6 things Jesus TAUGHT in His last week

Jesus spent His time on earth teaching and preaching. From the very earliest days He was found in the Temple hearing and asking questions, and all that heard were amazed at His answers (Luke 2:46-47).

Throughout His ministry He is teaching. Even when He saw the 5,000 that followed Him, having compassion on them, He TAUGHT them.

And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34)

Therefore, it should be no surprise that He was seen teaching even up to His last days on Earth.

During His last week He was in the Temple teaching amidst those who sought to take His life.

What was it that Jesus TAUGHT them that still has application for us today?

“And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matt 21:12-13)

1) When Jesus TURNED over the money changers tables and cast out those that bought and sold in the TEMPLE, He is teaching us a lesson about proper authorized worship. In the New Testament age, the church is His TEMPLE (1Cor 6:19). We are to worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). There is a right way and a wrong way to worship. He TAUGHT that it’s possible to have vain worship (Mark 7:6-7). It would behoove us to learn what it is to properly worship Him in our lives, but also when we gather together as a church. (Acts 20:7; 1Cor 11:17-34; Heb 10:24-25)

“The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?”

(see Matt 21:23-27).

2) Jesus TAUGHT that there are only 2 sources of AUTHORITY; from above or from below. We must understand this lesson today. Jesus has ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and on Earth (Matt 28:18). He is to have the preeminence in our lives (Col 1:18). He is the “blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1Tim 6:15). Therefore, we are to study His word to know what it is that He commands for how we are to speak and act (Col 3:17). (cf. 1Cor 1:10; 2Cor 11:4; Gal 1:6-10)

“But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.” (see Matt 21:33-46)

3) In this parable, Jesus TAUGHT a lesson that covers much of OT history and ultimately a lesson about UNITY with God. The record of the bible shows that God desires mankind to be UNITED with Him through His Son, and His word, but the world, and the children of Israel, would not. Today, we are UNIFIED through Christ into one body (Eph 4:3-6). We cannot expect any UNITY with God, any peace, unless we keep His commands. Many folks say there’s unity in diversity of doctrines. This contradicts the word. God is not an author of confusion. (1Cor 14:33; see Col 2:14; Heb 7:12; 9:16-22)

“And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.”

(see Matt 22:1-14)

4) In this parable, Jesus TAUGHT about the Kingdom of Heaven. Many are called, but few are chosen. Even those who respond to the call, if they don’t have the proper GARMENT, they will be rejected. The only way to understand this is by seeing what it is we are to put on and how. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal 3:27). People claim we are to ‘ask Jesus into our hearts.’ Not so. We are to put on Christ in water baptism through faith. (see Acts 2:38; Col 2:12; 1Pet 3:21)

“Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures,” (see Matt 22:23-33)

5) In the challenge from the Sadducees, Jesus TAUGHT about the proper way to HANDLE the word of truth. It’s possible to make an error, be mistaken, and be lost because we don’t know the scriptures on how to be saved and how to live a godly life. (see 2Tim 2:15; 3:15-17)

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (see Matt 24)

6) Jesus was asked about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age. Since then, many have wrested this text to predict the end of the world when Jesus would return (1Thess 4:13-18). A careful reading will show what Jesus actually TAUGHT about the TIME of His return. Notice what He said regarding the destruction of Jerusalem, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matt 24:34). It’s very clear that much of what He said would occur within the lifetime of those who were hearing Him.

But of that day and hour…” The day of His return to Earth to gather the saints, to destroy the world, and to judge all nations, “…knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matt 24:36; see 2Peter 3:10; Dan 2:31-45).

Close) Jesus TAUGHT throughout His life even up to His last moments. It makes me think about myself and the myriad of loved ones who do not know God and have not obeyed the Gospel. Shall we try to teach them?

— spencer

Spencer has been preaching in Borger Texas since 2014.

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.

We’re Looking for a church, part 2

Last week we began to answer those who say, “We’re looking for a church.” To answer we had to first describe what the church is NOT.

  • It is not a DIVISION.
  • It is not a BUILDING.
  • It is not just a NAME.
  • It is not an ORGANIZATION for general benevolence.
  • It is not for ENTERTAINMNET.

In this article we will look at a few things to consider when looking for a ‘church.’

By the way; we use this language accommodatively. We’re looking for Christians who are coming together as a church to do the work of the Lord in a local area.

We must search the scriptures with honest hearts and answer such requests in a kind, loving and scriptural way. We also need to be careful not to treat the church of Christ as just another denomination by using denominational language. (1Peter 4:11)

What are you looking for in a CHURCH?

