What Does Silence Teach?

When engaged in discussions of the Bible, we often hear the statement, “But the Bible doesn’t say we can’t!” Supposedly this proves that if something is not specifically condemned in the Bible, then it is acceptable. People will go to all sorts of lengths in use of the silence of the Scriptures to prove their pet doctrine is acceptable to God. What we should instead be asking is, “Does the Bible say we can?”

We need to remember that silence has never authorized anything. It does not authorize your child to do that for which you gave no permission, nor does it authorize us to do something for which God has never given permission (Heb. 7:14). Yet it seems that even people who understand this principle are still intent on using selective silence of the Scriptures. By selective silence I mean, one will use silence of the scriptures to condemn those who might practice something with which they disagree, such as those who use instruments of music in worship, but then argue from silence of the Scriptures for something they want to do or teach.

An example of this might be found in the wedding feast at Cana (Jn. 2:1-11). It is argued by those who might want to approve the use intoxicating beverages, that history teaches us wine (of the intoxicating type) was used extensively by the Jews and others in their feasts. The next point in the scenario is that Jesus turned water into wine. Therefore, because the Scriptures do not refute the conclusion, Jesus must have approved of the use of intoxicating beverages. Although I did not put it in such terms, the scenario equates with what is called a syllogism. A syllogism is defined as, “an argument of a form containing a major premise and a minor premise connected with a middle term and a conclusion.” It is also defined as “an extremely subtle, sophisticated, or deceptive argument.” If you look closely at the claims made by those making the argument above, you see the subtle deceptiveness in their argument. They reason from silence of the Scriptures and say that Jesus made intoxicating wine out of the water. The Greek word is “Onios”, a generic word that can or cannot mean an intoxicating beverage. Just because the English word “wine” appears in this passage does not necessarily indicate an intoxicating drink. And there is nothing else in the passage to indicate that the people were, in fact, intoxicated. Therefore, their argument is flawed.

Another place that people like to argue from silence of the Scriptures is found in the discussion of divorce and remarriage. The reasoning goes something like this; divorce was well entrenched and quite rampant among the Jews of Jesus’ day. When Peter and the rest of the apostles preached to the multitudes on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), some of those who heard the message were obviously in this situation. Therefore, some of those who obeyed the gospel must have been divorced and remarried (this would be the minor premise). They obeyed the gospel and were not told they needed to dissolve that relationship after becoming a Christian (the connecting statement). Therefore, we should not tell those who are in unscriptural marriages to sever the relationship (the major premise). Once again, as with the previous example, we find that something is being argued from the silence of the Scriptures. When we look at Acts 2 & 3, we find nothing said one way or the other about the marital relationship of any of those 3000 that obeyed the Gospel. For all we know from what is said, they may have all been single. To conclude that some were in a second or third marriage is arguing something that is not stated in the Scriptures. To say that, even if some were in that position, they were not told to sever the relationship is also arguing something that is not addressed in the Scriptures. Therefore, we cannot use the silence of the Scriptures to approve unscriptural marriages.

The Scriptures tell us what God deems necessary for our salvation. Has He told us everything that was said or done by Jesus or the apostles? No, He has not (Jn. 21:25). Has he told us everything we need to know? Yes, He has (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:3). To try proving something from what God has not said is to “whittle on God’s end of the stick,” and place oneself in the position of God. “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29).

The Hope Of Heaven

The question has often been asked as to why the early church grew so rapidly. The answer, I believe, is quite simple. The Christian religion is a religion of hope. Hope was something many of that day did not have. Hope is more than wishful thinking. It is defined as “desire with expectation of obtaining what is desired”. You may desire something, whatever it may be, but realize the chances of ever having this desire come true is not realistic. The desire may be there, but you cannot hope for them. Expectation alone is also not hope. Most of us expect sickness to come from time to time, or expect to pay taxes, etc. We expect these things in life, however there is no desire for them, therefore we do not hope for them. Where there is desire and expectation there is hope, and such hope is necessary for us to live the Christian life successfully.

What the Christian hope is not:

It is not the “hope” that we are going to Heaven. Have you ever been asked, “Are you going to Heaven?” and your reply is “I hope so”. We can know if we are going to Heaven or not, no hoping about it. In 1 John 5:13 we read, “I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” If one knows he has eternal life he knows he is a Christian and thus going to Heaven.

What the Christian hope is:

It IS the promise of Heaven with all the good things that are there. We ought to desire it, and we ought to expect it. If we don’t, we have no hope. Many Christians just desire Heaven but don’t expect it. If you don’t expect it, you are not diligent or don’t believe the promises of God. The basis of our hope is that we are children of God. The reason for our being children of God is God’s love. 1 John. 3:1 reads, “See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children”. We became God’s children by being born again. John. 3:3 says, “Jesus replied, Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again; he cannot see the kingdom of God”. No one except a child of God can have this hope of Heaven. Those with whom we come in contact in our everyday lives that cannot call themselves children of God are without hope. The Apostle Paul tells us, “At that time you were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). We know from scripture that Heaven is a prepared place because Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms, if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself so that where I am you may be also.” Heaven is prepared only for those who summit to Christ and become children of God.

