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HOW FLATT FLATTENED
THE MASTER'S MOUNTAIN SERMON
PLAYING "SIMON SEZ" WITH SHELLY
Some few months ago Rubel Shelly preached a series of sermons at the Ashwood Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee [now know as the Woodmont Hills Church of Christ] in which he explained the Sermon on the Mount as being that which we had not really thought it was. The speaker did not present anything different than that which some of us have heard from modernistic professors and denominational pastors for many years. Rubel's recipe was borrowed from false teachers and we challenge him or anyone else to deny it. Folks, I do my home-work and stand ready to defend what I say.
QUOTES AND NOTES ABOUT THE SERMON
Now sometime later, brother Steve Flatt preached a sermon at the Madison Church of Christ [February 4, 1990, to be exact]. I kept hearing comments and having people ask me questions concerning some of the things that he had said. That Sunday sermon aroused my curiosity to the extent that I obtained a tape and spent an entire day listening, reversing, listening and reversing, the tape. I wrote brother Flatt and voiced my curiosity about that lesson and the source from which he obtained some of the statements he had made, but at this time I have had no reply, and frankly, I am such a peon, a nothing, and so negative, that I do not really expect any reply. We shall see what we shall see!
There isn't anything new under the sun. Some preachers just like to copy the materails of others and try to put a little different twist to it. I do not say brother Flatt focused on Shelly, but the difference in their speeches is like Tweedle-Dee-Dee and Tweedle-Dee-Dee.
I do not object to brethren using the materials of others when the material truth. Bro. Hardeman used to give us outlines and say, "Preach it boys. If the brethren who gave it to me don't care, I certainly do not." He preached the truth, and so did his students, and brother, I still teach those same truths.
Art Linkletter used to say, "People are funny." He was correct and especially is this true of some preachers. We want not where brother Flatt found his "Markus" and where his "Markus" found his "Urmarkus," but it would not take a person skilled in linguistics, philology, and few other "ologies," to figure out the resemblances, likenesses, affinities, and sources of the Shelly-Steve discources.
I do not hesitate one second in exposing error and naming those who teach it. I want to do this in love. Some gospel preachers have the colossal gall to get in the pulpit and palaver over a mess of garbage which has been prattled by denominational pastors. The sickening thing to me is that many elders and members will tolerate and support such rotten teaching. The Bible is right, and brethren, it says, "Now I beseech you brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them" [Rom. 16:17]. I am right when I do this and wrong when I do not. Is this right?
My prayer is that someone will someday appreciate my feeble efforts to curb the spread of liberalism, and my God help us to open our eyes.
Wayne CoatsHOW FLATT FLATTENED
184 Hillview Drive
Mt. Juliet, Tennessee 37122
THE MASTER'S MOUNTAIN SERMON
PLAYING "SIMON SEZ" WITH SHELLY
As we tune in on the speaker, we are told that Jesus' Sermon on the Mount was the greatest sermon ever preached. We are told that, "Liberal critics might even ask, whose sermon?" "Was it Jesus' sermon or was it Matthew's sermon? Liberal critics have claimed that Matthew just accumulated all the best versions of Jesus' sermon and put them together in the Sermon on the Mount." I'm not a liberal and I wouldn't be caught dead making the preceding statement. Someone might step forward and ask for a bit of proof. There are some people who still demand Biblical proof, and of course, liberals don't want to be bothered with proving their sayings.
Isn't it interesting that when Rubel talked about Jesus' sermon, he said, "The sermon that he must have preached many, many times, the sermon that Matthew from memory, maybe even written forms of this same sermon that others had pieced together and were circulating in written form."
Now, if liberal critics make such statements, according to Steve, since Rubel made the aforementioned statement, then what kind of a critic is Rubel? I'm just asking.
When Rubel preached his sermon on February 7, 1988, he said, "The Sermon on the Mount! What mount? Who knows?" When Steve preached his sermon on February 4, 1990, he said, "What mount? Who knows?"
Back on February 7, 1988, Rubel spoke of the sermon that Jesus "...must have preached many, many times..." and now Steve tells us, "You may have never considered this but Jesus likely taught this sermon dozens and dozens of times."
Does it occur to anyone that Jesus may not have preached this sermon, "....many....many..." and "dozens and dozens..." of times? It doesn't make any sense at all to get into the pulpit and start assuming.
I wish brethren would just preach the Word, and start assuming! I do not expect to get answers to all the questions raised in this paper, but what sort of information does Steve have that would leave the slightest hint of a faint intimation that Jesus preached this sermon dozens and dozens of times? Oh, how I wish he had put that revelation down on the tape. I suppose a good definition for a liberal is simply that person who dares to take liberties with God's Word. I have no desire to be a liberal. We could assume some baseless point about every chapter in the book of Matthew, but what would it profit? Does not the Bible abound with examples of people who dared to become presumptuous? Why cannot we be content to stay with the book? What do we show when we try to show something which is not shown in the Word of God? Can we show more about God than what is revealed? Some polythist might so affiem. Can we show more about God's Word than what is actually said? Some liberals would so assume. The old brother in Sequatchie Valley was right when he declared to the young preacher what Paul said to Timothy. That statement was "Preach the Word!" What's wrong with the Word? It would seem that there must be something poisonous, promiscuous and perishable about the written word, the way some of our talkers are shying away from it. We need to speak the truth in love [Eph. 4:15] I know how liberal preachers led the church astray and into digression one hundred fifty years ago. We are hastening again in that direction!
RUBEL SAYS AND STEVE REPEATS
Rubel says the mountain where Jesus preached was not, "....a snow capped peak.."
Steve says it was, "...not a snow covered mountain."
Rubel says the location was "....something of a natural outdoor amphitheater."
Steve says it was an "...amphitheater."
Rubel says the sermon is, "...history's most famous sermon."
Steve says it is, "...history's most famous sermon."
Rubel says, "This sermon is not a salvation sermon."
Steve says, "Number one, the sermon on the mount is not a salvation message."
Rubel says, "John 3 is Jesus' teaching about salvation, and how one enters the kingdom of God."
Steve says, "If you're looking for a salvation message from Jesus, turn to John chapter three and look at the sermon he preached to Nicodemus."
Rubel says, "Matthew 5, 6, and 7, is the lifestyle of which the newborn child of God is called...."
Steve says, "The sermon on the moun is a description of a lifestyle to which a child of God is already called."
Rubel says, "...neither is this this sermon a repudiation of the law of Moses which is how a lot of us have understood it."
Steve says, "The sermon on the mount is not a repudiation of the law of Moses."
