Leave the Landmarks Alone!

“Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it” (Deut. 19:14).

A “landmark” is a mark that designates where your land ends and your neighbor’s land begins. Modern surveyors drive a metal rod into the ground to separate and distinguish property, but ancient landmarks often consisted of a stone that could be removed by someone wishing to encroach upon his neighbor’s land. God pronounced a “curse” upon any man who would dare to so mistreat his fellow-Hebrew (Deut. 27:17). This was because after God divided up the Promised Land amongst the children of Israel in the Book of Joshua, He commanded them that it not be sold (Lev. 25:23; Num. 36:7). This is why Naboth refused to sell his land to Ahab (I Kings 21:1-3). Naboth wasn’t being stubborn or disrespectful to his king, he was being faithful to the Law of his God (cf. Ezek. 46:18).

Landmarks to this day continue to mark where your land ends and your neighbor’s land begins. However, today we also have certain societal landmarks that God has to help us distinguish between right and wrong. For instance, for thousands of years, mankind clearly understood where to draw the line between right and wrong when it came to the subject of abortion. Then in 1973, our Supreme Court removed the landmark when they legalized abortion, and we have been living with the holocaustic consequences of this “landmark decision” ever since. Now societal surveyors are taking aim at yet another God-given landmark, the definition of marriage that limits it to the bond that can only exist between a man and a woman in the eyes of God.

Such landmarks also exist in the spiritual realm of Bible doctrine. The historic fundamentals of the faith that define Christianity have for centuries helped God’s people determine where truth ends and error begins. These spiritual landmarks are always under attack, and the day in which we live is no exception. To counter this trend that was present even in his own day, the Apostle Paul challenged young Timothy:

“Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 1:13).

While we should always be open to receiving new understanding from God’s Word “with all readiness of mind” (Acts 17:10,11), we must “prove all things” and “hold fast” only “that which is good” (I Thes. 5:21). We have a rich “inheritance” in Christ (Eph. 1:11,14) that these landmark doctrines serve to protect. Let’s work together to preserve them!

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.

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Put on the Spot

(Emeritus Professor of Music Arthur Birkby has been on the faculties of Westminster College, the Philadelphia Conservatory, Western Michigan University, the University of Wyoming, and Biblion College & Seminary. In the following article, Dr. Birkby addresses the question that many people ponder this season of the year: just who was this One who was born in the manger so long ago.)

Arguments about one’s religious convictions have been going on for as long as people have been able to communicate with each other. In the book of Job 6:25 one reads, “But what does your arguing prove?”* More often than not, there is no satisfying resolution despite the bickering because matters of faith are often not proved. Furthermore, “faith,” by definition, is unquestioning trust; it can stand alone and has its own virtue.

What will be presented here will not let one easily “off the hook,” so to speak. Anyone who reads words ascribed to Jesus Christ in the Holy Bible, will be “put on the spot” by having to declare that Jesus is indeed the very God Himself, or that He is a liar, deceiver, and charlatan.

When considering the quotations of the Savior as they occur in the four gospels, one cannot have it both ways: that is, if what He says is true, He necessarily must be the divine Creator. Even those who do not embrace Christianity in all of its ramifications will perhaps reluctantly admit that Jesus was likely a good man, a moral, loving person, a great teacher, and an undeniable influence on world history. On the other hand, if what He is quoted as saying is not true, He is asking His followers to believe in a fraud and a liar. And if what He says is falsehood, misinformation, deceit, pie-in-the-sky silliness, or ignorance, Jesus is a hypocrite and an imposter. Under such circumstance, Jesus would not measure up to minimal standards of a decent person. He would lack all credibility.

Why is it that those who hold to no particular religious tenets are unwilling or disinclined to challenge Jesus’ sayings? What would happen today if someone were to say he had the authority on earth to forgive sins, thereby assuring entrance into heaven? (Matthew 9:6). Would he not be the laughing stock of those who heard him? An ultimate decision must be made by any rational person, upon being shown many of Jesus’ declarations. Is He God or a phony?

In the quotes by Jesus that follow, when He uses the term “Son of Man,” He could just as well have said, “I.” “Son of Man” is dealt with in some detail in Merrill F. Unger’s highly respected Bible Dictionary, where it is stated that the term occurs in both Old and New Testaments, and is now theologically associated with Jesus Christ. The Lord used it about eighty times in referring to Himself. “Son of Man” portrays Christ as the Representation of Man. That is, He uses this designation as it relates to His mission, His death and resurrection, and His second advent; and it is in this name that universal judgment is committed to Jesus. The term also implies that, in Jesus, the Old Testament prophecies relating to the coming Messiah find their fulfillment.

“Son of Man” is also found in the book of Ezekiel when captive Israel is assured that God will not forsake her, and that she is only a small portion of humanity about which He is concerned. With the title, “Son of Man,” Ezekiel is chosen, spiritually endowed, and delegated by God. These elements apply also to Messiah; and thus it is that Christ adopts the title for Himself. Whatever other theological implications to the term, “Son of Man,” it is necessary at this time only to recognize that it is naturally and freely used by the Savior to identify Himself.

Now let us consider some of the claims made by Jesus Christ that, if stated by anyone else, would be so utterly outrageous as to warrant immediate condemnation as blasphemy or raving megalomania. Imagine how an ordinary person would react upon hearing someone say, “Everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32).

