"Greatness in the Kingdom"

by Kenneth E. Thomas

August 01, 2000

     First of all, I am not a scholar and make no such claims. The fact that I am no scholar isn't however a criticism of those who are. I have often wished that circumstances were such that I could have attained some "higher education" beyond the "high school" level but they were not, and so I did not. I do, however, consider myself a Bible student and am continually learning from the divine revelation God has given for us to "read and understand" (Ephesians 3:4; 2 Timothy 2:15). Peter warns us not to "twist Paul's writings or the other Scriptures" saying it would be to our own "destruction" (2 Peter 3:16; Revelation 22:18-19; John 12:48; Romans 16:17-18; Ephesians 5:11).

     Having said the above, I detect a leaning among us towards more honor for one's scholarship than is healthy in my estimation. See (1 Corinthians 1:18-31). Paul says clearly, "that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2:5). He said in the first chapter "For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called" 1 Corinthians 2:26). Surely we are all aware of the fact that often the simple truths which we know, believe, and live by, are lost to the majority of people in the world, and especially to many of the scholars. Many such folks are clearly modernist who do not take the Bible as literally true.

     Often I find myself getting lost in the arguments being made by some of the more scholarly among us on Mars List and sometimes in magazines owned and operated by some of my brethren. Am I saying that one must be stupid and unlearned to be a faithful Christian? Absolutely not! What I am saying is that scholarship isn't a necessity for one to know the will of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Paul warned of "thinking of men above that which is written" (1 Corinthians 4:6).

     I often read well written post by lowly unlettered preachers, or read their answers to some error that is being advocated with pleasure, but rarely are these good brethren commended for their good work. I suppose if they were graduates of "one of our colleges," or even a state college, such would not be the case. I should add, I get more commendation for my writing than I deserve, so I am not writing out of jealousy. Sufficient payment for me is when I know that my Lord is pleased with my efforts. If brethren commend me, that is just an added benefit from my labors.

     I fear that we are building a mind set that respects more highly that which is spoken or written by those with degrees before or after their names than there is for those of lesser educational attainments. This will lead if not checked to a "Professional Clergy" among us just as it has in denominationalism if not stopped in its tracks. Why, do you suppose we see so many parading the title "Dr." among us nowadays? When used as some use it, as well as how some use "Brother," they might as well refer to such brethren as "Reverend" so and so, for they are making a class distinction among us, with more credibility attached to those with such degrees than to one like unto myself and many others who were not able to afford higher education.

     I was fortunate to take a course in Greek once a few years ago. I learned some things that have been helpful to be sure. However, does one have to know Greek to understand Christ's word? Absolutely not! If we did, then we would not have a credible English translation. H. Leo Bowles used to say, "If you can't prove it in English, you can't prove it in the Greek." I for one believe he was absolutely right!

     I have been practicing "preaching Christ" for over forty three years now, and by the grace of Christ have been used quite widely in our great brotherhood both in gospel meetings, lectureships and in doing the work of an evangelist in several states. I have never in this length of time been without a place to do the work I love, and have been supported fully in the same for the last thirty eight years at least. I have nothing but praise for the majority of my good brethren, but I do see signs that if I were just beginning my work as an evangelist today, it may be that I would not be so fortunate.

     Christ gave His word through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to chosen men who wrote it down originally in the Koine´ (common) Greek language, a language conducive to translation. This language went out of use shortly after the cannon was completed so that what ever a word meant then, it means today. Our English language is a living changing language and so revisions are needed in our translations from time to time to give the current English word equivalent for the Greek word. So, we may all have access to lexicons etc., when we wish to look at what a word meant originally. No, brethren, you don't have to have a degree to be able to know the will of the Lord. Some discussions by some of the more highly educated than myself among us only serve to confuse, rather than enlighten me, I must admit.

     Get all of the education you can afford, but remember, it is only a tool that may, if used properly, aid you in your study of God's word. That word is where the truth of Christ is found. Accept it and live by it and by the grace of Christ heaven can be your eternal abode one of these days. Higher education doesn't give one any added brain power, it only gives one the tools for knowing better how to research subjects and utilize the information that is there for everyone to read and understand (Ephesians 3:1-11). May we attain and maintain a healthy respect for the verbally inspired word of Christ using other aids wisely and carefully lest we "think of men above that which is written" (1 Corinthinas 2:13; 1 Corinthians 4:6).

by Kenneth E. Thomas

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