The Fatherhood of God

FATHER’S DAY is upon us, as we take time out to honor our father’s in the flesh it seems appropriate to look at how Scripture describes God as a Father.

It may surprise you to learn that the Old Testament portrayal of God as Father is quite rare. He is referred to as the Father of the nation of Israel [De 32:6; 1Chron 29:10; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jeremiah 3:4 Jeremiah 3:19; 31:9; Mal 1:6; 2:10]. “But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand” [Isa 64:8]. It speaks of Him as the Father of certain individuals, [2 Sam 7:14; 1 Chron 17:13; 22:10; 28:6; Psalm 68:5; 89:26], and in other places, the idea of Fatherhood is present although the term is not used [Ex 4:22; De 14:1; 32:5, Isa 1:2; 8:18; 9:6; Hos 1:10; 11:1].

As we survey the New Testament, all that changes. The frequency of calling God the Father increases dramatically. Most likely because Jesus said, “Our Father which art in Heaven…” when He taught His disciples to pray, [Mat 6:9]. Jesus, rightfully so, calls God “Father” nearly 200 times in the gospel (over 100 times in the book of John alone). Another word for Father Jesus used was “Abba,” found only 3 times in the New Testament [Mark 14:26; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6]. In Vine’s Expository Dictionary it says about “Abba”, “It approximates to a personal name, in contrast to ‘Father,’ with which it is always joined in the NT. This is probably due to the fact that, abba having practically become a proper name, Greek-speaking Jews added the Greek word pater, “father,” from the language they used. Abba is the word framed by the lips of infants, and betokens unreasoning trust; ‘father’ expresses an intelligent apprehension of the relationship. The two together express the love and intelligent confidence of the child.” (Vines, W.E., Vines Concise Dictionary of the Bible, Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2005 print page 1)

Should we call God “daddy”?

I’ve noticed a trend among some to refer to God as “daddy” as an attempt to make God sound more familiar to them. They suggest that since the Aramaic word “Abba” is used by children and our nearest English equivalent is “daddy” we have liberty. Their reasoning is flawed since the term is used by older children and adults alike. I’m not a fan of that. Although He is called our Father, we still ought to honor Him with respect, He is still the Almighty God.

God is our Father

There should be no doubt that God is our Father. As the Creator of all things which includes mankind, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” [Gen 1:27], He is our Father. Let us never forget that. Our Father, the Creator, provides for His creation, despite our sin toward Him, in this we ought to be very grateful. “Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” [Acts 14:17]. Because of His goodness over all mankind through His creation, some make the mistake of thinking that this will equate to salvation. For that we need to consider God in another sense, as a Father through adoption.

God, our adopted Father.

Paul tells us in Galatians 4:4-7 that through Christ we may become children of God through adoption, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.” It should be understood that some shall NOT be adopted by God to become their Father, and shall NOT inherit the promises. The question becomes, how do we receive this adoption?

Just a few verses earlier, Paul wrote, “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. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” [Galatians 3:26-29]. Friends, don’t miss that. We can all become children of God, He can be our Father by faith when we obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

THINGS JESUS NEVER SAID

Some of the biggest challenges I face as an evangelist are the things people THINK are in the Bible or they BELIEVE Jesus taught.  The evangelist, like the statue carver, must chip away everything that doesn’t belong. Some of these beliefs are so firmly attached that it requires a lot of pounding. Below is a list of things folks THINK Jesus said, but never did. Perhaps this list can help you in your personal work. (editors note; there are far more than these listed and may show up in a future article. Seb)

The uppercase words are ‘things Jesus never said’

Jesus never said… “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, TO ASK ME INTO THEIR HEARTS.”

What He really said…  ”…baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” [Mat 28:19]

 

Jesus never said… “Mt 7:1 Judge not, AND REMAIN SILENT WHEN YOU SEE FOLKS DO EVIL.

What He really said… “that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Mat 7:1-2

 

Jesus never said… “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them TO CHOOSE 1 OR MORE OF 58 GENDERS?”

What He really said… “made them male and female,” Mat 19:4 [cr. Gen 1:27]

 

Jesus never said… “IT’S MY OPINION”

What He really said… “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Mat 28:18 [cr. Mt 7:29]

 

Jesus never said… “If the world hates you, REMEMBER, CHANGE WHAT YOU TEACH TO CONFORM WITH THE TIMES, MAKING IT EASIER TO FOLLOW SO EVERYONE WILL LIKE YOU AGAIN.

