Is God Speaking to you?

MANY FOLKS I MEET say that God is speaking to them (separate and apart from the written word of God). It’s obvious to me that God is not in fact speaking with them. You can see it as well, because these folks are…

  • worshiping differently from the word,
  • acting (often with sin) different from the word
  • speaking differently from the word.

Ironically, these folks are lousy at quoting scripture, correctly referring to scripture and generally ignorant about scripture. If God is speaking to you then why are they so ignorant about scripture? Only 2 conclusions can be drawn, either they aren’t being spoken to by God (my belief) or God is an author of confusion. “For God is NOT the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” [1Co 14:33]. (emphasis mine)

There are 4 major problems with this position. Not only is it ERROR but it has a problem with AUTHENTICITY, a problem of REPEATED REVIEW by others and a problem with ACCESS to others. The written word of God solves every one of these problems. Let’s look at the first 2; ERROR & AUTHENTICITY.

The 1st Problem of A Personal Revelation, ERROR.

God speaks to us through His divine written word. Jesus said that “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” [Matt 28:18]. He also said that the Holy Spirit would come to guide the Apostles into all truth [John 16:13]. This is exactly what happened, and as the Holy Spirit guided them, He provided signs & wonders as a confirmation that what they spoke was from God [Mark 16:20; Acts 5:12; 14:3; 1Cor 2:4-5; Heb 2:4]. These men both spoke AND wrote what they received from God [2Peter 1:21; Eph 3:3; John 20:30-31]. Finally, after the revelation from God was completed, the signs & wonders also ceased [1Cor 13:8-10].

Therefore, when we read, we can understand and believe what they understood and believed about Jesus the Christ [Eph 3:4]. A person that studies God’s revealed, written word, can know EVERYTHING he needs to know regarding life, godliness and salvation [2Tim 3:16-17]. To suppose that God is speaking directly to you today (separate and apart from His written word) is to say that God is doing something that scripture shows to be a very RARE occurrence and that you’re somehow more special than everyone else making God out to be a respecter of persons [Acts 10:34].

Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.”

The 2nd Problem of A Personal Revelation, AUTHENTICITY.

How do you know that what you’re “hearing” is from God and not due to a feeling, desire or lust? James wrote that we are drawn by our own lusts, “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” [Jas 1:14-15]. How do you know that the “voice” you’re hearing is not a Mental health problem? You may hear voices if you experience psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or severe depression.

IF you’re being spoken to by God, how do WE know? In the Bible, the person who received instructions from God also had signs to CONFIRM that what they said was from God. He even gave us tests to know the difference between someone speaking from God from one who was not.

4 TESTS of a PROPHET;

First, do they deny that Jesus Christ came in the flesh [1John 4:2]? Second, does what they’re saying match the written word [1John 4:6; Gal 1:8, 9]? Third, does what they predict or affirm come true, or if they say a miracle will happen, does it [Deuteronomy 18:21-22]? Last, even if by some chance their sign does comes to pass, do their teachings contradict the teachings that have already been written [Deuteronomy 13:1-3]? If they’re able to perform a wonder, the accompanying teaching still must match the written word! Each of these tests has one thing in common, it must be consistent with what has already been revealed and written.

Conclusion:

To believe that God is speaking to you today (separate and apart from the written word) contradicts scripture and creates a huge problem of AUTHENTICITY. The next article will address the problem of REPEATED REVIEW by others. The only way to know what God’s will is for your life is through a diligent study of His divine word, rightly divided.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”   2Timothy 2:15

Is One Denomination as good as another?

all-denominations

IT ALWAYS amazes me when someone explains how one denomination is as good as another regarding worship or salvation. Denomination, by its very definition means division. Today, there are around 33,000 Christian denominations in the U.S.

These 33,000 are subdivided into 6 major mega-blocs in order of size, rounded slightly for convenience:

  • Independents (about 22000)
  • Protestants (about 9000)
  • “Marginals” (about 1600)
  • Orthodox (781)
  • Roman Catholics (242)
  • Anglicans (168)

One reason there are so many denominations is because of the variety of teachings. Some teach baptism by sprinkling, others teach no baptism at all. Still others teach sin is wrong whereas others teach no repentance is required. You can join a black only church, a woman church, or even a church of Satan! Is this what Jesus had in mind when He built His church?

