Monday, April 6, 2009

Speaking as the Oracles of God - 1 Peter 4:11

1 Peter 4: 11 states:

" If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." (KJV)

While a member of the COC I was continually reminded of this verse and how it stood as a warning to Christians today that when we discuss Bible topics we must use Bible words in Bible ways.

Let me elaborate... I was taught that it was not only improper, but almost sinful, to use a Bible word in a way that the Bible does not use it. For example, the word "Christian" in the Bible is always used as a noun and not as an adjective. Therefore, it would be improper to call a nation a "Christian nation" or a period of time the "Christian era." The argument is that, since the word in the NT is never used this way, the use of it in this manner today is not "speaking as the oracles of God."

Let's think this through.

First of all, consider the word "oracle" and how it is used in the NT. In the KJV the English word "oracles" (always in the plural in the NT) is found four times: Acts 7:38, Romans 3:2, Hebrews 5:12, and 1 Peter 4:11.

Acts 7:38 reads, "This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:"

Romans 3:2 states, "Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God."

Hebrews 5:12 states, "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."

And 1 Peter 4:11 reads, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." (all verses KJV)

In each of these references the word translated "oracles" is the Greek word "logion."

Strong's defines it as "an utterance (of God)." Isn't it interesting that in Romans 3:1-2 the Apostle Paul says that the oracles of God were committed to the Jews. In Acts 7 mentioned above the Apostle Luke quotes the martyr Stephen as preaching that Moses received those utterances (oracles) on Mt. Sinai.

Hmm? So two of the four passages in the NT clearly refer to the oracles of God being the OT Law, specifically the law that Moses received on the mount. So, if the COC argument is correct about speaking only as the oracles of God guides us, should we speak only as the 10 commandments speak?

So where in the NT do we see anyone reprimand anyone else for using words in ways not "according to the oracles of God?" The answer to that would be...nowhere.

In keeping with the COC's CENI authority formula (see earlier posts), where is this requirement Commanded, Exemplified, or Necessarily Inferred? I'm sorry, where was that at?

Oh, you say that in 1 Peter 4:11 we find the command to do this. Oh, I see. Well was Peter referring to the OT oracles or to the NT oracles that are to be our guide? Or both? And where do we read that this distinction was made?

Remember when Jesus warned in Matthew 7:1-2 "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."? Let's apply Jesus' little rule here in this matter.

Surely the COC would never violate this rule in the way that they speak, would they? They always apply their rules to themselves in the same manner that they do to the other religious groups, do they not?

Well, no, actually. They don't.

The COC will be the first to tell you that it is a no-no to call a meeting of the church to hear a guest speaker a "revival" because the oracles of God simply do not use the word that way in a spiritual/religious sense. That's why they call their special meetings "Gospel Meetings" because this is a better use of the words found....oh, wait a minute....we have a slight problem here. Hmm, that's odd. I can't find one reference in the NT where the word "gospel" is used as an adjective. Huh. Nor can I find the term "gospel meeting." Well, I'm sure that's just an oversight on the Holy Spirit's part. Surely that's the authorized term the Lord intended us to use to describe the meetings. Right? (Yet they eschew the use of "gospel music.")

But here's the million dollar question: If we are only to use Bible words in Bible ways, which language are we to use?

Let that sink in for a minute: Which language are we to use?

We're in America, at least I am, so the COC is arguing over English words. But if we were in Germany, would we be arguing over German words instead?

Let's stipulate that we should be using English words. Well, then, which translation into English are we to use? KJV, NASB, ASV, NAB, NIV, TEV, RSV, NRSV, HCSB, etc?

If there is an authorized language and an authorized translation, which translation committee was inspired by God as they made their translation of the scriptures? Which is the English version that God wants me to use today? NKJV? ASV? KJV? You will find different versions of the Bible in every COC. And of course, if that version I should be using, was inspired in it's translation then it should be free of any errors. So, COC friend, which error-free God inspired English translation is the one that I should use to be pleasing to God? The silence is deafening.

If we really want to use the exact "authorized" word, would we not have to use the original languages?

No, the word "revival" is not in the Bible. But did you know that the word "Bible" is not in the Bible? Nor are the words "Jesus, God, salvation, church, sing, preach, worship, sin, forgiveness, blood, temptation, hope, grace, or love."

See, these are all English words. And the oracles of God were written in Hebrew and Greek. So how foolish it is to argue over the capitalization of the English word "church" in "church of Christ" when none of those words are even in the oracles of God. Further, Greek uncial and minuscule manuscripts (copies of the originals) used either all caps or all uncapitalized letters! The Apostle Paul never called the churches in the NT the "church of Christ." He didn't speak English!

Bible scholars tell us that New Testament writers/Apostles quote the Septuagint version of the OT scriptures in the NT. The Septuagint was written in the uncial format, therefore all the letters were capitalized. So, using the COC mindset one could argue that we should use all capital letters when quoting Scripture or speaking of Biblical topics. What insanity!

When the COC uses the Greek New Testament, and preaches, teaches, and sings in the original languages, then maybe they can begin to make this argument. But until then, it is foolish to even humor them in this straw issue.