“You Have Judged Correctly”

Jesus proved why He is worthy of the title, “The Master Teacher,” when He helped listeners come to the right applications of His teachings. One occasion was when Jesus was with a Pharisee named Simon. A woman came into the man’s home, took a vial of perfume, anointed Jesus, and using her hair to clean Him (Luke 7:36-39). Simon began to harshly criticize Jesus, casting doubt about Him being a prophet and allowing that woman to touch Him. The woman was known for her sins. Jesus told a parable of a moneylender who had two debtors. One owed a great amount of money, but one owed a smaller amount. Neither of the debtors could pay the lender, so he graciously released both of
the debt. Then Jesus asked Simon, “which of them will love him more?” (Luke 7:42). Simon answered correctly—the one who owed the greatest amount would love the lender the most. Jesus said to Simon, “you have judged correctly.”

God communicates to us by telling us what He wants us to do. Other times He may show us through examples. Still, there are other times when God gives us all the necessary information and wants us to reach the truth by reason. Jesus led “the horse to water” — and Simon was able to deduce the correct answer. The facts are presented and the truth is “staring us in the face.”

Nicodemus had heard, and possibly seen, some of Jesus’ miracles and came to the conclusion He must be one sent from God (John 3:2). The Hebrew writer used scriptural and logical conclusions to recognize truth when he wrote, “for when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law
also,” (Hebrews 7:12).

Are these reasonable conclusions, or necessary inferences binding and to be treated as lawful in the church? Absolutely, they are!

Many passages indicate the early church met regularly (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Hebrews 10:24-25). In Acts 20:7, the church met on the first day of the week to partake of the Lord’s Supper. We can correctly, rightly, and necessarily infer the truth of the practice of the New Testament church—they met each first day of the week. Since every new week has a first day, the necessary inference is the church should each and every first day of the week.

In Acts 4:4, the Bible says many who heard Peter’s message believed and the number of the church increased to about 5,000 people. The Philippian jailer repented and was baptized (Acts 16:33) and the Scripture says he “believed in God” (Acts 16:34). Crispus “believed in the Lord” (Acts 18:8) and he did what many other Corinthians did—believed and was baptized! The believers in Acts 4:4 must have believed, repented (Acts 2:38; 16:33), confessed (Acts 8:37), and been baptized (Acts 2:38; 8:38; 16:33; 18:8) into Christ in order to be counted among the believers (Acts 4:4; 16:34; 18:8).

Recognizing necessary inferences is critical to understanding the Scripture. If we want to know and practice the truth, we must read, study, and search for critical facts that will lead us to the truth. When we do that, as Jesus would say, “you have judged correctly.”

by Sean P. Cavender

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General Authority & Expediency

In recent studies, we have noticed the binding nature and elements of approved examples. This is one of the ways which God expresses His will. We learn what God wants us to do by following and keeping these examples. We also noted that some aspects of these examples are merely incidental and not essential elements. Any discussion on biblical authority would be incomplete without understanding principles of general authority and specific authority.

When God specifies something that He wants in particular, then it is binding and approved. We are not free to change the command or pattern. God told Noah to build an ark of gopher wood (Genesis 6:14). By specifically and deliberately telling Noah what to use, all other types of wood were excluded. God gave the specific dimensions that He wanted Noah to use to build the ark. These were not to be changed by Noah or anyone else. The New Testament instructs Christians to sing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). Any other musical expression besides singing is an addition and change to God’s law; instrumental music is excluded and unauthorized.

However, when God told Noah to build an ark of gopher wood, He did not specify all the equipment that Noah might use. This introduces us to the realm of general authority—what God states generally, or when examples are general in their execution and application. In matters of general authority there are

some liberties and freedoms in how we obey the commands. For example, Noah was free to use a saw for cutting, some sort of tool to measure, a hammer, and scaffolding, etc. to help him in the construction of the ark. When Jesus told His disciples to go into all the world (Mark 16:15), He did not specify the way they were to go. Therefore, they were at liberty to go by sailing, walking, or chariot, etc. Today we might go by airplane, automobile, or use of media (Internet, TV, newspaper, radio).

The tools and aids which assist in fulfilling God’s expectations that He has authorized become expedients. They are the means by which we obey God. Expedients must be lawful, cannot be specified, must be helpful, and cannot change the nature of what has been authorized. Expedients may not be bound as law. If some action or means is specified and demonstrated in a pattern, then it is law and not an expedient. For example, when the New Testament refers to baptism, it is referring to baptism in water (Acts 8:38-39; 10:47).

