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EXPOSITORY FILES 1.1

January, 1994

Edited by Warren E. Berkley & Jon W. Quinn

 

 

The Front Page

 

Welcome to a unique publishing adventure, EXPOSITORY

FILES. This electronic magazine will be compiled monthly

by Warren E. Berkley (McAllen, Texas), and Jon W. Quinn

(Bradley, Ill.). Our intent is to upload articles with

emphasis on the exposition of Scripture. Four or five

articles will appear in each issue. Journalistic efforts

often evolve in content and material, depending upon the

needs of the time. But this is a our starting point. We

want to offer articles which are simple, true to the

Scriptures, and easy to read.

 

The writers are members and preachers of churches of

Christ all across the country. We share a common concern,

that Biblical instruction should be followed. We believe,

in every dispensation there is the urgent need to follow

whatever instructions we have from God. Today, we have the

New Testament.

 

To send us your comments, you may reach the editors

through E-Mail (America Online) as follows: JWQuinn, or

WEB47.

 

Each issue will be numbered in computer syle, 1.1, 1.2,

etc. This first issue (Jan., '94) is 1.1 for example; the

last issue of this year will be 1.12, etc.

 

We are not entering into this project to make money, raise

money or to compete with print media. Both editors write

for other print publications. Our motive is to provide

Biblical teaching for on-line computer users.

 

Feel free to upload EXPOSITORY FILES into local BBS

networks. And, if you want your friends and associates to

have a copy, regard this as freeware; load it onto a disk

and pass it on.

 

"And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word

of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give

you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified." 

(Acts 20:32, KJV).

 

 

 

Acts 2:38

Do Not Be Deceived!

By Warren E. Berkley

 

    I recently received a sample/complimentary copy of a

new commentary on the New Testament. {Publishers often

send a single copy of a commentary series to preachers and

others who frequently purchase religious books, in the

hope our approval of the sample will lead to the purchase

of the whole set.}

 

    This series of commentaries has some redeeming

qualities, and some excellent sections on moral and

practical topics which could serve as a good resource for

preachers and teachers. But in my initial evaluation of

the series, as I checked certain passages, I came to the

comments on Acts 2:38.

 

In the King James it reads ...

 

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every

one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission

of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

 

    Now when you first read this, before anybody "explains

what it really means," it seems so plain. The apostle of

Christ, Peter, told these people they had rejected and

crucified Jesus of Nazareth, the Savior, the Messiah!

Then, he said to those who were convinced of this and

convicted, that they needed to do something: REPENT AND BE

BAPTIZED. Those who wanted to have their sins forgiven

(remitted), needed to express their faith in Christ by

repenting and being baptized. And, this makes a lot of

sense!

 

    Once you become convinced that you have done something

wrong, what is your first reaction or impulse?  If you

have a good and honest heart, you want to make things

right. Perhaps you decide to offer an apology to the

offended party; or, you give back what you shouldn't have

taken. If you have injured someone you do whatever you can

to help in their healing. The good and upright person

wants to "make amends," or be reconciled to an offended

party.

 

    THAT'S WHAT ACTS 2:38 IS ABOUT! One way to study this

verse is: These people who had crucified the Savior are

now being given an opportunity to be forgiven (based on

the blood of the One they crucified. What mercy!). Not

that repenting and being baptized would put everything

back the way it was before they killed the Christ, or undo

history. Not that their obedience was an equal exchange

for murder, by no means! But these murderers were now told

they could be forgiven. Their repentance and baptism was

their acceptance of that gracious offer of pardon!

 

    There's another way to study the verse in question.

Peter preached to convince these people of two basic

things, their sin and God's solution in Christ. The

presence of sin in their lives was manifested by how they

treated the Christ. God's solution to the sin problem is

Jesus Christ, who gave His life a ransom for all. On the

basis of that, God offers to forgive us. We accept that

offer by repenting and being baptized.