When Christ said in Matthew 11:5, “[Through Me] the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them,” those who heard these words never denied their truth. Jesus’ miracles were evident to all of His critics. Unlike today’s self-proclaimed healers whose results are selective, hit-and-miss, or bogus, Jesus healed all who came to Him.

Not only does Christ proclaim His Lordship, but He verifies Bible events that many deny as having happened. Such is the case where He says in Matthew 12:40, “For just as Jonah was three days in the belly of the sea monster (He did not say `whale’), so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” In the next verse Jesus puts the “cherry on the sundae,” so to speak, by declaring, “and behold, someone greater than Jonah is here.”

These statements as well as many others to follow occur in other gospel accounts, and need not be repeated here for validation.

After mentioning the Queen of Sheba’s visiting King Solomon to verify his reputation as a mighty ruler, Christ states in Matthew 12:42, “Behold, a greater than Solomon is here.”

Christ indicated that He was making manifest the words of the Old Testament when He stated in Matthew 13:17, “Many righteous men and prophets desired to see what you see (Messiah), and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

As in all instances where Christ identifies Himself, He said, “The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:41,42). This is one of numerous references made by Christ to the reality and nature of eternal perdition. Although many people today would like to ignore the actuality of an everlasting hell for unbelievers, there are more references to such eternal damnation by the “gentle” Jesus than from any other person in the Bible.

Predicting His own future that was fulfilled exactly as He averred, one reads in Matthew 17:22,23, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered unto the hands of men; and they will kill Him. And He will be raised on the third day.” When, if ever, has anyone else made such an announcement that has been the essence of belief for millions of people for centuries?

Self-styled prophets, who attempt to persuade their devotees concerning magnificent futures, usually die in ignominy and their adherents have suffered horrible ends. How different will be the destiny of Christ’s disciples to whom He said in Matthew 19:28, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

No other leader of a cult or sect has had the temerity to tell his followers, as Christ did in Matthew 24:9, “They will deliver you to tribulation, and they will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.” It is evident even today that many of the world’s ills and wars are a result of the absolute abhorrence for the name and person of Jesus Christ, and for those who follow Him.

Imagine, if you will, the reaction today to someone’s saying about himself, “The Son of Man will appear in the sky; and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).

Throughout centuries of history attempts have been made by political as well as religious bodies to quash the Bible. Its very existence has been threatened and acted upon in ways that would surely eradicate any other document from the face of the planet. Yet, the Savior decreed in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”

And listen to these assurances of the Lord’s ultimate victory: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18), and, “I am with you, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

If advocates and devotees of a personage or a belief system want to portray their leader as having authority, power, or importance, it would seem reasonable to depict him as having plausible capabilities. It would be self-defeating to ascribe attributes to a champion that were clearly unbelievable. Perhaps a skeptic might reluctantly admit to a presumably miraculous healing having occurred. However, the “magic” required to pull off a stunt such as calming a storm at sea goes beyond rationality. Yet, this mighty act is related as a credible event in Mark 4:29 where the Lord commands, “Hush, be still.”

Not surprisingly, there are supposedly Christian churches these days that say Jesus never really asserted that He was divine. Such obstinacy is hard to believe, given the unassailable declaration of Jesus Himself. When asked whether He was the Christ, the Son of God, He gives His answer in Mark 14:62, which reads, “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

This is not an isolated or obscure mention of Christ’s admitting to being divine. Luke 22:70 relates when asked by the chief priests and scribes whether He, Jesus, was the Son of God, He replied, “Yes, I am.”

Among the many usurpers of divine status who have made outlandish claims about themselves, few indeed have gone so far as to establish their reputations upon being recognized aforetime in the Old Testament. That this was unequivocally declared in behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ occurs in Luke 4:18-21 where He was reading the Scriptures in the synagogue. The passage from Isaiah 61:1,2 stated, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, and to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” After reading this passage, Jesus said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

One reads in Luke 11:53 that the religious leaders in high places were hostile to Jesus; and this becomes evident in Luke 7:48 when Jesus forgives sins, and the scribes and Pharisees ask, “Who is this who can forgive sins?”

Often one hears the charge that Christians are arrogant when they say that Jesus is the one and only way into the presence of God. The believer is obligated without compromise to confess the truth found in Luke 10:16, “He who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.” Similarly, in Luke 10:22,24 Jesus says, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son.”

Another among the abundant references in which Christ clarifies His exclusive access to God is His saying, “Everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8,9).

Many declarations by Christ are so unequivocal and striking that, despite what may appear to be hyperbole, they are affirmed without compromise. While the Lord was being adulated by the throngs during His triumphal entry into Jerusalem only a few days before His crucifixion, He acknowledged His worthiness to receive worship, when He said, “I tell you, if these became silent, the stones would cry out!” (Luke 19:40).

Again, identifying Himself as the subject of Old Testament Scripture, Christ quotes Psalm 118:22 by stating in Luke 20:17,18, “What then is this that is written: `The stone which the builders rejected, This became the chief cornerstone? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.'”

Recognizing His being the essential topic of the Old Testament, Jesus cites another relevant passage from Isaiah 53:12, saying, “For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, `And I was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment” (Luke 22:37).

Yet another citing in which Christ identifies Himself in Old Testament Scriptures is found in Luke 24:44 where He says, “All things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

The Lord gives an answer to those who deny His bodily resurrection following the Crucifixion, when they concoct dubious hallucination theories or some other ephemeral pretext. Luke 24:39 quotes Jesus as saying, “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

The issue of whether heaven is a real place rather than a state of being or some other identity, and what characterizes it, is put to rest when one reads John 3:13: “No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.”

