WHY MEMORIZE BIBLE VERSES? Part 1

 

Years ago, a young Christian was facing a choice. He could either take the lengthy final examination for his theology class or quote Hebrews. Not quote a few verses of Hebrews, no sir, he needed to quote the ENTIRE BOOK of HEBREWS. [13 chapters & 303 verses].

He chose the latter and quoted the entire book from memory. An astounding mental feat to be sure, but is memorization even necessary? We have smart phones apps and google that can return to us any inquiry of the bible we want. That is, if you know what you’re looking for.

Therein lies the rub, to get any benefit out of God’s word, you need to know what’s in it. Here are 8 reasons why we should commit to a bible memorization plan.

1: DEFENSE FROM SIN. An integral part of our defense against sin is the Armor of God [Eph 6:10-20]. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, the active piece that serves for both defense & offense. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” [Psalm 119:11]

2: HELP IN TIME OF NEED. God gave His children the avenue of prayer to give us help in our time of need [Heb 4:16], but how would you know that without study? Additionally, when a sudden problem arises, we most frequently utter some form of profanity. Wouldn’t it be better to immediately draw into our conscious mind a piece of God’s word to counter the negatives we all face in everyday life? Memorizing Bible passages can give us an inventory of alternative utterances to the worldly expressions. Oh, and stop pretending that a euphemism is a cleaner alternative to the real cuss word, we know what you’re saying. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” [Phil 4:8]

3: AS A BIBLE STUDY AID. As you begin to read & study your Bible you may find it difficult to understand. However, a person that commits to memorization will find that the Bible will become clearer as you connect the stories, especially the connections between the Old & New Testaments. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” [Romans 15:4].

Since the Word of God shall also be present at the judgement, a thorough understanding of it would be helpful. “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” [John 12:48]

4: FEAR of EVANGELISM. Let’s admit it, we’ve all experienced fear whenever an opportunity arose to share the Gospel. Bible memorization can alleviate that fear. Inherent in the verse; “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Peter 3:15] is the idea of memorization. We know what is right, but could we prove it to them? Memorization is a great way to build your confidence in directing another through the scriptures as you show them the plan of God’s Salvation.

One fellow said to me, “I have John 3:16 and that’s all I need.” The extent of his bible memory plan was one verse! Others have committed to memorize “Jesus Wept” but have no idea where to find it. [John 11:35] Another person half quoted 1Peter 3:21 in an attempt to disqualify baptism. Because he didn’t know what it really said nor where it was located, he had a false belief that will leave him lost. “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:”

Next week we’ll look at 4 more good reasons to commit to a Bible Memorization Plan.

Click Here for a good place to start memorizing Bible Verses.

DO YOU HAVE A QUESTION?

Have you ever had a question but were too afraid to ask? You’ve already been told that there are no stupid questions, so ask. If you have a question you’ve always wanted to ask, ask it (privately or personally) and I’ll do my best to offer a biblical answer. Below is a sampling of questions people should be asking but aren’t…

  • Why is attendance of religious services falling around the world?
  • How do I join the local church of Christ?
    1. Variation: Do I have to identify with a local group of Christians?
  • Are all churches of Christ the same? Does it matter?
  • What is the most important aspect of our Assemblies?
  • How come the churches don’t have crosses in their buildings?
  • Can we eat in the building? How come we don’t eat in the building?
  • How come we don’t have community benevolent programs?
  • What is the work of the church?
  • Why does the evangelist get all bent out of shape when someone calls him ‘pastor?’ Or when I use “church” as an adjective?

Future articles in 2019 will be dedicated to answering, with scripture, many of these questions.

CAN WE EVEN QUESTION THE BIBLE?

Jesus was asked a bunch of questions by folks. He never rebukes us for asking, unless we’re asking to justify ourselves or refuse to be honest with the answers.

In one such encounter, the Pharisees asked Jesus about His authority, “And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority?” [Mat 21”23]

Jesus’ reply was not a rebuke for asking, for He said He would answer them, “if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” But they refused to answer, as either possible answer would rebuke themselves. It was then that Jesus refused to answer their question, because they weren’t being honest about the truth.

In another place, the Apostle Paul went about preaching and came to some folks who took what he preached and searched for some verification. The Berean’s, “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” [Acts 17:11] You see, they took the preaching of Paul and compared it to the scriptures. Oh, if more people in denominations would do that!

