Whats An Expedient?

 

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient:” [1Corinthians 6:12]

A challenge that the church faces is regarding the concept of expedients. What are they? Why do we care? How are we to decide?

First, we need to define the concept. An expedient is the tactics or actions we take to fulfill a generic command. It only applies with a generic command. A specific command is limited to that which is specified.

Let’s look at a familiar example;

“Make thee an ark of gopher wood;” [Genesis 6:14]

The SPECIFIC COMMAND is an Ark of gopher wood. That’s it. The details are laid out when God commands what to build. Noah couldn’t change or modify the command. He was limited to an “ark” not a dingy, nor a house, nor a barn.

The GENERIC COMMAND is ‘make.’ This is generic as God doesn’t go into the details of the building process. He gives the size and number of floors, but He doesn’t tell Noah HOW to build it.

God left those details up to Noah to work out.

  • How was he to gather the wood?
  • How was he to mill the wood?
  • How was he to attach the wood together?
  • Could he use a hammer & saw? They aren’t mentioned, does this mean he couldn’t use them?

Noah is given the freedom to choose HOW to accomplish the GENERIC command while completing the SPECIFIC command.

Here’s where the EXPEDIENT comes in. He was commanded to build an ark, so he needed to find the necessary means to fulfill this command. Could he have built the ark out of gopher wood twigs, sure, but that wouldn’t EXPEDITE the command. It would take far too long. He needed to fulfill the command in the most efficient & effective way. That’s an EXPEDIENT.

Here are 6 rules about expedients:

  • Expedients must first be LAWFUL. The phrase, ‘the end justifies the means’ is wrong. We cannot do anything as long as the desired outcome is accomplished. For example, to help a hungry brother, theft is not allowed. That’s one thing we learn in 1Sam 15:22. The expedient must first be LAWFUL.

 

  • Expedients do not make a DOCTRINE. Denominations must create rules and organizations to regulate their expedients. That’s the tail wagging the dog. The expedient aides in accomplishing a SPECIFIC command when the method how is not given. For example, we are commanded to give on the first day of the week [1Cor 16:1-2]. The church cannot start a bank to fulfill that command. We can open a bank account to hold the funds until they are needed, but to open a Bank goes beyond the command.

 

  • Expedients do not require a SUBSTITUTION of the command. We are told to baptize (immerse in water). Sometimes a person is sick or infirmed making the command seem difficult. Some have then substituted sprinkling or pouring to make the command easier. Doing this modifies the specific part of the command to   IMMERSE in water. Therefore, it is not an expedient. We cannot do things to expedite a generic command when it violates the specific command.

 

  • Expedients don’t cause others to STUMBLE. Sometimes we find a lawful expedient, but for another it violates their conscience. Maybe because of their background. This is what we learn from 1Corinthians 8. It was lawful to eat meat that was sold in the marketplace despite the fact that it had been previously offered at the temple to a false god. Because some had converted out of that mess, they didn’t feel it was right to eat meat sacrificed to idols. Paul said,

“Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”

[1Cor 8:13; cr. 10:23]

  • Saying, “I don’t like change” is not a reason to stop an expedient. There are changes in technology that makes fulfilling a command more efficient. For example, the disciples didn’t have PowerPoint. We do, and it’s an efficient and effective tool when presenting a lesson or leading singing.

 

  • Expedients aren’t BINDING. It’s authorized to baptize in a river, but to require it is a violation. We can baptize in a baptistery, the ocean, lake or puddle. As long as the command to IMMERSE is met. [cf. Acts 8:36]

Our desire here is to serve God with all our hearts, soul & mind without violating God’s commands nor anyone’s conscience. With patience, prayer & study, we can learn how to fulfill all of God’s commands as EFFICIENTLY & EFFECTIVELY for the edifying of the body.

—Spencer

2020 BIBLE READING PLAN

 

The new year is upon us and so too a new time to renew our efforts to read the Bible. Here are a few reasons why we ought to have a plan for reading the Bible:

 

We are commanded:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. [2Timothy 2:15-16]

 

It gives us faith:

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. [John 20:31]

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. [Romans 10:17]

 

It gives us understanding:

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [Ephesians 3:4]

 

It gives us confirmation of what is preached:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. [Acts 17:11]

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

 

It thoroughly equips us for every good work:

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. [2Timothy 3:16-17]

 

It helps us to defend the gospel:

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: [1Peter 3:15]

 

It will prevent our stumbling and provide an entrance into the kingdom:

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. [2Peter 1:8-11; cf vs 5-7]

With all of these reasons, why wouldn’t we read?       –Spencer

 

4 THINGS YOU GET WHEN YOU READ

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These past few weeks I’ve been encouraging us to make READING our Bibles one of our resolutions for 2020.