Emphasizing His direct association with God and His heaven, Jesus also stated in John 6:46, “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father.”

For those who throughout the ages, and even now, yearn for the appearance of the Messiah, their longings are put to rest when Jesus says about Himself to the woman at the well in John 4:26, “I who speak to you am He.”

The Lordship of Jesus Christ can hardly be more unambiguous than that found in John 5:37,39 where one finds, “The Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You seek the Scriptures because you think in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.”

True Christians should be the first to acknowledge that they, like everyone else, are sinful human beings who required regeneration and forgiveness, which is available through the blood sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Entrance into blissful realms in heaven is not dependent upon one’s morals, behavior, works, heredity, or any other factor.

Evidence that true believers in Christ Jesus as Savior have a personal relationship with Him is verified by this declaration in John 6:40 which says, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone that beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” Now, that’s personal!

One of the generalities that pervade the minds of many people is that they are essentially “good,” and that everybody is a child of God. This notion is seriously flawed by Christ’s telling the religious elite in His day that, “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father” (John 8:44). John 8:24 states, “Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

Even the so-called “do-gooders” of Christ’s era recognized their sinfulness, as evidenced by their strict regulations regarding temple worship and the offering of sacrifices for atonement. With this in view, it is astounding that the religious leaders were unable to respond to Jesus’ question in John 8:46, “Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak the truth, why do you not believe me?”

When confronted by the religious rulers, Jesus infuriated them by His series of assertions as recorded in John 8:51, 8:56, and 8:58. “Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad. Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM.” The religious experts of that time recognized that the term, “I AM,” was synonymous with Jehovah.

Does anyone think for a moment that Jesus and His betrayer, Judas Iscariot, were in collusion when Jesus in John 13:18 quoted Psalm 41:9 which states, “I know the ones I have chosen; but it is as the Scripture may be fulfilled, `He who eats my bread has lifted up his heel against Me?'”

Further evidence that Christ was omniscient becomes obvious in John 13:19 where He comments, “From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He.”

Finally, one of the most touching elements in Christian doctrine is described by Christ in His “High Priestly Prayer” documented in John 17:5. Jesus is clearly identifiable as the inimitable personage of being One with God Almighty, and existing from all eternity as He prays, “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” No beginning, no ending. Christ was from eternity past, and ever shall be for eternity future. This is the essence of infinity!

At the outset of this essay it was postulated that anyone reading it would find it difficult to arrive at a middle-of-the-road decision concerning the Scriptures contained therein. These are some options: 1) All of the writers of the Old and New Testaments were complicit in managing to avoid errors and contradictions throughout the Scriptures. 2) Jesus must of necessity be fraudulent in order to make the bizarre statements attributed to Him. Most of the statements here would have no credence whatsoever if they were made by any mere mortal being. 3) Jesus, being God, cannot lie; and no one except an omnipotent Deity could make such statements. Choosing option 1) or 2) will assure an unequivocal eternity of abject misery, gloom, wretchedness, and desperation with no reprieve forevermore. Selecting 3) guarantees an eternity of bliss with the loving, omnipotent Creator of the universe. Are there other viable alternatives?

Dr. Birkby will be happy to respond to any question you might have regarding his comments in this article. You can write him at: abirkby@comcast.net.

* All Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Version.

Berean Searchlight – December 2006

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Partakers of Their Spiritual Things

In Romans 15:25-26, Paul speaks of taking a contribution to the poor saints at Jerusalem. The kingdom saints in Judea and Jerusalem had not only suffered persecution, but were in great need, having sold their land and possessions in accordance with the Kingdom program of early Acts (See Acts 4:34-37). Then in Acts 8:1-3 we read of great persecution at Jerusalem, with Saul (Paul) being a leader of it. But some years later, after God mercifully saved him, he was chosen with Barnabas to send relief to these Jewish believers. Quite a change in the man!

Then on Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem, he stands before Governor Felix and says, “I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings.” This is the offering (evidently a large amount) that Paul writes of in Romans 15:25-26, “…for the poor saints at Jerusalem.” Then verse 27 reads, “It has pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in carnal things.” The question addressed here is, how are we made partakers of their spiritual things?

The first thing we might think of is what Paul said in Acts 28:28, “…the salvation of God is sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it.” This was the third time Paul said in Acts that he would turn to the Gentiles, because, for the most part, the people of Israel rejected his preaching of salvation in Christ. More is said of their rejection and fall in Romans 11:11, “…through their fall salvation is come to the Gentiles.” In Ephesians 2:12-13, we read that the Gentiles were “…without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” So now that Israel has been set aside, we are made partakers of the spiritual things they once had as the people of God.

Perhaps the next thing that would come to our mind is that we now possess the Word of God that came to us through Israel. Romans 3:1-2 says that the chief advantage of the Jew was that “…unto them were committed the oracles of God.” So now we have the entire Bible: the truths of creation, the history of Israel and mankind through the centuries, the judgments of God, the covenants, the promises, and many prophesies concerning Christ and the things to come.

As Romans 15:4 states: “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” The things “written aforetime” would include the warnings Paul mentioned in I Corinthians 10:1-11. Verse 11 reads, “now these things happened to them for examples, and they are written for our admonition….” Furthermore, “All Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, for instruction in righteousness…” (II Timothy 3:16). There is a great wealth of these things in Scripture, and how thankful we are for them. For wisdom, reproof, and instruction in righteousness, we read Proverbs. For examples of worship, prayer and praise, we read the Psalms. For a knowledge of prophecy, we have all the prophets, including the Lord Jesus who prophesied of the judgments to come and the future Kingdom.