 

    Back to this new commentary series. I found it very

readable, with excellent material on moral and practical

topics, but the comments on Acts 2:38 are puzzling, to say

the least!

 

   "The call to be baptized in Jesus' name is also bold.

'Name' means power and authority. Jesus Christ has that

authority through His cross and resurrection. As incarnate

Christ He said, "Your sins are forgiven." And as exalted,

glorified, reigning Lord of all, He has the power to

convince the repentant changed mind that it is

accomplished. Through the Holy Spirit He liberates people

to both repent and confess their sins. He clears the way

for Himself, creating the desire and the response.

Receiving His spirit, we find that being filled is the

natural result. He prepares a place for Himself and then

moves in. It may seem that the decision to receive the

Holy Spirit is our choice, but behind that choice is His

infused desire, making us willing to receive. Looking back

we say, "It was all the Lord from the start to finish. He

set me free to want what He wanted to give!" {page #72,

Acts, MASTERING THE NEW TESTAMENT, by Lloyd J. Ogilvie.}

 

    He starts his comments by telling us that the call to

be baptized in Jesus' name is bold. But then he says

nothing else about baptism (must not be too bold)! The

rest of what he says sounds very much like you do nothing.

You are convinced, liberated to repent and confess, and

desire is created within you. He even says that "it may

seem" that you have made a decision or choice, but in

reality the desire was "infused" making you willing to

receive. You are just informed that "it is accomplished."

 

    If this is so, it makes me wonder why Peter told them

to do anything. And if this commentator is right, I don't

know why I need to know or do anything about repentance

and baptism. If it is "all the Lord from the start to

finish," am I merely a passive recipient of salvation?

 

    Ladies and gentlemen, as articulate and scriptural and

bold as "evangelicals" are on moral issues (like abortion

and pre-marital sex), they are still not saying what needs

to be said about Acts 2:38 and the commandments of the

Lord. There remains the influence of Calvinism, loyalty to

denominational creeds, and a sad reluctance to tell people

what the apostles said about being saved.

 

    Peter was addressing believers, recently convicted of

sin. He told them to REPENT. Change your mind and your

life. Turn from sin and do it now. You crucified this

Jesus. Now crown Him in your hearts as Lord and Christ.

 

    "And let each one of you be baptized." As you make

this complete and radical change in your attitude and life

(repentance), start obeying the Lord by being baptized, in

accordance with the command of Jesus Himself (Matt. 28:19;

Mrk. 16:16). The Holy Spirit is certainly an active and

involved party in this, since the gospel message was

delivered by Him (1 Pet. 1:12). But there is no evidence

or teaching that the Holy Spirit somehow "infuses" desire

into you, and causes you to want something you are not

willing to receive; or that the Spirit "prepares a place

for Himself" in your heart, "and then moves in" disengaged

from your will and initiative. You can have God, Jesus and

the Holy Spirit in your life, but only as you let them

abide in you (1 Jno. 4:15; Col.1:27; Eph. 5:18).

 

If you want the remission of sins, read Acts 2:38 again.

What do you think you need to do?

 

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every

one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission

of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

 

Relevant Questions: Why do so many "evangelicals" deny

that this verse teaches the necessity of baptism? Why do

some of the prominent evangelists and "crusade" preachers

tell people they must believe and repent, but say nothing

of baptism; Peter taught both repentance and baptism. The

convicted, broken-hearted believer is to repent and be

baptized.

 

 

 

Prove The Spirits

{1 John 4:1}

Kevin Kay

 

    The apostle John wrote his first epistle because: 1)

he wanted his readers to have fellowship with the Father

and the Son (1 Jn. 1:1-4); 2) he wanted to keep Christians

from sin (1 Jn. 2:1); 3) he wanted to warn his brethren

about those who would lead them astray (1 Jn. 2:26); and

4) he wanted to assure Christians that they have eternal

life (1 Jn. 5:13). All of these objectives are

interrelated. Eternal life is maintained by continued

fellowship with the Father and the Son (1 Jn. 5:11-12).

