Welcome to the Tiftonia church of Christ
ServicesPlease join us! ALL are invited
Directions and Location
Bible Study 10:00 am
Worship 11:00 am
Bible Study: 7:00pm
This Week’s Sermons February 14, 2016
A.M. The Simple Truth About Love—1 John 4:16
P.M. The Simple Truth About How We Got The Bible—Matthew 24:35
TO HEAR SERMONS, or VIEW SERMON VIDEOS, CLICK ON “FROM THE PULPIT” ABOVE
PRAY FOR OUR GOSPEL MEETING
The congregation is requested to place our upcoming Gospel Meeting in your prayers. A good amount of planning and preparation is already going into the effort, but prayer rises to the top in importance in this matter. So, let’s all be reminded to pray for our meeting. The dates for the meeting are May 22-27 at 7 p.m. each night Sunday through Friday. Jeff Archey and Gary McDade will present the lessons. The theme that has been selected is “Returning To Romans.”
STATEMENTS FROM THE BIBLE
ABOUT TRUE LOVE
“I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:1-2). “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3). “And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments” (Daniel 9:4). “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48). “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-39).
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35). “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another” (Romans 12:10). “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. …Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:8, 10). “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Philippians 2:1-2). “Let brotherly love continue” (Hebrews 13:1). “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 1:21).
STATEMENTS FROM THE BIBLE
ABOUT THE NEED FOR SALVATION FROM SIN
“Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:6-8).
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful” (Romans 7:13).
“I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry” (Luke 15:18-24).
“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).
“And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith” (Romans 4:12-13, emphasis added. Cf. also: Romans 10:17; 2:4; 10:9-10; 6:3-5; 16:16).
STATEMENTS FROM THE BIBLE
ABOUT THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
“And He is the Head of the body, the church: who is the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake, which is the church” (Colossians 1:18-24).
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the church, Which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:17-23).
“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the church: and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:23-27).
“Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16).
STATEMENTS FROM THE BIBLE
ABOUT THE BIBLE
“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
“For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). “I will worship toward Thy holy temple, and praise Thy name for Thy lovingkindness and for Thy truth: for Thou hast magnified Thy Word above all Thy Name” (Psalm 138:2).
“For we are not as many, which corrupt the Word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:17). “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).
“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 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” (2 Timothy 3:13-17).
“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 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” (Isaiah 66:1-2). “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:12).
To help read through the Bible this year we are including a link to the Blue Letter Bible.
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST,
THE FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCE
A fundamental difference stands between the church of Christ and the religions around us. It is unique to the church of Christ. The catalogue of denominations in Lookout Valley and through the country, and even around the world, differ from the church of Christ in this way. The fundamental difference is the church of Christ believes and teaches that in religious matters we may only do what the Bible authorizes us to do. A key passage from God’s Word that provides us with the truth on the subject is 1 Peter 4:11, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
How does this belief differ from everyone else? Here is the difference, they all believe that in religious matters they may do whatever the Bible does not specifically condemn. We also believe we are not allowed to do whatever the Bible specifically condemns, but the statement “the church of Christ believes and teaches that in religious matters we may only do what the Bible authorizes us to do” runs deeper, it has another layer foundational to our beliefs and practices, it is the guiding light to the essence of who we are as Christians.
Looking only for what the Bible specifically condemns instead of what the Bible authorizes supports practices foreign to the Bible. Martin Luther (1483-1586), known in history as “the father of the reformation movement” in protest to Catholicism, urged the departure from most of what Rome had demanded on its followers. However, Martin Luther wanted to retain infant baptism. Since the practice is not in the Bible, in order to keep it he resorted to the position that in religious matters we may do whatever the Bible does not specifically condemn. And, since no mention is made of infant baptism, he kept the practice. The late J.W. Shepherd commented,
On other subjects he had been forced, against his will, step by step, to abandon the fathers, the councils, and the Catholic tradition, being driven to it by the Scriptures. But when he found no authority in the Bible for infant baptism he assumed a new attitude. At that point he had a fiery contest with himself as to the true key of Biblical interpretation, and he deliberately chose the negative turn. That is, he determined to abide by what the Scriptures did not forbid, instead of by what they enjoined.1
Martin Luther being “the father of the reformation movement” or “the father of Protestantism” places him as the originator of the belief system followed by all modern denominations today as they continue to uphold the view that they may do whatever is not forbidden by Scripture. Therefore, today we find names for churches creatively—not biblically—based, observance of special days, tantalizing titles for church leaders, instrumental music in worship, and a host of unscriptural items emerging out of this fountainhead source. The church of Christ calls for a return to what the Bible says instead of what the Bible does not say. This is “the fundamental difference.”