In addition to the Old Testament, there is blessing for us in reading the four gospels that teach concerning Christ’s first coming. The doctrines of the virgin birth, His deity, His ministry on earth, and His future Kingdom are things we should know, and for our learning we read the chapters that tell us of His suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection.

Concerning the New Covenant that was originally promised to Israel, we Gentile believers now have the spiritual blessings of it. We have salvation through His blood. Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 26:28 saying, “This is the blood of the New Testament (covenant) which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” However, the great truths of the New Covenant were not fully revealed until the Book of Hebrews was written. The author of Hebrews, who this writer believes is Paul, wrote to the Jewish Christians who knew all the ordinances and prophecies of the Old Testament as Paul did. The New Covenant shows that all the types, offerings and sacrifices, priesthood and ordinances of the Law are fulfilled in Christ. Although Hebrews is not addressed to Gentiles, we do rejoice in the truths of it. As II Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture…is profitable….”

Paul says in II Corinthians 3:6, “Who also has made us able ministers of the New Covenant.” This covenant was promised to Israel (Jer. 31:31-34), yet we are partakers of “this great salvation” mentioned in Hebrews 2:3. Perhaps this is what Paul was referring to when he said he was a minister of the New Covenant.

Besides all these “spiritual things,” we have those epistles of Paul that are addressed to Gentile believers, and they contain the revelations concerning the truths that God has especially for us in this dispensation of grace. Although Paul often used “proof texts” from the Old Testament saying, “according to the Scriptures,” his writings contain a complete body of doctrine for the Church today. For knowledge of our salvation by grace, our position in Christ, our spiritual life and our destiny, we must know Paul’s epistles. In order to be established in doctrine and spiritual understanding we must know Paul’s gospel, “…and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25). However, when we consider that we have all the Word of God, how thankful we should be that we are made partakers of the spiritual things of the Jews as well.

Our good friend John Willson is one of our senior Grace Bible teachers, and has been a frequent contributor to the Berean Searchlight over the years. You can write him at 407 W. Hickory St., Neosho, MO 64850 with any questions about the above article, or for information about his Grace Bible Courses correspondence ministry.

Part 2: The Prevailing Confusion Over This Commission

(The following is the latest installment in our series of articles drawn from Pastor Stam’s book, Our Great Commission, What Is It? Since this book never appeared as a series in the Searchlight, many of even our long-time readers may not be familiar with these selections.)


There are few, if any, major Bible subjects on which all of the denominations and sects of Christendom are agreed. There is one, however, on which almost all of them agree.

The vast majority of fundamentalists, neo-evangelicals, modernists and Roman Catholics, along with practically all of the cults, agree that the so-called “great commission,” containing our Lord’s parting commands to His eleven apostles, contains God’s program for the Church today. Or, to be more specific: Most “Christians,” nominal or genuine, believe that our Lord, during the forty days between His resurrection and ascension, instructed His apostles concerning His program for the Church today, and they all call these instructions “the great commission,” or “His parting commands,” or “our marching orders.”

It is not all as simple as that, however, for especially among fundamentalists, those who study their Bibles most, there has been sharp disagreement as to precisely which of our Lord’s commands, given between His resurrection and ascension, apply to the Church today: which of them in particular constitute the “great commission.”

In each one of the four records of our Lord’s earthly ministry and in the Book of Acts we have written accounts of some of these instructions, but does the term “great commission” properly apply to all of these or only to certain of them? This has by no means been agreed upon.

In the records of the various parts of our Lord’s commission there are certain commands or instructions which thinking Bible students have for years found wholly incompatible with the great truths later revealed in the epistles of Paul. And so it came about that most of the great fundamentalist Bible teachers of the past generation concluded that only some of our Lord’s parting words constitute our “great commission,” but they never could agree as to which ones applied. This is the legacy they have left to the present generation as far as the so-called “great commission” is concerned. There is little agreement; only confusion and division, where this subject is concerned.

It is sad indeed that at this late date God’s people, and even their spiritual leaders, remain in disagreement on so important a subject as to what God would have us do and teach. This is written in the year 1974 A.D., and still the Church does not know what its great commission is! This is because the so-called “great commission” is so rarely examined and expounded. Rather it is mentioned, referred to, and phrases from the record taken out of context as topics for sermons!

Most Christian people have heard their pastors or evangelists speak on Matthew’s “Go” and “lo, I am with you,” on Mark’s “all the world” and “every creature,” on Luke’s “ye are witnesses” and the Acts’ “ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” But how many have ever heard our Lord’s parting words thoroughly and thoughtfully expounded? When have their leaders ever conducted Bible studies on the commission which they so stoutly defend as their own?

If pastors and Bible teachers faithfully studied and explained these important commands of our Lord in detail, they would soon find that it is difficult, yes, impossible to reconcile them with the epistles of Paul unless we recognize a change in dispensation with the raising up of Paul, God’s appointed apostle of grace. Surely the legalism of Matthew’s account, the baptism for salvation and the miraculous demonstrations of Mark’s, the “Jerusalem first” of Luke and the Acts, and the apostolic forgiveness of sins of John’s record are not compatible with the glorious truths later set forth in the Pauline epistles.

