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.

Making the Best Choice!

“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

 

“Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.” Isaiah 66:10

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, was very angry with His people because of their poor choices. It wasn’t as if He hadn’t given them clear direction on making good choices. God gave them, and us, all that we need for life and godliness [2Peter 1:3]. Look at what He spoke to the children of Israel about repentance and turning back to Him.

DEUTERONOMY 30:1-20

1-10 God had given clear direction to the children of Israel before He brought them into the land. If they chose to obey His commands, He would have compassion on them, protect them from their enemies and give them prosperity.

11-14 He tells them that His commands are never too difficult, never too far away, but are accessible by all so that they can keep it.

15-20 Here He makes a contrast between the BEST CHOICE and the worst. To Love the Lord thy God is the BEST CHOICE, and to walk in His ways and to Keep His commandments, statutes and judgements. By this He gives a promise of blessing.

However, by making a BAD CHOICE, that is, to turn away from hearing His commands, to worship false gods, then He will DENOUNCE them, remove His protection and not allow them to keep the land.

In verses 19-20, He makes it clear about the two basic CHOICES. Life is to CHOOSE GOOD, which is serving Him, or CHOOSE BAD, which is death. Choosing wrong is a matter of life or death.

“Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.” [Hosea 14:9]

THESE 2 BASIC CHOICES ARE STILL BEFORE US. Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” [Acts 5:29]. Jesus said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” [John 12:26]. Do you see the connection of God’s blessing to the one who follows?

These TWO BASIC CHOICES, following God or turning away from Him, are before us in all our day to day decision making…

  • The WORK we choose to earn our living. Eph 4:28
  • The FRIENDS we choose to keep. 1Cor 5:6; Gal 6:7-9
  • Our choice of SPOUSE. 1Corinthians 7
  • In how we choose to spend our MONEY. 1Timothy 6:17-19
  • In the way we WORSHIP God. John 4:24
  • By the way we choose to spend our TIME. Eph 5:16; Col 4:5

Don’t be confused, all this is to point out that we have free will. Just because we have choice doesn’t mean that God will accept that choice when we go against His commands. We can choose to ignore them, and when we do, we will pay the consequence of our BAD CHOICE.

God is not, as some suppose, a micro manager. He isn’t deciding whether you go to a specific place or another. He is letting you make those decisions. Those TWO BASIC CHOICES are ever before you. To do GOOD or to do BAD.

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

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life [John 11:25; 14:6]. When He appears, this world of sin and doubt shall be dissolved. Since this is true, Peter asked, “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?” [2Peter 3:11]

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” [Romans 6:17-22]

When Forever is not

One of the objections folks will bring against us, in the Lord’s church, is the one about us no longer holding to the commands of the Old Law. They will point to the regulations regarding the Sabbath and say, “it says we must keep it forever, but you say no. Who’s right, you or God?” this line of argument is most often used when we point out that although David used an instrument for worship, that is no authority for us today. They think they have us caught. However, as I will show in this article, it is they who are “caught” and it will be by the very way Jesus corrected the Sadducees; “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” [Mat 22:29]

When ‘forever’ is not

First, we need to point out to these folks that there are some ‘forever’ things that are not forever.

These things are called “eternal” and “perpetual” in the Bible, yet they have been abolished: The Feast of Unleavened Bread: [Ex 12:17]; Burnt offering: [Ex 29:39-42]; Day of Atonement: [Lev 23:28-31]. According to their logic, we should STILL HAVE ANIMAL SACRIFICES! If we still have animal sacrifices what then was the need for Jesus to die on a cross?! Surely, they have read Hebrews 10:10… “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

If the Sabbath day is to be observed because of the words ‘forever’ ‘everlasting’ ‘permanent’ ‘eternal’ [all of which are translated from the Hebrew ‘owlam’] then we ought also to keep all the Jewish holy days and feasts! Interesting side note, I met a lady this past week who intends on starting a “new” church that will do this very thing, KEEP THE JEWISH FEASTS because they were commanded to be kept ‘forever.’

Setting aside the admonition from Paul that if one keeps one part of the Law they are obligated to keep the whole law, and if they do, they ‘have fallen from grace’ that is, lose their salvation [Gal 5:1-4. (this particular woman has no salvation for she also said that she had asked Jesus into your heart, a primary error needing to be taught more accurately.)

