GREAT THINGS He hath done

Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how GREAT THINGS the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee” emph mine seb (Mark 5:19).

Jesus gave those instructions to the man he had just healed of the “legion” demon possession. This incredibly grateful man wanted to accompany Jesus wherever He would go. Jesus wouldn’t allow it, but gave him a personal mission, “tell them how GREAT THINGS the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee

This verse impresses me as a method of personal evangelism. Before we can apply it, we must know what GREAT THINGS the Lord has done for us.

Here’s my personal list.

The Lord has been very GRACEFUL in the giving of Himself as a sacrifice, and Propitiation for sin. (Eph 2:8-9)

He has shown me how to REJOICE in times of trial. (Jas 1:2-3)

He has left EVIDENCE of His goodness. (Acts 14:17)

He demonstrated AGAPE style Love. (Rom 5:6-10)

He has delivered to us God’s TRUTH. (John 17:17)

He has given me certain TALENTS by which I can provide for the needs of my family and for helping others. (Matt 25:15)

He has given me HOPE. (Heb 6:19)

He has given me access to INTERCESSORY prayer which is unavailable to those outside of Christ. (Rom 8:34; Heb 4:16)

He has taught me how to love my NEIGHBORS. (Matt 22:39)

He has given me every GOOD GIFT & perfect Gift. (Jas 1:17)

Lastly, but not least, He has provided for me SALVATION through obedience to the Gospel. (1Cor 15:1-4)

This list is certainly not comprehensive, but it does represent some of the GREAT THINGS He has done. I have another more private and personal list of GREAT THINGS the Lord has done.

What about you? Do you have a list? We sing the song, “Count your blessings,” do you know what some of them are?

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee” (Psalm 139:17-18).

Perhaps you would like to make a note of the many GREAT THINGS the Lord has done for you?

______________  ______________  ______________

______________  ______________  ______________

______________  ______________  ______________

as little CHILDREN

Children have not always been treated very well. They have…

  1. Been Sacrificed; 2Kings 17:31; Eze 16:20-21
  2. Caused to pass through fire; 2Kings 16:3; Jer 32:35;
  3. Sold for debt; 2Kings 4:1.
  4. Eaten. 2King 6:28-29.

Even now children are used as pawns in failing relationships, in manipulating the news, and in politics. These things ought not be so.

What does the bible say about children? Better yet, what does Jesus say?

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

(Matt 18:3)

Jesus uses the qualities of CHILREN as an illustration of those who desire to become CHILDREN of God. He makes it very clear, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” CONVERSION is the process of turning completely around. Comparing it to the CHILDREN, it speaks to our turning from trusting in our own abilities, and trusting fully in Christ, His sacrifice, His promises, His working through our faith. Without faith it’s impossible to please God.

Another quality of CHILDREN is seen in their HUNGER and their cries to be fed. Peter uses this quality to illustrate the need for the child of God to HUNGER for the word. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1Peter 2:2).

One of the things we learn from Jesus as He uses CHILDREN for our understanding, is that children are INNOCENT. They do not have sin IMPUTED to them. Some claim that children are born wicked and totally depraved. Jesus didn’t see it this way. When asked about inherited sin, Jesus said it didn’t happen. (see John 9:2-3) When David’s son died in infancy, he desired to “go to him” (2Sam 12:23). Did David want to go to heaven or hell? Clearly, he knew that children are INNOCENT.

One quality every parent has experienced from children is their capacity to LOVE and our capacity to LOVE them sacrificially. Jesus uses that quality when He looked on with tears over Jerusalem (Matt 23:37). In Solomon’s day, he used this capacity for a mother’s LOVE for her child to determine the true mother of a child (1King 3:24-27)

Little children are especially unique in their ability to be DEVOTED to their parents regardless of their qualities. Consider Hebrews 12:4-11. We revere our earthly parents when they disciplined us (maybe not at the time). God wants this level of DEVOTION for His children.

Children are used to REPRESENT the NEW BIRTH of becoming a Christian. Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). This is very similar language He uses when He placed a child in their midst. The new birth REPRESENTS baptism in water (John 3:5; cr. Rom 6:3-4).

