelming misery which oppresses men and their inclination towards evil and death cannot be understood apart from their connection with Adam’s sin and the fact that he has transmitted to us a sin with which we are all born afflicted, a sin which is the ‘death of the soul’. Because of this certainty of faith, the Church baptizes for the remission of sins even tiny infants who have not committed personal sin.”

The Scriptures say that as a result of Adam’s sin, sin and death entered the world (Rom. 5:12). Romans 5 does not teach that man inherits sin, but because of Adam’s sin we suffer the consequences of both our own sins, and the sins of others.

Consider drunk driving. The sinner may suffer arrest, fines, or jail. He may have an accident and kill himself. Others may suffer as result of the drunk’s sin. He may accidentally injure or kill someone else. The driver’s family may suffer loss of income or shame as result of his sin, or should he die, suffer the loss of a father, husband, or son. Similarly, the family of the person he struck may suffer loss of income, or the loss of a loved one. Thus, many people may suffer immediate consequences as a result of one person’s sin.

Another consequence of Adam’s sin is the death of the spirit, or the second death, if we die in our sins (Rom. 6:23). However, we die spiritually for our own sins, not Adam’s. The Bible says, “The soul who sins shall die” (Eze. 18:4). It does not say, “The soul shall die for the sins of the father.”

The doctrine of original sin illustrates how some people support one false belief, however innocent and well-intentioned, with another false doctrine such as infant baptism. Although neither doctrine is supported by Scripture, they each support the other because one cannot exist without the other. If infants are born in sin, then logically these sins must be washed away for the infants to go to heaven. Similarly, if infants must be baptized, it must be because they are sinners. If original sin is true then Mary, the mother of Christ, was born in sin and so was Christ Himself. To get around this dilemma, proponents of original sin had to create still other theories to explain why Adam’s sin was not imputed to Mary and Christ, but everyone else.

Many Protestants believe in aspects of original sin, even if it is called something else such as “inherent depravity.” Others may deny original sin or total depravity, but nonetheless believe that man is born a sinner and is incapable of not sinning. This is very appealing because it removes personal responsibility and accountability. After all, it is easy to find an excuse for sin if man is inherently sinful. People could simply say, “God made me this way,” or “the Devil made me do it.”

“All have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 6:23). People sin, but sinners are made, not born. The justness of God is not displayed through the universal and (purportedly) unconditional redemption of man, but through the fact that no one, not even Satan, can make anyone sin. God will not tempt anyone (James 1:13), nor will He allow anyone to be tempted beyond that which he is able to overcome, but with each temptation, provide an avenue of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). We sin because the devil tempts us with our own desires (James 1:14) and we choose sin and pleasure over righteousness and the avenue of escape.

We cannot, like Eve, blame Satan for our sins (Gen. 3:13), or like Adam blame someone else (Gen. 3:12). In the end, we will give an account for our sins (Rom. 14:12), and we will have no one to blame but ourselves.

Traditions Versus the Word of God by Bill Blue

I have observed two interpretations of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, and the sufficiency of God’s inspired word versus the authority of manmade traditions:

One view:
16All Scripture and tradition of men is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. Scripture alone is incomplete to thoroughly equip man for doctrine, salvation or works.

Bible view:
16All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Only traditions approved by the Apostles and recorded in the Scriptures are authority for acts and practices of the Lord’s church.

The Apostles derived their authority from Christ and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 16:19; John 16:13).

The Holy Spirit taught the Apostles all things one needed to know about the will of God (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7-15). Thus, the Apostles were uniquely able to guide the early church (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 15:3-11). The Apostles and other inspired writers used this knowledge to write the New Testament (2 Pet. 1:20-21).

The Scriptures instruct us to follow the traditions of Christ and the Apostles, but no one else. Paul said “keep the traditions as I delivered them” (1 Cor. 11:2; see also 2 Tim. 2:2). He instructed the Thessalonians to “hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle” (2 Thess. 2:15). Inasmuch as Paul established the church in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-4), and wrote the church two epistles, it is evident that he was referring to the traditions taught by his inspired “word” or “epistle.” Paul also instructed the Thessalonians to “withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us” (2 Thess. 3:6). Thus, we are not free to follow any tradition, but only a tradition established by apostolic authority.

Some people advocate following a tradition because it was observed a long time ago, perhaps as early as the second century (101 A.D. – 200 A.D.). Where is the authority for that? If that were the rule, how would we decide which of the uninspired early Christians to follow? After which century will we no longer trust a tradition? Will we follow traditions that can be traced back to the third century, but not traditions of the 4th century? Where is the authority for a cut-off date?

How do you decide which traditions to keep that are not mentioned in the Scriptures? Chicken sacrifices? Snake handling? Torture? War? Baptizing dead people? All of these have been done in the name of Christ; some are still practiced. The Bible doesn’t say one wit about them.

