The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
January 10, 2010


1) Have You Not Read This Scripture? (Ken Green)
2) Misused Prophecy (O.C. Birdwell)
3) News & Notes


Have You Not Read This Scripture?
by Ken Green

Jesus repeatedly and continually directed people to the Scriptures. There was never a question with Him as to the authoritative nature of the word of God. He raised questions like, "What is written in the law? How readest thou?"; or, "Have you never read in the law?"  He made statements like, "It is written... "; and, "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures.... " His constant plea was that folks read, search, examine, and believe the Scriptures. 

In Mark 12:1-10, we have the parable of the wicked vinedressers. This story is something of an allegory that parallels the history of the nation of Israel.  As the Lord reached His conclusion, He asked, "Have you not read this Scripture: 'The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.  This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?"

The ASV is more emphatic: "Have ye not read even this Scripture?"

Jesus seemed to be perplexed and appalled at the ignorance of God's word that He confronted. If He walked the earth today, I'm sure He would still be asking: "What is written...? Have you not read even this Scripture?"

I. The Place and Purpose of Baptism. Some teach that baptism is completely non-essential. Others, that it is important, but not necessary for salvation. Our concern is: What does the word of truth say?

Sometimes we tend to deluge people with Scripture when we discuss such matters. Perhaps we would do better if we focused on one statement and asked, "Have you not read even this Scripture?" Let's take Mark 16:16. If one will not accept this plain statement, it's doubtful that he would accept a half-dozen others that might be cited. 

Jesus said that "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved." Two prerequisites are here given for salvation. The statement is grammatically parallel to: "He who enrolls and is taught shall be educated"; or "He who fights and is whipped shall be humiliated"; or "He who marries and is bossed shall be henpecked." Obviously in these examples, both conditions are necessary for the conclusion to be valid. One who enrolls in school is not educated unless he is also taught. But many quibble that the Lord does not say in the second part of the verse, "He who believes not and is not baptized shall be condemned." He only said, "He who believes not shall be condemned." Therefore, we are told, baptism is not necessary to salvation. 

The Lord, however, was not speaking of salvation in the second clause. If one desires to know what is needful for salvation, this is revealed in the first clause. Jesus said what He meant and meant what He said. Had He made both unbelief and neglect of baptism conditions of condemnation, then one would not be condemned if he performed either of them. What would happen then to one who had been baptized and did not believe? He couldn't be saved and he couldn't be damned!

As I heard one preacher say, "You could be baptized till the bullfrogs call you brother, it would accomplish nothing if you don't believe!" Have you not read even this Scripture?

II. Jesus Christ -- Always the Same. Those who believe in modern-day miracles often quote Heb. 13:8. "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever." Their implication is that if Jesus performed miracles on the earth in the past, He must necessarily be doing the same today. Their assumption is that the verse demands that He has not changed in any fashion. 

It might do well to inquire, "Have you not read even this Scripture?": Phil. 2:5-7.  He was in the form of God, but was made in the likeness of man. Obviously then, He did make a change. Heb. 13:8 does not necessarily imply that Jesus has never changed in any sense. But He has not changed in His divine character. Heb. 1:10-12 affirms the same truth. "Have you not read even this Scripture?"

III. The Perfect Revelation. Many today speak of "lost books of the Bible." Others promote and defend "latter day revelations." According to these, the word of God has not been perfectly revealed and preserved for all generations. 

We wonder if some "have not read even this Scripture": Matt. 24:35. The Lord here promised that "heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."

IV. Fun and Frolic at Church Expense. When I was a boy and my parents obeyed the gospel I do not remember any controversy over the mission of the church. In the 40's and early 50's, brethren were pretty much in agreement that fun and frolic were not the work of the church. The denominations were denounced for their perverted view and unauthorized activities. 

For several years now many churches of Christ have been employed in the entertainment and recreation business. We wonder if some "have not read even this Scripture": Romans 14:17. The apostle informs us that "... the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost."

V. Premillennial Theories. The radio preachers continually speak of "the last days, the rapture, the coming kingdom, the Jews being gathered to Jerusalem, and the thousand year reign of Christ on earth. 

I have often asked the question, "Have you not read even this Scripture?: 2 Peter 3:8-13. According to this passage, the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. When this day comes, it will not be followed by a seven year tribulation, or a millennial reign, but of the passing away of this world by fire. 

VI. Apostasy Impossible? Can a saved person lose his salvation? Many say "No!" Evidence to the contrary is found on practically every page of our New Testaments.  But let us ask, "Have you not read even this Scripture?": 2 Thess. 2:1. 

