Monday, July 4, 2016
“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11 KJV).
Have you ever noticed how much of our religious dialogue is missing from the New Testament, although we quote the above passage to endorse it? Have you observed how we have changed the name or expression of things we have borrowed from Catholicism and Protestantism to make it more unique to us?
We say, “I placed membership,” not “I joined the church” (Acts 9:26). We say, “I was baptized,” rather than “I was saved.” We say, “Gospel meeting,” rather than “Revival.” We say, “Bible classes,” instead of “Sunday School.” We say, “I was led by scripture,” not “I was led by the Holy Spirit .” We say, “I hope I am saved,” rather than “I know I am saved.” We say, “He quit the church,” instead of “He quit the Lord” or “He returned to the church,” not “He returned to the Lord.”
We talk about “gong to worship,” “corporate worship,” “public worship,” or “worship at church,” when such expressions usually belong to an Old Testament concept rather than the New. We refer to “five acts” of worship, but a biblical search doesn’t produce that expression. We speak of “singing” as worship or “preaching” as worship, but those expressions are modern rather than New Testament statements. Some believe it is taboo to say, “my church” or “our church” because it was purchased by Jesus, not us (Acts 20:28). It is argued that “of” shows possession and the church or churches are referred to as “of God,” or “of Christ.” There are other descriptions where “of” is employed without “God,” or “Christ.” Paul speaks of the church “of the Laodiceans,” “of the Thessalonians,” and “of Ephesus.” In the plural form he referred to the churches as “of the Gentiles,” “of the saints,” “of Galatia,” “of Asia,” “of Macedonia,” and “of Judaea.” When one says “our church” he is usually utilizing that expression in the same way Paul did in those passages.
Since some of our vocabulary isn’t found in scripture as we express it, is such use forbidden? No, not necessarily. Yet, if one promotes his dialogue to the status of the divine and attempts to bind it as the only scriptural way to describe biblical things, he is no longer speaking “as the oracles of God.” He has made his traditional speech into a “thus saith the Lord.” When it reaches that point it becomes “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).
When one reads Acts through Jude, he will notice that most, if not all of the congregations were being corrected. Even though most had inspired prophets or teachers, they could be influenced by personalities and pressures to the neglect of that gift and speak without it (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). Corinth, Ephesus, Sardis, Laodicea, and Jerusalem are a few of the examples! If such was true about those assemblies in the first century, couldn’t it happen to congregations in the twenty-first?
“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test? (except ye be reprobates? KJV)” (2 Corinthians 13:5 NIV).