WHY SO MANY DIVISIONS?

Some very important questions are raised when you begin to think about these divisions. Did God authorize so many divisions? Is one denomination just as good as another? Does it matter which church you join? All of them are important questions, so what does the bible say? The Apostle Paul found this division problem as far back as the 1st century, and he wrote to the church to correct it;

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. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” [1Co 1:10-13]

It’s clear from this text that God had no intention for us to divide up into these denominations. These divisions are causing confusion among people and they are being led astray, or even being turned off of religion because they don’t know where to turn for truth. If ANY DENOMINATION will do, does that make God an author of confusion? Certainly not…

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” [1Corinthians 14:33].

Let’s illustrate why this fallacy of “any denomination is as good as another” is wrong. Look at our own currency. We call the different size bills, denominations.

denominations-bills

If you could have only one of these bills, which would you choose? Since, “one denomination is as good as another” it makes no difference which bill you take, right? After using this illustration, one person said, “Yes it makes a difference, one denomination goes farther than the other.” That is exactly right, just as in our currency, so also with denominations of religion, one goes farther UP than another. Again, we go back to the scriptures for the answer…

Jesus said, “I will build MY church.” [Matthew 16:18]. He didn’t say “churches” plural, He said “church” singular.

Jesus sent the Holy Spirit who instructed Paul to write, “there is ONE body” [Ephesians 4:4], and the body is the church, [Ephesians 1:22-23].

The reason there are so many denominations comes down to this one point; error. Jesus said, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures,” [Matthew 22:29]. We are supposed to teach the same thing [Mat 28:20], when we do we will be added to the one church that Christ has built.

Please everyone Lose everything

donkey

THERE WAS AN OLD MAN, a boy and a donkey. They were going to town and the boy was riding the donkey, with the old man walking alongside.

As they rambled along, they passed some old women sitting in the shade. One of the women called out, ”Shame on you, a great lump of a boy, riding while your old father is walking.” The man and boy decided that maybe the critics were right so they changed positions.

Later they ambled by a group of mothers watching their young children play by the river. One cried out in protest, “How could you make your little boy walk in the hot sun while you ride?!” The two travelers decided that maybe they both should walk.

Next, they met some young men out for a stroll. “How stupid you are to walk when you have a perfectly good donkey to ride!” one yelled derisively. So, both father and son clambered onto the donkey, deciding they both should ride.

They were soon settled and underway again. They next encountered some children who were on their way home from school. One girl shouted, “How mean to put such a load on a poor little animal.” The old man and the boy saw no alternative. Maybe the critics were right. They now struggled to carry the donkey. As they crossed a bridge, they lost their grip on the confused animal and he fell to his death in the river.

You know the moral of the story, if you try to please everyone you will never know what to do, it will be hard to get anywhere, you will please no-one, not even yourself, and you will probably lose everything. We can say it another way, DON’T SET YOURSELF ON FIRE TRYING TO KEEP OTHERS WARM.

We spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think about us. We are continually perplexed because we can never please everybody. The English poet, John Lydgate once said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. Another problem that arises from seeking others approval, is when we find out that they weren’t thinking about us at all. STOP TRYING!

We ought rather, to strive to please God and do unto others as we would have them do unto us [Mat 7:12], instead of worrying about someone thinking us foolish. There is a lesson here for all of us. We will be happier if we learn it.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.” [1Cor 4:3-4]

There comes a point when you must realize that you’ll never be good enough for some people. That’s their problem. The only One from whom we need any approval is God and He always knows what is right and what is in your heart. [Heb 4:12; cr. John 8:29; Rom 8:8; 1Cor 7:32, 10:33; Gal 1:10; Php 4:18; 1Thess 2:15; 4:1; 2Tim 2:4; Hebrews 11:6; 13:21]

“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 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 5:9-10]

How Liberalism wins.