1J.W. Shepherd, The Church, The Falling Away, And The Restoration (Nashville, TN: The Gospel Advocate, 1973), p. 115.
No Time For God
You’ve time to build houses, and in them dwell.
And time to do business–to buy and sell;
But none for repentance, or deep earnest prayer;
To seek your salvation you’ve no time to spare.
You’ve time for earth’s pleasures, for frolic and fun,
For her glittering treasures, how quickly you run;
But care not to seek the fair mansion above,
The favor of God or the gift of His love.
You’ve time to take voyages over the sea,
And time to take in the world’s jubilee;
But soon your bright hopes will be lost in the gloom
Of the cold, dark river of death and the tomb.
You’ve time to resort to the mountain and glen;
And time to gain knowledge from books and from men;
Yet no time to search for the wisdom of God,
But what of your soul when you’re under the sod?
For time will not linger when helpless you lie,
Staring death in the face, you will take time to die.
Then what of the judgment–pause, think, I implore!
For time will be lost on eternity’s shore.
THE COMPASSION OF CORNELIUS
Cornelius was a man in need of salvation. We know this because several times the text tells us he needed to “hear words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved” (Acts 11:14, cf. also 10:6, 22, 32-33; 11:1). Of several things listed by the Holy Spirit that attracted God’s attention to this Centurion of the Italian band, one item that shows his compassion receives attention in the text. Luke wrote, “He gave much alms to the people” (Acts 10:2). As he is learning the message of salvation, that point is brought up by the angel of God who appeared to him and by Cornelius himself as he repeated it to Peter (Acts 10:4, 31).
Look at what the text says about Cornelius: “He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God” (Acts 10:3-4). Of the many things that are incorporated into the conversion of Cornelius, one of them is his compassion toward those less fortunate. Do we ever wonder why there are “few that be saved”? (Luke 13:23). Here we have a biblical example of a man whose compassion lies at the base of his opportunity to hear the soul saving gospel of Christ. But, not only is his practice of giving alms or monetary gifts to the poor recognized by heaven, but the content of his heart relating to this admirable trait proved his heart to be fertile ground for the “good seed of the kingdom” to yield fruit! Anyone interested in the salvation of his soul should cultivate this disposition of heart.
In part, his compassion provided the introduction he needed to capture Peter’s interest in his salvation. When Peter arrived at Cornelius’ dwelling his point blank question was, “For what intent have ye sent for me?” (Acts 10:29). Cornelius’ answer included the affirmation of the angel of God when he said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God” (vv. 30-31). An abbreviation of what followed includes Peter’s observation, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (vv. 34-35). And, at the end of the chapter Luke informs us that Peter “commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days” (v. 48). Cornelius’ conversion to Christ did not come about entirely because he was a compassionate man, but his compassion absolutely weighed in on this man becoming a Christian. Have you thought how far in this life and eternity showing compassion for others will carry you?
QUESTIONS I’VE BEEN ASKED
Peter taught us to always be ready to answer questions people may ask us regarding our faith with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15). Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from “questions I’ve been asked” because they’ve required me to “search the Scriptures” (John 5:39; Acts 17:11) from perspectives other than my own. Here are three of them for your edification.
According to 1 Timothy 3:4-5 and Titus 1:6 men qualified to serve the local congregation as elders are to have children; does a man meet this qualification if his children are adopted? The answer is yes because the adopted children enjoy the full status of natural children. The proof of the statement comes from Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5; and Ephesians 1:5. As Christians, we are adopted children of God. We enjoy the full status of natural children. No one could ever say the candidates’ adopted children disqualify him from serving God as an elder—provided he is otherwise qualified—because the very basis of our relationship with God rests upon our adoption as His sons.
