GONE WITH THE WIND

I’ve never heard of a ‘BOMB CYCLONE’ until last week. In case you missed it, the panhandle of Texas (along with other areas) experienced winds gusting over 75 mph. That kind of wind tosses a lot of things around and not a few people. Videos show roofs being blown off and semi-trucks toppling.

Let’s use this occasion of high winds to talk about the high winds of denominational doctrine. The Holy Spirit warns about this through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” [Eph 4:14]

This is brilliant imagery, especially considering last week’s winds and the damage it caused. Upon examination of this verse we come to a few conclusions

  • There is a true doctrine. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” [Titus 1:9; 2:1, 10; Heb 6:1; 2John 1:9]
  • The negative doctrines are from men. [cr doctrines of men; Rom 16:17; Col 2:22; 1Tim 1:3, 10; Heb 13:9; 2John 1:10; Rev 2:14, 15,24 and doctrines of devils 1Tim 4:1]
  • These men use sleight (tactic used in gambling)
  • These men use cunning craftiness (trickery). The same word describing Satan; “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” [2Cor 11:3]
  • These men use deceit (lies). It’s called error in 1John 4:6 “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
  • These men are lying in wait, which is also said of thieves who hide in dark places to attack an innocent. [Proverbs 1:11]
  • The persons unable to distinguish between the doctrine of Christ and the doctrines of men are children, immature.
  • The doctrines of men are varied and often opposite of one another.
  • The child caught up in the wind is tossed and carried away by the false teaching. We’re expected to mature in spiritual understanding. “Brethren, be not children in understanding:” [1Cor 14:20a]

Paul continues this thought in chapter 5: “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” [Eph 5:6]. Just as the winds that tore through the panhandle, so too the winds of doctrine can tear through the church doing terrible damage. Unlike the physical damage of a wind, this is spiritual damage that tosses people into disobedience.

There is another way that wind is used for a SPIRITUAL WARNING, it’s our faith.

“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” [James 1:6]

James continues in this context and says that the one wavering in faith should not expect anything from God. Additionally, he calls the one with a wavering faith an unstable person. This smacks in the face of the admonition of the Christian to…

  • Stand Fast: “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” [1Thess 3:8]
  • Stand perfect & complete: “…that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” [Col 4:12]

It is my firm belief that the most damaging wind of doctrine is the utterly contemptible doctrine of ecumenism (the promoting of unity among denominations without unity of doctrine). An idea our Lord never promoted. He demands unity in His teaching. [1Cor 1:10]

5 Times People Think about God

There’s a song in our hymnal called, “You never mentioned Him to me.” It’s a very sobering song that asks you to think about the judgment day when you and everyone you know are present before the Lord [Mat 25:32]. Imagine on that day that you catch a glimpse of a loved one who is hearing, “depart from me…” [Mat 7:21-23] and they look over at you mouthing the words, “why didn’t you warn me?” I don’t know if we’ll be looking at one another or if when we all bow [Rom 14:11] our eyes will be averted. All I know is that there’s great pain to hear of a loved one who passes from this life outside of Christ.

It seems these days that very few folks are thinking about God. This makes it very difficult to mention Him to them. I have noticed, however, that there are a few moments in a person’s life that they are more open to hearing things about Christ. Moments of change in their life. While anytime is a good time to mention Jesus, I’ve discovered 5 times when folks may be more open to hearing of the Love of Christ.

DEATH: Long ago I met an aged lady who began her journey to Christ upon the death of her firstborn child. She sought the counsel of her denomination for answers, but none were found. She pressed on, seeking the truth, until she met a gospel preacher who showed her in scripture the safe condition of her child. In that search she learned about Bible authority verses the false words of men.

“It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.” [Ecc 7:2].

MARRIAGE ISSUES: Whether it’s getting married or trying to stay married, couples will be open to godly strategies for their marriage. Many times, it will be the wife that will seek God’s advice first. Peter offers her this advice: “While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” [1Pet 3:1-6] He continues with advice for the husband, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge…” [v7a]

ILLNESS or INJURY: God expended a lot of ink about the sick. We’re to visit the sick [Mat 25:36; Jas 5:14]. When it’s a particularly nasty illness, some treat it as a near death experience and begin to ponder their eternity. We can be their for them with a meal or a comforting voice.

CHILDREN: Kids can be a challenge in these times. (I suppose every generation of parents said something similar) As Christians, we can be an example to our friends & neighbors as we raise our children and especially when we’re practicing godly discipline. “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence:” [Heb 12:9] You would be amazed by the positive responses from folks as they watch you train your wild child.

MAJOR CHANGES: This last category of life events involve non-health related but dramatic changes in a person’s life. It could be moving, a new job, or some other occasion that draws folks together. This is a great time to be the neighbor that Jesus described when asked the question, “who is my neighbor?” [Luke 10:29-37]. One of the most powerfully connecting things one family can do for another is to help them move or to help in picking up the pieces after a storm.

This only touches the tip of the iceberg of the ways you can be ready to preach Christ. One final way is in how you manage your own rough patch. This is the context of 1Pet 3:15;

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

The way in which we react to the struggles in our lives has a very powerful impact on others. Our hope on display is what draws our friends & neighbors to ask why. A perfect time to tell them about Christ.

We must prepare ourselves to have mercy, compassion & grace for these moments.