Paul also told the Galatians, “though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” [Gal 1:8] He was ok with them verifying what he or anyone else preached. The problem was they had stopped following God’s word in favor false teaching.

He also told those in Thessalonica to, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” [1Thess 5:21].

In another place, John wrote to the saints and told them to, “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” [1John 4:1]

The moral of the story is that it’s OK to ask questions. It’s OK and even encouraged to verify whatever anyone teaches or preaches.

There are just a few criteria…

  • Be honest with yourself, even if it means you may be wrong,
  • Be willing to search for the truth and
  • Be willing to accept the truth and to follow it.

We here in this local body of Christ want to know the truth and to obey the truth. We don’t mind it when someone asks questions and we often invite folks to visit with us after services to ask questions. Just be honest and be willing to accept the truth. If you’re unwilling to listen to God’s word for the answer, don’t bother asking us, because that’s the only qualified answer. The Bible is our only Guide. If you don’t want a bible answer, don’t ask any of us.

There are many false places to which people appeal for the answers to their questions….

  • False teachers – 1Tim 4:1
  • Yes men – 2Tim 4:3
  • The book of ‘opinions’ & ‘I think so’ – Mark 7:7
  • “that’s how we’ve always done it” Mark 7:8

None of these are the source of sound doctrine, and there are many more. Jesus warned the Sadducees, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” [Mat 22:29] We must be careful from where we get the answers to the questions of life and eternal life. God’s word gives us all we need for life & godliness [2Pet 1:3].

Would you like your question answered, and do you want it to be from God’s divine word? Then you’ve come to the right place. Come, let’s reason together.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” [Isaiah 1:18]

What do I do Now?

After a person obeys the gospel, the most oft asked question is, “what do I do now?” However, this question is asked by both the new convert AND the members of the local congregation. The new convert, full of joy and gratitude, has a desire to serve and to do what is right. The older members want to help them, but where do you begin?

For the answer, let us turn to Acts 2, the place where the church of Christ began.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. That’s where we are with Margie, and all others who obeyed the gospel recently (a young man named Nick, was also baptized into Christ on the same day.) Nobody joins the church; the Lord adds to the church [47].

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Here’s where we find our answer to the question, “what do I do next?”

Continue in the apostles’ doctrine. The Apostles’ doctrine is Christ’s doctrine. Jesus said to the Apostles, that in addition to making disciples, as one who has all authority, teach them “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” [Mat 28:19-20]. Paul said about his letters, “let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” [1Cor 14:37]

So, the first thing we need to do is to continue to learn through study of the Scriptures what Jesus expects from us. The most effective way to do this is for the new convert and the “old” members to get together and study the scriptures. We need to note that “continue” means to do them. It’s not enough to learn what Jesus wants, we must obey Him [John 14:15]. We can also learn when we gather to worship on the first day of the week.

And Fellowship and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. The new Christians worshiped together. They had fellowship, which means that they were in partnership with one another. This partnership begins when we, “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” [1Cor 1:10]. The partnership also includes the collection of money for the work of the church. (As you continue to study, you’ll begin to understand the work God has given the church is to spread the Gospel, Teach the saints and practice limited benevolence). The Philippians gave money to spread the gospel, and were in fellowship in the gospel [Phil 1:3-7].

One of the parts of worship (there are 5 activities in sound worship) the disciples ‘broke bread’ which is to remember the death of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Supper” the first Christians met on the 1st day of the week, Sunday, where they would take unleavened bread and fruit of the vine to commemorate His death. The Apostle Paul wrote the early Christians how to properly observe this important part of our worship [1Cor 11:23-34].

 

They also prayed. Prayer is the privilege of the saints. Christians are called saint in the Scriptures [Rom 1:7; Eph 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1]. In obeying the gospel through baptism, we have “put on Christ” [Gal 3:27] and have been given access through Him to the “throne of grace” [Heb 4:16]. Prayer is an incredible part of becoming a child of God. We know that God does not listen to sinners [John 9:31] but He hears us!

God is not our “genie in a bottle,” to gift us with everything we want like a spoiled child. Rather, He wants to help us in our time of need. It says in Hebrews 4:16; “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Temptation doesn’t stop when we become Christians, neither do troubles & pains, “but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” [1Cor 10:13]. So, all Christians need to pray.

Finally, let us note one more thing from Acts 2…

47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. As you begin your journey as a new Christian, and every Christian, let us never forget from whom we received the gift of grace. We received it from God through Christ Jesus [Eph 2:8-10]. May we never forget, may it never grow old and may we never grow tired of praising God for His indescribable gift.

