Is Playing Ball Conforming to the World?

Paul says (Romans 12:2), “Be not conformed to this world,” and John says (1 John 2:15): “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

Now, I am well aware that there is a line of distinction between the world and disciples of Christ; but just where, in all cases, I do not know. For instance, there is here in Midway a baseball club, and they meet Saturday evenings to play. I do not belong to the club, though I have played a few times, and I find it excellent to develop one’s muscles. For no other purpose would I participate. It has its evil associations; but they play here in town, so there is very little ungentlemanly behavior. Now, do I cross the bounds of a Christian life when I share the sport with them? Am I “conformed to this world” in so doing?

 

We were never in a baseball club, and know but little about them, but suppose the right or the wrong would depend largely upon the sort of people that compose them and the manner in which they are carried on. If decent, well-behaved young men that are most of their time confined to indoor work, as clerks, get together occasionally and in a gentlemanly manner, so that nothing improper shall be said or done while the game is going on, we do not see that there would be any more harm in that than in the jovial running on, extravagant talking and laughing, and slang style that is usually indulged in by young people when they are together. But where wicked, profane, and obscene young men get together in such plays, we think Christians should keep out of them; and not only out of such plays with young men of that character, but Christians ought as far as possible to keep out of the society of such men at all times, except to endeavor to teach and influence them to better things. Just simply as a matter of pastime, Christians should not associate with such people. Their own morals will be corrupted by such association. Every child of God should be striving every day not only to grow better himself, but to make others better, to exert an influence over all around for good. But there is a lack among the members of the church in these matters when with the wicked, the vulgar, and the rude. Instead of exerting an influence over them for good, they are too apt to partake with them in their wild ways, rather than so act as to win others from their folly. We think whether a young man who is a member of the church should play in a baseball club, or others of a similar character, or not, should depend upon his own character as much almost as theirs. If he can go among them and improve them by his association with them, he might without impropriety go among them, and might even, do good in so doing.

But if a Christian is disposed to love wild company him­self and to fall into the habits of the low and vicious, then for his own sake he had better stay entirely away from evil influences. A Christian should be careful never to go into any societies unless he can either receive good from them or impart good to them. If no good is to result either way, then make that a reason for staying away. Nothing is more blighting to a Christian’s character than evil associ­ation, unless he has strength enough in himself, derived from God’s divine appointments, to overcome the evil. If he is weak enough for the worldly influence to overcome him, he had better always keep away from them. Before a young Christian goes into a baseball club, or any other social club, he should consider first whether he be able to resist any bad influence any association with them might bring upon him and come out unscathed. In the next place, he should consider whether he is able to exert any good in­fluence upon them that will have any tendency to elevate them and turn their attention in any wise to the religion of Christ or not. If he decides that the character of those persons is such that they are beyond the reach of good in­fluences, he should keep away from them.

Elisha G. Sewell

The Definite Article in Greek

Brother Lipscomb: I see an article in the Baptist, Volume XI, No. 11, page 327, headed “The,” in which it is said that Rom. 3:1 should read “the circumcision.” On Romans 3:4 it says that “our translators have inserted ‘the’ before ‘law,’ making the passage refer to some particular law, moral or ceremonial, when it is not in the original text.” Further on it says: “It is by works of law, any law — moral, ceremonial, or ecclesiastical — and, therefore, not by baptism, as the law of pardon.” Now, I want to know if this champion, who fears none and debates with all (except Brethren Brents and Swee­ney), is correct in his rendering, or does he not make void the truth of the gospel by trying to establish a human-made plan of salvation?

The writer in the Baptist is not the first to discover a wonderful “mare’s-nest” in the use of the Greek article with the term law. Several of our learned brethren about Lexington, Kentucky some years ago advanced the same idea in reference to its use. They only made a different application of it. It is likely the editor of the Baptist borrowed the mistake from them, as he has but little originality of thought. There is nothing in it. Mr. Griffin presented the same idea in a discussion we held with him. The use of the article in Greek is a very indefinite matter, and is oftener used or not used for the sake of euphony than on any other grounds. Take, for instance, this sentence. The article is attached in Greek to the word circumcision, but it does not necessarily mean the Jews. The article is attached to the word God in the next verse. Does this mean some particular god among many gods? The term God is frequently used in the same sense without the article attached. In verse 5 the word God is twice used. It refers to the same great Jehovah in both instances. In the first instance it has no article; in the second the article is attached. It is simply a matter of sound. Following some words, the term God would be harsh and difficult of calling. Then the article is used to give a soft and flowing style, easily pronounced. This use or non-use of the article is common in the New Testament with reference to the term God, the term law, and various other terms.

