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Announcement: This Week’s Sermons October 22, 2017


  • Please Note Some of Gospel Meeting Videos are not in correct Order

Sunday’s Bible Lessons From The Pulpit

October 22, 2017

A.M.  “The Kingdom of Heaven”—Matthew 4:17

P.M.  Special Guest Speaker: Jason McDade

(Deacon over education at East Ridge)—2 Timothy 4:1-2



Jason McDade

Theistic evolution is best understood by a breakdown of the word. Theistic comes from the Greek word “theos” meaning God. A theist is someone that knows there is a God, as opposed to the atheist who claims to “know” there is not a God or the agnostic who says there is not enough evidence to say whether or not He exists or the skeptic who doubts His existence or the deist who says God does exist but has no desire for or interaction with man. The term evolution must be qualified for specificity and clarification. There are two types of evolution. There is the Special Theory of Evolution, which “suggests that limited change, within narrow limits, occurs throughout all living things” also known as microevolution (Creation Compromises, Apologetics Press, Inc., Montgomery, AL, 1995, p. 13). This theory is not the source of the controversial issue under discussion. However, the General Theory of Evolution or macroevolution, also known as organic evolution says that all living things developed from the simpler to the more complex and that life is derived from inorganic (non-living) matter. It rejects the notion that all organisms were designed and created at the beginning of time by God. George Gaylord Simpson’s “textbook” definition of evolution is helpful and shows what ain influential “scientist” in the evolutionary camp teaches. Simpson wrote:

Evolution is a fully natural process, inherent in the physical properties of the universe, by which life arose in the first place and by which all living things, past or present, have since developed, divergently and progressively (Science, April 1, 1960, p. 969 as quoted in Creation Compromises, p. 14).

Those that have espoused theistic evolution have struck a compromise between what the Bible teaches and what atheists teach. It is true that we are bombarded with the false teachings of evolution but no bombardment with any kind of false teaching gives us a right to compromise with it. Compromise as they have, theistic evolutionists maintain that they are teaching the Bible as do the Baptists, Methodists, Catholics, and on and on. In order to teach evolution from God or any other false doctrine one has to wreak havoc with the Bible even going so far as to question plenary verbal inspiration (2 Timothy 3:16-17) or trying to deceive by false reasoning or exegesis. One simple point that defeats the doctrine is the contradictory nature of the term “theistic evolution.” According to Dr. Simpson, evolution is a “fully natural process.” Evolution by definition is without God. It has been said evolution is atheism. Yet, God is supernatural. Therefore, theistic evolution is equivalent to supernatural naturalism or atheistic theism! Brother Brad Harrub in his book Diamonds in the Rough noted:

Theistic evolution is nothing more than a contradiction in terms—there is no such thing. The two ideas are diametrically opposed. Theism (or God) does not exist in any part of evolution (p. 68).



The restoration plea is about calling people back to the “old paths” of first century, New Testament, apostolic (i.e., “as in the days of the apostles”) Christianity.  In reality, there is no other kind of Christianity, for anything that differs from what was preached, believed, and practiced in the first century, during the days of the apostles, and as set forth in the New Testament is but a perversion of the “one faith” (Ephesians 4:4), “the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27), “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).  Those who preach “another gospel” are accursed (Galatians 1:6-9).

As noted in an earlier essay (“The Restoration Plea: Is It Valid?”—September 19, 2017), in the days of Josiah, king of Judah (c. 640-609 B.C.), the prophet Jeremiah said to the people, “Thus says the Lord: Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls.  But they said, ‘We will not walk in it’ ” (Jeremiah 6:16).  How sad that many today do not desire “the old paths” as revealed by Christ and His apostles and as set forth in the New Testament. Any mention of “the old paths” brings a smirk to the face of some and a mocking, condescending comment from their lips.  Now, as in the days of Jeremiah, people by their attitudes and by their actions are saying, “We will not walk in the good way of the old paths”!  Rather, they seek their own way.  Many are enamored by the latest fad in churches and that which appeals to their “felt” needs and their desire to be entertained.  Simple, New Testament Christianity has little appeal to them.

As we continue our emphasis on the restoration plea, consider these thoughts concerning the “old paths” of biblical Christianity.

1. To be in the old paths we must follow the old guide.That old guide is the doctrine of Christ and His apostles as set forth in the New Testament (John 14:6; II John 9; Acts 2:42; II Timothy 3:16-17).

2. When we follow the old guide we will be in the old church, the church that Christ Himself and not man established, the one of which He is the sole head and savior, the one to which all the saved are added, theonespiritual body (church) of Christ (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:23; Acts 2:47; Ephesians 4:4; Colossians 1:18).

3. To be in the old church we must obey the old plan.We must hear and believe the gospel, repent of our sins, confess faith in Christ, and be immersed into Christ for the remission of our sins (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; I Corinthians 15:1-2; Romans 10:9-10; Acts 2:28; 22:16; Galatians 3:27).

4. When we obey the old plan we can wear the old name, the name Christian (Acts 11:26; 26:28; I Peter 4:16).The denominational names that are worn today were unknown in New Testament times for the simple reason that denominationalism did not characterize original, apostolic Christianity.  You will find absolutely nothing in your Bible about Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Baptists, or Methodists, et al.

5. When we wear the old name we can worship in the old way.We can worship God in spirit and truth, offering those acts of worship that the Scriptures authorize (John 4:24; Acts 20:7; Ephesians 5:19; Hebrews 13:15; I Timothy 2:1-2, 8; I Corinthians 16:1-2; II Corinthians 9:7).

6. When we walk in the old paths we can have the old hope, the one hope, the hope of everlasting life in heaven (Ephesians 4:4; John 14:1-3; II Corinthians 5:1; II Peter 1:10-11).

Reflect seriously on each of the above points.  Read the scripture passages that have been provided.  Ask for the “old paths” of pure New Testament Christianity and walk in them.

Hugh Fulford

October 10, 2017



Gary McDade

Let’s begin with a phrase, then a word, then a passage, then a context from the Bible that urges all Christians to “do your best.” The phrase is “giving all diligence” (2 Peter 1:5). The word is “diligence.” It translates the Greek word pareisene,gkantej from pareisfe,rw which means “exert…do one’s best” (Barclay M. Newman, Jr., A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament, p. 135). The passage in which it appears says, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge” (2 Peter 1:5, emphasis added). Next, the context of the study reads, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity [love, ASV]” (2 Peter 1:3-7, emphasis added). The verses surrounding the central words “giving all diligence” show Christians how to “do your best.”

Once a person has become a Christian and thereby realizes the value of the knowledge gained into the Will of God and the close connection enjoyed through that calling with glory and virtue, great and precious promises belong to him or her. “The corruption that is in the world through lust” he or she has “escaped” and now stands ready to “do your best.” After faith, seven areas of spiritual growth are enumerated by the apostle Peter that will help accomplish the goal. These areas are perhaps best known as “the Christian graces.” Including faith, they are:

FAITH: The biblical definition of “faith” is written in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance [assurance, ASV] of things hoped for, the evidence [conviction, ASV] of things not seen.” Faith is obtained by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17) and believing it (Hebrews 4:2).

VIRTUE: This is moral excellence, as is best pictured in the life and teachings of Christ and the apostles. A Christian has “escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” and now seeks to live a spotless moral life of walking in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7). Careful attention is always given not only to words and deeds (1 John 3:18) but also to thoughts (Proverbs 23:7; 2 Corinthians 10:5).

KNOWLEDGE: Reading, studying, and meditating on or thinking on the Word of God produces this vital quality in the Christian life (1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Timothy 4:15). David wrote, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).

TEMPERANCE: Self-control is accomplished from within the heart, mind, and soul of the Christian not a miraculous bestowal of the Holy Spirit. As a “fruit of the Spirit” it is born through the teaching divinely given by the Holy Spirit exclusively through His instrument, the Word of God (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 6:17).

PATIENCE: The ability to quietly endure accomplished through trials. “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience” (Romans 5:3).

GODLINESS: A godly life, godly living. Being like God by admiring Him and all that is associated with Him.

BROTHERLY KINDNESS: Brotherly love shown toward other Christians.

LOVE: The word here is the highest form of love and is distinguished from the former “brotherly love” in that it finds emphasis is seeking the greatest good for others even at personal sacrifice. This is how God “so loved” the world in the familiar words of John 3:16.

The reward for “doing your best” finds expression in the verse after this study which says, “For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 2:8).


Gary McDade

“How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God” (Psalm 84:1-2). “For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” (v. 10). “Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him” (Psalm 33:8). “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord: and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works. There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the Lord: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in thee” (vv. 12-22).

“I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:1-3). “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing. Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord” (vv. 8-11). “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all” (vv. 17-19). “The Lord redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate” (v. 22).

“In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” (Psalm 56:4). “In God will I praise his word: in the Lord will I praise his word. In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee” (vv. 10-12).

“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1). “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (Psalm 63:1). “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:1-2).



 Gary McDade

When Jesus Christ initiated the Great Commission He gave reality to the concept that Christianity would be a religion of teaching. It would be begun and sustained throughout time by the teaching He authorized. He said, “…All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost [Spirit, ASV]: 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 28:18-20). The church which belongs to Him, the church of Christ, is known by its teaching.

The Great Commission

The church of Christ is evangelistic because it believes and teaches the Great Commission to take the gospel message to the community and the world. Sometimes the church of Christ is seen as creating controversy because it teaches what the Lord said was to be taught. For example, Jesus said, “…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned,” in Mark’s account of the Great Commission. The church of Christ teaches what Jesus said here today, not because its members want to alienate unbelieving friends and family, but because the church belongs to Christ, and if membership in it is desired, it may only be obtained and maintained by doing all that Jesus said.

Baptism For the Remission of Sins

The church of Christ is known for teaching what the Bible says about how remission or forgiveness of sins is granted by heaven. Acts 2:38 is a key passage in the discussion. It says, “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Unbelievers are at war with the church of Christ because Acts 2:38 is believed, respected, taught, and defended today by its faithful members.

Congregational Singing

The church of Christ is known for insisting upon worship to God remaining within the realm of being “in spirit and in truth” as enjoined upon her membership by Christ Himself in John 4:24, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Note the little preposition “in.” The first thing Webster’s Dictionary says about “in” is that it is “used as a function word to indicate inclusion, location, or position within limits” (p. 607). The New Testament of Jesus Christ contains 9 references to music in the worship of the church, and without exception only congregational singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs abides within the realm or limits prescribed by the truth, the Word of God (John 17:17). Instrumental music in worship pleases men, but the Bible says, “As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:9-10).

Speaking Where the Bible Speaks

The church of Christ is known for loyalty to the Word of Christ, which by divine decree is to dwell within them richly (Colossians 3:16). The apostle Peter instructed, “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” (1 Peter 4:11). In the church of Christ, disciples are content to simply be known as Christians (Acts 11:26). The Lord’s supper is observed “upon the first day of the week” as taught in the Bible (Acts 20:7). Home life is organized around the teaching of the Savior (Matthew 19:9). All the members have brotherly love for each other (1 Thessalonians 4:9). Christ and the Scriptures are the centerpiece of the assemblies (Ephesians 3:21; 2 Timothy 4:2). These are among the things for which the church of Christ is known and teaches.



Gary McDade

The apostle Paul had learned from the house of Chloe that there were “contentions” within the “church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2, 11), and the letter consisting of 16 chapters he wrote to them set about to correct them. Every Christian is divinely obligated to be “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). Even their observance of the Lord’s supper had suffered. Imagine the embarrassment of being a member of the church at Corinth and reading an apostolic directive about your collective observance of the Lord’s supper which began with the summary, “This is not to eat the Lord’s supper” (1 Corinthians 11:20).

What needed to change? Their disrespectful, chaotic service needed consideration for the Lord and themselves and dignified order. Paul described their abuse as follows: “For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 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” (vv. 21-22). David Lipscomb’s comments are insightful, “The eating of a feast with its attendant gluttony and drinking led many to attend. Each family brought its own portion and each partook of his own. The rich eating and drinking to satiety of their abundance. The poor were shamed by the scantiness of their food and went hungry. This was all wrong. It is thought by some that this feasting preceded the Lord’s Supper, so that some were filled to satiety, while others were hungry when they partook of the emblems of the Lord’s body and blood” (Gospel Advocate commentary, p. 171).

Since the Lord’s supper was a remembrance of the Lord’s death by the church, their unworthy manner of observance caused them to be “guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” (v. 27). The degree of the infraction is stunning, “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (v. 29). What was to be done to avoid this judgment from God? Paul told them, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup” (v. 28). And, further, when they came together to eat the Lord’s supper they were to “tarry one for another” or not rush through the proceeding in disregard of their fellow Christians (v. 33). Paul had earlier discussed this responsibility with them when he wrote, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).