The meaning of forever

We need to examine the meaning of ‘forever’ as well as the meaning of ‘throughout their generations’ as it was used in the Old Testament.

As pointed out above, the Hebrew word ‘owlam’ that is translated forever, everlasting, perpetual, eternal or permanent does not mean never ending rather it means ‘age lasting.’ In Jonah 2:6 Jonah says that he was in the fish forever, but he wasn’t, he was only inside the belly for 3 days!

Another example of ‘forever’ meaning ‘age lasting’ is with a righteous earthly king. It is said that these will have thrones established forever. “The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established forever.” [ Proverbs 29:14] Did they? Of course not, their throne only lasted as long as they were alive.

When God spoke about something being forever, everlasting, perpetual, eternal or permanent in the Old Testament He was limiting it to their generations, that is, He limited it to the Jewish age. The Jewish age stopped when Jesus died on the cross. The Sabbath, the feasts, all Jewish holy days and institutions were ‘nailed to the cross’ [Colossians 2:14].

‘shall surely be put to death’

Here is another problem that comes from ‘not knowing the scriptures.’ Are they going to keep ALL PARTS of the command to keep the Sabbath? You can read about it in Exodus 31:13-17;

“… Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant…”  [Exodus 31:13-17] [emphasis mine seb]

I know of no one today who advocates for keeping the Sabbath who will put to death any who don’t. Why follow it at all if you’re not going to keep it all? Which is the point Paul made to the Galatians, “o foolish Galatians” [Gal 3:1].

There are even more examples we could cite that destroys this foolish notion that the Sabbath, the feasts and the holy days be kept forever.

  • Will the Earth remain forever [Eccl 1:4; Ps 78:69; Ps 104:5]? Nope! [2Pet 3:10-12; Rev 20:11; Rev 21:1,4,23; Rev 22:5; Heb 12:26-27; 2Co 4:18]
  • Shall circumcision remain forever [Gen 17:10-14]? Better not. [Gal 5:1-4; Rom 2:28-29].
  • How about tabernacle candles or Tabernacle Shewbread [Lev 24:2-9]? I think not. [Heb 8:13-9:4]

This last one really freaks them out when I say I don’t follow the 10 commandments [Deut 5:1-29 Esp. v29]. Romans 7:1-7 explains how we are dead to the Law to be joined to the body of Christ!

Let’s abandoned all these attempts to bring back the Old Law, our High Priest and King has delivered to us a much better covenant.

ETERNAL LIFE

Under the better covenant of Christ, He promises eternal life. At the judgement, the last day of this physical realm, Jesus will separate all of humanity into 2 groups;

Mt 25:31-46 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left…And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

It’s at that time that those who have obeyed the Gospel will inherit “eternal life.”

Please, obey the Gospel so that you may enjoy the spiritual blessings promised in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

Has God Really Said…?

There is such a thing as a bad question…

In Genesis 3:1, Satan asked Eve, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” This first question in the Bible, and such like it, have been on people’s lips ever since. Has God really said…you must be baptized…you must worship and so many more.

Normally the only bad question is the one not asked, and this wouldn’t be so bad if it was asked by a seeker. Unfortunately, it’s not asked by the seekers, rather, the deniers. Let’s examine this question considering God’s revealed word regarding the creation.

HAS GOD REALLY SAID, ‘HE MADE EVERYTHING IN 6 DAYS?

The short answer is, yes. “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day:” [Exodus 20:11]. If “in six days’ doesn’t mean six literal 24-hour days, then we have a problem. Just as Eve believed the serpent about eating the fruit and lost paradise, if we fail here, we will lose the scriptures, literally! The theory of evolution is at odds with the biblical record. I recently learned that the Catholic church has accepted the possibility of evolution and since 1950, sees no conflict with evolution and the Bible. I see a conflict, and I hope you do as well. If evolution is true, then God has lied, but that’s not possible. God cannot lie [Titus 1:2] and the Bible contains His word [2Timothy 3:16] therefore the Bible is true. I realize this looks like circular reasoning, but God has no reason to lie or He is no God at all.

