by Shawn Brasseaux
There are all types of arguments in Christendom. Some say that water baptism is necessary for salvation; others say it is merely for a testimony, and still other Christians do not water baptize at all. Most Christians claim they “tithe” but a few Christians contend that tithing is not for us today. I know of one particular local church that adheres to the Jews’ kosher food diet, while I know of other churches that do not observe dietary laws of Judaism. Some groups believe in tongue talking and miracle working for today while other groups believe that these activities have ceased (are inactive) today.
What if I told you that there are Bible verses that teach all of these ideas? If that were the case—and it is—then what are we to believe and what are we to practice? We are going to look at 12 different issues in the Bible, all of which are points of contention today amongst the 38,000 “Christian” denominations. As you will see, the Bible presents two points of view regarding each issue. We will conclude the Bible study by providing the solution to all the confusion.
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SABBATH DAY? The Bible is absolutely clear in Exodus 20:8, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” In Colossians 2:16, Paul says: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:” Are we to keep to Sabbath (Exodus chapter 20) or not keep the Sabbath (Colossians chapter 2)?
TITHING? In Malachi 3:10, we read: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,….” In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul says: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” Malachi teaches a mandatory tithe, required giving. The second epistle to the Corinthians says not to give “grudgingly” (that is, no compulsory giving). Which verse should we follow: the one in Malachi or the one in 2 Corinthians?
ETERNAL SALVATION? Can the Holy Spirit leave the believer? Psalm 51:11 says yes. David wrote, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.” Paul says no in Ephesians 4:30: “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Which is it: does the Holy Spirit leave the believer or not?
FAITH ALONE, OR FAITH PLUS WORKS? James 2:24 says “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” On the other hand, in Romans 3:28, Paul writes, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Which one is true, and which one should we believe? These two verses oppose one another. Roman Catholics use James 2:24 and Protestants use Romans 3:28—who is right?
WATER BAPTISM? Should we water baptize today? Clearly, the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 28:19: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” But, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:17: “For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel….” The Bible says do not water baptize at all and the Bible says do water baptize for salvation (cf. Mark 16:16)—how can this be? What should we do?
MIRACLES/SIGNS/WONDERS/HEALING? Mark 16:18 says, “They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Paul was unable to heal Timothy of his stomach ailment (1 Timothy 5:23) and 2 Timothy 4:20 says Paul was unable to heal Trophimus. Did God lie? How can Mark 16:18, 1 Timothy 5:23, and 2 Timothy 4:20 be reconciled?
MATERIAL WEALTH? Luke 12:31 is often quoted: “But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Paul served God for 30 to 35 years, yet Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:27, 2 Corinthians 12:10, and Philippians 4:12 that he was oftentimes destitute of food, clothes, and shelter (“necessities”). Is the Bible mistaken—why did Luke 12:31 not work for Paul?
PHYSICAL CIRCUMCISION? Genesis 17:10 says, “…Every man child among you shall be circumcised.” Paul writes in Galatians 6:15, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision availeth anything, but a new creature.” Well, which is it: is physical circumcision a requirement for salvation, or not?
FORGIVENESS? “Short sin account” Christians quote 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Paul wrote Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Now, this seems contradictory: 1 John 1:9 says we need to confess our sins to get forgiveness, but Ephesians says we are already forgiven with no confession of sins. Which is it?
ANSWERED/UNANSWERED PRAYER? In John 14:13, the Lord Jesus says “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” But, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 that he prayed three times for God to heal/deliver him, yet God answered Paul’s prayer in the negative three times. Why did John 14:13 not work for Paul?
KOSHER DIET? According to Leviticus chapter 11, certain animals/foods are “unclean” and therefore unfit for human consumption. Nevertheless, Paul writes, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4,5). Which is it: eat whatever you want and give God thanks, or abstain from the unclean foods?
LEGALISM? Matthew 22:37-40: “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Yet, Paul writes in Romans 6:14, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” Are we under law, like Jesus said, or are we under grace, like Paul said!
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The lost world looks at the Bible in disdain. They hate it. Wicked rebellious man wants nothing to do with a holy righteous God. If ever you defend God’s Word, this is the opposition you will hear: “the Bible is full of contradictions.” Now, we have already seen a dozen examples in which the Bible says two completely opposite things, so how do we solve this dilemma? Is God’s Word full of mistakes, as the scoffer claims?
Some Christians will try to forcefully combine all these directions. Others try to gloss over the passages by spiritualizing (“the verse does not mean what it says”). Paul calls this, “handling the word of God deceitfully” (2 Corinthians 4:2). People “pick and choose” verses, leading to the 38,000 denominations in Christendom.
THE KEY TO BIBLE STUDY AND BIBLE UNDERSTANDING IS 2 TIMOTHY 2:15 KJV: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” In the Bible, God has two programs: the prophetic program (Acts 3:21) and the mystery program (Romans 16:25-26): we must keep these programs “rightly divided.” Prophecy is Israel’s program, and the mystery program belongs to us as members of the Church the Body of Christ. Directions given to Israel under law do not apply to us under grace. Also refer to Ephesians 2:11-13—“time past” is a reference to Israel’s program, while “but now” refers to the present-day Dispensation of Grace.
The key to understanding and enjoying the Bible is realizing that Paul is your apostle. Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13 KJV; Romans 15:16; 2 Timothy 1:11). God’s directions for you today are found in Paul’s epistles. Follow the directions laid out in Paul’s 13 epistles of Romans through Philemon. “Be ye followers of me, even as I am of Christ,” Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:1. Read what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:37 KJV: “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.” The rest of the Bible is doctrine for Israel’s program, although we can still study the remaining 53 books of the Bible because all 66 books are God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16,17).
Always keep 2 Timothy 2:15 in mind when you study the Bible, or God’s Word will never make sense to you! Be sure to note that if the Apostle Paul did not write the verse, it does not apply to you and God does not expect you to follow it.