What He really said… “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” John 15:18

 

Jesus never said… “Neither do I condemn you, go and DO WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY.

What He really said… “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” [John 8:11 the woman caught in adultery]

 

Jesus never said… “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to ETERNAL LIFE, and many there be which go in thereat:

What He really said… “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” [Mat 7:13-14]

 

Jesus never said… “I am A way, A truth, and A life: ANYONE CAN GO TO THE MOTHER ON THEIR OWN.

What He really said… “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. [John 14:6]

 

Jesus never said… “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my churchES;

What He really said… “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” [Mat 16:18]

 

He also said… “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:” [Mat 7:24]

And, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” [John 14:15]

Arguments I can (not) answer

THERE ARE THINGS people say to me that are so very easy to answer, yet impossible to answer. Sounds confusing? Allow me to explain…

Recently, a man I was sharing the gospel with told me that God speaks to him directly. I asked, “how do you know that the voice in your head is God and not something else?” He emphatically replied, “you can’t tell me that God isn’t talking to me!”

No, I can’t…tell him. Oh, I could give him a sound, Biblical answer like, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” [2Thess 2:11]. I could show him the example of Jacob believing a lie about his son Joseph being dead, then NOT believing the truth when he was told that Joseph was alive [Gen 37:12-33; 45:26]. I could show you passage after passage directing us to the WRITTEN WORD OF GOD for our communication from Him. I could show you that the written word of God…

  • Must be Read – Eph 3:3;
  • Is Complete – 2Tim 3:16-17
  • Devine – 1Thess 2:13
  • Final – Jude 3; Gal 1:6-9
  • Causes Belief – John 20:31
  • Calls – 2Th 2:14

…but he already told me I can’t tell him, therefore I can’t.

It’s sad really. Folks are so convinced of lies (I blame the false teachers in denominationalism [Mat 24:5,11]) that it’s near about impossible to convince them of the truth. In another instance, I showed a “faith only” fellow 1Peter 3:21 [The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us] and asked him what it meant. He said, “I know what it doesn’t mean, it doesn’t mean you need to be baptized!” He was already convinced of what it DOESN’T mean, that he couldn’t read the words and learn the truth.

_________________________

It’s easier to convince a person of a lie than it is to convince them that they’ve been lied to.

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Rather than become discouraged, the Scriptures from God teaches us that the real problem is a lack of love for the truth. “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” [2Thess 210]. Once the moral compass of truth is gone, then all we have left is our own lusts and desires.

_________________________

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts. Rom 1:24

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When the moral compass of God’s true written word [John 17:17] is ignored, is it any wonder why people are all over the map with their beliefs, worship, methods for salvation and so many other erroneous ideas? Without the truth of God’s written word, it becomes easy to be tossed about with every wind of doctrine.

_________________________

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

_________________________

Friend, if you’re one of those people who believe that God is “CALLING YOU” or The HOLY SPIRIT is leading you separate and apart from God’s written word, then you’re just being led by your own personal thoughts, lusts and desires. [Mat 22:29]

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Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:13-15

_________________________

Let’s look at it one more way…

If God is telling men what to do, separate and apart from God’s word, then why are there over 30,000 different Christian denominations? Is God an author of confusion, does He mind that we’re all saying different things?

_________________________

For God is not the author of confusion.

1Corinthians 14:33 

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. 1Corinthians 1:10

_________________________

I ain’t afraid of no Ghosts

IT’S THAT TIME of year again here in Borger Texas, Halloween. The time when many decorate their homes with ghosts, goblins and witches.  Even Netflix is promoting a plethora of scary zombie movies. The conversations about ghosts and goblins increase as well. I’ve spoken to several folks who actually believe in a potential zombie apocalypse. A zombie is a corpse said to be revived by witchcraft, in other words, the walking dead.

Regardless of the pop culture surrounding zombies, I ain’t afraid of no zombies either. I’m not afraid by faith. When we say “by faith”, what we mean is that we have revelation from God on any given subject. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” [Romans 10:17; Deut 29:29]. God has told us a few things about the evil spiritual realm.

[This article revisits a theme I wrote about in June, “Is demon possession possible].

What does the Bible say about the evil spirit world?