We began by noticing those 4 things we do that we THINK are bible study but are not:

  • LOOKING over the text but not studying it. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” [John 5:39-40]
  • Reading AUTHORS other than God. “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” [2Tim 3:7]
  • CLASS attendance without studying at home. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” [John 6:35]
  • KNOWLEDGE in Social media memes which sound right but are very wrong. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” [Acts 17:11]

Then we saw the 4 signs of a DEAD church.

  • DOCTRINE gets replaced by TRADITIONS. “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” [Mark 7:7].
  • EDIFICATION replaced by ENTERTAINMENT. Paul asked, “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?” [1Cor 11:22]
  • AUTHORITY of the word is replaced with FEELINGS. These feelings come from their own belly, not from the word of God. [Phil 3:19, 2King 5:11].
  • DISCIPLINE is replaced with TOLERANCE. Paul commanded the church at Corinth to DISCIPLINE an adulterous man [1Cor 5:1-2].

Now we shall see the 4 things we get when we READ:

  • READY to defend. Peter taught that we ought to be READY to give a defense of the hope that is in us. “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:” [1Pet 3:15]. Reading is what will make us READY.
  • EQUIPPED for every good work. Paul wrote to Timothy telling him that the scriptures are what shall equip us. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” [2Tim 3:16-17]
  • APPROVAL of God. Paul asked the Galatians if he were seeking the approval of men or of God. Of course, the answer is that we ought to seek the approval of God. Therefore, he said, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” [2Tim 2:15].
  • DOCTRINE of Christ. Lastly, when we read, we can know what is the mystery and the doctrine of Christ. [Eph 3:3-4; Rom 10:17]. There is only ONE SOUND DOCTRINE, and that is found in God’s written word. “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.” [2John 1:9]

As you can see, the reading of God’s word is so very powerful. It provides us with READINESS to defend, EQUIPPING for every good work, APPROVAL of God and knowledge of the DOCTRINE of Christ. When we READ, we will have all the knowledge we need for service in His Kingdom.

In 2020, let’s make reading a regular part of our day, and let’s “… grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” [2Peter 3:18]

–Spencer

4 Things we Think are Bible study

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“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge:” [Hosea 4:6a]

This warning from God ought to bother us. It ought to give us pause and make us ponder if the same problem is occurring today. It is.

The problem of a lack of knowledge is a common theme from Genesis, through the Old Testament and into the New. The Hebrew writer seemed exasperated that the Christians of that time had not grown in knowledge, stating they needed to have the basics taught all over again. [Heb 5:12]

It’s as if the craving for God’s word is waning [1Pet 2:2]. The Lord’s church used to be known for being a people “of the book.”

What Happened? As our lives were filled with more “conveniences” like cars, electric lights and heat, fast food, and numerous other things that have made the basics of life so much easier, we have somehow become busier. Where is all the time these ‘time savers’ have given us? How have we gotten so busy that there’s no time to spend time in God’s word? When will we find the time to start “seeking first the Kingdom of God?” [Matt 6:33]

When asked, nearly everyone agrees that we should regularly read the Bible, but hardly anyone does. Folks say to me, “I don’t like to read,” or “I just can’t find the time to read the Bible.” Still others say, “I just don’t know it as well as I should.”

MAYBE BEING BUSY IS JUST PART OF THE PROBLEM. One of the results of a busy life are the shortcuts we take to do more of the things we ought. We’re all looking for shortcuts or ‘hacks,’ from drive-thru food to Google. The study of God’s word has suffered from short cuts that allow us to believe that we’ve studied God’s word when in fact we have not. Here are four shortcuts to the study of God’s word we think are making us more spiritual.