BEFORE WE BEGIN, for the purpose of this article, we shall use the simple definitions of liberal & conservative. Liberal means; “not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted.”1 Conservative means; “the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change.”2

As it relates to religion, a conservative is one who wants to hold fast to the word of God. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” [1Pe 4:11], means that we do not go beyond the text of the scriptures. We’re told to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” [1Thess 5:21], and “not to think beyond what is written” [1Cor 4:6]. [cr. 2Peter 1:19-21; John 12:48; 2Thess 2:15]. This is what the Christians here at Franklin & Juniper church of Christ in Borger Texas want to do, hold fast to the Word of God.

A liberal, therefore, is the one who believes that we have freedom to move from tradition and authority, and have the ability to adjust religious beliefs and practices for the culture. They believe that strict adherance to the word of God is legalistic and unloving.

Many folks will apply labels of “liberal” or “conservative” but those terms mean different things according to where you’re standing at the time. As for me, I start with the undefiled Word of God [John 12:48] and want to CONSERVE that purity in my life and the church. “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him” [Pr 30:5 (cr. Psalm 119)].

Have you ever wondered why folks with strong conservative values allow error to creep in and pledge support for these errors? How do the “grievous wolves” that Paul spoke about, appear and how do they lead astray so many, even causing division in the church? Paul warned the Ephesian elders; “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” [Ac 20:29-30]. He also warned that Satan himself would appear as an “angel of light” and his ministers would appear as “ministers of righteousness” [2Cor 11:14-15].

I’ve noticed 3 arguments that are most often used in support of error. They are EMOTIONALIZE, DEMONIZE & CRITICIZE. Remember also, that change agents appear as “angels of light” [2Cor 11:14]. Let’s examine how this works, not with hate toward others, rather as a warning to all of us as we strive to do God’s will.

The 3 Arguments in support of error

EMOTIONALIZE: “It’s for the children” is the most oft used emotional argument to promote error. The users of these arguments seldom use scripture and when they do they “wrest the scriptures” [2Pe 3:16]. We saw it when denominations pushed for infant baptism. Truth teaches that babies are safe in the Lord [2Sam 12:23; Mat 19:13-14]. This argument continues to be utilized to go around the clear commands of God. We have to resist the urge to break God’s word when our emotions begin to burn. “Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God” [Jer 42:6]. Remember, our hearts can be (and often are) deceived [2Thess 2:10-11; 2Cor 11:14; Gal 1:8-9; Gal 6:7].

If there’s no success with this, they move onto…

DEMONIZE; The promoters of error demonize those that oppose them. While hanging onto the emotional argument, they malign the opposition. Paul faced this himself, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” [Ga 4:16] They’ll say we hate children, or are unloving, calling us “anti’s” & “legalists” because we say “I could not go beyond the word of the LORD, to do good or bad of my own will. What the LORD says, that I must speak‘?” [Num 24:13]

Then they will….

CRITICIZE; the opposition for doing things that they themselves are doing. The Apostles faced this very thing. They were criticized for preaching for gain, or for being arrogant, while the critics themselves were doing the very things they spoke against. “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.” [3John 1:9-10 (cr 2Cor 11 & 12)].

Many errors begin due to a lack of understanding on how to determine scriptural authority (or permissions). They also come due to a misunderstanding of the true work of the church. The work of the church is found in “the Great commission”; “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen [Mat 28:19-20]. It’s to TEACH the gospel and TEACH the new disciples to observe WHATSOEVER our Lord has commanded.

Please understand, I’m not against helping children, or being benevolent to strangers. I just want to do it God’s way. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” [Col 3:17].

1 – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liberal

2 – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conservate

I Love Facebook. I Hate Facebook.

THE AVERAGE FACEBOOK user now has about 338 friends, though the median number, 200, is quite a bit lower. This means that while half of all Facebook users have 200 or fewer friends, many of the billion-plus Facebookers have quite a few more. In fact, 15 percent of users have friend lists topping 500.

These numbers are consistent with other statistics on the number of people that the average person knows well enough to come to their wedding or funeral, about 150 – 200 friends. In essence, Facebook allows a person to communicate with every single person they know, every day.

