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False Standards in Religion (Part 4)

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Radio transcript for the week of June 25, 2017

Todd Clippard speaks on "False Standards in Religion (Part 4)" on Seeking the Lost - International Radio.

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False or Insufficient Standards in Religion

  1. "I thought..."
    • 2 Kings 5:11 - Naaman had it all figured out how the prophet was going to heal him. When things didn’t go according to his plan, he rejected God’s plan. Fortunately, he was persuaded by his servants to obey the Lord and he was rewarded (cf Proverbs 3:7-8; Isaiah 55:8-9).
    • Acts 26:9-11 - Saul of Tarsus - “I thought within myself to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which things I also did.”
    • Proverbs 14:12 - There is a way that seems right to a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.
    • Jeremiah 17:9 - The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?
    • Proverbs 28:26 - He who trusts his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.

  2. "My preacher says..."
    • Jeremiah 2:8; 5:30-31; 23:14
    • Galatians 1:6-9 - "Though we or an angel from heaven..."
    • 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 - Even the devil can make himself appear as a minister of light (truth)
    • Amos 7:14-16; 1 Kings 22:14

  3. "Others are doing it."
    • Exodus 23:2 - "You shall not follow a multitude to do sin."
    • 1 Samuel 8:19-22 (cf Hosea 13:11) - Give us a king that we may be like the nations around us.

  4. "Look at the good that will come."
    • Romans 3:8 Paul said is was a slanderous report that he taught "let us do evil that good may come" (i.e., situation ethics).
    • Romans 6:1 Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid!
    • "If we quit preaching/emphasizing (insert controversial doctrine here), we can get more members. If we get more members, we can get more money. If we get more money, we can do more mission work and benevolence."

  5. "We’ve always/never done it that way."
    • Joshua 5:2-9 None of the Jewish boys who had been born in the wilderness had been circumcised. No man entering the Promised Land had ever witnessed such and may have been tempted to say, "We’ve made it this far without it, why start now?"
    • 2 Chronicles 30:5 - It had been many years since God’s people had observed the Passover. Many probably did not understand and may have been tempted to disparage the event.

  6. "God didn’t forbid it."
    • Leviticus 10:1-2 - Where did God forbid the fire offered by Nadab and Abihu?
    • 2 Samuel 24:1-10 - Where was David ever forbidden to number the people?
    • 1 Thessalonians 5:21 -Prove all things. It is not enough to say "prove this is wrong". It is equally incumbent upon people to show why a thing is right.

  7. "I don’t think God is concerned with such trivial things." This is the equivalent of saying "God thinks like me." See Isaiah 55:8-9.
    • “When you are dodging Muslim bullets, cradling starving babies, comforting a malaria-ridden brother, all the nonsense over plucking on a piano seems to pale in comparison." - Roger Dickson, Christian Chronicle online 3/29/2006.
    • "I don’t care if you have a glass of wine or a beer. The Lord don’t either." - Phil Robertson
    • Numbers 20:7-11 - How trivial was the matter of striking the rock as opposed to speaking to it?
    • Psalm 19:13-14 - It is presumptuous to say of God what God has not said or to speak with authority where he has not spoken.
    • 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 - Who knows the mind of God?


Once you’ve found a good Bible (translation and construction) and understand the basic premise and divisions of Scripture, you are ready to begin your study. One would to well to begin his study by remembering the Bible's central figure and institution - Jesus and his church. A good place to start is the gospel of Mark followed by a study of Acts. This way, one gets a good feel for the life and work of Jesus and also gains an understanding of the church of Christ. These two books clearly teach one how to be saved (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:21-47) and become a member of Jesus' church.

After these books are completed, or perhaps even blended in, I suggest a reading of Genesis. Genesis is vitally important because it is the Book of Beginnings. It tells how the universe and every living thing came into existence. It contains many of the great accounts many of us heard as children: Adam & Eve and the Fall of Man; Cain & Abel; Noah and the Global Flood; Abraham and the birth of the Hebrew Nation; Jacob and His Twelve Sons (including the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors). Finally, I suggest reading Matthew or Luke because they contain details about Jesus' birth and ancestry that are not included in Mark's account.

Any diligent study of God’s word requires good tools to help us build our knowledge of the Bible. As most of the Bible is not arranged in chronological order, so new students of the Bible may find it hard to follow. There are many excellent books that can help you in your studies.

