By Ron Chandler
Would a just and loving God give us a book of rules by which we will be judged but make the rules so unclear that we cannot understand them? Some think so.
Agnosticism's ugly head causes people to throw up their arms in despair. These people shake their heads in confusion, wishing the inspired writers had been a little more clear in communicating the commands of the Almighty. Some even long for a miraculous gift so they can understand what God requires.
Foree Grove, pulpit minister for the A&M Church of Christ in College Station, Texas, said in a recent sermon, that it would take the special gift of knowledge to figure out God's teaching on divorce and remarriage and the women's role in the church. With regard to 1 Corinthians 13, Grove said:
Notice verse two and following, 'If I have the gift of prophecy, and can fathom all mysteries ant all knowledge.' Now Paul says suppose I have a gift, through which I can fathom all mysteries. So if that was today, then you would know the answer to divorce and remarriage. And you would have your knowledge of those kinds of difficult questions-women's role in the church. All of that would be clear to you and you would stand up and you'd say, God has given me the gift of knowledge and I know all of those things!
The miraculous gifts of the Spirit are no longer available. So if Grove is correct, and the gift of knowledge is necessary to understand the Lord's will, we are in big trouble. Jesus said: 'He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day' (John 12:48). A terrifying fate awaits us all if we cannot even understand the Word by which we are going to be judged.
Fortunately, the scriptures are sufficient and we can know what the Lord desires. The Bible is very clear about the marriage law. There is nothing complicated about the statement, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery" (Matt. 19:9). Any sensible person can understand that verse. The problem is, some people do not like the implications of the teaching. They try to concoct various ways around it, and confuse themselves. The same thing happens with the role of women in the worship. Paul says, "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, or usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence" (1 Tim. 2:1112). People may not like what that says, but they can understand it.
Were not the Bereans commended for searching the scriptures every day to see if Paul's teaching was true? Why so, if they could not understand the scriptures?
Paul wrote, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim 2:15). Surely we must be able to comprehend what we study or the effort would be a waste and Paul would not have advised it.
Foree Grove proceeded to ridicule anyone who claims to know what the Bible teaches:
Knowledge isn't enough folks. And I don't have to use the book of Romans to prove that to you, all I have to do is ask you-you got enough knowledge? You learned it all? Who wants to stand up and say, I've read it. I've read 1 Corinthians, I'll do the lesson for the world on 1 Corinthians 7 and what it means when it says she's not under bondage. I've got it all done, I've figured it all out. And when I walk up to God on the judgment day I'll stand before him and I'll say, 'God you gave me your book and I read it well and I understood it just right and here I am righteous before you!' Who would say that?
Jesus said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Paul wrote, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:1617). No one should be arrogant or boastful, but we can all know God's commands and should be confident in our knowledge.
Now, let us consider Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 7:15: "But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace." Paul is simply saying that if your unbelieving spouse chooses to leave, and it is something you cannot prevent, let your spouse go in peace. You are at liberty to live separate. Many have supposed that this means the believer would be free to marry again once the unbelieving spouse has left. That is a convenient idea, but it is not what the verse says. Once more, a verse that is clear and simple has been labeled confusing because people are not content with what it teaches.
We do not need the miraculous gift of knowledge to understand 1 Corinthians 7:13, or any other command of God. What we need is an honest heart and the willingness to accept what the scriptures say.
The A&M Church of Christ is a large congregation with over 500 college students. The minister of the congregation is in a position of tremendous influence and it is unfortunate that the pulpit is being used to teach agnosticism.
Sadly, Foree Grove is not the only one teaching that it is impossible to fully understand doctrine. In fact, the whole idea of following sound doctrine is being ridiculed by liberals in the church. This is part of a move toward open fellowship. After all, if we cannot be absolutely sure about what we believe, who's to say that we are right? Why not cuddle up with the denominations? It is important to stand for what is right. We should not allow anyone to convince us that we are too ignorant to understand our English Bibles. God's rules are clear.
Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son (2 John 1:89).