The Spiritual Sword Got it Right

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I thought some of you might find this article from the January 1975 edition of the Spiritual Sword entitled “We must neither bind nor loose where God has not done so” by James D. Bales interesting. If more people had listened to this back in 1975 and followed his advice and interpretation we would have had a healthier dialog over the last 40 years. I may be reading into this too much but is he saying silence = freedom?

“Since God is God, man must be in submission to God’s will. The Old Testament emphasized that…The same principle is found in the New Covenant. We are to do what Jesus commanded…How could one speak as God’s oracles if he were free to loose where God has bound and to bind where God has loosed (1 Pet. 4:11)? If we do this, there is an end to Divine authority, and the human authority each individual is the only authority in Christianity. We are under Christ’s covenant (Heb 8:5-13, 9:15-17, 13:20). Can we take from or add to the Covenant?

Be Sure God Has Bound It

Since our obligation is to follow the will of God, we must be sure that we view as bound only that which God teaches is bound. We are not the authority. We cannot bind or loose of our own will, although we may fail to do what God has willed. Our failure does not change God’s word. Therefore, when our position is challenged we should not be afraid to re-study our position and consider the arguments brought against it and the scriptures to which appeals are made. This does not mean that one never makes up their mind about anything, but it does mean that one is willing to listen and ready to study.

Be Sure God Has Left Us Free

There are places wherein God has left us free. This does not mean that we are free from the law of God but that the law of God has made us free in these cases. However, concerning our freedom we must realize: First, we are never free from the law of love which considers the impact on others of one’s use of his freedom. Our duties are one thing but our rights are another. Our duties we must do, but it is not obligatory that we follow our rights, or privileges, wherein Christ has made us free. Of certain rights Paul said: ‘But I have used none of these things’ (1 Cor 9:15). This did not mean that one must forego his rights just because someone might not like what one is doing.

In dealing with our duties and our privileges (rights which we do not have to exercise), we must keep in mind that it is our duty to teach others what we believe God has bound and what we believe He has left free and we should not bind on others. In other words,we must not expect them to accept it simply because we said so. We should try to get them to see what the Bible teachers, while always being open to be corrected by the Bible wherein we need correction.

Christians are not the authority. They are under authority. Therefore, their determination should be to be bound where God has bound and not to bind others where God has left us free.”


2 Responses

  1. Hi Matt, nothing is ever simple. How does one deal with scriptural revisionists who claim to have studied the Bible, and yet come away with the view that they have a deeper insight into what God wants in the present day than what His apostles and disciples tell us speaking from an age 2000 years gone? They claim that what God binds is not what is explicitly instructed, but the essential concept or principle behind the instruction, translated into this modern era. I would thank God for not being part of a Church that follows such thinking, except that when I look around me, our churches sometimes do not follow instruction, explicitly bound on us for spiritual reasons by those to whom Christ passed his authority on Earth after he ascended [Matthew 16: 18-19; John 20: 19-23]. For example, in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul gives a scriptural argument for men being bare-headed and women having head coverings when praying or prophesying. If for no other reason but that the Lord explicitly gave authority to his Apostles, 2 Peter 3: 15-16 gives authority to Paul on this kind of issue. So why do so many in our congregations seem to ignore this instruction? Being a scriptural matter, it’s obviously not a matter of custom. Our forefathers generations observed it. Do even our people doubt the existence of angels, or have they joined the rebellion of “the man of lawlessness” [2 Thessalonians 2: 7-12] and are not willing to show respect for higher (spiritual) authorities? The issue surfaced recently in a Church-supportive newsletter in my part of the world, and I was appalled to learn from the editor that he did not consider the issue important in this modern era. So are we to hypocritically argue the veracity of the Scriptures, while following practices that show we don’t believe what we preach? Are we to sweep demonstrable belief in the Scriptures under the carpet, because it does not fit the socially acceptable decor of a Church for this modern age? Where has the spirit of New Testament Church Restoration gone that was reckoned to be key to the Church being on track?

    1. I started typing some of these exact thoughts in the post but deleted them. I did that because I wanted to just appreciate the fact that it was said in the SS and leave it at that. It is amazing how some people think they can read and understand without any bias or interpretation happening.

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