How does The Holy Spirit work on your heart?

While talking with a denominational preacher about reaching the lost he said, “Some people just aren’t interested in spiritual things, they don’t study and don’t have many conversations about spiritual things. In these cases, all we can do is let the Holy Spirit work on their heart.”

This man would say that he doesn’t accept Calvinism, but he was vocalizing the false doctrine. To remind you of what Calvinism teaches allow me to summarize…

  • Total Depravity: All mankind is born into sin, including babies.
  • Unconditional Election: God picks and chooses who will be saved or lost and it’s unchangeable.
  • Limited Atonement: That God picks only a few individuals to be saved and all else will be lost and you can’t change it. Including babies.
  • Irresistible Grace: That if you’re among those being chosen to be saved, then you cannot prevent it nor resist it.
  • Perseverance of the Saints: Once God saves you (even if against your will) then you can never lose your salvation ever, no matter how sinful a life you lead or even if you change your belief.

Now this is my summary of their belief and if you asked a Calvinist, he will spin it so it sounds better, but the result will be the same; IT’S UNSCRIPTURAL. Another thing you might find is that there are denominations that accept all or part of the above. Belief (faith) comes from hearing the written word of God [John 20:30-31; Rom 10:17].

A partial belief is what this preacher had accepted. He rejects most of Calvinism, but his statement, that the Holy Spirit will work on a person’s heart even as they have no interest in spiritual things, no reading, nor studying with others from the bible, proves it.

HOW DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT CONVERT?

No Bible believer questions the fact the Holy Spirit saves sinners (John 3:5), the question is HOW? We only have 2 options a) direct operation of the Spirit or b) through the influence of a medium (the Gospel, Romans 1:16).

The Scriptures teach us that the Holy Spirit’s work, in the redemption of mankind, is the work of divine revelation. God originates, Christ procures, the Spirit reveals.

Review the chart on the next page to see HOW the Holy Spirit works to save sinners. What you will find is that people are converted through the Holy Spirit revealed word of God that utilized teaching, preaching or reading of the scriptures. Yes, the Holy Spirit does work on our hearts, but He does it through our diligent study of God’s divine word.

ILLUSTRATION: When a person says, “my spouse made a nourishing dinner,” who did it? Were they nourished by the spouse or the food? If a person and an instrument perform the same task, the person is working THROUGH the instrument.Thus, the Holy Spirit saves through the influence of the written word of God [John 3:5; 1Pet 1:22-23].

The Holy Spirit converts a person when they engage in seeking the Kingdom of God, Bible reading and a diligent study of God’s word, rightly divided. [Matt 6:33; 2Tim 2:15]

HOGS & CHRISTIANS

Image result for HOGS

 

An Evangelist once visited a farmer to talk to him about Christ. “I wouldn’t come to church up there,” the farmer said. “I know old So and So (insert a name) church goer who claims to be a Christian and So and So (insert another name) church goer who claims to be a Christian, and they don’t live any differently from me. I’m as good as they are.” Everywhere the farmer went, he told about the hypocrites in that Church.

A few weeks go by and the Christian went to see the farmer again. “I want to buy a hog,” said the Christian. The farmer showed all his best hogs to him. “I believe I will take that one,” the Christian said. “BUT you don’t want that one. He’s the worst runt in the litter.” “I sure do,” said the Christian. So, they loaded the runt in the truck. The farmer then asks, “What are you going to do with this runt hog?”

The Christian replied, “I plan to take this pig here from your farm and ride all over this area telling folks that this is the kind of hogs you raise?”

“THAT’S NOT FAIR!” the farmer exclaimed. “I have some nice hogs and you want to show people that runt?”…to which the Christian replied, “If it’s fair for the church, it’s fair for your operation!”

It’s a real problem. We face this situation, not with hog farmers, but with our friends, family & co-workers. We fear inviting because they may call us hypocrites. They’d be right because we’re flawed, we’re often broken, but that’s why we’ve come to the Lord. They’d also be wrong because what they don’t see is our desire to repent and grow into the mature Christian that our Lord & Savior wants us to become.