Some people equate tradition with Scripture. A creed book and encyclopedia for one faith have the following to say about tradition:

  • Creed Book: “Do you have to believe in Tradition? Yes, because it is the Word of God and has equal authority with the Bible.”
  • Encyclopedia: “Holy Scripture is therefore not the only theological source of the Revelation made by God to His Church. Side by side with Scripture there is tradition. …”

Unfortunately, both the creed book and the encyclopedia contradict the Bible.

Even if it was a historical fact that multiple churches during the time of the Apostles practiced a certain tradition, authority for doing the same today would not exist unless it was supported by Scripture. Could you comfortably follow a tradition of the church of Corinth, given all its problems? How about the churches in Sardis or Laodicea (Rev. 3:1-6, 14-22)?

If a tradition is not supported by Scripture, we must assume the Holy Spirit did not deem it “profitable” for us (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Otherwise, we must assume that the Holy Spirit and the Apostles were incapable of carrying out their missions.

Jesus condemned, “Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men,” (Mk. 7:7) and said that worship based upon the tradition of men (Mk. 7:8) as opposed to the commandments of God was worthless (Mk. 7:7). Paul warned that we can be cheated through, among other things, the “tradition of men” (Col. 2:8).

Why would we worship the God of the Bible in a way not mentioned in the Bible? One who worships Christ with a tradition not authorized by Scripture is no better off spiritually than Nadab and Abihu, who were destroyed by God for worshipping Him in an unauthorized manner (Lev. 10:1-3). Although people who worship God as they choose, irrespective of God’s will, do not burn today, they risk an eternity of hellfire to come (Rev. 22:18-19). Therefore, we should call Bible things by Bible names, do Bible things in Bible ways, and not practice unscriptural traditions of men.

Biblical Miracles by Steve Browning

We hear stories about incredible events such as an individual being cured from cancer after their doctors have given up, or an individual surviving an avalanche against incredible odds, and then have these events described to us as “miracles”. Although these are wonderful events and can show the providence of God, do they constitute miracles as performed in the Bible? Vine’s Bible Dictionary defines a miracle as: “power, inherent ability, is used of works of a supernatural origin and character, such as could not be produced by natural agents and means.”

From this definition we see that a miracle must be from a supernatural origin and must not be producible by natural agents or means. The event of the creation where God (supernatural) spoke the world into existence (unnatural means) is an example of a “true” miracle (Genesis 1:1). Another is when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:11). Jesus (the supernatural) and the act of raising someone from the dead (can not be reproduced by natural means) is a Biblical miracle. The avalanche victim survived by chance. This is not a miracle. The cancer patient as certain defense mechanisms that can fight off cancer thus has a natural means of defeating the cancer. This does not constitute a Biblical miracle either. So now that we know what constitutes a Biblical miracle, why were they performed, who performed them, and are they still occurring today?

Miracles were performed as proof. Proof that people were who they said they were, and proof that what they taught was from God. Jesus performed miracles to prove He was the Son of God (Matthew 11:2-5, John 20:30-31). The apostles performed miracles to prove they were preaching God’s message (Mark 16:19-20, Hebrews 2:3-4). And in the absence of God’s completed revelation, some of the first century Christians performed miracles to edify the early church (1 Corinthians 14:12). Without these miracles as proof we would not have our faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God (Romans 1:4), or know God’s will for us today (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).

In the New Testament we have examples of four types of people performing miracles: God, Jesus, the apostles, and people on whom the apostles laid their hands. The latter group could not pass on the gift to others, so when the apostles died there was no one left to pass on the gifts (Acts 8:5-6,14-18). And when these people died, there was no one left on earth to perform miracles. The people who could perform miracles all died out shortly after the first century.

Biblical miracles are not performed today, since there is no one here who can perform them. There is also no need for proof. We have the completed revelation of God in our Bibles. The Bible speaks of a time when miracles would end (Zechariah 13:1-2). Also, 1 Corinthians 13:8 states, “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”

“That which is perfect” is not Christ. The verse states “that which” and not “he who,” therefore it does not indicate an individual. Also notice that even when the perfect arrived, faith, hope, and charity were to abide (v. 13). Therefore, the perfect cannot be Jesus, for when He returns, faith and hope will not be needed. The “perfect” is God’s completed revelation, the Bible. It is that which allows us to “know even as we are known.” Since we now have that complete word of God, the time of miracles is past (James 1:25; 2 Peter 1:3). No further proof is needed, as they are recorded for our benefit in the Bible.

We believe every recorded miracle in the Bible; we must if we believe in God. Since we believe the Bible, however, we must also believe that miracles have ceased, since that is what is taught in the Bible (Zechariah 13:1-2, 1 Corinthians 13:8). People claiming that they perform miracles today are false teachers and they deceive many who do not understand what is a miracle, who performed them and why they were performed.