Then there’s the EXPECTATION of parents for the growth of the child. The New Testament writers make this comparison in Hebrews 5. “For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe” (5:12-6:2; cr. 1Cor 3:1; 13:11).

Lastly, while children desire to grow and mature, they know that they are unable to do many things for themselves. They recognize their NEED for help from their parents and are ready to ask without embarrassment. Oh, if this child of God could be better at this quality. Children can teach us so much about how to grow, mature, work, and try to do, while simultaneously knowing their complete NEED for the loving care of their parents for their basic needs. “Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him” (Matt 7:9-11)?

Let us think on the words of Christ about the example of CHILDREN. Despite how the world sees children, let us see them through the eyes of our Lord and learn the lessons that He has taught us through them.

— spencer

the GOSPEL is

Paul wrote to the Galatians warning about those that were troubling them over the GOSPEL. He called it

  • a different gospel
  • a perversion
  • an other gospel

He said that there is not another GOSPEL, and that the GOSPEL they heard originally was not from men, nor did it come from men. He said, “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.” (Gal 1:8,9).

Very strong words with critical consequences. So critical that he says it twice!

Rather than list all the ways the Gospel can by perverted, let’s see what is the GOSPEL.

It stands to reason that since Paul warned of a perverted GOSPEL, that it can be known what is the pure GOSPEL.

WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?

The GOSPEL literally means, “GOOD NEWS.” This Greek word for the GOSPEL is from the root word for evangelist. But it’s not enough to just be GOOD NEWS. The GOSPEL is GOOD NEWS from GOD. More than that, the GOSPEL is the GOOD NEWS about the GRACE of GOD. “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)

As one looks up every one of the 98 verses where the word is used, they would find that the GOSPEL is something to be OBEYED. If it is to be OBEYED, then there is something we must do. “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1Peter 4:17; cf. 2Thess 1:8).

As we look for those things we must do, we learn that a person must do these five things in order…

So, the GOSPEL is the Good News of the Grace of God, and is to be Obeyed, but for what reason? A search of the scriptures shows that the GOSPEL is for the SALVATION of mankind. “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” (1Cor 15:1-2; cf. 2Tim 1:10; Eph 1:13)

Continuing our research of the scriptures, two more ideas about the GOSPEL come to our attention. The GOSPEL is the “power of God unto salvation;” (Rom. 1:16), and that it is the Good News to be PREACHED by people by people. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) We have no other thing by which we shall reach people. We are limited to the Power of God through Preaching the Gospel.

Another important thing related to the GOSPEL of the GRACE of GOD, is that it is to be preached to EVERY CREATURE (Mark 16:15; cf Mark 13:10; 14:9). The GOOD NEWS of the GRACE of GOD regarding the SALVATION of man is not to be withheld from any person. To do so would be showing partiality and judging unrighteous judgment (cf. Matt 7:1-2).

The last thing one may notice in their study about the GOSPEL is that it is to be preached out of LOVE (Phil 1:15-17), and it is to be LIVED out for the remainder of our lives. “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ:” (Phil 1:27)

The GOSPEL is the Good News of the Grace of God, it is to be Obeyed so that we may be Saved, this Power message is to be Preached to Every creature out of Love, and it is be Lived out daily in the life of the those that have received its power.

— spencer

Spencer is an evangelist in Borger Texas. He has labored with the Franklin & Juniper St church of Christ for the last 8 years.

let the PEACE of God rule

Rejoice in the Lord Always and again I say, Rejoice.” (Php 4:4)

Considering the state of our world this seems like an impossible task. One thing we forget however, is that those words were penned while Paul was in a Roman prison.

Every generation has to figure out how to complete this command in themselves despite the ‘troubles’ of their times. We’re no different.

Since the fall of man, we have all had to deal with the troubles that come from a broken sin filled world.

Despite this can we still find a way to REJOICE? Yes. If there is a command, then it’s within our ability to obey. But how?

How do we rejoice in the midst of turmoil? Can we rejoice when there is no peace in the world? We forget that there is no true peace if we’re not at peace with God. When we find peace with God, we can also see how to rejoice.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” (Col 3:15)

This verse comes in the midst of a list of instructions; it must then be true then, that when we follow these instructions, we might have that peace of God.

