Conversing at the Lord’s Table

We all know, that on the night of Jesus betrayal, He implemented what is commonly called the Lord’s supper: “He said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” [Luke 22:15-20; cr. Matthew 26:26-29]

A most important topic but, have you ever considered what ELSE He taught at that last supper? When we read all the gospel accounts regarding the supper, we find 5 other topics of discussion.

1 – The Hurt of Betrayal Among them. [Matthew 26:20-25] As they sat down for supper, Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” They all wondered aloud, “is it I?” Jesus goes on to say, “woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” So many lessons could be drawn, but one question keeps haunting me, “Is it I?” Could we betray our Lord? The Hebrew writer expresses this idea when he wrote about “crucifying afresh” the Son of God when we fall away. [Hebrews 6:6]

2 – The Value of Service. [John 13:3-17] While the twelve are all still there, Jesus humbles Himself and washes each of the disciple’s feet, INCLUDING JUDAS. Jesus tells them, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” He is not commanding us to perform a ritual of foot washing, (that was a custom of that day), rather He is demonstrating service toward one another. To love one another. After this example He said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” [John 13:36]. The lesson is clear, have we such a love for each other?

3 – The Promise of Comfort. [John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13] At this supper He was telling them about His coming departure. As they wondered where He would be going, and how they might follow Him, He said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” He then spoke about a Comforter who would come to “guide them into all truth.” He was speaking about the revelation of the New Testament scriptures, brought to them through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Today, we have the complete word of God. Can we still find comfort in them, just as the Apostles? I’d say we can.

4 – The Need to Bear Fruit. [John 15:1-8] As He was telling them of the Comforter, He also gave an illustration about being profitable disciples. He spoke of “bearing much fruit.” Connected with His word, and the words the Holy Spirit shall speak, the disciple can abide in Jesus, and He in us. Just as a branch bears fruit when attached to the vine, we too can bear fruit when attached to Jesus through His word. But there was also a warning, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” What a terrible thought, to be cast away and burned for failing to bear fruit. We can only bear fruit through obedience to His word. [cr. Matthew 7:21-29]

5 – The Power of Spiritual Unity. [John 17:11-23] Prior to their departure to the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to the Father in their presence. He prayed, “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” Some today have the false notion that unity is found in just getting along and overlooking sin. This can never be right. Spiritual Unity is also called “fellowship.” Scriptural fellowship with God is achieved through heartfelt obedience to the Word of God. Jesus said it this way, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” [John 14:21].  Do you and I love Jesus? Then we shall keep His commandments and have spiritual fellowship.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. [1John 1:7]

What an amazing supper that must have been. These are the final words of the Master to His disciples before He is betrayed and crucified. They are important words with valuable lessons. Let us study them, learn from them and apply them into our lives.

Denomination Dictionary

In Genesis eleven, the story of the Tower of Babel, we read where God confounded the language of mankind. One of the lessons we learn from this true story is that language has the power to unify people. Sometimes for evil, but it can also unify people for good.

To be united we need to speak the same language, and equally important, we need to define the words the same way. Though we can use our smartphones to communicate with folks who speak another language, it’s challenging to communicate with people who speak the same language but use different definitions.

One of the complications of evangelism is the fact that the terms we use are defined differently in the denominations. It’s nearly impossible to communicate with another if we’re not speaking the same language.

So that we can evangelize more effectively allow me to provide a list of common Biblical words and what they mean to the person in a denomination.

CHURCH: A building where believers gather to worship, fellowship, have trunk or treat or play games.

What Does the Bible Say? The church is the ‘Called out.’ It is the group of people which God adds a person to when they have obeyed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. [ Acts 2:47]

The church is the body of Jesus Christ, and there is only one. [Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:4]

One must be in the church to be saved for Jesus is the savior of the body (the church). [Ephesians 5:23]

CHRISTIAN: Any person who believes in Jesus, but not necessarily an obedient or repentant person.