Halley's Bible Handbook is an excellent little book to help one gain a general understanding of each book of the Bible. It also helps students grasp each book’s historical arrangement and significance of the Bible. This great little book also contains a good amount of archaeological information which helps build one’s faith in the inspiration of the Bible. Halley’s Bible Handbook is available online and at most Christian bookstores for less than $15.

Another most helpful book is Know Your Bible by Frank Dunn. Know Your Bible overviews every book of the Bible. Though less detailed than Halley’s in some ways, it far surpasses Halley’s in others. Dunn is a Christian, so he was particularly interested in showing how each book fits in to God’s plan of redemption. Accordingly, there is particular emphasis given to Christ and his plan for the church. Emphasis is also given to key words, phrases, and the overall theme of each individual book. Know Your Bible is available for about $25 at most brotherhood bookstores.

As your studies progress, you will want to do more research on individual words, particularly those in the New Testament. The New Testament was originally written in the Greek language. Translation is not an exact science, so our English Bibles don’t always reflect the best meaning or intent of the original text (though in most cases they do). There are three books I recommend for non-Greek readers to help them in their word studies: Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance (with Hebrew and Greek dictionaries), Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, and Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon. Strong’s Concordance enables the student to find every word in the King James Version of the Bible, and provides a number identification for each Hebrew and Greek word. Once the word’s “Strong’s number” is identified, the student can look in the dictionary in the back of the volume for a brief definition. The beauty of the Strong’s numbering system is that other volumes (like Vine’s and Thayer’s) also number code their entries with the Strong’s system. Therefore, when you want the greater detail provided by Thayer’s Lexicon, you don’t have to read Greek to find it; you simply look up the word based upon the Strong’s number. (Yes, I know the Strong’s system is based on the KJV and I did not recommend the KJV for young or new Bible students, but this system is still good as students should have access to a KJV Bible.) This system can be mastered in five minutes... really!

Every now and then brethren ask me books that might be helpful to them in their studies, particularly commentaries. With respect to commentaries, I am not a fan of commentary series. With only one exception, I recommend that brethren purchase individual commentary books as they are needed. That one exception is the series published by Gospel Advocate. While some do not hold this series in high regard, brother William Woodson commended this work to our Bible class just a few years before his passing. I’ll take brother Woodson’s recommendation any day! The series on the New Testament is not cost prohibitive, and it continues to be a solid and faithful work.

There is another series in the making published by Truth for Today. I have a few of these commentaries, but they are considerably more expensive that the Gospel Advocate series. This series also includes the Old Testament. It is a long way from completion, but the volumes you can get now are worthy of your consideration. Bill Burk and I have worked together through some of the first volume on Psalms and found it to be an incredibly helpful work. Available volumes can be found online or at any brotherhood bookstore. Like the Gospel Advocate series, this series is also being written by faithful brethren. Finally in this regard, I have not found many of our brotherhood lectureship books to be very helpful. It must be remembered that these lectureship books are mostly a collection of the sermon manuscripts based on sermon topics assigned to the respective speakers. They are not designed to be scholarly reference works. If I could go back and "un-buy" any portion of my library, I would start with most of my brotherhood lectureship books.

As I mentioned earlier. I strongly recommend buying individual commentaries, with anything by J.W. McGarvey to be desired, especially his classic The Fourfold Gospel. McGarvey also penned two commentaries on Acts, and the first is generally considered the better of the two. I have used both extensively. McGarvey also has a single volume containing commentary on Romans, Galatians, Thessalonians and Corinthians. Other good works by our brethren include Moses Lard’s commentary on Romans as well as Roberston Whiteside’s. Romans is a difficult book in some places (cf 2 Peter 3:15-16), and I have been greatly helped by comparing these three works on Romans. I found brother Ken L. Chumbley’s commentary on Matthew quite helpful, though I do not agree with his conclusions on Matthew 24-25. Neil Lightfoot’s commentary on Hebrews, Jesus Christ Today, is good. I’ve also benefitted from the works of Homer Hailey. Lest I forget, I believe T.W. Brents’ The Gospel Plan of Salvation to be among the very best topical books ever penned by our brethren. I highly recommend it to everyone.

Among those who are not brethren, I have found the writings of F.F. Bruce and Arthur W Pink useful. D Martyn Lloyd Jones’ two volume series on the Sermon on the Mount was a one time favorite, and I have enjoyed both commentaries and topical books by John R W Stott.

Building a good library takes a long time and can be quite expensive. However, the long term benefits of your investment are worth the effort as good books can bless for a lifetime.

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