The abuses now corrected, the Corinthians could concentrate on the design of the Lord’s supper and see the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of the world as the most meaningful single event of all time. In it they could now see displayed the great love of God, the Father, and the obedient submission of the loving Savior for the everlasting benefit of all who have ever lived (John 3:16; Hebrews 2:9; 5:8-9; 1 John 2:2). By following the inspired teaching they received from the apostle Paul they would set an example for grateful and loving Christians from all over the globe who gather together in reverent assemblies of the church of Christ every first day of the week (Acts 2:42; 20;7) to bow in worship as they partake of a pale piece of unleavened bread and silently sip the crimson fruit of the vine both in remembrance of their Lord’s death for them and in declaring his death to a lost and dying world until He returns for them (v. 26).



Gary McDade

The church of Christ has its beginning on the first Day of Pentecost following the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and from the start, the church of Christ observed the Lord’s supper. In this context, the “breaking of bread” means partaking of the Lord’s supper, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). The day the church was established was a first day of the week, for the Day of Pentecost was by law a first day of the week (Leviticus 23:15-16). The first observance of the Lord’s supper fulfilled the promise of the Lord Himself who said, “Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25). Each Lord’s day Christians gather together in worship to remember and to show to the world the death of the Savior until He returns again.

A thorough study of the Lord’s supper will seek to answer the following questions: What is the Lord’s supper? Who may eat the Lord’s supper? Where is the Lord’s supper eaten? How is the Lord’s supper eaten? Why is the Lord’s supper eaten? And, When is the Lord’s supper eaten? The Bible provides the answer to these questions.

What Is the Lord’s Supper?

“The Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25). The night under consideration and the directions Jesus gave regarding the Lord’s supper are in Matthew 26:14-30; Mark 14:12-26; and Luke 22:7-23. The meal at which the disciples sat was the Passover meal, so there was no leaven in the bread Jesus took (Exodus 12:15, 19; 13:7). The Passover was also known as “the Feast of Unleavened Bread” (Exodus 34:18). The cup, a reference to the contents and not the container, of which the disciples were to drink was the fruit of the vine or grape juice (Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:18).

Who Eats the Lord’s Supper?

            Those who are members of the “one body” of Christ are the only ones who may eat the Lord’s supper because the Bible says, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). The one body is the one church of the Bible as demonstrated in Ephesians 1:22-23 which reads in part, “The church, Which is his body.” Ephesians 4:4 declares, “There is one body.” Therefore, those who are members of the one body of Christ or the one church of Christ may commune with Christ by eating the Lord’s supper.

Where Is the Lord’s Supper Eaten?

            The Lord’s supper is to be eaten in the assembly of the church. The apostle Paul wrote to correct abuses of the Lord’s supper in the church at Corinth when he said, “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken” (1 Corinthians 11:20-21). They stood corrected on their abuses and commended on coming “together into one place” in order to eat the Lord’s supper.

How Is the Lord’s Supper Eaten?

The Lord’s supper is to be eaten in a worthy or respectful manner (1 Corinthians 11:27). Each participant is to “examine himself” or herself in view of the sacrifice Christ made (v. 28). All participants “tarry one for another” or are not anxious to rush through the observance of the Lord’s supper (v. 33). And, the objective is not to fill one’s stomach (v. 34).

Why Is the Lord’s Supper Eaten?

“This do in remembrance of me” is the central reason Jesus created the Lord’s supper. The bread, taken first, has the worshipper remembering the body of Christ. The cup, taken after the bread, has the worshipper remembering the blood of Christ. So, remembering the body and blood of Christ which He sacrificed on the Cross provides the answer to the question. A look at the text of 1 Corinthians 11:20-34 offers accompanying answers to why the Lord’s supper is eaten. They are: “For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come” (v. 26), and the Lord’s supper is a time for sincere and serious reflection and introspection of the worshipper’s life in view of the sacrifice of Christ, for the Bible says, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup” (v. 28). And then, consideration should be given to all those who have assembled to partake of the Lord’s supper together, for the Bible says further, “Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another” (v. 33).

When Is the Lord’s Supper Eaten?

The first time the Lord’s supper was eaten was on the first day of the week, the day upon which the church of Christ was established. Again, the Day of Pentecost was always on a first day of the week (Acts 2:1; Leviticus 23:15-16). And, this was a practice, according the inspired historian Luke, in which the church of Christ under direct apostolic supervision “continued steadfastly” (Acts 2:42). While the book of Acts is not by design a travel log or diary of the daily activities of the apostles and their teaching throughout, the mention of essential practices and key elements surrounding them is valuable to the worshipper in following the example set by the apostles. For example, about their arrival in the city of Troas Luke wrote, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7). So, the disciples came together. They came together to “break bread,” not a common meal, for they did that every day and had no need to convene an assembly of the Christians for that, but a reference to eating the Lord’s supper. And, when did they do this? “Upon the first day of the week.”


The sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross for the sins of the world is the most meaningful single event of all time. In it is displayed the great love of God, the Father, and the obedient submission of the loving Savior for the everlasting benefit of all who have ever lived (John 3:16; Hebrews 2:9; 5:8-9; 1 John 2:2). Grateful and loving Christians from all over the globe gather together in reverent assemblies of the church of Christ every week to bow in worship as they partake of a pale piece of unleavened bread and silently sip the crimson fruit of the vine in remembrance of their Lord’s death for them.


GUEST ARTICLE: The author of this article preached for us filling in here at Tiftonia. He and his family are members of the East Ridge Church of Christ. He currently is attending Freed-Hardeman University enrolled as a Bible major. We are honored to know him and send him best wishes as he prepares to become a gospel preacher. (The article is from EncouragerNet, Barnabas Encouragers, September 5, 2017, p. 1; Lucian and Ellen Claiborne, eds.).



Andy Baumberger

Students of almost any age, but especially college students, are busy people. Class, work, social life, sports, clubs, and all the various other activities students participate in often require significant time commitments. As a result, it can become easy to view faith as just another segment of my already packed schedule. All of a sudden, spirituality is reduced to simply a slice of my time and a small percentage of who I am. Even at a Christian school, spiritual life can become regimented and routine. Focus on faith solely during chapel. Only study God’s Word in Bible class. Worship at the appointed times on Sundays and Wednesday. Having opportunities set aside specifically for focusing on God is a wonderful thing, but it can also provide the illusion that this is enough to build a mature faith. A passage that puts this all into perspective comes from Colossians 3:1-4: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

For those of us who are disciples, Christ is our life. Our old lives of sin and selfishness should be completely hidden in the life and image of Jesus. Notice that Paul doesn’t say that just a section or segment of our lives should be hidden. It’s not just another slice of the pie. Following Christ is our whole life! This should completely affect and impact how we see our faith as we try to grow and mature as Christians. Every moment of my life should be about faith in Jesus. Every day should be viewed from a gospel lens. How can I imitate the humility of Christ more closely today? How can I see people as Jesus would see them? How can I serve someone in need today? How can I most effectively share the gospel to the people around me? These should be the thoughts that consistently consume our mindset in every moment and every situation. That’s why Paul encourages us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and that is why it is so important to be intentional about personally studying the Bible on our own. Otherwise, we aren’t reminded of the fact that our faith is our whole life. We end up forgetting what we are really about, and our Christianity becomes another activity among the rest. So, as we are striving to build our faith each day, let us pray for the strength and wisdom to practice our faith every moment and to see our God-given purpose in every second of our lives.



Gary McDade

The Parable of the Two Sons appears only in Matthew 21:28-32 and in neither of the other two synoptic gospels of Mark and Luke. Let’s refresh our memory of this parable, note its application, and do a little digging into the Greek text in order to explain variations appearing in 2 English translations.

            The apostle Matthew wrote, “But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.”

The application of the parable is succinctly stated in the commentary by the late James Burton Coffman, minister of the Manhattan Church of Christ in New York City. He observed, “Analogies In The Parable: The man who had two sons is God. The first son represents the publicans and harlots. The second son represents the self-righteous Pharisees. The vineyard stands for God’s true religion. The man’s equal treatment of both sons suggests God’s impartial dealings with all men. The two sons are also typical of two types of persons in all ages” (Commentary on Matthew (1968), p. 329). The publicans and harlots found it within themselves to repent of their sins, but the Pharisees, who knew the Bible says God will look toward the humble and contrite soul that trembles at His word, would not repent (Isaiah 66:1-2).

The preservation of the text of the New Testament from ancient times stands without parallel and above reproach being evidenced by more than 5,000 Greek manuscripts in whole or in part and is represented in ancient translations such as Coptic, Syriac, and Latin exceeding 8,000 manuscripts making the New Testament the most strongly and convincingly attested literary work without peer. The preservation of the New Testament through the centuries stands as confirmation of the divine promise Jesus Christ made concerning it (Matthew 24:35). In view of such an overwhelming amount of material, all hand-copied by fallible humans, it was inevitable but that obvious mistakes in copies would occur. The volume of material available affords a wealth of texts with which to compare and eliminate occasional misspellings, word order rearrangements, duplications, and omissions attributable to human weaknesses.

At this point, attention is directed to variations existing in the Greek texts and their appearance in 2 English translations regarding The Parable of the Two Sons. The Vatican Manuscript, which is the Greek text used in an interlineary known as The Emphatic Diaglott (1942 edition), has the order of the father’s request to his sons reversed. The Diaglott reads, “…‘Son, go to work to-day in my vineyard.’ He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but went not. And coming to the second, he said the same. And he answering, said, ‘I will not;’ but afterwards repenting, he went” (p. 86). The New English Bible retains that order. It says, “…‘My boy, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will, sir’, the boy replied; but he never went. The father came to the second and said the same. ‘I will not’, he replied, but afterwards he changed his mind and went” (p. 39). Also, The New Testament in the Original Greek by Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort has the same order as the Vatican manuscript (p. 50).

The New American Standard of 1971 has the order matching the New English Bible and the underlying Vatican Manuscript and Westcott and Hort text. It says, “…‘Son, go work today in the vineyard.’ And he answered and said, ‘I will, sir’; and he did not go. And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, ‘I will not’; yet he afterward regretted it and went” (pp. 39-40).

The value of understanding the difference between the New English Bible and the New American Standard Bible as compared to all the other translations is realized in the elimination of confusion over which son repented. For example, if a person was in a Bible class or listening to a sermon and the teacher spoke of the repentance of the first son and the absence of repentance on the part of the second son, those holding the New English Bible and the New American Standard Bible would assume the teacher got it backwards when it was the Vatican manuscript and the Westcott and Hort text that has the order reversed.

But, what does the Greek text say? The issue is not about what the text means it is about the order in which the sons are presented, for in every instance one son says he will not go, repents and goes, and the other son says he will go, but does not. The order of presentation in the New English Bible and the New American Standard Bible emerge from the Vatican manuscript and the Westcott and Hort text as has been presented, but the order of the King James Version and all other English translations is supported by the Textus Receptus (Latin for Received Text) from which the King James Version was translated and the Majority Text which is “a text based on a consensus of the majority of existing Greek manuscripts” (The Majority Text Greek New Testament Interlinear, p. ix). The New American Standard Bible was “updated” (their words) in 1995, and today has the same order of the father’s requests to His sons as the King James Version and all other English translations.




Gary McDade

 The widespread use of instrumental music in worship today is met with a measure of surprise by some of its advocates when they learn it has no biblical support. For example, the place to look for it is in the New Testament, the covenant under which we live today (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Hebrews 8:8-12). And, it has 9 passages on the subject but no instrumental accompaniment to the singing is to be found. The 9 passages are: Matthew 26:30; Acts 16:25; Romans 15:9; 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:12; 13:15; and James 5:13. (Revelation 14:2 is a symbolic presentation talking about events taking place in heaven among a select number and is unrelated to corporate worship on earth today). So, within the applicable verses from the Bible singing in worship is uniformly presented. Some are surprised to learn there is no biblical authorization for the use of instrumental music in worship today.

Some are surprised to compare 1 Corinthians 14:7 and 1 Corinthians 14:15 where Paul says pipe or harp are without life giving sound meaning they add nothing by way of understanding in verse 7 and the process of understanding cannot, therefore, be aided by an instrument but only through the words sung in verse 15. An instrument of music can add no more understanding to what is sung than it would to what is prayed, for Paul wrote, “What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.”

Some are surprised to learn that instruments of music in worship were never mentioned for the 2,500 years of the Patriarchal Age from Adam to Joseph and were never a part of the Law of Moses (Genesis-Deuteronomy) but were invented by David and censured by the prophet Amos (Amos 6:5).

Some are surprised to learn that instrumental music was never used in the Jewish synagogues through the biblical period and for 1800 years following it. The Presbyterian scholar John L Girardeau informed, “The writers who have most carefully investigated Jewish antiquities, and have written learnedly and elaborately in regard to the synagogue, concur in showing that its worship was destitute of instrumental music” (Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church (1888), p. 39).

Some are surprised to learn that Jerome (A.D. 347-420), who among the Catholics is one of the most respected scholars of that period, apparently knew nothing of instrumental music in worship but urged respect for the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. In his commentary on Ephesians he wrote, “Let the servant of the Lord sing in such a way that it is not the voice of the singer which pleases, but the words which are read. Thus the evil spirit which was in Saul may be cast out of those men who are possessed by it as he was, and not enter into those men who have changed the house of God into a stage for the entertainment of the people” (Quoted in Instrumental Music and New Testament Worship by James D. Bales (1973), pp. 267-268).