What the spiritual leaders of the past generation taught us about the commission to the eleven, must inescapably affect the teachings of our generation. This is the place, then, to back up a generation, as it were, and put the writings of the “fathers” to the test. We do this first as we enlarge upon our writings of thirty years ago in our booklet, This Is That. In this booklet we dealt with the deep confusion over the so-called “great commission” among the great—truly great—Bible teachers of that day. As we note this confusion we should not lose sight of the fact that they were giants, spiritually, where many other subjects were concerned.

Dr. H. A. Ironside, long dubbed “The Archbishop of Fundamentalism,” held that the Church’s commission is found in Matthew 28:18-20 and that to deny this is Bullingerism. In one example of his strong feelings about this he wrote, with reference to the passage in Matthew 28:

“People who have never investigated Bullingerism and its kindred systems will hardly believe me when I say that even the Great Commission upon which the Church has acted for 1900 years, and which is still our authority for worldwide missions, is, according to these teachers, a commission with which we have nothing whatever to do; that it has no reference to the Church at all….Yet such is actually their teaching” (Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, P. 17).

Apparently, though, our dear brother was so intent on going after the “Bullingerites” that he forgot that many of his colleagues, including Mr. J. N. Darby, the founder of the Plymouth Brethren (with whom Dr. Ironside was for many years associated) emphatically denied that the Matthew commission is ours. We quote here from Darby and several others among Dr. Ironside’s colleagues.

Mr. Darby: “The accomplishment of the commission here in Matthew has been interrupted…for the present it has, in fact, given place to a heavenly commission, and the Church of God” (Collected Writings, P. 327).

Dr. James M. Gray: “This is the Kingdom Commission…not the Christian Commission” (Christian Workers’ Commentary, P. 313).

Dr. I. M. Haldeman: “We must call this the Kingdom Commission” (The Commission, P. 14).

Dr. Arno C. Gaebelein: “This is the Kingdom Commission” (Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2, P. 323).

Dr. Wm. L. Pettingill: “This we would call the `Kingdom Commission’….It would be a strange thing to find the Church’s commission in the Kingdom Gospel” (Bible Questions Answered, Pp. 106,107).

Dr. I. M. Haldeman believed that our commission is to be found in Mark 16:15-18. How he would thunder the words: “`He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.’ What God hath joined together let not man put asunder.”

But strangely, Dr. Haldeman did not believe that the miraculous signs of Verses 17,18 are included in God’s program for today! You could not join Dr. Haldeman’s Church (New York’s First Baptist) without water baptism, but if you spoke with tongues or sought to work miracles you would be—and some were—excommunicated! Yet these were part of the same commission, yes, the same specific record of the commission (Mark 16:15-18). Pastor J. C. O’Hair once wrote to Dr. Haldeman, asking whether he was not putting asunder what God had joined together, by thus separating Mark 16:15,16 from Verses 17,18. Pastor O’Hair never received a reply.

Dr. Gaebelein held a still different view. Luke, he said, was the Gentile gospel—presumably because it was written to Theophilus (Luke 1:3). However, everything about Luke’s gospel is Jewish, not Gentile. Luke’s record opens with the baby Jesus in the arms of a Jewish mother and of the aged Simeon, also a Jew (Luke 2:28), and it closes with our Lord in the arms of Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin (Luke 23:50-53).

Dr. William L. Pettingill, however, believed that Ironside, Haldeman, Gaebelein and those who stood with them were all wrong. Pettingill taught that the Church’s commission is to be found in Acts 1:8, basically because in the Book of Acts we have baptism “in the name of the Lord Jesus,” which he concluded to be the proper “formula” for our day. However, he never explained, to this writer’s knowledge, why the “formula” in Acts is different from that in Matthew. Dr. Haldeman was so sharply opposed to Dr. Pettingill’s view that we know of one family who, having been baptized in Dr. Pettingill’s church in Baltimore, had to be baptized all over again to join the First Baptist Church of New York City, where Dr. Haldeman was pastor.

But what about the record in John 20:21-23? Did not our Lord say here: “Even so send I you”? Yet this record of the commission was strangely overlooked and barely referred to by the brethren mentioned above and, indeed, by most fundamentalist Bible teachers from their day on. The reason? Those closing words, which the Church of Rome so strongly emphasizes: “Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained” (John 20:21-23).

Some Protestant theologians have sought to explain, really explain away, the simple statement made by our Lord here, but their arguments against Rome’s position have been as weak as cotton thread, for the simple reason that in this case Rome has always been able to point back to the Scriptures with the reply: “But this is what it says.” This is always a strong argument and, in this case, a difficult one for Bible-believing Christians to gainsay. (Rome’s position, however, has been answered, simply and completely, by the application of dispensational truth. See the author’s booklets: Apostolic Authority of the Twelve and Paul, the Masterbuilder.)

Surely it should be seen from the above that not only has Christendom in general been confused over the so-called “great commission,” but our greatest Bible teachers of the past generation have been as thoroughly confused, or at least as hopelessly divided. And if this is so of that generation, what shall we say of this! The only difference, probably, is that the leaders of our day have been so greatly influenced by the new evangelicalism that they avoid specifics, only referring to the commission in a general way as something we should all obey. There is great urgency, but little specific information in their repeated calls to carry out the “great commission” in this generation.

If we would find a Scriptural solution to this important problem, then, let us begin by humbly acknowledging that the Church has not given a clear, united testimony to the world. Indeed, how can we obey our “marching orders” if we are not sure what they are? “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (I Cor. 14:8).


