Is church a pill?

A couple of things first. I’m referring to the weekly assembly on Sunday when I say ‘church’, since that is how much of the world uses it. The scriptures clearly teach that the church is actually the people. [1Cor 12:14]

When I say ‘pill’ I’m referring to the idea of a prescription but could just as easily work as “something disagreeable that must be swallowed”.

Do we treat church like a pill? 

Many folks take pills to treat some illness, and in most cases, they seek the pill rather than change the underlying behavior that caused the condition. Take diet pills as an example. For many, rather than reduce their calorie intake, increase their exercise and eat better quality food they will take a pill as if it will solve their condition.

That’s what I mean when I ask, “do we treat church like a pill?” Do we believe we can act ungodly all week long, and if we take a pill (church attendance), that our sinful condition will go away?

Please understand what I am saying. The weekly assembly of God’s people is a necessity for continuing in the Apostles doctrine and shouldn’t be forsaken [Heb 10:25; Acts 20:7; 1Cor 16:2], but it is not a ‘pill’ one takes to offset our bad behavior and sinful heart.

James wrote; “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” [James 1:23-24]

Here’s a question for you, how long after assembling with the saints before you revert to your sinful conduct. 24 hours or 24 seconds? I must confess that I’ve been guilty of this as well. For my family, we had screaming car fights before arriving to the assembly, acting all lovey dovey during the worship, then picking up where we left off with the battle as soon as we got back into the car.

How to take a pill

When you’re given a prescription from a doc, he also gives you a list of things to change. The weekly assembly can be viewed in much the same way. The lesson, prayers, songs, our giving and the Lord’s Supper all have an ability to teach us and remind us what manner of person we ought to be.

The medications we take, very often, would be much more effective if we also modified our behaviors that caused the illness. Without the modification of behavior we will remain sick and possibly die. Paul said something similar to the church at Corinth; “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” [1 Corinthians 11:28-30]

Church attendance should remind us of the sacrificial gift of Christ, and the promise of His return when He will gather up the saints and destroy the world.

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,” [2Peter 3:11]

 

2 Responses to every sermon Pt. 2

truth set you free

LAST WEEK, we began the discussion on the 2 responses to every sermon, WALKING OUT or WALKING FORWARD. We noted that these can be literal actions where a person really walks out of the building or comes to the front to confess sin, or it could be done mentally.

To recap WALKING OUT

We walk out on a sermon for a few reasons. We may be TIRED, we think it’s about SOMEONE ELSE or we just DISAGREE. Regardless the reason, we “check out” mentally or physically.

Now let’s look at…

Walking forward

It’s common for folks, when pricked in the heart by God’s message, to leave their pew and proceed to the front of the auditorium to confess the sin in their lives in a public way. This is good, it’s an accountability measure, especially for sin committed publicly. It’s not only good, it’s Godly for it is a confession of sin along with a vow of repentance. The Jews on Pentecost, upon hearing how they had been party to the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ, the text says; “they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” [Acts 2:37] These folks recognized their sin, recognized their need for forgiveness and made an immediate, public response.

If we’re paying attention to the message, and studying the Word of God, eventually we come to some area of our lives in which we’ve failed. We’ve sinned. I know this is true for John said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” [1John 1:8] At this point we must either reject the word of God, or accept it and submit to it. What makes this difficult is when someone else comes to us and points out our error. [Matt 18:15-17; 1Corinthians] It’s in those moments that we’re most resistant to repentance. Honest folks choose the latter, as did those on Pentecost and Saul of Tarsus [Acts 9:1-19], they repent and “WALKED FORWARD.”

Whether the need is to make a public confession because of public sin, or a private confession which is a natural part of Christian growth, both require a Godly sorrow. When Paul wrote the 1st letter to the church at Corinth, he pointed out several problems, flaws and sins. His worry was that he had made them sorry in a worldly sense, but it turned out that it was a sorrow in a Godly manner [2Cor 7:9-10]. He wrote, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

Did you catch it? “Godly sorrow” produces repentance and this repentance leads to SALVATION! Did you also see the other kind of sorrow, “sorrow of the world?” To fully appreciate what the Holy Spirit wants us to hear, let’s break this verse down.