Rubel says, "Jesus' purpose was never to repudiate, abolish, set aside, do away with what the law of Moses revealed to us about the heart of God and will of God."
Steve says, "Jesus never repudiated the law." "Read with me what Jesus says, 'do not think that I've come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, nor the last letter, not the least stroke of the pen, will by any means disappear from the law until every thing is accomplished."
Rubel says, "Those six antithesis are between the commands of God as interpreted by the Rabbis and Scribes, versus -- those commands as they were intended from God."
Steve says, "No those antithesis beginning in Matthew 5:21 where Jesus said, 'You've heard it said, but I say unto you -- those are not between the law of Moses as it was interpreted by scribes and teachers and the laws of God as they were designed to bring about goodness in our lives."
Rubel says, "For example never ever does the law say, as in Matthew 5, verse 43, 'You've heard it said love your enemy,' ah...love your neighbor, and hate your enemy -- the law of Moses never said that..."
Steve says, "Look at Matthew 5, verse 43. It said, 'You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
Rubel says, "In Leviticus 19, verses 17 and 18, the Jews specifically were told under the old law, you can't hate your fellowman, you can't hate your neighbor, you can't get revenge."
Steve says, "You go home and read Leviticus 19, verses 17 and 18 -- you'll find you love your neighbor and you don't pay revenge on anybody."
Rubel says, "I'm not sure there is any sense in which the law is abrogated."
Steve says, "As a matter of fact, the law of Moses hasn't been done away. As a matter of fact, the basic law of Moses wasn't the initiation of anything drastically new."
Lest the reader grow weary of sayings and echoes, and more echoes, we shall pay our respects to some of those utterances. They remind me of the kindergarten game called "Simon Says." Rubel said it last year and Steve repeated it this year. I think he should have at least given the source since he used some of the exact words, prases and sentences which Rubel used when he spoke on the Master's Mountain Sermon. Steve comes forward a year later and proposes to tell us something which is different from what preachers and teachers have taught in the past! [Ha, Ha!] That's what brother Rubel said he was going to do. Have these two brethren been sipping from the same brew and using the same straw? I insist that their spiels are not new to a few of us "knuckle-heads." Liberals have been gnawing on the same bones for decades. These things are not new under the sun and we refuse to be of that company who can be so easily fooled with liberal bait.
I am especially interested in those comments of Steve where he asserted, "As a matter of fact, the law of Moses hasn't been done away." "As a matter of fact, the basic law of Moses wasn't the initiation of anything drastically new." Two unbelievable blunders! Go back and read the statement again, or get a tape and listen to it.
I would expect a Baptist preacher of a Seventh Day Adventist to make such statements, and if they should utter such foolishness, they could never prove such if their lives depended upon it. Folks, I'm not misquoting, taking out of context, rearranging or changing my brother's statement. I wish he had not made such statements. He said it, just as the tape shows and just as I have written. Listen to the tape and open your eyes.
Where did Steve learn that the old law hasn't been done away? No, I do not misunderstand what was said. I believe I have about as much sense as the average member at madison when it comes to understanding matters presented from the pulpit. What was the purpose of trying to cause people to think that the law has not been done away? What in heaven's name was the point? I still do not know what the man was trying to prop up!
Another question would be in order and that is, Are there no brethren at Madison who have backbones enough to convict the gainsayer?
Can a man teach flagrant error and never have his hand called? Do the people at Madison think that the law is still in force and that it hasn't been done away? Would an Adventist be welcome in the pulpit at Madison? If a pastor should come around the corner from the Adventist College and preach, would the people know the difference? What is the difference in some Adventist saying the law has not been done away and brother Steve saying the same thing? Isn't it the case that with a great many people, a proposition is considered to be true or false depending upon WHO says it, notwithstanding what the Bible teaches? Such aberrations from the truth should not go unchallenged. How would I say it if I wanted to convey the idea that the law hasn't been done away? No man should make such a statement relative to the old law.
Steve makes a pitiable effort to try to escape his dilemma by saying, "Now lest you misunderstand, certain ceremonial aspects of how God wishes his people to worship him those things have changed." "Things like, for example, the day of worship. We worship on Sunday instead of on Saturday. Yes, the ceremonial aspects have changed, but folks these things are not a part of God's innate nature."
At least Rubel was a little more consistent when he said, "I'm not sure there is any sense in which the law of Moses is abrogated." He would keep it all, lock, stock and barrel, or would he? None of it is gone, but somehow the Sabbath is gone. Well? To him the sabbath was replaced by virtue of the resurrection of Christ in founding the church.
Now that business about certain "ceremonial aspects" just about does me in! That will require that I stop right now and read the entire Bible and find out every single thing there is to be known about those "ceremonial aspects" of the law. So right here, I stop......................................! Well, you guessed right, if you guessed that there is not one shred of information about a ceremonial law. Alexander Campbell judiciously wrote, "...in modern times the law of Moses is divided and classified under three heads, denominated, the moral, ceremonial, and judicial law. The division of the law being unknown in the spostolic age, and, of course, never used by the Apostles, can serve no valuable purpose in obtaining a correct knowledge of the doctrine delivered by the apostles respecting the law.
You might as well inquire of the Apostles, or consult their writings to know who the Supralapsarians of Sublapsarians are, as to inquire of them what is the moral, ceremonial or judicial law. But, like many distinctions handed down to us from mystical Babylon, they bear the mark on their forehead that certifies to us, their origin is not Divine." Brother Campbell stated that such divisions were harmful. They perplexed and confounded one's search in determining the sense of the Apostoic writing. Steve can assert about the ceremonial aspect, but would he offer proof?
It is not a matter of misunderstanding. I understand perfectly well what was said about the "ceremonial aspects of the law," but I have absolutely no Biblical understanding about any "ceremonial aspects of the law" and neither does any other man. False teachers and inventors of error have long since attempted to make nebulous distinctions in the Old Law. They can carve out all sorts of divisions, and that is absolutely necessary in order to sustain such false systems as is propagated by the various Sabbatarian cults. No one ever needs, "ceremonial aspects" until they become engrossed in the labyrinth of error.
A. N. Dugger had at least twelve debates with our brethren on the matter of keeping the old sabbath day as the day of worship. Dugger did what every sabbath keeper is forced to do in an effort to sustain his flimsy theory. He conjured up a "ceremonial" part of the law, and declared that the old ceremonial system was done away and nailed to the cross. He said, "It was not the ten commandment law that was nailed to the cross and abolished through the work and death of Jesus, but it was the old sacrificial law of pardon." Dugger and others make an egregious blunder when they make unscriptural distinctions in the law. In order to try to keep the sabbath law, those fellows have to split, chop and carve up the old law, and then they take a carved out piece and try to bind it upon all; and the gullible will swallow it.
