FOLLOWING JESUS

There is no argument, just about everyone I speak with about the gospel agrees that people are to FOLLOW JESUS. When I ask them what this means, they will often say something like, “you’ve got to ask Jesus into your heart.”

Setting aside that this statement is never found anywhere in scripture, it never answers the question, “how you FOLLOW Jesus?” This is a legitimate question. Jesus said to the rich ruler in Mark 10;

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

[Mark 10:21]

Jesus said it at other times as well….

If any man serve me, let him follow me. [John 12:26]

So, how are we to follow Jesus? For us to Follow Jesus, we must find out where He walked. A serious reading of the gospels shows us the life of Jesus and how He walked and where His walk ended.

Jesus came into a world full of sin and darkness. John says about Him, “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” [John 1:5]. Jesus said about Himself, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” [John 8:12].

Three times in Marks Gospel does Jesus predict where He would finish His walk in this dark world. “Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem…And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again” [Mark 10:33,32]. He, of course, was talking about His crucifixion where He would become the perfect sacrifice for sin.

After His death, they took down His body and placed it inside a tomb and rolled a stone over the opening. Then, on the 3rd day, He rose again.

FOLLOWING JESUS

That was a very difficult path…. the path to the cross. How are we to follow that? Paul explains it to us in Romans 6:3-4…We are in sin, our sinful self must die (which is why repentance is so hard), then we must be buried which is baptism (you never bury living people) and then God raises us up to a new life.

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

All of this means that for us to follow Jesus, we must take the path that He took. For us to Live for Jesus requires us to die for Him first.

OBEYING THE GOSPEL

This imagery fits perfectly with obeying the Gospel [2Thess 1:8-9]. The Gospel is the Death, Burial & Resurrection of Jesus [1Cor 15:1-4]. We obey the Gospel when we die to sin, are buried in Baptism and are raised up as a new creature. “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” [Colossians 2:12].

To follow Jesus, to obey the Gospel, to be saved…we must Believe, Repent, Confess & be Baptized for the remission of sins. [Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 22:16]. Then we can continue to follow Him in the way that He lived.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me

[Galatians 2:20].

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Finding the Right Church

The following article is completely satirical…or is it?

8 Steps To Finding The Right Church
Statistics indicate that if you live near a major metropolitan area, there are literally three million churches in your neighborhood alone, making your choice of where to worship each Sunday that much more difficult.

Thankfully, the variety of churches also means there’s probably a church designed to your exact specifications and built from the ground up to cater specifically to you.

The Babylon Bee is here to help you whittle down the search with this checklist of essentials to look for in a potential church match, and hopefully get you plugged into a congregation sometime in the next decade or two.

1.) Anything less than hand-crafted pour-over coffee is a red flag. Jesus died for the church, and yet they’re only able to muster up an unevenly brewed pot of drip coffee? Puh-lease. This is an indication that they don’t care about the gospel.

2.) Make sure the worship band only plays the genre you like. If you’re into industrial metalcore and the band’s playing late-90s soft rock, it’s time to split. Remember what worship is really about: you and your modern sensibilities and preferences.

3.) If the preacher makes you feel uncomfortable, run. Preachers, above all else, should refrain from sounding preachy. If he starts calling you to self-examination and repentance, make the emergency signal to your spouse, go get the kids, and book it out of there to the nearest restaurant.

4.) Speaking of the preacher: if he doesn’t have at least 20,000 Twitter followers, you’re in the wrong place. You need a church that has a pastor who is not only well-known and cool, but who also specializes in short, sweet, entertaining messages. Look him up on Twitter and verify that he has at least 20,000 followers to confirm both of these attributes.

5.) The youth room must have a fully stocked video game arcade. We’re talking the classics: Galaga, Pac-Man, NBA Jam. This is a non-negotiable if you want your kids to grow up in a Christian environment they love and not walk away from the faith in college.

6.) Shop around for the church with the very best swag to give away. A free donut and complimentary coffee are really the bare minimum at this point. What you’re looking for is a church giving out free T-shirts, stickers, aluminum coffee mugs, carabiners, and those cool pens that can write in space. God gave us every spiritual blessing in Christ—the least the church can do is load up His people with some nice swag.