Thanks be unto God for his indescribable gift.

2Corinthians 9:15

Is God Speaking to you? pt 2

LAST WEEK’S article began the discussion about the problems with a personal revelation from God today. These articles are a response to those who believe, feel or otherwise think that God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit is communicating with them SEPARATE & APART from God’s written word.

In the previous article, we discussed the first 2 problems. FIRST, it’s error and is contrary to God’s word about His own revelation. TWO, is the problem of AUTHENTICITY. How are we (or you) to know that this feeling inside of you is coming from God.

Allow me to clarify something. I do believe that God is communicating with mankind, but that the communication is through His divine, preserved written word, as was shown in the last article.

The next two problems are; REVIEWABILITY & ACCESS.

The THIRD problem with a personal revelation is REVIEW:

If Personal revelation is true, then why are there over 30,000 different “Christian” denominations? How would we become unified except by some standard upon which we all could review? I’m unable to STUDY your statements because of 3 problems;

First, It’s all in your head. Have you noticed that not everyone is hearing these voices? You might say that it’s a problem of “faith”, and you’d be right. But Romans 10:17 says, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”. This means that it is YOUR faith that has trouble. For we have faith because of God’s written word. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;” If this “revelation” is in your head, how are we to know what God said? Furthermore, how am I to REVIEW the information? Oh, I know a way; IT COULD BE WRITTEN DOWN. Which is what God did in the first place.

Second, there’s the problem of memory. A person’s recollection of conversations is very poor. A study revealed that you remember approximately 20 percent of what you hear, 30 percent of what you see and 50 percent of what you hear and see together. Here’s a question; How much can you recall when you have at your fingertips the entire revelation of God? Answer: All of it, because you can look through God’s word continually.

Third, human communication is difficult, even under the best of conditions. But with all the communication methods available, the only one that allows for a continual REVIEW of God’s word is when it is written. A WRITTEN WORD IS REVIEWABLE BY EVERYONE.

This is what happened in 2Kings 22-23. The book of the Law was found in the temple. It was read to King Josiah (22:10), then it was read to the people, both small and great (23:2) and they could obey it. Today, we can read God’s word and understand the mystery of Christ. This is what made the Berean’s honorable. They searched the scriptures daily [Acts 17:11].

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).” Eph 3:3-4

The FOURTH problem with a personal revelation is ACCESS:

Are you going to come over to my house at 3am to let me study God’s word? What if I’m out of cell range? What about the different languages of the world? These difficulties were solved by God when He directed the inspired writers of His word to WRITE IT DOWN. 1 Corinthians 14 demonstrates the difficulties that come from oral communication. One man said to me, “you can verify what I’m saying by comparing it to the Bible.” If I must go verify it with the written word anyway, why do I need you?

What does the bible say about ACCESS to His word?

I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. 1Thess 5:27

And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed2Thess 3:14

For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; 2Cor 1:13

Well over 100x in the New Testament, both Jesus and His Apostles refer to the written word. We could continue with more scriptures to drive the point home, but these are sufficient. The question of “WHY ARE THERE SO MANY CHURCHES” now has its answer. We’re not all speaking the same thing, and the best way to become unified is when we all go back to the written Bible of God.

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” [1Corinthians 1:10]

Arguments I can (not) answer

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

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

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

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

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

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

_________________________

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

_________________________

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

_________________________

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

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

_________________________

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

_________________________

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

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

_________________________

Let’s look at it one more way…

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

_________________________

For God is not the author of confusion.

1Corinthians 14:33 

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1Corinthians 1:10

_________________________

A Survey of the Bible

SOMETIMES IT’S GOOD to stop to take in the entire landscape. This is what we are doing with our Wednesday study of the Old Testament.

One of the primary reasons many people haven’t made the effort to get to know the Bible is that they feel it is intimidating and confusing. Without a basic understanding of how the Bible is written this can often be the case. To help develop an overall picture of the Bible, turn to the Table of Contents. You will notice that the Bible is actually a collection of 66 books that are divided into two sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. Let’s notice how the Old Testament can be outlined.   

The Old Testament is made up of 39 books. Here is how they can be grouped and categorized:

Genesis to Esther: History books (of the Jewish people), Mostly chronological, starts at beginning of time and goes to about 400 BC.