In the past, if folks wanted to speak to every one of their friends they needed to have a TV program. Before that, their own radio program. Before that, 1895, they would have to send a personal communication to each and every person. Before that, it became much more complicated.

WHY I LOVE FACEBOOK

Facebook is a really big hill, a really, really big hill. It is for this reason alone that I love Facebook. As a Christian, I have a duty from God. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14, 16

Facebook gives us Christians an opportunity to demonstrate our good works, our Christian attitudes, our Christian love and our Christian values to every one of our family & friends that we’re connected with through social media. Another thing, when you add in the other forms of public social media, we have a platform that is so large that it would make the first century Christians cry with joy, recognizing the ability to Proclaim the word of the Lord to all the world. They did it the old fashioned way, through word of mouth [Romans 1:8; 10:18; 1Th 1:8].

For most of human history, conveying a message required huge amounts of effort, person to person, and from mouth to ear. Technology has aided in declaring God’s word. A written language, the development of paper. The Roman roads of the first century. The printing of the Gutenberg Bible in 1455 with the invention of the printing press. In our modern times, mass electronic communication methods such as radio, TV and now the internet has increased our reach.

WHY I HATE FACEBOOK

Unfortunately, I have not always shown my good works through social media and Facebook. Many of us use it as a soapbox for our political & personal ranting, ravings and whinings. I’ve personally noticed how we have alienated friends, family and even brethren over our personal opinions. Worse yet, the posting of less that Christ like pictures, likes, links and shares.

On numerous occasions, myself and other brethren, have posted mean spirited, ungodly and downright sinful compositions, even disparaging remarks about the Church! We expect that from the world [1Peter 2:12; 3:16], but ought not be named among brethren. “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” [James 3:10]

Though the thoughts may be true and the brethren sometimes falter [1Cor 6:11; 1Peter 2:18], God gave us a method for addressing sinful activities in the church. Go to him alone Mat 18:15, then only the church if he won’t hear you Mat 18:16-17. To take it to the world is absolutely condemned. “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?” [1Corinthians 6:1-8]. How does publically complaining about the church of our Lord aid in our evangelism efforts?

I declare to my brethren right now, I CONFESS MY SIN AND REPENT OF THIS UNRIGHTEOUS ACTIVITY. I hope you will too. Please pray for me as I also pray for you.

“Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” [Matthew 15:11]

– Spencer

“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”  (KJV) [Colossians 4:6]

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.

You got a minute?

One man asked another, “What are you doing?”

The man replied, “I’m sawing this tree down.”

The first asked, “Isn’t that hard work?”

“Oh, yes,” replied the sawyer, wiping his brow.

“Then why don’t you stop long enough to sharpen your saw?”

“Can’t,” retorted the sawyer. “Don’t have the time!”

THERE ARE A TON of things that take up our time. You’re a busy person, I am too. Kid activities, work, personal care, errands and the list goes on and on. With all of these things demanding your attention, do you ever have time for yourself? As an employee once said to me, “I could get something done if it weren’t for all the customers.”

SHARPEN THE SAW

You all know that I’m an advocate for keeping yourselves busy with the activities of helping others. However, sometimes, you have to help yourselves. You need to prepare yourself for service. You need to sharpen the saw. As the Boy Scouts teach, “Be Prepared.”

One way to prepare yourself for service is by studying God’s word on a regular basis. The Apostle Paul taught Timothy, “give attendance to reading,” [1Timothy 4:13]. He also taught, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God,” [2Timothy 2:15]. And lest we forget, our Savior warned, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures,” [Matthew 22:29].

At the beginning of this New Year, as we resolve to improve ourselves, I encourage you to include a plan to read your bibles. Private study of God’s word is a way to “sharpen the saw.”

This year, rather than the typical Bible reading programs where you feel you have to take on large chunks of scripture, let’s take a timed approach.

10 MINUTES A DAY

Do you have just 10 minutes every day? I’m sure all of us can squeak out just 10 minutes. It doesn’t seem like much, but over a year, that 10 minutes adds up to 3,650 minutes! If you have more time, great, but let’s see what can be accomplished in just 10 minutes every day.