God revealed through the scriptures some things about spirit beings, or angels. Angels are beings with a higher nature than man [Psalm 8:5; Heb 2:7, 9], but some of them sinned against God [2Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6]. This fallen group seem to be identified as the devil’s angels [Matt 25:41; Rev 12:7,9]. They are identified by other terms as well; “demons” [Luke 11:15], “evil spirits” (Acts 19:12-13], “unclean spirits” [Matthew 10:1], or Satan’s angels [Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:7, 9].

Though very little is said about the demonic & demon possession in the OT, in the NT it appears to have increased. Jesus, along with his disciples, frequently encountered the demonic and were able to cast them out of possessed peoples [Matt 1:21-27; Mark 9:14-29]. Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven” [Luke 10:18-20]. The context shows that He was speaking about the disciples’ power over evil spirits and the weakening of Satan’s power, including his influence.

This ability matches the prophecy from Zechariah; “I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land” [Zech 13:2]. Peter & Jude refer to evil spirits being in chains and bound [2Peter 2:1-4; Jude 1:6]. Revelation describes Satan being “bound” during the time in which Christ reigns over His kingdom—which is the church [Rev. 20:2]. This evidence points to the conclusion that demonic activity does not happen today, because the evil spirit realm has been “bound” awaiting the final judgement.

Then there’s the living dead…

Most of what we declare about ghosts is from the imaginations of the minds eye of fiction and not by faith (by revelation from God). Even in the Bible, we see the disciples “imagining” that they saw a ghost when they were actually seeing Jesus walk upon the water [Matt 14:26]. But it was their fear of the unknown that created the thought of a ghost, for they had never witnessed anyone ever walking upon the water. It’s important to note that the spirits of the dead are not the same as angels or demons. It is only after the resurrection of the righteous dead that they become “equal to the angels” [Luke 20:36]. Just because the disciples “supposed it was a ghost” is no evidence that ghosts exist [Mark 6:49].

Where do our spirits go when we die?

According to the word of God, all of the dead go to a place of the dead called in New Testament Greek, “Hades”, (translated either; hell, Hades, or grave) the place of departed souls [Luke 16:19-30; Acts 2:27]. All of the sinful angels are bound in a part of Hades called “Tartarus” [2Peter 2:4]. We conclude from these passages that the spirits of the dead & bound are not allowed to roam the Earth nor haunt us. In Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus, [Luke 16:19-30], the rich man begged that Lazarus be sent back to warn his brothers, but this request was denied.

There are only 2 instances in the New Testament where departed spirits, other than Jesus Himself, were allowed to return. The first was the return of Moses & Elijah in Matt 17:3. This was to show that the Law of Moses & the prophets are fulfilled in Christ Jesus, for God spoke and said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”  The second, when the graves of the saints were opened after the resurrection of Jesus in Matt 27:52-54. In both instances they were for a very specific purpose, to testify to the validity of Jesus’ claims, and have since ceased. We can have confidence in the scriptures that we need not be afraid nor be deceived about any evil spirit, zombie or ghost [Eph 5:6, Col 2:4,8,18; 3:6; 2Th 2:3], sound theology has a way of doing that!

Preacher or Pastor What’s the difference?

MOST FOLKS, myself included, have a hard time remembering names. However, many can remember what you do, probably because it’s more tangible than a name.    Let me share with you a conversation that I have nearly every single day;

Them: Hello pastor.
Me: Hello, I’m not a pastor, I’m a preacher.
Them: what’s the difference?
Me: a bunch, would you like to study it?
Them: No, I’m good.

This typical conversation has been condensed for space. I’m never short with them, always jovial and kind, but I do use it as an opportunity to engage in a gospel conversation with folks.

This article is for them. For all of us really. It will be posted online as a tool you can use when they ask you, “what’s your pastor like?”

What’s the difference?

Although all pastors are preachers, not all preachers are pastors.