If I were an Adventist, I'd talk long and loud about the "ceremonial law" and the "moral law," but if I were a faithful, sound, gospel preacher, I would keep my mouth shut, except to refute such errors. Very kindly and in love, brother Flatt should do just that. He knows nothing about the ceremonial law, and shame on him for teaching such false doctrine.
Adventists of every hue and stripe claim that the Ten Commandments constitute God's "moral law." Well, this isn't so! Where does the Bible refer to the ten commandments as a seperate entity known as the "moral law?" There are myriads of laws and statutes in the Old Testament which have to do with moral living and these can be found outside the Ten Commandments. I do not see any sense in copying a great portion of the "moral laws" of the Old Testament to prove this point. In fact, it is completely asinine that I would ever need to deal with this matter in answer to a preacher who claims to speak the gospel. One could check Ex. 22:12; 22:22; and 23:2 and very readily find some moral teaching outside the Ten Commandments. Are ALL moral principles included in the Ten Commandments? Are ALL immoral principles prohibited in the Ten Commandments? Where do we read about moral and ceremonial law in the Bible?
The Adventists try to make a distinction in the "law of God" and the 'law of Moses." They claim the law of God is the same as the Ten Commandments, whereas the law of Moses is the "ceremonial law." They make the specious argument that the "ceremonial law" was abolished at the Cross, but we still have and keep the Ten Commandments. I do not hesitate to say that this arbitrary distinction is absurd. We know that God gave the law of Moses according to Ezra 7:6. We also know that Moses gave God's law [Neh. 10:20]. God gave the "book of the law of the Lord" was given by Moses [II Chron. 34:14]. When we read from Nehemiah 8, we learn that Ezra read from, "the book of the law of Moses" [vs. 1]. It is called "the law" in verse 2. In verse 3, it is called "the book of the law." Verse 8 states that "they read in the book of the law of God." Oh, well, Adventism is false to the core in the theories which are presented regarding their "moral and ceremonial" laws. Lest I be misunderstood, everyone else who makes such distinctions are false teachers, and that includes brother Flatt. He should be ashamed and take his "ceremonial" jargon back across the street to the Adventists from where it was borrowed. The Adventists in Madison would be glad to dialogue and agree with him. Since he can speak about certain "ceremonial aspects," may I ask about other aspects. What would they be called? Are all those not ceremonial still binding? Looks like some are and some aren't, but we were not told about those not ceremonial. Would that leave all the ten commandments in force?
"As a matter of fact, the law of Moses hasn't been done away." That's what brother Steve has said! What an amazing book God has given! It has what is referred to as "the law," "the law of Moses," and also the "Old Covenant." Remember what Rubel and Steve said about the law? Rubel said, "I'm not sure there is any sense in which the law is abrogated," and Steve said, That's "As a matter of fact the law of Moses hasn't been done away." That's not nearly it, but exactly what was said! Again I sincerely ask, What in heaven's name does a preacher hope to accomplish by making such wild assertions? I know for a fact that the preachers who have stood in the Madison pulpit for at least forty years would not make such blunders. C. J. Garner, Ira North, and Jim Mankin knew better than to copy such blatant falsehoods from the sects. Moreover, brother Flatt should know better, and in case he doesn't, I would think that there would be someone at Madison who could take him aside and teach him the way of the Lord more perfectly. I fervently pray they will.
I now propose to refute the false teaching of brother Flatt, namely, that the law hasn't been done away. I can show by the word of God that he is a false teacher, and I will. I'm sure it will never happen, but I will be willing to meet him or anyone else in a public discussion regarding the abolition of the Old Covenant law. The man may be sincere, but with all the love that I can muster in my heart, I say he doesn't know what he is talking about, or else he knows and doesn't care. Brethren, have we so soon turned aside from the truth?
The old law was never given to anyone but the Jews, and it was only binding upon those who were under it. Moses said, "The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day" [Deut. 5:3]. The Gentiles were, "...strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world" [Eph. 2:12]. According to Gen. 12:1-3, God made a promise to Abraham concerning his seed. Then four hundred thirty years after the promise was given, the law was given [Gal. 3:17]. Brother Flatt, the old law did originate at Mt. Sinal. Where is your proof that it didn't? You have not one shred of proof, but you only made an assumption which I refuse to accept. This law was to last, "...till the seed should come" [Gal. 3:19]. The inspired Book tells me that the law was blotted out and nailed to the cross [Col. 2:14-16].
Would you say Paul made an error when he penned the passage? "Till" is an adverb of time limiting a certain thing or action. Compare Matt. 1:25, "....till she had brought forth her firstborn son"; and Acts 23:12, "....till they had killed Paul." What does "till" denote in Gal. 3:19?
In Ex. 31:13, God told Moses to "speak thou also unto the children of Israel..." He also said, "It is a sign between me and you throughout your generations." In order to get us to see a bit clearly I would ask, Has the "seed" ever come? We need an answer forthrightly. One can find the answer in Gal. 3:16; 19. What does "till" denote? Also, I want to know if brother Steve is a Jew, or a part of Israel? Maybe he would like to tell us exactly which one of the twelve tribes he descended from. Futhermore, since the law was a "sign" between God and Israel, just what is the "law sign" between God and Steve? Please expostulate about the sign.
Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, what does the law say to you? "What things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law" [Rom. 3:19]. Furthermore, I wonder if brother Flatt thinks we can be justified today. We cannot be justified by the law. "But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith...." [Gal. 3:11-12]. Will he say that we can?
We are not under the law and have never been. "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace" [Rom. 6:14]. "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law" [Gal. 5:18]. We are dead to the law. "Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ: that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead..." [Rom. 7:4]. We are delivered from the law. "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held: that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter" [Rom. 7:6]. We are no longer under a schoolmaster. "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster" [Gal. 3:24-25]. The law has been abolished. "Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, making peace" [Eph. 2:15]. The law has been blotted out, taken away, nailed to the cross.
"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross" [Col. 2:14]. "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days" [Col. 2:16].
If the law has not been done away, then the Bible is one of the most contradictory books ever given. The Bible is right. "Let God be true and every man a liar" [Rom. 3:4]. If as Steve says, the law has not been done away, does he eat pork, keep all the holy days, new moons and sabbaths? He might answer that these are "ceremonial aspects," or he just might not answer. Such teaching might well result in developing a new group of "Moonies." Surely someone will desire to observe the feast of the new moon. That would be just as reasonable as asserting that the law had not been done away.