For godly sorrow – A RESPECT for God’s word. A Godly sorrow is produced by faith in God which seeks to please God. Faith comes from hearing the word of God. [Romans 10:17]

WorkethRESULTS in the heart. ‘Worketh’ means to produce, or leads to; the word of God produces an effect on our heart which produces something. [Matthew 26:75]

repentance – the REVERSAL of a decision. The respect of God’s word, working on our heart produces a change, first in our heart and then in our activities. I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. [Luke 13:3]

to salvationREDEMPTION. Godly respect of God’s word which produces the Godly sorrow and repentance gives us access to the ransom paid by Christ Jesus. [Ephesians 1:7]

not to be repented of – no REGRET. This kind of repentance brings about the joy of knowing you’ve been pleasing to God the creator. [Acts 8:39]

but the sorrow of the world – selfish REASONS that are carnal, and fleshly which elevates the concern for self over the concerns of God. [1Corinthians 3:1-4] For some, the only reason to change is a concern for how others perceive them. This is the wrong kind of sorrow. This is why some are ‘rebaptized.’ They recognized that the only reason they originally submitted to God’s will was to be pleasing to mom & dad or because that is what everyone else was doing. Folks, this kind of obedience to God will fail us in the judgment.

worketh deathRUIN. A sorrow of the world produces complete ruin of our eternal future. [Matthew 7:21-29] When we’re only worried about what others may thing about us, we’ve set our sights too low. We haven’t sought to be pleasing to God, instead we seek to be pleasing to man. [Luke 16:13]

Another way the Bible describes ‘godly sorrow’ is with the phrase, a broken and contrite heart [Psalms 34:18]. A broken & contrite heart is a heart of sadness and regret for failing to serve the Almighty King, the Loving Creator who gave Himself as a payment for our sin against Him. [Romans 5:8-10]

Are we sad when we sin against God? Does our heart break when we fail Him? If it does, it will lead us to find out how to have eternal life.

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

He did not know the Lord had departed

THE PHILISTINES are upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him. That is the situation Samson found himself in after he allowed Delilah to cut his hair in Judges 16:20.

That’s the worst place to be if you knew…. (Which would be far better). Not knowing is dangerous and even spiritually deadly. You can and should repent

Sampson was not the only one, there were so many others…

David hid his sin and didn’t know until Nathan told him. And Nathan said to David, “Thou art the man” [2Sa 12:7]. David had committed sin, but as he tried to hide it is when things got so much worse, leading to lying, conspiracy, murder and ultimately giving occasion for the enemies of God to blaspheme.

We can do our best to hide sin, but shall never hide them from God. I’ve heard that certain practitioners of Islam build walls in their homes facing Mecca and allah is unable to see the sin they commit if done behind that wall. The one true God doesn’t have that limitation, He sees everything! David learned this the hard way and wrote a Psalm about it, “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance” [Ps 90:8]. The writer of Hebrews said, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” [Heb 4:13].

Simon the sorcerer tried to bypass authority and didn’t realize The LORD had departed until Peter told him. “But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money” [Acts 8:20]. We see this one all the time, folks thinking they can bypass the Authority of Christ [Mat 28:18].  None of us think we can buy the power of the Holy Spirit, but some do believe they can have power over the church through their contribution, dissensions or threats. This sin, sedition, is included with the list of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-20. We must follow the instructions of Christ in all things, the church is not a democracy and we don’t vote on the doctrines of Christ.

Peter played the hypocrate until Paul told him – “But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? [Ga 2:14]”

We decieve our friends and family in our own hypocrisy. In our attempts to “fit in” with the world, they see our double minded actions toward God. We do this so as not to lose any friends. When we act in such a duplicitous way, are we really being a friend?

Annanias when he tried to outsmart God. “But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? [Acts 5:3 ]” It’s impossible to outsmart God, but many attempt to do it all the time. W.C. Fields, when asked why he was reading the bible said, “Loopholes, looking for loopholes!” Can you ever out smart God? Amazingly, Christians believe they can fool God. And what’s worse, they believe they can outsmart Him! Minimal attendance or removing your “membership” without going to another congregation so as to avoid withdrawal. Building a team to “out vote” the leadership. It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.

Sapphira ignored her chance but didn’t take it. “And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much” [Ac 5:8]. At least David siezed on his opportunity to repent. Peter gave her opportunity but she had her story and was sticking to it. Learn from Sapphira and repent before it’s too late.