Unfairly, our flaws become obstacles to many. They don’t see that we’re learning and changing. “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?” [Romans 2:21; cf. 2Sam 12:14]

There will be occasions when a member of the Lord’s Body sins and should be rebuked or withdrawn from [cf. 1Corinthians 5:5], but their sinful behavior is not representative of the congregation as a whole, and it’s certainly not representative of the doctrine of Christ! As the farmer said, “THAT’S NOT FAIR!”

Fortunately, the Lord will not judge us as a church, we will face him as individuals [2Corinthians 5:10]. He addressed this issue in the church at Sardis; “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy” [Revelation 3:4]. Read the letters to the church at Corinth. If we measure every person in the congregation by the actions of a few, then no one can be saved.

Since others will judge the church as a whole based on the actions of a few, it’s vital that we all strive to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul rebuked those in the church at Rome; “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” [Romans 2:24].

Don’t let folks get away with judging the Lord’s body for the actions of a few. Rather, let them see our Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, & Temperance. Each of which are present in this beautiful congregation. A congregation that exists to serve the Lord as He commands. A congregation that seeks to remain pure from the influence of the world. A congregation that fights the compromises of denominational division. A congregation that desires to keep the commands of Christ out of the great LOVE that He showed them and that we have for Him.

Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” [1Peter 2:12].

“WHAT ABOUT HIM?” That’s what a child says when they’ve been caught in their bad behavior. Moms & Dads never accept this as an excuse for bad behavior. Neither does the Lord and neither should we.

A sound congregation of the Lord will have decent, but flawed, folks striving to serve the Lord. It will also have some not striving so much. A sound congregation will have mature Christians and some that are young in the faith. It will have a mix of individuals (cf. 1Cor 12:12-26].

Don’t make a decision about the Lord’s body based on those who are working on their flaws. Decide based on the truth of God’s word and your own need for repair. Besides, you would never refuse a gym because of all the overweight people, would you?

Do you remember when you were without hope?

You may be thinking that this title refers to that time in your life when you had great financial distress, but it doesn’t. Or you may suppose that it refers to that time when you may have been in fear for your life at the threat of a thief or a maniac, but it doesn’t. Or you may be thinking it’s referring to the loss of a parent or a spouse, but it doesn’t.

It’s referring to Ephesians chapter 2: “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh,… That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”

Too many people are hopeless, and far too many Christians are displaying hopelessness as well. It’s very easy to get caught up in the concerns for this life and to forget that there’s an eternity awaiting us. Paul is saying that without Christ this life is hopeless. Without Christ this life holds no promises.

The writer of Ecclesiastes makes the same point in a very powerful way. He writes about seeking success, wealth, joy and meaningful work, but at the end of the day it’s vanity, “grasping after the wind.” He’s not suggesting that these pursuits are worthless. His conclusion is the same as Paul’s, without God in your life all these things are hopeless. His conclusion of the whole matter is, “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” [Ecc 12:13]

Have you ever met someone that appeared to have nothing, no money, had physical disabilities or otherwise devoid of many of this world’s goods but was happy? I have, many times. I met a man, whom I’ve told you about, who had a disease called Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP). It is a disorder in which muscle tissue and connective tissue are gradually replaced by bone (ossified), forming bone outside the skeleton. He was one of the happiest guys I knew. I loved being around him because he brightened every room he entered.

How can anyone in a condition like that be happy? It was by no cause of his own, it happened to him beginning from his youth up. He experienced daily pain because of his disease but brought joy to those around him. How did he do it, what’s the key? I’ll tell you, he looked forward to being with God. In other words, he had purpose. This is true of nearly everyone who, despite the difficulties of life, are happy. They have found purpose, meaning and a direction.

THE KEY TO TRUE JOY…PURPOSE

People with purpose are some of the happiest people on the planet. They will endure great pain & struggle because of purpose.