What Does the Bible Say? A Christian is what scripture calls those who have obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ and are faithfully following the doctrine of Christ.

WORSHIP: The feeling that one’s whole life pays homage to God. The activity one does to pay homage to God, as long as it feels good, includes mechanical music and is followed by a lunch. It is not necessary to follow the biblical pattern to ‘worship’.

What Does the Bible Say? Jesus said that the people who worship must do so in spirit and truth [John 4:24] which means that it is heart filled as well as scripturally authorized [Matthew 18:20]. He also said that it’s possible to worship in vain [Matthew 15:9].

BAPTISM: An outward sign of an inward grace.

What Does the Bible Say? Baptism is IMMERSION in water [Ephesians 5:26] which models the DEATH, BURIAL & RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ in obedience to the Gospel [1Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 6:1-4; 2Thessalonians 1:8]. It is an essential part of salvation for the person AFTER he, Believes that Jesus is the Christ, Repents of their sins, and Confesses that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God [Matthew 16:16-18; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom 10:10].

GRACE: The free gift of salvation that Christ gave by dying on a cross. There is nothing a person can do to accept that free gift…except believe (unless you’re a Unitarian who thinks every person is saved without believing). Repentance is also not required, unless you’re a member of the church of Christ, in which case that person must repent of believing that repentance is an essential part of salvation. However, if you don’t bring forth fruit of the non-requirement of repentance, then you probably weren’t saved in the first place.

What Does the Bible Say? Grace is the gift of God [Ephesians 2:8], through Jesus as the perfect sacrifice, becoming the propitiation of our sins [1John 2:1-2]. Everyone can access this gift through HEARING the Gospel, BELIEVING, REPENTING of our sins, CONFESSING that Jesus is the Christ and being BAPTIZED into Christ for the remission of sins. [Romans 10:10, 17; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:27].

LOVE: An emotion one must have toward everyone regardless of their lifestyle which does not judge or condemn, neither does it try to convince others to change.

What Does the Bible Say? Love is PATIENT and is KIND [1Corinthians 13:4], but it also REBUKES (convince of right or wrong) and CHASTENS (discipline / instruction). “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” [Hebrews 12:4-11].

These are just a few examples of the many Biblical words that have been redefined by denominations. My intention is not to mock, rather it is to point out that there is only one truth, and that truth is God’s word. The redefining of these words is causing many to be lead astray. Effective evangelism recognizes that the world is speaking a secular language different from the language of the Bible.

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. John 17:17

What is the key to effective evangelism?

IS THERE A ONE WORD ANSWER to getting more bible studies? The key to evangelism is not probing, listening, preaching, talking, assessing, pain, and especially not manipulating. The key that opens the heart is HARMONIZING.

But you’d never know that from most or our actions. Evangelism is about understanding the other person and their needs. Their fears. Their desires. And their sense of need for the Gospel. People have different motives to respond, and it’s the evangelist’s job to uncover them – and harmonize with them.

REALITY: No two opportunities are alike.

We must adapt to uncover the motives and objectives, understand the opportunities and barriers, meet the needs and desires, and harmonize with the person and the personality. This is the point Paul was making in 1Corinthians 9…

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. [1Corinthians 9:19-23]

Ever since becoming a Christian, I’ve searched for magic verses, those one or two passages that answer every error. I’ve collected tracts with hopes that these one sheet papers could somehow win souls without much difficulty or controversy. And I’ve tried different methods & systems designed to lead people to obey the Gospel. Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all” tract, verse or method. It’s not that these can’t work, rather that they don’t always work. What I’ve found is that I focused too much on getting through the material rather than focusing on and HARMONIZING with the individual. One instance, a person had asked a specific question, though I knew the answer was much deeper, they couldn’t hear it. I never heard from them again.

No one tract, verse or method will work all the time — BUT specific elements of any may apply. I’m NOT saying don’t learn the tract, verse or method — all Bible knowledge is valuable. What I am saying is be yourself, not the method.

REALITY: People don’t always respond the way you expect or hope.