In II Cor. 3:7-11, Paul spoke of that which was written and engraven in stones. He calls it the "....ministration of death...." Comes now a brother who thinks it is still in force. Humbug! Verse 11 says, "For if that which was done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious." Paul said it was done away, but Steve says it has not been done away. Brethren, you can't have it both ways. Who will you believe? A man ought to be ashamed to deny what the Bible teaches.
To the Galatians Paul wrote a very simple allegory [Gal. 4:22-31]. He says Hagar is representative of the old covenant from Sinai, whereas Sarah represented the new, and Paul declared. "We are not children of the bondwoman but of the free" [verse 31]. Does Steve want all the Madison members to be children of the bond woman? That's exactly what he is teaching and looks like the members agree. But Hagar was cast out. Steve would reverse the arrangement of God. He can attempt to "fix" on his problem till Jesus comes, but never will he be able to repair it. It is in too much of a "fix." The only thing to do is abandon such foolishness and stop thinking of men [perhaps a man] above that which is written [I Cor. 4:6]. To the Galatians Paul wrote, ".....He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second" [Heb. 10:9]. In order that he might establish the second, he had to take away the first. They could not be in force conjointly. Steve says, "Not so, the old law has not been taken away." Can someone help him with these simple matters, please? How would my brother answer the three questions below?
I. What does the law say to you?
I believe if someone presented me with those questions, I could answer them and be one hundred percent right and consistent. If the law of Moses has not been abrogated, then how shall we observe it, and what benefits accrue to the keepers thereof? Paul wrote, "For if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily, righteousness should have been by the law" [Gal. 3:21]. What a pity for a preacher to palm off on gullible people the palaver that the law has not been done away, and then try to tell folks how to have life and be righteous. Law simply means rule of life, but the law did not give life and so it was abolished.
2. If the law says anything to you, would you not be under condemnation?
3. How should the law be kept today without Levitical priests?
Centuries ago Moses said, "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear the prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people" [Acts 3:22-23].
When Jesus took Peter and John up on the mountain and was transfigured in the presence of Moses and Elijah, Peter made a proposal, but God didn't accept it. Sometimes like Peter, we get carried away and make some wild statements which need to be rejected.
We can get a nice looking fellow, dress him in buttons and bows, stand him in the pulpit, and regardless of how far out he goes, people will follow. Some sweat-soaked farmer with Bible knowledge and common sense can refute and shred the false teaching with ease, but will we listen? What do you think?
Brother Steve comments about the Sermon on the Mount and says, "The Sermon on the Mount is not a repudiation of the law of Moses...people say that's where Jesus does away with the Old Law...." "So the whole idea here that the law started on Sinai and ended on the Sermon on the Mount, that everything's changed, that's not accurate."
I will agree that some people will say whatever they have read from someone else. Some people will even say that the law hasn't ended. What people say, or do not say, is not the criteria. What does the Bible say?
Frankly, I think I've been around a bit longer than Steve, and I'm sure I've travelled as many miles and covered as many continents as he. I'm more then positive that I've read as many or more books than he has....including vast numbers from my library of over 9000 volumes. I have the copies of the Gospel Advocate from 1855 to 1940, as well as the Firm Foundation on micro-film. Countless hours, both day and night, are spent in continuous study and research of these old volumes, but brethren, before God, I have never, ever, heard or read form anyone, especially one who claims to be a member of the Church, who thinks the law ended at Matthew 5 through 7. Was my brother just trying to kick up a little dust? There are some few preachers who belong to the Madison group, and I wonder if they ever heard anybody who heard of somebody who thought the law ended with the Sermon on the Mount. I am very well acquainted with Restoration writings as well as modern materials, but somewhere, somehow, something has eluded me. Which heretics have I passed by?
Let's look again at that assertion where Steve says, "As a matter of fact, the basic law of Moses wasn't the initiation of anything new." Rubel said, The law under both covenants is really an expression in time and in a historical setting of things that were true before the law of Moses was ever given."
I confess that I have read the law of Moses many times. I've read the prophets and the Psalms. I suppose if there is a "basic law of Moses," something along the line I read it also, especially if it is in the Bible. I'm not sure just when I got to the "basic law," when I was reading it, and when I finished it, but I just didn't know when I got to the "basic law," when I was reading it--if it was there. It might be that I just didn't know when I got to that "basic law," because it didn't set forth "anything new." Shame on my old teachers for letting me be so ignorant and blind about such great revelatory matters. So there isn't anything new in the basic law of Moses, depending of course, upon how a person wants to define his terms. I suppose we need to go back and ascertain what the "basic law" was before God gave the law of Moses. Then we need to come to the New Covenant and find out what the "basic law" is, and whatever we find, it won't be "drastically new." Since the old law hasn't been done away, and since the old law didn't initiate anything drastically new, then there isn't anything drastically new for us in the New Covenant. We've go the basics which Adam, Abraham, Noah, Moses, and Malachi all had.
I hope some misguided person won't get excited, misunderstood, and start to build an ark of gopher wood, or try to get over to Jerusalem and build Solomon's temple. Please do not be surprised at what might be attempted by some of the brethren.
The entire concept and scope of Moses' law was drastically new and even a tyro should know this. Back in 1939, brother C. D. Plum wrote an article in the Gospel Advocate entitled, Patrarchal, Jewish and Gospel Laws: High Points of Differences. Read the Old Testament from Genesis 1 to Exodus 20 and make notes on the differences therein with respect to how man obeyed God. Contrast this with that vast amount of information from Exodus 20 onward to the close of Malachi.
Brother Steve says, The commands about spiritual obligations and ethical behavior found in the Old Testament, those things were that way before God ever had them put down on Sinai. And they're still that way today. God's nature doesn't change. "Brethren, the commands about spiritual obligations and ethical behavior" differed tremendously before God had Moses to write the law on Sinai. Where was there a spiritual command to keep the Sabbath before Sinai? Where was the tabernacle built and when did Israel begin to gather about it? Note the spiritual commands before the law and afterwards.
We agree that God's nature doesn't change, but brother, his laws have changed and may I ask please, What does the unchanging nature of God have to do with what his laws were in any dispensation? Does the unchanging nature of God mean that we don't have to be swallowed like Jonah, or since Jonah wasn't baptized, neither do we have to? Aren't you glad the nature of God doesn't change?
LET'S SEE A BIT MORE OF "SIMON SAYS"
Rubel says, "The old law and the new law, that's not really the way to say it."