PREACHERS: These people are “a herald, i.e. of divine truth (especially of the gospel)” WE Vines. Although any one can be a “preacher” when they speak about the Gospel, there is a position in the local congregation which is called “the evangelist.” According to scripture, this is a male who is a herald of the gospel during the preaching portion of the worship. He stands up and preaches the gospel, [2Timothy 4:2; 1Timothy 2:12; 1Corinthians 14:34]. It’s unpopular to say “male only”, but this is the teaching of the New Testament. In no way does this teaching speak to the worth of women, rather it is just a defining of roles. [Galatians 3:28]

In short, a preacher is an evangelist who, in addition to going out to spread the gospel, publicly preaches the gospel during the worship of the local congregation. Paul wrote to the evangelist / preacher Timothy, “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” [2Tim 4:5]

PASTORS: This is a specific position held in the local congregation, the qualifications of which are in 1Timothy 3:1-7 & Titus 1:5-9. There are some additional information about “pastors”, also called “elders” in Acts 20:17-35. Here we find that these men are to watch over the local church and to feed the flock; “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” [Acts 20:28]. From this verse it becomes clear why Elders are also Called Pastors.

An Elder / Pastor can also be an evangelist, laboring as his vocation in the Gospel. “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” [1Timothy 5:17]

What’s Your Pastor Like?” This is another question that is frequently asked. What they’re trying to determine is his speaking ability and personality. This questions is often asked by a person who’s thinking about visiting a particular church. While there’s nothing wrong in asking about the speaker, it shouldn’t be the FIRST nor ONLY prerequisite for choosing a church. (Other poor qualities for choosing a church are; games, entertainment, cafes of field trips)

One should seek first the truth; “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” [Mat 6:33]. I’ve written about this in a previous article, “How to start a church” [April 19, 2015]. The basics of which are 3 points:

  • Reliance on God’s word for their only Authority. [1Peter 4:11]
  • Correct Worship in spirit and truth. [John 4:24]
    1. Assembling on the correct day, partaking of the Lord’s Supper [Acts 20:7]. Preaching, praying, singing (without the aid of mechanical music) and giving [Acts 20:7, 8, 36; Eph 5:19; 1Cor 16:1].
  • Doing the work of the church; Spreading the Gospel, Edification of the saints, and benevolence for needy saints. [Mat 28:18-20; Eph 4:12; 1Cor 16:1]

More could be said about this subject, hopefully this article has peaked your interest in confirming for yourself about the truth of all matters. Search the scriptures yourselves to learn all the counsel of God.  [Acts 17:11; 1John 4:1-3].

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good
[1Thess 5:21]

What if We’re Wrong?

A VERY COMMON question that I hear when speaking to someone about the Church of Christ, the Bible or obeying the Gospel is, “What if you’re wrong?” It’s a fair question, so let’s answer the question about salvation, from the viewpoint as a member of the church of Christ compared with the viewpoint of the major worldviews.

Calvinism, which is the foundation of the doctrines for the Baptist, Lutheran, and most protestant churches, teaches salvation “by faith only”. Every teacher of that doctrine, regardless of church affiliation, has said that when a person believes that Jesus is the Christ, then that person is saved. They cite passages like, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Ephesians 2:8. They go on to teach that a person who is saved by faith can never lose their salvation regardless of the sin they commit.

If we’re wrong, then we’re still saved. Members of the church of Christ believe that salvation IS BY FAITH. On this we agree. The difference is that we understand faith to INCLUDE obedience to God’s word. We cite the only passage in scripture that actually says, “by faith only.” That passage is found in James 2:24, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

They may argue that we’re adding to salvation and that salvation is by faith plus nothing, therefore we (members of the church of Christ) are not saved. The problem with this logic is that they forget their own teaching. A person who believes that Jesus is the Christ cannot ever lose their salvation. Once again, members of the Church of Christ are still saved even if we’ve committed the sin of addition under their doctrines. (If any are saved at all when you look at their false doctrine on predestination which says that God alone chooses who will be saved & lost and neither can ever change regardless of belief.)

Modern day Judaism teaches that one is saved if the balance of their life is good. One Jewish teacher said, “In Judaism, it is entirely up to you. If you do good, you will get good.”

If we’re wrong, and they’re right, we’re still saved. The byproduct of obeying the gospel, which includes becoming a faithful “do gooder”, puts us into salvation according to modern Judaism. We believe, according to scripture, that we should avoid evil and do good. In Galatians 5:16, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Read the rest of that passage and you’ll see more of what I mean.

Buddhism has a final goal of achieving Nirvana which is a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. The right way to Nirvana, “… starts with understanding of suffering, not by mere mind, but by the purified mind.” The Sallekha Sutta is one of the key suttas that describes the true meaning of Practice towards attaining Nirvana. This describes that Right View (Samma Ditti) is the most important factor that Buddhists should develop to start to become selfless.