4 Bible study hacks that are not.

LOOKING over the text but not studying it. It’s possible to read the bible and still miss what is being taught. I speak with people who read through the bible yearly, yet also doesn’t recognize water baptism. This is not new; the Pharisees were guilty of missing the lessons about Christ. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” [John 5:39-40]

Reading AUTHORS other than God. Or worse, watching a lifetime movie and thinking we’ve had a Bible study. There are some good books and authors, but none of them compare to the actual text. One religious man recognized that he read more about the Bible than he ever read of the Bible. Once he began reading the Bible, he came to the knowledge of the truth and obeyed the Gospel. “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” [2Tim 3:7] Let’s remember that the writings in the Bible are from the Lord. [1Cor 14:37]

CLASS attendance without studying at home. I love our corporate Bible studies, but let’s not become deluded into thinking that one or two 45-minute sessions count as meditating over God’s word. It’s a confirmed fact that I seldom miss a meal, but the ‘bread of life’ provides a much greater nourishment, the feeding of our soul. Miss a meal, but don’t miss an opportunity to read the Bible at home. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” [John 6:35]

KNOWLEDGE in Social media memes which sound right but are very wrong. Our modern age has brought about a wonderful access to information. Most of us carry around, in our pockets, access to the knowledge of the world. Most of us also know that some of that knowledge is completely wrong. Just because we see it on the internet doesn’t make it true. The abundance of warnings in the Bible against false teachers should be sufficient to make us want to verify what is said online. The teaching of the Apostle Paul was vetted by the Bereans, and he didn’t mind it one bit. They’re called ‘more noble’ for doing it. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” [Acts 17:11]

As we approach the new year, let’s take a look at how much we’ve studied of God’s word, and make a resolution to commit to a daily diligence to show ourselves approved unto God. [2Tim 2:15]

—- spencer

8 Scriptural Reasons to be Thankful

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Today begins Thanksgiving week for most of us in this country. A time when family gathers around a Thanksgiving Feast. The national holiday will be, for some, the only time in the year thanksgiving will be offered to God in prayer.

Ungrateful = Unhappy

I can say this with confidence because our culture is a complaining culture. One cannot be grateful while complaining. There are 2 main things we can’t have when we’re complaining:

Can’t be HAPPY.

Philippians 2:14

Can’t PLEASE God.

Numbers 11:1

Gratitude = Happiness

I can also say with confidence that HAPPY people are also GRATEFUL people regardless of circumstances. This doesn’t mean they’re without problems. NO. They’re happy despite the difficulties of life. Job is given as the classical example of HAPPINESS despite deep trouble. He both PLEASED God, and was called HAPPY.

“Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” [James 5:11; cr. Job 1:21-22]

Despite the deep pain and loss, Job teaches us about HOPE, which comes from maintaining gratitude toward God.

Here are 8 REASONS to be thankful.

First, we ought to be thankful for our EXISTENCE. “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:” [Ps 100:3; 139:13-14]

Second, we give thanks for the GIFT of CHRIST. “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” [John 3:16; 2Cor 9:15]

Third, we should give thanks for GOD’S REVEALED WORD. “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” [2Cor 2:14]

Fourth, those of us who have obeyed the gospel can give thanks for CONVERSION & SALVATION in Christ. “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” [Rom 6:16-18]

Fifth, we should certainly be aware of the blessings given from above for our DAILY NEEDS. “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:” [1Tim 4:3-4; James 1:17]

Sixth, we give thanks for PEOPLE, whether we like them or not. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;” [1Tim 2:1-2]

Seventh, we give thanks for the VICTORY in Christ over death. “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [1Cor 15:54-57; Rom 6:23]

The Eighth reason completes this gratitude list by covering the rest. “Be careful for nothing; but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” [Phil 4:6]

You may have also noted above that THANKSGIVING ought to be OFFERED to GOD through and in the NAME of CHRIST.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” [Colossians 3:17]

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” [Eph 5:20]

May not only this week be full of blessings and Thanksgiving, but also every day of every year.

—Spencer

HONK if you Love Jesus

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While stopping at a light, a fellow got behind a car with a “HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS” bumper sticker. So, he did.

The lady started waving her arms and using certain hand gestures then leaned out the window shouting, “THE LIGHTS RED YOU IDIOT!”

On social media you’ll find posts like…

“If you Love Jesus, share this post. If you love Satan, keep on scrolling.”

You don’t want anyone to think you love Satan over Jesus, right?

This appears to be what Loving Jesus has become, acknowledge that you love him by HONKING, LIKING & SHARING a meme [a meme is a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.].