IF IT’S NOT 6 LITERAL DAYS

THEN…God lied about the thorns. “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree…Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee;” [Gen 3:17,18] Evolutionists tells us that the fossil record reveals both death and thorns for 350-400 million years. Who would know, them or God? Historical science is based entirely on theories, and evolutionists interpret the data through the lens of millions of years. Before they even examine the evidence, they already ‘know’ that whatever they find will be really old. That’s not even good science, for it rejects any evidence that suggest a young earth. God said that thorns came AFTER Adam’s sin, not before as evolutionists suggest.

IF IT’S NOT 6 LITERAL DAYS

THEN…God lied about the reason everyone dies. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” [Genesis 2:17] God created everything and at the end of His creative work He said, “…it was very good.” [Gen 2:17] Are you saying that millions of years evolution, which requires death, as being ‘very good?” God never intended for us to die. We see evidence of this in the incredibly long pre-flood lifespans. There is also evidence of arthritis, cancer & disease in dinosaur bones in the fossil record. If dinosaurs truly lived millions of years before humans, then God called death & disease ‘very good.’

THEN…it also makes the Holy Spirit a liar, for He revealed to Paul, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin;” [Romans 5:12]. If evolution is true, then the Word of the Spirit is false, for He revealed that death came AFTER sin. He also wrote, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” [Romans 6:23] If evolution is true, and I hope you realize that it is not, then the wages of LIVING is DEATH, a direct contradiction to the Scriptures. Who are you going to believe, God or men?

Scripture teaches that in the beginning there was no death and there will be no more death when Jesus returns. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” [1Corinthians 15:26]

The Almighty God was there, and like any history, those today only know of historical events through the eyewitness accounts. None of us was there, and therefore must rely on the evidence. For Christians, we have God’s own eyewitness account that tells us death and thorns were brought into the world as the result of Adam’s sin. If we cannot trust His word on a simple thing like thorns, how could we trust Him about what He says about salvation?

IF IT’S NOT 6 LITERAL DAYS

THEN…the redemptive work of Jesus and the defeat of Satan is called into question. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” [Hebrews 2:14] If the Genesis story is not real, then Satan had nothing to do with death. This line of reasoning also brings the New Testament into question. “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” [1John 3:8].  It was through Satan’s lie to Eve that brought death into the world. God really did say, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

We need to trust in God’s word and not compromise with the misinterpretation of historical evidence. Early Christians never worried about how to stretch the 6-day creation into millions of years. No, they wondered something completely different.  They asked, “why did God take six days?!”

An open letter to “Prayer over Borger”

August 22, 2017

This open letter, to the organizers & participants of the “Prayer over Borger” event scheduled for September 23, 2017, is written as an appeal for Biblical Unity. This open letter does not seek to divide us further, rather it’s an appeal out of an earnest love for people to know the Lord, Christ Jesus. Neither is it to criticize the desire to pray over Borger. God’s word teaches us to pray for those who are in authority; “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;” [1Timothy 2:1] It’s truly refreshing to hear about folks who have a desire for the wellness of our community.

However, we must admit, that part of the problem we face in our community is the DISUNITY that exists among us. As the letter sent out states, “Borger only has ONE church but we meet in many buildings with various names.” How can we consider ourselves to be of “ONE church” when we are separated by so many doctrines of men? We are divided over…

  • God’s plan of salvation; Mark 16:15-16
  • Faith only James; 2:14, 17, 24
  • Baptism; Acts 22:16
  • Sin; Rom 3:23
  • Fornication; 1Cor 6:18
  • Worship; John 4:24
  • Names; Romans 16:16
  • Clergy / Laity; 1Peter 2:9
  • Which day we worship; Acts 20:7, 1Cor 16:1-2
  • Instrumental music; Eph 5:19, Col 3:16
  • Operation of the Holy Spirit; 1Cor 13:10
  • Repentance; Acts 17:30
  • And more…

How can we be called “ONE church” when these things divide us? The Holy Spirit, writing through Paul, said, “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] It is clear from God’s divine word that divisions (denominations) are a sin and will affect our salvation. We are NOT speaking the same thing, nor of the same mind, nor of the same judgement.

Some may say, “We only differ in style” or “we’re all going to the same harbor on different ships.” This cannot be true. When you examine the list, you will notice that many of these do impact whether or not one is saved. Jesus said, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” [Matthew 15:19] We didn’t say that, the Lord Jesus did. Jesus is in complete authority over EVERYTHING (Mat 28:18), both in Heaven and upon earth. If it is possible to worship in vain, and Jesus is Supreme authority on all matters, can we truly say that we’re “ONE church” and differ on things pertaining to salvation and worship? Read Matthew 7:21-29.