I read about a study where scientists tossed lab rats into a jar of water that had been placed in total darkness to see how long they would swim to survive. In total darkness it took 3 minutes before they gave up. Then they took the rats and placed them in the same conditions, but this time with a small ray of light at the top. How long did the rats struggle this time? 36 hours! When they had a light, a possibility of escape, they were able to endure.

Think about how strong we can be when we have hope, true hope that is in Christ. We can face tomorrow when we know that we’ve been reconciled to God in Christ. Paul finishes his command to remember by saying, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

So, let us be reminded that without Christ we are without hope, without the promise of heaven, but IN CHRIST we have both the promise of heaven and hope that He will return to take us there. [Gal 3:27 put on Christ in baptism]

The next time life gets you down, and it will, look up and be reminded that God loves you, and that He sent His Son to provide you a way of escape.

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful (compassionate), and of tender mercy.” [James 5:11]

STAYING IN STEP

Never have I ever seen a caterpillar metamorphose into a butterfly except through some very specific steps. Before we can have a butterfly, there must be 4 distinct stages: egg, larva, pupa then adult. Each phase has different and necessary purposes. There is no way for the butterfly to skip a step, nor to take the steps out of order. People are the same regarding physical things. First gestation, childhood, teen then adulthood. Did you know that there are steps and order for spiritual things, namely, Salvation?

God instructs us to look at nature because it shows His handiwork and it can teach us some spiritual lessons. [cr. Rom 1:20; Pslm 19:1; Prov 6:6]. The example of stages in nature can teach us very powerful lessons about the stages of Salvation.

Although the modern religious world rejects any plan of salvation that has man doing anything, this doesn’t negate scripture that says there is a part man must do and, in God ordained order. “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” [Acts 9:6] (emp seb) That being said, and proved, what are the steps for salvation and must they be completed in order?

Romans 10 lays out that there is an order (steps) for one to follow. In verses 13-14, Paul shows that the beginning steps leading to salvation are HEARING, BELIEVING & CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 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?” [Rom 10:13-14] (emp seb)

He goes onto write that faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. This shows that HEARING, BELIEVING & CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD shall be learned through the study of the Word of God, namely, the New Testament. But, is this all that the New Testament has to say on this subject? CERTAINLY NOT!

In the same chapter in verse 10 Paul wrote, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (emp seb) So CONFESSION is also essential to salvation, but is this all that there is? A problem many folks have is that they stop at one passage without considering all that God has revealed about a subject. This is how & why we have thousands of denominations today. Let’s continue our search.

Thus far we have learned that salvation begins with…HEARING the word of God through the scriptures, BELIEVING this word, CONFESSING and CALLING on the name of the Lord. (there must be a distinction between CONFESSION & CALLING). To answer this question we go back to where we began this article by noting what Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was told to do by Jesus. We refer to his own retelling of the story in Acts 22:16, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” We learn that water BAPTISM is synonymous with “CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD” and that it precedes salvation.

Jesus said, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” [Luke 13:3] Clearly, He’s speaking about salvation. After His death, burial & resurrection, but before His ascension He also said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” [Mark 16:16] (emp seb) This verse also shows the necessity of not skipping the steps and doing them in order and for their intended purpose.

Putting this all together we find only these steps for salvation in this order…
1) Hear & Learn – Rom. 10:17; John 6:45; 17:3
2) Believe – John 6:29; 8:24
3) Repent – Luke 13:3; Acts 3:19; 17:30
4) Confess the Lord – Matt. 10:32-33
5) Be Baptized – Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16; Gal. 3:26-27; 1Pet. 3:21

Failure to follow the steps in their proper order and for their intended purpose is to fight against the very will of God [Acts 5:39]. There is much more on this subject, but none of it contradicts what has been said thus far.