If we’re wrong, and they’re right, we’re still saved. In Scripture, a Christian is to be selfless and to purify the mind. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” [Romans 12:2]. Also in Ephesians 4:23 “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;”

A Christian is also commanded to be selfless. Verses like Matthew 25:31-46 and Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”

Islamism is a bit more difficult because it’s confusing. On one hand, you have millions practicing the “peaceful religion” of Islam, and on the other, you have radicalized and violent practitioners that seek to kill anyone that rejects Muhammed. How are we to know if they’re right or wrong?

We can know by consulting their own book the Quran. It says, “If thou (Muhammed) art in doubt concerning that which we reveal unto thee, then question those who read the Scriptures before thee.” [Sura 10:94 – Yunus]. The Prophet Muhammed was told to refer to the Christians for fuller spiritual understanding! There are even more passages within the Quran telling the Muslim to consult the book of the Jew & the Christian in addition to the passages that talk about Jesus and Mary in a positive light.

Therefore, according to their own book, they are to read the Bible. The Scriptures are the foundation of what we believe, [1Timothy 3:16]. Jesus said in John 5:39, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” If we’re wrong, and they’re right, we are told to go back to the Scriptures and once again find ourselves obeying the Gospel!

Catholicism says that the Pope is the head of the church on earth. The word Pope comes from the Latin word “papa”, which means father. A quick look at Scripture and we find Jesus saying, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” [Matthew 23:9]. Again, members of the Church of Christ have it right.

I’ve gone through many of the worldviews and answered the question, “what if we’re wrong” and have found that, according to their views, we’re saved. Shouldn’t THEY also answer the question? Let’s do that for them.

My denominational friend, if you’re wrong about your religion, your denomination or your practices, you have no way to change it at the judgement day. Therefore, REPENT before it’s eternally too late. 

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:5 

 

how do you know?

walk in truth

You say you walk in truth, but how do you know? 3 John 1:4

HAVE YOU ever noticed that when you ask folks about their church they’ll tell you that it teaches the truth? If that were true, then why are there so many denominations teaching different things regarding salvation, worship, godly living and sin? They will also tell me they read their bibles.

If I were to ask someone if they belong to a gym, or own a piece of exercise equipment, there’s a good chance that the answer will be “yes”. Do I need to tell you my thoughts about their answer when I can clearly see the results? LOL. [this coming from a man that owns an elliptical and frequents fast food]

You may think these two questions are unrelated, in fact they have more in common than you may at first realize. The only difference is that with the second question, the person has to admit their failure in “walking in truth” regarding their health. With the first question, they’re often ignorant of their spiritual health.

The Apostle Paul commanded the Corinthian church to “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” [2Co 13:5] But how are we to do this “examination”? Let me suggest 3 things we should be examining regarding our faith.

EXAMINE YOURSELVES

We’ve already read the command to examine ourselves, but how and to what? First, let’s never make the mistake of comparing ourselves with others, this is a big problem. Paul had said in the same letter “..we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” [2Co 10:12] Our Lord told a similar story when he told us about the Pharisee that said, “..God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” [Lu 18:11]

No, other men are not the standard. The standard of comparison should always be Christ and His word. Paul also taught the Church at Corinth to, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” [1Co 11:1 (NKJV)]. So how does one walk in truth? You become a follower of Christ who said…

Joh 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
Joh 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Mt 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:
Mt 22:29 .. Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.
Mt 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

EXAMINE YOUR TEACHER

In order to know if you’re walking in truth you must also examine the information you’re receiving. I once had a math teacher that regularly made basic math errors because she wasn’t very good at math. How long do you think my parents kept me in that class? Yet we continually listen to people who are supposed to teach us biblical principles, making grievous errors because they don’t know, or don’t understand what they are teaching. [1Timothy 1:7]

I’ve met “bible teachers” that get upset when I ask questions about the bible, showing them scriptures for my assertions. I’ve met “bible teachers” that actually attempt to tear down the truth of the bible when I show them passages that teach the opposite of their own. A priest of a particular denomination even said, “We’re not encouraged to read the bible.”

The Apostle John himself wrote, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. [1Jo 4:1 (NKJV)] Paul was himself subjected to this “examination” by the Bereans in Acts 17:11 when they searched the scriptures daily to see if the things he taught were true.

If it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for your teacher, preacher or pastor. None of them should ever be afraid of sound doctrine, IF THEY’RE TEACHING IT.

