By Norman S. Edwards
From SVM – Spring 2015 – 4
I really liked your article in the summer 2014 SVM on Learning from the Samaritans. I have felt this way for a long time now. My mother-in-law is a Protestant, Church of Christ, Sunday and Christmas-keeping believer in Jesus Christ and the Father. There is more good in her little finger than there is in all of me. She repented many, many years ago and was baptized by immersion into the Church of Christ. Do we really think that she isn’t saved because she doesn’t understand the true Sabbath and God’s Holy Days?
There must be some reason Jesus says to the Churches, “hold on to what you have.” Thanks to men such as William Tyndale we have the word of God in English that any “plow boy” can read. He died at the stake by strangulation and burning for his efforts. He was a Protestant. Not many wise men or noble are called now, but there have been a few such as Tyndale to do noble things for the rest of us.
The problem is Nicolaity: when you have the clergy class telling the laity class what to believe. If they were all as William Tyndale or Peter, John or Paul, then that would be great. But unfortunately, there are a lot of false shepherds who knowingly mislead the brethren and then there are many who want to be teachers but don’t understand the Bible as they think they do. Jesus says he “hates” nicolaity. For good reason: it keeps people in ignorance.
Thanks to Tyndale and those who finished his work after his death, we in the end times still have the words of the men who walked with Jesus. All we need to do is read it, study it and pray and discuss it together as a whole body and we would grow in grace and knowledge. We have the Holy Spirit and it will lead us into all truth. The word of God says so. Church services shouldn’t be run the same as “the world”. Something along the lines of the Synagogue in Christ’s time sounds more correct. Paul discusses it in 1 Corinthians 14:23-40. Decently and in order as verse 40 states.
I just wanted to give you a little feedback on the article.
Thank you for your encouragement and testimony about your mother-in-law. I know that Jesus Christ will judge in righteousness at His return—including everything that we have kept secret (Romans 2:16). I do not know how He will judge each person. Jesus apparently assured one of the criminals who died with Him that he would be in the Kingdom of God (Luke 23:43). Yet the Scribes and Pharisees, who kept the Sabbath and Feast days and taught the law of God, will not be in His Kingdom because of their hypo- critical religious attitude (Matthew 23:1-14). It is clear that God rejects some people for teaching commandments of men rather than the truth of God (Matthew 15:9, Mark 7:7). An important principle of judgment is found in Luke 12:48: “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” We need to do the truth we know—even if others are not doing it.
I don’t know how God decides what knowledge to give each person, but he clearly does not give everything to everyone. I have been studying the bible for 40 years and I do not think I will have it all right before I die— even if that is another 40 years from now. But I am not fearful, rather I am confident that “… He will judge the world in righteousness…”(Acts 17:31). It will be the best for me; it will be the best for your mother-in-law; it will be the best for everybody! I think William Tyndale was a good example of a Christian. He was a brilliant, educated man who could have had a long, wealthy, distinguished university career. But he saw the need to translate the Scriptures into English. He tried to get the English government to repeal the Latin-only Scriptures law, but they refused. So he used his skill in speaking eight languages to travel Europe, pretending to be a native there, and quietly translating the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into English. After he had mostly completed his work, he was caught and executed for his “crime” in 1535 A.D.
There is no doubt that Tyndale was committed to obeying God as he understood Him—every bit as much as Sabbath-keepers who lost their jobs and families to keep the Sabbath. We need to realize that the world would have to wait over 350 years after Tyndale’s death for James Strong to produce the first Exhaustive Concordance so people could thoroughly study subjects like “Sabbath”, “first day”, “week”, etc.
I agree that denominational church hierarchies, or “Nicolaity” as you call it, have caused trouble for Christianity. It was church hierarchies of the past that sometimes decided the common people could not be trusted to read the Bible in their own language—and it is church hierarchies of today who sometimes decide on a list of doctrines that people must accept to be considered Christian.
Matthew 7:12-29 is a discourse by Jesus on how to recognize true servants of God. The first verse essentially expounds the golden rule. Then, He talks about bearing good fruits. Christ makes it clear that many will come in His Name and do religious things, but will not be true believers. But he talks mostly about fruits, not works or doctrines.
You are absolutely right about churches. We do not need a bunch of church organizations assuring their members that they have the truth and are right before God. We need individual Christians reading the Bible and living by the Holy Spirit—meeting together in congregations to edify each other and do Christian work together!