Fellowship with the Father and the Son is maintained by

avoiding sin (1 Jn. 1:6-7). And avoiding sin is

accomplished in a large part by recognizing those who

would lead us astray. John wanted his brethren (and he

wants us) to understand that false doctrine is an

ever-present threat to the salvation of God's people. He

provides us with a solution, however, in the first six

verses of the fourth chapter. In this brief passage, he

tells us WHAT to do WHY we must do it, and HOW.

 

The Command:

 

    "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the

spirits, whether they are of God" (1 Jn. 4:1a). John tells

us first of all that we must not automatically and

gullibly believe every thing that we hear. Just because

the teaching may seem right and sound good and be

presented in a forceful and an eloquent way from a teacher

that we love and respect, these things do not guarantee

its truthfulness. Before Aquila and Priscilla took Apollos

aside and "expounded unto him the way of God more

accurately" (Acts 18:26), all of these things

characterized his teaching; yet he was in error. Now, this

does not mean that we should be suspicious and begin to

see false teachers in every pulpit, but it does mean that

we must be cautious. If we are to avoid the

soul-destroying effects of false doctrine, we must take

heed how we hear (Lk. 8:18).

 

    Then John tells us that we must "prove" the spirits.

Joseph Thayer says that the word "prove" (dokimazo) means

"to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a

thing be genuine or not)" (A Greek-English lexicon of the

New Testament, p.154). It was used by the ancients to

describe the process whereby gold or coins were tested to

determine their genuineness (1 Pet. 1:7). W.E. Vine says

that it means "to test, prove, with the expectation of

approving" (The Expanded Vine's Expository Dictionary of

New Testament Words, p.898). This tells us of the kind of

attitude with which we should examine the teachings of

others. Unlike the Jewish leaders who "examined" (peirazo)

Jesus to "ensnare him in his talk" (cf. Mt. 16:1; 19:3;

22:15-18), we must test our teachers with an attitude that

will accept anything and everything from anyone that is

really truth.

 

    John tells us that we must test "every spirit." We

cannot accept the words of our mate, our parents, our

children, the elders, our favorite preacher, the scholars,

our friends, our brethren -- we cannot accept the words of

anyone anywhere anytime without putting them to the test.

Jesus said, "And if the blind guide the blind, both shall

fall into a pit" (Mt. 15:15).

 

    And furthermore, John gives this command, not just to

elders, deacons, preachers, or teachers, but to every

child of God. Every Christian, whether young or old, male

or female, experienced or inexperienced in the faith, has

the God-given responsibility to "prove all things [and]

hold fast that which is good" (1 Th. 5:21). And this

necessarily implies that we can distinguish between truth

and error. Truth is not so obscure and nebulous that we

cannot discover what it is (Eph. 5:17). Yes, there are

difficult questions. The apostle Peter acknowledged this

when he said of Paul's epistles "wherein are some things

hard to be understood, which the ignorant and unstedfast

wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their

own destruction" (2 Pet. 3:16). But please note that Peter

said SOME things, not ALL things; he said HARD to be

understood, not impossible to be understood; and he

indicated the IGNORANT and UNSTEDFAST, not the

KNOWLEDGEABLE and WELL-GROUNDED. There seems to be a

growing sentiment among some brethren which says because

we do not know EVERYTHING, we cannot know ANYTHING, and

this is patently false. The MAIN THINGS are the PLAIN

THINGS, and the PLAIN THINGS are the MAIN THINGS!

 

The Reason:

 

    "Because many false prophets are gone out into the

world" (1 Jn. 4:1b). Testing must be the continual

practice of Christians, because false teaching abounds (2

Jn. 7). This has always been the case, and it always will

be. There were false prophets in Old Testament times (Jer.