EXAMINE YOUR CHURCH

This third step is just as important as the other two. Scripture teaches that the church is the people, it never refers to the building. [Eph 1:22, 23; 1Co 12:12] Read what our Lord, Jesus said to the churches in Revelation chapter 2 & 3….

Re 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Re 2:14 But I have a few things against thee,
Re 2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Re 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee,
Re 3:1 …I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Re 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

A teaching in scripture that is often ignored is the teaching about purifying the church. Paul told the church to “purge out”, referring to the man that was a member of the church at Corinth, but was living in unrepentant sin. [1Co 5:7]

When we assemble together, we must assemble IN HIS NAME. [Mt 18:20] To do something in His name means that in order to worship, we must do it by the Lord’s permission. We must worship “in spirit AND TRUTH” and His “word is truth”. [Joh 4:24; Joh 17:17]

CONCLUSION

It’s wonderful to hear that folks want to walk in truth, but desire is only the beginning, we must act upon that desire and obey God. In every case of conversion in the book of Acts, when folks heard the Gospel and had a desire for the salvation it provides, they all REPENTED AND WERE BAPTIZED.

That is the truth.

spencer

Evangelist at the Franklin St. church of Christ in Borger, Texas.

San Bernardino & The Problem of Evil

HOURS AFTER THE SHOOTING in San Bernardino, cries for the victims lit up social media. Political rhetoric was also spewed, yet there were also calls for prayer for the victims and for our land. Unfortunately, alongside those petitions for God’s help, shouts that God doesn’t help rang from the voices of the unbelievers. Even the New York Daily News printed a headline, “God isn’t fixing this.” Here’s just one example of many twitter complaints against prayer…. 

V1-47 12-06-15 Borger Bulletin the problem of evil TWITTER blog

V1-47 12-06-15 Borger Bulletin the problem of evil HEADLINE

Why didn’t God stop the San Bernardino shooting?

This exemplifies part of our trouble with our evangelism, the problem of evil. The argument goes like this, “If God exists, then why is there evil (like this shooting in San Bernardino)?” It is a valid question. It’s an objection that many people have and without a legitimate answer, will keep many without hope. We need to be able to answer this question. It’s going to come up for you, as folks wrestle with understanding during troubling events such as this.

We have hope, because God has given it to us [1Peter 3:15], so let’s consider some answers to this question, the problem of evil: 

Answer #1: The question itself actually proves the existence of God, rather than disproves Him. The fact that people recognize evil means that they understand good. Without God, there can be no such thing as good or evil. 

If Evil exists, as they cry against it, then there must also be a good. If there is good and evil, there must be a standard (absolute moral law) by which to differentiate the two. If there is an absolute moral law, there must be an absolute moral law giver, GOD. If there is no absolute Moral Law Giver, then there is no moral law. If there is no moral law, then there is no good nor evil. 

Answer #2: Love & free will. Love is the greatest ethic. 1Co 13:13 But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love. 

This truth is recognized by every person on the face of the planet. Paul suggested that some things had no laws against them; Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 meekness, self-control; against such there is no law. 

In order to have LOVE, you must have the freedom to NOT LOVE. This is contained in our FREE WILL. Otherwise you just have automatons, instinctually motivated animals. FREE WILL is one of the greatest gifts received from God. With the ability to choose LOVE, comes the ability to go against it. With that comes all the problems (evil) that are associated with not loving. 

When FREE WILL exists, LOVE can also exist along with EVIL, and since the original question suggests that there is an ABSOLUTE MORAL LAW, God also exists. 

God has given mankind freedom of choice. He gave Adam and Eve the freedom of choice. [Genesis 2:16-17] Their choice was plain — obey and live or disobey and die. Their choice was made through and by their own will having been influenced by Satan. Who is willing to say that since God foreknew the outcome that He forced or ordained Adam and Eve to sin? We commit evil by our own desires and lusts [James 1:13-14]. Mankind today still has freedom of choice. [Joshua 24:15] People can choose today whether or not they will serve God. [Revelations 22:17] Both the Psalmist [Psalm 119:30] and Mary, the sister of Martha [Luke 10:42], are examples of this principle. 

