A Changeless Gospel

As the inspired writer of the book of Hebrews first set down and began writing the great letter to the early Hebrew Christians, a lot of thoughts must have passed through his mind.  He was living in a day and time when many changes were occurring.  Great civil, political and religious unrest was witnessed on every side.  Although the Jewish system was still in existence, it was very plain that it was quickly drawing to an end.  Change and unrest was in the air, and everything pointed to a swift upheaval or overthrow.  The early church herself was taking a beating from every side, persecuted both by the Romans as well as the Jews.  Things looked very bleak for those who had only recently accepted the truth taught unto them by the Lord’s apostles.  The Hebrew letter was penned unto these troubled Christians both as a letter of edification and a letter to bolster their confidence in the stand they were making.  Imagine what the words found in Heb. 13:8 must have meant to each and every one of these Christians.  The inspired writer simply stated “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  Everything they had ever known seemed to be changing and nothing seemed to be sure unto any of them.  What a great burst of sunshine and assurance for them to realize there was something that was changeless and certain in their troubled world.  A solid rock upon which they could build and thus weather the storm that raged around them.

We should take great comfort in these words.  We also live in a day and age when nothing is truly regarded as being holy and sacred.  Things that were once accepted by all as truth, are now being questioned by even many of those in the religious world around us.  Great unrest and agitation is seen as men no longer feel that certain truths of God’s word are needed today.  These truths no longer fit in with society and thus truth is being forced into a new mold rather than society changing to fit the truth.  We cannot afford to allow ourselves to get caught up in the ever changing currents of society.  We must recognize that even though laws of our country may be passed that violate the word of God, though even many in the “Christian” realm are willing to lay aside the truth, we cannot be of the number that gets caught up in these changes and swept along with the current.  Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.  His thoughts have not changed.  His words have not changed.  The truth he taught and delivered to his apostles changes not.  Even in the midst of an ever changing world continually seeking to reinvent itself and its moral and religious views, we must stand with Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life.  A wise man once said “Those are weaklings who know the truth and uphold it as long as it suits their purpose, then abandon it.”  I wholeheartedly agree with this statement and am saddened to say that it bears a perfect reflection of what we see, not just in society, but in the church or among those who claim to be Christians.  So many churches today are laying aside certain truths that have been upheld for centuries simply because they no longer suit their purpose or their ideals.  We want to look at a few of these issues in light of the truth that never changes.

First of all, we want to at a certain moral issue that seems to dominate our airways today and was recently endorsed in major fashion by Hollywood.  An issue that has been debated throughout time but recently has become an extremely hot topic for all celebrities and politically minded individuals.  Not only has it affected society and the entertainment industry, but even many churches have played turncoat and have begun to endorse it from their pulpits.  Some churches who have earthly headquarters have even been forced by their heads, their tribunals, or counsels, to change their way of thinking about this issue.  Others have met and argued for hours, leaving with great confusion and open division as some call openly for a major change in their way of thinking while others continue to argue that the truth changes not.  This subject that is so hotly debated is that of homosexuality.

 Homosexuality; a manifest sin of the flesh

We are not left in doubt as to what Jesus Christ thinks about this “lifestyle.”  The Bible is certainly not silent about the matter as some like to think and teach.  In speaking for his Father, Jesus showed unto all mankind the parties involved in a proper marriage.  These teachings are found in Matthew 19:1-9.  Jesus begins his defense of marriage by pointing out how God made man in the beginning “male and female.”  He said unto them “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and they twain shall be one flesh.”  Notice, God created man, saw that he was alone, and then created woman as a helper suitable for man as a mate for life.  The original plan was for father and mother to be one flesh.  There is no room for two fathers, two mothers, two males, or two females.  God’s plan according to Jesus does not allow such unions.

