Hugh’s News & Views (Smart Alecks)

SMART ALECKS

According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a smart aleck is “an obnoxiously conceited and self-assertive person with pretensions to smartness or cleverness.” Smart alecks exist in all fields, including the field of religion. They often think of themselves as “original thinkers,” and like to portray themselves as such. Much of the time, upon closer investigation, it is determined that they are neither “original” nor “thinkers”!

Some of my leftist, liberal, progressive brethren come across as “smart alecks.” They like to raise doubt in the minds of faithful members of the Lord’s church by asserting certain things that on deeper thought and investigation are plainly misleading, if not totally false. They take delight in bashing the Lord’s church, while defending denominationalists. Following are some examples of one such smart aleck’s observations as they appeared on his Facebook page of Friday, August 7, 2020.

He stated that the word “Bible” is not in the Bible. I know of no one who has ever affirmed that it is, but a little research in a good Bible dictionary or Bible encyclopedia can be quite helpful in understanding why the sacred volume is call the Bible. The word “Bible” is from the Greek word biblia, the plural of biblion, which, in turn, is the diminutive of biblos which means “book.” Because the 66 individual documents that make up the Bible are uniquely and divinely inspired of God the collection became known as THE Book or the Bible. I have many copies of the Bible, and every one of them that I consulted bore the title “Holy Bible.” The Bible therefore is not just any book, but it is a special and holy Book. It is comprised of “all Scripture”—Scripture that has been “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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17). Because there is no other book like it, it is uniquely THE Book, the BIBLE! The fact that nowhere on its pages is it specifically called the Bible does not detract from its divinely inspired origin or its authority over our lives. Only those who would seek to minimize and undercut its divine inspiration and authority would make such a statement as “the word ‘Bible’ is not in the Bible”! What is his point? What is he trying to “prove”?

Keying off of his statement that the word “Bible” is nowhere in the Bible, the “smart aleck” then asserts that “calling Bible things by Bible names” is not in the Bible. Again I ask, what is his purpose? Does he suggest that we call things in scripture something other than what scripture calls them? Peter urged, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11a). Is that too big a challenge for some folks? For sure, there are some among us who would sidetrack us and derail us from our commitment to “call Bible things by Bible names and do Bible things in the Bible way.” They despise the entire concept of going back to the Bible for the sole authority of all that we believe, teach, preach, and practice in religion.

The “know-it-all” pointed out that the expression “church of Christ” is not found in the Bible. Does that mean that Christ does not have a church? Does a precise expression have to be used in scripture in order for it to reflect a scriptural (biblical) concept? Christ clearly promised to build what He called “My church” (Matthew 16:18). Paul spoke of “His (Christ’s) body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24). Christ purchased the church with His blood (Acts 20:28). Is it therefore not His, and do we not have the scriptural right to call it what it is—the church of (belonging to) Christ? No informed student of the scriptures thinks that “church of Christ” is the official, exclusive, and patented name for the New Testament people of God. All informed students understand it to be one of many descriptive terms for God’s people. What is one’s point in saying that the expression “church of Christ” is not in the Bible. I think I know.

My “wise-in-his-own-conceits” brother (Romans 12:16) likewise found it necessary to note that the expression “churches of Christ” is found only once in the Scriptures (Romans 16:16). My initial reaction was, “So??” How many times must something be mentioned in the Scriptures in order for it to be true? Again, no informed student of the Bible believes “churches of Christ” is the official, exclusive, and patented name for the people of God. It is one of many descriptors of God’s people in their congregational or local church capacity, but it is one! In scripture, the churches of Christ are no different from the churches of God (I Thessalonians 2:14; II Thessalonians 1:4) and the churches of the saints (local congregations comprised of saints [Christians, disciples of Christ]) (I Corinthians 14:33). No description of God’s children is ever used in scripture in a denominational sense or as a denominational name.