23:16, 30-32). Jesus warned of false prophets who would

come in sheep's clothing (Mt. 7:15-20). Paul warned the

Ephesian elders that false teachers would arise from

within their own midst (Acts 20:38-31). Peter warned of

false teachers who would secretly bring in destructive

heresies and with feigned words make merchandise of the

flock (2 Pet. 2:1-3). Personal experience demonstrates

that there are false teachers today. Two people cannot

teach contradictory doctrines and both of them be from

God.

 

The Means For Testing:

 

    John provided his first-century readers with a

specific test: "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every

spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the

flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not

Jesus is not of God " (1 Jn. 4:2-3a). Acknowledgment of

the incarnation is a test of truth. John was writing to

combat incipient Gnosticism, which taught as one of its

fundamental tenants that spirit is wholly good and matter

is wholly evil. Therefore, the Gnostics denied the

possibility that God could be incarnate in a physical

body. While Gnosticism is no longer the threat to God's

people that it once was, this specific test is still

important for Christians today. Anyone who would deny that

Jesus was fully God and fully man while on earth does not

have God. Thus, Judaism, Islam, Mormonism, and the

doctrines of the Jehovah's Witnesses must be rejected,

because their "Jesus" is not the Jesus that we read about

in the Bible. But may I also say, as charitably as I know

how, that, at the very least, some of the trumpets among

us seem to be blowing an uncertain sound (1 Cor. 14:8)

with respect to the deity and the humanity of Jesus.

 

    John also provided his first-century readers with a

generic test. "We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth

us; he who is not of God heareth us not. By this we know

the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error" (1 Jn. 4:6).

John says that those who know God hear the apostles. Both

verbs "knoweth" and "heareth" are in the present tense

which denotes a continual practice. We cannot determine

truth by the personality, the character or the ability of

the teacher, by the "success" of his work, by praying to

God, by the "inner witness" of the Spirit, or by our own

feelings and impressions, etc. We distinguish between the

spirit of truth and the spirit of error based upon whether

or not a man preaches and practices the apostles' doctrine

(Gal. 1:6-10; 1 Jn. 2:24). Therefore, may we like the

Beroeans of old receive the word with a headiness of mind

and examine the scriptures daily to see whether the things

we are taught are so (Acts 17:11).

 

 

 

Do You Really Want To Know?

(John 7:14-17)

By Jon Quinn

 

 

     But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went

up into the temple, and began to teach. The Jews therefore

were marveling, saying, "How has this man become learned,

having never been educated?" Jesus therefore answered

them, and said, "My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent

me. If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of

the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak

from Myself." (JOHN 7:14-17).

     I once was involved in a study of the Bible with a

young couple who were members of a denomination. We were

noticing what the Bible said about baptism and its role in

becoming a disciple of Jesus. The woman had talked to her

clergyman who had denied the very things she was reading

out of her Bible as I directed her from passage to

passage. She was becoming visibly alarmed at what she was

reading and finally in frustration said that her clergyman

had warned her that without attending a theological school

she couldn't possibly understand the Bible on baptism by

just reading it. She needed a professional guide to

interpret things for her. She expressed confidence that he

would not lie to her, so all he said about baptism as well

as about the inability of the common man to understand the

Scripture must be true.

     But Jesus said that such was not the case. Isn't it

strange that Jesus found Himself at odds so often with the

clergy of His day? Is Jesus being simplistic when He says

that all one needs is the will to do God's will as he

approaches the things God teaches us in order to know

them? Notice with me some important points on

understanding the Bible from the text above.

 

"HOW HAS THIS MAN BECOME LEARNED?"

     "Now these were more noble-minded than those at

Thessalonica, for they received the word with great

eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether

these things were so." (ACTS 17:11).

     They wondered how Jesus had "become learned".Though

Jesus was the Son of God, He grew in stature and wisdom as

a human being. Certainly Jesus is an exceptional case, but

the Bible suggests that the proper way to "become learned"

is by a personal, diligent study of the Scriptures. It

calls such an attitude "noblemindedness". In ACTS 17:11,

the Bereans are commended for such. In fact, if they had

gone to the religious leaders and clergymen of their day

with questions about Jesus, they would have received the

wrong answers! They instead went to the Scriptures and got

the right answers. Good for them! Good for us today as

well when we follow suit (EPH 3:4; II TIM 2:15).