With whatever sense, nonsense, pretense, or any other kind of sense one may purport to look at the matter, there is and old law and a new law. "In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old vanisheth away" [Heb. 8:13]. Now, of course, if the Bible is spurious, I guess in that sense there is not any kind of spiritual law for us. Some fellows might not like to say it that way, but that's the way the Holy Spirit says it. There is an old law and a new law and makes no difference how anyone wants to say it. Since the devil confronted Eve, there have been those who have thought they could say it better than God has said it.
Steve says, "There is not in that sense an old law and new law."
Rubel says, "There's an old covenant which is a part of that covenant predicated certain things on commandments and in the new covenant those same basic things are predicated not on law any more but on grace and yet the law is such as continues through both covenants."
Steve says, "There is an old covenant that was predicated on law and there is a new covenant that's predicated on grace."
Then that new covenant "predicted on grace" gets interesting. The old covenant was predicated on law. Does Steve think there is no grace under the law, nor any law under grace? I devoutly wish some of my brethren could get denominationalism out of their system long enough to teach the truth. When will we quit apeing the sects? The old covenant "predicated on law" was full of God's grace. Again is Steve trying to get us to think there was no grace under the law? Why cannot we learn that "law" simply means "rule." The law of a people is the rule or constitution of that people. When I just study the Bible, I have no problem at all in learning the will of God regarding law and grace. It's when we get full of sectarian theology that we go wild on these subjects. One of the eternal attributes of God is his grace. How did Jonah know about God's grace [Jonah 4:2]? How did Nehemiah know about the grace of God [Neh. 9:17]. When the child of David died, the king knew about God's frace [II Sam. 12:22]. When God gave specific laws to Israel he declared, "....for I am gracious" [Ex. 22:27]. The Lord said to Moses, "...thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name" [Ex. 33:17]. The Bible informs us that Noah found grace in the sight of the Lord [Gen. 6:8]. We have some brethren who are likely to say anything, and others will believe it.
Rubel says, "The sermon on the mount is not a societal ethic."
Jesus was teaching the people as he sat on the mountain. The people were a part of the existent society. There are many statements in the sermon which have to do with ethics. I very well remember some graduate courses on Christian Ethics wherein we studied about conduct and moral behavior from the mountain sermon, then he simply adds to all of his other problems.
Steve says, "The sermon on the mount is also not a societal ethic."
Rubel says, "Bertrand Russell....says you'll remember that Christ said judge not lest you be judged."
One of the most narrow and efferent interpretations ever given to any passage of scripture undoubtedly has to do with Jesus' remarks relative to judging. Weak and fearful religionists desire to hide behind the "judge not" idea rather then attempt to give a scriptural answer for their unscriptural practices. "Lest ye be not judged" and "with what measure ye mete the same shall be measured unto you," are great guide lines. There is not a Christian judge on earth that refuses to follow the aforementioned principle. Does he judge? Of course, he does. He judges according to the statutory code and he is himself judged by civil statute. All of us are to judge righteous judgement [John 7:24]. It is flaccid and patent error to deduce that Christians cannot judge. This egregious blunder is seen at its worst when someone judges that no one can judge. I'm not saying, nor do I intend to leave the slightest hint of an idea that a specific brother contends that judging is wrong, but I do know that the idea is very prevalent among members of the church, and we need to be not unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is [Eph. 5:17].
Steve says, "Bertrand Russell wrote....for example, the idea, 'Judge not that ye be not judged' in the sermon on the mount. Bertrand Russell said, 'Have you ever known a Christian judge sitting on a bench to live by that? How on earth can a Christian judge sitting behind a bench, judge not?"
Rubel says, "In John 18, verse 22, one of the temple soldiers before Annas socked him in the mouth. Instead of turning the other cheek, Jesus protested. He said, 'Why in the world did you do that? If I've done something illegal, if I've done something against the law give testimony in a court but don't do that."
If I can get into diving gear and get down at least one hundred fathoms into the aqueous, cabalistic area of buffoonery, I might be able to drink in the secrets of the mountain sermon which have hitherto alluded my brain for the past decades.
Steve says, "In John chapter 18, verse 22, when he was on trial before Pilate, one of the soldiers smacked him in the mouth and Jesus turned around to that soldier and said, 'What have you done?' And Jesus said, 'If I have spoken wrongly, bring charges against me. If not, why do you strike me?"
Rubel says, "We are in a hopeless situation even as the church, in light of passages like II Thess. 3, verse 10, that tells the church not to help some people. If this statement about, from the person who would borrow, or would ask something of you, don't turn away. If that's absolute, the church is in a hopeless situation." "These are ideal guide lines for kingdom ethics in terms of personal one on one relationship within the kingdom."
Brethren, it is one thing to believe the inspired word of God and show the harmony that exists in that wonderful book, but it is a totally different and disgusting thing to parrot philosophers like Bertrand Russell and present his billious bile about my Lord's sermon on the mount. Such can only result in creating doubt, skepticism and flagrant denial of the unity and inspiration of the Bible. I know my library contains many of the works of Russell, but I never have been enamored with his blasphemy. Do I understand that Steve actually agrees with Russell? We are assured that unless we understand Rubel's and Steve's empyreal exegesis of the Lord's sermon, we are in a hopeless situation? Put me down as one among others who will remain HOPELESS!
Steve says, "What about II Thess. 3, where Paul says there are some cases, where, when people come to you, he says don't give them anything to eat. How does that jive with what Jesus says in the sermon on the mount? You can put yourself in a hopeless situation if you do not understand what the sermon on the mount is designed to be."
"It is designed to be ideal guide lines for personal kingdom ethics.."
"The sermon on the mount is designed to tell me how my heart and my life is supposed to be."
Brother Steve agrees with Russell that II Thess. 3:10 doesn't "jive" with Matt. 5:42. Jesus and Paul just don't "jive." We are not hopeless, however, if Jesus' statement is not "absolute." That's Rubel -- It's just "ideal guide lines."
That's Rubel and Steve! Which statements of Jesus are absolute and which are ideal? Who can tell me how to tell what is which and which is what? I am not elated when I read or hear someone remark that various Bible verses do not "jive" with other verses. If they do not "jive," then do they "disjive?" If they do not agree, then there is disagreement. If there is not unity and coherence, then there is contradiction. I think Steve would have a dichotomy to exist between Jesus and Paul. Brother, this does make for a hopeless situation. I wonder how it could be explained that Abraham and Paul, or Moses and Paul, don't "jive." Do John the Baptist and Paul "jive?" Martin Luther didn't think Paul and James agreed, so to him James was just a "right strawy epistle." If we will study the Bible and handle it aright, and quit being disciples of Russell, we might be able to extricate ourselves from hopelessness. Brother, let's tell it like it is!
