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to justify something which a church is doing and has been called into
question causes some people to latch onto a passage of scripture, take
it out of its context, and use it as though it is proof for what they
Consider the practice of taking funds contributed into the common
treasury on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:1,2) and investing
those funds in CDs or interest- bearing accounts and then citing Jesus’
parable of the “talents” (Matt. 25:14-30) as justification.
In the parable, a man “going into another country” delivered his goods
to three servants, “to each according to his several ability,” and went
away. The first servant was given five “talents” (money) and “traded”
and gained five more talents. The second servant was given two talents
and likewise gained another two. The third servant was given one talent
and, being afraid, hid the talent in the earth, doing nothing with it.
When the master of those servants returned, he called them to give
account for the money that had been entrusted to them. He commended the
first two and rewarded them for their efforts. The third admitted that
he had done nothing with his talent and tried to blame his master for
his failure. Before his master cast out that unprofitable servant, he
said, “…you ought therefore to have put my money to the bankers, that
at my coming I should have received back mine own with interest” (v.27).
Some brethren seize upon this verse to justify
investing the Lord’s money solely for the purpose of earning interest
rather than using it in the work of the gospel. Hundreds of thousands
of dollars rest comfortably in such accounts. In the meantime,
deserving gospel preachers around the world are in need of support. In
some churches, efforts to reach the lost in their own community and
edify the members are at a virtual standstill and needy Christians are
denied assistance because someone has a tight grip on the interest-
bearing treasury “purse strings.”
What’s Wrong With This Picture?
It is a misuse and abuse of Matthew 25:27.
The Lord’s church and the treasury of the church are not even remotely
included in this parable. Check the context: Matt. 24:45-51 is about an
evil servant— an individual. Matt. 25:1-13 is about five wise and five foolish virgins—individuals— waiting for the coming of the bridegroom. Matt. 25:14-30 is about three servants—individuals.”
What was Christ’s message in this parable? Was he really
giving financial advice to churches about investment? If that was not
his point, then it cannot be our point, and we must not violate the
context and expand the intended application for some other purpose. The
obvious application concerns personal ability and opportunity given to
us by the Lord and our use of that ability and opportunity to its
To be consistent, those who cite verse 27 as their “proof text” would
have to say that the “one talent” servant represents a “one talent
church” and the “talent” represents the treasury of that church. Would
that mean the other two servants each represent a “five talent church”
and a “two talent church”? Would that mean that the masters’
commendation of those two servants would authorize churches to go into
business and “trade” to make money for the Master? By the way, by what
means will the Master receive the “interest” in those savings accounts
when he comes?
Of course, all of this is nonsense! There is no such thing as a “one talent church.” Matt. 25:14-30 is about profitable and unprofitable individuals.
Those who see themselves as caretakers and custodians of a church
treasury may say, “It is none of your business what we are doing.” But
it is the Lord’s business and it is the Lord’s money. It is right to
warn those who stubbornly hoard his money that there will come a time
accounting to the Lord. The
|continuing context (Matt. 25:31-46) shows that we will stand before the Lord in judgment as individuals.
There must be open transparency on the part of those who are involved
in handling the Lord’s money. When he was raising funds (benevolence)
for needy Christians, the apostle Paul went to great lengths to assure
the Corinthian church that “avoiding this, that any man should blame us
in the matter of this bounty which is ministered by us: for we take
thought for things honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but
also in the sight of men” (2 Cor. 8:16-21).
That being said, the right thing to do is to make a regular financial
statement (report) available to all of the members of the church. Why
not, if everything is open and “above board”? This is not charging that
there is dishonesty or fraud—it is protection against such charges. All of the members have a right to know the full financial status of the church and should insist on knowing, and those handling the money should want them to know.
A few misguided souls take the position that the treasury cannot be
used to assist local members who are in need. Such people need to read
Acts 4:32-37 about the Jerusalem church. “…For as many as were
possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the
things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles feet: and
distribution was made unto each, according as any one had need.” Those
who have a stranglehold on the treasury may say, “But there are
conditions.” No doubt! There must be “need.”
I fear souls may be lost because some are unwilling to spend the Lord’s
money to spread the gospel to the lost and erring and because there are
those who sit on the Lord’s money as though it belonged to them rather
than to Him.
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By AL DIESTELKAMP
when I was a young preacher in my 30s, a lady “pastor” issued a
challenge to me by saying, “Give me 15 minutes in your pulpit and I’ll
convince the congregation that instrumental music in worship is not
wrong.” Little did she realize that if I had given her
even one minute in the pulpit, I would have received my “walking
papers.” I told her that she didn’t know my brethren and that, even if
she were to convince me that instrumental music was authorized, if I voiced that from the pulpit it would likely be my last sermon there.