A godly man divorced his adulterous wife. After much discussion, many prayers, godly examples, and much teaching, she repented of her wrong, and now the couple desire to remarry. A brother says since she committed adultery and was put away by her husband they cannot remarry. What does the Bible say? If the Bible said the one put away cannot marry “again,” the brother would correctly have counselled. However, the Bible does not say she cannot marry “again;” it says she cannot marry “another.” Does the Bible say “again” or “another”? Let’s read Matthew 19:9, “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” So, Jesus said she commits adultery if she marries “another,” not the same husband she cheated on. If he judges her repentance to be genuine, he may forgive her and take her back as his wife. The brother who suggested they cannot marry “again” will need to find the word “again” in the Bible. Until he does his counsel should not be allowed to stand. (See also: Mark 10:11-12 where “another” appears twice).
A preacher is teaching the congregation where he worships that holding up hands in worship is authorized by 1 Timothy 2:8, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” Does this passage call for the lifting up of hands in worship? No, it does not because Paul is here using what is called a metaphor or figure of speech which insists upon purity and honesty as requisites to acceptable prayer not merely raising one’s hands in prayer. Those who do that are out of order (1 Corinthians 14:40). As proof those lifting their hands in worship disregard the Scriptures, observe: they lift their hands during the singing and the preaching too, and there is no verse that even considers that practice. Finally, the position that literally lifting hands in prayer must be done for the prayer to be Scriptural would demand that everyone would be required to lift his/her hands in prayer, and no one believes that. Also, the hand waver’s position is absurd because the text they abuse says lifting holy hands—plural—therefore a person with only one arm couldn’t pray at all!
3 THINGS CHRIST IS DOING FOR US
Since “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17), time and space would fail to allow a complete discussing of what Christ is doing for us. So, in the space allotted please consider just “three things Christ is doing for us.”
One, He is officiating over our worship (Revelation 1:12-13, 20; Ephesians 2:18-21). The Bible teaches that the church is “an holy temple in the Lord” and Jesus Christ is our High Priest (Ephesians 2:21; Hebrews 8:1-2). Therefore, in His role as High Priest in the heavenly temple He is actively participating in our worship services.
Two, He is representing our case for forgiveness of sins before the throne of God (1 John 1:7; 2:1-2). His line of reasoning is based upon the sacrifice of Himself on Calvary’s cross and our baptism into His death where He shed His blood for the forgiveness of our sins (Matthew 26:28; John 19:33-34; Romans 6:3-5). Long ago Isaiah revealed to humanity that when God sees His sacrifice He will accept it for the forgiveness of our sins (Isaiah 53:10-12).
Three, He is delivering our prayers to God (1 Timothy 2:5; John 16:23). Another way of looking at Jesus being the one mediator between God and man is to consider the fact that there is no other way to get our thoughts and words to God than through Jesus Christ. Truly, prayer is one of the greatest privileges given to the human family.
Now, with three things in mind Christ is doing for us, it is equitable to ask “what three things can we do for him?” As before, all we may be doing for Him might exhaust far more than the remaining space and time we’ve allotted for this discussion, so let’s limit our thoughts to only three things. See if you agree with the following three.
One, since Christ is officiating over our worship, it stands to reason we should be making every effort to be in attendance. We know God is not pleased with our absence (Hebrews 10:25-26). Here, as a congregation—and it is very likely the case in all the churches of Christ—room for improvement exists. If we come to every scheduled service during the week, Sunday school, Sunday morning and evening worship, and Wednesday night Bible study, that’s four hours. As a percentage of our time each week: the Lord gives us 168 hours and these 4 hours represent only 2% of our time each week. When you think about it that way, that’s not asking a whole lot from a Christian, yet those who attend all the services are perceived as dedicated Christians. That’s a great reward for 2% of our time every week.
Two, since Christ is representing our case for the forgiveness of sins, surely we want to always be penitent, repenting of sins that emerge in our hearts, minds, and lives from time to time.
Three, since Christ is delivering our prayers to God, we want to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
One of America’s richest couples made a grand announcement yesterday upon the birth of their first child. The headlines in the New York Times read: “Mark Zuckerberg Vows to Donate 99% of His Facebook Shares to Charity.” Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Pricilla Chan are new parents to their daughter, Max, who was born about a week ago. The Times reported,
Mr. Zuckerberg’s charitable plans are the latest indication of a growing interest in philanthropy among Silicon Valley’s young billionaires, who unlike previous generations of business tycoons, appear eager to spread their wealth while they are still young. Mr. Zuckerberg is 31, and Dr. Chan is 30.