Nadab & Abihu wouldn’t heed the instructions of the Lord. “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not” [Lev 10:1]. The commandments are clear, and their not burdensome [1John 5:3], but we think that our way is better. We say things like, “the Bible doesn’t say we can’t.” Look again at Lev 10:1, it says, “the LORD commanded them not.” Silence is prohibitive, we have permission ONLY when we have a command.

Lot’s wife didn’t know when she ignored God’s command. “And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt” [Ge 19:17-20]. Perhaps she had grown so used to sin that she didn’t believe God’s command. This seems to be the prevailing view among some. “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” [Ecc 8:11]. Folks, just because God is delaying punishment doesn’t mean He will never punish it.

We can know if God is with us, by learning and keeping His word. Read 1John and learn about a wonderful hope for the Christian who loves God. It’s a book of hope and assurance for our faith. Eleven times John writes about what “we know.”

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 1John 3:18

Evangelism Depression

“It must be really depressing to be an evangelist, for very few people really care about the word of God.” Daniel S.

My good friend, a new convert, spoke those words to me after spending the first year after his conversion trying to spread the good news. Yes, it is depressing. Paul was depressed after sending his letter to the Corinthian church.

2Co 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.

He was filled with anguish because he was concerned for the church at Corinth. Would they repent, would they leave, would they take others with them in their disobedience. I can only imagine. But Paul did send the letter, and something great happened.

2Co 7:7 And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more. 8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

You see, any of us who spread the message of the Gospel or seek to help a brother or sister in sin, whether we be paid laborers in the Gospel or Christians desiring to do the right thing, are often full of sorrow for those who reject God’s word. We often take it personally, but we need to remember, they haven’t rejected me, they’ve rejected God. 1Sam 8:7

That is why an evangelist, anyone really, needs to have their joy contained in another place other than people. For if we seek to just make other folks happy, then we’ve failed. Ga 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Mt 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

My invitation to all of you who desire to be a part of an evangelistic church, be warned. It’s sad, difficult and full of pain. But then, someone responds to the Gospel. Our children, our friends or people we meet. We rejoice, not because of what we have done, no, we rejoice with the angels in heaven for one sinner that repents.

Lu 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

IGNORANCE, INTENT AND EMAILS

(this article may reference current events but is in no way a commentary on political views by the author as it relates to these events)

Confidential emails have been in the news of late. The jist of which is that a certain, high level, government employee, mishandled classified communication within the government. The FBI investigated and found unsecured & unguarded servers (the device where electronic mail would be stored and sent), “extremely careless” handling of email by this employee and her staff, and poor judgement on the part of this high level employee in the handling of Top Secret communication. The FBI then said, “We did not find…clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information.”

It’s on this last point that this article shall address as it relates sin, salvation and getting into heaven.

Under human laws, intent plays a major role. For example, if a person was negligent in their behavior, they may or may not be prosecuted. In recent cases of accidental harm to a person involving a vehicle, intent becomes the deciding factor. God spoke about these situations and gave instructions under the Law of Moses for unintentional harm. “as when a man goes to the woods with his neighbor to cut timber, and his hand swings a stroke with the ax to cut down the tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies-he shall flee to one of these cities and live; [Deuteronomy 19:5] and in some cases were required to pay restitution.

Intent may be a factor, but ignorance of the law is another matter. Under our law system, Ignorantia juris non excusat (Latin for “ignorance of the law excuses not”) is a legal principle holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because he or she was unaware of its content. There are plenty of examples where a person is fined or punished having been unaware that they were committing a crime. If you doubt this, the next time you’re pulled over for speeding just tell the officer you didn’t know the speed limit.

For humanity, God leaves everyone without excuse whether they’ve read the Bible or not.

Look at Roman 1:18-21; “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” [emphasis mine]

You see, God has made every effort to show himself to every person and it’s their willful disregard for Him that will earns His wrath.

In another place, regarding ignorance, Paul said, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” [Acts 17:30-31]

Peter also taught that we are not to remain in our ignorance but to obey; “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” [1Peter 1:13-16]

Here’s the point of what I am saying, when we face the judgement of God, saying “I didn’t know” or “I didn’t intend to sin” will not open the gates of heaven unto us. The only way that we can survive the judgement and to receive an entry into heaven is through the saving blood of Jesus the Christ.

How can one be saved?

