Another failure in hermeneutics which is being passed on to the younger generation is the use of Amos 5:23 as a proof text to condemn the use of instrumental music in worship. It reads, “Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.” (NJKV)
I reiterate my appeal to Bible College golden ager teachers to STOP citing Amos 5:23 as a support in the discussion of musical instrument of music in Christian worship. It is not supported by the context, not supported by correct grammar, not supported by common sense.
Please note that the first part of the verse rejects songs and yet those who use the verse are teachers of music in their Bible school. You condemn yourselves in your use of the verse. If you use the second part of the verse to put away stringed instruments, use also the first part of the verse to put away your singing. If not, why not?
Chapter 5 contains the judgment against Israel. Chapter 4 sets forth the sins and failures and transgressions of Israel starting with 4:1 which are cruelty to the poor, widespread drunkenness even among the women folk.
The language of rejection in Amos 5:21-24 is called “Relative Negation.” The figurative language term is called “lethotes.” It is a figure of speech like simile and metaphor. Many of our Bible teachers don’t even know what lethotes is. You should start teaching about lethotes in your classes. Relative negation is employed very clearly in Isaiah 1:10-17. Items that are commanded in the Law are rejected by God because of the rottenness of the heart as seen in Isaiah 1:4-9 and 21-31. God doesn’t countenance hypocrisy.
Relative Negation is the explanation of 1 Corinthians 1:17 “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel…” The death, burial and resurrection of the CHRIST for sin is the gospel. The gospel is the basis of our salvation says 1 Cor. 15:2-4.There are many verses that command believers to be baptized. If 1 Cor 1:17 is not a lethotes, then the NT would be contradictory about the ordinance of baptism. This same line of reasoning on lethotes should be used in Amos 5:23 in order to avoid contradiction.
Amos 8:5 On Weekly Sabbath Abrogation
There are poor interpretations that are being passed on to some young preachers from old generation Bible College students as well as teachers. Some of these bad interpretations are based on poor grammar or lack of proper exegesis. I’ve heard retorts among Bible college students as early as 1960 when I first entered Bible school. One of these is an argument on the termination of the Sabbath Day observance.
The usual declaration of a Seventh Day Adventist is that there is no statement in the Bible that the Seventh Day would be terminated but that it is a mark of the covenant with God and that even in the new era the Sabbath Day would still be there as suggested in Isaiah 66:23. I’ve heard fellow students in practice debates and practice argumentations who said, “I can read to you that the end of the Sabbath was prophesied.” In Tagalog it was expressed like this, “Mababasa ko na mayroong pagnanais na magtatapos ang Sabbath.” In Iloco the challenge would be, “No maibasak nga adda panagtapos ti Sabbath Day, awatem a saan nga agnanayon ti panagngilin iti Sabado?”
This bluff is based on Amos 8:5. But a simple analysis of the context and even the grammar of verse 5 do not state a prophecy on the cessation of the Sabbath Day observance. That’s where those teachers and classmates in 1960 failed. And this failure is being passed on to some pupils.
I would like to counsel older generation Bible students to stop using Amos 8:5 as a proof text in argumentation and practice debates on Sabbath keeping . The conclusion that Amos 8:5 tells of a forthcoming cessation of Sabbath Day observance is not supported by the context and it is also ungrammatical.
Amos 8 tells of the materialism of Judah and the people’s disregard for the Law of Yahweh. Connect this longing and practice of the Jerusalem inhabitants in the time of Nehemiah (chapter 13) and you could easily feel the disregard of the sacredness of God’s law. The people were asking when the weekly Sabbath day would end so that they could open the gates and do business. In the time of Amos or Nehemiah, there was an official announcer who would shout to mark the end of the Sabbath day. That was what the business men were asking. Virtually they were saying, “Sige na, sabihin nyo na na tapos na ang 24 hours Sabbath Day at buksan na nyo ang pintuan upang maglako na kami.” Amos 8:5 was not a prophecy on the abrogation of the Sabbath Day contained in the Decalogue of Exodus 20.
Certain religious groups insist that water baptism is not essential to a person’s remission of sins. They insist that at the point of faith, a person is forgiven of his sins. They don’t like the translation of Acts 2:38 in the New King James Version, King James Version, New Living Translation, American Standard Version, Revised Standard Version which says “Repent and be baptized for the remission of yours sins.”