INDISTINGUISHABLE FAITH:

We are living in a time when the believing world thinks all other believers are saved. This despite the variations in TEACHING, DOCTRINE, DEFINITION of SIN, & HOW TO BE SAVED. Clearly these differences are a direct violation of 1Corinthians 1:10.

“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the SAME thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the SAME mind and in the SAME judgment.”

What does ‘ecumenical’ mean?

Promoting or relating to unity among the world’s Christian Churches, regardless of doctrine, teaching or organization.

The believing world is ecumenical. They have unity with Islam, Judaism, Buddhism & every other belief system. How? Simple, they are unified in the worldly definition of LOVE & TOLERANCE.

If you LOVE, and TOLERATE others who have love, regardless of what is being taught, then there’s unity. I’m not making this up. This is my experience whenever I suggest to someone that OBEDIENCE TO THE FAITH is a requirement of salvation. “That’s not loving,” they’ll say.

“Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name,” [Romans 1:5]

The love they believe is defined by the world. Definitions from the world are ever changing. LOVE, IN THE WORLD’S MIND, CAN INCLUDE SIN. It can include direct disobedience to the scriptures. The love of the world can include ignoring Christ altogether.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” [1John 2:15]

They might even quote scripture (without understanding):

  • God is Love. 1John 4:8, 16
  • John 3:16 says, “God loved the world.”
  • “All you need is love.” (this is a quote from the Beatles, not God)

There can be no denying that God is Love, and that He requires Love from us. What needs to be clarified is what is the definition of that Love.

GOD IS LOVE:

Since God is love, He knows best how to define it, and He has. All we need do is search the scriptures to learn God’s definition of Love.

  • Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  • 1John 3:16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
  • Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
  • John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
  • John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.
  • John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
  • John 15:10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
  • 1John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
  • 2John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

And lastly, one of the most concise passages on love is 1Corinthians 13;

“Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth:” [1Cor 13:4-8a]

Love in the Bible is so much more than a feeling, sharing a post or honking a horn. It’s about a sacrificial devotion to our creator which includes our obedience to His revealed will. DO YOU LOVE JESUS? Share His Gospel.

—Spencer

Why Would God Say NO to Our Prayer?

The world misunderstands how prayer works, and the mockers use those errors to attack the church. We must understand it otherwise we may fall into temptation and lose our faith.

Here are just a few of the misunderstandings about prayer:

  • When bad things happen in the world, mockers attack when someone says, “our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
  • When a prayer is not answered, the weak in faith and those that don’t understand, get angry with God and fall away. One fellow said, “Me and God aren’t on speaking terms.”
  • When God says no, some doubt their own faith and become disillusioned about the effectiveness of prayer.
  • Others fall into atheism when God doesn’t give them what they ask for in their prayer. Perhaps a sick child passes away despite the ongoing prayers. David teaches us a better way. [2Sam 12:16-23].
  • Some get weaker. Paul was told no in 2Corinthians 12:7-10, but he became stronger. We can too, once we learn why God might say no to our prayer.

 

WHY WOULD GOD SAY NO?

AGAINST HIS WILL. Let’s face the facts, some of our prayers are not according to His will. We don’t know what He wants because we don’t read His word and we ask for things God has never promised to give. It’s incumbent upon us to know what He wants.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

[1John 5:14]

 

 

MISUNDERSTAND OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. God looks to those in Christ as His children and is training us as a Father does with a child. Would you give your young child everything he may wish? Certainly not, and God won’t either, because He loves us too much to give us something for which we are too immature to handle.

Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” [Hebrews 12:9-11]

 

 

INDECISIVE PRAYER.  Our prayers are duplicitous, or in opposition with other prayers. We shouldn’t expect anything if we’re praying against ourselves or if we doubt that God can answer. Some even begin their prayer with, “God, if you’re there…”

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” [James 1:6-8]

 

 

SELFISH PRAYER. For some, prayer is nothing more than having a genie in a bottle. You see something you want so you pray for it, as if God is just sitting on His throne granting wishes.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” [James 4:3]

 

 

SINNER PRAYER. This is not the prayer of the sinner asking God for enlightenment as Cornelius did [Acts 10:1-2]. Which, when he heard the word of God, he obeyed the gospel in Baptism. No, I’m referring to the prayer of an unrepentant sinner. If you’re asking God for some blessing while you’re disobedient to His word, living in an unsaved condition, don’t expect a single thing from Him. It’s a worthless prayer because God has said that He doesn’t heed the prayer of the sinner.

