They Have a Zeal of God But Not According to Knowledge, No. 7 – Don Smith

Don Smith


The word of God will always triumph over the error of denominationalism when handled aright. For those who have not followed this series, the following article is a portion of a reply to a letter that a certain Pentecostal named Mrs. Julie Jackson wrote in response to a lengthy article this writer authored and sent to her husband, Marc Jackson. This was by request of Mrs. Jackson’s son, Micah, after he heard the teaching in refutation of modern-day miracles. All of this is chronicled in TGP, beginning with the March 2023 issue of said paper. The reply will be given in full in segments, beginning with this current article. There will be many references to the original article, as well as Mrs. Jackson’s response, which will be done for this audience by referencing the issue of TGP in which it appears, with the page, paragraph, and sentence numbers as needed. By following these references, it will soon be learned just how absurd Mrs. Jackson’s arguments are. With this, let us begin.


Dear Julie, 12-29-14

1I received your letter in response to the various articles you’ve read that were written by members of the churches of Christ. 2I thank you for responding. 3In my reply, I plan to touch on six particular points you mentioned. 4These are as follows: 1) Your experiences and life, 2) My religious position, 3) Legalism/Law, 4) Miracles, 5) The church, and 6) God’s way of salvation. 5I, too, want you to know that what I write will be with all the care and dignity that a Christian should have for another of God’s creation. 6Please understand that I am only a messenger of the word and will of God. 7I am not the Judge of your eternal destiny and would never claim to be such. 8However, I am completely within the bounds of the authority of God to warn you or commend you concerning the path you are on and have the obligation to prove the acceptable path of God (Eph. 5:10) with the honest and reasonable use of the scriptures in my attempt to persuade (II Cor. 5:11). 9With that being said, let me begin this reply with what you wrote concerning your experiences and life.


Concerning Experiences

1You have relayed to me that your experiences and life are testimony to the truth of God’s will being played out in your life through a direct operation of the Holy Spirit. 2Please don’t take this as an attack on you. 3Just think with me for a moment about this. 4Stating such things in opposition to the manuscript I sent, wherein the word of God was the sole basis of proof, is tantamount to holding that your experiences trump the word of God. 5I don’t believe that you consciously believe that to be the truth. 6You probably believe your experiences line up with the word of God, as the same line of reasoning aligns with [TGP August 2023, pg. 19, par. 8, sent. 4] in your response. 7So you probably believe your experiences are of God and therefore hold weight in the defense of your current position. 8However, the truth is, whether intentionally conceived or not, you have used your experiences to trump the word of God. 9Take a look at [TGP July 2023, pg. 31, par. 4; Aug., pg. 18, par. 7; and Sept., pg. 21, par. 16 and 17] where you used your experiences as defense. 10There is not one passage of scripture cited nor quoted in support as proof that your experiences would reasonably line up with what we should expect today. 11(I didn’t over look the scripture citation in [Aug. pg. 18, par. 7] which has nothing to do with this current discussion, and I did recognize the partial quotation of Galatians 2:20 at the end of the paragraph which is just a statement of where you believe you stand and not a substantiation that your experiences are wrought of God.) 12In truth, this is part of the previous teachings I had asked you to put on the shelf as you studied the manuscript. 13Everything you’ve held on the subject is what I had in mind. 14Please excuse my vagueness if I were not clear concerning that. 15There are Pentecostal “pastors” who teach, whether explicitly or implicitly, to rely on experiences. 16Read again the William Davis article and see the quotation of a Pentecostal “pastor” he uses in relation to this. 17William Davis, himself of the Pentecostal faith over 50 years, knows they teach this. 18However, the word of God teaches the opposite. 19It teaches us to study to show ourselves approved (2 Tim. 2:15), to prove what is acceptable to the Lord (Eph. 5:10), and to prove all things (1 Thess. 5:21). 20It teaches us that all scripture is given that the man of God may be complete (2 Tim. 3:16-17), that all things pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of Christ had been given (2 Pet. 1:3), and that the faith had been once for all delivered (Jude 3, ASV), all in the first century. 21Paul stated that when all these things had been given, miracles would cease (Eph. 4:13). 22If you line this up, we see that scripture is what we are given to solely rely on today, not experiences. 23What you stated in [TGP July pg. 31] in the 2nd sentence of paragraph 4, and [Aug. pg. 18] in the last sentence of paragraph 7 is an unwillingness to move from your position whether the word of God shows it’s right or wrong—and this is based upon experience. 24Do you see how your experience has trumped the word of God? 25I plead with you Mrs. Jackson, please do not take this closed-minded approach to this study with me. 26I must tell you at this point that the word of God shows that your soul is certainly in jeopardy. 27Please reason with me; this may be the most important study of your life.