Going to the beginning of the chapter we find the first step. “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Col 3:1-4). Before we can have peace from God, we need to seek and to set our affections above. From this verse and others, we learn that the child of God is to PURSUE righteousness, the things from above (cf. Jas 3:17; 1Tim 6:11; 2Tim 2:22; 1Pet 3:11).

The child of God is then to, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” (Col 3:5-9). EVIL is to be put off of the child of God. How can any of us expect peace when we continue to participate in the earthly, carnal, sensual, evil of this world? “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:” We used to live this way, but now we are to live differently (cf. 1Cor 6:9-11).

Removing bad habits is not enough, we must replace what we have put off. “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;” (Col 3:12). We are to put on, ADORN ourselves with the new man. In obeying the gospel through faithful baptism, we are raised up to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:3-4). Failure to do this is why we often return to our old ways. It’s not enough to remove evil. We must replace it with good.

But we still have a little further to go. The elect of God is expected to go beyond just outer actions, we must engage our hearts. “And above all these things put on CHARITY [love], which is the bond of perfectness” (Col 3:14). Without love we are nothing (1Cor 13:1-3). Love is very powerful. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1John 4:18).

There is just one more thing in this list. Love is more than an emotion. It’s obedience to God. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments:” (1John 5:3). We see this instruction in our passage. “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col 3:15-17).

We must let the peace of God dwell in our hearts, and this is accomplished when we let the word of Christ dwell there also. The last line in this section explains what this means. “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.” “Whatsoever, do, word, deed, do all?” This covers EVERYTHING. The entirety of our lives is to be focused on serving God. A fitting bookend to the beginning where we were told to “set our affections on things above.”

Do we want peace? Do you want rejoicing? It’s possible. When we Pursue those things above, put off Evil, Adorn ourselves with the new, have Charity in our hearts, and let the word of God permeate the Entirety of our lives, then we can rejoice. We rejoice not because life is easier. We rejoice because we know we have hope of an eternal home in heaven where Christ sits.

— spencer

Spencer is an evangelist for the Franklin & Juniper St church of Christ in Borger Texas. If you live in the Borger area and would like to learn more about what the bible says on life and godliness, then let us know how we can help you know more of God’s word.

If there had been more love…

…there would not be any division.” You’ve probably heard something like this before. Another way of saying this is, “Let’s unite over the things we have in common and not divide over our differences.”

They contend that love will prevent any division among us. I would agree, but not in the way that they use love.

If love for the truth is what is meant by “more love” then I’m all in. However, it is evident that not everyone will love and accept the truth on some matters of faith.

“…because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” (2Thess. 2:10)

LOVE for the truth motivates the servants of the Lord to preach it and to exhort all to follow it (cf. 2Tim 4:2). Sadly, there are those who refuse to submit to the will of the Lord, and do not have the doctrine of Christ. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.” (2John 1:9a)

When some say that love will prevent division, they are using their definition of love which OVERLOOKS practices that are not found in the doctrine of Christ. These will place the blame of division on those laboring to practice the truth rather on those who will not accept it. Paul wrote, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph 5:11). Love of the truth would have adherents practicing the divine pattern of the truth, rather than advocating an umbrella of love that ignores it.

Certainly, the truth is to be spoken in love. “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph 4:15). We have a responsibility to speak the truth in love. Perhaps, those who cry that love would prevent divisions, dwell on the manner of presentation. Every preacher ought to work on the manner of presenting the truth in love (1Cor 13), but what right does anyone have to reject the word of God based on the manner of presentation? Salvation comes through obeying the gospel of Christ, and any failure should be placed on the hearts of the hearers (cf. Luke 8:11-15; 2Thess 1:8).

All the love in the world is not going to result in some people accepting the truth whereby brethren can walk together in truth. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16) “So there was a division among the people because of him” (John 7:43).

VIOLATION of God’s word is to be blamed for division, not a lack of love. Are we prepared to say that a lack of love from Christ resulted in division? May it never be!!