Now that you’ve heard about God’s wrath and salvation through Jesus, Repent and be converted from your ignorance. “Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,” [Acts 3:17-19]

After your repentance, their remains the blotting (washing) away of your sins. “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” [Acts 22:16] “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” [Acts 2:38]

If you do this, you will be saved, but this doesn’t give you liberty to keep on sinning. Therefore, the Christian must remain faithful. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 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.” [Romans 6:1-4] And if we sin, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” [1John 2:1]

Though human courts overlook ignorance, God won’t. Why delay?

THE TRUTH HAS SET US FREE…FROM WHAT?

JESUS SAID TO the believing Jews, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” [John 8:31-32]

From this passage, as disciples, we must continue in His word, and from this word we will know the truth. Then this truth will set us free. Later on Jesus will say that God’s word is truth. [John 17:17]

The first question you should ask is; “From what are we being set free?”

WE ARE FREE FROM…
  • The curse of the Law of Moses. Galatians 3:10 points out “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” This was referring to the Law of Moses, for in chapter 5v4 Paul then says that a person seeking to return to that law “has fallen from Grace.”
  • The power of the Law. Romans 7:1-7 teaches us that until Christ’s death, burial and resurrection that the Law of Moses was still in effect. It wasn’t until His death were we freed from the power of the Law, “nailing it to his cross.” [Colossians 2:14]
  • The dominion of sin.Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” [Romans 6:17-18] Without the death, burial & resurrection of Jesus, “ye are yet in your sins.” [1Corinthians 15:17]
  • The guilt of sin. The guilt that most people experience is dependent upon a future punishment. In Christ, who paid the debt for our sins, Christians have been made free from the condemnation of sin. “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” [Romans 8:33] Does this mean that we can continue to sin? No sir. Rather, we have someone who cleanses us of our sin, but only if we’re in Christ. [1John 1:9]
  • The power of darkness. Because we are His disciples, having obeyed the Gospel, God has “…delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” [Colossians 1:13] Many say that the kingdom will begin sometime later, but this scripture teach that Christians are in His kingdom now and free from the darkness of this world.
  • The fear of man. No longer bound by sin, under the power of darkness of this world, Christians are also free of what man can do to us. The Apostles faced persecution, beatings and imprisonments, even being commanded to stop speaking about Jesus. Yet, they had no fear saying, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” [Acts 5:29; 4:18-20] Though we may be persecuted or threatened for our faith, no man can ever take away our salvation. “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?” [Psalm 118:6]
  • The fear of death’s sting. Because we are in Christ, and freed from the bondage of sin, we no longer have the fear of death. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” [1Corinthians 15:56,57] Being in Christ, we look forward to a day when we can be with the Lord even if He comes sometime after our life on this Earth. [1Thessalonians 4:14-17]
  • The position of no hope. Becoming a Christian puts us into a living hope. This hope becomes a part of our lives and is demonstrated to the world through our lives. Peter noted that this hope shall be seen by those around us to the point that they may ask us of this hope. [1Peter 3:15]
  • The state of separation from God. Christians become children of God through adoption. Prior to our obedience to the gospel, we are separated from God because of sin, but now we are reconciled to God by the death of His son. [Romans 5:10] What a wonderful thing it is to be called a child of God. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” [Galatians 3:26]
WE HAVE BEEN SET FREE IF….

…we become one of His disciples. This begs the next question, How do I become a disciple of Christ? Remember, Jesus said, ““If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” [John 8:31-32] To become His disciple we must obey the Gospel. Before He ascended into heaven He gave this command, “Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:” [Mt 28:19 (ASV)]

The Gospel is what calls us [2Thessalonians 2:14]. Leaving sin, we obey the Gospel which shall deliver us [Romans 6:17]. The gospel is about the Death, burial and resurrection of Jesus [1Corinthians 15:1-4]. When Jesus is preached [Acts 8:35], one will conclude the need to be baptized [Acts 8:36].

If you “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” [Matthew 22:37] then you will also do whatever he commands.

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” [Luke 6:46]

What saves you?

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

bowie

THESE WORDS are in the chorus for David Bowie’s song “Changes”. I was inspired to write this article, not so much about Bowie and his life, nor about the droves of mourning fans of a music icon, rather because of the song “CHANGES”.

As the news of his death rang over the radio, this song was often played. It reminded me of how life is so full of change and also the changes of thought about God. There was a time, especially in our country, that most folks revered the word of God. It was included in our schooling. In not a few social media posts, a photo on the “rules for teachers” from 1872, “after 10 hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.”