Our brother evidently misquotes his reference to the use of the article with law; but we give an example to show that the article is used or absented even when the Mosaic law is referred to: “The law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the law?” (Gal. 3:17-­19.) Now, there is a distinct reference to the law of Moses given four hundred and thirty years after the promise made to Abraham; but there is no article connected with it, either in verses 17 or 18. In verse 19 the article is connected with it. In verse 21 it is used again with the article first, afterwards in the same verse without the article. No sane man can doubt that all these refer to one and the same law. It shows conclusively that the article is used for other purposes than distinguishing between a specific law and law in general. The article did not occupy precisely the same office in Greek that it does in English. The pronominal adjective fills this office.

 David Lipscomb

Adventists and the Children of Israel

Brother Sewell: As one of our sisters has turned Adventist and has some of the members bothered, I would like a full explanation of the following passages of scripture: Ex. 31: 16, 17; Matt. 5: 19; Rom. 14: 5, 6. Who are meant by the “children of Israel” in the passage first named? What “commandments” is Jesus speaking of in the second passage?

The children of Israel were the Jewish people, the posterity of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. In this particular passage it meant the children of Israel that had come out of Egypt under Moses as their leader.

The Sabbath day, as one of the Ten Commandments, had but recently been given to the Jewish people. The verses you mention show that the Sabbath day was given to the Jews only. The Gentile world never had any share in it. In the first of Genesis, where the seventh day is first mentioned, it says that God rested that day. He had finished the work of creation in six days and rested on the seventh. But he did not require men to rest on that day then. To show that the Sabbath belonged to the Jews only, the passage you name uses this language: “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever.” These verses show beyond a peradventure that the Sabbath day was given to the Jews, and to them only; and when it says it would be a sign between Jehovah and the children of Israel forever, the “forever” means to the end of the Jewish covenant, the law of Moses, which really did end. Hence, when Jesus died on the cross, the law of Moses, the Jewish covenant, was taken out of the way, and with it the Sabbath day. This is shown in the following passage: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” (Col. 2:14.) The word handwriting especially takes in the Ten Commandments, as they were the handwriting of God, and the Sabbath day was the fourth command of the ten. Therefore the Sabbath day was, without any doubt, done away.

In verse 16 of the same chapter Paul says: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days.” This shows that the whole affair of the law was done away, Sabbath day and all. Hence the seventh-day claim is without foundation. The seventh-day Sabbath never did belong to the Gentiles, and it was taken from the Jews when Jesus died; and so it is out of date entirely now, as is the whole of the law of Moses. Matt. 5:19 simply has reference to the commands of the law of Moses, which law was still in force when Christ used that language; but when he died on the cross, some three years later, the law was taken away.

The other passage (Rom. 14:5, 6) has reference either to the Jewish Christians, who wanted to keep up the holy days of the law, such as the Sabbath day, or it refers to some sort of superstition among Gentile Christians there, either one of which would cause confusion and division without profit, and they better not have divisions over the opinions of men. All ideas of holy days, then, except the first day of the week, were merely the opinions of men not involving any divine authority. There is not a particle of divine authority to keep the seventh-day Sabbath since the abolition of the old covenant and the establishment of the new.

Paul Wishes Himself Accursed from Christ

Brethren Lipscomb and Sewell: As I want all the information I can get on the Bible, please explain the following passage of scripture: “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (Rom. 9: 3.)

As an exposition of this passage, we will insert the first three verses of this chapter as rendered in “The Living Oracles,” which we regard as the plainest rendering we have ever met with: “I speak the truth in Christ, I do not speak falsely, my conscience bearing me witness, in the Holy Spirit, that I have great grief, and unceasing anguish in my heart, for my brethren; my kinsmen, according to the flesh; (for I also was, myself, wishing to be accursed from Christ).” Paul had reference to his past course of life, before he became a Christian, while he was persecuting the church.