Was there a lack of love on the part of John toward Diotrephes that caused division? No, it’s the following of EVIL that causes the division. It was the lack of love for the truth on the part of Diotrephes that caused the division. “but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not” (2John 9-11). [emph mine seb]

Yes, we need more love “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment” (Phil 1:9; cf. 1Thess 3:12). May there be more love of the truth that we may walk together in unity of the Spirit and have fellowship with God through Jesus Christ our Savior. “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” (Eph 4:4-6)

—spencer

Spencer is an evangelist for the Franklin & Juniper St church of Christ in Borger Texas. If you live in the Borger area and would like a personal bible study, please reach out & let us know how we can help you know more of God’s word.

What do you get when you Read the BIBLE?

We believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, that gives us all the information and instruction we need for life and godliness.

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2Peter 1:21; cf 1:3-4)

We also believe that we can understand the Bible, and know & do the will of the Lord.

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

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.” [Col 3:17]

What we get when we read the BIBLE?

The Bible reveals an answer to this question.

First, The Bible says we may BELIEVE. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” [Jno. 20:30-31] Another word often associated with belief is Faith, which is of the same Greek origin. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” [Romans 10:17]

We conclude from this evidence and more, that when we read the Bible, God’s inspired revealed word, we may BELIEVE.

How then can we Believe, or have Faith, without reading?

Second, The Bible says we will have INSTRUCTION in righteousness. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is 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; cf. 2Peter 1:3-4]

We conclude from this evidence and more, that when we read the Bible, God has given us INSTRUCTIONS on how to live, grow, and how to get to heaven.

How then can we speak or act without reading?

Third, The Bible says that we can BE READY to give an answer, or a defense. “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:” [1Pet 3:15]

We conclude from this evidence and more, that when we read the Bible, we can give an answer to any and all who ask us why we have hope.

How can we defend our hope (or our faith) without reading?

Fourth, The Bible says we will know LOVE because He first loved us. “We love him, because he first loved us.” [1John 4:19; cr. Rom 5:6-10]. The Bible also says that we LOVE God by keeping His commandments. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” [1John 5:3; cr. Jno. 14:15]

We conclude from this evidence and more, that we don’t truly know LOVE or how to LOVE unless we read about the sacrifice of Christ as revealed in the word of God. We also conclude that part of LOVING God is to do His will.

How can we truly know or practice LOVE without reading?

Fifth, The Bible says that Jesus has the words of ETERNAL LIFE. “…thou hast the words of eternal life.” [Jno. 6:68b; Luke 24:27; 2Cor 2:9-12; Eph 3:3-4] Those words have been revealed through the inspired written word of God (Revealed to the Apostles, whom spoke it, then wrote it) [2Th 2:15; 3:14]. These words are researchable and reviewable (Acts 17:11) and have universal application to all.

We conclude from this evidence, and more, that we may only know how to have ETERNAL LIFE through reading (hearing) and obeying the word of God. “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;” [Heb 5:9].

How can you know we’re saved in hope without reading?

     — spencer

Spencer is an evangelist for the Franklin & Juniper St church of Christ in Borger Texas. If you live in the Borger area and would like a personal bible study, please reach out & let us know how we can help.

To ASPIRE to a quiet life

The last few years have been a rollercoaster of uncertainty. The reality is, since the fall from the Garden, every year is a year of uncertainty.

time and chance happens to them all.” [Ecc 9:11b]

Even with all this uncertainty, the Scriptures show us that it’s possible to smooth out the hills and valleys.

As we approach the New Year, many of us will be setting resolutions for 2022. Before we decide on what weight we want, or financial goals, let us consider what Paul told the saints at Thessalonica.

Read 1Thess 4:9-12.

v9-10: “But concerning love of the brethren ye have no need that one write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another; for indeed ye do it toward all the brethren that are in all Macedonia. But we exhort you, brethren, that ye ABOUND more and more;” (emph mine seb)

The first thing we notice is the goal to ABOUND in LOVE. That’s a worthy goal. Faith, Hope & Love are 3 great things, but the greatest of these is Love… [1Cor 13:13]

  • We start by Loving the Lord thy God (Mat 22:37),
  • We are to Love Others (Mat 22:39),
  • We must also Love being Virtuous in keeping God’s commands (1John 5:3; John 14:15),
  • We ought also Love our Enemies (Luke 6:27).
  • We ought also to Love His Appearing in the Sky (2Tim 4:8).