According to this passage, "that day" (the return of Jesus) will not come except there come a falling away first. If Christians cannot fall away, this leaves one in the unenviable position of denying that the Lord will ever return.  We would be wise to follow our Lord's example and asking, "Have you not read even this Scripture?"

-- Via Searching the Scriptures, March 1991, Vol. 32, No. 3


Misused Prophecy

by O.C. Birdwell

Most false teachers misuse and abuse Bible prophecy. They often leave the impression that they have some sort of gift from God which enables them to look more deeply into Bible prophecy and give a proper interpretation. Hence, many false religions are based upon a misunderstanding and misuse of prophecy. Some, who may not hold that the individual preacher has power to interpret prophecy, will affirm that church councils or a church hierarchy has that special power. 

Peter's Statement Abused

The apostle Peter said, "Knowing this first that no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation (2 Peter 1:20,21). This statement has been, by some, made to mean that no individual has the right to read and interpret scripture, but the right rests with the "Church," which is to these people the Roman Hierarchy. So in their notes on the passage they say this means "no prophecy is the object of private interpretation." But in this statement by Peter discussion is not being made of the interpretation of, but rather the giving of scripture. This is made crystal clear if one reads all the passage. He goes on to say, "For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit." Peter's point is that the men who recorded scripture did not write their interpretation of scripture, but they, rather, spoke and wrote being moved by the Holy Spirit. To take this passage and apply it to present day interpretation of scripture rather than to the initial revealing of prophecy is to abuse the passage. 

False Interpretation

Many things have been affirmed as being taught in the Bible that are not within its pages. Galileo was compelled by the Inquisition to renounce his opinions. From 1616 until 1829 his books were forbidden. The position of Pope Paul V was that the earth, and not the sun, moves, is "contrary to the sacred and divine Scriptures."

Before the moon landing, some proclaimed that man cannot go to the moon because the Bible so teaches. Man went to the moon, yet, there is no reflection on the Bible because the position held is not in the Bible. 

Another example of man's false interpretation of prophecy happened during World War II. As most over forty can well remember, during this time there was rationing of automobile tires. A Texas preacher held that the tire rationing was a fulfillment of prophecy. He quoted Isaiah 3:18, in the King James Translation, where he read: "In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon...."  This preacher, no doubt, made quite an impression on many. But he misused prophecy.  Isaiah was talking about what was to happen to the people of Israel, and the "round tires" were the "crescents" worn by the women around the head or neck. Ezekiel said, "and your tires shall be upon your heads..." (24:23). 

It was reported that a few years back one editor of a religious journal published an article in which it was affirmed that prophecy showed that the world would end during that year. In the same issue, however, there was run by the editor a special five year subscription rate! This may reveal at least two things about that editor. He, as usually is the case, desperately needed subscribers, and he had very little faith in his writer's prophecy interpretation ability. 

The solution to this problem of false interpretation of prophecy is for all to allow inspired New Testament writers to interpret inspired prophecy. When they say "this is that which was spoken" we can rest assured that such is the truth.

-- Via Truth Magazine, XX:14, p. 7-8, April 1, 1976


News & Notes

We rejoice in Ed St. Clair's  baptism into Christ last Sunday afternoon for the remission of sins.  Let those of us who are saints pray that God will help Ed in his development as a Christian. 

I learned just a little while ago that Lee Mayfield (of the Southside church of Christ in Gonzales) underwent quadruple by-pass surgery today for her heart, along with a valve replacement, at the Ochsner Medical Center in Kenner, LA.  Let us also be praying for her speedy and complete recovery.

Let us also continue to remember Eloise Craver in our prayers, as she is still undergoing therapy, due to her hip surgery. 

Please also be saying a prayer for my mother who is dealing with untreatable cancer of the lungs and abdomin.  She is still without the need of pain medication, in good spirits, and has been under hospice care in a nursing home for a couple months.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

201 Rushing Road (at the Hampton Inn), Denham Springs, Louisiana 70726
Sunday services: 9:15 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 4 PM (worship)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520


Take the Denham Springs exit (exit 10) off of I-12.  At the end of the exit ramp, turn north.  Go about a stone's throw to Rushing Road.  (You'll see a Starbucks, Circle K, and two other gas stations; with each on each corner.)  Turn left on Rushing Road, and go less then 0.3 of a mile.  Hampton Inn will be on the right.  We assemble in its meeting room, which is very close to the reception counter.