That was then…but this is now.
How things have changed in 40 years! While there has been no obvious
change in practice in most congregations, I am finding more and more
brethren who “have no problem” with the use of instru- ments in worship
or with public leadership roles for women. Some are even calling on us
to expand our fellowship to include “other Christians” who
“misunder- stand” the purpose of baptism.
A few years after the above-men-
tioned incident, I was in a gathering of
gospel preachers who were comment- ing on the trend in congregations to
abandon the practice of holding evangelistic meetings. I was shocked to
hear one preacher say, “There’s no need for evangelistic meetings
anymore because we have nothing to offer that other churches don’t
offer.” Knowing him, I just shrugged that off as a result of his own
liberal attitude toward the scriptures. As the decades have passed, we
now are seeing similar attitudes among us.
It’s not like we had no warning. I am reminded that in the 1990s brother F. LaGard Smith wrote a number of books, including The Cultural Church, Radical Restor- ation and Who Is My Brother?, all warning of changing
attitudes among members of the Lord’s church.
|Brother Smith is of my
generation (three years younger) and had a similar upbringing (a
preacher’s kid who never lived long in one place). His first two years
of higher education were at Florida College where all four of my
children and most of my grandchildren have attended.Brother
Smith took a different path than I. Continuing his education, he became
a lawyer and, later, a law professor; and his experience and influence
has been mostly among brethren who have chosen a more liberal stance
than I on several issues. I have no doubt that his very conservative
upbringing is reflected in his writings, which challenged some of the
changes he saw among those with whom he has worshipped.
Though I read it when it was first published, I am re-reading brother Smith’s book Who Is My Brother?.
While I am not giving wholesale endorsement of everything he says in
the book, much of what he writes is helpful, especially regarding the
trend toward ecumenism in the church. He details a “quiet revolution”
that was taking place among brethren with whom he worshiped at that
time, noting the engine behind it was a strong desire to expand
spiritual fellowship to—and count as brothers—those in sectarian or
independent churches whose members have faith in Jesus Christ but have
not been baptized “for the remission of sins.”
Though it has been slower in coming, it should be no surprise that
there has been a “trickle down” effect among those of us who have taken
a more conservative route.
While I understand the desire
to be in fellowship with my sincere relig- ious friends and neighbors,
I must not allow that desire to trump my love for the truth as revealed
in the scriptures. Furthermore, the apostle John wrote about one who“does not abide in the
|doctrine of Christ” and warned that to“receive him” is sharing in his “evil deeds” (2 Jn. 9-11). Teaching
what is notin accord with the scriptures is classified as “evil deeds.” If
the one teaching error is merely mistaken, it is our obligation to take
him aside and “explain to him the way of God more accurately” (Ac.
18:26) rather than overlook his error in order to enjoy fellowship with
The apostle Paul marveled that some in his day were turning to “a
different gospel” which he further described as a “perverted gospel”
(Gal. 1:6-9). I am likewise amazed at those today who are willing to
tolerate gospel perversions such as “salvation by faith alone” and
tenets of Calvinism in an effort to promote ecumenism.
Those who develop this overwhelm- ing desire to expand fellowship to
all who believe in Jesus, regardless of whether they have been baptized
for the remission of sins, are inclined to feel “offended” by preaching
against false doctrines. They will claim that such preaching and
teaching does not “edify” them, so “the time will come when they will
not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because
they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and
they will turn their ears away from the truth” (2 Tim. 4:3-4), even if
they have to leave the Lord’s church.
In the same context as the foregoing warning, Timothy (and each gospel
preacher) is charged by the apostle Paul to “Preach the word! Be ready
in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all
long-suffering and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:1-2). Such is not a time to
shrink back from declaring “the whole counsel of God” (Ac. 20:27).
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SPITTING OUT THE SEEDS
As he approached his own “departure” (2 Tim. 4:6) the apostle Paul
issued a command to his “true and beloved son in the faith” (2 Tim.
1:2) to “Hold fast the pattern of sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13-14).
Jesus warned of men arising who would “deceive, if possible, even the
elect” (Matt. 24:24). The apostle John wrote about some who opposed the
truth, saying, “They went out from us, but were not of us; for if they
had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out
that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us” (1 Jn.
We have some today—both in and out of the Lord’s church—who deny the
pattern of sound words. There are popular authors and bloggers who are
getting the attention of many Christians by their “smooth words and
flattering speech” (Rom. 16:18). While much of what they are writing
has a ring of truth to it, at the same time they deny or ignore the
“pattern of sound words” regarding God’s plan of salvation.