If we hold, as most Christian believers do, that the epistles of Paul apply to the Church of this dispensation, but also believe that our Lord’s parting instructions, between His resurrection and ascension, comprise our commission for today, we are indeed in trouble.

Thus it came about that great, truly great, fundamentalist Bible teachers were forced to choose individual records of the so-called “great commission” as binding in this dispensation, in accordance with the amount of difficulty they experienced in harmonizing the various commands with God’s Word through Paul. This has naturally contributed much to the deepening confusion among sincere believers today.

As we have seen, Dr. Ironside declared that our commission is to be found in Matthew 28:18-20, but Drs. Gray, Gaebelein, Haldeman and Pettingill, along with Mr. Wm. R. Newell and many others, realized immediately that this would bind believers hand and foot with the law of Moses, for our Lord distinctly commanded the apostles that in going to “all nations” they should “teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you,” and this would inescapably include obedience to the law of Moses for, not only was our Lord Himself under the law (Gal. 4:4), but He commanded His disciples to “observe and do” whatever the scribes and Pharisees directed them to do because these leaders in Israel occupied “Moses’ seat.”

Similarly, Dr. Haldeman chose Mark 16:15-18 as the Church’s marching orders, but other great Bible teachers rightly objected that our Lord here taught baptism “for the remission of sins” and miraculous signs as the evidences of sins remitted. They correctly concluded that in the light of the Pauline epistles this could not be God’s program for our day.

It has been said that when some theologians are “persecuted” in one Scripture passage they “flee to another”! And it appears that this is just what Dr. Haldeman did. To prove that miraculous demonstrations are not in God’s order for today he appealed to the Pauline epistles, but he did not do this where water baptism was concerned for, despite the wording of the passage, he believed that this was in order as a testimony to salvation.

A pastor once said to this writer: “Brother Stam, I believe that Mark 16:16 applies to our day, but I don’t teach baptism for the remission of sins!” We replied: “If you believe that Mark 16:16 is binding today you should preach baptism for the remission of sins, for that is what Mark 16:16 commands.”

Dr. Gaebelein, as noted above, chose the record in Luke 24:46-48 as our commission, but the phrases “repentance and remission of sins” and “beginning at Jerusalem,” rightly convinced other leading teachers that this passage, like that in Matthew, is related to the kingdom reign of Christ, which will, of course, be established at Jerusalem.

Dr. Pettingill chose the record in Acts 1:8, but this passage too has the apostles beginning at Jerusalem.

As to John 20:21-23, almost all fundamentalist Bible teachers have agreed that this is not the commission for the Church today, but the Church of Rome surely has Protestants “over the ropes” on this one!


How foolish and wrong it is for any of us to use “snatch-grab methods,” as Pastor O’Hair called them, in ascertaining our Lord’s will for us! What right have we to choose some particular segment or segments of our Lord’s instructions to the eleven in the forty days between His resurrection and ascension, and to apply only these to ourselves or to the Church today?

Nothing could be clearer than the fact that our Lord “showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). In those forty days, then, one person, our Lord, spoke to eleven men, and gave them instructions as to the program they were to carry out after His ascension. In every single case it is crystal clear that these commands were not directed to others, who were to live at some future date, but to the apostles, who were to commence to carry them out after His departure, when the Holy Spirit had endued them with power.

This is emphasized by the phraseology found in all five records: Matthew 28:19, “Go ye,” Mark 16:15, “Go ye,” Luke 24:48, “Ye are witnesses,” John 20:21, “So send I you,” and Acts 1:8, “Ye shall be witnesses.” How preposterous, then, to argue, as so many hard-pressed theologians have done, that one or more segments of the commission are to be carried out by another generation at a later time! By what rule of hermeneutics or logic have we the right to exclude from the interpretation of these commands the very ones to whom our Lord gave them?

Some, agreeing with the above, have concluded that the commission as a whole, then, must be for our obedience, but this too is impossible in the light of the Pauline epistles. Indeed, the Lord has rendered it impossible to obey any of the segments of the so-called “great commission,” as we shall presently see.

Probably the fundamental reason why so many people conclude that the commission to the eleven is for our obedience is because they have heard it said so often! Repeatedly pastors and evangelists and Bible teachers have referred to the Lord’s parting instructions as “His parting words to us,” “our marching orders,” “our commission” and “the great commission,” as if our Lord never gave any other. But all this is grossly incorrect and unscriptural. These were not our Lord’s last words. He spoke again from heaven to and through the Apostle Paul and gave to him a greater, far greater, commission than that which He had given to the eleven.

Before dealing with this greater commission, however, we can, perhaps, best see that the so-called “great commission” is not for our obedience if we carefully examine all the segments of it—all of them, in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the Acts—and note precisely what this commission does and what it does not say.

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Is Miraculous Healing in God’s Program for Today?

The newspapers recently carried the story of a so-called “faith healer,” who has been holding forth at Vandalia, Illinois and attracting large throngs of people, all seeking to avail themselves of his supposed miraculous healing powers. The following is part of a United Press dispatch:

“This usually quiet southern Illinois town of 5800 persons was bursting at the seams today with 4000 ailing persons. They came here hoping to be cured by a former game warden who turned `faith healer’ eleven months ago.

“The sermons and prayers of the Rev. Henry Branham, 38, nattily dressed Free Baptist minister, attracted the lame, halt and blind from every section of the country—and even southern Canada.

“The town was jammed with invalids on crutches, in wheel chairs and on stretchers. A score of ambulances that had been driven across the country were parked at downtown curbs. A constant stream of people limped or were carried to a tent on the edge of town, in which the Rev. Mr. Branham preached, prayed and attempted cures for two six-hour sessions daily.