Reading at pulpit pace, aloud, not too quickly, it only takes 960 minutes to read the entire New Testament. This means that you can read the NT nearly 4 times this year alone!!!

It only takes 3,360 minutes to read the entire Old Testament, which means it only takes one year to read the OT in one year taking just 10 minutes a day.

If you read for 10 minutes in the morning, or over lunch, and 10 minutes at night before bed, one could read the entire Bible this year, and the New Testament would have been read 4 times!! As NT Christians, what a wonderfully easy way to learn God’s word.

Adults in the US will spend an average of 5 hours, 31 minutes watching videos each day this year, according to new figures from eMarketer. For all of those spreadsheet people, here is a breakdown of how long it takes  to read aloud each book of the Bible. I think we all can find 10 minutes today.

OLD TESTAMENT

Books – # of chapters – Reading Time

1. Genesis- 50           3hrs. 46min.

2. Exodus- 40           2hrs. 40min.

3. Leviticus- 27         2hrs. 16min.

4. Numbers- 36         2hrs. 55min.

5. Deut.- 34              2hrs. 32min.

6. Joshua- 24            01hr. 50min.

7. Judges- 21            01hr. 37min.

8. Ruth- 04               0hrs. 12min.

9. I Samuel- 31         2hrs. 00min.

10. II Samuel- 24      01hr. 59min.

11. I Kings- 22          2hrs. 13min.

12. II Kings- 25         2hrs. 13min.

13. I Chronicles- 29   2hrs. 18min.

14. II Chronicles- 36 2hrs. 20min.

15. Ezra- 10              0hrs. 40min.

16. Nehemiah-13       01hr. 04min.

17. Esther- 10           0hrs. 30min.

18. Job- 42               01hr. 33min.

19. Psalms- 150         4hrs. 02min.

20. Proverbs- 31        01hr. 30min.

21. Eccles.- 12          0hrs. 31min.

22. Song Sol- 08       0hrs. 16min.

23. Isaiah- 66            3hrs. 37min.

24. Jeremiah- 52        3hrs. 54min.

25. Lamentations- 05 0hrs. 18min.

26. Ezekiel- 48          3hrs. 24min.

27. Daniel- 12           1hr. 08min.

28. Hosea- 14           0hrs. 30min.

29. Joel- 03               0hrs. 10min.

30. Amos- 09            0hrs. 23min.

31. Obadiah- 01        0hrs. 02min.

32. Jonah- 04            0hrs. 07min.

33. Micah- 07           0hrs. 15min.

34. Nahum- 03          0hrs. 07min.

35. Habakkuk- 03      0hrs. 09min.

36. Zephaniah-03      0hrs. 09min.

37. Haggai- 02- 0hrs. 06min.

38. Zechariah- 14- 0hrs. 33min.

39. Malachi- 04- 0hrs. 08min.

Total Old Testament 55hrs. 57min.

 

NEW TESTAMENT

Books – # of chapters – Reading Time

1. Matthew- 28          1hr. 56min.

2. Mark- 16              1hr. 16min.

3. Luke- 24               2hrs. 18min.

4. John- 21               01hr. 44min.

5. Acts- 28                2hrs. 10min.

6. Romans- 16           0hrs. 47min.

7. I Corinthians- 16    0hrs. 41min.

8. II Corinthians-13   0hrs. 35min.

9. Galatians- 06         0hrs. 20min.

10. Ephesians- 06      0hrs. 17min.

11. Philippians-04     0hrs. 10min.

12. Colossians-04      0hrs. 10min.

13. I Thessalonians-   05 -0hrs. 09min.

14. II Thessalonians  03- 0hrs. 06min.

15. I Timothy- 06-     0hrs. 14min.

16. II Timothy-04-     0hrs. 11min.

17. Titus- 03- 0hrs.    06min.

18. Philemon- 01-      0hrs. 01min.

19. Hebrews- 13       0hrs. 45min.

20. James- 05           0hrs. 13min.

21. I Peter- 05           0hrs. 17min.

22. II Peter- 03          0hrs. 10min.

23. I John- 05           0hrs. 11min.

24. II John- 01          0hrs. 01min.

25. III John- 01         0hrs. 01min.

26. Jude- 01              0hrs. 04min.

27. Revelation-22      01hr. 03min.

 

Total New Testament 15hrs. 56min.