They wrote, “Our initial areas of focus will be personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities.” Their estimated worth is $45,000,000,000.
We have insight from the New Testament on what Our Lord might think of this news. In Luke 21, Jesus is in the Temple observing how people contributed into the treasury. Luke tells us,
And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance [superfluity, ASV] cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury [want, ASV] hath cast in all the living that she had (vv. 1-4).
Today’s Investment Daily News tells of a Merrill Lynch survey of retirees completed this past July that according to them “presents evidence that giving of one’s time and money during this later stage of life provides retirees with a feeling of success and helps to replace lost social connections. Therefore, advisers who help guide clients’ philanthropic efforts may be ensuring they have a more fulfilling retirement.”
Sometimes it takes people a while to learn the succinctly stated truths of the Bible like the statement of Christ: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
THE GOLDEN RULE
Jesus Christ set the code of conduct for the Christian in the Golden Rule. It is recorded in Matthew 7:12 and really should be committed to memory by all who seriously consider living the Christian life because in a very real sense living by this rule defines what a Christian actually is.
The Golden Rule
“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12.
The Golden Rule shines the brightest when compared to the other standards of conduct the world has always known about and most people follow. Once Paul spoke of “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” in Philippians 3:14. At this point, compare The Iron Rule, The Brass Rule, The Silver Rule, and The Golden Rule and the superior classification and character enhancement of The Golden Rule will become more apparent.
The Iron Rule
“Do unto others” is the motto of this rule. Do whatever is in your power to do to others. The Iron Rule is evident in the mistreatment of others. People are mistreated because someone had the power to do unto them what he wanted.
The Brass Rule
“Do unto others as they do unto you” is the motto of The Brass Rule. The Brass Rule mirrors and imitates the behavior of others. It is a standard that when practiced has no mechanism for improving undesirable conditions in life. It is only reactive and entertains no concept of goodwill toward others.
The Silver Rule
“Don’t do unto others what you don’t want done unto you” is the motto of The Silver Rule. As you see, it has its merits over The Iron Rule and The Brass Rule because it takes into account the feelings of others. The obvious shortfall of The Silver Rule is it is negative in its nature and opens the door for non-involvement in the lives of others we could be a positive influence on and help.
The Golden Rule
“All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” is the motto of The Golden Rule. See how the thought process is engaged in any anticipated action? The Golden Rule has us thinking about what is the best course of action, whether in word or deed, we would appreciate and approve for ourselves, and then it causes us to think of ways and means whereby we may instill this goodwill into the lives of others. It has us putting the best interest of others ahead of our own and raises the quality of life for all with whom we come in contact. The Golden Rule is unselfish and makes a better world and a more fulfilled life for the Christian.
“BE NOT MANY OF YOU TEACHERS”
Teaching the Word of God is both a great privilege and a great responsibility as we see from the brief quotation from James 3:1 in the title. The complete verse says, “Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment” (ASV). The care and control of the tongue is the general subject of James 3:1-12. James acknowledges the challenge of always appropriately speaking in every situation and circumstance. When teaching the Bible the task is heightened. Yet, someone must rise to meet the challenge of teaching the Bible or no one can be saved or keep saved. Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:44-45). And, in the great commission Jesus made clear the purpose and place of teaching the Bible when He said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:19-20). In order for the church to grow and flourish she must have faithful Bible teachers. Paul charged Timothy, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
An examination of Ephesians 4:7-16 reveals how Bible teachers play a fundamental role in strengthening the body of Christ and building it up by “speaking the truth in love” (v. 15). In order to meet the need to have teachers in a local congregation and help each one of them to withstand the “heavier judgment” a teacher will receive, consider these six steps in the teaching process.
STEP ONE: Prerequisites. A Bible teacher must be a faithful Christian, for Jesus addressed the hypocrisy of a teacher who says one thing and does another when he said, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matthew 23:2-3). Also, one of the most powerful tools a Bible teacher possesses is his and her example (Matthew 5:13-16). A Bible teacher is first and foremost striving to “show himself approved unto God” and, therefore, must possess good Bible study habits the fruit of which is shared with those who will take their valuable time to listen to him or her teach a particular lesson (2 Timothy 2:15).