Here are some more clues:

  • The more we believe in Christ, the Scriptures, and yourself, the more opportunities you’ll have. [Romans 8:35-39 …height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.]
  • The more care we show toward others, the more people will come to know, respect us, and listen to us. [1Corinthians 9:19-23]
  • The more we follow up and follow through, the more growth God will provide. [1Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.]
  • The more we study, the more we will know how to react to any situation. [2Timothy 2:15-16 Study to show thyself approved unto God]
  • The more we harmonize with the person’s situation, and offer answers they can apply — answers they perceive as truth, the MORE CONVERSIONS. [Acts 18:28 ‘Apollos’…showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.]

Always Keep this in mind. We are all EVANGELISTS, and people are expecting us to ask for a change. Don’t disappoint them. Just remember that God gives the increase and it’s our duty to serve Him. When people see that in us, they will be more likely to respond.

As mature Christians, our job is to identify with the person and take what we’ve learned in the Scriptures to lead them to the truth about Christ, which is the only true motivation that leads to conversion. Without a conversion to Christ, there is no conversion.

Harmony is understanding, not manipulating. It’s sensing the tone of the situation, and comfort level of the person — And gives them enough trust to hear.

Even though I haven’t found the perfect “system of evangelism,” I am still searching for “the best way” to teach. And what I have discovered along the way are elements, mostly personal (non-manipulative), that when mastered will create an atmosphere where people will listen to the Word.

Here are four elements to master in acrostic form, when mastered, are the surest (and shortest) formula to long term success. A.M.E.N. These have nothing to do with systems, manipulation, or pressure. These words, elements, and characteristics create harmony.

  • ATTITUDE – a positive & joyful countenance. [1Peter 3:15]
  • MEANING – Having a firm understanding of what you are saying and what you are affirming. [1Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 5:12] “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” [1Peter 4:11].
  • EMPATHY – Love is kind…does not envy…does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; [1Corinthians 13:4-6]
  • NECESSARY – Realize that without evangelism, neither you, I nor anyone else can be saved and that it’s necessary for our own salvation as we seek to obey Christ. [Matt 28:18-20; Romans 10:13-17]

Every evangelist I have ever met wants to have more meaningful studies — and the best way to do that is to never manipulate. Manipulation makes people defensive, reluctant, and distrustful. Mastering these elements will make people attracted to you, like you, trust you, believe you, have confidence in you — and then — study with you.

The Lonely Ember

A MEMBER OF A certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.

Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs.

After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent. The host watched all this in quiet fascination.

As the one lone ember’s flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and “dead as a doornail.”

Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting.

Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, “Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.”

Source: unknown.

It would be difficult to add much to this simple illustration, but there’s a little room so I must. This story demonstrates an important reality regarding our role in the worship. Sure, you can see yourself as the lone ember, desiring to be uplifted by the others, but do you see yourself as a part of the larger fire?

Many complain, “I get nothing from the worship” or “that church is so cold” looking only at how it affects THEM. The illustration also shows what we GIVE to each other, of which you are a part.

Rather than asking, “what do I get” ask, what do I give? When we come together, as the Lord commanded, we give so much to each other. The New Testament writers presented a picture of giving in our coming together (I’m not referring to the monetary collection). You say that you gain nothing from the worship, but what do you keep with you in your absence?

Here’s what you give us

  • Love – And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Hebrews 10:24
  • Exhortation – not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh. Hebrews 10:25
  • Teaching – Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Colossians 3:16
  • Proclaim the Lord’s death – For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come. 1Corinthians 11:26, 30
  • Fellowship – And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42
  • Edification – Let all things be done unto edifying. 1Corinthians 14:26b

Do you see it? We need each other. I need you as much, or more than, you need me. The worship is an assembly of the local saints together in one place. We can’t do it alone. Matt 18:20.

I Love Facebook. I Hate Facebook.