Another thing we find is this saying, also from Jesus, “be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” [Rev 2:10b]. From this, along with passages like Mat 28:20; Acts 2:42; 2Tim 3:14-17, we learn that continued faithfulness is what those who have obeyed the gospel will continue to do. A person that is practicing faithfulness without having “obeyed the gospel” is practicing a vain religion. There are far too many people living in this false hope.

GONE WITH THE WIND

I’ve never heard of a ‘BOMB CYCLONE’ until last week. In case you missed it, the panhandle of Texas (along with other areas) experienced winds gusting over 75 mph. That kind of wind tosses a lot of things around and not a few people. Videos show roofs being blown off and semi-trucks toppling.

Let’s use this occasion of high winds to talk about the high winds of denominational doctrine. The Holy Spirit warns about this through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:

“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]

This is brilliant imagery, especially considering last week’s winds and the damage it caused. Upon examination of this verse we come to a few conclusions

  • There is a true doctrine. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” [Titus 1:9; 2:1, 10; Heb 6:1; 2John 1:9]
  • The negative doctrines are from men. [cr doctrines of men; Rom 16:17; Col 2:22; 1Tim 1:3, 10; Heb 13:9; 2John 1:10; Rev 2:14, 15,24 and doctrines of devils 1Tim 4:1]
  • These men use sleight (tactic used in gambling)
  • These men use cunning craftiness (trickery). The same word describing Satan; “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” [2Cor 11:3]
  • These men use deceit (lies). It’s called error in 1John 4:6 “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.”
  • These men are lying in wait, which is also said of thieves who hide in dark places to attack an innocent. [Proverbs 1:11]
  • The persons unable to distinguish between the doctrine of Christ and the doctrines of men are children, immature.
  • The doctrines of men are varied and often opposite of one another.
  • The child caught up in the wind is tossed and carried away by the false teaching. We’re expected to mature in spiritual understanding. “Brethren, be not children in understanding:” [1Cor 14:20a]

Paul continues this thought in chapter 5: “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” [Eph 5:6]. Just as the winds that tore through the panhandle, so too the winds of doctrine can tear through the church doing terrible damage. Unlike the physical damage of a wind, this is spiritual damage that tosses people into disobedience.

There is another way that wind is used for a SPIRITUAL WARNING, it’s our faith.

“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” [James 1:6]

James continues in this context and says that the one wavering in faith should not expect anything from God. Additionally, he calls the one with a wavering faith an unstable person. This smacks in the face of the admonition of the Christian to…

  • Stand Fast: “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” [1Thess 3:8]
  • Stand perfect & complete: “…that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” [Col 4:12]

It is my firm belief that the most damaging wind of doctrine is the utterly contemptible doctrine of ecumenism (the promoting of unity among denominations without unity of doctrine). An idea our Lord never promoted. He demands unity in His teaching. [1Cor 1:10]

5 Times People Think about God

There’s a song in our hymnal called, “You never mentioned Him to me.” It’s a very sobering song that asks you to think about the judgment day when you and everyone you know are present before the Lord [Mat 25:32]. Imagine on that day that you catch a glimpse of a loved one who is hearing, “depart from me…” [Mat 7:21-23] and they look over at you mouthing the words, “why didn’t you warn me?” I don’t know if we’ll be looking at one another or if when we all bow [Rom 14:11] our eyes will be averted. All I know is that there’s great pain to hear of a loved one who passes from this life outside of Christ.

It seems these days that very few folks are thinking about God. This makes it very difficult to mention Him to them. I have noticed, however, that there are a few moments in a person’s life that they are more open to hearing things about Christ. Moments of change in their life. While anytime is a good time to mention Jesus, I’ve discovered 5 times when folks may be more open to hearing of the Love of Christ.

DEATH: Long ago I met an aged lady who began her journey to Christ upon the death of her firstborn child. She sought the counsel of her denomination for answers, but none were found. She pressed on, seeking the truth, until she met a gospel preacher who showed her in scripture the safe condition of her child. In that search she learned about Bible authority verses the false words of men.

“It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.” [Ecc 7:2].