STEP TWO: Planning. When Paul commanded Timothy to “give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine,” he implied a level of planning that must go into his presentations of God’s Word (1 Timothy 4:13). Planning requires forethought, and here again Paul told Timothy to “meditate on these things [be diligent in these things, ASV]; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all [that thy
progress may be manifest unto all, ASV]” (1 Timothy 4:15). A plan for a lesson or series of lessons must clearly be affixed in the mind of the teacher. As in anything, it’s hard to hit the bull’s eye without knowing where the target is.
STEP THREE: Preparation. Preparation is separate from planning because it involves specific effort on designing the content of each lesson that has been planned. For example, a teacher may plan to teach a series of 13 lessons on the book of Hebrews. Will he/she be teaching children, teenagers, young adults, or adults? Obviously, how the material is prepared will depend on the students. Will the teacher assign the reading of the text outside of class by the students and provide discussion on each of Hebrews’ 13 chapters in class due to the limitation of time? Or, will the 13 key themes in the book receive the attention [the key word “better” appears 13 times embellishing 13 areas wherein the New Testament is superior to the Old]. Specific preparation for each lesson ensures a positive outcome which should always be twofold: (1) to glorify God and (2) to strengthen the faith of the hearer.
STEP FOUR: Prayer. Perhaps a prayer like Paul prayed for the church at Colosse will show why prayer should always precede teaching someone. Paul said, “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9). While examples abound, one more for your edification is from 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Always make prayer a part of the teaching process.
STEP FIVE: Presentation. Adequate food and rest before teaching helps provide the stamina needed for the presentation of the prepared lesson. The presentation includes the teaching environment whether it is a classroom or auditorium or even an outdoor setting the teacher must consider the surroundings for the presentation. Potential distractions should be minimized as much as possible. Visual aids used like a whiteboard, power point, or special exhibit need to enhance not distract from the lesson. Making the listeners comfortable aids in their learning. The ability to hear the lesson and see the visual aids are crucial to presenting the lesson. Then making sure the Bible is the centerpiece of the presentation must always remain in focus. A preacher knows to “preach the word” and so must the teacher effectively teach the word. This is that special time when all that has come before is built upon in the delivery of the content of the spiritual message.
STEP SIX: Payoff. A review of the process to evaluate the reward to the students lets the teacher know how effective he/she has been. Earlier we saw that Paul wanted Timothy’s “profiting to appear to all.” Some teachers like for each lesson to have at least one “take away” for the student—meaning one valuable point the student may take with him/her that has strengthened his/her faith. This is the “payoff.” A good “payoff” will keep the students coming to class and interested and will serve as a perpetual motivation for the teacher.
Beyond our own salvation, there may be no blessing retrieved from our existence here on earth we will value more highly in eternity than to know, even if in some small way, that our teaching helped another person to know God’s salvation through Christ and His church.
THE JOY OF BEING “IN CHRIST”
What a wonderful day it was when that unnamed treasurer serving in the realm of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians, was privileged to receive the evangelist Philip into his chariot and hear Philip open up his understanding of Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit through the ready pen of Luke tells us that upon obeying Christ in baptism the treasurer, “went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:26-39). What do you suppose provided the basis for the Eunuch’s rejoicing? May I offer a few suggestions?
He could see that his visitor, Philip, was showing real concern and compassion by taking the time and going to the trouble to travel along with him and teach him something about the Scriptures that before now escaped him (Acts 8:30).
He understood the Scriptures better than at any other point in his life (Acts 8:31).
He now knew for sure that the Messiah had come to save him (Acts 8:32-34).
He knew the Messiah had been willing to suffer humiliation and death in order that his sins might be taken away (Acts 8:33).
He had been privileged to confess the belief that now filled his heart that “Jesus Christ is the son of God” (Acts 8:37).
He learned what his response to this good news should be by being baptized (Acts 8:36-39).
His burial in water meant that he had been buried with Christ, crucifying his old man of sin, and purifying his soul from sin and its shame (Romans 6:3; Colossians 2:12; Galatians 2:20).
