I encountered this erroneous material, being shipped overseas by World Bible School, while working in India. A young sister attending the services where I was preaching shared the material she had been receiving with me. Upon reading the material I was shocked and horrified at what it contained. I have been careful to cite the material where I read these errors first-hand and to give the biblical answer to these erroneous teaching of World Bible School.
I believe that there are many well-meaning brethren that are supporting this work with no knowledge of the error being spread. It is not my intention to condemn anyone, other than those teaching the error, by my exposing what is being taught from World Bible School. It is my hope that when brethren become more aware of what they are supporting that they will withdraw their support and require the repentance of the false teachers at WBS. It is also my hope that this exposure will emphasize the need for all good and well-meaning brethren to become informed about what is being taught by those they support or intend to support.
It has been my experience, while working in India and Nepal, that many deceitful and dishonest “brethren” will do things overseas – out of sight – that they would never attempt in the states. I have found people being paid to be “baptized,” denominational preachers being put on support to “convert,” singular elderships being established (a one man eldership) and many other unscrupulous practices, by so-called “sound brethren.” On one occasion I spoke with two denominational preachers who proposed that we put them on support and then they would go and “convert” their congregations to “Church of Christ” and we could report to our supporters that we had “baptized” several hundred people. The reason they believed we would be agreeable to such an arrangement was because they had heard of preachers from the church of Christ making such agreements with denomination preachers in the past. It was an enlightening, though sorrowful, experience for me. We informed these denominational preachers that we were not there to put people on support but to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and that we would be very happy to study with them.
Again, it is my hope that when good brethren become aware of the error being taught that they will not only withdraw support form the false teachers but that they will also call for the repentance of those “doing more harm than good” in the foreign field. There are many worthy mission works to support, we only need to become informed about the practices of those working overseas before we support them.
Errors Taught Overseas By World Bible School
Error #1 – The Christian’s Whole Life Is Worship
“Therefore, a Christians whole life is worship to God (Rom. 12:1, 2)” (How to Become a Christian and Establish the Church of Christ in Your Community, pg. 9, “The Work and Worship of a Christian”).
WBS uses the NIV Bible which translates Rom. 12:1, 2, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God– this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing and perfect will” (NIV).
What the Bible Says
Where the NIV says, “this is your spiritual act of worship,” the New King James and King James both have, “which is your reasonable service.” The American Standard Version of the Bible has, “which is your spiritual service.” The apostle Paul is saying that our lives are given in service to God, not in worship.
Worship is one part of the Christian life of service not the totality of it. We see this by the fact that there are certain acts given as worship to God. Jesus said that we must worship God in spirit and truth (Jn. 4:24). That means that we must worship God with the right attitude and according to His word, which is truth (Jn. 17:17, 20; Acts 2:42).
When Luke wrote about the worship of the first church in Jerusalem in Acts 2 he said, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine (teaching – ASV) and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” When we see further in the New Testament we see that when the church came together for worship they “continued in the apostles teaching.” In Acts 20:7 Paul preached a message to the brethren that had come together on the first day of the week “to break bread.” That is in there worship the took the Lord’s supper and heard the apostles doctrine. We continue in the apostles doctrine today as an act of worship when we hear a message preached from the Bible. We also offer up our daily worship as we follow the example of the Bereans and “search the scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11), because the study of God’s word is given as an act of worship toward Him.
Also in Acts 2:42 we see by example of the first church that “the breaking of bread” or the Lord’s supper is an act of worship to God. Unlike the study of God’s word, which is to be engaged in daily as an act of worship to God, the Lord’s supper is only to be done on the first day of the week when the brethren come together to worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:17-29). If this were an act of worship at any time then every time we ate bread or drank fruit of the vine we would be worshipping but it is only accepted as an act of worship on the first day of the week when we come together as a church. That is, when we come together to remember the body and blood, the death, of Jesus for our sins with the bread and fruit of the vine we are engaging in an act of worship (Matt. 26:26-29; 1 Cor. 11:24, 25).
It also says in Acts 2:42 that they continued in prayer. Prayer is an act of worship that we are to engage in “without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) as well as in our worship on the Lord’s day, Sunday (1 Tim. 2:1-8).
Not mentioned in Acts 2:42 but also given as acts of worship are singing (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16), which can be offered up as worship anytime (Js. 5:13) as long as it is done without the accompaniment of mechanical instruments of music, and giving (1 Cor. 16:1, 2), which is only to be done on the Lord’s day, Sunday.
These things are given as acts of worship to God. When we engage in these things we are worshipping God, if we do them the way He has said they should be done and when He said they should be done. Anything else we do is not worship to God but service to God. When we invite people to study the Bible with us we are not worshipping God but serving God. It is when we actually do the Bible study that we worship God. When we tell someone about Jesus we are not worshipping God we are serving God. When we do good for someone we are not worshipping God but serving Him.
Therefore the Christians whole life is not an act of worship to God as the NIV Bible translates Rom. 12:1, 2 to teach and as WBS teaches but the Christians life is given in service to God, that is he spends his life serving God, and his worship is just one part of his service.
Error #2 – Grape wine (i.e. alcoholic wine) can be used in the Lord’s Supper
“After Christians have eaten the bread, a prayer should be offered for the fruit of the vine (grape juice or wine [emphasis added NSF])” (How to Become a Christian and Establish the Church of Christ in Your Community, pg. 13). “In the event that fresh grapes or canned grape juice is unavailable, one can use grape wine” (pg. 14). “Grapes are common in many parts of the world. In many other places one can still buy bottles or cartons of grape juice or grape wine. Where neither of these is available, a kind of grape juice can be made by boiling raisins in water” (WBS NIV Bible Guide page 83).