THE AVERAGE FACEBOOK user now has about 338 friends, though the median number, 200, is quite a bit lower. This means that while half of all Facebook users have 200 or fewer friends, many of the billion-plus Facebookers have quite a few more. In fact, 15 percent of users have friend lists topping 500.

These numbers are consistent with other statistics on the number of people that the average person knows well enough to come to their wedding or funeral, about 150 – 200 friends. In essence, Facebook allows a person to communicate with every single person they know, every day.

In the past, if folks wanted to speak to every one of their friends they needed to have a TV program. Before that, their own radio program. Before that, 1895, they would have to send a personal communication to each and every person. Before that, it became much more complicated.

WHY I LOVE FACEBOOK

Facebook is a really big hill, a really, really big hill. It is for this reason alone that I love Facebook. As a Christian, I have a duty from God. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14, 16

Facebook gives us Christians an opportunity to demonstrate our good works, our Christian attitudes, our Christian love and our Christian values to every one of our family & friends that we’re connected with through social media. Another thing, when you add in the other forms of public social media, we have a platform that is so large that it would make the first century Christians cry with joy, recognizing the ability to Proclaim the word of the Lord to all the world. They did it the old fashioned way, through word of mouth [Romans 1:8; 10:18; 1Th 1:8].

For most of human history, conveying a message required huge amounts of effort, person to person, and from mouth to ear. Technology has aided in declaring God’s word. A written language, the development of paper. The Roman roads of the first century. The printing of the Gutenberg Bible in 1455 with the invention of the printing press. In our modern times, mass electronic communication methods such as radio, TV and now the internet has increased our reach.

WHY I HATE FACEBOOK

Unfortunately, I have not always shown my good works through social media and Facebook. Many of us use it as a soapbox for our political & personal ranting, ravings and whinings. I’ve personally noticed how we have alienated friends, family and even brethren over our personal opinions. Worse yet, the posting of less that Christ like pictures, likes, links and shares.

On numerous occasions, myself and other brethren, have posted mean spirited, ungodly and downright sinful compositions, even disparaging remarks about the Church! We expect that from the world [1Peter 2:12; 3:16], but ought not be named among brethren. “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” [James 3:10]

Though the thoughts may be true and the brethren sometimes falter [1Cor 6:11; 1Peter 2:18], God gave us a method for addressing sinful activities in the church. Go to him alone Mat 18:15, then only the church if he won’t hear you Mat 18:16-17. To take it to the world is absolutely condemned. “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?” [1Corinthians 6:1-8]. How does publically complaining about the church of our Lord aid in our evangelism efforts?

I declare to my brethren right now, I CONFESS MY SIN AND REPENT OF THIS UNRIGHTEOUS ACTIVITY. I hope you will too. Please pray for me as I also pray for you.

“Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” [Matthew 15:11]

– Spencer

“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”  (KJV) [Colossians 4:6]

A mother’s Love

NOTHING COMPARES to a mothers’ love. At least that’s what every mother tells me. Upon further reflection, I tend to believe it. My own mother’s face would light up just a bit whenever I entered into the room. (That’s how I saw it anyway.)

About this time every year we have “Mother’s Day” to honor our moms. As we take time to reflect on what our mothers have meant to us, let us look at the love of one particular mom in the Scriptures.

Mary, the mother of Jesus

Is there anything we can learn from Mary without turning her into an object of worship? God said, “…those things which are revealed belong to us…” Deut 29:29, so let’s see what is revealed about the mother of our Lord.

The first thing revealed about Mary is that by her Jesus was born, Mat 1:16. Luke gives us the rest of the story and tells us that she was a virgin, Luke 1:27, and an angel appeared to her saying, “…thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” vs28. To be “highly favoured”, put her in a very exclusive club with men such as Gideon & Daniel. This description is only said of people who have proved themselves to God, doing what is right in His eyes, Deut 12:28. When she visited her cousin Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptizer, she gives a beautiful speech praising God saying, “For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.” Luke 1:49.

Kept all these things in her heart…

Upon the birth of Jesus, when the shepherds came to see the child that angels had declared to them, she “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart,” Luke 2:19.