Are you looking for the church (people) that CONFORMS to the scriptures in the New Testament, or one that conforms to the CULTURE of our times? Are you looking for God’s people that CONFORM themselves to the doctrine of Christ, or one that conforms to your schedule, your likes, your daycare needs?

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” [Rom 12:2; 2John 1:9]

Are you looking for a church whose HEAD is Christ, sitting in HEAVEN on His throne, or one that has a HEADQUARTERS on earth with unqualified men at its head?

And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” [Mat 23:9; Acts 2:30-36; Col 1:18]

Are you looking for a church that is scripturally UNIFIED with Christ, or one that is UNIFIED only in their diversity of practices, and tolerance of sin?

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 4:3-6]

Are you looking for the church that will be RAISED up on the last day, or the many that will be REFUSED by Christ for their works done without His authority? Christ will only RAISE one church, His church.  

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” [Mat 7:21-23; Luke 6:46; Eph 5:23]

Are you looking for the one that is being CONSTRUCTED by Christ, or the one that is being built in a way that is CONTRARY to Christ?

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” [Mat 16:18; Eph 2:19-20; 2Cor 11:4; Gal 1:6-10]

Are you looking for the church that you can read & HEAR about in the Bible, that requires a HEARTFUL obedience to God’s instructions? The one we can’t join, but are added to when we obey from the HEART that form of doctrine (water baptism).

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” [Rom 6:17; cf 3-4; Acts 2:38-47; Col 2:12; 1Pet 3:21]

Much more can be said about how to Identify the Lord’s church. Would you like to learn what the Bible says about the church of Christ? We want to help you to be set free by the truth of God’s Word. [John 8:32]

— spencer

4 Wise Little Creatures pt3/4 Locusts

the UNITY of the Locusts.

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 Locusts; “The locusts have no king, Yet go they forth all of them by bands;” (Prov 30:27)

The wisdom of the Locusts is about UNITY. Today, our society has a perverted view of UNITY. It’s being defined as having conflicting goals, conflicting agendas, and conflicting beliefs yet calling ourselves one. Is that what the Bible says?

While there’s something to be said about being kind to people with different beliefs, biblical UNITY is about so much more.

We are to be kind and to live in peace with all; “If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.” (Rom 12:18) However, biblical UNITY stretches far beyond just living at peace with folks. Unity could be explained on a spectrum…

UNIVERSALLY, we’re all living creatures, but are we in unity just because we have existence? Let’s ask the wolf & the lamb.

We often times define unity on a NATIONAL level, but we all recognize that this kind of unity is fleeting.

Unity can be seen by the INSTITUTIONS people agree together to support. This gets us closer to understanding unity.

TRUTH has the best chance of bringing about unity, but we have trouble unifying when everybody has their own truth.

A final approach to unity can be defined as two or more YEARNING for the same goal, agenda, or purpose. This is where we will learn the wisdom of the LOCUSTS, Unity through a desire for the same thing.

Calling for UNITY requires those unifying to come together under a set of core values and goals. What are some unifying qualities found in the scriptures?

A great place to start is with the words of Paul found in Ephesians 4; “I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith ye were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Here we see that unity is UNITY of the Spirit. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul writes about the ONENESS of the body, the Spirit, hope, Lord, Faith, Baptism and One God and Father of all. Here we learn that UNITY of the Spirit is more about God and less about self.

We try to define UNITY through our own agenda, but this would lead to as many agendas as there are people in the world. Biblical Unity is UNITED with the purposes of God.

This brings us to a second idea about how to find UNITY; we will never find unity through NARCISSISM. Biblical UNITY is seen in selflessness not selfishness, Christ being the best example. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

A third passage that clearly defines UNITY is 1Cor 1:10; “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” This UNITY only works IN Christ.

Building on these three we realize the need for this fourth piece of UNITY. An orchestra cannot be in unity while everyone plays from a different sheet of music, so too the church cannot be united without the TIMELESS Word of God, His Scripture. “The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.” (Psalm 119:160).

Lastly, People coming together with varying levels of maturity can achieve UNITY if we all have a YEARNING to do the Will of the Lord. “Putting away therefore all wickedness, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation;” (1Peter 2:1-2). May this wisdom of the Locusts can help us to develop Biblical Unity.

How to have Biblical UNITY

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” [Eph 4:13]

Every few years there is a call for UNITY. Nobody likes arguing nor complaining. We all seek for UNITY to avoid such fighting.