Some are surprised to learn that well-known reformers of the Catholic Church and founders of modern denominations were opposed to the use of the instrument in worship. For example, at one time Martin Luther was so opposed to it that he said, “The organ in the worship service is a sign of Baal” (Realencyklopadie fur Protestantische Theologie und Kirche, Bd, 14, S. 433. Quoted in Instrumental Music and New Testament Worship by James D. Bales (1973), p. 130). Unfortunately, he later recanted this view, but the point is that at least at one time he opposed the organ in worship.

Some are surprised to learn that John Calvin, reputed founder of Presbyterianism, wrote in his commentary on the 33rd Psalm and 1 Samuel 18:1-9, “Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting up of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law. The papists, therefore, have foolishly borrowed this, as well as many other things, from the Jews. Men who are fond of outward pomp may delight in that noise; but the simplicity which God recommends to us by the apostle is far more pleasing to Him. …Instrumental music, we therefore maintain was only tolerated on account of the times and the people, because they were as boys, as the sacred Scriptures speaketh, whose condition required these puerile rudiments. But in gospel times we must not have recourse to these unless we wish to destroy the evangelical perfection and to obscure the meridian light which we enjoy in Christ our Lord” (Quoted in Instrumental Music in the Worship by M.C. Kurfees (1911), pp. 190-191).

Some are surprised to learn that John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church, is quoted by the Methodist commentator Adam Clarke in his commentary on Amos 6:5 as saying, “The late venerable and most eminent divine, the Rev. [Clarke’s appellation] John Wesley, who was a lover of music, and an eloquent poet, when asked his opinion of instruments of music being introduced into the chapels of the Methodists, said in his terse and powerful manner, ‘I have no objection to instruments of music in our chapels provided they are neither HEARD nor SEEN’ [emphasis in the original]” (Commentary, Vol. IV. p. 686. Quoted in Instrumental Music in the Worship by M.C. Kurfees (1911), p. 182).

Some are surprised to learn that Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one of the most recognized Baptist preachers of all time, upheld the apostolic simplicity of worship. Professor Girardeau said of Spurgeon, “The great congregation which is blessed with the privilege of listening to his instructions has no organ ‘to assist’ them in singing their praises to their God and Saviour. They find their vocal organs sufficient. Their tongues and voices express the gratitude of their hearts” (Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church (1888), p. 176).

Some are surprised to learn that the use of instrumental music in worship when the long history of the church is considered is a relatively recent invention that many of the founders of the denominational churches of today opposed. If there is any wisdom to be gleaned, if there is any insight to be gained from these prominent religious leaders on their opposition to instrumental music in worship today, then there is no reason to follow any other guide in the worship of the church regarding singing than those 9 passages of Scripture that speak to subject.



Gary McDade

 Jeremiah had a tough job. He prophesied during tough times. He described the people of his day, “They have refused to receive correction: They have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return . . . they are foolish; for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God” (Jeremiah 5:3-4). The fuller picture of their condition presented in chapter 5 included:

1) swearing falsely by the Lord, v. 2;

2) swearing by false gods, v. 7;

3) committing adultery, vv. 7-8;

4) belied the Lord by denying the prophecies of their peril, v. 12;

5) no fear of God, vv. 22, 24-25;

6) a revolting and rebellious heart, v. 23;

7) deceitful, v. 27;

8) overlooking the deeds of the wicked who ignored the needs of the fatherless and needy,

  1. 28;

9) loving false prophecy and favoritism, vv. 30-31.

Jeremiah wrote, “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” (vv. 30-31).

God gave Jeremiah his orders: “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it. And though they say, The Lord liveth; surely they swear falsely. O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return” (Jeremiah 5:1-3). It would not be easy to find a man in Jerusalem who sought the truth, for God told Jeremiah to “run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem.” The prophecy of Jeremiah shows that no one could be found because the city was not pardoned; it was destroyed (Jeremiah 52).

God placed value on the person who sought the truth. Jeremiah emphasized that the Lord’s eyes are upon the truth (Jeremiah 5:3). The times of Jeremiah in the sixth century B.C. are not that dissimilar to the present. The world of the twenty-first century matches or exceeds the wickedness of that of the ancient prophet. But, the eyes of the Lord are still upon the truth, and he continues to issue the promise of reward to those who seek the truth.

“What Is Truth?”

The embodiment of truth stood before Pilate when he asked this question, but he could not see it (John 18:37-38; 14:6).

“Thy Word Is Truth”

Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).

Soul Purified by Truth

The apostle Peter wrote, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Peter 1:22).                                                                                                               (Continued on page 2).

Begotten by Truth

James said, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” (James 1:18).

Grace in Truth

God’s grace is in his truth. Paul wrote, “Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth” (Colossians 1:4-6).

Worship in Spirit and in Truth

Worship must be in accord with truth: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

Judgment According to Truth

The judgment will take place according to the truth: “But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things” (Romans 2:2).


God is looking today for the person who seeks the truth. Loving, dedicated souls like Jeremiah of old continue to “run…to and fro through the streets” seeking such a person.



 Gary McDade

Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. Psalm 25:8.

A sinner is one who transgresses God’s law (Romans 4:15; 1 John 3:4). Sinners don’t always know that they have transgressed God’s law. They need to know not only that they have but also wherein they have transgressed God’s law. It is a fair assumption that most religious people today believe in premillennialism. Just look at the popular belief in the so-called “rapture” for confirmation. Let’s take a brief look at what it is and why people should not believe in it.

Premillennialism is the belief that we are living in a time when biblical prophecies of the end of the world are materializing. The long-range view is that an event they call “the rapture” will precede 7 years of what they call “The Great Tribulation” at the end of which catastrophic events will be followed by a literal 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ on David’s throne in Jerusalem, Israel. (Obviously, there is much more to the scheme and broader and varying definitions of the term, but this is a “working definition” for now).

People should not believe in it for a number of sound, biblical reasons and in order to lead people out of it and into the “way of righteousness” an exposure of the sin involved in believing premillennialism must be studied. Premillennialism is not an innocuous and alternate view of the end of time. Space affords a look at only 2 of the many reasons premillennialism is wrong.

One, a foundational teaching of premillennialism is that the promises God made in the Old Testament concerning Christ and His kingdom are yet unfulfilled. For example, God wanted to set up a kingdom for Christ but was diverted from those promises because Jesus was rejected by the Jews. However, what Daniel promised in Daniel 2:44, “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever,” was fulfilled as verses like Matthew 16:18-19; Mark 9:1; Acts 1:6-8; and Acts 2:1-4 show. We have biblical evidence from the first century showing that New Testament Christians understood that the church of Christ is, in fact, the kingdom of Christ. Consider Colossians 1:13, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son,” and “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28). Additionally, premillennialists have a choice: believe the lie that the kingdom of Christ was “postponed” because Jesus was rejected by the Jews or believe the truth that the world had already been informed by Isaiah that Jesus would be “despised and rejected of men” (Isaiah 53:3).

Two, the complex scheme known as premillennialism has woven into it 3 comings of Christ and 3 resurrections. Christ comes in “the rapture” and Christ comes what they call “the revelation” 7 years later. Hebrews 9:28 refutes this error, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation”—a second coming, not a third. John 5:28-29 refutes all those resurrections separated by more than a thousand years, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”

Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way. Psalm 25:8.



Gary McDade

Avis B. Christiansen wrote the song in the title in 1920. It holds our thoughts for a moment on Jesus approaching the cross on Calvary and in six hours dying there. The lyrics are personal and point out 2 extremes. The preferred one, a person who cannot cease to express gratitude for what Jesus suffered there, and the second one, people who have never allowed their minds to open up to the picture of God’s amazing grace and sacrificial love shown there. Regarding the first, the song says, “How can my praises ever find end!” Concerning the second, the song observes, “Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading, blind and unheeding dying for me!” Please, take a minute to read the lyrics and then after that “bear with the word of exhortation.”

Up Calvary’s mountain, one dreadful morn, Walked Christ my Savior, weary and worn;

            Facing for sinners death on the cross, That He might save them from endless loss.

“Father, forgive them!” thus did He pray, E’en while His lifeblood flowed fast away;

            Praying for sinners while in such woe—No one but Jesus ever loved so.

O How I love Him, Savior and Friend! How can my praises ever find end!

            Through years unnumbered on heaven’s shore, My tongue shall praise Him forevermore.

 Blessed Redeemer, precious Redeemer! Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree!

            Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading—blind and unheeding dying for me!

The church of Christ is commissioned by Christ to communicate the message of the cross to a lost and dying world (Matthew 28:19-20). Most people in the world will die in their ignorance unaware of the “blessed Redeemer” and be lost forever—“blind and unheeding” (Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 12:48; Acts 17:30). Our best efforts, individually and collectively, must never wane in striving to teach and preach the gospel of Christ to a spiritually lost and dying community and world.

Since as members of the church of Christ we are the world’s—not just best but—only hope of salvation, shouldn’t the attitude and behavior of every Christian be as reflected in the third verse of “Blessed Redeemer”? “O how I love Him, Savior and Friend! How can my praises ever find end! Through years unnumbered on heaven’s shore, My tongue shall praise Him forevermore.” Unfortunately, a third to a half of the membership in virtually every congregation of God’s people today seemingly have no concept of the consequences awaiting not only those outside of Christ but also those in Christ who have not developed spiritually to the point of fulfilling their place praising God for Christ’s sake and presenting the Word of Christ to the world. What is the basis for such an observation? A third to a half do not participate in the work of the church known as Sunday school, Sunday night worship, and Wednesday night Bible study where the people of God praise His name. These absences show that for them after the Sunday morning worship service their praises have ended for that week. In order for Christians to praise Him forevermore on heaven’s shore through years unnumbered, we simply must, while our days are numbered here on earth (Psalm 90:9-10), make a way amid the distractions of life to praise Him now! May we daily sing the soul-stirring refrain, “Blessed Redeemer, precious Redeemer! Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree! Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading—blind and unheeding dying for me!”



The church as set forth in the New Testament was the fulfillment and fruition of God’s eternal purpose to redeem mankind (Ephesians 3:8-12).  It was brought into existence by Christ, being purchased with His blood (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28).  All who have been cleansed of and saved from their sins by the blood of Christ are members of the church, having been added to it when they were saved (Acts 2:47).  To speak of being a saved person, yet not being a member of the church is to speak in ignorance of what the church is according to the New Testament.  While one can be saved from sin and become a Christian without being a part of any denomination, it is biblically impossible to be saved from sin and a Christian without being a member of the church, the spiritual body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18).  Christ is the savior of the church, and in the gospel era only those accountable persons who are members of that blood-bought institution have the hope and promise of eternal life in heaven (Ephesians 5:23).

I have written often about the church and its place in God’s grand scheme of redemption, of its undenominational nature, and of the necessity of being a member of the very church that Christ Himself established.  I will continue to do this because the need for such is so pressing.  At the same time, it is imperative that members of the Lord’s church recognize that they will not go to heaven just by being members of the right church!  Christianity is a way of life, and if one who wears the name of Christ does not “walk the walk,” his membership in the church will not be sufficient on the day of judgment for him to enter the eternal abode of the redeemed.

Those who hear and obey the gospel and are added to the church are to be taught to observe all things that Christ has commanded (Matthew 28:20).  They are to remember that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all of their heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37-38), and that to love the Lord means to keep His commandments (John 14:15).  They are to remember that the second greatest commandment is to love their neighbor as they love themselves (Matthew 22:39), and that the badge of genuine discipleship is their love for one another (John 13:35).  They are to understand that genuine love is not an emotion but an action (I Corinthians 13:4-7).

Christians, members of the body (church) of Christ, are to “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).  They are to “let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from [them], with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31). Instead, they are to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also has forgiven [them]” (Ephesians 4:32).  Venomous words of wrath and anger are not part of a Christian’s vocabulary.

God’s people are to “approve the things that are excellent” (Philippians 1:10), and their conduct is to be “worthy of the gospel of Christ” (verse 27).  They are to recognize that their citizenship “is in heaven, from which they eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). 

Members of the Lord’s church, are to “set [their] mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).  They are to remember that “whatever [they] do in word of deed, [they are to] do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).

Christians are to recognize the importance of regularly and faithfully worshiping the Lord (John 4:24; Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:1-2; Hebrews 10:25).  They are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18).

Religion is not something one “gets,” but something one practices.  “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).  (Note: To “visit” orphans and widows involves much more than a social visit.  “Visit” means to provide for their needs.)

Jesus spoke of a large crowd on the day of judgment who was going to be shocked when they learned of their eternal doom.  They were lost because of their failure to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, take in the stranger, clothe the naked, and visit the sick and those in prison.  Their failure to minister to those in need was a failure to minister to Christ Himself, and resulted in their being sent away “into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:26).  (Note: This entire verbal picture of the final judgment painted by the Lord needs to be read and absorbed by all [Matthew 25:31-46]).

