By James Bond
Often times we are told that the Bible cannot be understood alike. Many excuse religious division on the premises that the Bible cannot be understood. I am a firm believer that, if it is understood at all, it will be understood alike. Christians in the first century understood God’s word. They were united in name, organization, worship, doctrine, faith, and practice (Acts 2:42). The apostle Paul commanded, “Now I beseech you brethren by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no division among you, but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement” (1 Cor. 1:10). Again Paul said, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). Biblical history attests the fact that man has never had a problem understanding God’s word. Adam and Eve understood what God had said (Gen. 3:1-3). Naaman understood the command to “dip seven times in the Jordan River” (2 Kings 5:10-12). God’s command is just as easy and simple to understand today as it was then.
People Are Divided Over What The Bible Does Not Say
All agree that singing is authorized and it is right to sing in our worship service (Eph. 5:29; Heb. 2:12; Col. 3:16). But division exists today over the using of instrumental music in worship. The Bible does not say anything about using instrumental music in New Testament worship. There is not a single command or example that authorizes the practice. The apostles set the order of the first century churches and they never used instrumental music. If God had commanded them to use it, they would have obeyed Him. Since they did not use instrumental music, it is evident that God did not authorize it. We are divided over something the Bible says nothing about! The controversy would immediately end if everyone would accept only what the Bible teaches.
When we come to the subject of baptism, all agree that it is scriptural to baptize penitent believers. But we disagree on infant baptism and sprinkling. Why? There is not one case of infant baptism in the word of God, nor is there one case of someone being sprinkled and calling it baptism. Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 28:19). You cannot baptize a person until you first teach that person and infants cannot be taught the word of God. What is boils down to is that division exists over something the Bible says nothing about! If all would accept only what the Bible says concerning baptism, unity would prevail.
All agree that the Lord’s church can scripturally engage in the following works: preaching the gospel, providing for poor saints, edification (1 Thess. 1:8; Acts 4:34-35; 6:1-7; 1 Tim. 5:16; Eph. 4:11-16). The division exists in the Lord’s church today, not over what the Bible teaches, but over things not even mentioned in the word of God – namely, church sponsored recreation and entertainment, churches engaging in secular business, and sponsoring church type of cooperation. There are no Scriptures that authorizes the church to engage in such things. We agree on what the Bible teaches, but we disagree and, consequently, are divided over things that are not taught in the word of God. Where in the Bible can one read about the Lord’s church sponsoring entertainment, recreation, engaging in secular business, etc.?
We can understand what the Bible says if we study it carefully with an open mind and a readiness to obey. We must learn to respect God’s silence. We must also be willing to be guided by what the Bible says and not by what it does not say (Deut. 29:29). The Bible will judge us in the last day (Jn. 12:48).
Guardian of Truth XXVII: 8, p. 240
April 21, 1983