7.) Pick a church where everyone pretends to be happy. If anyone breaks down sobbing or insinuates that they need prayer for some sort of malady or ill fortune, everyone will understand if you excuse yourself to check out the other church down the road. You want a place where no one will burden you with their personal struggles. You don’t need that negativity in your life!

8.) Remember: it’s not you, it’s them. It helps to keep things in perspective: your specific perception of what a church should look like is probably correct, while their congregation is just jacked up if they don’t fit into that vision. Make sure to let them know this on a comment card or email to the pastor after you leave, so they’ll be edified by your brief presence.

There you have it. Now you have no excuse. Go find your perfect church and get plugged in!
http://babylonbee.com/news/8-steps-finding-right-church/

The Babylon Bee is a satirical website dedicated to mocking everyone. I am in no way promoting them. However, this “humor” hits so very close to what you may hear when you ask what folks are looking for in a church. As the “bee” mocks modern day denominationalism, modern day denominationalism mocks God. Every point of error in this article has been preached from this pulpit.

FOOD? What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God? 1Corinthians 11:22

MUSIC? Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16

SERMONS? Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 2Tim 4:2

PREACHERS? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 1Corinthians 3:4

FUN / FROLIC? And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42

WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 1Timothy 3:15b

BEARING BURDENS? Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

SELF DIRECTED WORSHIP? These things seem to have a sort of wisdom in self-ordered worship [BBE] Colossians 2:23

When Forever is not

One of the objections folks will bring against us, in the Lord’s church, is the one about us no longer holding to the commands of the Old Law. They will point to the regulations regarding the Sabbath and say, “it says we must keep it forever, but you say no. Who’s right, you or God?” this line of argument is most often used when we point out that although David used an instrument for worship, that is no authority for us today. They think they have us caught. However, as I will show in this article, it is they who are “caught” and it will be by the very way Jesus corrected the Sadducees; “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” [Mat 22:29]

When ‘forever’ is not

First, we need to point out to these folks that there are some ‘forever’ things that are not forever.

These things are called “eternal” and “perpetual” in the Bible, yet they have been abolished: The Feast of Unleavened Bread: [Ex 12:17]; Burnt offering: [Ex 29:39-42]; Day of Atonement: [Lev 23:28-31]. According to their logic, we should STILL HAVE ANIMAL SACRIFICES! If we still have animal sacrifices what then was the need for Jesus to die on a cross?! Surely, they have read Hebrews 10:10… “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

If the Sabbath day is to be observed because of the words ‘forever’ ‘everlasting’ ‘permanent’ ‘eternal’ [all of which are translated from the Hebrew ‘owlam’] then we ought also to keep all the Jewish holy days and feasts! Interesting side note, I met a lady this past week who intends on starting a “new” church that will do this very thing, KEEP THE JEWISH FEASTS because they were commanded to be kept ‘forever.’

Setting aside the admonition from Paul that if one keeps one part of the Law they are obligated to keep the whole law, and if they do, they ‘have fallen from grace’ that is, lose their salvation [Gal 5:1-4. (this particular woman has no salvation for she also said that she had asked Jesus into your heart, a primary error needing to be taught more accurately.)

The meaning of forever

We need to examine the meaning of ‘forever’ as well as the meaning of ‘throughout their generations’ as it was used in the Old Testament.

As pointed out above, the Hebrew word ‘owlam’ that is translated forever, everlasting, perpetual, eternal or permanent does not mean never ending rather it means ‘age lasting.’ In Jonah 2:6 Jonah says that he was in the fish forever, but he wasn’t, he was only inside the belly for 3 days!

Another example of ‘forever’ meaning ‘age lasting’ is with a righteous earthly king. It is said that these will have thrones established forever. “The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established forever.” [ Proverbs 29:14] Did they? Of course not, their throne only lasted as long as they were alive.

When God spoke about something being forever, everlasting, perpetual, eternal or permanent in the Old Testament He was limiting it to their generations, that is, He limited it to the Jewish age. The Jewish age stopped when Jesus died on the cross. The Sabbath, the feasts, all Jewish holy days and institutions were ‘nailed to the cross’ [Colossians 2:14].