When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil,” [Isaiah 1:15-16]

 There are many more such examples of God promising a NO to those who continue in sin. [Joh 9:31; Job 27:9; 35:12; Ps 18:41; 34:15; 66:18; Pr 1:28; 15:29; 28:9; Isa 1:15; Jer 11:11; 14:12; Eze 8:18; Mic 3:4; Zec 7:13; Joh 21:25]

 

 

CONCLUSION: You see, we ask and do not have because we ask AMISS [James 4:3]. It’s proven that we can pray in vain error. When we ask AMISS, don’t expect anything from God.

For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;” [James 1:7]

My prayer is that you come to a full understanding about prayer so that you can have the confidence that your petitions to God are heard according to His will.

—Spencer

Why Did Jesus Appear to Saul

Why did Jesus appear personally to Saul (later called Paul) on the way to Damascus?

  • To tell him what to do to be SAVED? No
  • To PARDON him?

After His ascension, Jesus never appeared to anyone to pardon sins. Why? Because God has ordained a law of pardon [Mat 28:19-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38].

Jesus saves no one except through obedience to the gospel plan of salvation [Heb 5:8-9]. There is no scriptural evidence that He ever appeared and saved someone outside of gospel obedience. He did providentially bring sinners into contact with a gospel preacher who would tell them what to do to be saved.

Why did Jesus appear in person to Saul? The answer is to make him an Apostle [Acts 26:16-18].

The criteria to be an Apostle, a man must have seen the Lord Jesus Christ after He arose from the dead [Acts 1:22; 2Pet 1:16; 1John 1:1, 4:14]. Paul had not been a witness of the resurrection of Christ until the Lord appeared to him on the highway [1Cor 15:8].

  • Saul was a chosen vessel [Acts 9:15].
  • He was one ‘born out of due time’ [1Cor 15:8].

 

All of the Apostles were witnesses of the resurrection of Christ [John 20:19-31]. It was necessary for Paul to be made a witness also by this appearance of Christ to him on the Damascus highway. The purpose of the highway appearance was not to save him, but to make him a witness.

Ananias was instructed to go to Saul. He told him to “arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” [Acts 22:14-16]. Note what he DIDN’T tell Paul…

  • To pray and ask Jesus into his heart.
  • To get religion.
  • To speak in tongues as a sign that Jesus accepted him.
  • That he was already saved.

 

He told him to “arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Just as Christ had commanded [Mat 28:18-20; Mark 16:16]

What did Saul do to be saved? FIRST, we note that he believed. Jesus had appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Saul was on a mission of persecuting the church of Christ. Then the Lord appeared to him and told him that it was Jesus he was persecuting. Saul saw Him and heard His voice. Saul believed in the risen Jesus on that Damascus highway. [Acts 22:10; 26:14-18]

NEXT, he repented. Upon arriving to Damascus, he was blind and his attitude was changed [Acts 26:19]. He was ready and willing to do whatever the Lord would command despite his past [Acts 22:10]. He went to the house of Judas at the Lord’s command. He waited for 3 days in a penitent state [Acts 9:9].

THEN he was baptized. He was a penitent believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. There was but one thing left for him to do. He was already a believer, and had already repented. He needed to be BAPTIZED FOR THE REMISSION OF SIN [Acts 2:38; 22;16].

In his letter to the Romans, he tells us how & why he was baptized. “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.” [Rom 6:3-4]

Notice the pronouns ‘us’ and ‘we’ by which Paul is including himself along with these gentile brethren among those buried with Christ by baptism. When he took that step into baptism, he himself was putting on Christ. [Gal 3:27]

From Pharisee of Pharisees and Persecutor of the church of Christ to ALL IN PAUL for the spreading of the gospel. What a shining example of faith and duty.

 

—Spencer

Jesus, the Way

The Hebrew writer speaks about Jesus as bringing better things for us:

But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.”

[Heb 6:9]

Jesus tells us about a few of these better things when He said that He is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

[John 14:6]

We’ll study about more of these ‘BETTER THINGS’ as we delve into the story of Jesus, His ministry, His teachings & His sacrifice.

It’s important for us to study, as far too many have a misunderstanding about Jesus. They make Jesus into a genie. The struggles of life cause many to look to Jesus, but they often encounter erroneous & contradictory teachings. These false teachings won’t take away the struggles, rather they will turn them into despair.