God’s grace has appeared to all people [Titus 2:11] yet millions reject it. Each person is accountable to the Gospel call [2Thessalonians 1:8, 14; John 12:47-48]. Those who reject the teachings of Jesus are held responsible [John 5:24; 8:24] The Bible teaches us that each person is free to choose to obey the gospel, or not to take advantage of God’s grace. It clearly shows one may resist God’s grace, His truth and His authority [Acts 7:51; Romans 13:2; 2Timothy 3:8]. 

Luke 13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
2Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 

These verses teach that man has free will to choose. With the ability to choose, we can choose evil (as this couple did in San Bernardino) or we can choose to do good. 

Answer #3: God will bring every work into judgement. God is the Judge of all [Hebrews 12:23]. All shall bow at Jesus’ feet, That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,” [Philippians 2:10; John 5:22, 27]. And every person shall be judged, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” [2Corinthians 5:10] 

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 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. [Romans 12:19]

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 We as Christians can take comfort knowing that God is real, God is not dead, He is in power and that He will repay every evil. Let Him have His way with thee. [1Peter 5:6]

Spencer Blackwelder
evangelist for the Franklin St. Church of Christ in Borger, Texas

If I met the Pope

If I met the Pope, what would I say? I’m no head of state, nor do I have access to a bully pulpit, so it is very unlikely that a meeting would be arranged by our people. As a man that “labors in the Gospel”, I do have some opinions about the Pope. 

So, what would I say? 

I know what I would NOT say: I wouldn’t call him my spiritual Father. [Matthew 23:9] Nor would I bid him God speed, [2Jo 1:10] for the teaching of the Catholic church has become so foreign to the doctrines found in the Bible. 

I also wouldn’t be mean, or bitter, rather, “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” [Col 4:6] Whatever words I use would need to be purposeful, for defense of the Gospel, and intentional for the conversion from the errors. [Jas 5:20] 

So, what would I say? 
  • Why is the doctrine of the Catholic church so different from the word of God?
  • Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:4 “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)” Clearly, we as people can understand the word of God as revealed to the Apostles by the Holy Spirit, and if any of us lack wisdom we can ask of God and He gives it to us liberally. [James 1:5]
  • Have you considered all of the verses warning against such changes to the word of God? [De 4:2; 12:32; Pr 30:6; Rev 22:18] Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” [Mat 28:18] How is it that the office of Bishop (His title being the Bishop of Rome) has been elevated above the one described in the New Testament, and that he has power to make doctrine? Even Paul told Timothy, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” [1Ti 4:16]
  • Paul also marveled that the Galatians had become removed from Christ to another Gospel. [Gal 1:6-9] The Gospel certainly includes the doctrines of Christ, for in addition to teaching all nations and baptizing them, Jesus gave this command, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:” [Mt 28:19-20] 
  • He may respond with some argument that the Pope has authority to make new doctrine. He’ll likely cite Matthew 16:19 saying that Jesus has given the Pope the “keys” to the Kingdom. He’ll also note that he is infallible only if he speaks under 3 conditions, 1) ex cathedra (from the Chair of Peter) in his official capacity, 2) the doctrine must be binding on the whole Church, and 3) It must be on a matter of faith or morals. 1 
  • To this I would ask in reply, “Are you saying that you can make new doctrine, because Jesus gave you the keys? Wouldn’t that mean Christ has abdicated His role as head of the church to a man?” [Eph 1:22; Php 2:9-10; Col 1:16; Eph 1:1Co 15:27-28] Based on these and other verses, Matthew 16:19 is more accurately understood to mean that whatever Jesus has bound in Heaven will be bound on Earth and whatever is loosed in Heaven will be loosed on Earth.
  • If it’s by faith, which clearly means by hearing the revealed word of God [Rom 10:17], then you could speak nothing different than that which has already been revealed in the word of God. Therefore, there would be no need of you in the capacity which you serve and the New Testament pattern for organization, doctrines, and teachings would be sufficient. [2Timothy 3:16] 

Of course, none of this would ever occur. However, all of us as Christians do come into contact with Catholics here in Borger. Perhaps you found this fictional exchange helpful in your evangelistic efforts. We need to be ready and know how to answer every man. [1Peter 3:15; Col 4:6] 

Our goal is to shine as lights in this dark world. 

That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; [Php 2:15]

 

Spencer is the evangelist for the Franklin St church of Christ, Borger Tx.

 

  1. Infallibility of the Pope; http://www.staycatholic.com/papal_infalibillity.htm.