Church Recreation

CHURCH RECREATION

By Wayne S. Walker

     “Church of Christ, [street address, city name], is celebrating Family Emphasis Month in September every Wednesday evening at 7:30 p. m.  Each Wednesday a 25-minute segment of the film The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will be shown followed by family games and activities designed to understand the film.

The above notice appeared some years ago in the local newspaper of a city near where I was living at the time.  This writer does not necessarily believe that it is wrong to show films in Bible classes if they are used to teach what the Bible actually says, although watching The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, while taken from a great fantasy book based on a Judaeo-Christian worldview which I highly recommend, is hardly the same thing as studying the Bible itself.  Furthermore, whatever activities might ensue, they should be designed to understand the Scriptures and not just the film.  There would also be some question about special church celebrations like “Family Emphasis Month” in the first place (Galatians 4:10).

However, the main problem with this announcement is the “family games” which were to follow.  After having lived in that area for a number of years, I have a little knowledge of the history of this particular congregation.  It is what we would call a “liberal church” and has accepted all the social gospel trappings with which that term has come to be associated.  They take the position now held by the Gospel Advocate magazine.  However, I would like for you to consider this quote from the Gospel Advocate Annual Lesson Commentary, 1951, pp. 225-229:

It is not the duty of the church to provide entertainment for young or old.  It is not a part of the program of the church to provide playgrounds, programs of entertainment, or supervisors of such programs….It is definitely no more the duty of the church to provide recreation for the young people than it is to provide a business for every member of the church to conduct….

Building recreation rooms and providing and supervising recreational activities at the expense of the church is a departure from the simple gospel plan as revealed in the New Testament.  The church might as well relieve the parents of feeding and disciplining all the young people at church expense as to take over the job of entertaining and supervising their recreation at church expense….Be sure to get a clear conception of the duties of the home as contrasted with the duties of the church in the matter of recreation.  To confuse the two realms of activity will involve us in absurdities” (end of quote).

Back in 1951 very few if any members of the Lord’s church believed that the church should become involved in recreation and entertainment.  And if someone were so bold as to suggest such, he would quickly be shown the error of his suggestion from the Scriptures (Romans 14:17, 1 Corinthians 11:22).  But today, whole congregations of people who still call themselves after the glorious name of Christ have completely lost faith in the power of the gospel to save souls (Romans 1:16).  Instead they have turned to fun and games to draw men.  And then these brethren claim that they have not changed!

—taken from Torch; January, 1986 (Vol. XXI, No. 1), pp. 20-21

“And Such Were Some of You, But…”

AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU, BUT…”

By Wayne S. Walker

     “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).  This article focuses on verse 11.

Some of these Corinthians had been fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners.  But notice the past tense.  Paul wrote, “Such were some of you”—not “are” but “were.”  These Corinthians had been among the unrighteous who would not inherit the kingdom of God, but no more.  What stood between what they had been before and what they were now when Paul wrote?  We shall find the answer as we consider what Paul meant when he said, “And such were some of you, but….”

They were washed.  All of us know what it is like to get physically dirty while working in the garden or on the car so that we need to be cleansed or made clean.  We also become soiled spiritually and need to be washed because of our sins.  David had sinned by committing adultery with Bathsheba and having her husband killed to cover it up, so he prayed, “For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me….Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:3-7).  This “washing of regeneration” is made possible by the grace of God (Titus 3:5-7).  The agent by which this washing is accomplished is the blood of Christ (Revelation 1:5).  But when are our sins washed away?  “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

Once the sins which separated them from God were washed away, they were sanctified.  This means to be set apart.  These Corinthian “saints” made up “the church of God at Corinth” because they had been “sanctified in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:1-2).  They had been set apart from sin to belong to God.  How are people sanctified?  Regarding the apostles, Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).  Those who obey the truth are separated from this world of sin to be identified as God’s people.  Thus, the result of this sanctification, according to Paul in 2 Timothy 2:19-22, is that “The Lord knows those who are His,” because everyone who names the name of Christ must depart from iniquity.  These are those who become vessels for honor, “sanctified and useful for the Master” by all fleeing worldly lusts.

Then, when they were set apart from sin to God, they were justified, which means being made right in the sight of God.  Paul said, “Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39).  The basis for being justified is not doing the works of the old law but the grace of God (Romans 3:20-24).  The means by which it is accomplished is the blood of Christ (Romans 5:9).  However, it is also “by faith” (Romans 3:28, 5:1).  The faith by which we are justified is not a passive or dead faith but one that is demonstrated in doing the works of God (James 2:21-24).  This involves being buried with Christ in baptism (Romans 6:3-4).

As we consider being washed, sanctified, and justified, we must understand that these are not three separate processes but just three different ways of looking at the same thing.  Remember Paul’s list.  “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”  So it does not make any difference what we have done or how “bad” we have been.  If we are willing to turn our lives over to God in faith, genuine repentance, and obedience, we, like these formerly unrighteous Corinthians, can be washed, sanctified, and justified—or in other words, we can be forgiven and saved.

—in Search for Truth, 7/19/2015 (Vol. VI, No. 50)

Extortioners

EXTORTIONERS

By Wayne S. Walker

     “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).  Instead of “extortioners,” the New American Standard Bible and the New International Version both have “swindlers.”  The term in the original comes from a word which means to plunder or pillage.  “But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations, and partly while you became companions of those who were so treated; for you had compassion on me in my chains, and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven” (Hebrews 10:32-34, emphasis mine, WSW).