“The Rev. Mr. Branham, formerly a game warden of Jeffersonville, Indiana, came here a week ago under the auspices of the local Pentecostal church. He said he had `cured hundreds of persons suffering from nearly every known disease.’

“`I was 11 when I was first called,’ he said, `I was carrying water, and a tree talked to me. When I was 14, I tried to smoke a cigarette. A man with a long white beard and flowing robe visited me. He told me not to smoke. Then 11 months ago I got a call so insistent that I went out and started healing people.’

“The Rev. Mr. Branham said he effected his cures by touching the patient’s left hand. `I receive vibrations caused by the germs in the person,’ he said. `I can usually tell what the disease is and when the devil leaves the person the vibrations stop.'”

After having read the above account, may we remind you that this happened, not in Africa, but in America. We sometimes ridicule the beliefs of the poor souls in heathen lands, but surely none of their superstitious ideas can exceed such nonsense as this. One wonders how long it will be before these other lands start sending missionaries to convert the heathen in the USA. Think of these thousands of poor deluded people, travelling great distances to witness some supposed miracle or hoping to be the beneficiary of some miraculous healing. Man will seemingly go to any lengths to get a little healing for the body, and the devil was not altogether wrong when he said, “Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.” All one need do is come along with some kind of a healing scheme and he will soon have a following.

This incident at Vandalia is but a sample of that which is happening in many other places, though perhaps on a somewhat smaller scale. Many, including some really born-again Christians, are endeavoring to perpetuate the miracles and signs of Jesus of Nazareth. They are, of course, ignorant of the Word. Today, God speaks to us only through the Scriptures, not through a tree. If we would know His will for us, we learn it from the pages of His Book and not from some long-whiskered gentleman. Of course, in the Bible we do have the record of many healings, miracles, wonders and signs. However, if these sign-seeking folks would really study the Word, and rightly divide it, they would discover that with the setting aside of Israel, God turned from His “sign” program, and brought in the present dispensation of grace, which is a “signless” dispensation.

As long as the message was being proclaimed to Israel as a nation, signs were in evidence, “For the Jews require a sign” (I Cor. 1:22). They required a sign because their Old Testament Scriptures had foretold the fact that when Messiah came and the kingdom was established, signs, visions, etc. would be the order of the day. See Isaiah 35:5-6 and Joel 2:28-31. The miracles of Christ were thus His credentials to Israel, as stated by Peter on the day of Pentecost: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know” (Acts 2:22).

During the Book of Acts the Jew is being given another opportunity to repent and receive the blessing of God. It is true that there is a gradual turning away from Israel, the apostle of the circumcision giving place to the apostle of the Gentiles, yet during all this period, and in every place, the Jew is still accorded a priority in the offer of blessing. Paul said, “It was necessary that the Word of God should first have been spoken to you” (Acts 13:46), and it is not until, in every place from Jerusalem to Rome, that the blessing had been despised and rejected by the Jew, that solemn words of Acts 28:28 are spoken to that once highly favored nation: “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.”

During the time that Israel was first, miracles, signs, healings and visions were the common order of things. The writer to the Hebrews says, “Which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us (Jews) by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles” (Heb. 2:3-4). However, after the setting aside of Israel, and the solemn pronouncement of Acts 28:28, the Scriptures will be searched in vain to find the record of even one such miracle.

The following, which is so clearly stated, is from the pen of Sir Robert Anderson: “The purpose of the miracles was to accredit the Messiah to Israel, and not, as generally supposed, to accredit Christianity to the heathen, and therefore, as Scripture plainly indicates, they continued so long as the testimony was addressed to the Jew, but ceased when, the Jew being set aside, the Gospel went out to the Gentile world.” Mr. Anderson also wrote: “We shall be prepared to find that so long as the kingdom was being preached to the Jews, miracles abounded, but that when the gospel appealed to the heathen world, miracles lost their prominence, and soon entirely ceased.”

There were three periods in Israel’s history which were characterized by miracles; the days of Moses and Joshua, the days of Elijah and Elisha, and the days of Christ and the apostles. Each one of these periods was also characterized by great apostasy on the part of God’s people. The next time that miracles are in evidence will be during the most apostate days of all, when the man of sin shall be revealed, “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders” (II Thes. 2:9).

The desire of many today for the sensational and spectacular is not indicative of a healthy spiritual condition. Truly the words spoken by the Saviour are applicable today: “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign” (Matt. 12:39). During this present age “the just shall live by faith” (Gal. 3:11). “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (II Cor. 5:7). We are not to look for signs, but to walk by faith alone in the written Word of God. The Lord rebuked those of His day, and said, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe” (John 4:48). Later on He said, “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Berean Searchlight – November 2006

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A Compelling Reason

“I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing” (II Cor. 12:11).

The Apostle Paul did not like to “glory” or boast about his apostleship. He would much rather spend his time teaching the great truths of the Mystery, and the Word of God, rightly divided. However, the immaturity of the Corinthians “compelled” him to such boasting. They were so impressed with the boasting of the “false apostles” (11:13) that Paul was forced to speak to them in the only language they seemed to understand—that of boasting.

Grace believers are often accused of boasting too much about the apostleship of Paul, and to this we plead guilty. We too would much rather spend our time teaching the great truths of the Word of God, rightly divided. However, the sorry state of modern Christianity is such that we too are “compelled” to boast about Paul’s apostleship. The immaturity of contemporary Christianity has caused them to overlook Paul as “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:13), and presents us with a compelling reason to emphasize his apostleship.