‘shall surely be put to death’

Here is another problem that comes from ‘not knowing the scriptures.’ Are they going to keep ALL PARTS of the command to keep the Sabbath? You can read about it in Exodus 31:13-17;

“… Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant…”  [Exodus 31:13-17] [emphasis mine seb]

I know of no one today who advocates for keeping the Sabbath who will put to death any who don’t. Why follow it at all if you’re not going to keep it all? Which is the point Paul made to the Galatians, “o foolish Galatians” [Gal 3:1].

There are even more examples we could cite that destroys this foolish notion that the Sabbath, the feasts and the holy days be kept forever.

  • Will the Earth remain forever [Eccl 1:4; Ps 78:69; Ps 104:5]? Nope! [2Pet 3:10-12; Rev 20:11; Rev 21:1,4,23; Rev 22:5; Heb 12:26-27; 2Co 4:18]
  • Shall circumcision remain forever [Gen 17:10-14]? Better not. [Gal 5:1-4; Rom 2:28-29].
  • How about tabernacle candles or Tabernacle Shewbread [Lev 24:2-9]? I think not. [Heb 8:13-9:4]

This last one really freaks them out when I say I don’t follow the 10 commandments [Deut 5:1-29 Esp. v29]. Romans 7:1-7 explains how we are dead to the Law to be joined to the body of Christ!

Let’s abandoned all these attempts to bring back the Old Law, our High Priest and King has delivered to us a much better covenant.

ETERNAL LIFE

Under the better covenant of Christ, He promises eternal life. At the judgement, the last day of this physical realm, Jesus will separate all of humanity into 2 groups;

Mt 25:31-46 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left…And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

It’s at that time that those who have obeyed the Gospel will inherit “eternal life.”

Please, obey the Gospel so that you may enjoy the spiritual blessings promised in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

Getting Ready for Worship

One Sunday morning I woke up the 3 boys to get them ready for worship. They were quite a bit older at this point, so I just gave the one notification. I then went and got myself ready, had a cup of coffee, some breakfast and looked over my lesson.

I knew the boys weren’t getting ready, but today was lesson day. You see, we had been through this routine several hundred times since Diane and I became Christians. We had been attending Sunday morning worship “religiously” (pardon the expression) ever since.

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. [Hebrews 10:25]

We had gotten into “the same thing happens every Sunday” routine. But today was lesson day, the day the boys would learn that we were going to worship NO MATTER WHAT. There was no alternative, no excuses, no other activities scheduled. This is what we do, had been doing and plan to continue to do for as long as it’s within our power to do. They weren’t ready for worship, and today was lesson day.

So, I went to the door, called to them and said, “I’m Leaving, and so are you!” Now there was some activity, a lot of it. You see, in our house, skipping worship just wasn’t an option. Oh sure, when one of us was legitimately sick we might miss a service, but not out of habit. If you were well, you went. So, we went. The 3 boys hustled to the car, “church clothes” in hand, unwashed, bed head and all. We arrived alive and on time with a curious look or two. We worshiped. Here’s the rest of the story; we were never unprepared for worship again, NEVER.

THEN I HEARD ABOUT THIS ONE FELLOW.

Years have since passed, the boys have grown up and moved out, and I heard another similar story of a family who was always struggling to make it to worship on time. This family had children too. This family had to hustle to get everyone together and moving in the right direction. Mom needed to get a roast on, Dad going over his bible lesson for he was leading a class that morning. The children were behind on memorizing their weekly bible verses. You know, the “same thing happens every Sunday” routine.

During one of the more hectic mornings, spilled milk, whiny children, stressed out dad and minutes before they HAD TO LEAVE, mom said, “don’t worry, we’ve got time. I set the clocks ahead 15 minutes because I knew this would happen.” Dad looked at her with disbelief and said, “I noticed the clocks were 15 minutes ahead, so I set them back to the right time.” Panic followed as the family piles into the minivan to race to be 10 minutes late for worship.

Upon their arrival, the parking lot was empty save the old sedan of one of the more senior members who was getting out of his car to walk to the building. They had no idea what was happening. They pulled up beside him and he says, “Hello, I see you’ve decided to get a head start on worship this morning.” Dad asks, “how is that, we thought we were 10 minutes late.” “Ha ha” the old man laughed, “you must have forgotten that today was the end of Daylight Saving Time and didn’t set your clock back 1 hour, YOUR 50 MINUTES EARLY!”