Job to The Song of Solomon: Poetry books, not chronological, all written sometime during the History section, designed to teach lessons about everyday life kinds of things: Job – trials, Psalms – worship/prayer, Proverbs – wisdom, Ecclesiastes – philosophy, Song of Solomon – love.

Isaiah to Malachi: Prophecy books, not chronological, all written sometime during the History section, basically they were preachers inspired by God to warn the people of judgment and foretell certain future events. 

The New Testament is made up of 27 books. Here is how they can be grouped and categorized:

Matthew to Acts: History books, not chronological, Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John are all self-contained histories of Jesus’ life. Acts is the history of the early church (or followers) of Jesus.

Romans to Jude: Letters to churches or individual Christians, not chronological, many written during the time frame of Acts’ history, designed to teach lessons about everyday life kinds of things: worship, morality, love, relationships, trials, philosophy, wisdom, etc.

Revelation: Prophecy book, written to correct and warn early Christians.

Recognizing these things will be extremely helpful in your reading of the Bible. Simply understanding the context of what you’re reading will make the Bible less confusing. Knowing the above should give you confidence in your ability to understand God’s Word.

The Outline of the Bible:

overview

Study the chart above. Notice that the three periods of time are divided by how God delivered His laws to mankind. The first was through patriarchs or heads of families. Second was through Moses and the prophets. And finally He delivered His will to man through Jesus.

The Patriarchal Age. This period starts in Genesis 1 at the creation of the world. Adam & Eve disobey God and are made to leave the Garden of Eden. After many years the earth is full of evil and God decides to send a flood to destroy all that will not repent. Noah and 7 of his family are the only ones who are saved. Over 400 years later a man named Abram (later Abraham) is chosen by God to become the father of the Israelite nation (Gen. 12).

From this time on the Bible specifically traces the History of that one nation. Abraham has Isaac, Isaac has Jacob, and after Jacob’s name is changed to Israel he starts the family. The Israelites (also called Hebrews or Jews) begin to grow as a family after Jacob has 12 sons who later become 12 tribes. At the end of Genesis they are a still a small family who have moved to Egypt. They are taken into captivity for a couple hundred years and grow to be a large nation.

The Mosaic Age. God chooses a man named Moses to deliver the people of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. Moses leads the people out of Egypt to a mountain called Horeb (later Sanai). Here God delivers his law for the Israelites.

After the Israelites wander for 40 years in the wilderness, they go into “the Promised Land” (Canaan) under Joshua’s command. Once they settle the land God leads the people by appointing a series of Judges (who were basically military leaders) for around 350 years. After this the people want to be lead by a king like the nations around them. God warns them it’s a bad idea but grants their request by giving them Saul, David, and then Solomon. After Solomon’s reign (925 BC), the nation divides into two groups – Israel in the north and Judah in the south.  The northern kingdom of Israel grows increasingly evil and at God’s decree is taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 721 BC never to return again. Later, the southern kingdom of Judah is punished by being taken into captivity by the Babylonians. After 70 years they returned to their homeland and rebuilt their nation. It is their descendants who are the Jews of today and through whom Christ came.

During the time of these two kingdoms, the Prophets wrote their books. Almost all of them spoke of the coming of a Savior or Messiah. Most of them also spoke of a new covenant that would be enacted when this Savior came.

The Christian Age. This is the final way that God has revealed His will to mankind. We are now living in this age. The Bible teaches that once the Messiah came, so did the new covenant.

According to the Bible people today are to follow the New Testament. This is one reason why there are so many churches today doing so many different things yet all claiming to follow the Bible. There are many religious groups who say they follow the Bible but for some reason have missed this important Bible teaching. Can you think of any religious practices you’ve seen before which are only found in the Old Testament?

Jesus Has All Authority:

The Bible teaches us 4 things that are NOT our authority for religious practice. 1) The Old Testament, 2) Our own initiative to change something God commanded (like Nadab & Abihu), 3) Emotion or good motives (like David & Uzzah), 4) The traditions of men. If none of these can accurately define for us what God wants from us, where must we look?

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.

Are you Noble?

SOMEBODY asked me one time about a preacher on a certain website to find out if they’re any good. I responded by saying, “Whether they’re on the internet, in a book or preaching from a pulpit in the church of Christ, we are to test every person to determine if their teaching aligns with God’s teachings.