Total reading time:

almost 72 hours

 

 

How to start a church

What if there were no church in Borger, how would you start one?

I knew of a man that became a Christian. The way that he learned the truth was very motivational. He had suffered a debilitating accident which caused him to search for meaning. He began reading his bible. Upon completing the Old Testament, he said, “I’ve got to learn how to serve God, but I’m going to finish reading the Bible first.”

After completely reading the New Testament he said, “I’ve got to do be saved.” He then began seeking Christians. First he looked to the largest “church”. He was immediately disappointed because what he found didn’t match what he had read about in the Bible.

So he continued visiting churches, Baptists, Methodists etc. All along the way he kept asking the people at these places, “why do you do what you do and how do I get saved?” Their answers disappointed him, for they were unable to give an answer that matched what he had read in his Bible.

Then one day he responded to a newspaper ad offering a Bible correspondence course to people that wanted to study the Bible. He completed the course and was very excited because everything taught was completely consistent with the Bible that he read.

After the completion of the course, he invited the man that sent him the course to his home and asked to be saved. He already knew what to do, He believed, confessed Jesus to be the son of God, repented and wanted to be baptized for the remission of sins. [Romans 10:14, John 11:24, Luke 13:3, Matthew 10:32-33, Mark 16:15-16, 2Peter 2:20-22]

Because there was a group of Christians that met in his area, he began assembling with them until the day he passed from this earth.

What if there wasn’t a church in Borger?

What if he had read the whole bible, learning to obey the Gospel yet finding nowhere to worship as God had commanded? [John 4:24] How would he go about starting a New Testament church? Certainly he must find others of ‘like precious faith’. [2Peter 1:1] He would have read, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” [Matthew 18:20]

He would have either found them or taught them. Then what? Now that there are 2 or more, what do they do next? Certainly they have learned to serve the Lord, [Colossians 3:24] but how would they worship? [John 4:21]

You study the Bible.

How did folks do it before us? How did they do it in the Bible? They read and studied it. Paul wrote to the early Christians, “whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ;” [Ephesians 3:4] He also taught people to study the scriptures. [2Timothy 3:15] We can be honorable today, just like the Bereans when they searched the scriptures daily. [Acts 17:11]

Let’s imagine what might have happened, had this small group of people sought to serve God and begin a church in their city.

The Bible our only Guide.

So they read and studied their Bibles. The first thing they did, as a small group of Christians wishing to worship God and to serve him correctly, is to decide to use the Bible as their only guide. To speak where the Bible speaks, and to be silent when it is silent. [1Peter 4:11; 2Samuel 7:7]

Scriptural Worship

Next they asked one another, “How shall we worship Him and what shall we do?” Turning again to scripture they learn that truth is necessary. [John 4:24] They find that Jesus commanded Christians to remember His death by observing the Lord’s Supper. [Luke 22:14-20; 1Corinthians 11:14-34]

Then one of them might ask, “When should we do this remembrance? Should we meet annually, perhaps once a month?” Back to the scriptures they go, seeking the TRUTH of the matter. It is there that they find this passage, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” [Acts 20:7] Since every week has a first day, and there being no additional instruction, they decide to meet every first day of the week, which is Sunday the day following the Sabbath.

While searching the answer to that question, they noted that the passage mentions Paul preaching. Remembering that he also taught to imitate him as he imitated Christ, [1Corinthians 11:1] they recognize that since Christ preached, they must also follow the Godly examples of the scriptures. [Mark 2:2] So they included preaching along with the Lord’s Supper during their worship assembly.