After the embarrassed chuckles dad asked, “But why are you hear so early?” The wise old man said, “I’m always here early to spend some quiet time in prayer to GET MYSELF READY FOR WORSHIP. Why don’t you join me?”

GETTING READY FOR WORSHIP

That phrase means something so much different than what it ought to mean. Getting ready for worship means, for most of us, we take a shower, get some nice clothes and fix our hair so we can be presentable to the brethren. But that’s not what God is looking at when we worship. When men are looking on the outer appearance, He is looking at the heart.

for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” [1Samuel 16:17b]

Oh sure, there is a clothing that is appropriate for the worship, and we ought to get those things ready for worship. However, let us never be found guilty of not having our HEARTS ready for worship. Jesus said,

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” [Matthew 15:8]

Those hectic mornings do little to get our hearts ready for worship. Often, they lead to car fights. You know, the fight you have on the way someplace, that only verbally ends when you arrive. We can tell. We can see it in your faces. Oh, don’t worry, we have them too. All of us have at some point in our lives, and I hope we’re working on them.

Let us come to worship with HEARTS and body’s ready to worship. Do our bible lessons earlier in the week, lay out our clothes the night before or set an earlier alarm. As our brother Mike often says, “As Christians we know there’s no better place to be on a Sunday morning.”

Every NT Scripture authorizing Instrumental Music in the Worship

Years ago, as we were beginning our walk as children of God, we had a few ‘why’ questions. Why don’t we have crosses on the building? Why does everyone correct us when we say, “going to church?” One of the why questions was, “why do we sing Acapella music without instrumental accompaniment during worship?”

The gospel preacher at this congregation would always give us a bible answer to all our questions, but this time, the bible answer was so different than all the other answers he had given. He said, “I’m going to read to you every single passage in the Bible authorizing instrumental music in New Testament worship.” And he did.

The lesson was so powerful that I have used it myself when others have asked this question and I want to share it with you. The chart below lists every single passage in the Bible authorizing instrumental music in New Testament worship.

New Testament Scriptures Authorizing Instrumental Music in the Worship

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(this page left blank intentionally)

 

That’s it, every single passage. You may be saying, “but the chart is blank” and I would say, “yup, because that is what God has said about instrumental music in New Testament worship, NOTHING.”

Speak when the Bible speaks, and remain silent when it’s silent

There can be no clear instructions, no command keeping if we don’t have a respect for silence. “The bible doesn’t say I can’t” is NOT a valid reason to play an instrument during worship of God. If silence doesn’t restrict our actions, then we can’t get upset when Mcd’s gets our order wrong. All they need to say is, “you didn’t say we couldn’t.”

God The Holy Spirit told us what He wants in our worship regarding music, VOCAL. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” [Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16]

When you tell your child to make his bed, and later you find out he made it and painted it, are you going to accept, “you didn’t say I couldn’t?” Certainly not! Why? Because what is expressly stated eliminates all other options and additions. Imaging trying to give instructions if you also must include all the things you DON’T WANT.

Some will say, “Well David used instruments to worship God.” Really, you’re going to follow an OT example? [Colossians 2:14] Are you going to also slaughter bulls and goats, because that’s what David did? Here’s a question for you, did God authorize David’s use of the instrument? David also had multiple wives, can I do that? What did God think of David’s use of the instrument? God rebuked His people in Amos 6:5 saying, “Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David;” It seems God was no more happy with David’s instrumental music than He was with the multiplying of wives [Acts 17:30], and you want to use that for permission? Let’s just do this, respect what God has commanded, and leave what He hasn’t said where He left it…SILENT.

Has God Really Said…?

There is such a thing as a bad question…

In Genesis 3:1, Satan asked Eve, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” This first question in the Bible, and such like it, have been on people’s lips ever since. Has God really said…you must be baptized…you must worship and so many more.

Normally the only bad question is the one not asked, and this wouldn’t be so bad if it was asked by a seeker. Unfortunately, it’s not asked by the seekers, rather, the deniers. Let’s examine this question considering God’s revealed word regarding the creation.