My Lord taught many things, while he was on earth, that we are not to observe, and I should think we would understand that simple lesson. For example, he said, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" [Matt. 10:5-6].
If I remember, Paul said, "Lo, we turn to the Gentiles" [Acts 13:46]. By Paul's mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of God [Acts 15:14]. He went unto the Gentiles [Acts 18:6]. That just leaves us hopeless, hapless, and helpless, until we can hear a "jive" sermon. Give a false teacher a bit of rope and he will hang himself every time.
The Holy Spirit had the will of God and Christ written down for those who would live under the new covenant. I do not think it would be necessary to argue for long that we are not under the Old Testament. The new covenant began on Pentecost [Acts 2]. We have been under that law ever since, and brother, that will "jive" with every utterance in all the rest of the Bible. We dare anyone, everyone, or someone, to successfully refute it.
Rubel says, "It's not a salvation sermon."
I suppose most of those who read my notes can figure out where the mountain sermon began at Matthew 5 and ended at the close of Matthew 7. Somewhere between, Jesus said, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in threat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" [Matt. 7:13-14]. I think I'll try to use my remaining days trying to decide whether I had rather have life or salvation. Did Jesus not say anything that pertained to salvation or did he just talk about entering into life? I recall the Lord said, "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" [Matt. 7:21]. In that day many will be denied and will have depart [vs. 22-23]. Will others be saved who have done the Father's will? Did Jesus say they would? Did he say anything about going to heaven? Obviously, he did not outline the complete plan of salvation, but in that respect could we follow Steve's logic and say there is a salvation sermon in any New Testament book?
Steve says, "Number one, the sermon on the mount is not a salvation message."
Rubel says, "Well, what in the world is the sermon on the mount? It's a discipleship manual."
You can read that manual and try to be a disciple if you want to, but I became a child of God by being obedient to the terms of salvation set forth in the New Covenant. The Holy Spirit was promised to the apostles who were to wait in Jerusalem. If I recall, the Holy Spirit came sometime after the sermon on the mount. When the Spirit came, He would guide the apostles into all truth [John 16:13]. He did this, assuring that we now have the perfect law of liberty [James 1:25]. We have all things which pertain unto life and godliness [II Pet. 1:3]. We have the gospel which furnishes us with everything needed [II Tim. 3:16-17]. I would like to know where Rubel and Steve came up with the idea that the Lord's sermon is a discipleship manual. The Baptists might say it is a discipleship manual, and the Mehtodist might say it is a manual of discipleship. I just think it is the sermon Jesus preached on the mount.
"....it's the good fruit of being saved."
Steve says, "...it is a manual for the heart of disciple."
"....it tells you about the fruits of discipleship."
Steve says, "I hate to break your bubble....," and then he just barges ahead recklessly, willfully, purposefully, and in a real rough-shod manner, proceeds to be a "burster;" but whatever force he proposed to use as a bubble-burster, it absolutely turned out to be a fizzle. Now I mention the intent of the speaker to burst someone's bubble for the sole purpose of insisting that I have the same right to try to burst a few bubbles. It's a poor rule that will not work both ways. After I shall have tried my hand at such an ebullient task, perhaps someone would like to try to burst some of my bubbles, and I say, Welcome! Join the bubble-bursters! There never has been a time when we need to burst bubbles more and let some hot air evaporate. Maybe we could start a bubble-burster's club. I know some mighty big bubbles.
Steve gives us a gossamer glimpse of what he would have us to think, and not to think, about the kingdom. I've been a lot of places and heard a lot of things about the kingdom. The ideas of Steve relative to the kingdom are totally at variance with what the Bible teaches. His pointers have been borrowed from denominational preachers.
Rubel says, "The kingdom of God or the kingdom of heaven is neither the church nor the future state of the saved."
Well, Well, Well! Now what do you say? Do you consign me to a million years in purgatory for not going along?
"But the kingdom of heaven itself is the sovereign rule of God in the hearts and lives of the redeemed right now."
Steve says, "And one of the things I want you to understand about the kingdom is this. You've heard either, all your life, that the kingdom of heaven is the church, or the kingdom of God is the church. You've heard other people teach and I think -- so that the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, is heaven. It's when we get there, it's not till the earth ends, and we get to heaven. Let me tell you what the kingdom of heaven is, or the kingdom of God. It is the sovereign rule of God over the hearts of his people. What it is, it's not exactly accurate to call it the church."
I do not want to be obstinate with our pedantic brother when he says, "Let me tell you what the kingdom of heaven is, or the kingdom of God is." I'm not about to set aside the plain teaching of the Bible and listen to Steve's assertion about the kingdom. He admits to having some new slant about the kingdom which differs from what, "You've heard either all your life that the kingdom of heaven is the church or the kingdom of God is the church." Steve brazenly asserts that what you've heard all your life about the kingdom and the churc is wrong. It is wrong because Steve said it was. My brethren, he offered no Biblical proof that it is wrong, but it is wrong because he said it was, and because he said it is wrong, it is wrong. And because he said it is wrong the Madison people swallow it hook, line and pole! They can now rejoice that finally someone has arrived who can straighten out that wrong which they have heard all their lives. Whatever happened to conviction, courage and backbone among the Madison members? Why the silence? Better to rock the boat than for the whole crew to sink. Irrespective of all the information in the Bible regarding the kingdom, why did brother Flatt go out on a precarious and portentous precipice and jump overboard just in order to tell us that he has something different from what we have heard all our lives?
Brethren, there are approximately two hundred fifty articles which have appeared in the old Gospel Advocates from 1855 onward which pertain to the kingdom. Men like Fanning, Lipscomb, Sewell, Harding, Srygley, Boles, Wallace, Goodpasture, Woods, and a host of other great Bible students, have ALL been confused. One article appeared in Gospel Advocate in 1950 on page 557. The excellent and scriprural article was written by brother Ira North and was titled The Kingdom of God. But comes now a young fellow who is apt at bursting bubbles and blowing away the foggy notions of all of us who have been so ignorant about the kingdom.
Steve says of the kingdom, "It is not exactly accurate to call it the church." He says, "You've heard all your life that the kingdom of heaven is the church, or the kingdom of God is the church."
Well, Steve doesn't think they are the same. What proof text did he use? What authority did he give? What cogent, logical argument did he make to sustain his assertion? Brethren, have we become so imperious in our assertions as to think that we can bypass the word of God? Why are we so completely averse to citing scriptural proof?
