OceanSide church of Christ

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Victor M. Eskew




A.             According to Deuteronomy 17:18-19, the king of Israel was to have a written copy of the law in his possession.  He was commanded to read it and obey it.


And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:  and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life:  that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes to do them.


1.                Three words are of interest to our study:  learn, read, and keep.

2.                In the learning process, the king would have to interpret what was read.

3.                The king had to do exactly what we still have to do with God’s Word today:  read, learn, and do God’s will.


B.              There are some who do not want us to learn God’s will.

1.                They cannot state this overtly.

2.                Therefore, they have devised a covert means of eroding divine authority.

3.                The new means is called the New Hermeneutic, a new way of interpreting God’s Word.


C.              We have been looking at some of the principles of the New Hermeneutic.

1.                The “Core Gospel” principle.

2.                The “WWJD” principle.

3.                The “NT is a Love Letter, not a Constitution” principle.


D.             Let’s continue this study by examining another element of the New Hermeneutic, “Silence is Permissive, not Prohibitive.”




A.             Silence refers to those areas wherein God had said nothing.


B.              In times past, we have worked under the rule that says that we can only do that which God has authorized.

1.                If God’s Word has not spoken on the matter, then it is not permitted.

2.                Instrumental music was the main issue addressed using this principle.  God has not authorized their use in the New Testament; therefore, they are not permitted.


C.              Those who advance the New Hermeneutic want instrumental music in worship.  Thus, they advance the idea that silence is permissive, not prohibitive.  They will often say:  “The Bible does not say you cannot have instruments.”


D.             The Church in Transition, James S. Woodroof, includes a poem written by John Carroll Brown entitled:  “”A Dream of Judgment:  A poem concerning those who make laws based on inferences from the silence of scripture.”


1.                “Tis YOU My silence do abuse

When you forbid the means men use

            To carry out what I demand

            Although I’ve given no command

                        Within My word about the way

                        They carry out what I did say.

                        By your command you say them nay,

                        And to My word YOU add, NOT THEY!

By human precepts you have banned

Good works; and you My servants brand

                                    As heretics, and them accuse;

                                    Thus judging, you My saints abuse.”                                  (p. 190)


2.                “The sin of Aaron’s priestly band

Was thus to set aside command

            For something which I had not spoke’.

            They My command, not silence broke.

                        So silence neither gives consent,

                                    Nor yet does silence e’er forbid;

                                                But when I’ve bidden men, you see,

                                                Silence gives no authority

                                    To set aside what I have bid

                        For substitutes not provident”                   p. 199).




A.             Answer #1:  If this principle is true, the floodgates will be opened to all types of innovations in the church.

1.                The Bible does not say:  ‘Thou shalt not have a pope.”

2.                The Bible does not say:  “Thou shalt not baptize infants.”

3.                The Bible does not say:  “Thou shalt not raise money by playing bingo.”

4.                The Bible does not say:  “Thou shalt not reenact animal sacrifices.”


B.              Answer #2:  The New Testament teaches the concept of having a “thus saith the Lord” for all that we do and say.

1.                Matthew 28:20


Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:  and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.


2.                Colossians 3:17


And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

3.                I Peter 4:11


If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God…


C.              Answer #3:  The Bible teaches that silence is not permissive.

1.                Noah and the ark (Gen. 6:14).


Make thee an ark of gopher wood…


                                    a.         What type of wood was authorized?  Gopher wood.

b.         NOTE:  God did not say:  “Thou shalt not use oak, pine, cedar, or maple.”  When God commanded gopher wood all other woods were excluded.

c.         What would have happened to the ark if Noah had used a wood that was not commanded?

                        2.         Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron (Lev. 10:1-2).


And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censor, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not.  And there went out fire from before the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.


a.         The fire Nadab and Abihu offered to God was not commanded.  Since it was not commanded, it was a “strange fire.”

b.         It is interesting to note that this fire was not specifically prohibited.  In other words, God did not say:  “Thou shalt not use this fire.”

                                    c.         The punishment for their act was severe, fire that brought death.

                        3.         Jesus as a priest under the Levitical system.

                                    a.         Jesus could not be a priest within Judaism (Heb. 8:4).


For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law.


                                    b.         The reason He could not be a priest is found in Hebrews 7:14.


For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.


1)         The key words are “Moses spake NOTHING concerning priesthood” (emp. mine, vme).  He did not say Judah could be priests.  He did not say they could not be priests.  Nothing was said.  Silence.

2)         If silence is permissive, then Jesus could have been a priest, but inspiration says that He could not.




3)         Why?  God’s Word authorized the Levites to be priests (Num. 1:50-53).  The Levites were included and all other tribes were excluded.  Since Jesus was from Judah, He was excluded.

                        4.         Answer #4:  The “Common Sense” Answer.

a.         Daily, we use this principle of “only what is stated is authorized.”

b.         Example:  At the Post Office you tell the clerk you want to mail a letter by first-class mail.  She responds saying:  “That will be $7.80.”  You are stunned.  You thought the cost was forty-two cents.  You ask why the cost is so high.  She tells you that you are paying for certified mail, insurance, and return receipt requested.  You respond, saying:  “I didn’t say that I wanted that.”  To this, the clerk remarks:  “Well, you didn’t say that you didn’t want them.”  NOTE:  What we say is authorized.  All else is excluded.




A.             Silence does not authorize.


B.              We speak where the Bible speaks, and we are silent where the Bible is silent.


C.              Some get confused by this concept.

1.                Questions arise:

a.         Where does the Bible authorized church buildings?

b.         Where does the Bible authorized children’s homes?

                        2.         These things are authorized by the “general authority” of scripture.

                                    a.         Church buildings (Heb. 10:25).

                                    b.         Children’s homes (Gal. 6:10; James 1:27).

3.         Asking such questions shows that one respects Bible authority.  This is the point.  We must have authority for all we say and do.