According to its literal meaning, an extortioner is one who is rapacious or ravenous like wolves.  “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15).  Hence, the term came to mean a robber or, more exactly, a swindler or cheat, and the crime was considered quite serious.  “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector’” (Luke 18:11).  Thus, it generally refers to one who makes his living dishonestly or unscrupulously at the expense of others.  This would include not only downright crooks, but also people such as gamblers, loan sharks, and others who would prey upon unsuspecting or unfortunate victims.

Jesus condemned the attitude that led to extortion and the practices that it engendered in the scribes and Pharisees.  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence” (Matthew 23:25).  Jesus does not tell us here exactly how they were guilty of extortion, but He does give us a clue in a previous verse.  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation” (v. 14).  They probably held the mortgages to these widows’ houses, and when something happened that the widows could not pay, the scribes and Pharisees, who were supposed to be religious leaders and help people, would stand before the widows’ houses and make long prayers to show how “pious” they were, then promptly acted to cheat these poor widows out of their homes.  Why?  Jesus answered that question in a parallel passage.  “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness’” (Luke 11:29).

In contrast to cheating and taking undue advantage of others, God wants us to be upright and honest in all our dealings with our fellowman.  “Providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men” (2 Corinthians 8:21).  “Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably” (Hebrews 13:18). Not only is honesty the best policy, but it is the only principle for Christians to follow in their relationships with others.  Let us always strive to be honest because those who are not will not inherit the kingdom of God.

These two verses do not claim to contain a complete listing of all the unrighteous, but they do identify some of the more prominent forms both in Corinth and in our day as well.  Why is this subject so important?  “All unrighteousness is sin…” (1 John 5:17a).  And “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a).  God’s justice demands that unrighteousness be punished.  You and I may not necessarily be guilty of any of the specific sins mentioned here, but we have all sinned (Romans 3:23).  The next verse goes on to give God’s remedy for sin in our lives, and our concluding article in this series will discuss it.

—in Search for Truth, 7/12/2015 (Vol. VI, No 49)

Revilers

REVILERS

By Wayne S. Walker

     “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers…[will inherit the kingdom of God]” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).  Please notice that the word here is not “revelers,” as in Galatians 5:19 where one of the works of the flesh listed is “revellings” or “revelries.”  That too is a sin, but this is something different.  Instead of “revilers,” the New International Version has “slanderers.”

The word in the original language is defined as a railer or an abusive person, and comes from a term meaning to reproach.  In the examination of the blind man whom Jesus healed by the Jewish leaders, “Then they reviled him and said, ‘You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples’” (John 9:28).  Paul, describing his work as an apostle, said, “…Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure” (1 Corinthians 4:12).  And of Jesus in His sufferings we are told, “Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23).

Basically, the word “reviler” identifies one who by his abusive speech stirs up hatred, anger, contention, and strife.  Notice what the wise man had to say about such people in the Old Testament.  “Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool” (Proverbs 10:18).  “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays contention” (Proverbs 15:18). “As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife: (Proverbs 26:21).  There are so many ways to revile—murmuring and complaining (1 Corinthians 10:10); arguing and bickering (Galatians 5:15); gossiping and talebearing (1 Timothy 5:13); or simply speaking evil of others (James 4:14).

The New Testament certainly teaches us to avoid these kinds of things.  “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.  For ‘He who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit’” (1 Peter 3:8-10).  Also, we need to live so as to give no occasion for others to speak evil of us.  “Sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you” (Titus 2:8).  Remember that revilers will not inherit the kingdom of God.

—in Search for Truth, 7/5/2015 (Vol. VI, No. 48)

Drunkards

DRUNKARDS

By Wayne S. Walker

     “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards…[will inherit the kingdom of God]” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).  The word “drunkards” is translated from a term for wine which is the source of our English word “methyl” which is a kind of alcohol.  It is defined literally as drunken or intoxicated.  On the day of Pentecost, when the apostles spoke in tongues, we read, “Others mocking said, ‘They are full of new wine.’  But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words.  For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day’” (Acts 2:13-15).

Even the Old Testament warned of the problems associated with drinking alcoholic beverages.  Noah planted a vineyard, drank of the wine, and got drunk, and some very unpleasant consequences ensued (Genesis 9:20-21ff).  “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).  The word “wine” does not always necessarily suggest a fermented beverage.  Sometimes it can refer to fresh grape juice (Isaiah 65:8).  It has been suggested that whenever wine is spoken of positively in Scripture it means the non-fermented variety, as when Jesus turned water to wine (John 2:1-11).  On the other hand, when it is talked about in negative terms it identifies the alcoholic kind, as we see in Proverbs 20:1 and the following passage, which also issues a stern warning.

“Who has woe?  Who has sorrow?  Who has contentions?  Who has complaints?  Who has wounds without cause?  Who has redness of eyes?  Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine.  Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things.  Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: ‘They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it.  When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?’” (Proverbs 23:29-35).

While it is true that these two Proverbs warnings are found in the Old Testament, they still are written for our learning and represent God’s wisdom on the subject.  Furthermore, we have similar warnings in the New Testament.  “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).  W. E. Vine says that the term translated “drunk with wine” means “to make drunk or to grow drunk (an inceptive verb, marking the process of…).”  Thus, whatever is involved in the process of becoming drunk is condemned.  There are only two possibilities here.  One can be filled either with wine or with the Spirit—but not both.

“Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.  For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles—when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.  In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you” (1 Peter 4:1-4).  The past lives of these disciples had included drunkenness, revelries (i.e., drunken orgies), and “drinking [i.e. cocktail] parties,” but no longer.  They had ceased from such sinful activities.  Why?  Because those who engage themselves in the process which will make them drunk will not inherit the kingdom of God.

—in Search for Truth, 6/28/2015 (Vol. VI, No. 47)