They insist that the Greek preposition eis should be translated “because of” so that Acts 2:38 should read, “Repent and be baptized because your sins have been forgiven.”
The shortest way of revealing the weakness of the above position is to focus the interrogation on the word “repent.” So the question should be worded like this:
The verb repent is similarly situated as the verb be baptized in relation to remission of sins, do you also teach that remission of sins or forgiveness of sins happens first before the act of repentance? Where in the Bible do we find that repentance is not a prerequisite to forgiveness and not essential to salvation?
Sa Filipino ganito ang pagtatanong: “Ang pandiwang magsisi ay pareho ang lokasyon kagaya ng pandiwang mabautismuhan sa kanilang relasyon sa phrase na “sa ikapagpapatawad ng mga kasalanan” itinuturo mo rin ba na ang kapatawaran ay unang mangyayari bago ang pagsisisi? Saang bahagi ng Biblia itinuturo na ang kapatawaran ay nauuna kaysa pagsisisi?”
Kung ang pagsisisi ay nauuna at ibubunga ang kapatawaran, anong dahilan sa regla ng balarila bakit hindi pareho sa pagbabautismo? Kung sasabihin mo na magiging “salvation by work” na kung kailangan ang bautismo, bakit hindi mo rin sasabihin na “salvation by work” kung kailangan ang pagsisisi? Pareho naman silang gagawin ng taong may pananalig?
If you have any questions or comments on this short article, we would be glad to get your email. – E.Tanicala
The 35th National Ladies Retreat which was held at the Hotel Tepeyac in Baguio City from April 28-May 1 was successfully hosted by the A-Hill Church of Baguio. Two hundred two ladies registered
for this annual affair that came from 51 congregations from as far as Davao City in southern Mindanao, from Visayas and from Luzon. Sister Virginia Jimenez-Madlaing purposely came from San Francisco, California for this program. Four sisters from the states of Alabama and Tennessee also attended. Sister Leah Ravelo, vacationing from Rome, Italy and originally from Ilocos Norte attended for the first time.
The ladies group of the A-Hill congregation of Baguio wishes to thank all those who donated cash and other resources all of which contributed to the successful holding of this annual event.
Cagayan de Oro City’s congregation meeting at Lapasan district will be the host in the last week of the year 2011. Sister Sarah Cutamora, a member of the Lapasan congregaton in Cagayan de Oro, was at the retreat to confirm this hosting responsibility next year.
An additional amount of more than Php11,000 was raised this year from among the ladies who attended as an additional seed money in hosting the National Ladies Retreat. ##
Some theologians over magnify God’s decree. Some make the presumption that certain people are bad so that when they turn around and become good, God’s mercy is glorified. But when the bad guy remains bad, the explanation offered is that Satan rules over him and it is the guy’s fault that he allowed Satan to come into his life. And if pressed further why the bad guy is bad, the explanation given is “he was predestined that way.” If further pressed who predestined him that way, the answer, “Don’t ever question the decree of God.” Just as a pot should not and could not question the potter, an inquisitive mind should stop being inquisitive. This pot and potter illustration of the prophet Isaiah is a limited illustration. It doesn’t satisfy our inquiry because a human potter is not an absolute moral person while God is an absolute moral person. God is good and righteous. God cannot be ungood and unrighteous. Also a potter would not rage and curse and create an ever-burning kiln to punish pots that are acceptable. If a potter rages and curses and creates an ever-burning kiln and announces the punishment of his unacceptable pots, that potter would be brought to the mental ward of a hospital. On the other hand we read that God rages and curses and has created hell to burn the unacceptable, disobedient souls. God could not be a crazy God.
May be we have to expand our understanding about good and evil. We begin with Satan by asking the following questions based on Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28:
- Did God create the person of Satan before he became Satan?
- Who was Satan before he became Satan?
- Was Satan a good person before he became bad?
- Did Satan will to become bad or did God will that Satan becomes Satan?
- If Satan was not created as bad Satan, who willed that Satan became Satan?
- Do we ever fault God that Satan became Satan?
- Did God have the power to stop Satan become Satan at the time that Satan willed to become evil?
- If God had the power to stop Satan at the time Satan willed to become Satan, why did not God stop him?
- If we say that God allowed Satan to exercise free will, that proves the permissive decree of God.