It would seem that many think, as long as there’s no arguing, then UNITY must therefore exist. While this may give the appearance of UNITY, it is not biblical UNITY.

What we have is peace, but not UNITY. “If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.” [Rom 12:18]

What must exist for us to have biblical UNITY?

Fraternity or Fellowship? Living at peace with others is key to developing UNITY, but there’s much more involved in developing Biblical UNITY.

To illustrate the problem, answer this question; If two math professors are kind to one another, yet one teaches 2+2=8,346, do they have Mathematical Unity? Certainly not. While they may be agreeable, they do not agree on the facts, therefore they are not in UNITY. They have Fraternity, but not UNITY.

This illustration brings us to the very FIRST condition needed in developing Biblical Unity. An UNDERSTANDING of the Will of the Lord is essential to establishing Biblical Unity.

whereby, when ye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ; [Eph 3:4]

For this people’s heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, And their eyes they have closed; Lest, haply they should perceive with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And should turn again, And I should heal them.” [Acts 28:27]

Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.” [1Tim 1:7]

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” [Eph 5:17]

Without agreement on the doctrine of Christ, how can two walk together? [Amos 3:3]

Next, we can never achieve UNITY if we fail to be NICE in our words & deeds. “Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,” [1Cor 13:4]

Next, without personal INTEGRITY there can be no UNITY. Integrity is defined as; adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. We may speak about UNITY all we want, but without INTEGRITY no one will believe us. That’s hypocrisy. “If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:” [1John 1:6]

Biblical Unity must also include TENACITY for the Truth without wavering. It should go without saying that UNITY is based on the TRUTH of God’s word. [John 17:17] “that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error;” [Eph 4:14]

Lastly, since we’re not perfect and we’re all in a state of growing and maturing, we may not yet know what we ought to know. People coming together with varying levels of maturity can achieve UNITY if we all have a YEARNING to do the Will of the Lord. With this Yearning, we can still have UNITY because we all want to learn and do the will of the Lord. This is the best understanding of “Unity of the Faith” in Eph 4:13. It doesn’t mean that we all have the exact same understanding. What it means is that we all have access to the same information, God’s word and our desire, YEARNING, to know the Word.

Putting away therefore all wickedness, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation;” [1Peter 2:1-2]

With these 5 elements we can develop Biblical Unity.

U- Understanding the will of the Lord.

N- Nice words & Deeds

I- Integrity

T- Tenacity, consistency

Y- Yearning to know the will of the Lord

–Spencer

The Moon Landing

Image result for moon landing

FIFTY YEARS AGO TODAY, TWO MEN SET FOOT ON THE SURFACE OF THE MOON. “One small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” It was a moment of international attention with nearly 500 million people watching it on live TV.

Very little of our day draws that kind of unity or interest, nothing positive anyway. It was a time of national pride that got behind the accomplishment of a national goal. A goal set by President Kennedy during a speech in Houston Texas on September 12, 1962.

As fantastic as that accomplishment was, it wasn’t the first time that man attempted to reach the heavens. As a matter of fact, the whole world got behind a movement to not only reach up into the stars, but attempted to reach into heaven itself. You know it best as the TOWER of BABEL.

THE STORY is found in Genesis 11:1-9, and goes like this: The whole world had one language and they tended to stay grouped together. One day, an idea developed saying, “let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” [11:4].

There are 3 takeaways about the people that we can draw from this one idea:

  • PRIDE ruled their hearts when their primary goal was to make a name for themselves. This was an afront to God their Creator for He had already given them the top place among all the creation of the earth. Man was made in the image of God. Gen 1:27
  • ARROGANCE in that they thought they could prevent or otherwise thwart God’s will and stay together. In Genesis 1:28 man was commanded to “fill the earth.”
  • DISOBEDIENCE was the result of the first two. By building the tower, they were in willful disobedience to God. Sin of commission and the sin of omission. They added to and took away from God’s word.

It doesn’t go well for man when he seeks to disobey God. As the building program was under way, God saw what they were doing and put an end to it. It’s interesting how He did it. Rather than destroy the tower, He simply confused their language so they could no longer effectively communicate. This got them back on the right track and they scattered all over the earth, abandoning their silly building scheme.