HAS GOD REALLY SAID, ‘HE MADE EVERYTHING IN 6 DAYS?

The short answer is, yes. “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day:” [Exodus 20:11]. If “in six days’ doesn’t mean six literal 24-hour days, then we have a problem. Just as Eve believed the serpent about eating the fruit and lost paradise, if we fail here, we will lose the scriptures, literally! The theory of evolution is at odds with the biblical record. I recently learned that the Catholic church has accepted the possibility of evolution and since 1950, sees no conflict with evolution and the Bible. I see a conflict, and I hope you do as well. If evolution is true, then God has lied, but that’s not possible. God cannot lie [Titus 1:2] and the Bible contains His word [2Timothy 3:16] therefore the Bible is true. I realize this looks like circular reasoning, but God has no reason to lie or He is no God at all.

IF IT’S NOT 6 LITERAL DAYS

THEN…God lied about the thorns. “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree…Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee;” [Gen 3:17,18] Evolutionists tells us that the fossil record reveals both death and thorns for 350-400 million years. Who would know, them or God? Historical science is based entirely on theories, and evolutionists interpret the data through the lens of millions of years. Before they even examine the evidence, they already ‘know’ that whatever they find will be really old. That’s not even good science, for it rejects any evidence that suggest a young earth. God said that thorns came AFTER Adam’s sin, not before as evolutionists suggest.

IF IT’S NOT 6 LITERAL DAYS

THEN…God lied about the reason everyone dies. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” [Genesis 2:17] God created everything and at the end of His creative work He said, “…it was very good.” [Gen 2:17] Are you saying that millions of years evolution, which requires death, as being ‘very good?” God never intended for us to die. We see evidence of this in the incredibly long pre-flood lifespans. There is also evidence of arthritis, cancer & disease in dinosaur bones in the fossil record. If dinosaurs truly lived millions of years before humans, then God called death & disease ‘very good.’

THEN…it also makes the Holy Spirit a liar, for He revealed to Paul, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin;” [Romans 5:12]. If evolution is true, then the Word of the Spirit is false, for He revealed that death came AFTER sin. He also wrote, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” [Romans 6:23] If evolution is true, and I hope you realize that it is not, then the wages of LIVING is DEATH, a direct contradiction to the Scriptures. Who are you going to believe, God or men?

Scripture teaches that in the beginning there was no death and there will be no more death when Jesus returns. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” [1Corinthians 15:26]

The Almighty God was there, and like any history, those today only know of historical events through the eyewitness accounts. None of us was there, and therefore must rely on the evidence. For Christians, we have God’s own eyewitness account that tells us death and thorns were brought into the world as the result of Adam’s sin. If we cannot trust His word on a simple thing like thorns, how could we trust Him about what He says about salvation?

IF IT’S NOT 6 LITERAL DAYS

THEN…the redemptive work of Jesus and the defeat of Satan is called into question. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” [Hebrews 2:14] If the Genesis story is not real, then Satan had nothing to do with death. This line of reasoning also brings the New Testament into question. “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” [1John 3:8].  It was through Satan’s lie to Eve that brought death into the world. God really did say, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

We need to trust in God’s word and not compromise with the misinterpretation of historical evidence. Early Christians never worried about how to stretch the 6-day creation into millions of years. No, they wondered something completely different.  They asked, “why did God take six days?!”

Just Preach Jesus

I met a fellow this week who during his conversation with me said, “instead of looking at what we’re doing differently, we ought to be celebrating what the denominations are doing right.” He then cited the example of a denomination’s sound finances. As the conversation went on, he repeated this sentiment, the idea of “celebrating what’s right and ignoring what’s wrong. This has mass appeal in our ecumenical society.

When shown the passage; “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the SAME thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the SAME mind and in the SAME judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10 (emphasis mine), he swept it away as just a request Paul had and not a requirement of the Lord. [cf. 1Cor 14:37]. He said, “I’m not about logic and reasoning.” Then the conversation was over.