In the New Testament, Christians assembled regularly: they met in a home (Acts 12:12; 1 Corinthians 16:19), in a school (Acts 19:9), and in an upper room (Acts 20:8). There was not one specified type of location where saints must assemble. Locations were incidental to God’s expectation of assembling. Therefore, we have liberty to choose what might be expedient and helpful to fulfilling the obligation to assemble for worship. Church buildings are expedient and helpful to obeying this command (cf. Hebrews 10:24-25).

We also read of baptisms occurring in the New Testament. Some of these baptisms occurred outside (Acts 8:36-39). Again, a location of where a baptism must take place is not specified nor required by God. Since many congregations today have church buildings, they also have baptisteries. The baptistery is an expedient; the type of baptistery is incidental in any discussion. Some local congregations do not own a building, nor do they use a baptistery. Immersion in water is required, but baptisteries are not required nor essential to baptizing a person in the name of Jesus Christ. Use of a tub, swimming pool, lake, pond, or river would be acceptable—as long as enough was water present to immerse the penitent believer.

Discernment, wisdom, and a good attitude must be held by all parties when considering some of the needs of the congregation and the best way to fulfill those needs. We must put other people’s thoughts and needs before our own (Philippians 2:3-4). Therefore, we must not be too exacting in forcing people to keep the expediencies we prefer. We ought to consider the thoughts of others and make an informed decision on what is appropriate and best for everyone at large. This is the nature of all decisions pertaining to the realm of general authority.

by Sean P. Cavender

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A Summary of 1st and 2nd Kings

The books of 1st and 2nd Kings give us a glimpse into the nation and kingdom of Israel. As 1st and 2nd Samuel introduced us to the beginning of the monarchy by focusing on the lives of Saul and David, 1st and 2nd Kings is the continuing saga of the Israelites under the rule of the kings.

David’s son, Solomon, took the throne after David died. Early in the book of 1st Kings, we are introduced to Solomon and his reign. He began as a man who sought after God, much like his father. When offered riches, he chose wisdom instead. Solomon wrote many proverbs and songs, which we have some of those writings recorded for us in the Bible. However, the latter portion of his life is disappointing. He was led away by his many wives and concubines. He propagated idolatry because of those marriages. In many ways, Solomon becomes a picture of Israel—he began well, but turned away from God later in life. The nation of Israel also began well and was blessed during the reign of David and Solomon. However, later they would be divided and suffer unfaithfulness from her leaders and kings.

The reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon are known as the period of the united kingdom. After Solomon died, his son Rehoboam took the throne (1 Kings 12). After the beginning of his reign he acted foolishly and the kingdom was divided. Ten of the twelve tribes of Israel made up the northern kingdom of Israel; only two of the twelve tribes constituted the southern kingdom of Judah. It was the southern kingdom which maintained Jerusalem and the Davidic lineage.

During the divided kingdom, the people of God suffered. Israel never had a godly king; Judah had a few godly men lead them. Both kingdoms were influenced by the ungodly nations around them. So, God sent prophets to the kings to help them understand the need to repent and turn back to God. Elijah is the notable prophet in 1 Kings. He mentored Elisha to follow in his steps. Elisha becomes the notable prophet in 2 Kings. During the
divided kingdom years, many prophets preached and wrote their proclamations—we have their messages presented to us in the major and minor prophets of the Old Testament.

The books of 1st and 2nd Kings weaves the story of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah. Israel suffered much for their sin, ungodliness, and idolatry. There were political coos, conspiracies, upheaval, and bloody overthrow of power. Judah, while they had evil kings, was much more stable. God judged Israel for her sin and refusal to repent by allowing the Assyrians to capture them. Read 2 Kings 17 and you will get a sobering picture of why God judged them. The book of 2nd Kings ends with God’s judgment against Judah and the Babylonians coming in, exerting their authority against the children of Israel. Jerusalem was destroyed and they were judged for their iniquities and sins.

These books are a sobering reminder of how far sin will take us and how God will deal with sin, even among the people of God. We must not be deceived. We need to take the warnings seriously and determine we will obey God.

by Sean P. Cavender

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My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation


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