By Lewis Willis
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes get the impression that folks wonder whether the Bible really says what it means and means what it says. The nonreligious, the denominationalists and even some brethren seem to doubt what the Bible says. They just can’t believe it says some of the things it says. Even if they acknowledge that it says certain things, they seem to question whether or not that is what is meant. In this article we shall explore some of these matters.
1. “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24). This seems rather clear to me either believe or die in your sins. Are you one of those people who might say, “Yes, but does it really mean that?” The answer is, “Yes!”
2. “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3). Does it really mean “repent or perish”? Yes, indeed! Also, Peter said, “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee” (Acts 8:22). How many pages would you suppose have been written over the years questioning whether or not this passage teaches Christians to repent if they wish to be forgiven of their sins? Does it really mean that? Surely it does!
3. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:16). Does it really mean that I must believe and be baptized if I want to be saved? “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Sins are washed away in baptism? Does it really mean that? Yes, that is exactly what it means!
4. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1). Now, John didn’t really mean that there are many false prophets in the world, did he? Really? Paul said, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which we have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). Is that really what he means? Are we supposed to mark and avoid false teachers? If so, why do some brethren get so hyper when you do that?
5. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:25). Surely he didn’t mean. that we’re suppose to assemble with the saints? Does it really mean that? Some must not believe that it does, because they surely do not assemble.
6. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). The religious world has had a field-day trying to decide if this passage really means what it says. When he says “singing,” does he mean “singing”? Or, can you also “play” on instruments of music? Do you see what I mean when I say that people have trouble believing the Bible? This passage means what it says and says what it means!
7. “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matt. 23:33) Of course, everybody knows there is no such thing as “hell,” so, this passage obviously does not really mean that there is a “damnation” that is meted out in “hell.” Or, does it? We know it means what it says, don’t we?
8. “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I do and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (Jn. 14:2-3). But, where is Jesus? “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10- 11). These passages say that Jesus has gone to Heaven. But, is there really a place called “Heaven”? Surely these passages don’t mean that? Or, do they?
9. “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matt. 19:9). A major controversy is underway in churches of Christ over whether or not this passage means what it says. Practically every periodical published by faithful brethren refers to it in every issue. Folks, if we’re going to believe that the Bible says what it means, and means what it says, with reference to points 1-8, we’re going to have to admit that it means what it says here. No “ifs, ands, or buts.” Otherwise, we’re going to encourage somebody to commit adultery, or to remain in adultery and lose his soul (Gal. 5:19-21).
God gave us the Bible to instruct us. God means what he says in it! If we have a problem with this idea, our fundamental problem is a lack of faith in the Bible. We are smart enough to understand what it says, and it is rank unbelief when we ask, “Does it really mean that?”
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 8, p. 237
April 19, 1990