He was a “new creature,” and whereas his physical deformity had kept him from entering the sacred precincts of the Jewish temple where he had just been in an attempt to worship God, he was now “in Christ” where not even one spiritual blessing would be denied him (Romans 6:4; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 1:3).
He had been “added to the church by the Lord” (Acts 2:47), and likely traveled toward home filled with the exciting prospect of bringing back from his trip the gospel message that would benefit his countrymen to an extent and in ways that caused his mind to race with joyous anticipation.
“IS IT NOTHING TO YOU?”
Long ago the weeping prophet Jeremiah tasked with delivering the message of God’s displeasure upon the wayward southern kingdom of Judah wrote, “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger” (Lamentations 1:12). The northern kingdom of Israel had already met her fate in being carried away into Assyrian captivity (2 Kings 15:29; 17:3-6; 18:11-13; 1 Chronicles 5:26). Yet, for all this the southern kingdom of Judah persisted in her idolatry and rebellion against God and, like her brethren to the north, was swept away into Babylonian captivity for 70 years (Daniel 1:1-6; 2 Chronicles 36:5-6, 9-10; 2 Kings 24:15-17; 2 Kings 25; Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10; Daniel 9:2; Zechariah 1:12; 7:5; 2 Chronicles 36:21). Indifference to God’s will prompted Jeremiah to ask, “Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by?”
Five marks of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire affirmed by the English historian and member of Parliament Edward Gibbon (1737-1796) in his monumental six volume work on the subject should generate a stirring response from the citizens of the United States of America today, but while this information is widely known, its impact is insulated by a prevailing indifference. Notice the parallels then and now.
One, concern with displaying affluence instead of building wealth.
Two, obsession with sex and perversions of sex.
Three, art becomes freakish and sensationalistic instead of creative and original.
Four, widening disparity between the very rich and the very poor.
Five, increased demand to live off the state.
Biblical and secular history show the need for concern over the increasing immorality in America yet both preview the lack of it. The church of Christ contains members who are Christ-like. The church of Christ is subject to Christ who loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:24-25). Paul contrasted the church to the world when He wrote of Christ, “That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (vv. 26-27). Our efforts today to win the lost for Christ populate the church and strengthen the moral fiber of the nation. That’s why we purpose to keep “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:13-14).
“IS IT NOTHING TO YOU?”
When Judah was taken into captivity to Babylon in the 7th century B.C., the prophet Jeremiah asked a very relevant question: Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger” (Lamentations 1:12). Like Elijah before him, Jeremiah experienced that empty feeling of being alone in his grief over the indifference of his people.
While many individual causes contributed to Judah’s captivity, one of them was their neglect of their worship to God. Jeremiah lamented, “Judah is gone into captivity because of affliction, and because of great servitude: she dwelleth among the heathen, she findeth no rest: all her persecutors overtook her between the straits. The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she is in bitterness. Her adversaries are the chief, her enemies prosper; for the Lord hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her children are gone into captivity before the enemy” (vv. 3-5). Consider especially, “The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the solemn feasts: all her gates are desolate: her priests sigh….”
The things that happened during the Old Testament period serve to benefit us today, if we will stop and consider them. Paul wrote, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). Jeremiah’s question then is as important today when he asked, “Is it nothing to you?”
Is it nothing to you when the Lord Jesus Christ has suffered on Calvary’s cross shedding His precious blood to purchase His church and there are Christians who forsake the solemn assemblies? (Hebrews 10:25). Is it nothing to you when the faithful few are reverently gathered around the Lord’s table on Sunday whereupon rests unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine commemorating His death and other Christians sleep in or simply forgot? Is it nothing to you when the church is meeting to sing the praises of Zion together and many Christians choose not to be there? Is it nothing to you that the Word of God is being taught from the classrooms and in the pulpit and there are Christians who choose rather to hear the television blaring some crass language and project obscene images before their eyes and into their hearts? Is it nothing to you when there are preachers who must leave their work reaping the souls of men in the mission fields to fulfill their primary responsibility financially to their family (1 Timothy 5:8) when the contribution of prospering Christians is withheld and wasted on worldly pursuits? Like Jeremiah we repeat, “Is it nothing to you all ye that pass by?”
". . and upon this rock I will build my church . ." -- Matthew 16:18.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.