Volume 1, Number 2 – June, 2021
The Importance of One Letter
It is easy for us to overlook the importance of a single word, even of a single letter, as we speak. An illustration of this is shown in the adage, “The only difference in united and untied is where ‘i’ is found.” One single letter moved one space totally changes the meaning of a sentence where it is found. This is why it is important to take time to look at individual words/letters as we read the Bible.
Look at these two lists and see if you notice how one letter changes the word of God. The Bible speaks of: His doctrine (Matt. 7:28); the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42); your doctrine (Acts 5:28); the doctrine of the Lord (Acts 13:12); sound doctrine (1 Tim. 1:10); the doctrine of Christ (Heb. 6:1); etc.
Now, look at the second list: the doctrines and commandments of men (Matt. 15:9; Mark 7:7); the commandments and doctrines of men (Col. 2:22); the doc- trines of devils 1 Tim. 4:1); and strange doctrines (Heb. 13:9). Did you see the difference? It is the letter “s” to show a distinct difference between the words “doctrine” and the word “doctrines.”
The Bible uses the plural, doctrines, to refer to false teaching, but it never uses the plural to refer to the teaching from heaven. It rarely uses the singular to refer to teaching coming from the heart of man, and every time it does, it clearly identifies its origin.
The One Faith/Doctrine
On any Bible subject there is only one teaching. In our society, we have the concept that one doctrine is as good as another. That is why people say, “That’s what you believe about it. Let me tell you what I believe about it.” This language ignores the fact that our God is one and when He speaks it is always singular. There is no way that He, who cannot lie, can teach one thing in one place and a contrary thing in another.
Paul says that there are precisely the same number of “faiths” as there are gods. “There is one body, and one Spirit…one hope…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God…” (Eph. 4:4-6). The Bible does not make provision for me to have one faith and you have another faith. Our faith comes from the doctrine we are taught, and the Bible never, even one time, speaks of the doctrines of God.
Religious division mocks the prayer of Jesus for unity among His followers. If I believe and teach the only doctrine found in the Bible and others teach only the same doctrine from the same source there will be unity. There is a vast difference between doctrine and doctrines!
Do You Find Comfort in Christ’s Coming?
In 1 Thessalonians 4:18, Paul closes out his message on preparing for Christ’s return by telling the Thessalonians to “comfort one another with these words.” I would like to pose the following question: How much comfort do we find from this passage?
If we do not find comfort in the fact that Christ will return, then I implore you to ask yourself why, because the only people who should not find comfort in these words are those who are not “in” Christ. Consider Romans 6:3, where the question is raised, “Know ye not, that so many
of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?” Likewise, in Romans 8:1 we see that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
If you are not “in” Christ by either not yet obeying the gospel or falling away from God’s commandments, I encourage you to read the succeeding chapter of 1 Thessalonians 5. There we learn “the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (v. 2). In light of this knowledge, we must not fall into “darkness” (v. 4) through disobedience to God, but, instead, must enter in or return to the “light” (v. 5) through faith, baptism, repentance, and obedience.
Eating Flesh and Drinking Blood
Difficult words, no doubt. No less for John’s readers than for Jesus’ hearers. For many that day, it was too much, so they walked away. Just the day before, Jesus fed five thousand people from five loaves of bread and two fish (John 6:1–14). Once they were well fed, having enjoyed the benefits of Jesus’ miracle, the people concluded, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world,” and they decided that He should be king (vv. 14–15). What a difference a day makes.
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. (John 6:53–56)
What did Jesus mean by eating His flesh and drinking His blood? To the Jewish crowd, this was offensive. After all, eating blood is unclean according to the Mosaic law (Lev. 17:12). For people today, His words can sound obscure and off-putting, even if not taken literally. Though we may not walk away because of them, we might practically ignore them.
The meaning of Jesus’ words is found a few verses earlier where Jesus says something similar. Instead of talking about eating flesh and drinking blood, He says, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and
I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40). Jesus uses graphic language to point His hearers to the true instrument of eternal life — faith in Him alone. Jesus invites us to find everlasting nourishment in Him by faith. Similarly, Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (v. 29).
In the wilderness, God provided manna for the Israelites (vv. 31–32; Ex. 16), and with it their faith was tested. They had to believe that God would give them exactly what they needed every day, so they were told not to collect more than they needed each day. Manna foreshadowed the bread to come — Christ. We must believe that in Him we have all we need. Jesus’ words cause us to consider that we can only live through Him. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:22). Jesus’ words call us to lay hold of Him alone by faith—the One who shed His blood for our sins and who rose from the dead to give us eternal life. He is the true bread that comes down from heaven. In Him, we “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).
The Purpose of Prosperity
“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need”
There are three levels of how to live with material things: (1) you can steal to get them; (2) you can work to get them; (3) or you can work to get in order to give.
Too many professing Christians live on level two. We glorify work over stealing and mooching, and feel we have acted virtuously if we have spurned stealing and mooching, and given ourselves to an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. That’s not a bad thing. Work is better than stealing and mooching. But that’s not what the apostle calls us to.
Almost all the forces of our culture urge us to live on level two: work to get. But the Bible pushes us relentlessly to level three: work to get to give.
“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work”
(2 Corinthians 9:8).
Why does God bless us with abundance? So we can have enough to live on, and then use the rest for all manner of good works that alleviate spiritual and physical misery — temporal and eternal suffering. Enough for us; abundance for others.
The issue is not how much a person makes. Big industry and big salaries are a fact of our times, and they are not necessarily evil. The evil is in being deceived into thinking that a large salary must be accompanied by a lavish lifestyle.
God has made us to be conduits of his grace. The danger is in thinking the conduit should be lined with gold. It shouldn’t. Copper will do. Copper can carry unbelievable riches to others. And in the very process of that giving we enjoy the greatest blessing (Acts 20:35).