MARRIAGE ISSUES: Whether it’s getting married or trying to stay married, couples will be open to godly strategies for their marriage. Many times, it will be the wife that will seek God’s advice first. Peter offers her this advice: “While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” [1Pet 3:1-6] He continues with advice for the husband, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge…” [v7a]

ILLNESS or INJURY: God expended a lot of ink about the sick. We’re to visit the sick [Mat 25:36; Jas 5:14]. When it’s a particularly nasty illness, some treat it as a near death experience and begin to ponder their eternity. We can be their for them with a meal or a comforting voice.

CHILDREN: Kids can be a challenge in these times. (I suppose every generation of parents said something similar) As Christians, we can be an example to our friends & neighbors as we raise our children and especially when we’re practicing godly discipline. “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence:” [Heb 12:9] You would be amazed by the positive responses from folks as they watch you train your wild child.

MAJOR CHANGES: This last category of life events involve non-health related but dramatic changes in a person’s life. It could be moving, a new job, or some other occasion that draws folks together. This is a great time to be the neighbor that Jesus described when asked the question, “who is my neighbor?” [Luke 10:29-37]. One of the most powerfully connecting things one family can do for another is to help them move or to help in picking up the pieces after a storm.

This only touches the tip of the iceberg of the ways you can be ready to preach Christ. One final way is in how you manage your own rough patch. This is the context of 1Pet 3:15;

“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:”

The way in which we react to the struggles in our lives has a very powerful impact on others. Our hope on display is what draws our friends & neighbors to ask why. A perfect time to tell them about Christ.

We must prepare ourselves to have mercy, compassion & grace for these moments.

THROWING OUT THE TRUTH WITH THE BATHWATER

Most of you understand the expression, “THROW OUT THE BABY WITH THE BATHWATER” because you lived it. Back in the days of old, before the days of indoor plumbing, the family would take their baths in a large metal wash tub. After everyone was done, the last usually being the youngest, the bathwater was tossed out into the yard.

The idiom reminds us not to discard the precious as we attempt to rid ourselves of the despised.

I bring this to your attention because there is a movement among many to “toss out the bathwater” of baptism.

They’re TOSSING out the TRUTH of salvation as they seek to rid themselves of the baptismal waters. In their zeal to remove the ‘bathwater’ they have missed the simple truth about the Gospel.

Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. [Mat 23:24]

Those who are now working to rid the church of the ‘bathwater’ are repeating the mistakes of those in the past and tossing out the precious truth about salvation & baptism.

One fellow said that the baptism spoken of in Acts 2:38 is ‘spiritual immersion.’ What he’s done is thrown out SALVATION with the baptism water. Look at 1Peter 3:21; what is being taught?

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:” [1Peter 3:21]

The Apostle Peter makes a specific reference to water when he says, “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh.” Why would he bring up ‘the filth of the flesh’ unless saving baptism involves water? If salvation was ‘faith only’ then this addition is completely pointless. He brought it up because he was talking about WATER BAPTISM. He was teaching us not to confuse the water baptism obeyed through faith with a physical cleansing. WATER BAPTISM, submitted through faith, provides a SPIRITUAL CLEANSING.

Paul was told, “arise, and be baptized, and WASH AWAY THY SINS, calling on the name of the Lord.” [Acts 22:16] Upon hearing the preaching of Jesus by Phillip, the Ethiopian Eunuch asked, “See, here is WATER; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” [Acts 8:36] (emphasis mine, seb) These verses harmonize BECAUSE they are teaching WATER BAPTISM. They make no sense if salvation occurs BEFORE water baptism.

No one is teaching a ‘works’ salvation, for no one, submitting to the simple command of God in Christ, is able to do anything of themselves while under the water. Christ is doing the spiritual cleansing [Rev 1:5]. Christ is doing the saving [Matt 1:21]. Christ is adding to the church those that are being saved [Acts 2:47].