Never Growing Weary

Years ago, four of us hiked the Brooks-Range in search of Dall Sheep in Alaska. For 3 days under the midnight sun, we hiked the mountain sides with full packs loaded with supplies nearly has heavy as my 130# self. It was excruciating yet exhilarating all at the same time. I had little experience with that level of exhaustion that came partly from the exertion and partly from the altitude. Each night as we bedded down from our 16-18-hour exercise, we looked forward to what we might find on the next. It’s a memory that remains vivid some 34 years later.

Have you ever noticed that there are different kinds of tired? There’s the kind of tired that comes when you hate what you’re doing, and the kind of tired that fulfills you when you’re doing something you love. There’s some sort of psychological cause behind the fact that a person will take himself to the breaking point when he is engaged in the activities he loves (hiking the mountains of Alaska) and is exhausted with much less effort in the thing he despises (splitting logs for the wood stove at home, a chore I wish to forget). We need no more illustrations for every person can see this upon examination of his own life.

The Holy Spirit knows this about us, that we can endure great hardships where faith, hope and love abide. He inspired Paul to write in Galatians 6:9:

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

When we are directing our physical bodies toward the hope that we love, the joy of this gives the body energy to make the work seem light. In our love for Jesus we can experience the feeling He described in Matthew 11:30;

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Think hard about this principle, for it will be profitable to you. Every activity with which we engage our physical bodies that is out of force, fear or necessity and does not arise out of love and service is immediately met with resistance from within and produces loss of energy resulting in a tired body and mind.

Seldom do we complain of fatigue about long nights spent in play but be asked to work night shift and suddenly the head can’t wait to hit the pillow. What do we learn from this? That one will endure any hardship if he loves the reason that he does the work. Money doesn’t give endurance, the real pay comes out of the love to serve our Savior, Christ Jesus. Force can win for a while, but love will give us the strength to endure. And love Him we must, for without it we shall miss the peace and joy that comes from above.

God gives us plenty of reminders, in His word, that we can endure hardships, face persecutions and afflictions that come from living an obedient life in Christ. For He is with us and has provided us a hope, a reward in Heaven. [cr Heb 11:6]

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” [Mt 24:13]

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” [1Cor 15:58]

Christ doesn’t expect us to endure anything He Himself hasn’t already done. He led the way through the example of His own suffering for our sake; “For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” [Heb 12:3]

We can do it, endure this life with unlimited energy, when we continually remind ourselves of our primary love and service to our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Rewarder Christ Jesus.

be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” [Rev 2:10b]

New Testament Christianity

Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” [Galatians 5:4]

This passage in Galatians is a warning for Christians that keeping any part of the Law of Moses will take you out of the grace of Christ. Some try to reinterpret it as a faith only passage. Not so. The followers of Christ are to be command keepers [Mat 7:21-23; Luke 6:46] of His New Covenant.

There is a reason why the churches of Christ do what they do (a Capella singing, simple worship, weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper). We recognize Christ as our Head [Col 1:18], He has all authority [Mat 28:18] and those that love Him will keep HIS commandments [John 14:15]. God the Father said this, “This is my beloved Son: hear him.” [Mark 9:7] This means that we listen to Jesus, not Moses, and especially not any man nor man made religion.

Jesus promised to build His church [Mat 16:18], and that this church [which is His kingdom Col 1:13] will begin within the lifetime of those that heard him [Mark 9:1]. On the first Pentecost after His resurrection, [Acts 2:1–47] the church began. No one spoke of it being in existence before that day, and thereafter it’s spoken of as being in existence.

The guiding rules of faith and practices are found in the covenant from Jesus, as delivered by the Holy Spirit [John 16:13; Eph 3:1-4] and not the Law of Moses from Mt. Sinai.

We need to pay attention to what The Holy Spirit reveals in the New Testament about the change from the Law of Moses to the Law of Christ.

• Hear Jesus, not Moses [Mat 17:5; Mark 9:7].
• Preach the gospel [Mat 28:18–20].
• The Word of Christ Judges [John 12:48].
• Dead to the Law of Moses [Romans 7:1–7].
• “Christ is the end of the law” [Romans 10:4].
• “Engraven in stones…done away” [2Cor 3:7–14].
• Broken down the wall [Eph 2:14].
• Nailing it to His cross [Col 2:14].
• A Priesthood change required a Law change [Hebrews 7:12; 9:11].
• He is the mediator of the new testament [Hebrews 9:16–17].
• He (Jesus) taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. [Hebrews 10:9].

No longer does man offer animals to atone for sin. “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” [Heb 10:4] Jesus shed His blood “once for all” and has “sat down on the right hand of God.” [Heb 10:12]

No longer does man keep the Passover, abstain from certain foods nor keep certain days [Col 2:14-17]. No longer do we need a special group of priests, for those added to the church are now a ‘royal priesthood’ [1Pet 2:9]. This new Law of Christ doesn’t require it, and to revert to it is to sin against the One who shed His blood, ‘ye have fallen from Grace.’

In the New Testament, no longer do we burn incense, build temples (we are the temple Eph 2:21), dance or play instruments. Did God leave New Testament worship up for us to decide? No, God tells us what He wants, and we do it [Mat 28:20]. We are given unleavened bread, fruit of the vine, prayers, vocal singing, giving & teaching.

The Old Testament is for our learning, not for New Testament law. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning,” [Rom 15:4]. We should read the Old Testament to learn about many things, some of which is how God communicates with and how He instructs man. However, to go back to the Law of Moses to bring forward any practice (musical instruments, clergy / laity, feasts) will remove you from the grace of Christ and obligate you to do it all. You will have fallen from Grace.

We here at the Franklin & Juniper church of Christ practice New Testament Christianity with the Bible as our creed book. We Welcome you to come find out what the Bible says.