Purity is a must

We know that as a Christian, we must keep ourselves pure and the hope of Heaven purifies our hearts. 1 John. 3:3 reads, “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” The stronger our hope, the purer in heart and life we will be. Likewise, the purer in heart and life the stronger our hope will be. Purity in the life of every Christian is necessary before we can have hope of “appearing with Christ in glory”. The hope of Heaven should cause us as Christians to rejoice. Matt. 5:12 tells us, “Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in Heaven.” The Christians hope is based upon the promises of Christ, and he has promised us Heaven if we obey him. Our hope depends upon the strength of our desire, and how badly we want to go to Heaven. It is also based on the strength of our expectation, and our faith in God who has promised us a place in Heaven if we have lived the kind of life we should. The Christians hope is worth more than the entire world, do you have it

“Self-Examination”

There are times when we all must go to the doctor for a physical examination. The doctor looks us over, checks our reflexes and various other things. We do this so that we may maintain good health.

In 1 Corinthians 11:28 Paul wrote, “But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” While this is a warning about how we should be careful about our attitude as we partake of the Lord’s Supper, the idea of examining ourselves should be something we all do on a regular basis as it is about more than simply the Lord’s Supper. If we do not take the time to examine ourselves and correct the things that are wrong, then we will begin to crumble as Christians.

Self-examination, a continuing act

In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul expanded on the idea of self-examination. He said, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?” We should do self-examination daily. But this can be more difficult than it sounds because of what we may be afraid of finding. We may try to put it off afraid of what things are brought to the surface. However, the time we use to examine ourselves is very important, because it gives us the opportunity to realize our errors and then correct them. When the time comes upon us that we realize we are in sin is a time when a Christian will either “sink or swim.” If we choose to repent of our sin and come back to Christ with a heart of repentance, we will remain in Christ. If we refuse to correct the sin in our lives, we will lose our relationship with Christ.

This is how the growth of a Christian is accomplished. It is not accomplished by parading around with our noses in the air as if we are without sin. There are those who, when their sin is found out, quickly seek to justify themselves and brush off the wrongdoing. But God does not simply “brush off” the sin, regardless of how small we may think it is.

We are told to “test ourselves” as to whether we are in the faith. When many hear these words, they are stricken with fear. It is a terrifying thought to come to the realization that we may be in the wrong. However, what many fail to realize is that this is the whole purpose of self-examination. If our faults are never brought to light, they will not be corrected. When we realize our faults, we can REPENT of them and be back in a right relationship with the Lord.

Lack of self-examination

Sadly, there are those who act as if they would rather live in torments, than to admit they have sinned or to feel embarrassed of their sin. That is why Paul told the Corinthians, “For this reason, many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep (1 Corinthians 11:30). When we do not examine ourselves daily, we become weak or sick Christians. Verses 31 and 32, tell us that we read that if “we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.” “We are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned WITH the world (emphasis added J.C.)”. When we examine ourselves, it is so that we may judge ourselves that when we realize our sins, we may repent of them. No longer will we be “condemned with the world.”

As difficult as it may sound, self-examination is something all Christians should actively be engaged in. It is not so we may feel bad about ourselves or feel afraid to sit down and ask ourselves, “Am I living as a Christian?” We are to examine ourselves, so we may not be condemned as those in the world will be condemned. We judge our own actions, so we may not be judged.

Let us not be as the world, brushing off sin and searing our conscience with a hot iron. Instead, let us examine ourselves daily to whether we are “in the faith.” Self-examinations can save the soul.

Does It Matter What Road We Take?

When preparing to take a trip you get down the map to search out the best route to your destination. You pick the route that best suits your purpose. It seems many people have the same thought process when it comes to choosing a church — “We’re all go to the same place, we’re just taking different roads to get there,” they say. The question that must be answered is, “Can you really make that assumption according to God’s word?

Jesus indicated there were only two roads. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus said, “…the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Yes, there are different roads, but according to Jesus only one goes to Heaven, and it is narrow.

The Samaritan woman who met Jesus at the well, immediately pointed out that her people worshipped differently from His (John 4:19-20). But notice, Jesus did not reply that both roads led to the same place — He said that one road was right and the other was wrong (John 4:22), and that if she wished to please God, her worship must be “in truth” (John 4:24).

In Acts 15:1-31, the apostles disputed with some who believed in Jesus but taught error about what was necessary to be saved. Instead of concluding that there were different roads, they gave notice to the churches that one road was right and the other was wrong.

The idea of “different roads” is a “Red Herring” used by many to avoid a discussion about different religious teachings and practices. After all, many say, does really matter if you are sincere? Indeed, it does. The Bible says that there are doctrines that God hates (Revelation 2:15), and that some doctrines are of demons (1 Timothy 4:1). Taking heed to doctrine is necessary for salvation (1 Timothy 4:16, 2 John 9), because obedience to God’s “form of doctrine” is what makes one free from sin (Romans 6:17-18). Even many who believe in Jesus are on the wrong road because they do not obey (Luke 6:46, Matthew 7:21-23).

Men may choose their own way, but that doesn’t make it right. Only God’s way is right. The “different roads” philosophy has led churches to abandon the question of what is right, and instead accept a wide diversity of belief. But we should not be ashamed to say that some beliefs are right, and others are wrong, because that is what God says (Proverbs 14:12). If people are on different roads, we must conclude they are not all headed for Heaven.