I enjoy reading what other men have to say about spiritual matters.
However, I have learned that, like eating watermelon, I can enjoy the
fruit but need to spit out the seeds. Unfortunately, too many seem to
be unwilling to spit out the seeds of error that are offered by men who
are perverting the gospel (Gal. 1:7).
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By LESLIE DIESTELKAMP (1911-1995)
|Two questions are asked: 1) Why doesn’t the church have more socials?; and 2) Why can’t we have parties in the church building?
The New Testament authorizes every act and activity of the church. It
pro- vides us with all that pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet.
1:3). It completely authorizes us in “every good work” (2 Tim.
3:16-17). In worship and work, all that God wants is made known by the
“oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). We must not add to or take from the
word of God (Rev. 22:18-19), and we must not “go beyond what is
written” (1 Cor. 4:6).
Social activities are not included in the authorized acts of the
church. It is very good to have social functions, but they are “home
activities.” If there are not enough of such, then the homes are
failing. Let us not push upon the church that responsibility which
belongs to the home. If it is advisable that Christians associate
together more, then let us not fail to provide such association, but
let us keep it independent of church functions.
But some ask, “Since the church building is not sacred, and since our
homes are not large enough to accommodate large groups, why can’t we
use the building?
Agreed, the church building is not sacred. On the other hand, it is not a carnal, worldly place either. Money forthe building was given to be used
|in a spiritual
work. Remember, we do not object to eating in the church building, but
we do object to making the church building an “eating place.” It is not
wrong to laugh in the church building, but it is certainly wrong to
make it a “house of laughter.” The church house is not “the house of
God” (1 Tim. 3:15), but it is God’s house (Jn. 2:16).
The house in which I live is not sacred, but some things are not
appropriate there. A doctor’s office is not sacred, but who would say
it would be good to repair automobiles there? A hospital and a sheet
metal shop don’t belong in the same building. So the church and the
world should not be housed from the same treasury.
A drinking fountain, a restroom, or a nursery is made to expedite a
spiritual service. But a social hall is to give vent to a social urge.
Pews, classrooms, lights and fans are purposefully paid for by the
church because of their useful- ness in aidingus to do what God said for us to do, but for the congregation to
provide recreational facilities does not contribute to the doing of
that which God directed the church to do.
Paul wrote: “What? Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?”
(1 Cor. 11:22). He was condemning the practice of making a feast with
the Lord’s Supper, but at the same time he gave us the necessary inference that there is a difference between
|homes and meeting places provided for by the church.
Let us keep the church in the “church business.” It is always safe to
do that which we know is right without addition or substitution. Let us
use every facility we have to expedite the Lord’s work, and let us
avoid anything that would minimize its nature which is altogether
As long as we do right, our “home activities” are not governed by the
Bible,* but we only do right in church work when we are authorized by
precept or example in God’s word. [*see note below]
“Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord” (Eph. 5:10), “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21).
|EDITOR’S NOTE: I
don’t believe my father’s wording of this sentence adequately conveys
what he intended to say. Having grown up in his house I can testify
that he believed home activities are governed by the Bible, but he
understood that the Bible is not as restrictive on what we do in the
home as with the work of the church.
This article first appeared in
Truth Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 2, November, 1962
Back to top
By DOUG CYRUS
recently met a seven year old boy who told his father something that I
thought was rather profound. He said, “Daddy, I know how to drive, I
just can’t reach the pedals yet.” To think you “know,”
when you really do not, is a common trait of humanity and affects all
ages. It has been said, “In life we often see things the way we are, not necessarily the way things really are.” “Oh, to be young and know it all!”
When we are young, our lack of experience can lead us to think
we know it all. Thus, we see life through the limited “tunnel vision”
of ignorance. As we get older, life knocks us down a notch or two and
forces knowledge upon us. As we begin to see how simplistic we are, if
humility sets in, we will jokingly admit, “When I was young, I thought
I knew it all!”
If we choose not to humble ourselves so we can see our limitations,
chances are we will be stuck in the same mental state for the rest of
our lives. I remember my mother giving me the warning, “He who knows
not and knows not that he knows not is a fool; shun him!” God created
life’s experiences to kick us over and over again in the very same ways, attempting to
|enlighten us until we learn. Then we get to move on to the next lesson.
Peter tells us, “…be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5). Paul tells us, “For the
grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us…” (Tit. 2:11-12). Here God’s grace provides knowledge by teaching us. So we see that God’s “teaching grace”
is the unearned gift of knowledge that is given to the humble. Why does
God give know- ledge to the humble? Possibly the proud think too highly
of them- selves to receive the gift of God’s knowledge? They don’t
think they need God’s knowledge. They think they have it all figured out. Paul plainly tells us, “knowledge puffs up...” (1 Cor. 8:1).