My “smart aleck” Facebook friend likewise pointed out that “Old Testament” does not appear in the Bible. But the fact is that in the King James Version that term is found in II Corinthians 3:14. And while “covenant” may be the better word, “testament” is also quite accurate with reference to the contents of what we call the Old Testament (see Hebrews 9:16-17). The fact is, that as a study of the book of Hebrews will reveal, God through Moses made a covenant with fleshly Israel, but that covenant was only preparatory for the ultimate covenant that He would make with all mankind through Christ. Thus, the covenant with Israel became “old (obsolete)” and vanished away (Hebrews 8:8-13, note verse 13). Christ brought in the “new covenant” and ratified it with His own blood (Matthew 26:28). “New covenant” suggests the existence of an “old covenant.” The first 39 books of the Bible provide the record of God’s dealing with the Israelites under the first covenant, and by metonymy that record (made up of those 39 books) is referred to as the old covenant or the old testament (see II Corinthians 3:14; Hebrews 9:4). (Note: The ark of the covenant refers to that sacred box in which a copy of the covenant God made with Israel through Moses was placed for preservation. Indeed, that old or first covenant was produced in written form, and the books that we know as the Old Testament are accounts of the outworking and application of that covenant in the lives of fleshly Israel prior to the new covenant God made with mankind through Christ). Christ Himself spoke of that which had been written about Him “in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44), the very part of the Bible which we know as the Old Testament. Christ took away “the first (covenant/Old Testament) that He may establish “the second” (covenant/New Testament) (Hebrews 10:9). A study of Hebrews, chapters 7, 8, 9, and 10 makes this abundantly clear, as do sections of the book of Romans, the book of Galatians, and other portions of New Testament scriptures. No one needs to fear that he or she is violating some great law of God when he or she speaks of “the Old Testament” and “the New Testament,” referring to the first 39 books of the Bible and the last 27 books of that sacred volume respectively.

The “wiseacre” noted that while both “plan” and “salvation” are mentioned in the Bible, the expression “plan of salvation” is not. However, the reality is that God had a purpose, a plan, a program, a scheme, an undertaking by which He would redeem mankind through Christ and that plan had been in His infinite mind from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-14; Ephesians 3:1-13; Colossians 1:24-29; II Timothy 1:8-12; Titus 1:1-3; I Corinthians 1:18 – 2:16). This divine plan involves not only God’s grace and mercy to man, but man’s faith response to that grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). That there are acts of obedience that man must perform, steps that humans must take, to be saved is made abundantly clear in the book of Acts. (Acts 2:36-38; Acts 9:1-6; Acts 10:1-6, 48; Acts 22:16; et al). No child of God need fear speaking of “the plan of salvation.” It is for sure that God has one, has set it forth in the New Testament, and all who would be saved must comply with its terms or conditions (Matthew 7:21; Romans 6:16-18; II Thessalonians 1:6-10; Hebrews 5:8-9; et al).

Brother “Smart Aleck” declared that “living in sin” is not in the Bible. However, brother Paul, the inspired apostle of Jesus Christ, named a number of sins and said the Colossians Christians had once “walked in” those sins when they “lived in them”! (Colossians 2:5-7). Paul said the Ephesian Christians had “once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air…among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others” (Ephesians 2:1-3). If the apostle had wanted to say that people could “live in sin,” what would he have needed to say that he did not say in these passages? John wrote: “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in the evil one” (I John 5:19, ASV). The entire world (all those outside of Christ), according to John, is “living in sin”! If one cannot live in sin, then no plan of salvation would have been needed, and God made a mistake when He sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (I John 2:1-2).

A few weeks ago, the “smart aleck” spent a considerable amount of time via a live stream broadcast seeking to prove that “hell” is not mentioned in Acts or in the letters of Paul. He preened and cooed and postured and pontificated over and over that “hell is mentioned zero (‘that’s a zero, folks’ he repeated over and over) times” in those New Testament books. I listened for twenty minutes or longer to his bald assertions. During all that time he “conveniently” failed to point out that without using the word “hell” these books all speak of a day of final judgment, of the wrath of God, and of the horror of eternal punishment away from the presence of the Lord (Acts 17:30-31; Acts 24:25; Romans 1:18-32; Romans 2:5-10; Ephesians 5:6; Colossians 3:6; II Thessalonians 1:6-10; et al). If he ever came around to mentioning any of these passages I am unaware of it. If he did, well and good. I did not continue to listen to his irrational rant. It is for sure that the apostles of Christ, including the apostle Paul, believed in hell and frequently spoke of the wrath of God.

May we be duly reminded that there are those among us who “do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (the gullible, the easily misled, and those impressed with “great swelling words,” Jude 16) (Romans 16:18). They love to bash the faithful people of God, while praising denominational errorists.

Hugh Fulford

August 25, 2020

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