The Old Testament prophet Micah enunciated an eternal principle when he wrote, “He has shown you, O man, what is good: And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8)?

Beyond question the Lord’s church is important!  Membership in it is absolutely essential to salvation!  But we won’t go to heaven just by being a member of the right church!  Life in the church—a faithful Christian life—involves a daily walk with the Lord: in the home, at school, on the job, in the community, and in all phases and facets of life. 

Hugh Fulford

July 25, 2017



Gary McDade

“This world is not my home.” “I am bound for the promised land.” “Brief life is here our portion.” “I have heard of a land” “above the bright blue,” “beyond this land of parting.” “There’s a holy and beautiful city.” “Sing to me of heaven.” “There is a habitation”: “The haven of rest.” “Here, O my Lord, I see Thee.” “How beautiful heaven must be.” “I’ll live on.” “My hope is built on nothing less.” “God holds the future in His hands.” “To God be the glory.”

“The Lord has been mindful of me.” “No one ever cared for me like Jesus.” “Here we are but straying pilgrims.” “Take the world, but give me Jesus.” “He will pilot me.” “Gracious Pilot, straitly guide me.” “Hold to God’s unchanging hand.” “I want to be ready to meet Him.” “I walk with the King.”

“Heaven will surely be worth it all.” “God shall wipe away all tears.” “On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand;” “there’s a land beyond the river.” “I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.” “O think of the home over there,” “when days of toil have all gone by.” “Wonderful city of God.” “Hilltops of glory.” “Won’t it be wonderful there?” “Happy am I.” “Awake, my tongue, thy tribute bring.” “I’ll live in glory.”

“Come, we that love the Lord.” “Glorious things of thee are spoken.” “Hail to the brightness.” “Lo! What a glorious sight.” “Mansions over the hilltop.” “I know my name is there.” “There is a crown for me.” “I am Thine, O Lord.” “Will there be any stars in my crown?” “I want to be a worker.” “More holiness give me.” “He’s a wonderful Savior to me.” “I need Thee every hour.” “He is my everything.”

“I’m not ashamed to own my Lord.” “Jesus calls us.” “Everybody ought to know.” “Throw out the life-line.” “Live for Jesus.” “Lean on His arm.” “Make me a channel of blessing.” “Must I go, and empty handed?” “I have decided to follow Jesus.” “O Master let me walk with Thee.” “Jesus is all the world to me.” “My Savior first of all.” “It pays to serve Jesus.” “It is well with my soul.” “Jesus, keep me near the cross” “living by faith.”  “Is it well with your soul?” “O think of the home over there.”


Sunday July 30th, after morning services

Last Sunday in our Monthly Men’s Meeting, the men wanted us to have a special emphasis on encouraging every member of the Tiftonia Church of Christ to realize how important his and her membership is to the Lord here at the Tiftonia Church of Christ, so we decided to make our 5th Sunday fellowship meal for July a very special Friends & Family Day.

 Our most likely source of congregational growth is from our Family & Friends. Since we all are rightly and seriously desirous of seeing the body of Christ grow, one thing we all can do is to invite those we know who are closest to us to come out for this special gathering to participate together in Scriptural worship to God and afterward to enjoy a delicious meal together at a time when we can visit with each other a little bit longer than our usual comings and goings allows.

 Let’s also keep this spiritual opportunity in our prayers so we can be reminded that we want all we do individually and collectively to be done to the glory of God. We seek God’s blessings in all we do and say. See you at FRIENDS & FAMILY DAY next Sunday!



Gary McDade

Church membership certainly is one of the most neglected areas of human responsibility in our society today. And, those who are members of the church of Christ, unfortunately, are not exempt from this observation. A great difference is members of the church of Christ value teaching from the Bible as the inspired Word of God and can be taught and encouraged to raise their awareness of this spiritual need in their lives. In view of this confidence, 6 Scriptural teachings are now presented.

One, Jesus Christ built His church. “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” (Matthew 16:18). “Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16).

Two, Jesus Christ purchased His church. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).

Three, Jesus Christ adds members to His church. “Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).

Four, Jesus Christ displays “the manifold wisdom of God” through His church. “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10).

Five, Jesus Christ fulfills God’s eternal purpose to save all mankind through His church. “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:11).

Six, Jesus Christ brings glory to God through His church. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).

Therefore, since Jesus Christ built His church, purchased His church with His own blood, adds all who are being saved to His church, displays “the manifold wisdom of God” through His church, fulfills God’s eternal purpose in Christ Jesus through His church, and brings glory to God through His church, the premise “church membership matters” is decisively sustained from the Scriptures. But, where the all important verdict based on the evidence counts is: “does church membership matter to me?”

The words of inspiration affirm, “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 2:1-11).




Gary McDade

You’ll recognize the title as the theme from our Spring Gospel Meeting back in May of this year. Although the meeting closed that week, it marked the beginning of the important “follow-up.” The church of Christ is under divine directives to number one: evangelize our community and the world (Mark 16:15) and number two: to edify or build up the body of Christ spiritually through the teaching of the Word of God (Ephesians 4:16). Both of these objectives were and are being addressed from this year’s Gospel Meeting.

As you know, each day’s lesson was videotaped. The 7 lessons have been edited into 30-minute lessons for airing on television, burning to DVD, and posting on the church’s website. Let me mention something about each of these three means of spreading the gospel of Christ.

First, 4 television stations are (or will be) carrying the lessons from the meeting. They are the Gospel Broadcasting Network, KWNTV-7 (Trenton, GA), Comcast Cable 195 (North GA), and WEPG (South Pittsburg, TN). Presently, the meeting is airing on the latter 3 with multiple show times per week. Invitations were sent out to the community via scores of television commercials and personal letters from the eldership for the congregation. Now, using television we are taking these messages into the homes of our neighbors near and far.

Second, DVD’s have been created containing 10 lessons from the meeting and are being given and sent to those requesting them and to those who have personal contacts to whom they are being sent along with an introductory letter opening a line of communication with each recipient. The Ridgedale Church of Christ is showing them for their Summer Series on Wednesday nights. Approximately 84 sets have been distributed to date. Here are a few responses already received:

Thanks for the DVD’s and the book and for your prayers and all that ya’ll have done and continue to do for the cause of Christ. I will keep ya’ll in my prayers. …I have the list of names and the addresses and reasons for sending them the great sermons…thanks for all your service to God and man.—Ray Maples, Byhalia, MS

We just wanted to say “Thank You” so much for the book and the DVD’s. We’re looking forward to reading and watching.—Todd Easterling, preacher for the West 4th Street Church of Christ, Fordyce, AR

I received the DVD’s yesterday and I am watching the first one now. My son from the Goodwood congregation in Baton Rouge was with me for a few hours yesterday and left at 6:30 this morning. Even though he did not get to watch any of them, he would like to receive a set. His address is…. As I have only begun to watch, I cannot comment on anything right or wrong [in my letter to him I asked for his feedback], but I have full confidence in all being scripturally sound. One thing I can comment on, this one of The Church should first be shown to all members of the Lord’s Church as I feel that even among us there is not a good understanding…May Our Lord continue to bless you.—Richard Bell, Byhalia, MS

          Thank you so much! I love surprises in the mail! This one is very valuable!! Thanks again….—Allison Wooley, Byhalia, MS

Is there a way that I can listen to those as well? We are about to begin a study in denominationalism, and I’m sure these will be a great tool. [Thanks for sending your address James. I’ll get those in the mail to you]. Thank you Gary McDade for this awesome package! I can’t wait to start watching them! —James Conley, Memphis, TN

It was very good—Ursula Frye, Rossville, GA

Oh! Thank you! I’m going to go home and watch these. I love you!—Debbie, Sheila’s friend who works at McDonalds across the street from the church building

And, third, the church’s website (www.tiftoniachurchofChrist.com) presents these videos of the meeting plus an eleventh lesson not available on the DVD’s. The outreach from the website will be meticulously tracked via the digital footprints from our internet provider.

While our Gospel Meeting may be over, the “follow-up” is just getting started.



Gary McDade

The Psalmist David, revealed several key elements that allowed him to be involved in “the secret of the Lord.” And, as is true in all the Psalms, the reader becomes able to place himself and herself in the Psalmist’ place, fully expecting that what he has discovered can be of universal benefit to others. The complete passage containing the phrase “the secret of the Lord” reads, “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him; and He will show them his covenant” (Psalm 25:14).

The key element within the verse coupled with “the secret of the Lord” is “them that fear Him.” “The fear of the Lord” including the idea of absolute respect for God, yields a relationship with “the secret of the Lord” (see also: v. 12). But, what is this “secret”? While the word “secret” appears 68 times in the KJV, the Hebrew word from which the word “secret” comes in Psalm 25:14 is translated only 9 times as “secret.” This same Hebrew word is translated “counsel” 6 times, “assembly” 5 times, and “inward” 1 time. In what the interlinear feature of the Blue Letter Bible calls an “Outline of Biblical Usage,” the Hebrew word under consideration means in the first place “council, counsel, assembly” and in the second place “counsel” with a subordinate meaning of “secret counsel” and “familiar converse, intimacy (with God).” These definitions make the reader think of what is usually called “personal counselling.” Now, imagine that; “personal counselling” with God Himself! The ones who align their thoughts and motives with God, standing in fear or absolute respect of Him, are told “He will show them His covenant.” It brings to mind those verses in Proverbs which say, “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished. By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honor, and life” (Proverbs 22:3-4).

In the brief space remaining, prepare for a barrage of those “key elements” mentioned earlier that allow a person to be involved in “the secret of the Lord.” The intimate counsel of the Lord is extended to those who “bear their souls” to the Lord: “Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul” (v. 1). Maintaining trust in God is essential: “O my God, I trust in thee…” (v. 2). As with all effective counselling, an open and receptive mind is necessary: “Show me Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day” (vv. 4-5). An unfailing confidence in the goodness and honorableness of the Counsellor is required for the heart and mind to remain receptive: “Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will He teach sinners in the way” (v. 8). It takes “meekness” or “strength under control” to be guided much like a powerful horse is guided by his master with harness, bit, and bridle in order to provide productive and useful labor: “The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep His covenant and His testimonies” (vv. 9-10). A sincere sensitivity toward sin and a continual turning away from it is incorporated into enjoying “the secret of the Lord”: “For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great” (v. 11). This kind of a relationship with God is not an occasional flare up or even a weekly dosage; in order to have “the secret of the Lord” a person maintains a constant relationship the Lord, daily, hourly, minute-by-minute: “Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord…” (v. 15).

The remainder of this psalm speaks of God’s presence and personal care of the ones so favored by Him (vv. 15b-22). The implementation of these “key elements” makes “the secret of the Lord” something everyone really cshould and can possess.



Gary McDade

The ancient patriarch Job learned more about God through his suffering than he perhaps could have any other way. The curtain is drawn back and the reader is allowed to see behind the scenes a conversation held between God and Satan where the interaction of God with his creation of man is being questioned by Satan. God asked Satan, “Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?” (Job 1:8). The Devil’s reply was, “Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” (vv. 9-11). Job was among the first of God’s children to experience the depths of what is implied in this regard. “…The Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand” (v. 12).

The innocence of Job at the outset of our introduction to him may rightly be assumed, yet due to the severity of the pain and suffering placed upon him the larger amount of discussion within the book investigates whether or not Job had sinned to bring about such suffering. Suffering was at this time aligned with sin. Working through this hard lesson is needful to understand later the suffering of Jesus Christ “who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” through whom the world has hope of eternal life (1 Peter 2:22).

In reading the book, the three cycles of speeches and Job’s replies helps in following the inspired narrative. Nelson’s Bible Dictionary offers a three-part outline including the three cycles of speeches and Job’s replies. “PART ONE: The Dilemma of Job (1:1-2:13). PART TWO: The Debates of Job (3:1-37:24). PART THREE: The Deliverance of Job (38:1-42:17),” page 577. “The Debates of Job” in chapters 3-37 may be broken down as follows:

The First Cycle of Debate (3:1-14:22)

Job’s first speech finds replies from his friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar with a rejoinder to each from Job.

The Second Cycle of Debate (15:1-21:34)

The same format as the first cycle is followed again.

The Third Cycle of Debate (22:1-26:14)

Again the same format as the first two cycles is followed with the exception being Zophar has now become quite leaving the discussion to Eliphaz and Bildad and for Job to respond to them.

The Final Defense of Job (27:1-31:40)

In these chapters Job uninterruptedly speaks to his friends.

The Solution of Elihu (32:1-37:24)

Elihu had been sitting back observing the discussion but now weighs in with his thoughts.

When God speaks to Job in chapters 38-42, an amazing depth of understanding about God, His nature, and His supreme will over man’s is revealed to the reader. In the absence of God’s comments to Job, a person cannot have the understanding he needs to serve Him consistently and faithfully. This is very rich material in the Bible everyone needs to know



  Gary McDade

As he wrote 2 and 3 John, the apostle communicated a concept of righteous living before God employing the metaphor of “walking in truth.” In 2 John he wrote, “I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father” (v. 4). In 3 John he wrote to Gaius, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (v. 4). 2 John gives us the directions for “walking in truth.” 3 John gives us the disposition for “walking in truth.”