Paul found the Corinthian situation especially disappointing, since as he told them, “I ought to have been commended of you.” As the one who had begotten them in the gospel (I Cor. 4:15), they should have been singing the praises of his apostleship, instead of forcing him to defend it. And so it is today. All who are saved in the dispensation of Grace are saved by grace through faith apart from works (Eph. 2:8,9), a gospel that is exclusive to the Apostle Paul. And so in a very real sense, all who are saved today are begotten of the Apostle Paul, and should be singing the praises of his apostleship, instead of forcing us to defend it.

The false apostles in Corinth were probably protesting, “Why, Paul isn’t even one of the twelve apostles! We have as much authority as he has!” This forced Paul to declare that he was “not a whit behind” the very chiefest apostles, i.e., James, Peter and John. But if Paul only claimed he wasn’t “behind” the twelve apostles, why do we insist on emphasizing his epistles ahead of the epistles of James, Peter and John?

Ah, Paul’s apostleship was equal to theirs, but he was the apostle of a different group of people. As he told the Galatians, “He that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles” (2:8). All state governors are equal in authority; no governor is a whit behind any other. However, if I am wise, I must recognize the authority of the governor of my state. And if we are wise as Christians, we must likewise recognize the authority of “the apostle of the Gentiles.

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.

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Part 1: Our Great Commission

(The following is the first of a series of articles drawn from Pastor Stam’s book, Our Great Commission, What Is It? Since this book never appeared as a series in the Searchlight, many of even our long-time readers may not be familiar with these selections.)


At a panel discussion on Dispensationalism held at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, in 1947, the author made reference to “the so-called great commission.”

One of the other panel members challenged this terminology, stating that the commission to the eleven was the great commission,” not “the so-called great commission.”

In our response we insisted that this commission was the so-called “great commission,” reminding our hearers that the Word of God does not call it “the great commission”; men do.

This obvious and important fact should be borne in mind by those who earnestly desire to “rightly divide the Word of truth” and carry out intelligently God’s program for us today. Such a recognition would be the first step in the discovery of the root cause of the doctrinal divisions that have separated true believers in Christ and have gripped the Church in deep confusion which it does not seem possible, otherwise, to dispel.

The commission which our Lord gave to the eleven (later twelve) has so long been called “the great commission” that multitudes of sincere believers have a hazy notion that the Bible designates it thus. The fact is, however, that this designation merely reflects traditional views and, as in our Lord’s day, “the traditions of men” all too often “make void the Word of God.”

Granted, our Lord’s commission to the eleven was indeed a great commission, but it should never be called “the great commission,” for the ascended Lord later committed a greater, a far greater, message and ministry to the Apostle Paul.

Unless we recognize a change in dispensation with the raising up of Paul, that other apostle, the commission to the eleven must stand as an irreconcilable contradiction to the great doctrines of the Pauline epistles—and vice versa.

It should be noted throughout this study that the Scriptural term “the eleven” is used only with regard to the period between Judas’ defection and death and the appointment of Matthias to take his place. Here, however, a note in the Scofield Reference Bible rightly defines the identification as “a collective term, equivalent to `The Sanhedrin,’ `The Commons,’ not necessarily implying that eleven persons were present. See Luke 24:33, I Corinthians 15:5; and cf. Matthew 28:16, where `eleven disciples‘ implies a definite number of persons.”

We know, however, that in Acts 1 the number of the apostles is again brought up to twelve. Thus when we refer to the giving of the commission, in this volume, we will designate this group as “the eleven,” but when we refer to the carrying out of the commission in early Acts we will refer to the same company as “the twelve.”

Finally, it should be noted that throughout this volume we designate Bible-believing Christians as fundamentalists rather than evangelicals. The rise of the new evangelicalism has caused many sincere believers to refer to themselves as evangelicals, but we feel that this term is vague and indefinite, while the term fundamentalist historically refers to those who stand for the fundamentals of the Christian faith.


A Thorough Examination

Before going into any consideration of the so-called “great commission,” we respectfully request the reader to examine, thoughtfully and prayerfully, all five segments of it, as quoted below from the King James Version of the Bible. Yes, you have read all of these passages before, but read them again. This time you may see things you’ve never seen before.

Matthew 28:18-20

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Mark 16:15-18

“And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

“And these things shall follow them that believe: In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

“They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

Luke 24:45-48

“Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures,

“And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:

“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

“And ye are witnesses of these things.”

John 20:21-23

“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.

“And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

“Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.”

Acts 1:8,9

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

“And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”

Since the subject of our God-given commission is so profoundly important, and since one or more of the passages quoted above are generally considered to be our great commission, we suggest that it would not be a waste of time for the reader to turn back and read these five passages again, this time noting carefully just what they say and what they do not say.

Does the passage being read refer to prophecy and the law? What are the terms of salvation? What were to be the evidences of salvation? Does it teach “no difference” between Jew and Gentile? Does it mention salvation by grace, through faith, on the basis of the shed blood of Christ? Does it mention the “one baptism” by which we are baptized into “one body,” and made one with Christ? Does it proclaim a heavenly position and prospect for those who believe? Does it mention “the mystery” so often referred to in Paul’s epistles?

Such an examination of the record itself may prove to be a real eye-opener entirely apart from our interpretations as presented in this volume.

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Berean Searchlight – October 2006

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