So, here is the trap we fall into. As we humble ourselves in life so
that we can receive God’s gifts of know- ledge, the knowledge itself
can remove our humility, elevate us to the class of the “puffed up
proud,” and prevent us from gaining further knowledge. When we become
“puffed up” in life, we “see things the way we are and not necessarily the way they really are.” We stop seeing the truth, but we just don’t realize it.
Why does Paul tell us that it’s possible to be “always learning and
never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”? One reason is that
we choose, selectively, what to learn based on what we think we already
know. My deceased brother used to occasionally repeat the saying, “It’s
the things you learn after you know it all that really make the
Thus Solomon warns us, “Cease listening to instruction, my son, and you
will stray from the words of knowledge.” It is fortunate that Solomon
also instructs us, without an age limit, to “apply your heart to
instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge.” It is true—we do see
life the way we are—but we can choose to view life using glasses either
tinted with humility or prideful superiority. Though we all may know
how to drive, perhaps we should occasionally, humbly, ask ourselves if
we are really reaching the pedals. With an occasional dose of humility,
perhaps we “old dogs” can continue to “learn new tricks.”
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By ANDY DIESTELKAMP
from a purely earth-bound perspective, prayer would appear to be no
more than talking to oneself or going through some kind of meditative
mental exercise. Yet, for believers in a super- natural Creator, prayer
is the effort of the spiritual mind to communicate with the One in
Whose image we were created (Gen. 1:27). As such, prayer implies a
dependence upon God for our existence, our current needs, and our
future hopes. Prayer is a logical extension of faith in a God Who hears
and is responsive to our praise of and appeals to Him.
Because prayer demonstrates faith in God, it is met with controversy in
the public forum, “For not all have faith,” and the many who have some faith do not all have the same faith.
Therefore, conflict is inevitable. So, shall we stop praying? This is
simply not an option for people of faith. To refrain from expressing
faith in an effort to be sensitive to all other beliefs essentially
nullifies one’s alleged faith. Thus, the call to remove faith in God
from public display under the guise of peace and harmony is actually an
effort to neutralize the role of faith in God.
It is a great irony that many of the very legislatures and courts which
have placed restrictions on public prayer still open their own sessions
with prayer. Their chambers are graced with expressions of faith etched
in stone and carved in wood. Many of their authoritative documents
acknowledge the Divine. Their pledge of allegiance affirms submission
to God, and they often swear by Him in their oaths.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, “The opening of sessions of legislative
and other deliberative public bodies with prayer is deeply embedded in
the history and tradition of this country. From colonial times through
the found- ing of the Republic and ever since, the practice of
legislative prayer has coex- isted with the principles of disestablish-
ment and religious freedom” (Marsh v. Chambers, 1983).|
The fact that faith in God and prayer to Him have been
significant threads in our nation’s historical fabric is unques- tioned.
That faith in God and prayer continue to be woven into our culture is
obvious. That expressions of faith have often led (and still lead) to
philosophical and spiritual conflicts is undeniable. Yet, conflict is
not sufficient reason to attempt to restrict prayer.
Still, for fear of perceived insensitivity, disrespect, and potential
conflict, signif- icant restrictions are placed on those who are asked
to lead public prayer in governmental settings. Never mind the fact
that individual legislators may say whatever they wish and it does not
constitute a government establishment of anything.
For example, those who are invited to give an invocation to open a
session of the Illinois House of Representatives are advised “that
federal courts have placed certain restrictions” on this ac- tivity.
Among other things, "prayers... must not be used to…advance any one
faith or belief…” However, if prayer means anything, then this is
|To pray to God and invoke His divine guidance implies and advances
faith in God. To remove prayer from the context of faith in a God Who
hears is to reduce prayer to a meaningless tradition that is most
unreasonable. Unfortunately, I suspect that this is exactly as some
people would have it. Either the government should cease making a
pretense of invoking divine guidance, or it should allow prayer to be a
sincere expression of faith amongst the philosophies that shape our
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers,
intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and
all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life
in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the
sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to
the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:1-3). “Finally, brethren pray for
us, that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified,
just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable
and wicked men; for not all have faith” (2 Thess. 3:1,2).
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|Save the Date for the 2014
Men’s Overnight Bible Study
The 11th Annual Men’s Overnight Bible Study is
scheduled for Friday-Saturday, September 26-27, at a campsite in
Details are still being worked out, but the theme will revolve around having a worthy walk as is urged in Ephesians 4:1-3.
Mark your calendars and expect more information in the next issue of Think. As we get closer to the date, you can get updates and register online at:
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