Oh how the times have ch-ch-ch-ch-changed. News stories abound about children being sent home, suspended or even expelled for even reading the Scriptures on their recess. A child need never actually read the Bible at school, just wearing a T-shirt can elicit the same response. 

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…. There was a time when certain words could never be spoken on TV. Words like toilet or pregnant, but today these words and worse are continually being spewed into our ears. I’ve been told that many Christians quit going to movies over the words uttered by one Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…. There was a time that to show a married couple, fully clothed, in bed with each other was considered pornographic, but now it’s the norm. BTW, the Brady Bunch was the first TV show to break this barrier. The days without even the mention of marital “bliss” has evolved to inference, then to creative cropping of the camera lens to unambiguous scenes of amorous activities. To top it all off, there is no need for the couple to be married or even of the same gender! All of this for public consumption of even the youngest of eyes.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes…. Back in the day, whatever day that was, an out of wedlock pregnancy was taboo, and perhaps unhealthily, the young girl was hidden from view to ward off any embarrassment it may bring to the family. Today, Hollywood Celebrities are celebrated for their promiscuity and there seems to be no discouragement for bringing a child into a single parent home.

Shall we continue to describe the moral decline of our society? We could speak about the pride of men, hedonism, disrespect of authority and the like. Should we be shocked or surprised of all these ch-ch-ch-ch-changes? No. The very book that so many have now come to reject has warned us about all of these things and so much more.

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;  5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. [2Timothy 3:1-5]

fin

If I only

 

THERE ARE LOTS OF ALIBIS for a weak church, but very few reasons. Churches that are weak have one distinguishing trait in common. They know all the reasons they’re weak, and have what they believe to be air-tight alibis to explain away their own weaknesses.

Some of the alibis are even clever, and quite a few are justified by the facts. Unfortunately, an alibi won’t be heard at the judgement [Mat 7:21-22]. All the Lord will want to know is, “HAVE YOU DONE THE WILL OF MY FATHER?” [Re 2:5]

A character analyst compiled a list of the most commonly used alibis. Though this was in context of business, I’ve learned that these alibis are used in any context, even the church.

As you read the list, examine yourself carefully, and determine how many of these alibis, if any, are your own property. Consider this, the teachings of the scripture makes every one of these obsolete. [Ge 3:12,13; Ex 4:1,10-14; 32:22-24; De 30:11-14; Jg 6:12-17; 1Ki 19:19-21; 2Ki 5:10-14; Jer 1:1,4-10; Mt 8:21; Lu 9:59-62; 14:18-20; Ac 24:25; Ro 1:20; 2:1]

  • IF I didn’t have a wife and family. ..
  • IF I had enough “pull” . . .
  • IF I had money . . .
  • IF I had a good education . . .
  • IF I could get a job . . .
  • IF I had good health . . .
  • IF I only had time . . .
  • IF times were better . . .
  • IF other people understood me . . .
  • IF conditions around me were only different . . .
  • IF I could live my life over again . . .
  • IF I did not fear what “THEY” would say . . .
  • IF I had been given a chance . . .
  • IF I now had a chance . . .
  • IF other people didn’t “have it in for me” . . .
  • IF nothing happens to stop me . . .
  • IF I were only younger . . .
  • IF I could only do what I want . . .
  • IF I had been born rich . . .
  • IF I could meet “the right people”. . .
  • IF I had the talent that some people have . . .
  • IF I dared assert myself . . .
  • IF I only had embraced past opportunities . . .
  • IF people didn’t get on my nerves . . .
  • IF I didn’t have to keep house and look after the children . . .
  • IF I could save some money . . .
  • IF the boss only appreciated me . . .
  • IF I only had somebody to help me . . .
  • IF my family understood me . . .
  • IF I lived in a big city . . .
  • IF I could just get started . . .
  • IF I were only free . . .
  • IF I had the personality of some people . . .
  • IF I were not so fat . . .
  • IF my talents were known …
  • IF I could just get a “break” . . .
  • IF I could only get out of debt . . .
  • IF I hadn’t failed . . .
  • IF I only knew how . . .
  • IF everybody didn’t oppose me . . .
  • IF I didn’t have so many worries . . .
  • IF I could marry the right person . . .
  • IF people weren’t so dumb . . .
  • IF my family were less extravagant. . .
  • IF I were sure of myself . . .
  • IF luck were not against me . . .
  • IF I had not been born under the wrong star . . .
  • IF it were not true that “what is to be will be” . . .
  • IF I did not have to work so hard . . .
  • IF I hadn’t lost my money . . .
  • IF I lived in a different neighborhood. .
  • IF I didn’t have a “past” . . .
  • IF I only had a business of my own. . .
  • IF other people would only listen to me . . .

