Penknife Religion

By A.W. Goforth

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah as he was imprisoned after 23 years of preaching. God told him to write a book, which he did through his secretary Baruch (Jer. 36:1-6). Evil king Jehoiakim sent Jehudi to get the roll and read it. What he heard did not please him. As the scroll was being unrolled to read, the king with penknife in hand, would cut off each unrolled leaf and cast it into the fire (36:20-24).

There are thousands alive today who have the spirit of Jehoiakim. But notice, the book was replaced (36:27-32), and exists this day as the book of Jeremiah. But Jehoiakim has long since died. The point is: we can cut out, blue pencil or just refuse to believe any part of God’s Word, but long after we have passed, God’s Word will remain the same. Let us look at the modern day penknife:

1. Of the Infidel. Jehoiakim heard only three or four pages of the message and desired to hear no more. He never considered the truth of it. After three or four pages of Genesis, many wish to hear no more. They don’t want to hear “In the beginning. . . ” nor about the fall of man and the origin of sin. Therefore, they deny God and his Word and “refuse to have

God in their knowledge” (Rom. 1:28).

2. The penknife of modern theology and philosophy. This has been called the “Trojan Horse of the church” and rightfully so. It comes to us saying “You can believe the Bible and harmonize it with modern science in this way.” “You start with believing that God used evolution to carry out his will, you then believe that the Israelites fled in the shallow Red Sea marsh instead of dry ground in the deep Red Sea; then you compromise morals – but you must certainly believe in Jesus. . . its just that he really did no miracles, and oh, by the way, he was not born of a virgin, just a young woman, and certainly did not rise from the dead, they only thought he died and the coolness of the tomb revived him!” To think they say we should believe in a Christ who was a liar and imposter! I am reminded of the young preacher who began telling his congregation, “Jonah is not an inspired book, Mark 16:16ff is not in the better manuscripts, etc.” This same preacher was visiting an elderly and ill man of the congregation and asked if he would read the Bible for him. The preacher picked up the man’s Bible and realized that all it was the cover. The preacher, yet puzzled, began to ask when the old man said, “Son, each time you would say this is not inspired, I tore that page out, that is all you left me.” The apostle Paul said, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men” (Col. 2:8, NASB).

3. The penknife of Denominationalism. Unlike the above, they claim to believe the Bible. They just simply say the Bible doesn’t say what it means! A denominational once told me, “Yes Mark 16.16 says, ‘He that believeth and is baptized . .’ .’ but that isn’t what it means.” When I asked how she knew that, she replied because baptism isn’t commanded! Many modern versions have a footnote at the end of Mark 16:16 which states “The oldest and best manuscripts do not contain these verses.” Two questionable manuscripts (Vaticanus and Sinaiticus) hardly make up the oldest and best. It is worth notice that these same manuscripts also omit the entire of Revelation 22, yet this sugar stick of premillennialism has no such note! The penknife of denominationalism also cuts away at the one church (Eph. 4:14), the name (Acts 11:26; Rom. 16:16), singing (Eph. 5:19, and the list could and does go on to ad nauseam!

4. The penknife of some church members. We claim to believe that we must obey all the will of God, but though our beliefs may differ from the denominations, our practice is very much the same in many ways. We say we believe Mark 16:16 is a command to be followed, but we don’t seem to think the command of the verse before it is important . . . the command of teaching others. We cut away passages dealing with the importance of study by coming up with excuses. We cut away at Hebrews 10:25 by revising it to say, “Forsake not the assembly unless company has come in from out of town.” We set back and say, “We believe James 1:27 and Galatians 6: 10 are individual and not the work of the church.” Then we set back with our doctrinally correct mind while sitting on the stump of do nothing and whittle on the stick of do less.


You can do many things to God’s Word. You can cut, tear, disobey and rationalize, but this does not do away with his Word (Psa. 119:89). It is this Word that will judge us Qn. 12:48) and it will never pass away (Matt. 24:35). Destruction is the fate of those who have the spirit of Jehoiakim (2 Thess. 1:7-9; 2 Pet. 2:20; Rev. 22:18-19). Let God’s Word be true, and every man a liar!

Guardian of Truth XXXI: 22, p. 693
November 19, 1987