THE DIRECTIONS FOR “WALKING IN TRUTH.” These directions are discussed under the heading of the truth, vv. 1-4; the commandment, vv. 5-8; and the doctrine, vv. 9-13. It was the apostle John who provided the world with the classic definition of the truth in John 17:17 when he wrote, “Sanctify them through Thy truth, Thy Word is truth.” Therefore, we know that to “walk in truth” is to walk in harmony with the Word of God. While some deficient hearts complain that the Bible was written so long ago it holds no meaning for us today, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” affirmed that the truth “dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever” (2 John 2). As illustrated in the opening statements of 2 John, the truth can be successfully and faithfully passed down from one generation to another, for John said, “I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father,” as noted earlier.

“The commandment” of which John speaks in verses 5-8 is a reference to all God has said in His Word. John is careful to urge the recipients of his letter not to be led astray by deceivers for they are many (v. 7). Contrary to popular belief today among those who believe in “once saved, always saved” John plead, “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God” (vv. 8-9a).

As with “the commandment” so with “the doctrine,” John is referring to the totality of God’s Word. Transgressing it leaves one without God; abiding in it blesses the adherent with “both the Father and the Son” (v. 9). Christians are to take a stand for the doctrine or teaching of Christ in their homes.

THE DISPOSITION FOR “WALKING IN TRUTH.” In 3 John,  the apostle presents the disposition essential for a successful and profitable walk with God by giving a brief study of Gaius, who was “walking in the truth and Demetrius, who enjoyed a “good report of all men, and of the truth itself” (v. 12). He contrasted their godly lives with the ungodly Diotrephes, who was self-focused and malicious. So, from both ends of the spectrum John gave clarity to the needed disposition for “walking in truth.”



Gary McDade

The word “gospel” is found 101 times in the New Testament. One of the most important presentations of the word is the observation given the reader by the apostle Matthew where the “gospel” was preached by the Lord Himself (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; cf. also: Mark 1:14; Luke 4:18; 20:1). Jesus Christ introduced the gospel into the world, personally declaring the gospel to be good news.

The word “gospel” comes from the original Greek word euvagge,lion. The lexicon of G. Abbot-Smith has its meaning to be “…good tidings…good news…the gospel” (A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 184). Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott have its meaning as “giver of glad tidings” (A Greek-English Lexicon, p. 705).

Every Christian knows this. A Christian is one who is Christ-like. In striving to be like Christ in every aspect of one’s life, a Christian must never overlook the foremost attribute of Christ in which He was a declarer of the good news of salvation to an otherwise hopelessly lost and dying world.

Isaiah saw even the feet of one declaring the gospel as a beautiful, uplifting sight (Isaiah 52:7). He knew “there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isaiah 57:21) without the gospel. And, this long-standing imagery was employed in the letter of Paul to the Romans to strengthen the concept in the minds of Christians that the declaration of the gospel is essential to salvation. He wrote, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15).

The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Retention of the fundamental points supporting the gospel of Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection, are vital to the ultimate salvation of the Christian (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). A Christian’s ability to articulate and defend the gospel is demonstrated by the apostle Paul in the remaining 54 verses of 1 Corinthians 15. In this regard, no amount of effort goes unrewarded, for Paul concluded, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (v. 58).

Christians must never forget that “the good news is good news,” and the world is in desperate need of the gospel of Christ. Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16).



Gary McDade

“Excuse: to make apology for…to try to remove blame from…to forgive entirely or overlook as of trivial import…to grant exemption or release to” (Webster’s, p. 433). Today’s article is on how the Lord looks on those who instead of putting Him and His kingdom first in their lives beg to be excused from serving Him. The following reading is from Luke 14:16-27.

Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and showed his lord these things.

Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper. And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

Please observe: All three of the excuses given were of themselves valid priorities, but in the face of their Lord’s invitation they angered Him that so great an honor would be so quickly and easily discounted as nothing.

Other, less prestigious, guests were invited to replace the original guests. The generous Lord wanted His house filled.

None of those that originally were bidden to the feast would be allowed to even taste of the Lord’s supper.

Christianity demands placing Christ above family. Christianity demands placing Christ above self. Those who will not place Christ first in their lives simply cannot be His disciple.

Christianity demands cross bearing. The cross is a metaphor for suffering. Those unwilling to suffer for Christ “cannot be His disciple.”

Christianity demands coming after Christ, following Him. Those unwilling to come after Him cannot be His disciple.

Shall we say, “I pray thee have me excused”? Even good excuses can be offered at the expense of one’s soul.



Gary McDade

The Bible is the only way “God speaks to us today.” The religions around us would agree that “God speaks to us today” through the Bible, but where churches of Christ differ from the rest is in our upholding the teaching that the Bible is the only way “God speaks to us today.”

The point of consensus among all professed Christians is 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” However, verse 13—the verse which proves the Bible is the only way “God speaks to us today”—is almost universally rejected. It says, “Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words” (ASV). Spiritual concepts are taught—not by feeling, not by intuition, not by supposition, not by imagination, but—by “spiritual words,” the words of the Bible.

The Scriptures must be “handled aright” (2 Timothy 2:15), and that means, in part, Scriptures cannot have their context ignored or altered and to do so changes their meaning. One section of Scripture those claiming “God speaks to us today” in addition to the Bible rely on is where Jesus promised to guide the apostles into all truth (John 16:13). This promise Jesus made the apostles began to be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost when the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). Once the entire New Testament was completed, Jesus’ promise to the apostles was fulfilled (Revelation 22:18-19).

Listen how ridiculously mistaken and misled people are in this error: “When Jesus returned to heaven, the Father sent the Holy Spirit to be God’s voice on earth. Now God speaks to each of us as individuals through the Holy Spirit, just as Jesus spoke to His disciples face to face. So whether the words came through Jesus while on earth, or now through the Holy Spirit, they are still God’s words!”  Listen to this: “Our part, then, is to listen closely for His direction, recognize His voice from among all the other voices that surround us, and then diligently follow His guidance. When we do, God will bless our obedience.” This is usually the point where the discussion stops and leaves the question, “How does God actually speak to us today?” But, this writer wanted to give an explanation and continued, “The prompting of the Holy Spirit is a bit hard to explain. It is often like knowing something without being told. We may not literally hear God’s words to us, but we understand His heart. It’s like a green light inside of us, telling us that God wants us to do something, or it can be like a red flag warning us that something’s not right” (Balance at the Speed of Life, Barb Folkerts (Tulsa, OK: Hensley Publishing, 2004), p. 129).

The position falls of its own weight due to the contradiction it contains. The writer said on the one hand the Holy Spirit talks to Christians today “just as Jesus spoke to His disciples face to face” and on the other hand it’s “a bit hard to explain. It is often like knowing something without being told.” You might think you know something without being told through feeling, intuition, supposition, or imagination, but Jesus never depended on those subjective means to communicate the Father’s will. He said, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). How venerable and skewed is a person’s imagined “faith” when they believe they know “something without being told”! and write that down in a book attempting to convince the reader with words! It is the sad truth that this is the basis of belief for the majority of people today by believing that what Jesus promised to the apostles He promised to everyone! Spiritual concepts are taught—not by feeling, not by intuition, not by supposition, not by imagination, but—by “spiritual words,” the words of the Bible (1 Corinthians 2:13, ASV).



Gary McDade

As disciples of Christ our Lord taught us to “pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2).

Marketing schemes do not give the increase. A well-designed and implemented marketing scheme may help get the gospel message out to the public, but of themselves marketing schemes do not give the increase.

Social media does not give the increase. The power of social media to reach out to the public is very impressive, but of itself social media does not give the increase.

Public opinion surveys do not give the increase. Researching what people want and giving it to them may sell a lot of product and create happiness and even excitement with people, but public opinion does not give the increase.

Generational directed promotions do not give the increase. While each generation—boomers, x-ers, millennials—have their uniquely characteristic likes and dislikes that either appeal or disinterest, generational directed promotions do not give the increase.

“Who gives the increase?” The Lord of the harvest; He gives the increase. The apostle Paul wrote, “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7).

The details of how this increase is given is explained by Jesus Christ in His famous parable of the seed and the sower in Luke 8.

A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear (Luke 8:5-8).

“And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be?” (v. 9).

And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience (vv. 10-15).

Since “God gives the increase,” we must always keep in mind that while some outreach methodologies may have their place, nothing will ever replace teaching and preaching the Word of God and no increase can ever come where God’s Word is not preached and taught. Therefore may we “pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2).




  Gary McDade

Jesus said, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35). In this admonition Jesus does two things: One, He indicts procrastination, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?” and, two, He invigorates perspective, “Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” The context of the chapter in which this admonition appears supports the view that evangelism involves enthusiasm.

The central text of this lesson holds within it the keys to maintaining enthusiasm for the salvation of the lost. As stated from the outset they are: One, the indictment of procrastination, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?” and, two, the invigoration of perspective, “Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”  That which the disciples were not to say and that which they did not see constituted barriers over which they must come in order to attain the enthusiasm Christ wanted them to have for evangelism.

They were not to say harvest time was four months away because they were not working in the barley fields, but, rather, they were to harvest souls, and that kind of harvest carries with it an urgency that must be respected. James wrote, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). Death is an unavoidable appointment, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). And, following death stands the judgment bar of God. On that momentous day Paul reflected, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.  Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:10-11a).

They presently could not see the ripe condition of the harvest fields of the souls of men that like bowing heads of grain were ready to be garnered. In order to see them Jesus said they had to “lift up your eyes, and look on the fields.” They were not looking up at the fields ripe with souls. At what were they looking? Were they looking at making a living for their families? Were they looking at “the cares and pleasures of this world”? Were they looking at the prospects they had for the future they wanted? Were they looking at the busy multitudes that seem to have posted a “do not disturb” sign over their lives? Were they looking at the daily routine by which they were captivated? The fields “white unto harvest” possessed the potential to invigorate the disciples to the point of relinquishing other pressing interests. By lifting up their eyes and by looking on the fruitful fields they would receive the enthusiasm for souls their Master and Lord possessed. Evangelism involves enthusiasm.

Our enthusiasm for the evangelism of our community emerges from both refusing to say things that suggest procrastination of the effort that needs to be expended and from seeing the people around us as did our Lord, that is, souls He came to save an will save when they are reached with the gospel of Christ.



By Hugh Fulford

By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Moses declared, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).  He also affirmed that “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:6).  He further stated: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day” (Exodus 20:11).  None of these inspired texts have footnotes allowing for the possibility of the evolutionary hypothesis.

The prophet Isaiah said, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).  Matthew, an apostle of Christ, quoted this passage from Isaiah and applied it to the birth of Christ (Matthew 1:22-23).  There is no footnote in the divine text that indicates Christ was actually conceived in the womb of Mary by Joseph or any other man.

Daniel, a prophet of God, predicted: “And in the days of these kings (the Roman Emperors, hf) the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44).  There is no footnote to this text to indicate that God might have to delay His plan to establish His kingdom and establish the church as a substitute.  The New Testament reveals that the church is that kingdom (Matthew 16:18-19; Mark 1:14-15; Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-4; Acts 2:47; Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 12:28).

Christ affirmed: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  The apostle Peter said of Christ, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  There is no footnote to either of these inspired texts to indicate that God might change His mind and save people in some way other than by Christ.

Jesus said, “Therefore, I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).  There is no footnote to this text indicating that there might be the possibility of a person being saved without believing in Christ.

The apostle Paul affirmed, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).  The passage has no footnote indicating some way into Christ where all spiritual blessings (including salvation) are found (Ephesians 1:3; II Timothy 2:10) other than by baptism into Christ.

Paul further declared, “Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).  There is no footnote indicating that if it is not convenient to bury (immerse) a person in the waters of baptism then sprinkling or pouring a little water on the person will be acceptable.

Jesus promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18), the New Testament affirms that the church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23), and further declares that “there is one body” (Ephesians 4:4).  Christ prayed for the unity (oneness of all who would believe in Him (John 17:20-21), and Paul rebuked division among Christians and the wearing of human names (I Corinthians 1:10-13).  None of these passages have footnotes to indicate that at some future date denominations and religious parties among professing Christians would be approved of the Lord.

Acts 20:7 provides an approved apostolic example of the Lord’s Supper being eaten on the first day of the week.  Every week has a first day.  The text contains no footnote signifying that men may later decide—with the Lord’s approval—to change the day and the frequency for the observance of the Lord’s Supper.

Paul instructed, “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says” (I Corinthians 14:34).  To Timothy the evangelist he wrote, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.  And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence” (I Timothy 2:11-12).  There is no footnote to either of these texts indicating that because of later changing culture in the 20th and 21st centuries women preachers would be acceptable.

May we have the simple faith and the unyielding courage to take God’s word as it is, without attaching our humanly devised footnotes to it.