I will continue to pray for our community (as I often do), but my prayer will be the same as the one Jesus prayed in the Garden on the night of His betrayal; “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” [John 17:21]. In that beautiful prayer, the Lord Jesus also said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” [v17]. If God’s word is truth, and I know you believe that it is, then why aren’t our words the same?

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” [Ephesians 4:2-6]

Things We Should Know

WE ARE TOLD BY JESUS, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” [John 8:32]. He is telling us that there are some things we should know, namely the truth. Later, this is written to Christians, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food” [Hebrews 5:12]. This demonstrates that there are some things a Christian should know.

Let’s see just a few things that every Christian should know:

You should know that, in the New Testament, the church is called

  • The temple of God. 1Cor 3:16
  • The bride of Christ. Eph 5:21-32
  • The body of Christ. Eph 1:22-23; Col 1:24
  • The kingdom of God’s Son. Col 1:13
  • The house of God. 1Tim 3:15
  • The church of the Firstborn. Heb 12:23
  • The church of the Lord. Acts 20:28
  • The churches of Christ. Ro 16:16

These are terms referring to the same institution.

You should know that the church was

  • Built by Jesus the Christ. Matt 16:13-18.
  • Purchased by His Blood. Acts 20:28
  • Built upon Christ as the only foundation. 1Cor 3:11
  • Not built upon any man. 1Cor 1:12-13
  • Fully established on the first Pentecost after Christ arose from the dead. Lk 24:49; Acts 1:8; Mark 9:1; Acts 2.

You should know that members of the church are called

  • 1Cor 12:27
  • Acts 6:1
  • Acts 5:14; 2Cor 6:15
  • Acts 9:13; Rom 1:7; Phil 1:1
  • 1Peter 2:9; Rev 1:6
  • 1Jno 3:1-2
  • Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1Peter 4:16

You should know that the 3 permanent classes in the church are – All are to be Christians (saints). You cannot “join” the church of our Lord, God ADDS TO THE CHURCH those who are being saved. Acts 2:47.

  • Elders, who are bishops, overseers or pastors. Their duty is to oversee and feed the flock. Acts 20:28; 1Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1Peter 5:1-4
  • Deacons to serve the church if there are Elders. 1Tim 3:8-13
  • Evangelists to teach and preach God’s word. For their work and qualifications, see Ephesians 4:11; 1 & 2 Timothy; Titus.

You should know that Jesus Christ Himself

  • Loved the church. Eph 5:25
  • Bled for the church. Acts 20:28
  • Established the church. Matt 16:18
  • Called the church His. Matt 16:18
  • Is the Head of the church. Eph 5:23; 4:4; 1:22-23
  • Will save the church. Eph 5:23; 4:4; 1:22-23

You should know that the church and the body of Christ are

  • The same. Eph 1:22-23; Col 1:18; 1:24
  • The only group saved. Eph 5:23

You should know that man did not

  • Purpose the church. Eph 3:10-11
  • Purchase the church. Acts 20:28
  • Build the church. Matt 16:18
  • Name its people. Acts 11:26; Is 62:2
  • Add to the church. Acts 2:47
  • Give the church its doctrine. 2John 1:9-10; Gal 1:11

You should know that in New Testament times there was

  • The family of God. Eph 3:15: 1Tim 3:15
  • The kingdom of Christ. Col 1:13-14
  • The body of Christ. Eph 1:22-23; 4:4
  • The bride of Christ. Rom 7:1-7; Eph 5:22-23
  • The church of Christ. Matt 16:18; Eph 1:22-23; 4:4; Rom 16:16

You should know that in order to get into the church you must

  • Believe in Christ. John 8:24; Acts 16:31; Heb 11:6
  • Repent of your sins. Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30
  • Confess your faith in Christ. Mat 10:32-33; Rom 10:10; Acts 8:37-38
  • Be Baptized. Matt 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 10:48; 22:16; 1Peter 3:21; Gal 3:27

You should know that baptism requires

  • Acts 10:47
  • Much Water. John 3:23
  • Going to the water. Acts 8:36; Matt 3:5-6
  • Going INTO the water. Acts 8:38; Matt 3:5-6
  • A Burial. Rom 6:3-5; Col 2:12
  • A Planting. Rom 6:5
  • A Washing. Acts 22:16
  • A Raising out of the water. Col 2:12
  • A coming out of the water. Acts 8:39
  • A Birth. John 3:5

Is One Denomination as good as another?

all-denominations

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

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

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

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

WHY SO MANY DIVISIONS?