v11a: “and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business,”

The second thing Paul writes what we might say, STAY IN YOUR LANE. The word “study” is philotimeomai, and means, eager or earnest to do something: labor, strive, study. [Strong’s Greek Dictionary]

In other words, we are to STRIVE for peace, not to STRIVE with others. This is not to say we should roll over whenever someone teaches error. Rather, it’s about not STRIVING over pointless matters. “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” [Rm 12:18]. We’re to strive for a quiet life, which means that we won’t be busybodies nor disorderly [Rom 13:13; 1Peter 4:15; 1Tim 5:13; 2Thess 3:11-12]

v11b: “and to work with your hands…

Part of living a quite life is through working to PROVIDE for the care of our own households. This wasn’t the first time Paul wrote about working to provide for our own; [Eph 4:28] nor was it the last time [1Tim 5:8].

v11c “…, even as we charged you;”

This is not Paul’s own guess work; to live a quiet life is an INSTRUCTION from the Lord. [1Cor 14:37].

v12a “that ye may walk becomingly toward them that are without,”

To live a quiet life ultimately is about our influence toward all. Paul wants us to have a good REPORT from outsiders so that we will not hinder the gospel. This is also a qualification of Elder. [1Tim 3:7; 2Co 8:21; Col 4:5; 1Pet 2:12]

v12b “and may have need of nothing.”

Finally, Paul concludes that we are to EXCEL in these things so that we “lack nothing.” Once you carry your own water, you will appreciate every drop. [Gal 6:5]. This doesn’t mean we won’t need someone’s help sometimes, just that we should be striving so that we won’t need it.

Paul often worked so as not be a burden on others so that the gospel would not be hindered. “For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.” [2Thess 3:7-9].

As we think about 2022, let us ASPIRE to Abound in Love, to Study to be quiet, as Instructed by the Lord, to have a good Report of outsiders, and to Excel more & more. May God bless us all.

— spencer

Spencer is an evangelist for the Franklin & Juniper st church of Christ in Borger Texas.

4 Wise Little Creatures pt4/4 Spiders are BOLD

God uses nature to teach spiritual lessons. “But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee.” (Job 12:7).

This article looks at another wise creature, the Spider (or perhaps a “lizard” ASV?); “The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.” (Prov 30:28)

The wording can either mean, the creature can grab, or it means that it can be caught easily in your two hands. In either case, the wisdom of the spider is about being BOLD & cunning. Even though it is small, it is found in the King’s own palace!

The need for bravery cannot be overstated. The scriptures teach that vocal Christians (and even non-vocal) shall face persecutions from their preaching. Consider the words of our Lord; “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” (John 15 18); and “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2Tim 3:12). From these passages we can see the need for boldness.

How do we become BOLD? Here are four keys we can use to become BOLD.

The first key is to repent and be BLAMELESS before God. Knowledge is power, and through the knowledge of God we can know how to be BLAMELESS before him. Consider these passages…

Fear is an indication that some action must be taken. When we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, then we can be BOLD.

The second Key, going along with the first, is we must OBEY GOD even when we’re afraid. When you recognize that God’s commands are for our good, then any fears we may have in doing them will evaporate. His commandments are not burdensome. Look at the command to have no fear…

When God commands us, we can have confidence & boldness.

FEAR of loss demotivated the one talent man – Matt. 25:24-31.

FEAR of doing difficult things makes us useless in the service of God: “fearful and afraid” (Judges 7:3) – 22,000 departed.

The third key is LOVE, perfect love casts out fear. (1John 4:18.) We are to Love God, Mat 22:37; Love others, Mat 22:39; Love enemies, Luke 6:27; and it’s love that spreads the Gospel.

The fourth key is to place your trust in God by DRAWING NEAR to Him, (James 4:8). We try to become bold through wealth, but those are uncertain. (1Tim 6:17) We trust only our own selves, but that will end in disaster, (Prov 3:5) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;” We sometimes replace God with Gov, but that’s no help. (Daniel 4:17; Acts 5:29). And certainly, the world is not to be trusted: “The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.” (Prov 29:25)

According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.” (Phil 1:20).