Hugh Fulford

March 28, 2017




Gary McDade

The many years of slavery in Egypt were over. God’s law through Moses had been delivered. It was time to spy out the Promised Land for possession. “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them. And Moses by the commandment of the Lord sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel” (Numbers 13:1-3, emphasis added).

The tribes of Judah and Ephraim chose well in their respective selections of Caleb and Joshua to represent them. 202 times Joshua is mentioned in Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, the book that bears his name, Judges, 1 Samuel, and 1 Kings. He was a valiant warrior as seen in Exodus 17 during Israel’s battle with the Amalekites which resulted in Moses building an altar named Jehovah-Nissi, meaning “Jehovah my banner” to praise God for His help (Keil and Delitzsch, vol. 1, p. 374). And, when selected by his family and tribe to spy out the land, after the forty-day mission he stood with Caleb who declared, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). The ten faithless spies discouraged the hearts of the people with chatter about strong people, walled cities, and giants and their fateful words “they are stronger than we” (Numbers 13:31). The ten faithless spies so discouraged the people they wanted to return to Egypt! (How soon they forget!) When Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before the congregation “Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the Lord delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not” (Numbers 14:6-9). As the people “bade stone them with stones” the Lord stepped in with His notice of disinheritance for the faithless people and the verdict of death by a plague for the faithless ten spies (vv. 10-39).

Forty years later during the conquest of Canaan now as an 85 year-old-man, Caleb brought the commander Joshua a request for Hebron to be given as the inheritance for the tribe of Judah. This is that territory that most frightened the ten spies, yet its walled cities and legendary giants, the Anakims, were no match for the courage of Caleb who said, “Give me this mountain” (Joshua 14:12). Joshua granted his request and the Lord give him the victory because Caleb “wholly followed the Lord God of Israel” (v. 14).

“We see today what they saw then.” May the faithfulness, courage, and optimism of Joshua and Caleb be what possible coming generations who look back to our time see in us.



Gary McDade

After Peter denied Jesus three times, Jesus asked him three times “lovest thou me?”

Peter’s denial: “Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples” (Matthew 26:31-35). “ … What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee? Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:66-75).

Peter’s affirmation: “So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).

As the elders of the church look out over the empty seats where once faithful Christians sat, the question Jesus asked His disciple who denied him seems valid to ask, “Lovest thou me?” Peter’s confident statement: “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee,” turned meaningless when the cares of the world crept in. That which has grown in the hearts of these once faithful Christians is the cares of the world and the lust of other things. Peter made his way back to Christ by renewing his commitment to serving the Master and ultimately giving his life for Him (v. 18). Everyone, in the church and out, are seeing what you are doing with Christ now, and no one has to speculate what Christ will do with you when He returns. Remember, it was Peter who later wrote, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (2 Peter 2:20-21). Can you imagine how Peter felt that day when Jesus asked him, “Lovest thou me?”



Gary McDade

The book of Deuteronomy contains 959 verses. Every one of them is inspired of God and vital to the theme of the book, which is “Moses prepares a new generation to enter the Promised Land.” At this moment, our space limitations allow us to emphasize only five of these vital verses.

God’s promises to Abraham to expand his descendants and give him the Promised Land are now being fulfilled.

God’s Word cannot be altered.

God’s ten commandments, including the observance of the Sabbath day, were not a part of God’s previous covenant.

God’s greatest command-ment is to fully and sincerely love Him.

God’s Word is essential to spiritual and eternal life.

DEUTERONOMY 1:8-10: “Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them. And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone: The Lord your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude.”

DEUTERONOMY 4:2 (& 12:32):  “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”

DEUTERONOMY 5:3: “The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.”

DEUTERONOMY 6:5: ”And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (See also: Matthew 22:36-38).

DEUTERONOMY 8:3: “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.”



Gary McDade

The martyr Stephen told of Moses’ birth and formative education: “In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father’s house three months: And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds” (Acts 7:20-22). Out of these roots grew not only one of the greatest leaders in Israel’s history but one of the greatest leaders in all the world’s history. Until “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” Moses was incomparable in character and as a lawgiver. Regarding his character, Numbers 12:3, says, “(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth).” Regarding his role as a lawgiver God spoke to Moses, “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him” (Deuteronomy 18:18-19). The fact that none would exceed Moses until Christ is affirmed by the apostle Peter in Acts 3:22-23: “For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.”

The life of Moses may be divided into three forty year periods.

  1. Moses in the Wonderland Watching (40 years).
  2. Moses in the Wilderness Waiting (40 years).
  3. Moses in the Wilderness Wandering (40 years).

The placement of Moses’ writing at the head of the 66 books of the Bible establishes the formidable character of the man Moses. If ever there was a profitable character study of a man serving with distinction under duress, Moses would qualify without equivocation. He was met with crisis in his birth, as he reached manhood, and as he led a stubborn and rebellious people to a land of great reward long promised as a crowning achievement of the last third of his eventful life. As the last words of the Pentateuch state, Moses was a unique individual, “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, In all the signs and the wonders, which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses showed in the sight of all Israel” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12).



Gary McDade

When Byron Henbest from Potter Children’s Home was speaking to us a couple of Wednesday nights ago, as he was describing the living nightmare so many children in our society are put through, it occurred to me that due to widespread systemic indifference and neglect we are making our children pay an unbelievably high price for our lifestyles. Byron and the staff at Potter’s are trying their best to do something about it in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Something must be done about it right here at home. While only a speck in a man-made universe of chaos, I want to help by trying to identify the price our children are paying and will continue to pay. Maybe someone entrusted with the life of a precious child will want to change the course they are setting him or her on.

We’ve read it a million times but it does no good unless it is applied to the children under our own roof. The Bible says, “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Deuteronomy 6:5-9; see the corresponding New Testament teaching in Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21). But, what is the price our children are paying and going to pay when this is not being done? Read it in Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”

Now, what happens when God forgets our children because of their biblical ignorance? Let’s read again in Romans 1: “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Romans 1:24-32).

2 Corinthians  12:14

“For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.”


Gary McDade

A deep insight into the nature of God is presented by “the disciple whom Jesus loved” in his first epistle when he wrote, “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). A very healthy spiritual attitude is reflected in the desire for “more love to thee, O God.”

A view of this desire through the eyes of the inspired Psalmist will prove uplifting and edifying.

“O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes.” “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee; O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” “I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.” “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” “Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works.” “Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.” “I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed. And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.”

“Thou art my portion, O Lord: I have said that I would keep thy words. I entreated thy favor with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy word. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.” “The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy: teach me thy statutes.” “Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.” “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes. The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.”

“Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that I may live; for thy law is my delight.” “Quicken me after thy loving kindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.”

“O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me. How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”


Psalm 119:5, 9-11, 15, 18, 27, 33, 46-47, 57-60, 64, 68, 71-72, 88, 97-105.




This letter is written in sincere love and deep appreciation for all faithful Christian secondary schools, colleges, universities, Schools of Preaching, and Bible Institutes.  I am a beneficiary of a Christian education (both high school and college), and have long been a proponent and supporter (financially and otherwise) of Christian education.   Therefore, nothing that is said in this “Open Letter” is to be construed to mean that I am opposed to an academic education that takes place in institutions that are dedicated to providing a genuine Christian education (i.e., an education that honors the teaching of the divinely inspired word of God). 

A cursory examination of the history of the schools that have been started by those dedicated to the restoration of apostolic Christianity reveals that many of them no longer are true to the principles on which they were founded, including nearly all of these established in the 19th century.  In fact, many of the 19th century schools no longer exist.  In the last forty or so years, we have seen several formerly very faithful Christian colleges/universities depart from the principles on which they were established.  If those who founded them could know what is being taught in those schools now, they would, as we often say, “roll over in their graves.” 

Several schools among us now have within their Bible Departments and Schools of Theology professors who no longer hold to the validity of the restoration plea and the New Testament concept of the church.  To them, the church is just another denomination, the Bible is not inerrant, baptism is not necessary to the remission of sins, baptism is not exclusively immersion, instrumental music in worship is not wrong, women may preach and take other leading roles in the work and worship of the church, the homosexual lifestyle is defensible, the New Testament does not set forth a pattern that is to govern the people of God throughout all the ages, ad infinitum.

The Bible lectureships (which in some cases are no longer billed as Bible lectureships but as “Celebrations,” “The Summit,” etc.) of some of the schools have become platforms for denominational speakers to set forth their corrupted versions of “Christianity.”  A female Episcopal priest, a female Lutheran pastor (and an ardent defender of the LGBTQ agenda), and an Anglican Bishop have been among those used by some of the schools in just very recent times.  Denominationalists serve in the administration of at least one of the schools.

Other schools have not gone as far as those mentioned above, but some of them seem to be flirting with the possibility of moving in that direction. Some seem to be quite uncertain as to whether they will stay true to the principles on which they were founded or capitulate to the religious pluralism of the age.  NONE (and I do mean NONE, not even the most conservative schools among us) is immune to the danger of compromise and the very real threat of apostasy! 

The Bible lectureships of our Christian colleges, universities, Schools of Preaching, and Bible Institutes need, in my judgment, to be times of faithful preaching of the word of God and deep, rich Bible study.  They should not be planned and conducted as public relations events in order to see how many different speakers can be invited to fill as many different slots on the program as possible.  Able, seasoned gospel preachers need to be invited to speak several times during the course of the lectureship, addressing on a daily basis a relevant biblical theme.  Some of my fondest memories of the Freed-Hardeman University Bible Lectureship are of hearing on a daily basis such Bible stalwarts and scholars as Gus Nichols, G. K. Wallace, Franklin Camp, Guy N. Woods, Thomas B. Warren, Roy Deaver, Alan Highers, William Woodson, and others.  I would make an earnest appeal to Freed-Hardeman and other loyal schools to again incorporate this kind of format into their lectureship programs.

In 1950, the theme of the Harding College (now University) Bible Lectureship was “Restoring the New Testament Church – A Present Need.”  I wonder if it is not time for this theme to again be addressed by all of our Christian colleges and universities!  It has been a long time since I have seen this as a theme for any of our schools’ lectureship programs.  Will Lipscomb do it?  Will Abilene?  Will Pepperdine?  Will Harding, Oklahoma Christian, Faulkner, Freed-Hardeman?  Will our Schools of Preaching and Bible Institutes do it? 

A host of relevant topics could be developed: The Church in God’s Eternal Purpose, The Church in Prophecy and Preparation, The Church Established, Who/What is the Church?, Getting a Clear, Biblical Concept of the Church, The Singularity and Unity of the Church, The Identify of the Church, Is the Church of Christ Just Another Denomination?, Overcoming Denominational Tendencies and Terminology (I know a former Head/Chairman of the Bible Department/Religious Division of one of our schools whose language is rife with denominational terminology, yet he does not recognize it or else he has too much pride to admit it), Non-denominational Descriptors of the Church, The Organization of the Church, The Work of the Church, The Worship of the Church,  The Role of Women in the Church, The Church Victorious, etc., as well as a thorough examination of the validity and relevance of the restoration plea.

Tell us, school administrators and lectureship directors, why such a theme would not be exceedingly relevant in our day!  Tell us why able, seasoned men could not be found to address these subjects, some of them in serial, in-depth fashion during several days of the lectureship program!  Would not such a program be a great boon to the effort to restore and be the undenominational church of the Bible?  Are we not facing a desperate need for such in our own day and time?

My wife and I recently heard a fine young man, an associate minister of a good church (he has since been selected to be the regular preacher for a fine congregation), deliver an outstanding sermon on “Jesus and the Samaritan Woman” (John 4:1-26).  He did not attend a Christian college or study in the Bible Department or School of Theology of one of our schools.  He did not attend a School of Preaching or a Bible Institute.  He graduated from one of our large state universities.  Yet, his exposition of the text and application of it was “spot on.”  His observations about true worship were true to the Book. He had done his Bible homework!  My wife and I both remarked what a contrast his sermon was to what we sometimes hear from young men coming out of our Christian colleges and their Bible Departments and Schools of Theology (even the most highly respected and conservative of them). 

The church of our Lord can and will survive without a single one of the schools. All of them can apostatize if they so choose, but the gates of Hades will not prevail against the church.  But what an asset the schools could be if they would remain rooted in the Scriptures rather than being so enamored of denominational theologians, denominational theology, and denominational divinity schools, and if they would stay true to the principles on which they were founded!   

The apostle Paul warned that “in the last days perilous times will come” (II Timothy 3:1).  Morally, doctrinally, religiously, and spiritually we are in such times.  Those who serve on the Boards of our schools have a great responsibility to see that the schools stay true to the faith of the gospel.  Board members need to be held accountable for the decisions they make regarding those who will lead these institutions and for the direction of the schools.  The presidency of our schools seems to be changing with greater frequency than in former days.  This makes for instability in the school.  The kind of man chosen to head a school is vital to the future spiritual safety, soundness, and integrity of the school.

In the June 1, 1893 issue of the Gospel Advocate, V. M. Metcalf wrote, “May God grant that the church related schools today remain loyal to the ideal for which they were established.”  Was there concern even back then over the direction of some of the schools?