After Jesus was circumcised according to the law and they brought Him up to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, Luke 2:22, Simeon took Him up and said, “mine eyes have seen thy salvation,” vs30. Anna, a prophetess, gave thanks likewise unto the Lord. Later, when Jesus was 12, he tarried behind in Jerusalem during the Passover. Upon returning to search for Him, they found Him in the temple questioning the “doctors” of the law. When Mary asked Him “why” He said, “How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” vs49. Scriptures says, “she kept all these sayings in her heart.” Luke 2:51

A mother’s love…

After our Lord began His ministry, attracting crowds of people, Mary continued to show concern for her son. She, with her other sons, sought to speak to Him but couldn’t get in Mat 12:46, and became the object of a lesson on obedience. Mat 12:50.

She never stopped thinking about her son. Though we have little information about her during His ministry, the Scriptures reveal to us that she shows up again in our Saviors life, at the cross. Oh what love she had for her son. Imagine the horror she must have felt as she stood beneath her son hanging on that torturous cross. When the closest to Jesus ran away, forsaking Him, she went to Him. That’s what moms do.

Then, with the burden of our sin upon Him, He remembers His mother. Turning to John He said, “Behold thy mother!”  And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. John 19:27.

She became His disciple…

The story of Mary doesn’t end at the cross, for we find her praying in Jerusalem with the Apostles as they tarried in Jerusalem awaiting the coming of the Kingdom with power, Acts 1:14. We see from her example of “pondering these things in her heart”, it lead her to understand that Jesus is the Christ.

So, what can we learn from Mary? Love. Love that never ends. A mom loves her children throughout their lives, even when they don’t understand what their child is doing. Ever loving, willing to do whatever it takes to rescue them. Sound familiar?

“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.”   (KJV) [John 3:16]

When Church is Boring 

church is boring

LET’S BE HONEST, sometimes we get bored, even at the worship. What are we to do, change it? But what would we change?

Denominationalism has taken on this problem of boredom head on. In an attempt to keep folks in the buildings (and their money) they have made some changes. I’ve told you about the hip hop church, but I’ve also seen “churches” adding coffee shops, gymnasiums and activity centers with pizza.

            We have, in our own area, churches for cowboys, churches for blacks (I abhor this idea), churches for old, churches for young, all in an attempt to make church more attractive to people. Many have embraced the idea of “churchitainment.” 

            We’ve come to a time where it’s hard to distinguish between a worship service and a concert. Dimmed lights over the audience and flashing colored lights on the stage. Worship leaders have become pop stars for the church. Preachers are becoming famous for proclaiming motivational messages rather than the “…whole counsel of God.” [Acts 20:27].

            Folks have now been trained to seek out churches based on their entertainment value over the spiritual truths it proclaims, unaware that the main work of the church is to teach God’s truth. [Matthew 28:18-20; 1Timothy 3:15]  

            Some of you may never go that far, yet still insist on change. In Recent times we’ve seen churches of our Lord introduce instrumental music into the worship, seeing no wrong with such. No, it didn’t happen overnight, hand clapping & cheering replacing the old-fashioned “AMEN”.

            If I wanted to introduce instrumental music to this congregation I would stop teaching that it’s wrong. Then after some time of never teaching on it, I would begin by speaking positively about the instrument, bringing lessons from the Old Testaments use of the lyre and the harps.

            Next I would suggest that it’s ok. I could even put together a mid-week instrumental service. After that has taken hold I would then move it closer to the first day of the week. Then I would turn the evening Sunday worship into a “contemporary” worship while keeping the “traditional” worship in the morning.

            After everyone was used to that I would then ask, “Why are we divided?” Suggesting that both worships be the same. I would appeal to your emotions and point to the successes of other congregations.