There are 5 things we can learn from this pivotal event:

  1. BUILDING schemes of man, no matter how popular they are, will never get man into heaven. Jesus said that, “I will build my church” [Mat 16:18]. That is the only place where God will meet with us.
  2. ALWAYS do what God commands, it’s the only way. God gives us free will, but He also gave us commands to follow that will lead us back to him. We cannot even do good without His authority. [Mat 7:21-23; Is 59:2]
  3. BODIES of FLESH cannot go into heaven. Only Spiritual bodies may, and that spiritual body is provided by God to those who are in Christ. [1Cor 15:50-58]
  4. EARTH is only a temporary dwelling place, and no matter how successful we become, or how great a name we try to make for ourselves, the result of this life is death. Man has a tendency to plan only for his EARTHLY future. We ought to be mapping our lives into our ETERNAL future. It will either be in Heaven or it will be in Hell. These are the only 2 choices, and it is our choice. [Mat 25:31-46]
  5. LANGUAGE UNIFIES. It can unify us for good or for evil. The breakdown of relationships comes from a failure to communicate. In a figure, we’re not speaking the same language. Paul urged the Corinthians to; “that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” [1Cor 1:10; John 17:17]

The next time The Lord comes down to earth, it will be with His Holy angels to gather up His church, to destroy the earth and then the judgement. [1Thess 4:16-18] Will He find us “making a name” for ourselves, or will He find us doing His will? [Luke 12:43]

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” [2Cor 5:10]

Making the Best Choice!

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

 

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

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

DEUTERONOMY 30:1-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Precious Faith

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” 2Peter 1:1

When Peter wrote his second letter to the brethren, he reminded them of their ‘like precious faith.’ This begs the question, why is it so precious? While there are several reasons why faith is precious, we will consider just one, that there is ONLY ONE FAITH.

To begin, we must go to the end, the end of Jesus’ earthly life. He prayed that we all would be one through THE WORD OF GOD.

For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me;” John 17:8

He also sent the Holy Spirit to guide the Apostles, into all truth. They wrote these things down and when we read we may understand their knowledge in the mystery of Christ. [John 16:13; Eph 3:3-4]

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

We obtain this faith through reading, understanding and obeying the revealed written word. [Eph 1:13; Rom 1:5; 16:26]

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;” John 17:20

What is remarkable about our Lord’s prayer in the garden is how He connects the Word, Faith (belief) and unity. The Apostles wrote of unity; Paul urged unity in speech, thought & judgement [1Cor 1:10]. John wrote about unity in obedience to God’s commandments and the unity in the word [1John 5:1-9].

YET DENOMINATIONS SAY SOMETHING DIFFERENT

There are some who would try to upset us by describing multiple faiths (beliefs about salvation, sin, worship and the Bible). One man told me, “the Holy Spirit led you to your church and He led me to mine.” How does this even make any sense?

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

Denominations are broken into thousands of different faiths and cannot be the “like precious faith” of Peter’s letter. The claim today is that they are all one faith, united in Christ, but how can this be with so many different beliefs and practices? They can all be unified in error, but they cannot be unified in truth. How can we know? We can know by God’s word.

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

God hates division. Another word for division is denomination. The prayer in the garden is a proof of this. Unity can only be derived through the revealed word of God. We can have faith, we can believe through the WRITTEN WORD.

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.” John 20:31

Some claim that the Holy Spirit directly guides them, separate and apart from the written word. Then they say, “and it will agree with the written word.” However, the problem still exists in that there are many thousands of “Holy Spirit” led denominations and THEY DON’T ALL AGREE!!

Can anyone claim that there is only ONE FAITH and differ on names, differ about salvation, differ about the essential nature of baptism and countless other practices found nowhere in scripture? That can’t be a “like precious faith.”

Besides all this, Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” He then made this list…[4:1-6]

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.

Denominationalism can never stand against these words.

In Jude’s short letter, he wrote to those sanctified by God about their common salvation and “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Notice that he penned ‘the’ as in one. He then added ‘once’ as in already delivered. Some would trouble you into thinking that there is more and continuing revelation. Not according to inspired Jude.

My friends, the faith is so very precious. One of the things that makes it so is that there is only ONE. This ought to exponentially increase its value in our hearts. Let us, as Jude wrote;

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

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.

An open letter to “Prayer over Borger”

August 22, 2017

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

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

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

How can we be called “ONE church” when these things divide us? The Holy Spirit, writing through Paul, said, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” [1Corinthians 1:10] It is clear from God’s divine word that divisions (denominations) are a sin and will affect our salvation. We are NOT speaking the same thing, nor of the same mind, nor of the same judgement.

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

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

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