In Sincere Christian Love,

Hugh Fulford

January 24, 2017



Gary McDade

Every faithful Christian wants to help the needy and is aware of Our Lord’s teaching in Matthew 25:40, “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” In a society like ours one challenge we face is uncovering the legitimacy of the need. There is so much drug and alcohol abuse the line may quickly be crossed from actually helping someone to enabling their destructive behavior. Thankfully, we have dedicated, transparent groups like Pine Vale Children’s Home in Corinth, Mississippi which we support out of the church treasury here at Tiftonia where we can rest assured our help is conscientiously applied to meet the needs of orphans.

Another children’s home like Pine Vale is Potter’s Children’s Home in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Potter’s Children’s Home traces its beginning all the way back to 1901 when Clinton and Mary Potter started Potter Bible College in memory of their son, Eldon, making Potter’s one of the oldest children’s homes in the brotherhood. Regarding transparency, www.potterministries.org is the website for the home where things like their contact information, history, staff, and financials are posted for the world to see.

One way all of us can pitch in and help the needy at Potter’s Children’s Home is to participate in their 2017 food drive. It is called “Commodities Outreach Program” and while there are a variety of ways to help, we want to collect needed pantry items. They have written to us saying, “We have all seen our grocery bill rise constantly over the last several years. The cost of meat, milk, eggs, fresh fruit and vegetables are higher than we have ever seen. At the present time we have 60 residents not counting our foster parents and their children. It takes a lot of groceries to feed this group!”

David Byrd has volunteered to organize the collection of the needed pantry items from us here at Tiftonia. Carlos Molina will be here Wednesday, February 1st, to collect the items we bring. If you’d like to help the needy in this way, here’s your chance!



Needed Pantry Items:

Diapers Sizes 2, 3, & 4

Dryer Sheets

Mac & Cheese Mixes

Miracle Whip


Bring your items to the church building by Wednesday night, February 1st



Gary McDade

In the Church Manual issued by The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (1942), “Section XI—Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists” items six and seven state:

  1. That the will of God as it relates to moral conduct is comprehended in His law of ten commandments; that these are great moral, unchangeable precepts, binding upon men in every age. Ex. 20: 1-17.
  2. That the fourth commandment of this unchangeable law requires the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath. This holy institution is at the same time a memorial of creation and a sign of sanctification, a sign of the believer’s rest from his own works of sin, and his entrance into the rest of soul which Jesus promises to those who come to Him. Gen. 2: 1-3; Ex. 20: 8-11; 31: 12-17; Heb. 4: 1-10.

The position then is the Ten Commandments are “binding on men in every age”: Patriarchal (Genesis), Mosaical (Exodus-Malachi), and Christian (Matthew-Revelation).

About the fathers in the Patriarchal age, the Bible says:


The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.

So, the Lord did not make a covenant with “our fathers,” the patriarchs, commanding Sabbath day observance in the book of Genesis.

The New Covenant for the Christian age says:


For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

So, the Lord did not make a covenant with us in the Christian age commanding Sabbath day observance in the New Testament.

Therefore, the Church Manual of the Seventh-day Adventists stands in opposition to the Word of God, the Bible. In order for the Word of God to attain the desired effect, it must be received into “an honest and good heart” (Luke 8:11, 15). We appeal to the conscience of Seventh-day Adventists to see the error of their way and believe the Bible.




(Please see orignal article below this article)

Gary McDade

Mark Brandon, “pastor” of the Tiftonia Baptist Church and author of “God’s Simple Plan of Salvation” tract (published and copyrighted in 2007 by Lifegate, Inc., P.O. Box 5, Monrovia, IN 46157), read the article I wrote, “The ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ Is Not In The Bible,” over the phone to me, and we discussed it for a couple of hours. I had written a letter to him and enclosed a copy of the article requesting we discuss it. I appreciate his call.

One point he brought out in the discussion germane to the article was that he does not believe a person must say the “sinner’s prayer” in order to be saved. I find that interesting since the practice is universal among Baptists today. It is true that in the eighteen articles upon which the Baptist Church depends for its identity today (www.sbc.net/bfn2000) the “sinner’s prayer” is not found. Since the “sinner’s prayer” is admittedly not in the Bible nor is it in the creed of the Baptist Church, then why do Baptists urge people to pray it? Why point people away from the Bible and their own creed?

Mark Brandon’s tract containing the “sinner’s prayer” and his admission that it is not in the Bible stand in conflict with each other. The two statements contradict each other. His tract says, “…I know I am a sinner…I now receive Him as my Savior…I thank you for the forgiveness of my sins….” The impression firmly is left that a person praying this prayer starts out a sinner and winds up in a saved state. But, the Baptist preacher says praying this prayer is not necessary to become a Christian.

Some questions: (1) Why pray it at all if it is not necessary and does not bring a sinner into a saved state? (2) Why take the position that a sinner must believe then tell him to believe in a prayer and pray it when it is not even in the Bible? (3) Doesn’t “faith come by hearing and hearing by the word of God”? (Romans 10:17). How can this be a prayer of faith if the Bible nowhere contains such a prayer? (4) Why doesn’t the “sinner’s prayer” conform to the teaching of Jesus on prayer? He taught, “Ask in my name” (John 16:23), but none of the models of the “sinner’s prayer” conclude that way. They teach a person to end the prayer with just the word “amen.” Is it because the petitioner is not a Christian yet? Is it because since the prayer is not in the Bible it doesn’t harmonize with the will of God and, therefore, cannot be prayed in Jesus name? (5) Why would someone say as does Mark Brandon, “Salvation is Christ plus nothing,” and then add a prayer never once mentioned in the Bible?



Gary McDade

The Tiftonia Baptist Church is distributing a tract that teaches the so-called “sinner’s prayer.” Mark Brandon, the “pastor,” there teaches in the tract that a sinner “gets saved” when he prays the following prayer: “Oh, God, I know I am a sinner. I believe Jesus was my substitute when He died on the Cross. I believe His shed blood, death, burial, and resurrection were for me. I now receive Him as my Savior. I thank You for the forgiveness of my sins, the gift of salvation and everlasting life, because of Your merciful grace. Amen.” Several of those words are in the Bible—God, sinner, believe, Jesus, cross, blood, death, burial, resurrection Savior, forgiveness, salvation, everlasting life, merciful, and grace—in order to make it look like the “sinner’s prayer” is in the Bible. But, it is not and here is how you know it is not in the Bible.

John 9:31

“Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.”

Baptist Church Teaching

God hears sinners.

Bible Teaching

“God heareth not sinners.”

Which For You?

The teaching of the Baptist Church contradicts the teaching of the Bible. Each person must decide which it will be for him or her. The Baptists know the “sinner’s prayer” is not in the Bible. They all admit that not only is there no definite form of it but also there is no verse in the Bible containing it. They have taught it this wrong way for generations so that now if you point out the error of it they are offended because so many they know have believed it. As Jesus said this makes “the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition” (Matthew 15:6). It makes a person’s worship vain to be “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).


If the prayer of a sinner would bring salvation, Saul of Tarsus would have been saved before the preacher Ananias came to him as directed by the Lord and said, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Prayer could not wash away his sins, for he had been praying for three days; only baptism could do that. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). Baptism is how a sinner calls on the name of the Lord, not by praying the “sinner’s prayer” which is not found anywhere in the Bible.



Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16a, NKJV).  If a new car dealer published a notice in the newspaper that said, “He who believes and is baptized will receive a new car,” would anyone show up at the dealership and say, “I believe, therefore I am here to get my new car, and I will be baptized later as a sign to show that I received the new car”?  Isn’t it funny how easily we can understand something that involves a material prize, but then deny the plain words of Christ when it comes to the heavenly prize, the salvation of our soul?

The thinking of some brethren who make fun of doing exactly what the Lord says with reference to salvation from sin seems to run something like this: He who believes (more or less), repents (after a fashion), and is baptized (by some “mode”) shall be saved (to a certain extent).  I marvel at how some can mock doing exactly what the Lord said, in the way He said to do it, and for the reason He said to do it.


 “Grace makes salvation possible; obedient faith makes salvation actual” (Batsell Barrett Baxter, “The Family of God,” p. 39, italics his).



“I love to think that my life should spring from his death; my healing from his wounds; my glory from his shame. If God forsake him not, I cannot be accepted. If thorns press not his temples, I can never wear a crown of glory. Now, in the grave he lies; he must conquer death, or I must sleep forever. If there ever was a time when all the harps of heaven were still, and not one note of angelic music sounded through the skies, ’twas when that lifeless, mangled form was lying in the rich man’s tomb! But the voice of God pierces the gloom and silence of the grave; angels attend upon his second birth (a reference to Christ’s resurrection, His birth from the grave, hf); with a glorious escort he passes upward in his chariot of clouds, and enters in through the everlasting gates. Those doors were closed when Adam fell; they now receive the conqueror of sin and death. And, glorious thought! They are still unbarred; and I and you, and all that follow him in life, shall one day enter through the gates into the everlasting city of our God” (“Raccoon” John Smith, The Life of Elder John Smith, John Augustus Williams, p. 565).


 The church of Christ is not only undenominational, but it is pre-denominational!  It existed before any denomination—either Catholic or Protestant—was ever established.  The Lord’s church (and that is the sole significance of the descriptor “church of Christ,” i.e., the church that belongs to Christ) was established in the city of Jerusalem in c. A.D. 30 as we read in Acts 2.  The gates of Hades have not prevailed against that church (Matthew 16:18), and it still exists today.  One can become a member of it by obeying the gospel, being saved from sins, and being added to it by the Lord (Acts 2:47).  That is what happened on the day the church began, and that is what still happens today when people do what the people did on that occasion.  If when people read the New Testament they would remove their denominational spectacles and lay aside their religious traditions, the beauty of undenominational, New Testament Christianity would shine through in all its radiant splendor and divine power.


 It takes great courage as well as great humility for one to admit that he or she has been wrong religiously and to leave a family religious tradition for the truth of God’s word, but our destination in eternity hangs in the balance.  “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37). 


 “The young can run faster, but the old know the shortcuts”(Jens Weidmann), i.e., they know how to run “smart.”

  “The young can run faster but sometimes take off in the wrong direction” (Anonymous).

 As we prepare to enter a new year, let us take to heart the wisdom of Solomon who said, “The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong” (Ecclesiastes 9:11).  Life is not a matter of speed, but of direction.

 Hugh Fulford

December 27, 2016


Taking The Lord’s Name In Vain
First let me say by way of commentary on this commandment, we are definitely going to have to watch our mouth, what we say, as the children sing in the familiar song. The name of God is precious and should never be used in a casual, slang, and vain sort of way. To use His name to vent our frustrations, to make a more powerful exclamation, or to curse someone we are disgusted with, is improper use of it. Like valuable china we handle with care, in contrast to everyday eating ware which we may throw into the dishwasher or onto the counter, so our handling of God’s name should be with care.
And as an added note, be careful about euphemisms. Webster’s dictionary says a euphemism is the substitution of an inoffensive or mild expression for one that may offend. Words like, “Golly” and “gosh” are a substitute for “God”. “Geez” for “Jesus”; “Krikey” for “Christ”; “Darn it” for “Damn it”, etc. Now you might say that you don’t think of God when you use such. Well, that is just the point. We are not to take the Lord’s name without serious thought or in vain.
But there is another idea contained within the third commandment of the so called Ten Commandments. The name of God was not to be “taken” into any situation vainly or without consequence. For instance, Deuteronomy 23:21-23 forbade any vowing with the Lord’s name going unfulfilled. They had to follow through with any promise made before the Lord. If it involved the paying of a debt or bringing an offering, they were not to delay in filling the obligation. Today we are to give on the Lord’s Day as we have “purposed” (II Cor. 9:7). Let us be sure we do not fail to follow through with our planned commitment to Him.
 In Matthew 6:7, Jesus warned about some prayers being worthless in the use of vain repetitions. When calling upon God in prayer, do so with your heart as well as your lips, for God’s name is not to be taken in vain. To invoke the name of God in an invocation (prayer) is to call God into consideration in a situation. Do so soberly and with reverence.
And last of all, Christ said some worship Him in vain by teaching for doctrines the commandments of men and also by worshipping only with their lips (Matt. 15:8-9). When we worship God our way, we are calling on His name in vain. When we sing with our lips, but have our hearts far from Him, we take His name in vain! Worship is not the acts of worship, but the heart behind them. God told the people in Isaiah’s day (Isa. 1:11-16) that he hated their activities of service and worship. These were things He had prescribed, but no longer accepted, due to their unfaithful lives away from these things. Today, might not the Lord say, “I despise your contribution, I hate your singing of hymns, and I abhor your eating of my Supper?” He would, if we somehow think that simply going through the motions of worship is enough. That is vain formalism! Remember: where there is no heart, there is no worship!
So, do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Guard your tongue, that it not speak vainly of the Lord. If you make a promise before God, do not vainly fail to follow through. When you pray, think of what you are saying. And do not be deceived in accepting yourself the thoughtless worship you offer. It is vain and the Lord will not.
Whit Sasser


Gary McDade

An individual surely has “I” trouble when he sees life through the material possessions that may be gained instead of seeing the array of good uses to which those riches may be put. A man known only to us as “the rich fool” illustrates the trait. Jesus said, “The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16-21, emphasis added). Even those seemingly unsuccessful in gathering material goods and possessions may exhaust all their efforts to financially prosper at the expense of their soul by forsaking the assembly of the saints (Hebrews 10:25), failing to study the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15), and leading worldly lives (James 4:4).