Nothing New Under the Sun

I hope you see, this is exactly how denominations have strayed from the truth. “..There is nothing new under the sun.” [Ecclesiastes 1:9]. Way back in the early history of the nation of Israel, they said, “Make us a king like all the nations.” [1Samuel 8:5] They wanted CHANGE, like the other nations. The problem was that they had REJECTED GOD. “And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” [1Samuel 8:7]

If you would like to reject God, by ignoring His will, we too can become like all the churches. God’s word said to “sing”. [Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16] That which is specifically authorized makes all other choices unauthorized. Singing with the voice is the only authorized form of music for the worship.

“Where is My Honor?” 

            God asked the Israelites this question in Malachi 1:6. He asked because they had found “church” boring, speaking about their worship. He goes on through the prophet to quote what they were saying, “Behold, what a weariness is it!” They had even “snuffed at it”, [Malachi 1:13]. Even back then, folks found the ways of God boring and stopped following His commands for the worship.

            God proposed 2 changes to those that found it boring, turning up their noses at the worship: (1) Shut the doors, stay home and stop worshipping in vain, vs10. (2)He obviously would prefer them to repent, take it to heart and give honor to His name, lest He “will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings.” [Malachi 2:2]

            Please look closely, He never says to change His commands for the worship to accommodate our tastes, preferences or desires. Has God changed? Is He a new God that has no concern for how we worship? Jesus told the Samaritan woman, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” [John 4:24]. He condemned the Pharisees; “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” [Matthew 15:9]

            I can shorten my sermons, fire them up a bit, making them more like motivational speeches instead of “instruction in righteousness.” [2Timothy 3:16] The song leader can select only upbeat songs and we can say more meaningful prayers. The real answer is not to change what God has authorized for our worship, (prayer 1Corintheans 11:24], vocal singing [Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16], giving cheerfully [2Corintheans 9:7], preaching & the Lord’s Supper [Acts 20:7]), but to change our hearts as worshippers.

            To worship in “spirit and truth” is to worship with our whole hearts, loving Him fully, [Matthew 22:37] and to worship according to His command, according to His revealed word, for His word is truth. [John 17:17] When we read the New Testament, we find some Christians worshipping in error with regard to the Lord’s Supper. Paul said, “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” [1Corintheans 11:22]

            Are we exempt from doing things God’s way? Can we change the worship because we find the “old paths” boring? Can we change the worship to attract more people? If you can find any passage authorizing these changes then let’s do it. The problem with making changes, it requires us to sin by ignoring God’s commands and these errors lead to more changes until we can no longer recognize the church found in the New Testament.

Someone once said, “WHAT PEOPLE ARE CONVERTED WITH, THEY ARE CONVERTED TO.” How about we just stay on the “narrow way”, which is the way that leads to eternal life. [Matthew 7:14]

Spencer Blackwelder
Evangelist for the church of Christ in Borger, Tx

Outsmarting God, so we can continue to sin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Answer to the Problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

5 things you can do for the church today

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

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

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

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

You can …..

1 – KINDLY affectioned one another —

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

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

2 – ENCOURAGE one another –

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

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

3 – STIR UP one another –

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

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

4 – COMFORT one another –

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

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

5 – SERVE one another –

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

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

Bonus – PRAY FOR one another –

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

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

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

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

Better than the Golden Rule

You’ve heard of the ‘Golden Rule’, it’s taken from the passage in Matthew 7:12;

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”

That is a great rule, hence why it’s been called Golden, but there is another rule I like to call the ‘Platinum Rule’.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. [Philippians 2:3]

The word ‘esteem’ is the same word translated as ‘count’ in other passages i.e., Phil 3:7. In that passage, Paul has ‘counted’ all things as loss. Compare that usage to ‘esteem’ and you now have an instruction on how we ought to interact with each other.

Regarding stuff, count it as loss. Regarding people, especially those in the household of faith [Ga 6:10], count them as better than self.

What would it look like if we obeyed the command of our Lord in BOTH of these passages? If you were to ask me how I would describe a Christian, I would begin with these two passages, and perhaps a third;

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. [Joh 13:34]

 – Spencer