What is that to thee? follow thou me.

After the resurrection of Jesus, He spoke with Peter while having breakfast by the sea (John 21:15-22). There are a few lessons from this text, but I’d like to focus on Peter’s response to the knowledge that he will die for Christ & His Cause.

After Jesus describes the type of love sacrifice that Peter will face, Peter turns toward John and asks, “what shall this man do?”

Jesus, ever succinct and direct, answers, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.”

It is this powerful lesson that will be the focus of this article. Before we can learn the lesson, we must understand the root of Peter’s question.

Peter had heard that he will live the remainder of his life in sacrificial service to Christ, the end of which will be a martyr’s death. “This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.”

This would be very serious news to receive. The closest example I could give you is one from my own experience. After two years of cancer treatment for my mom, we were in her doctor’s office when we heard something to the effect, “There’s nothing more we can do. Go home, we’ll try to make you comfortable, and enjoy your family in whatever time you have left.” How devastating that must have sounded to her.

Perhaps this gives us just a glimpse at how this might have sounded to Peter at this point in his life. Peter would learn more from Jesus after this, but this stands as a reminder to every Christian, we who love Christ will face persecution, and trouble in this life. [2Tim 3:12].

So, what are we to do with this information, knowing that life as a Christian won’t always be easy? Can we still be happy? Can we find any joy? The answer is yes, we can be HAPPY & JOYFUL, the question then becomes HOW? For that answer we turn to the words of our Lord, FOLLOW ME.

FOLLOW ME.

The beginning of following anyone is to have FAITH. Nobody will follow anyone if they can’t trust that they are worthy to be followed, and able to fulfill what they have promised. Christ is both worthy and able. Just one text of many will prove this point; Christ is spoken of as the Creator [John 1:1-4; Col 1:17-18]. Jesus told His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” [John 14:1-3]. Another powerful verse to help with our FAITH in Christ is, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” [Heb 2:18]

Second, we can only follow Him if we OBEY Him. Jesus is the Captain of our Salvation, but too many treat Him like they’re the captain and He a buck Private. [cf. Heb 2:10] Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” [John 14:15; 1John 5:3]

Next, we notice that in that breakfast by the sea, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” We should ask ourselves this same question. The word for love is ‘agape’ which is the all-in sacrificial love. To follow Jesus is to LOVE whom He loves. We must LOVE God [Mat 22:37], Christ [John 14:15], The Holy Spirit [Rom 15:30], the brethren [1Peter 1:22], yourself & your family [Eph 5:28-29], and also your Enemies [Luke 6:27].

Fourth, Christ told us to come to Him and, “Take my yoke upon you, and LEARN of me;” [Matt 11:29]. It is amazing to me how much people say that want to follow Jesus, but spend so little time trying to LEARN of Him. He expects us to be the LIGHT of the world, but how can we without LEARNING of Him, without reading His word? [Mat 5:14; cf. Psalm 119:105; Pro 6:23]

Fifth, whether young or Old, as we have OPPORTUNITY let us do good to all men, especially the household of faith [Gal 6:10]. Sometimes folks don’t want us to do good toward them. That’s ok. Paul wrote, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” [Rom 12:18; cf. Mat 15:14; 1Cor 14:38; 1Tim 6:18]

Lastly, and just as importantly, Following Christ involves WALKING. John was present at the breakfast by the sea and he wrote, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to WALK, even as he walked.” [1John 2:6]. Peter wrote, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” [1Peter 2:21; cf. 1Pet 3:13; 2Peter 1:16].

Putting all this together, we know that life is full of disappointments, trouble, and trials. Much of this will come through the hands of people. However, the scriptures teach us that we can have JOY & HAPPINESS despite this world’s troubles. [James 1:2; Mt 5:12; Ac 5:41]. Peter wrote, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” [1Pet 4:13; 1:6; 4:16]

Peter was told at the beginning that he would give his life to Christ. Peter wanted to know, if I’m going to suffer, what going to happen to the others? Christ told him that whatever happens to others has no bearing on what Peter does, “YOU FOLLOW ME.” He understood the lesson.