 

"MY TEACHING IS NOT MINE, BUT HIS WHO SENT ME"

     "God, after He had spoke long ago to the fathers in

the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these

last days has spoken to us in His Son..." (HEB 1:1,2).

     We are fortunate that the Scripture is adequate for

us and we are adequate for the Scripture. By the Scripture

being adequate for us we mean simply that it is a

sufficient guide for our lives. There is simply no need

for a conglomeration of human religious laws and creeds,

which can be quite confusing, especially when they are in

conflict with one another as well as with Scripture (II

TIM 3:16,17).

     By ourselves being adequate for the Scripture we

simply mean that God would not give us a document that we

could not understand and then tell us to understand and

live by it! Yes, we can understand the teachings of God.

Timothy did! Not because he went to a seminary either, but

as Paul told him, "You, however, continue in the things

you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from

whom you have learned them; that from childhood you have

know the sacred writings which are able to give you wisdom

that leads to salvation which is in Christ Jesus" (II TIM

3:14,15). Note two things here: first, that Timothy had

learned these things as a child; and second, He had been

taught them not by a theologian but by his mother and

grandmother (II TIM 1:5).

 

IF ANY MAN IS WILLING...HE SHALL KNOW OF THE TEACHING

     "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall

make you free" (JOHN 8:32). Back in our text, Jesus said

that "If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know

of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak

from Myself." Notice some of the implications of the

passage:

     "If any man..." shows the universality of the

statement. It includes you and your neighbor. The diplomas

and degrees on the wall, or lack of them, does not really

enter into it. A good education may well enhance someones

understanding of the Bible by informing him of how people

lived, dressed, talked and so forth, but it will not save

him.

     "...is willing to do His will..." shows the proper

attitude with which one approaches the Scripture. Jesus

mentioned people who did not understand His message, not

because they were intellectually incapable but because

they have "closed their eyes" (MATT 13:14-16, see also the

parable of the sower in the following verses 18-23). It is

not the mere hearer who understands, but the doer of the

word (JAMES 1:22-25).

     "...he shall know the teaching..." show the results

of the proper attitude. It is not who you are that

determines how well you understand the teachings of the

Bible but how you approach it. Anyone can twist and

distort the Scriptures, but do so "to their own

destruction" (II PETER 3:16). On the other hand, anyone

can "understand what the will of the Lord is" (EPH 5:17).

 

     "For My hand made all these things, Thus all things

came into being," Declares the Lord. "But to this one I

will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit,

and who trembles at My word." (ISA 66:2). It seems to be a

matter of attitude then. Why does one so readily grasp a

Bible truth while another complains of such difficulty?

Attitude. Why do some go only so far in their growth as

Christians and then stall? Attitude. It is not that the

truth cannot be known, its whether we really want to know

it!

 

 

 

The New Covenant

(2 Cor. 3:6-18)

by Dan Petty

 

 

     As Paul seeks to defend the integrity of his ministry

in the Second Corinthian epistle, he affirms this

sincerity and boldness in preaching the gospel (1:12;

2:17; 3:12). He affirms that his adequacy is from God, as

a minister of a New Covenant (3:4-5). He affirms that he

does not lose heart as a minister of Christ (4:1-2). What

was the secret of such confidence?

 

     2 Corinthians 3:6-18 is a text full of comparisons as

Paul seeks to explain the superior nature of the New

Covenant, and thus of his ministry. The secret of Paul's

boldness as a minister is to be found in his concept of

the more glorious New Covenant and his opportunity to

preach it.

 

     The New Covenant is more glorious because of its

superior function in God's redemptive purpose (vs. 6-10).