That is the meaning of the verse in 1John 4:1; “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God:” Then the writer added; “because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

The Apostle John was warning that some will teach error, “false prophets.” The Apostle Peter had a similar warning, except that he said some false teachers would come from among the Christians; “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” [2Peter 2:1]

Is there a way to determine between a false teacher and a true teacher from God? Yes, there is, and we MUST prove for our own knowledge what is being taught. [1Thessalonians 5:21]

TESTING THE TEACHER

In John’s 1st letter, he gives us two tests…..

TEST ONE – Do they deny that Jesus Christ came in the flesh? A true teacher will say that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh [1John 4:2]. Some folks are denying that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. [2John 1:7]

TEST TWO – Does the teaching match what the Apostles taught? We perform the test by matching it to what the Apostles taught as they were taught it by the Holy Spirit.

Looking at verse 6 of John’s 1st letter he tells us how to know the difference between truth and error, “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”

The Apostles were told what to teach and what to write by the Holy Spirit [John 16:13]. Also in 2Timothy 3:16 Paul wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…..” He also said, “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,” [Ephesians 3:3].

In Galatians 1, Paul wrote, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” [Galatians 1:8].

He warned us in the 1st Corinthian letter, not to follow men further than what we can see in the word of God, “….that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.” [1Corinthians 4:6b]

TWO OTHER TESTS

Though not mentioned by John, we can read about two more tests…..

TEST THREE – Moses answered this question, “How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?” [Deuteronomy 18:21-22]

            When a prophet makes a statement in the name of the Lord, if what he says does not take place and his words do not come true, then his word is not the word of the Lord. Certain modern denominations have made some predictions that have NOT come to pass. By this test, they are NOT from God.

TEST FOUR – This test is to be used if someone claims to do a wonder (miracle) or a sign [Deuteronomy 13:1-3]. If their teaching, doctrine, contradicts what God has already revealed, they are to be rejected. It matters not whether they were able to perform the sign or to give a wonder. This is very similar to what John taught in the second test. (BTW – signs, wonders & tongues have ceased 1Cor 13:8)

PERFORMING THE TEST

At the beginning of the church, as the inspired men and Apostles taught, folks performed these tests. We read of one such group in Acts 17, the Bereans. The writer notes that these were “more noble (honorable).” Why were they nobler? Simple, because they, “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

Look closely at this passage, the context shows that it was the Apostle Paul, along with Silas, who are teaching. God COMMENDS the Bereans for performing the tests for the Apostle Paul! Compare that to some denominations, even today, who CONDEMN the examination of scripture and tell their members that they are unable to know the truth unless the leadership teaches it.

The title asks if you are noble. We can be noble too, when we search the scriptures, just as they did. A message repeated yesterday and remains today, SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES. [Isaiah 34:16; Luke 16:29; John 5:39; 2Timothy 2:15, 16].

A final word. Let’s note one other thing that the Bereans did. It says that they searched the scriptures DAILY. I was studying with a brother in Christ the other day and he punched me right in the heart when he said, “We would all be better off if we INCREASED to weekly our DAILY STUDY.” Did you catch it? He is suggesting, and I agree, that we’re falling short in our daily reading of God’s word. So, I ask you, nay, I ask myself, Am I more noble?

Spencer Blackwelder

5 things you can do for the church today

One of the problems the Apostle Paul had to deal with was that folks in the church wanted the same job, that is, they wanted the best ones. [1Corinthians 12] He pointed out that every person was important in the church regardless of their abilities. He wanted all the members of the Lord’s church to learn……

  • We are more than individuals; 1Corinthians 12:27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
  • We are members one of another; Romans 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
    • Ephesians 4:25b for we are members one of another.
What can you do?

Some of you may be asking the question, what can I do for the church? Instead of looking for the jobs that seem to be the best ones, or the ones that garner the most attention, look for the work that you can do well. But what is that? How do you find what that is?

If this is you, here are 5 things you can do for the church today as you do your own “one another ministry”.

You can …..