But not only did he speak of what constitutes a legitimate marriage, in delivering his words to his apostles, he also moved them to speak and write about this “lifestyle” in unmistakable terms.  In Galatians 5:19-21 Paul gives us a list of manifest sins of the flesh.  Not just issues or lifestyles, but sins of the flesh.  Fornication is listed as one of these sins and it is defined as illicit sexual intercourse.  All lexicographers of which I am familiar include within their definition of this term, adultery, incest, prostitution, and yes homosexuality.  There is no doubt concerning the Bible’s position on homosexuality.  It is a manifest sin of the flesh of which Paul would go on to add, “they which do such things, shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

If that isn’t enough, consider the teachings of Paul to the early church in Rome as found in Romans 1:26-32.  Paul spells this sin out in as plain a fashion as possible.  In vs. 26-27 he shucks the issue right down to the cob.  “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.”  These people, due to this shameful sin of the flesh, were given up or over by God.  They were no longer God’s people!  He gave them over to a reprobate mind to do things which are not convenient and are sinful.  Yes, the Bible is emphatic on this issue, such sins are not to be allowed among the faithful and they will never be endorsed by any group who actually has allegiance with Christ.

All over our great nation there are heads of churches meeting together debating this issue.  Many have already begun to endorse homosexuality.  But they are able to take the issue a step further.  Due to their position of authority they also are able to force their “parishioners” to accept their ruling on the matter.  I am thankful to say that the church of Christ doesn’t have to worry about some head in some foreign state telling us to accept such a blatant sin.  Our headquarters are in heaven and our marching orders are delivered by Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.

Women Teachers

But there are other doctrinal issues that have been treated with the same lack of respect, endorsed publicly and forced upon people within these organizations.  We see this with the subject of women teachers.  Years ago all agreed upon this subject, but men refused to remain content in light of our “liberated” society.  The Bible certainly hasn’t changed its teaching on this subject.  In 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 we learn that women are to remain silent within the church.  Paul goes on to add “for it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church.”  In 1 Timothy 2:11-15 Paul tells the young evangelist Timothy to “let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.”  He goes on to add “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”  The point of these verses and others is very simple.  Women have their own realm in which they can teach.  They are not allowed to teach publicly nor in the assemblies of the church.  Yet I know of churches that have been forced to accept women preachers though many of these churches are not in agreement with what their “heads” have ruled on the matter.  They recognize the truth of these words, but due to their affiliation, they have been forced to accept a “changed gospel.”

Plan of Salvation

We see this with the Bible plan of salvation.  Man has come along and changed the very core doctrine of the New Testament process of conversion.  All types of different thoughts and ideas have been introduced by these heads of churches.  Rather than simply listening to Jesus and his words as they were spoken by the apostles and recorded for all to see, men are determined to save themselves through some new scheme.  But what was needed in the first century is needed today as well.  We must not throw out or change the gospel plan of salvation just because people don’t like it anymore.  We need to preach the gospel boldly, recognizing that the plan of salvation as delivered by the disciples of our Lord is as changeless as Christ himself.  What did Jesus and his apostles teach?  One must believe, John 8:24; Heb. 11:6. One must repent, Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30.  One must confess Jesus, Mt. 10:32-33; Acts 8:36-38.  One must then be baptized, Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:36; Gal. 3:27; etc…  Has anything changed that we need to be aware of that would change these requirements?  Absolutely not!  Man is still the same, he has not changed, “ all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23) for which “the wages is death” (Rom. 6:23).  Satan is still the same, using his wiles to try and convince men to refuse the Lord.  Christ and his word hasn’t changed thus the gospel has no need of revision today.  The Ethiopian eunuch went on his way rejoicing which shows to us the power of God’s word and obedience to it.

Paul warned the early church of a time when apostasy would reign supreme, a time when they would be carried about with divers and strange doctrines.  If this is not what we are witnessing today, what would it take to constitute such rebellion?  The Bible states plainly, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.  Be not carried about with divers (various) and strange doctrines…”

Article written by: Cecil Smith