They tell us to JUST preach Jesus, His love and His grace. The thing is…we are preaching Jesus, His love and His grace, we’re just including the parts that they have left out. Leaving out key parts of the information is not to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Abram’s HALF TRUTH

Before we go on, let’s take a small detour back to the time when Abram (later changed to Abraham) was in Egypt [Genesis 12:10-20] when he was afraid the Egyptians would kill him to take his wife. He told the Egyptians the truth, that Sarai (later changed to Sarah) was his sister. Scripture tells us that she is the “daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife” [Genesis 20:12]. Abraham and his brother had married sisters. This made Sarah both Abraham’s wife AND his sister in law. So technically, he didn’t lie. However, we all know that the whole truth wasn’t conveyed. He told a story to protect his life but didn’t identify her as his wife. With that before us, let’s return to the main point.

JUST PREACH JESUS

When they say, “JUST preach Jesus,” they are saying to focus ONLY on His love and His grace which is to preach ONLY half of the truth. Just as Abraham told the partial truth about his wife Sarah, to preach JUST Jesus love, is to preach a partial truth about Jesus, that is, to preach faith only. James, using another example of Abraham, points out that no justification is by ‘faith only’. “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” [James 2:24]

God IS love, and we are saved by grace, but that’s only half of the story. [cr. John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8] There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Salvation is a gift of God, something none of us can earn. [cr. Romans 5:8-10] But we are not allowed to declare only half the truth, we must declare the “whole counsel of God.”

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. [Acts 20:27]

PREACHING JESUS

What does it mean to “preach Jesus?” To learn that answer we turn to Acts 8:26-40, the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Philip approached the eunuch who was reading Isaiah while returning from Jerusalem. Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The eunuch invited Philip up into the chariot to guide him in the text. Philip then, beginning at the same scripture, opened his mouth and “preached unto him Jesus.”  [v35]

This next part is extremely important, please pay close attention and notice who speaks in the very next verse. “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” [Acts 8:36] The eunuch spoke and asked about BEING BAPTIZED!!! How did he learn about baptism? How did he learn about water being the type of baptism? How did he learn that baptism was immersion? How did he learn that it was a requirement of salvation? Where did he learn the answer to each of these questions? The answer is simple, and we already read it in verse 35, Philip “preached unto him Jesus.” To preach Jesus it to “declare the whole counsel of God.”

To preach the Love of Christ is to talk about how to love Him…

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15; cf. 1John 5:3

To preach the Gospel is to tell about obeying the Gospel…

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

2Thessalonians 1:8; cf. 1Cor 15:1-4; Rom 6:1-4

To preach the Grace of God is to include how one can fall from it…

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Galatians 5:4

Preaching anything less is to come short of salvation. Let us speak the truth about Jesus, His love and His grace and let’s do it with LOVE.

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: Ephesians 4:15

EMERGENCY ALERT, THIS IS NOT A DRILL

Last week an erroneous alert went out when a Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee triggered a ballistic missile alert, and people freaked out. Rightfully so, what would you do if you learned that a nuclear missile was rocketing toward you?

The alert lit up the phones of people, many of whom were still in bed, having coffee or taking a morning walk on the resort beaches of Hawaii. They fled toward shelters and crowded the highways as panic and terror spread across the islands. Many more had no idea what to do when a missile is about to fall from the sky. One woman said, “We have no bomb shelters or anything like that. There’s nowhere to go.”

And they prayed. I’m sure that more than a few atheists began to pray as well. As with many catastrophes, there’s just isn’t enough time to come up with a doomsday plan, and then activate it. (It would take 20 minutes for a missile to reach Hawaii from North Korea and would leave only 12 minutes for the state to warn everyone.)

It was a normally beautiful winter day. Winter in Hawaii starts out in the mid 70’s and sunny. A Saturday in Hawaii would have found folks, sleeping in, getting ready for a wedding, going to work, babies being born and at least one man suffered a heart attack triggered by the startling alert. Being a popular vacation spot, there were many thousands of tourists beginning or finishing their vacations. In other words, everything was normal.

ARE YOU READY

As many of you already surmise, this article is not going to be about preparedness for a Global Thermonuclear War. We talk about spiritual issues here and this incident is an exceptional illustration of what will take place when Jesus returns.

He will return, it’s been promised. “Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” [Acts 1:11].

Unlike in Hawaii, there will be no advanced notice of His appearing. “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” [Matthew 24:36].