1 – KINDLY affectioned one another —

You can, TODAY, be kind. You can be kind to the visitors by welcoming them in and introducing them to others in the congregation. You can be kind to those leading the public worship and the classes. You can be kind by assisting the mom with the “antsy” child. You can be kind to that ill member that has been unable to attend for some time.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; [Romans 12:10]

2 – ENCOURAGE one another –

So many folks are under such stress and pressure these days and need some encouragement. The Bible uses the words comfort, exhort and beseech. You can encourage that young person that is learning how to serve the Lord. You can encourage that single person looking for a way to fit in. You can be that person that encourages folks to continue to build their faith in the Lord.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. [Jude 1:3]

3 – STIR UP one another –

In the King James text, Hebrews 10:24 uses the word “provoke”. Usually used negatively by us, in this text it is an urgent command to “stir up” members of the church to increase in LOVE and GOOD WORKS. Every church needs a lot more of both of these things. Sometimes it requires a person or group of people to get the ball rolling. Of course when the Bible says “good works” it is referring to the works “which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” [Ephesians 2:10]

And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: [Hebrews 10:24]

4 – COMFORT one another –

Here’s something that you can do that is very much needed by everyone from time to time, comfort. Folks need comfort when they’re grieving, when they’re sick, when they’re facing a challenge at home or work. People get sad, discouraged or down from time to time and need a shoulder to cry on. They need to know that their brothers and sisters in Christ care. Do you?

That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. [1Co 12:25]

5 – SERVE one another –

We can all do a better job at serving one another. People need help, physical help. Sometimes they need financial help. The rest of us can be there to provide the service that our brother or sister in Christ needs. I know a man that came to me expressing his fear of leading of public prayer or speaking in public. “But, I can fix cars, put up drywall or do just about any home repair.” WOW! That’s fantastic, this brother wanted to serve is fellow church member. And he did. Every time someone needed help with a car repair or home repair, he was there.

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. [Galatians 5:13]

Bonus – PRAY FOR one another –

Before we finish this article, we need to add just one more thing that every member of the Lord’s church can do for the others, PRAY. People often request prayers from the church. DO IT, actually do it. Pray for your brethren. Be specific in your prayers. If a sister is asking for prayers for an upcoming surgery, pray about that surgery. Pray for the protection of the children as they go off to college or off to war, that they be both physically safe, but also psychologically safe. Paul wrote, “Pray without ceasing.” [1Thessalonians 5:17]

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. [James 5:16]

If I had to summarize all of these things you can do into one word, that word would be LOVE. Love in the scriptures is an action word. It’s much more than an acknowledgement in your mind. It’s an attitude that compels you to do something.

spencer is the evangelist for the Franklin Street Church of Christ in Borger Texas.

Where does bible say ask Jesus into your heart?

Other ways of asking this question are;

Is “ask Jesus into your heart” biblical? What are the verses supporting ask Jesus into your heart.

I’ve believed all of my believing life that in order to be saved a person needed was to “ask Jesus into their hearts.” That all a person had to do to be saved was believe. I believed in salvation by faith alone until I met Spencer. He asked a simple question, “Where do you find that in the scriptures?” [This is just a summary of the many hours we spent together in Bible reading.]

He and I looked and looked through the scriptures. We’ve never found that phrase or ones similar. We have found verses, if cherry picked, that may lead people to that belief. When you examine those scriptures you’ll find that the entirety of the passage teaches the opposite.

For example, in Acts 16:25-34 we read of the Philippian Jailor. In verse 30 & 31 he asks, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Then Paul answers, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

The rest of the story is that during the night, the prison bars were open and in fear he was about to take his own life. Paul tells him to do himself no harm, for we are all here. Then the jailor asks his questions and receives Paul’s answer, but note the REST OF THE STORY…..

Ac 16:32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

When we read “….all the counsel of God.” Ac 20:27, we are able to learn the whole truth. The Jailor didn’t know anything about Jesus, therefore, he needed to believe. Before you can or will do anything, you first must believe. Then they “spake unto him the word of the Lord”. A person needs to hear about that which he is required to believe.

Ro 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

Based on this story, what did the jailor do upon hearing the “word of the Lord”? He repented, washing their stripes, and was baptized. These actions show that he was convinced, a believer.

Does the Bible teach that we ask Jesus into our hearts?

Yeah, sort of. Turn and look at John 14:23-24.

23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

This is the closest passage to having Jesus come into your heart, but when you look carefully, you’ll see that there’s no ASKING, there’s OBEYING!!!

This message is consistent with the teaching of Jesus,

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: 20 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.

This message is also consistent with the teaching of the Apostles,

Ro 1:5 By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:

Ro 16:26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

2Co 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Ga 3:1 ¶ O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

2Th 1:8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ

2Th 3:14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.

Heb 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

The scriptures go on and on talking about obedience, to do works. Not works of man, rather the works of God…

Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Daniel Surges

If you want to ask me more about this, I’m usually at Braum’s in Borger Texas most days.