If you believe

  • You were saved before you were water baptized,
  • That baptism is not immersion in water,
  • That baptism doesn’t save you,
  • Were baptized in or into a denomination,
  • You were saved by being baptized as a baby,

Then you are guilty of ‘THROWING OUT THE TRUTH WITH THE BATHWATER’ and remain in your sin.

Saving Baptism in the bible is

  • Commanded by Christ, Matt 28:19; Mark 16:16
  • For the remission of sins, Acts 2:38; Mat 26:28
  • What washes away sin, Acts 22:16
  • Death to sin, Romans 6:1-4
  • A Burial, Colossians 2:12
  • Immersion in water, 1Peter 3:21; Acts 8:36
  • What saves you, by faith, 1Peter 3:21; Heb 11:7
  • Taught by Peter, Paul, & others Acts 2:38; 19:5; 22:16;
  • The Putting on of Christ, Galatians 3:27
  • AFTER Hearing, Believing, Repenting & Confessing, Mark 16:15, 16

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]

Another Bible Reading plan 2019

It’s that time of year again when this bulletin is dedicated to helping you find the right bible reading program.

Before I introduce to you the plans for 2019, let’s remind ourselves as to why a regular plan for reading the bible is so valuable.

  • A life without the Bible is an empty life. God has given to us all things pertaining to life & godliness. [2Pet 1:3]
  • We will make mistakes by not knowing it. [Mat 22:29]
  • We’re commanded to study it. [2Tim 2:15]
  • The Scriptures are “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” [2Tim 3:16-17]

Now, let’s look at some plans for 2019.

THE CHRONOLOGICAL daily reading plan. This plan has you reading the entire bible in 1 year in chronological order. You can find these online, or through an app on your smart phone. Some of these apps will even read the bible to you.

THE 30-DAY PLAN FOR NEW CONVERTS. This plan leads the new convert through bible from the fall of man through the redemption of mankind in Christ Jesus.

THE 61-DAY OVERVIEW OF THE WHOLE BIBLE. This plan touches just the highlights of the whole bible. This is a good plan for someone who wants a reminder of major events or is trying to just get an overview before a more complete reading of the bible.

THE MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY PLAN. This plan has a focus on the New Testament. Each day of the week has a theme as follows:

  • Mondays – Read from the Gospels [89 chapters]
  • Tuesdays – Read from Acts [28 chapters]
  • Wednesday – Read from Paul’s letters (Romans – Philemon) [87 chapters]
  • Thursday – Read from the Old Testament [929 chapters]
  • Friday – Read from the General letters (Hebrews through Revelation) [56 chapters]

As New Testament Christians, this plan has a focus on the New Covenant and allows you to read through the New Testament several times in a year (just 5-10 chapters per day), with ACTS being read about 10 times in a year depending on your reading speed. You would need to read about 15+ chapters on Thursdays to complete a reading of the Old Testament.

Imagine, by this time next year you will have read about the Lord’s life 4 times, the beginning of the church up to 10 times and the instructions from the Apostles 3,4 or 5 times!

THE PROVERBS A MONTH PLAN

With any of the above plans, a great addition would be to read from one chapter of Proverbs each day. There are 30-31 days in a month, and there are 31 chapters of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs is an excellent book for helping with daily living principles.

The breakdown of the book of Proverbs is as follows:

  • 1-9 the value of Wisdom
  • 10-30 are the sayings of Solomon with a mix of topics.
  • 31 is the word of King Lemuel’s Mother about the godly woman.

A FEW TIPS for Reading the Bible Daily.

  • Just Start. You don’t want to be saying, “I wish I read more” this time next year.
  • Set an appointment for yourself to read your bible. Nothing ever gets done until it’s scheduled.
  • Pray before and after each time you read. [Jas 1:5-6]

There is no downside to reading from God’s word, only an upside. Even if you miss a day, you have a plan to stay on track, keep it interesting and help you to grow.

If you live in the Borger, TX area and would like to study with someone, click here.