IF * * * and this is the greatest of them all * * * I had the courage to see myself as I really am, I would find out what is wrong with me, and correct it, then I might have a chance to profit by my mistakes and learn something from the experience of others. [Job 13:23; Psalm 119:59; La 3:40; Hag 1:7; 1Co 11:28; Ga 6:3-5]

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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? [2Corinthians 13:5]

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We know that there is something WRONG, or we would now be where WE WOULD HAVE BEEN IF we had spent more time examining our weaknesses, and less time building alibis to cover them.

The ideas in this article are not new, [Ecclesiastes 1:9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.] We use the word excuse rather than alibi, but the meanings remain the same. The writer of Ecclesiastes also wrote that time and chance happen to us all [Ec 9:11]. We could add this to the list of alibis, but I believe this proves that every person has difficulties, albeit at different times and in different areas. Rather than use this as another reason for NOT, let’s DO despite the difficulty. Revelations 2:10, “be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” means that we should remain faithful, EVEN IF IT CAUSES OUR DEATH.

Are we using excuses as a church, and if so, how can we turn that excuse into positive action? Just a thought.

Outsmarting God, so we can continue to sin

W.C. Fields once told someone who caught him reading a Bible that he was “looking for loopholes”

This seems to be the approach to Bible study among denominations, and I fear among some Christians. Sin has crept into the religious world disguised as “enlightenment” or “modernism”. Folks are tearing down the Bible by calling it “out dated” or “mythical”, AND THIS IS AMONG THOSE PROFESSING TO BE CHRISTIANS!!

I recall a friend that was invited to speak at a denomination about Noah’s ark and the flood. Moments before giving his presentation, the pastor of that denomination pulled him aside and said, “Just so you know, we don’t believe those events to be literal, nor the first 11 chapters of Genesis.”

Is it any wonder that many of the major denominations no longer teach the commands of our Lord, allowing all sorts of sinful behaviors to be allowed to exist inside their churches?

It should also be no surprise that they’ve changed the commands of God and are now teaching for doctrine the commands of men by allowing women preachers, organizations that deprecate the work of the church and many other innovations. Calling these changes “fitting in to the times” or “expedients” to reach out to the world.
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. [Mt 15:9]

We all know, and are on the watch, for those outside of the body to attack the validity of the Bible, but we need to be on watch for those who are INSIDE the body doing the same. Paul warned us that wolves would enter the church…..
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. [Ac 20:29]

Where did Paul come up with this? From Jesus the Christ our Lord Himself. He warned us, even before the church began, that there would be those among us that would attempt to destroy us.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. [Mt 7:15]

Jude had the very same warning;
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [Jude 1:4]

Please brethren, understand that I am not pointing my finger at any of you in particular. Nor am I suggesting that this is going on here. I simply write this as a warning for us as I witness what is happening among the denominations. It’s for this reason that we are involved in a study on “How to determine Scriptural Authority”.

An Answer to the Problem

And that is the answer to this problem. We must study our Bible.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [2Ti 2:15]

A diligent study of our Bibles is essential for us get to heaven. Let us read the next few verses….
16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

Did you see it? Without study we are susceptible to error, which increases ungodliness and potentially overthrows our faith. Losing your faith, your salvation, can occur by letting someone lead you away from the truth. If anyone tells you that you can never lose your salvation, that person is one of those wolves.
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation; [Heb 2:3]

Let us shun (take no part) in profane (wrong) and vain (foolish) babblings (fruitless discussions). We must be diligent to present ourselves approved to God. I didn’t bring this up, He did.

He is the one that commands us to rightly divide the word. [2Tim 2:15]

He is the one that commands us to observe all things that the Lord has commanded. [Mat 28:20]

He is the one that said add to your faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and Love. [2Pet 1:4-11]

And He is the one that said…
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; [Heb 5:9]

 

spencer is the evangelist for the Franklin St. church of Christ in Borger Texas