By Irven Lee
False doctrines and practices in religion are condemned by several means in the Bible. Many are mentioned as being wrong in the sight of God and as being of such nature that they will prevent our inheriting the. kingdom. For example “All liars shall have their part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8. Read also 1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Gal. 5:19, 20; Col. 3:5-11). Even though many things are so specifically named and condemned, they are among the very common sins. Many people show little concern for the will of God.
There are many things just as certainly condemned by broad principles. We list a very few. “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may give to him that needeth” (Eph. 4:28). He does not here list all the good and acceptable occupations, but He does necessarily imply that some occupations are good and some are not.
“It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak” (Rom. 14:21). The eating of flesh evidently referred to the eating of animals whose blood had been sprinkled before some image or idol god. Almost the entire eighth chapter of First Corinthians is taken to emphasize this principle. This great chapter concludes with the words “if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend” (1 Cor. 8:13). The “nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak” makes it very evident that this has a very broad application.
Another way by which God condemns some things in spiritual matters is by saying absolutely nothing about them. The New Testament does not say. thou shalt not offer animal sacrifices, thou shaft not count beads in worship, or thou shaft not use an instrument of music in worship. It does not say that the church must not establish central national agencies to collect funds from churches and then disburse them under the guidance of the board of the society, or that the church must not build a banquet hall or play house under the name of a fellowship hall. Honest people who have not learned to respect the silence of the scriptures include any such practices as they desire and, in defense of the innovations, ask where the Bible says that we should not do this or that. They then further charge that we are making a law where God made none when we suggest that they are not scriptural. They are the ones who take the liberty to add a law to His perfect law of liberty.
The Holy Spirit made it clear through Peter that grace and peace are multiplied through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, and that His divine power has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness through that knowledge (2 Peter 1:2-4). In other words He left nothing out of His perfect law that will help in our quest for life and godliness.
Many are the times that my brethren have pointed out that the inspired scriptures will furnish the man of God completely to every good work (2 Tim. 3:14-17). Are we forgetting this completeness of His revelation? The inspired writer of Hebrews took a few verses to effectively argue that Christ could not be our high priest without a necessary change of the law since Christ came of the tribe of Judah and Moses, in giving the law, said nothing concerning a priest of the tribe of Judah (Hebrews 7:11-14). It was not necessary for Moses to say that one of the tribe of Judah could not be a priest. One of the tribe of Judah was automatically eliminated because Moses said nothing about a man being a priest if he were of that tribe. It is very important for us to remember this principle. It would take a long freight train to carry all the Bible if it had been necessary for each writer to specify all the things that are unlawful every time he gave a law. Who could own such a book? Who could ever read it all? Think of how tedious it would be.
He gave us a perfect law that will give us all things that pertain to life and godliness and that will furnish us completely to every good work. He then said, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). How could man over emphasize this teaching? What could be more dangerous to the unity of the church and to our spiritual welfare than to ignore this? We need to be silent where the Bible is silent.
Another inspired plea for us to stop where the Bible stops is in Rev. 22:18, 19. The Lord there warns that if we add to the word, He will add the plagues to us. It is important for us to do all that He commands for if we take away, He will take away our part out of the holy city. This passage would refer especially to the book of Revelation, but the ~ principle is repeated often throughout the Bible (See Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Prov. 30:6). Man is presumptuous to add a bit of his own human wisdom to try to improve God’s law.
God gives general laws that necessarily imply things that would make possible the carrying out of the general commandments. God told Noah to build an ark. Noah was not adding to God’s law when he used hammers and saws and all other necessary tools to carry out the command. We are not adding to God’s law when we have song books to be used in carrying out the command to sing. The songs are implied .in the command to sing. The meeting house is implied in the
command to meet. Things necessarily implied are not additions. People who preach on “where there is no pattern” in defending some unscriptural practice err grievously. Blind followers will fall into the ditch with them (Matt. 15:9, 13, 14).
For a thing to be expedient in spiritual matters it must expedite the carrying out of a law of God. God has not authorized the church to enter into the field of entertainment. Therefore the gymnasiums, ball fields and courts, etc., could not be scriptural expedients.
Truth Magazine XXI: 48, pp. 761-762
December 8, 1977