The world will be “acting normal” just as they did that morning in Hawaii. “And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming of the Son of man” [Matthew 24:37-39].

Just as a thief catches the victim by surprise, so too will be the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up” [2 Peter 3:10, cr. 1 Thess 5:2].

There will be no sirens, but there will be trumpets louder than any you’ve ever heard. It will be the trump of God. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” [1Corinthians 15:52].

All of this means is that there just will not be any time to obey the gospel [2 Thessalonians 1:7-8]. To those of you who believe the error of “faith alone,” that also will fail, for the very instant Jesus appears in the sky is the moment “faith” will end. “Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen” [Hebrews 11:1]. Faith ends at sight. Scripture reveals no prayers an infidel could utter to place them in a right relationship with God. Only faithful obedience to the Gospel can do that through Christ Jesus.

Here’s what else will happen on that day; “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” [1 Thessalonians 4:15-17].

The key to this verse are two simple words, “IN CHRIST.” The location of Salvation is “IN CHRIST.” Every spiritual blessing is “IN CHRIST” [Ephesians 1:3]. We are “IN CHRIST” when we have “PUT ON CHRIST” through water baptism by faith. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” [Galatians 3:26-27].

The only way we’re going to escape any and all catastrophes is to be “IN CHRIST.” When one is in Christ, what looks like a disaster, will be the most wonderful celebration any could ever imagine.

– Spencer

FOLLOWING THE LEADER

Do you remember that childhood game, Follow the Leader, also called the “copycat game”? It’s where a leader is chosen who becomes the “head of the line,” then the rest of the children line up behind the leader. The leader then moves around the playground going over, through or around multiple obstacles (sometimes jumping, skipping & hopping) and all the followers must mimic the leader’s actions. Any player who fails to follow the leader is out of the game.

During play, if you were one of the kids towards the back of the line you couldn’t actually see what the leader was doing, so you had to watch and mimic the child immediately in front of you. All the while singing…

Following the leader,

the leader, the leader

I’m following the leader,

wherever he may go.

I hope kids are still playing some version of the game today. It’s games like these that can teach kids some very valuable lessons for when they get older and us too. Do you see the hidden truth in this game?

Children’s games with big lessons

As silly as it may sound, the FOLLOW THE LEADER game resembles our walk as Christians. We have our leader who is Christ….

Mt 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

And we follow Him in the Gospel, which is His death, burial & resurrection [1Cor 15:1-4]…

Romans 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Then we continue to follow Him all through all the obstacles of life…

1Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

However, since we are towards the back of the line, in a figure, we are to follow others who are following Him…

1Co 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

BE A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST

Following others who follow Christ is following Christ. “And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:” [1Thess 1:6]. Paul also said to the Philippians, “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample” [Phil 3:17]. Paul is still urging us today, “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me” [1Corinthians 4:16].

But we’re not to just follow someone who SAYS they’re following Christ, they must be actual followers whose actions can be compared to those things we learn from the Scriptures. “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you” [Phil 4:9; see also 2Thess 3:7].

In a mature church, there will be Elders who are following Christ, these we are also to follow. “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation” [Hebrews 13:7]. Not as leaders who make up new things to follow, rather as examples. “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” [1Peter 5:3].

What are we to do if there are no good examples to follow? We can follow Christ and His righteousness because we have His word [1Thessalonians 1:6]. “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness [1Timothy 6:11]. It was so important that Paul told it to Timothy again in his second letter. “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” [2Timothy 2:22].

Some will make the excuse that the only folks they have aren’t very good examples. That’s no excuse. Peter asked Jesus about one of the other disciples. (the context is about sacrifice) Jesus replied, “what is that to you? You follow me” [John 21:21-22]. Whether the others in the church are walking right or not is no liberty for us to walk unworthily [cr. Eph 4:1; Col 1:10; 1Thess 2:12]. WE FOLLOW CHRIST regardless how the others are following.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: [John 10:27]

Being a follower of Christ is no game, but remembering a child’s game can remind us of mighty lessons. “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children” [Ephesians 5:1].

Besides, our LEADER wants us to be reminded of the purity of little children, “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” [Matthew 18:3].

– Spencer