Praying and Singing

So they came together to worship. Then one may have said, “I wonder if we could pray during our worship?” So once again, they return to the scriptures to find permission to pray during the assembly. This answer came quickly, for multiple passages supported the exercise of prayer. [1Thessalonians 5:17, Acts 20:36, Luke 5:16, 1Corinthians 11:23-26]

Another asked about singing. Once again the scriptures showed them they could and should sing. [Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16] Another may have suggested an instrument to aid in the singing, but to their dismay, no command, example or suggestion of an instrument was found in the New Testament worship. They easily found those aids in the Old Testament, but somebody pointed out in the scriptures where it said, “In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete.” [Hebrews 8:13]

By now they have become quite accustomed to searching the scriptures for what they must do. Finding additional passages confirming that they were on the right path. Passages like, “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]

Problems in the church

All was bliss until one of their number had a need for aid. Since the habit was now engrained into their minds for searching the scriptures, they once again sought the advice of the Lord. They found that money was an important aspect of completing the work. They found in the scriptures where the members were commanded to lay aside money for the work of the Lord. That this work included helping needy saints, but also was to be used for spreading the gospel through the support of preachers and edification of the church. [1Corinthians 16:1-4, 2Corinthians 8 & 9, 1Timothy 5:18, Ephesians 4:16; 1Corinthians 14:26; Acts 20:32]

What’s the name of the church?

The church began to grow, for they were doing exactly what the Lord commanded them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” [Mt 28:19-20] They were teaching others, teaching only what was in the Bible from God. There was one more problem that arose, the new comers began asking, “What do we call this church?

It hadn’t yet occurred to them that they might need a name. Again, as they have done for every question thus far, they searched the scriptures for a name. One person suggested they name the group after the founding member, Gus. He would have none of that telling them that he didn’t die for the church. [1Corinthians 1:13] As they searched they found several names. ‘They Way’ [Acts 19:9, 23] ‘Church of God’ [Acts 20:28] ‘church of Christ’ [Romans 16:16] ‘The general assembly and church of the firstborn’ [Hebrews 12:23]. What name should they choose, since so many were found? Then this scripture was read, “Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” [Matthew 16:16-18]

This reminded them of another passage, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;” [Ephesians 2:20] and others [1Corinthians 3:11, Ephesians 5:23, 1Peter 2:6, 7]. After completing a full study of God’s word on the matter, the settled upon the church of Christ.

Everyone was happy, endeavoring for unity in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. [Ephesians 4:3-6] If any other “issues” arose, they would consult the scriptures. When difficulties came, they searched the scriptures. Whatever they did, in word or deed, they did all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. They were just Christians.

Would you like to be just a Christian? You may, if you do what so many others have done and what is shown in the Bible.

What doth hinder you?

In Acts 8, the Ethiopian Eunich asked, “….what doth hinder me to be baptized?” [Acts 8:36] This is the question that needs to be answered, what hinders you?

As I was reading Mark, this passage caused me to pause, ”That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” [Mr 4:12] It caused me to think about people that are blinded to the truth….

  • No one is so blind….
    • As one who WILL NOT SEE.
  • No one is so Deaf….
    • As one who WILL NOT HEAR.
  • No one is so illiterate….
    • As one who WILL NOT READ. [Eph 3:4]
  • No one is so ignorant….
    • As one who WILL NOT STUDY. [2Ti 2:15]

I once met a man convinced that salvation was by faith only. He actually was passing out material declaring the same. I asked him questions, noting that his material lacked scriptural support for what he was teaching. He said, “That’s odd, there should be some scriptures for this.”

I told him that I agreed, and asked, after much discussion, if he’d like to see the only passage in the entirety of scripture that says, “By faith only” in that sequence. What he said next shocked me, “No, I’m ok.” He then took his Bible, which I had opened to the very passage, closed it and stuck it into his pocket.

It is a sad day when a person claiming to be a child of God closes the Bible on truth. So, what doth hinder you from being baptized?

  • Me? – No, I’ll not stand in your way.
  • The church? – No, your denomination may, but the church of the Bible will never.
  • Law? – No, there’s nothing in the Law of Christ, [Ro 8:2] that will hinder you, it teaches it.
  • God? – No, He’s not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. [2Pe 3:9]

So who is it? It’s YOU! Only you stand in the way of salvation. Oh yeah, do you want to know the only time “…by faith only” is used in Scripture?