The Old Covenant, written in letters engraved on stones,

was a "ministry of death" (v.7) and a "ministry of

condemnation" (v.9). The New Covenant, by contrast, is a

"ministry of the Spirit" (v.8) and a "ministry of

righteousness" (v.9). The Old Law was a revelation of

God's glory, but it was not a full disclosure of God's

redemptive purposes. Human beings could never be justified

by the works of the Law (Galatians 2:16). It could only

bring condemnation. The Law of Moses was added because of

transgressions "until the seed should come" (Galatians

3:19). Christ, however, enacted a "better covenant" upon

"better promises" (Hebrews 8:6), the forgiveness of sins.

The Law pointed forward to something so superior, the

ministry of righteousness, that its own glory, however

brilliant, was surely to be exceeded.

 

     The covenant of which Paul was a minister is also

more glorious because of its permanence. "For if what is

passing away was glorious, what remains is much more

glorious" (v.11). Paul appeals to an incident in the life

of Moses and uses it allegorically to demonstrate both the

reality and the transience of the glory of that occasion.

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, his face shone

because he had been speaking with God. After he finished

speaking, he put a veil over his face, to remain until his

next visit with Jehovah (Exodus 34:29-35). The veil hid

the fact that the brightness of his face was fading (vs.

7,13). The antitype, Paul argues, is that the glory of the

Old Covenant is now fading away, being superceded by a New

Covenant with greater glory, even as the brightness of the

moon fades before the splendor of the rising sun. The Old

Law was a tutor to lead us to Christ, "but after faith has

come, we are no longer under a tutor" (Galatians 3:24-25).

It was taken away and nailed to His cross (Colossians

2:14). The New Covenant is more glorious because it now

remains.

 

     Third, the New Covenant is more glorious because of

the benefits it brings. "Therefore, since we have such

hope, we use great boldness of speech" (v.12). To Paul,

the New Covenant provided hope which the Old could not.

 

It provides revelation, or enlightenment (vs. 13-16).

Appealing again to the example of Moses, Paul declares

that there is a "veil" that lies over the hearts of those

who  still cling to the Old Covenant. It is a veil of

hardness of heart and blindness to the truth, because they

refuse to see Jesus as the Christ who has fulfilled the

Law and its purpose. Satan uses every means to "blind the

minds of the unbelieving" so that the gospel remains

veiled to the perishing (2 Cor. 4:3-4). But through Christ

the veil is removed, and believers are able to see the

"light of the gospel" (cf. Acts 26:18).

 

     The more glorious covenant offers liberation. "Where

the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty" (v.17). Paul

warned the Galatians to "Stand fast therefore in the

liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be

entangled again with a yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1).

The gospel offers man the opportunity to be free from the

Law, from sin, and from condemnation. Why cling to that

which is less glorious?

 

     Finally, the more glorious covenant effects

transformation. He declared, "But we all, with unveiled

face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are

being transformed [from metamorphoo] into the same image

from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord"

(v.18). As we behold the Lord, His life, His teachings,

and His love for us, a "metamorphosis" takes place in us.

Our priorities, our values, and our characters take on a

new form as we focus our attention on the Christ revealed

in the gospel. We can become partakers of His divine

nature (2 Peter 1:3-4), conformed to the image of the Son

of God (Romans 8:29). And Paul says that is exceedingly

glorious -- "from glory to glory."

 

     Thus Paul affirms his devotion to the more glorious

covenant of Christ. Like Paul, let us cling to that more

glorious covenant, so that we can say, "since we have this

ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart"

(2 Corinthians 4:1).

 

 

 

The Final Page

 

     We hope you have profited from our first issue. We

certainly welcome comments pro or con. We are happy with

this issue, but we are also sure that as time goes on

there will be changes.

      At this point, we have no idea what the response

will be like. We have considered a letters page, or at

least a comments page, where we would select a few

responses to the previous issue and include them for your

consideration.

Let us know what you think; whether a letters page becomes

a part of Expository Files or not, we value your input.

     Depending on the response, we may not be able to

personally answer every comment. But I am sure we will

read them.

 

     So until February, Go with God.