Terry L. Gardner
The lawyers of Jesus day were not attorneys-at-law, but rather experts in, and teachers of, the Law of Moses. Jesus confronted these experts in the Law of Moses in Matthew 22:35:
"And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question, trying him: Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law? And he said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second like unto it is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments the whole law hangeth, and the prophets."
The Jewish lawyers removed principle from their law and replaced it with ritual. These lawyers could tell you how to wash your hands, how to avoid supporting your parents, the proper way to fast and how to "lawfully" keep thousands of other Jewish rituals. They studied and debated the law of Moses constantly. However, they did not arrive at truth or unity, but rather error and division with two chief schools of thought (Pharisees and Sadducees) and many minor sects and factions. They had one law of Moses but 1,000 lawyers.
Our modern lawyers are preachers. They are experts in "New Testament law." They seek to remove principle from God's word and replace it with ritual. Our modern lawyer-preachers can tell you why it's a good thing to support an orphan's home with "your" money but not with the "Lord's money" as if God himself taught such a distinction. These lawyers can give you 20 "scriptural'' uses for a "church building" and 20 "sinful" uses for the same building. All these "reasons" for a structure not mentioned in God's word.
Modern lawyer-preachers study their "law" in special schools, not to find truth, but to be able to debate error. Mention a topic like reaching the lost and the debaters will immediately think of the 100 abuses of personal work. Mention the importance of emotion in worship and their first thought is to preach on "The Dangers of Emotionalism.'' (One brother dealing in rare "brotherhood" books told me his most popular items were debates while he could hardly give books away on the life of Christ.) Their emphasis is upon what you can not do, what you should not do and how holy (they only are going to heaven) they are as a result of doing nothing except studying their law. The Jewish lawyers had the same unholy attitude and Jesus told them that "Publicans and the Harlots go into the kingdom of God before you" (Matt. 21:31).
Our modern system of lawyer-preachers results not in unity but division. We have several prominent schools of thought (liberal and conservative) and many minor schools of thought. Each school of thought is bent on removing the principles of God's word and leaving us with ritual. They have a "form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof" (II Tim. 3:5). Paul said from this kind of man "turn away."
Our modern system is based upon a view of biblical interpretation that is open-ended and needs lawyer-preachers to interpret. These lawyer-preachers teach that there are 3 ways to determine authority and only 3 ways! (Except for those of the 4-ways heresy.) These three ways are:
1.) Direct Command.
2.) Approved Example.
3.) Necessary Inference.
If it does not fall into one of these 3 ways "God has given us" it is clearly "unscriptural!" Then the preacher-lawyer will often add "We can see God's wisdom in giving us these 3 ways or the Bible would have to be 1,000 volumes to answer all our questions!"
You may be wondering where in God's word He places His stamp of approval on the three ways? Let's use the three ways and see if their own method approves them. Is there a direct command from God Himself telling us that these three ways are how we determine "Biblical Authority"? NO. Perhaps there is an approved example where the early disciples came to a vexing problem and applied the three ways "method"? No. Is there a necessary inference? The closest inference (necessary or otherwise) is I Cor. 4:16 where Paul wrote "I beseech you therefore, be ye imitators of me." Paul wrote this to his spiritual children encouraging them to follow his example. Does this mean that they were to allow the same principles to govern their lives that governed Paul's (principles like love of God and neighbor) or that they could only do the things (the very same acts in the precise same way) Paul did and nothing further? A physical father calls his children in and says "Imitate me and my life." Does he mean allow the principles that govern my life to govern yours or that you must follow my life as closely as a cookie is made in the shape of the cookie cutter?
There is no example of any man of God (in the Old or New Testament) ever reasoning by "necessary inference.'' Can you see God destroying Nadab and Abihu because they were not able by logical deduction to necessarily infer the proper fire to offer Jehovah?
Unable to quote a thus saith the Lord to support necessary inference many preachers "infer" that without the three way method we would have a Bible of 1,000 volumes! Therefore, the three ways are from God.
Our system has become one of 1,000 lawyers speaking 1,000 different things about one New Testament. The result is division and confusion. God's system is simple...love God and love your neighbor. A child can understand and practice it. Isaiah said: "the wayfaring men, yea fools, shall not err therein" (Isa. 35:8). Our system is unintelligible to almost all except those experts in our law who have been schooled at our special religious schools. The system makes man the judge. One preacher explained that Roy Cogdill had a legal mind and took things too far. He said that Roy was wrong in his application of the three ways but he was right! Any. system that allows men to be judge in God's place is from Satan.
One Bible should be enough for all of us. God's simple commands should be sufficient for us all. Read and study your New Testament carefully. Do you ever see the three ways taught as a system of "Biblical Authority?" Can you picture the early Christians debating what you can or can not do in a "church building?" Such an issue would have been as absurd as the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin! Their religious fights were against those who denied that Jesus came in the flesh; or those in an immoral state, as the man who had his father's wife. These were real issues that a simple "thus saith the Lord" could resolve.
True unity will only come through Christ Jesus, the Head, not by a conformity of the body. John said "God is love." If we will love God and our neighbor and stick to a plain "thus saith the Lord" we can maintain unity with one God, one Bible, one Faith, one Baptism, one body; and all without the "help" of lawyer-preachers.