1The things you described in [TGP Sept., pg. 21] paragraph 16 that your husband has overcome, as the alcoholism, Crohn’s Disease, and the near death experiences, are all great feats. 2I’m so happy for you both that he didn’t perish in these. 3However, people overcome things like this quite frequently, and it’s through natural means. 4Sure, God could have had His hand in these by His providence working through natural means, but none of this lines up with the supernatural essence of the Biblical miracles. 5Biblical miracles were infallible proofs (Acts 1:3). 6Described in this manner, the Bible shows us they were performed in order to “prove” (Acts 2:22). 7They were completely beyond explanation. 8So why might the Lord have been at work in your lives through His providence? 9Maybe it was to bring you to this point.


1How you raised your children, as you described in [TGP Sept., pg. 21] paragraph 17, certainly shows you were devoted to what you believe. 2I’ve never put into question your sincerity or devoutness. 3In fact I believe you are very devout. 4Notwithstanding, sincerity does not make a belief or practice scripturally sanctioned by God. 5The apostle Paul was very sincere in putting Christians in prison and consenting to their deaths (Acts 8:1; 9:1-2), and we know he thought this was the will of God, as strict of a pharisaical life as he lived (Phil. 3:4-6). 6Yet although he was sincere, he was sincerely wrong in this. 7We have such great examples throughout the Bible to help us conform our lives to the will of God when properly taught. 8Christianity is a taught religion. 9I will touch more on this subject in my reply to the next topic, my religious position.


Concerning My Religious Position

1You’ve made several allusions in curiosity as to whether I profess to be a member of the church of Christ ([TGP Aug., pg. 19, par. 10]) and how I got in touch with this theology ([July, pg. 32, Par. 4], last 2 sentences). 2So let me just give you a little more detail of how I got to where I am religiously.


1There must have been a slight misunderstanding concerning me having never stepped foot into a church building before. 2When I was a child and growing up, there were probably not more than 10 times I had been in a church building. 3There are only 4 buildings I had stepped foot in and 3 of those was only one time. 4I had heard sermons in only 2 of those buildings, but paid little to no attention to what was being taught, so I certainly didn’t acquire any knowledge from them.


1By the time of my incarceration, I had only read the book of Revelation, and that only one time. 2So when I was initially incarcerated, I had a curiosity of what was in the rest of the New Testament. 3I found a Today’s English Version (which several years later I would come to find out is a very bad “translation”), and I read the New Testament. 4This only made me further want to know what was in the Old Testament, so I asked a fellow inmate if I could borrow his Bible to read it. 5During the time I spent reading it, there were many religious discussions among us (the inmates). 6The fellow who let me borrow his Bible put me into contact with his grandmother, just before he left the county jail for prison. 7She sent me various religious tracts and pamphlets from time to time, and my own copy of the Bible—it was an NIV.


1I began attending the religious services in the jail. 2I had planned to attend the services of every church in my hometown on a rotational basis continually upon my release. 3One day a new inmate began speaking with me out of nowhere. 4He said he was a Christian, and his demeanor fit the description better than anyone I had ever known. 5We had several discussions concerning Christianity, and I soon learned he was a member of the church of Christ. 6In one of the discussions, I remember him claiming that there is only one church. 7I assumed he was referring to the church he was a member of, and I was thinking in my head, “Yeah, I bet all the different religious groups claim the same thing.” 8Yet, I continued to hear out the things he was stating.


1One day I asked him to come to the religious services that were held there in the jail, but he said no. 2I asked him why not, and tried to convince him it would be good for him, but he continued to decline and stated that the Gideons held those services and he couldn’t condone their false teaching. 3So I went to the service anyway, thinking this man was wrong. 4At the service, the preacher said something that really triggered my mind to think deeply about what the inmate had said. 5The preacher said, when asked about women and sexuality, “You can look, but don’t touch.” 6This floored me because I knew I had read in Matthew that if you look upon a woman in lust, you have committed adultery with her already in your heart. 7This preacher was really teaching something false. 8However, it would be several more years before I would know how much more deeply the extent of false teaching, both morally and doctrinally, was throughout the entire religious world of Christendom.