- So what if we call the non-stoppage of Satan in his becoming evil “God’s permissive decree”? Giving a theological name to what happened doesn’t answer the question, “Why didn’t God stop Satan when Satan willed to become Satan?
- Why did God will for Satan to exercise free will which God knew before hand that Satan would become evil?
- To say that “It’s just the will of God to permit Satan to exercise free will” and call that God’s permissive decree doesn’t confront the question of “Why didn’t God will that Satan wouldn’t will to become evil?”
To me the better explanation about this argument in a circle is to focus our reflection on “free will.”
John Calvin offered the idea of “predestination.” That before creation of the angels, certain angels were already listed as destined to be evil and destined for destruction. Calvin’s theory is not acceptable because his idea when analyzed through logic and common sense it would lay the blame on the lap of God for the existence of evil. The better explanation, therefore, is free will. That God gave “free will” to the angelic host which He created. That the angels had sufficient capability to choose what is good and what is bad. That God gave the warning on the consequences of choosing evil. The exercise of free will removes the conclusion that the author and determiner of evil is God. The author and determiner of evil is free will.
And since angels were created as autonomous moral agents with free will, Lucifer the perfect archangel was responsible for his own will and actions. Free will demands responsibility because the Creator God is a God of justice.
One way of identifying the Church that is described in the Bible is to identify the following: Founder, Foundation Year, Place of Origin, Its Creed, Structural Organization, Congregational Worship, Belief in the Person and Work of Christ, Process of the New Birth.
Let me share you an approach I made when I taught a Sunday Bible class recently on this topic of Marks of the True Church. We could look at the Church in three different angles: (a) The Negative Marks, (b) The Internal Marks, and (c) The External Marks.
- To be in the true church be translated into the kingdom or be born into God’s family.
- To be in the true church one should be born again, undergo the spiritual birth.
- To be in the true church one should be a saved person. See Acts2:38 & 47.
- To be in the true church one should be a saint. See 1Cor. 1:2; 1Peter 2:9.
- To be in the true church one should be a redeemed person. See Acts 20:28.
- To be in the true church one should be in the body of Christ. Col 1:13, 18,24; Eph 1:22,23.
- To be in the true church one’s name should be enrolled in heaven. Heb. 12:22, 23.
- To be in the true church one should abide in Christ. John 15:1-5; 2John 1:9.
- To be in the true church one should obey God and Christ. Luke 6:46; John 14:15,23 ; John 15:14.
- Accept the Bible as guide in faith and morals.
- Correct genealogy: (a) Follow apostolic teachings, (b) Follow New Birth steps which are (1) Hear the story about the death, burial, resurrection of Christ for sins, (2) Believe in the person and merits of Christ, (3) Repent of sins, (4) Confession of faith in Christ, and (5) Being baptized into Christ.
- Correct Church Organization: (a)Congregational set up, (b) Elders or Bishops and Deacons are the congregational officers. Please see Phil. 1:1-2; 1Tim 3:1-11; Titus 1:1-6.
- Correct Congregational Worship: (a) Pray, (b) Study the Word in the Bible class and sermon, (c) Lord’s Supper Celebration, (d) Singing, (e) Contributing of Means to support church ministries.
The above is a simple outline to guide us in determining our relationship with Christ and the Church he built which is also His spiritual kingdom.
Some brethren want to establish a precedence by laying down a rule which sounds something like this: “Elders’ decision should never be questioned.”
This idea is dangerous. The caution I state are based on the following reasons:
- It is inconsistent with the Church of Christ dogmas like “Back to the Bible” and “Speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent.” When human elders act selfishly and ignorantly contratry to the precepts of the Bible, elders should be reminded of their mistakes.
- It disregards the warning of Apostle Paul about elders in Acts 20:17-18 and 29-30 where he warned the elders/bishops that from among themselves will come out false teachers.
- It disregards the example of Apostle Paul in Galatians 2:11 wherein Paul confronted Elder Peter who was even an inspired apostle because Peter was inconsistent.
- It disregards the warning of in 1John 4:1 to test every spirit. Testing requires questioning to measure their consistency with God’s law.
- Elders in the Rich___ congregation in the Fort Worth/Dallas, Texas area decided to allow musical instruments in one of their worship services. All of us raised our concerns. Elders in Benguet and Pangasinan questioned the elders in Texas. Should elders in Baguio be granted the status of “Infallibility” while all other elders in the whole world are not? (Eusebio Tanicala)