It is accurate to call it the church. How do I know? My Lord used the two words in the same context when he said, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" [Matt. 16:18-19]. There's my proof -- which I've heard all my life -- right from the Word of God! Where is Steve's proof? It may be a very simple matter to pull the wool over the eyes of the Madison members, but I want more than an empty assertion. Jesus said the church and the kingdom are the same. What is a fellow trying to show in denying the accuracy of calling the kingdom the church? Just what is the point? What benefit is such teaching? Does it help a man's ego to try to stir up a new pot of stew for brethren, and then try to make it appear that brethren have been wrong all their lives? Are you going to crawfish when "Simon Sez?" I feel pity for any preacher who doesn't know that the church and kingdom are the same.
No intelligent Bible student would deny that some Bible words have different meanings. For example, what does "Son" mean? Would we need to study the context? What does the word "church" mean? We could not possibly tell unless we studied the context of the various passages wherein the term is used. I know the church is spoken of in two different senses in the Bible. There is the local or congregational sense, as is seen from such passages as Acts 20:28, I Cor 1:2, and I Thess. 1:1. The word also refers to the whole company of the redeemed and this is proven by such passages as Matt. 16:18, Eph. 1:22, Eph. 5:25, and Heb. 12:23.
When he wrote to the churches of Galatia, Paul reminded them of how he had preached the gospel among them [Gal. 1:8-12]. Paul preached the Son of God [Gal. 1:16]. He preached the gospel of the uncircumcision [Gal. 2:7]. Did Paul preach diverse gospels? Would you say, it's not exactly right to call it the faith and also the gospel? How absurd!
Paul addressed his letter to the "churches of Galatia" [Gal. 1:2]; but he was unknown to the "churches of Judea" [Gal. 1:22]., and then he speaks of the "Israel of God." Would you say, "it's not exactly right" to think that these are the same people, all belonging to God? I suppose we could agree that they lived in different locations. Do we really need to belabor the point?
There were those "saints at Ephesus," and then there must have been another group entirely different who were, "the faithful in Christ Jesus." Humbug! Would you say they were not the same? Oh, but they just had to be different! Some were "saints,"but others were "the faithful." Wonder how the elders got that figured out? All of them were gathered together in One in Christ [Gal 1:10]. We could, and would be one in Christ Jesus today, if the loose talking liberals would stop mouthing so much modernism and open the Bible and teach the truth!
Steve has presented some strange things about the kingdom. We prefer to believe the Bible. Paul contends that Christ was raised from the dead, ascended, and is set at God's right hand and all things ar under his feet [Eph. 1:20-23]. Upon what is Christ sitting? Some entertaining brother, no doubt, will answer that Jesus is sitting on his bottom. That would undoubtedly be the only requirement for him to be a king over a non-existent kingdom.
Do not ever be surprised at what you can hear that is not like you've always heard it.
My torn and tattered Bible tells me that Christ is sitting on his throne at the right hand of God [Heb. 12:2]. Sure, there are those who deny this fact. This is the throne of grace [Heb. 4:16]. It is the throne of Christ [Heb. 1:8]. It is the throne of David [Acts 2:30; Luke 1:32]. I would ask Steve if he thinks Christ is now sitting on the throne. If he is on the throne, what is he? Does not the king sit on the throne? Indeed he does. Now if he is on the throne, and he is King -- please, please, tell us how he can be king without reigning over his kingdom. The Galatians had borrowed some foolish ideas from the Judaizers, and Steve has borrowed from Rubel, and it will take far more than the twain to extricate themselves from the heresy they propagate that the kingdom hasn't yet come.
The kingdom of heaven is sometimes used with reference to heaven. I do not understand why anyone would deny this, unless the desire to present an idea which appears to be new has completely obsessed one. Steve is so certain that the kingdom of God, "....is the sovereign rule of God over the hearts of his people," and he just will not have any other meaning relative to the kingdom. He is dead wrong, in error, a false teacher of the deepest dye, and I love him very much, but I hate his false doctrine [Rev. 2:6; 2:15].
The denominational doctrine of Steve, borrowed from Rubel, borrowed from the sects, would repudiate every single one of the Old Testament prophecies regarding the establishment of the kingdom. If we would be true Bible students, we must study Bible words in all their meanings. We must do this, or be caught up in invidious and maleficent millieu of denominational mysticism. I strongly suspect that brother Steve is not seriously doing his homework when he has the kingdom to only be the rule of God in the heart, and thus, have no external character. I know that the Pharisees came to Jesus and demanded of Jesus when the kingdom of God should come. They thought it would be a big blow out with ostentation and observation. To the Pharisees Jesus said, "...the kingdom of God is within you." Did God actually reign in the hearts of those wicked Pharisees who were children of hell [Matt. 23:15]? Jesus is literally pointing out that the king of the kingdom was in the midst. He was born to be king, and a king he was, but not as men thought.
The Pharisees were about as far fetched in their ideas relative to the kingdom as is brother Flatt. I know the kingdom was not in the heart of the Pharisees. They didn't know it, and Jesus is not telling them that God ruled their hearts.
Rubel says, "I hope we will be encouraged to pray your kingdom come, your will be done, and no longer think that we can't really pray that prayer because since Pentecost that part's inappropriate, it's been fulfilled."
Brethren, there it is in the black, and you can read it for yourself. Please tell me if Steve is preaching the truth or not. Is Matthew 6:6-13 the Lord's prayer? Jesus said, "...when thou prayest enter into the closet...." "pray to thy Father...." "But when ye pray..." "...after this manner therefore pray ye..." "...forgive us our trespasses..." I never did know this was the Lord's prayer and I never did know he prayed for forgiveness, and I never did know a lot of stuff contrary to Bible teaching until I read from and heard false teachers.
Steve says, "A little bit later we will get into Matt. 6 to the Lord's prayer....remember that expression where it says, 'Thy kingdom come?' And I've heard some teachers and preachers I respect a great deal say, 'You know we can't pray that any more because the church has come.' I beg to differ. I suggest to you that of all the statements in that prayer, that's the one we need to pray the most. Lord, let your kingdom come over my heart."
Steve has heard some teachers and preachers whom he respects a great deal. I tell you when he heard Rubel, his respects for great preachers and teachers waned. He begs to differ with preachers and teachers who say we can't pray for the kingdom to come. He thinks that is the one petition we need help with, and perhaps Steve could give me a simple answer. Does the alien sinner pray, "Our Father who art in heaven?" Will some Tennessee preacher come on and affirm that God teaches alien sinners to pray for the kingdom to come over their hearts? Wouldn't that be some Jubilee performance, for sure? But another little question please! If the alien sinner is not a pray for the sovereign rule over his heart, then the only other person would be the person who already has the sovereign rule of God over his heart, i. e., the kingdom has come, but he still prays, "Thy kingdom has come over my heart, but let thy kingdom come over my heart, let thy kingdom come over, let thy kingdom come, thy kingdom, kingdom, let..."