In connection with the above, WBS teaches “the Bible says that drunkenness is a sin.” But implies that the use beverage alcohol itself is not. However, it should be abstained from to avoid the “appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:22).”
What the Bible Says
Beverage alcohol is sinful.
The Bible teaches beyond any doubt that drunkenness is a sin (Prov. 20:21; 23:29-35; Is. 5:11-12, 22; 28:7, 8; Hab. 2:15; Lk. 12:45, 46; Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:18). But it not only teaches that drunkenness is a sin but to partake of beverage alcohol is a sin. Notice Proverbs 23:29-35,
“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: ‘They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?’” (NKJ)
No one would deny that this passage teaches that it is foolish and wrong to become drunk. But is that all it teaches? It says that those that “linger long at the wine” have woe, sorrow, contentions, complaints, unexplainable injuries, poor health, and unstableness of mind. Therefore, the inspired writer says, in order to avoid these calamities, “Do not look on the wine” when it is fermented (i.e. contains alcohol). “Do not look on” it means not to set your mind to partake of it. So the writer says that one should not only abstain from drunkenness but that he should neither desire to partake of that which makes one drunk, not to even look at it!
Why are we advised here not to look at it? Many people, such as the writers for WBS, say that taking a drink of beverage alcohol is not wrong but becoming drunk is wrong. We should ask such people how much it would take to make them drunk. Two, three, maybe four drinks? Some people would become quite drunk on one drink of an alcoholic beverage. So does that mean that where it would be wrong for one person to take a drink it would be acceptable for another to take the same drink? Or is that nothing more than measuring severity of drunkenness? How drunk does one have to get before it is wrong? Is it only when we reach a certain level of drunkenness that it becomes wrong? And how is it that some people can have two, three, or more, drinks before becoming drunk? Isn’t it because they have become drunk in the past on one, two, or more, drinks and have built up a tolerance to alcohol so that they need to drink more to become drunk?
A person that takes one drink is one drink drunk. One drink drunkenness may be more or less severe for some than others but it is still one drink drunk. Notice how the writer of Proverbs 23:29-35 points out the drunkards increased addiction and tolerance as he continues in his drinking. In verse 35 he says that even after all of these calamities the drunkard awakens looking for his next drink. But if one never even looks at the strong drink to partake of it then he never becomes one drink drunk. He never builds a tolerance to alcohol and needs to drink more to get drunk as his addiction grows. So if it is wrong to become drunk then one drink is wrong because one drink makes one drink drunk and one drink leads to two drinks leads to three drinks and so forth.
Therefore, the Bible teaches that drunkenness, partaking of any amount of beverage alcohol, is wrong. And if it is wrong to drink beverage alcohol then it is wrong to use it in the Lord’s supper.
The WBS writers themselves point out that the unleavened bread represents the pure (i.e. unleavened) body of Christ. And, likewise, the unleavened or unfermented wine (i.e. pure grape juice) represents the pure blood of Christ. And that in the Bible fermentation and leaven are used to represent defilement, corruption or sin. But then they go right ahead and say that it is acceptable to use impure, leavened, fermented wine in representation of the Lord’s blood. WHAT A CONTRADICTION!
Error #3 – Praying to Jesus and Holy Spirit
In the WBS Bible courses at the end of each lesson there are prayers printed for the student to say. These are in a section called “Our Prayer.” In one such prayer they have addressed the prayer to, “LORD: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” The prayer in full reads,
“LORD: Father, Son and Holy Spirit! You have not left us in any doubt. Your greatness, Your power, Your wisdom – and also Your tender love for us – have been shown in Jesus. To Your honor we confess Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God! Please enable us to learn, without delay, Your will for coming to You through union with Christ” (Knowing Jesus, World Bible School Master Series Course: MSTRJ-DB, pg. 39, “Our Prayer”).
What the Bible Says
Nowhere in the New Testament is a prayer directed toward any other than the Father. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray He said, “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Mtt. 6:9). When Jesus prayed Himself he prayed to the Father (Jn. 17:1, 5, 11, 21, 24, 25; Mtt. 26:39, 42), not to Himself or the Spirit.
Again, whenever the apostle Paul prayed, or instructed others in how to pray, he prayed to the Father (Eph. 3:14; 5:20; Col. 1:3, 12; 3:17), never to the Son or the Holy Spirit. The apostle Peter also says that it is God the Father who is called on in prayer (1 Pet. 1:17). So, as Jesus, Paul and Peter instruct us, we should pray to our “Father who is in the secret place” (Mtt. 6:6).
Some may want to appeal to Acts 7:59 where Stephen was “calling on God and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,’” to show that we may pray to Jesus. However when we notice the circumstances of Stephen’s crying out to Jesus we see that they were far from ordinary. Stephen was being stoned and at the time of his eminent death he was granted a miraculous view into heaven (55) where he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God. So can we say that this was the normal prayer of a child of God? No. And if not then we should not appeal to such for authority to do that which contradicts the plain teaching of Jesus and the apostles.
Jesus and the apostles taught that we are to pray to the Father through the Son, not to the Son and not to the Spirit. To pray to Jesus or the Spirit is to do that for which we have no Biblical authority and to do that is to add to the word of God (Rev. 22:18-19).