Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Spiritual Sword

The April 2006 issue of the Spiritual Sword is entitled, "A Century of Controversy: 1906-2006." I encourage you to get a copy and read it. I think this is one of the finest and most important issues of this periodical. Alan Highers, editor, has done a marvelous job in laying out a periodical that shows the underlying controversy and why many of us will not relinquish our desire to hold to Biblical authority for popular religion. You can subscribe to the Spiritual Sword at 901-743-0464. The cost is a mere $6.00 per year. I urge you to do so.

Christianity holds that Christ is Lord (Acts 2:36). As Lord, He is the one and only head of His church. Only He can make the laws or rules of the church. Some folks don't like laws or rules, but we wonder how the Lord can rule in our lives if there are no rules. Of course, that is the point. They want Jesus as their Savior and Lord, but they do not want the Bible making rules in their lives.

The all-sufficient New Testament is final and authoritative. Since it lacks any instruction for the use of the instrument, we have no authority for its use. Apparently the early church understood this well. They did not use it and were vehemently opposed to its use because it was worldly.

I have heard a number of psallo and psalmos arguments in recent years that supposedly support the use of instruments in Christian worship. They all break down, however, when you consider that if psallo or psalmos enjoined the instrument, the early church would have known it and practiced it. They knew Greek. The simple fact is that this argument fails. It was first hatched up by George P. Slade in 1878 in order to justify the use of the instrument. First they said it had to be used. When they were corrected, they then argued it could be used. But if it could be used, why didn't anyone in the early church for hundreds of years use it? Instruments were available. Instruments were used in all the pagan religions. They didn't use them, because God gave no consent for them.

If Christianity belongs to God, then shouldn't we do God's will rather than relinquish our "freedom" to the imitation of worldly sects? One fellow demands his Christian "freedom" to do what God never enjoined, authorized, or instructed. He is finding his freedom by imitating those outside of the Lord's church, not inside. Our freedom in Christ is not a warrant to imitate those who practice things outside the authority of Christ, like instruments of music. Ought we not to find our freedom by imitating the Lord's teaching rather than abberations of it? Paul spoke of those who left the freedom of Christ by embracing the thinking of the Judaizers (Galatians 5). Real freedom is found in "abiding in my words" (Jn 8:31-32) not by embracing that which is outside of Christ.

I hope you'll read this issue of Spiritual Sword. It speaks clearly and truthfully.


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Papyrus 46

Next week I'm traveling to Flint, Michigan to the Schwartz Creek Church of Christ for a gospel meeting. I'm excited about going, since I have never been to Michigan to preach. Mark Aites is the wonderful preacher there.

During the time I'm there, I plan to go over to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to see the UM Papyrus Collection. It is housed in the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library. I have called ahead and hope that all will go well.

I'm particularly interested in the exhibit on the New Testament "From Papyri to King James." I am particularly interested in seeing a leaf from the codex P46, dating from 200 AD. UM owns 30 of the 86 extant leaves of this codex. The other 56 are in the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, Ireland. This codex was discovered in 1931 and is more than a century older than Sinaiticus or Vaticanus. The leaf I will see displayed contains the opening paragraphs of the Epistle to the Hebrews, preceded by the last line of the Letter to the Romans. P46 is the earliest known codex containing the epistles of Paul. I cannot tell you how I have longed to see this exhibit. I have been waiting four or five years for this trip to Michigan. I'd rather see this papyrus than spit in the Grand Canyon or shake the hand of Mickey Mouse.

This, of course, is a significant argument that the collector of this codex believed Paul wrote Hebrews. It may make us all take a second look at Paul as the author of Hebrews.

A personal note: Jackie (my wife) and Tara (one of my four daughters) are in Oklahoma with Jackie's mother, Bernice Dodgen. Bernice will have surgery on Friday to fix an anuerism. Please keep the family in your prayers. I have a really wonderful mother-in-law. She gave me my wife.