Whatever it is that others are doing, or not doing, what they’re getting, or not getting, how much fun they’re having, or how much they suffer, these have nothing to do with what YOU & I are to do.

As I read again John 21:22, when Jesus commands Peter, I also hear…

Spencer, YOU FOLLOW ME.”

Letter to a Friend 1of3

I have no idea who wrote this following letter (part 1 of 3 parts), but I found it very powerful and convicting. May it be of help to you in your personal work.

Dear Friend,

I pray that you and your family are all well.

I am sending this letter because I have been unable to see you in person to study with you concerning the church of our Lord. I do not believe this is a matter that can be put off indefinitely because of the importance of the issue and its affect upon the eternal destiny of your soul, and those of your household.

What is written in this letter is written because of the love that I have for you. Friend, I like you and want you to do what is right in the sight of God. It is difficult in writing to see the tear in the eye, and the tenderness and cry in the voice that portray the love in the heart. Words written tend to seem harsher than the same words spoken. However, be assured of the tenderness of my heart in presenting these words to you.

Please, consider all that is said. Take your Bible and check to see that those things that I have written are true. If they are not what the Scriptures teach, do not believe it! But, if it is what the Scriptures teach, believe it and obey it for the sake of your soul. If you think that I am wrong, please show me where, I do not want to be wrong.

The church in the New Testament does not refer to a building. The church is a people. The church can hear and talk (Matthew 18:17); the church can fear (Acts 5:11); the church can be persecuted (Acts 8:1); the church can pray (Acts 12:8). A people can do these things, but neither organization nor a building can.

The church of Christ in the New Testament was the people who were saved. They were those bought with the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28). They are those who upon their belief are baptized in order to obtain the remission of sins: “Now when they heard this, they wen pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins… Then they that gladly received bis word were baptized: and the same day were added unto them about three thousand soul… And the Lord added unto the church daily such as should be saved.” (Acts 2:37,38,41,47; Mark 16:16). Being bought with a price they were God’s, and temples. (1Corinthians 6:19,20). They were redeemed, not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was made manifest in these last times for you: (1Peter 1:18-20). The Lord adds the saved to His church.

The church is to be subject to Christ in all things (Ephesians 5:23,24). Jesus is the head of the church (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22,23), not any representative on earth. The church that belongs to Christ requires a “thus saith the Lord,” a scriptural reason for everything that it says and does (2 Timothy 3:16,17; 1Peter 4:11; 2 John 9; Revelation 22:18,19). The church cannot go beyond that which is written. If a man teaches something other than the truth he is to be cut off from the church (Galatians 1:6-10; 2 John 9-11). That means the church will do what Christ has authorized; no more, no less (Colossians 3:17; Acts 4:7). There must be a “thus saith the Lord” before the church can act. As the army of Christ, composed of soldiers of Christ, it cannot advance unless given the command of Christ.

The commands of Christ are found in the New Testament, Jesus took the Old Testament out of the way, nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:12-14; Ephesians 2:14-17; Galatians 3:1-5, 17-29; 4:21-5:5; Hebrews 8:1-28; 12:18-29; 13:11-12; 2 Corinthians 3:1-18). We are not under the Old Testament, for Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).

The conditions for pardon and fellowship are given in the New Testament. Those who receive pardon and are accepted into the fellowship of the church are:

  • those who, having HEARD the word of God, have FAITH (Romans 10:17; Hebrews 11:1,6);
  • those whose faith causes them to REPENT (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30; 2Peter 3:9);
  • those who CONFESS their faith in Jesus as the Son of God (Acts 8:36,37; Romans 10:9,10; Matthew 10:32,33);
  • those who are IMMERSED (baptized in water) in order to obtain the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Galatians 3:26,27; 1Peter 3:21);
  • those who REMAIN FAITHFUL IN OBEDIENCE, for those who walk disorderly are rejected (John 15:1-6; 2Peter 2:20-22; Revelation 3:15,16).

Any other conditions are commandments and doctrines of men. There is only one DOCTRINE of CHRIST and we are not to change it by adding to it or taking from it. (2John 9; Rev 22:18; De 4:2; 12:32; Pr 30:6). Neither do we blend it with the Law of Moses. (Col 2:14)