By Larry Ray Hafley
Reproducing After Its Own Kind
(1) One of God’s laws of nature is that seed produces after its kind (Gen. 1). Because of this, alligators do not hatch chickens and chickens do not hatch alligators. Horses do not give birth to kittens and cats do not give birth to dogs. Corn seed does not produce watermelons and water-melon seed does not provide “corn on the cob.”
The same thing is true in the spiritual realm. The seed of the kingdom is the word of God (Matt. 13:19; Lk. 8:11). To “enter the kingdom,” one must be born of water and of the Spirit (Jn. 3:3, 5). Simply put, when one is taught the word of God and is obedient to that word, having believed and been baptized into Christ, he enters the church (1 Pet. 1:22-25; Eph. 5:26; 1 Cor. 12:13). In the New Testament, the seed, the word of God, produced Christians, members of the body of Christ, citizens of the kingdom (Eph. 1:13; 2:16, 19-22; Col. 1:5, 6, 13, 18).
That seed did not produce Catholics and Protestants. It did not give birth to Mormons or Methodists, to Presbyterians or Pentecostals. When men accept the seed of Baptists, they become Baptists; they do not become Lutherans. When men obey the word of Mormons, they become Mormons; they do not become Jehovah’s Witnesses. In the New Testament, when men obeyed the gospel, the word of God, they became “none of the above.” Conclusion? When someone produces a Baptist or a Mormon, he must be sowing a different seed, something other than the word of God. Or do eagles hatch monkeys?
In the Bible, the seed, the word of God, produced Christians (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16). It did not give birth to denominational churches. There were no Baptists or Methodists, etc. Why should it be different today?
Kindness A Fruit of the Spirit
(2) “Kindness” is a “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22, 23). It must be a part of every thought, word, and deed (Eph. 4:31, 32). One may oppose error with a mean, bitter spirit. God knows (Heb. 4:13)! One may declare the need for peace, unity, and love with a heart poisoned with bitterness. Again, God knows. Not every earnest contender for the faith is pure in heart as he ought to be. Likewise, some rail against ugly, ungodly attitudes with an ugly, ungodly attitude. It works both ways. This article may be motivated by evil motives. It may be read with unloving eyes. God knows, and he will judge. No matter how “right” one may be, no matter how outwardly sweet one may be, God is not fooled. Pray for me that I will be kind, pure, sincere, and provide for honest things in the sight of men and God.
Paul, A Pattern
(3) Paul said “that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” (I Tim. 1:16). Paul’s conversion was “a pattern” for us. That particular “pattern” included the command that he “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). “But,” it may be objected, “the text says it was “a pattern to them which . . . believe on him to life everlasting, not to those who are baptized.” If baptism is thereby excluded, so is repentance and confession (Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:9, 10). “Yes, but repentance and confession are included in what it means to truly “believe on him.” Likewise with baptism.
Paul was “justified by faith” (“we,” Rom. 5:1). Paul had been “baptized into Jesus Christ,” along with the Romans (Rom. 6:3, 4). With the Corinthians, he had been “baptized into one body,” the church (1 Cor. 12:13). The Corinthians had “believed through grace” having been baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 18:27; 19:1; 1 Cor. 1:12, 13; Acts 2:38). So, too, had Paul. Let us preach this “pattern to them which hereafter (shall) believe on (Christ) to life everlasting.”
(4) Certain elements of “unity in diversity” are being smuggled in among the Lord’s people. Listen for the key, “catch” phrases below:
A. “We can no more think alike than we can look alike.” Since we cannot look alike, we are supposed to conclude that we cannot “think alike.” Hence, we may teach and preach different doctrines and still be accepted of God, according to some (cf. 2 In. 9; Jas. 5:19, 20; 1 Tim. 6:3-5). Jesus is either the Son of God or the illegitimate son of an immoral Jewish woman. Is this one of the items about which we cannot “think alike”? May we teach it both ways and be approved of God (2 Tim. 2:15)? Baptism may be “for the remission of sins,” or it may be an outward sign of an inward grace, designed to manifest salvation which occurred before. Is this one of the things about which we must not be expected to “think alike”? Shall we preach it both ways? Is Jesus now reigning on David’s throne, or must we yet expect him to come and set up his kingdom? May we preach it both ways since we cannot be expected to “think alike”? We may sing with or without a piano or an organ. Shall we preach and practice it both ways? We cannot “look alike,” so shall we be expected to “think alike” regarding instruments of music? What about the seven ones of Ephesians 4:4-6 one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Godare we to be expected to “think alike” regarding the “oneness” of these items? Are there many churches, many Lords, many Gods, many baptisms, or are we expected to “think alike” concerning those things? Are we expected to “think alike” regarding the sinfulness of homosexuality and polygamy?
Since we can “no more think alike than we can look alike,” what will those who espouse that view say when I say that I cannot “think alike” with them in that view? Do they expect me to believe that we can no more think alike than we can look alike? Yes, they do. They expect me to “think alike” with them. But that contradicts their statement! Since I cannot look like them, how can they expect me to think like them regarding it? Accordingly, I must reject the premise of their clever little statement.
B. Salvation is in a Savior, not a system; Pardon is in a Person, not a pattern. True, salvation is in the person of Jesus Christ, but we must also “hold fast” to that “form (mold, pattern, system) of sound words . . . which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:13; 2:10). Jesus, the person, is “the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9). However, the Lord does not give that eternal salvation until one obeys “that form (mold, pattern, system) of doctrine which was delivered” to him (Rom. 6:17, 18).
One receives the person of Christ by receiving the word, the system, the pattern (Col. 1:5, 6; 2:6; 1 Thess. 2:13). If you have not received his word, his system, his pattern, you have not received him!
One rejects the person of Christ by rejecting the word of Christ. “Then said Jesus (the person) to those Jews which believed on him. If ye continue in my word (the pattern, the system), then are ye my disciples indeed” (Jn. 8:31). “If a man love me (the person), he will keep my words” (the pattern Jn. 14:23). When some “went back” and walked no more with the person, Christ, the apostle Peter said, “Lord to whom (to what person) shall we go? Thou hast the words (the pattern, the system) of eternal life” (Jn. 6:66-68). The words, the plan, the pattern, the system of the Savior, “they are spirit (spiritual), and they are life (life giving)” (Jn. 6:63). Jesus said, “He that rejecteth me (the person), and receiveth not my words (the pattern), hath one that judgeth him: the word (system of teaching) that I have spoken shall judge him in the last day” (Jn. 12:48).
“If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father” (1 Jn. 2:24). It is “the word of God” that abided in them (Cf. 1 Jn. 2:14). Hence, if the word of God (the pattern) abides in you, “ye also shall continue in the Son (the person).”
Make this note: Whenever a man starts talking in pious tones about “the person” of Christ and begins to denigrate “the form (the pattern) of sound words,” that man has a doctrine that will not stand the scrutiny of the Scriptures. Beware of him! He would feign point you to Christ in order that he might bring in his error unawares. “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Pet. 3:17).
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 13, p. 6-7
July 7, 1994