  • Do you have problems? Are you confused about the answers? Do you know that Jesus has revealed to us all things pertaining to life & godliness [2Pet 1:3]? Through the guidance of His word we can smooth out many of life’s problems. When we study His word, we will discover how profitable it is to our life on this earth.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

[2Tim 3:16-17]

  • Do you feel lost with a feeling of despair? That can be overwhelming. You’re not alone. Jesus felt all of the same things you feel, yet without sin.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”     [Isaiah 53:3]

  • Are you afraid? “HAVE NO FEAR” is an idea found hundreds of times throughout scripture, and is one of those better things found in Christ. [1John 4:17-18]
  • Are you confused about the Bible? A confusion caused by the 1,000’s of denominations in our world. You don’t have to be, because Jesus is the way to a better truth. He is the truth.

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” [John 1:17]

  • Are you confused about the church? It’s easy to see why by the many denominations proclaiming to be the Lord’s church. All the while as they preach another Jesus, another Gospel and another spirit [2Cor 11:4]. Jesus spoke of better things about the church. Jesus made a promise to build A church. Just ONE, [Eph 4:4; 1:22-23]. The church that He would build would be paid for with His own shed blood [Acts 20:28]. The church that Christ built has Himself as the chief cornerstone [Eph 2:20]. And you cannot join His church. No sir, you cannot join the church of Christ. You must be ADDED TO IT by the Lord through obedience to His instructions, “repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” [Acts 2:38, 41, 47]

I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” [Matt 16:18b]

These are just a few of the ‘better things’ found in Christ. Everything will be better in Christ, in His WAY, in His TRUTH and in His LIFE. Please, I beg you, get in that WAY, that bright & shining WAY.

—Spencer

Why so much evil in the world

19 Reasons Why There is so Much Evil in the World - YouTube

 

THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION is very simple but not liked. The question always arises after such violent tragedies as was seen this last week in El Paso & Dayton (just 2 of many in recent years). In reality, millions of people have suffered under tyrannical evil from the time after the Garden. [Gen 3]

Evil exists because of the fall in the garden of Eden. It entered the world through the tempting by the serpent.

Since then, mankind has had to struggle with sin (evil’s real name). EVIL does not exist unless there is something that is GOOD (it’s the absence of good). For us to distinguish between the two there must be a moral law. A moral law that doesn’t move with the times requires a MORAL LAW GIVER. We call Him GOD.

Paul wrote, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “There is none righteous, no, not one:” [Rom 3:10; Ps 14:1-3; 53:1]. This being true, mankind is not generally good. Neither are they generally evil as the error of inherited sin proposes. Babies are innocent (2Sam 12:23; Mark 10:14), as are those born with stunted mental ability & remain with a childlike maturity. What this means is that sin is in the world, and man learns to sin. We all sin, if we say we’re without sin we lie. [1John 1:7]

So, where does all of this evil come from? It comes from sin. James gives more information about the source of wars & fighting;

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” [James 4:1-4]

Therefore, evil comes because of selfish, narcissistic lusts & desires. Now that we’ve established that sin is in the world, which is evil, let’s approach it from another direction.

Witnessing the terrible evils of our day give us much grief, perhaps anxiety. Definitely frustration and anger. The next question is this; “HOW DO I COPE WITH THE EVIL?”

This question is a bit more difficult to answer as each person must wrestle with their own emotions & reasonings. However, there may be help by understanding a major reality of this life. (This is just one of five things to help you cope. The other four will be in this morning’s sermon.)

PARADISE has been lost. It was lost within 100 years of creation and will no longer be found on earth.

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.” [Gen 3:22-24]

We will never be able to eradicate EVIL; no laws will stop it. There’s no place on Earth you can go to avoid it. Therein lies the key, no place ON EARTH. Utopia, bliss, peace, whatever word you want to use shall not be found on the Earth. This is awaiting the faithful in HEAVEN.

God has provided a way of escape and a way to cope with the evil of this world by providing a rescue plan in Christ Jesus. “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” [Rom 5:21, cr. Rev 21:1-8]

This is the first of five keys to coping with EVIL in this life but, it’s one of the most important. Let me sum in up this way; EVIL angers & frustrates us because we think we can get rid of it. We can’t. We CAN make things better in this life by working on brightening our own lights in the Gospel and teaching others to obey the Gospel also. This is the only proven way to fight evil.