It doesn't even make good nonsense, or does it? I cannot tell you how much respect I would have for preachers and teachers if someone would set my heart on higher ground about this.
Has the kingdom come? Steve says, "No and we should pray for it to come." He thinks the kingdom of God is not the church. He thinks the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven are synonymous. He says the kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God is the sovereign rule of God over the hearts of his people. Please, please, does the man think we cannot read or will not read the Bible? Does he likewise think that every person will accept his ipse-dixit? Are we to roll over and play dead? Any Sunday School boy could take a concordance and look up the passages relating to the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. From whence does the kingdom of heaven come, when it comes to rule over somebody's heart? Does it come from Madison, Woodmont Hills, or from heaven, I believe an answer to the preceding questions would be most interesting.
Daniel said the God of heaven would set up a kingdom, "...in the days of these kings" [Dan. 2:44]. Do you think we could get Steve to explain this? The inspired prophet said, "Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" [Dan. 7:13-14]. Do you think we could prevail upon Steve to explain this? Another prophet said, "...behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. And he shall speak peace unto the heathen; and his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth" [Zech. 9:9-10]. Could anyone assist Steve in explaining the statement of the prophet, or would all agree that the King rode an ass in order to rule over the heart?
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on, "a colt the foal of an ass" [Matt. 21:5]. He told Pilate that he was King of the Jews [Matt. 27:11]. I don't think he had reference to heart rule. My Lord announced his authority over heaven and earth [Matt. 18:18]. He said, "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in the kingdom..." [Luke 22:29]. Do we eat and drink at the table in the kingdom, or do we just eat and drink? Or could it be that we are not in the kingdom? I've been over to Madison and observed the members as they ate and drank during the Lord's Supper. Were they eating and drinking in the kingdom, or was the kingdom in them? My, but this gets confusing, especially since the kingdom hasn't yet come, and it isn't the church. Have the Madison members moved the table from the kingdom into the church? It was not I who said, "...they're not exactly the same." I knew better than that when I wore knee pants.
It gets more confusing when I try to make some semblance of sense out of I Cor. 15. I learn that Christ must reign until the end, but since the kingdom hasn't yet come, I need help to figure out how and where he reigns. Paul wrote, "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. for he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" [I Cor. 15:24-26]. I want to know over what Christ now reigns as king? I also want to know if Christ will continue to reign over something [whatever it is] until death is destroyed? Since death has not been destroyed yet, would that mean that Jesus is now reigning? If he is, then has the kingdom come? I also want to know what sort of kingdom Christ is reigning over now, which will be delivered up to the Father at the end? At the end of his reign over the kingdom, which will be when the end comes, and when death is destroyed, please, brother Steve, will Jesus deliver up the "sovereign rule of God over the hearts" [the kingdom] to the father? The further we go the messier it gets -- all because our brother plays Simon Sez with another who teaches error. I'd hate to espouse such a senseless theory that would involve me in so many "ungetoverable" difficulties. Sectarianism never said it in a more erroneous manner.
After plainly declaring that we should pray for the kingdom to come, would you believe that brother Flatt closed that speech by saying "The first step is being born again just like Jesus taught Nicodemus. All you need to do is just like Jesus told Nicodemus. You need to be born again. Do you need to come forward and claim Jesus today as your Saviour? Claim him as Lord of your life? If you do I hope you'll come right now, while we stand and while we sing."
Back there a few minutes ago we were to pray for the kingdom to come. We were to pray for the sovereign rule of God to come over our hearts. Now it looks like we need to be born again like Nicodemus. I thank God that I do not have to depend on brother Flatt to tell me what to do to get to heaven. If I were an alien sinner, I'm sure I would end up in hell if I had to wait until I found out by listening to such remarks as Steve used in closing his lesson. Suppose I sat in that audience and desired to be born again? Who was Nicodemus and what must I do to do as he did? Suppose I desired to claim Jesus as Lord of my life, could I not do that without coming forward? It doesn't make any sense at all to just ask an alien sinner to come forward to do like Nicodemus, or to claim Jesus as your Saviour, or to claim him as Lord of your life. Why not just tell everybody who wants to miss hell to stand on one foot? Never, ever, would I want to go to the judgement and face an audience, to whom I had preached, without having presented the simple plan of salvation. In every sermon I always do this -- briefly, but plainly. My conscience will not permit me to leave lost souls in darkness and doubt. Elders should make sure that no sermon is finished until the remedy and release from sin is given. It is never bothersome to tell lost souls how to be saved -- or is it? Can we not muster enough courage to tell people that the Bible teaches that we must hear the Word, believe all that it teaches, repent of sins, confess Christ, and be baptized for the remission of sins? What's wrong with that?
The task of responding to brother Flatt's sermon has now been completed. I realize my work will be disdained by some who may chance to peruse this material. Perhaps another might praise it as a piece that is needed. One thing is certain, whatever opinion one might have, my motive and my purpose has been pure. I have no actimony in my heart toward brother Flatt. I detest what he teaches, because it is error. It is serious and grave error. Even today one came by for a visit and related how several in the Nashville area were deeply concerned about the strange statements being made by Steve. Can the Madison elders not discern? Do they not know or care?
There is a Bible verse which we need to commit to memory and make a part of our lives. The Psalmist wrote, "Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way" [Psalms 119:104].
Please remember that I cease to not think of the church as the bride of Christ. Brethren, sisters, can we stand by while the bride is being assaulted? You may, but I cannot! If one can be condemned for not helping the hungry, thirsty, sick, naked and imprisoned Master, can we be any less wicked when we refuse to defend the bride? See Matt. 25:41-46. I have tried to speak the truth in love and I trust in such manner as to awaken interest and concern in what I believe is a very unconcerned brotherhood. If some friends have turned from me, I cannot but feel deep sadness. If even one soul has been helped, I will not be grieved with what I have written. My Lord will be my judge and I shall welcome his observation as I have tried to defend his beautiful bride.
I realize that the following propositions will never be signed, but nontheless, since brother Flatt has gone on record as being a burster of bubbles, I want to give him every opportunity to attempt to burst a few bubbles for a concerned brotherhood. Accordingly, I submit the following propositions for him to sign, if he will. We can work out the details whenever. I will agree to either an oral or written discussion.
RESOLVED:"The scriptures teach that the law of Moses, the old covenant has not been done away."
RESOLVED:"The scriptures teach that the kingdom has not come and we should therefore pray, "Thy kingdom come."
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