1The Christian in our jail pod continued to have religious discussions with me, and even explained that my translation, the NIV, was faulty. 2I began to realize that this guy knew what he was talking about, so I cautioned myself as I continued to read it. 3As I read, I noticed that whole verses were missing and placed in footnotes. 4I wondered why they would do such a thing. 5Later I would find that it was much more than footnotes that made this translation faulty. 6My trust began to open up more and more to this fellow as I realized he was right on everything we had called him on, even the pamphlets and materials the other fellow’s grandmother had been sending me. 7This was only because he was well informed and knew his Bible. 8I had already determined to try to do all I could, to do all things right in everything I did, so I began to learn a few things from this fellow over the 6 months we were together.


1When my new friend was released, he had another fellow send in some Bible correspondence courses for me to study with. 2This is when I began learning the basics of what we need to do to be saved and stay saved, the work, worship, and organization of the church, morality, and various other things. 3Much later I learned of Dub McClish’s writings and then began writing with him and grew exponentially in the faith.


1You see, as I had stated before, Christianity is a taught religion. 2Jesus Christ commissioned the disciples to teach all nations, baptize them, and teach some more (Matt. 28:19-20). 3The Ethiopian eunuch asked to be taught, and so Philip preached Christ to him (Acts 8:30-31; 34-35). 4Preaching Christ entails more than preaching about Him, but also includes teaching the pattern of the system of faith He gave the apostles to relay to us. 5This is clearly seen in Acts 8:5 and 12 wherein Philip preached Christ to the Samaritans (v. 5), and then that preaching is described as the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ (v. 12)—and then they were baptized. 6This lines up perfectly with the Matthew 28:19-20 passage just cited—the disciples were commanded to teach and then baptize; Philip taught the things concerning the kingdom and then baptized. 7The command is further given to Timothy to teach others who are faithful so that they may be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2). 8This teaching must be the correct teaching. 9If we were obedient to false doctrine, we must go back to the first step of hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17) and be taught correctly. 10We cannot enter heaven through obedience to a false teaching. 11This is why there are so many warnings about it (2 Cor. 11:3-4).


1So I was taught both by men and scripture. 2It took reason, honesty, and independent investigation to know whether what I was taught was true. 3This was work, and I believe it is required of us all individually. 4I wasn’t forced into anything. 5It was truth I was looking for. 6I gave time to the things I didn’t quite understand initially, and eventually I received rock solid answers.


1I finally obeyed the gospel in 2008 (it would’ve been much sooner but my circumstances hindered). 2Upon my obedience, the Lord added me to His church (Acts 2:47). 3I didn’t join it—no one can join His church. 4Only He does the adding. 5His church is certainly among us today known by the same descriptive phrases it was known by in the first century—one being the churches of Christ (Rom. 16:16). 6It is still as fully organized as it was in the first century, and has earmarks that set it apart from all other religious bodies. 7This is the church of the Bible. 8If that church is not of Christ, then who would it be of? 9I am a member of the church of Christ. 10The church is His body (Eph. 1:22-23), and I am a member of that body (1 Cor. 12:27). 11All of the faithful are also a part of that body. 12If their theology lines up with the Bible, and my theology lines up with the Bible, shouldn’t our theology line up with one another (1 Cor. 1:10)? 13This is my religious position. 14I will write more concerning the church and denominationalism later. 15I believe by now you may be thinking, “Man, these legalists!” 16So this will be the next issue I will address.


In this segment, it was necessary to refute from the start the idea of being guided by experiences or holding them as authoritative. It was also important to correct Mrs. Jackson’s assumptions about this writer’s religious position, which gave opportunity for further instruction on the authority of the Bible through teaching. Each of the six segments of this reply were sent to Mrs. Jackson separately, about three days apart. This was done so she would have time to seriously reflect upon what was written in contrast to what she believed. As will be seen in the next segment, this should have had a great impact on the honest and good heart.

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