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. [Jas 2:24]

A church worth investigating

A member recently brought me a bulletin for the Franklin St church of Christ from April 1959. It held a timeless message that I wanted to share with you all.

A church worth investigating

The church of Christ was not established on a sudden whim of the Lord, nor was its establishment merely an afterthought. It had been God’s intention throughout the entire history of the world to build the church. All of the many centuries were spent in preparation for the establishment of the church. The church and its work is “According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” –Eph. 3:10

About 800 years before Christ came to this earth the prophet Isaiah foretold that the government of the Lord’s house should be established at Jerusalem, and all nations should flow unto it. –Isa. 2:2. This could not have referred to the house of Israel, for that had already been established and it was not for all nations. What then is the Lord’s house of which the prophet wrote? Turning to 1Timothy 3:15, we read, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” So we see that the house of God is the church, and of this house Isaiah wrote hundreds of years before Christ. What more is required to show the importance which God has placed upon the church of Christ?

Why the church of Christ is important

This brings us to the following question: WHY IS THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IMPORTANT? The church is important because God’s wisdom is seen in it: “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,” — Eph 3:10. Is it important to know the wisdom of God?

Again, there is glory to God in the church: “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” — Eph 3:21. Is it important to glorify God?

Also the church is important because its purchase price was the blood of Christ: “…feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” — Ac 20:28. Do you believe the church is worth the purchase price: The church of Christ is important because Jesus “loved the church, and gave himself for it.” –Eph. 5:25. Would you give yourself for something that is not important to you?

Finally, we shall mention that the church is important because all of the saved are added to it: “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” — Ac 2:47. It is surely regrettable that denominationalists preach that the church is not important.

Not a denomination

The church of Christ is not, and cannot be, a human denomination because the church does not wear a denominational name. All denominations wear names which distinguish them from “other Christians”, as they say. But the church of Christ does not seek to distinguish itself from others who are Christians, since we firmly believe that ALL Christians are members of the church of Christ. There is nothing denominational about the name which we wear, for it only honors Christ, and is worn by His command. –Acts 4:12, Rom. 16:16.

The church is not a denomination, furthermore, because we do not subscribe to a creed written by men. We believe in Jesus Christ as he is revealed in the New Testament, but we refuse to accept human interpretations of the New Testament. It is sectarian to make any book of human origin the standard of fellowship and communion. We extend our fellowship to any who follow only God’s word.

The church is not a denomination because we have no earthly headquarters. Christ is the only head of the church, Col. 1:18, Eph. 1:22-23, Matt. 28:18, and His is in heaven. Thus our headquarters is in heaven. Instead of all of the churches of Christ being tied into one central unit, each church is directly, and independently, responsible to Christ.

Almost all religious people are in agreement on one important point; that is, that the church we read about in the Bible is the right church. Most folks will also agree when asked that the Bible mentions only one church. Where, then, does the idea come from that one church is just as good as another? If the Bible only mentions one church, ad this is the right church, it follows that all other churches are wrong. This is the case whether we wish to accept it or not. By this position we are not trying to consign all of the members of the other churches to hell, but rather we are trying to teach them the truth so that they can be saved.

Nor is the idea true that all denominations are simply branches of the Bible church, for all denominations contradict one another in points of faith, doctrine, name, and practice. The Bible does not contradict itself, so all of the many churches could not be parts of the Bible church. For a church to be the right church, it must be identical with the church that we read about in the New Testament. This is true of no religious body save the church of Christ. We do not need to make a labored attempt to distort history, and trace an unbroken chan of churches all the way back to Bible times, because we can prove by the Bible itself that everything we teach, and everything we do, was taught and practiced by the church under the direction of the apostles. This makes it the right church, and nothing else can make a church right. We invite you to attend the services of the church of Christ and to investigate it. We believe that it is a church that is worth investigating.

–Gordon Wilson, Sacramento, CA 1959