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

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” [1Co 1:10-13]

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

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

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

denominations-bills

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

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

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

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

Local church cancels Christmas

…kinda, a church in Dumas, Texas has cancelled their corporate worship in favor of each family worshiping at home. Since Christmas falls on a Sunday, many churches are altering their normal worship times and services to accommodate the holiday. I learned about this through a Facebook discussion thread which involved members of this particular denomination and an evangelist who was simply wondering why.

One person said; “Many of our local churches are having only a worship service with no Sunday school or Bible study classes. Some are having no nursery or children’s classes. Some are having their services at a different time. Some are having music only, no sermon.”

Here is an explanation from one of the members of the denomination that has canceled their worship; “We have been preparing ourselves to lead worship with our own family and friends, in a small group setting as was done in the days of the early church.”

As the conversation progressed, the one who raised the question came under attack. Ironic, the very ones who were critical of any rebuke began rebuking the one who wanted to study!

What is the real issue?

Is the issue really about the public rebuke of a denomination? No, the real issue is where do we get our permission for worship? Let’s look at it this way;

Let’s say you had purchased a singing telegram service. This service is where people come to a place you decide, at a time you decide, sing a song you decide, for a person you decide. What is supposed to happen is that those people you hired (bought) are supposed to follow YOUR instructions.

What would you do if, however, they changed the plan? What if they change the time, place or elements of your desires? What if they go to the wrong place, or do the wrong thing or even worse, sing to the wrong person?

You’d demand a refund!

This is how many of us understand God regarding His worship…

  • He required it; John 4:24 MUST worship in spirit AND IN TRUTH.
  • He provided the instruction; John 17:17 His word is Truth.
  • He purchased the people for the worship; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
  • He ordered that His commands be followed; John 14:15; Mat 28:19-20, Mat 7:21-23
Unity

Everyone wants unity, and I’m no different. The question is, how? Is unity only a product of tolerance when everyone does whatever they want? Or perhaps, is unity a product of people following the instructions?

Am 3:3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? (NKJV)

 

 

Following the Recipe

Follow the recipe

I WENT TO BAKE A particular cheesecake for Thanksgiving. It’s a very special cheesecake that my mother used to make. You see, my mother’s cheesecake won rave reviews among all the family, and we looked forward to it each time she made it.

So I reached for the recipe, the one my wife had made a verbatim transcript from my mom. You could say that this recipe is the gospel for mom’s cheesecake.

The main ingredient is cream cheese, a must for any cheesecake, but I’m not making just ANY cheesecake, I’m making mom’s.

She also called for melted butter, but I’m trying to lose a few pounds, so I decide to substitute margarine. She also wrote that graham cracker crumbs are a must, but I didn’t have any so I used saltine crackers instead. It’s similar, and she isn’t here to say I can’t.

The recipe calls for 3 eggs, but I only have 2. That shouldn’t make much of a difference, especially if I add just a bit more sour cream. As long as we keep the liquid about the same.

I mix it all together, following the instructions precisely, and put it into the 10” skillet (I can’t find our spring-form pan). Continuing to dutifully follow the instructions, I baked the cheesecake as directed.

Taking it out of the oven, it didn’t smell quite like I remembered, but it looked very similar to the way mom made it. I let it cool and placed it in the fridge for my wife to find. I couldn’t wait for her to taste it, she’ll be so thrilled to see the cheesecake that mom used to make.

Her excitement was just as I expected upon seeing that cake. She carefully removed the first piece, and I anxiously awaited her first bite. The look on her face was priceless and she said, “That’s NOT how your mom used to make it.” And that’s when the fight started. Of course this story is a bit of fiction, or is it?

“…and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18

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

“Whether it be good, or whether it be evil, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God, to whom we send thee; that it may be well with us, when we obey the voice of the LORD our God.”  (KJV) [Jeremiah 42:6]

I ain’t afraid of no Ghosts

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

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

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

What does the Bible say about the evil spirit world?

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

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

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

Then there’s the living dead…

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

Where do our spirits go when we die?

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

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