The cure for “I” trouble was addressed by the Savior when He taught, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works” (Matthew 16:24-27). Jesus Christ invited all men and women everywhere to place him in first place in their lives. His first recorded sermon contained the plea, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

Serious spiritual sicknesses or sins may be cured by the cross and will not be cured without the patient reaching an understanding of it and identifying with the sacrifice it represents. The apostle Paul informed, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, emphasis added).


Gary McDade

The biblical organization of the church of Christ today with evangelists, elders, and teachers has this intended design: “for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12, NKJV). The following listing of Scriptures should help “equip the saints” who must “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

WHY DO YOU TALK SO MUCH ABOUT BAPTISM? “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16).

WHY DO YOU NOT USE INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IN YOUR WORSHIP? “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deuteronomy 4:2).

WHY ARE YOU CRITICAL OF OTHER PEOPLE’S RELIGION? “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). “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”(Matthew 7:21).

WHY DO YOU TALK SO MUCH ABOUT “GOING TO CHURCH”? “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries”( Hebrews 10:25-27).

WHY DO YOU TALK ABOUT “OBEYING THE GOSPEL” INSTEAD OF “GETTING SAVED”? “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him”(Hebrews 5:8-9). “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).



Gary McDade

The Bible is the only reliable map to our destiny. Long ago the Psalmist said, “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:24). Our friends are a great blessing. We depend on our friends. Luke wrote that Jesus spoke to this point, “And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth” (Luke 11:5-8). The wise man said, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

Everyone wants to have friends. Again, the wise man said, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). There is reciprocity in friendship. Marshall Keeble said, “I’d rather have friends than money, especially if my friends have money!”

The friends we choose mirror the values that make up our character, who we really are. And, in this sense “our friends are the map to our destiny.” Did you know that under the Old Testament no one, no false teacher or wicked person or even a family member or a friend, was to be tolerated if by his influence he tried to lead you away from God? That’s easy to see in connection with the false teacher or wicked person, but it is very, very hard to see in reference to a friend. The whole 13th chapter of Deuteronomy is about this subject. Moses wrote more severely than to say we should not tolerate a family member or friend who is trying to lead us away from God; God commanded such a person was to be stoned! Here are the verses:

If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers; Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you. (Deuteronomy 13:6-11).

Therefore, how vital to our destiny is the selection of those with whom we entrust our friendship.



Gary McDade

The church of Christ is different because unlike the many denominations dotting the religious landscape it is divine in its origin, design, work, and destiny. One way to show this distinction is to contrast the belief in the Bible held as sacred by members of the church of Christ with the belief in the Bible plus the various creed books upon which the denominations depend.

The All-Sufficiency of the Bible

The church of Christ literally believes in the statement found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which reads: “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.”

Disbelief in the All-Sufficiency of the Bible

Creed books contain distinctive teaching representing the major beliefs of the denomination that created them. These distinctions serve as barriers to fellowship with others who claim to believe the Bible. These creed books are a formal statement of the leadership and membership of the various denominations that they do not believe in the all-sufficiency of the Bible. If they did not believe this, then they would do away with their creed books.

A Few Examples

Southern Baptist Church                            The Baptist Faith and Message

On June 14th, 2000, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a revised summary of our faith.—sbc.net

Methodist Church                                       The Methodist Discipline

Just as creeds such as the Apostles’ Creed summarize the belief of all Christians, the Articles of Religion of The Methodist Church and the Confessions of Faith of The Evangelical United Brethren Church form a foundation of doctrine for United Methodists. They, along with Wesley’s Sermons on Several Occasions and Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament, are “standards” of doctrine for United Methodists.­­—umc.org

Presbyterian Church                                   The Westminster Confession of Faith

When the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America was formed in 1788, it adopted (with minor revisions) the Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger and Shorter Catechisms (1647), as its secondary standards (the Bible itself being the only infallible rule of faith and practice). Officers in the Presbyterian Church in America take a vow to “sincerely receive and adopt” these confessional documents “as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures.”—www.pcaac.org

The Church of Christ Is Different

Not only do members of the church of Christ say they believe the Bible is the only infallible rule of faith and practice, they practice it by not having any other sources of religious authority other than the Bible. This belief and practice keeps the church of Christ as it exists in the world today divine in its origin, design, work, and destiny

The  Time Is Near

The bible says, “Blessed is he who reads… for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3). The book of Revelation is probably the most misunderstood and abused books of the Bible. It is used to teach all kinds of speculative doctrines God never intended, The book begins and ends with a clearly stated time frame (Rev.1:1,3; 22:6, 10) The things revealed in the book were shortly to come to pass…in the 1st century. Therefore any far-fetched interpretation today, that has the book still mostly unfulfilled, ignores the book’s own instructed time-frame. Remember: Do not add to God’s book (Rev. 22:18).

Whit Sasser


Gary McDade

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Within this simple sentence is the great commission the Savior enjoined upon the church of Christ. A million things distract the people of God away from this clearly stated command of the risen Lord. Never loosing focus on the great commission “let’s keep preaching the gospel.” Four reasons to reiterate the gospel plan of salvation are offered for study and meditation.

…to reach the lost

“For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost” (Matthew 18:11). “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

…to respect the great commission

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 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 28:18-20).

…to be ready to give an answer

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

…to remind the saved

A reminder of righteousness: “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:21).

A reminder of responsibility: “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? 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” (Romans 6:16-18).

A reminder of reward: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).


 Gary McDade

              The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the foundation upon which entirety of Christianity rests. To the Corinthians, who apparently were struggling with the concept, Paul wrote, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain” (1 Corinthians 15:17a). A reading of 1 Corinthians 15—sometimes called “the resurrection chapter of the Bible”—will alieve concerns about the truthfulness of the resurrection; a study of it will strengthen the faith of the earnest seeker of salvation.

             Paul made no less than 11 arguments in support of the resurrection of Christ.

  The Argument from the Witnesses, vv. 1-11

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.”

 The Argument from the Preaching, vv. 12-13

            “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen.”

 The Argument from the Apostles’ Authority, v. 14a

“And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain.”

 The Argument from the Faith, v. 14b

            “… and your faith is also vain.”

 The Argument from the Genuineness of the Apostles, v. 15

“Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.”

 The Argument from the Power of God, v. 16

“For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised.”

 The Argument from the Hope of Salvation, v. 17

            “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”

 The Argument from the Sainted Dead, v. 18

            “Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.”

 The Argument from the Christian’s Hope, v. 19

 “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”

 The Argument from the Example Set by Others, v. 29

“Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?”

 The Argument from the Jeopardy of the Apostles, vv. 30-32

            “And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.”


            Any one of these arguments is sufficient to sustain the claim of the resurrection of the dead, but together they constitute an impenetrable fortress no unbeliever or skeptic will ever violate. At the beginning of the chapter Paul spoke of the need to keep these things in memory; at the end of the chapter Paul reassured Christians that their precious time and effort for Christ here is being effectively and efficiently spent. He said, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord,” v. 58.



Gary McDade

Salvation from sin indisputably is the greatest need our world has ever known. The entirety of the Bible has this need as its centerpiece. Jesus Christ is the central character in the Bible, and His purpose in coming into the world is inextricably linked to salvation from sin as is seen in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” “In the volume of the book it is written of me” is a parenthetical statement in Hebrews 10:7 showing that the Bible is the book about Jesus Christ and His eternal interest in the salvation of the world from sin.

The words “unto salvation” appear five times in the King James Version of the Bible, all of which are in the New Testament. The word “unto” is a preposition “used as a function word to indicate reference or concern” (Webster’s ninth, p. 1295). Studying these five occurrences of “unto salvation” will highlight valuable viewpoints of salvation.

The Scriptures

A knowledge of the Scriptures is vital to salvation. Paul wrote to Timothy, “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” (2 Timothy 3:15).

The Gospel

A knowledge of the gospel is vital to salvation. Paul wrote to the Romans, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

The Confession of Christ

A knowledge of the confession of Christ is vital to salvation. Again to the Romans Paul wrote, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10).

The Power of God

A knowledge of the power of God is vital to salvation.  Peter wrote to those “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5).

The Appearing of Christ

A knowledge of the appearing of Christ is vital to salvation. Clearly, no one could be looking for Christ to return who is without knowledge of what the Bible teaches on the subject. Paul wrote to the Hebrews, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).

An enticing look into “the salvation which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:10) has been gained by surveying the five appearances of the phrase “unto salvation” in the Bible.



Gary McDade

Alcoholism is a grave problem in the United States. While many programs exist to help a person recover perhaps Alcoholics Anonymous is among the best known. An obvious barrier to discussing the success of AA is the second “A” in AA—“Anonymous.” Participants’ privacy is crucial to the program. With this limitation in mind, here is information published by AA on the subject.

Long-Term AA Success Statistics

AA success statistics are often hard to gauge because of different variables, but statistics released in 2007 by AA reported on the success of AA members and the length of sobriety.

  • 31 percent of members were sober for less than a year’s time
  • 24 percent were sober for between one and five years
  • 12 percent were sober for between five and 10 years
  • 33 percent were sober for 10 or more years

These statistics do not show a failure rate, but they indicate how AA members do succeed in long-term sobriety. The average sobriety time of members that were surveyed was eight years. (www.rehabs.com).

Looking at the 12 Steps upon which a recovery is based, a fundamental key is the awareness and acknowledgement of God and, further, a desire to know and do His will. One reaches Step 3 when he or she has “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”  It is precisely here that membership and faithful attendance in all the services of the church of Christ can “make it work better” by authentic study of the Word of God, the Bible, and only by such a study may the one true God be known. The reality is that if an equal amount of time and effort were spent studying and memorizing the beautiful 19th Psalm with the same submissive attitude given the 12 Step program of AA the success rate of recovery would surpass it and any program, however highly regarded, that is designed by mere mortals. Our hearts go out to those struggling with the addiction of alcohol. Our considered and prayerful plea to each one affected is to avoid developing a flawed, skewed, or false understanding of the God of the universe by reading, studying, and meditating on the powerful Word of God, the Bible for it is “alive, 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). And, it is an infallible guide for correcting even the most serious problems encountered in life (Psalm 19:7).


There is certainly a sense in which the omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent Creator-God of heaven and earth rules over the entire universe.  In his benediction, Jude wrote: “To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen” (Jude 25).  On the other hand, nothing is more obvious than the fact that since the fall of mankind in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3), the majority of God’s creation has been in rebellion to Him.  The apostle John, writing to Christians near the end of the first century A.D., said, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the wicked one” (I John 5:19).  The apostle Paul showed that there are two spiritual realms when he affirmed that Christians have been delivered “from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13).  Everybody is in one or the other of these domains—the power of darkness (the kingdom of Satan) or the realm of spiritual light (the kingdom of God’s dear Son) (Cf. Ephesians 5:8).

 In the Old Testament God had a theocratic earthly kingdom composed of fleshly Israelites, the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. But this was not the ultimate kingdom that God had in mind for His people.  The prophet Daniel spoke of a kingdom that the God of heaven would set up during the fourth empire of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar’s vision (the days of the Roman emperors)—a spiritual kingdom “which shall never be destroyed . . . and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44).

 In keeping with this prophecy, both Christ and His forerunner, John the Baptist, were born and carried out their earthly ministries during the world-wide rule of Rome (Luke 2:1-7; Luke 3:1-6).  John’s message was: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2).  Shortly thereafter, Christ appeared on the scene and proclaimed the same message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).   Mark tells us, “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the gospel’ ” (Mark1:14-15).  To say that the kingdom of God was “at hand” was to say that it was near to being established. Just as Paul spoke of his departure (death) being “at hand” (not meaning that he had already died, but was approaching death—II Timothy 4:6), so both John and Jesus proclaimed that the long awaited kingdom of God was “at hand” (not meaning that it had already been set up, but that the time for its establishment was quickly approaching).

 Throughout His ministry, Jesus spoke many parables that emphasized various features of His soon-to-be-established kingdom (see Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 8; et al).  He instructed His disciples to pray for the kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10).  And while the disciples persistently misunderstood the nature of the kingdom (Matthew 18:1; Acts 1:6), Jesus emphatically stated: “My kingdom is not of this world . . . My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36).  Rather than earthly in nature, Christ’s kingdom is heavenly in nature.

 Christ said that the kingdom would come “with power” during the lifetime of some of His contemporaries (Mark 9:1).  Just before His ascension back to heaven, He told the apostles that they would receive power “when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8).  Thus, when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles the power came, and when the power came the kingdom came!  The second chapter of Acts tells of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost (verses 1-4).  On that occasion they preached the death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and coronation of Christ (Acts 2:22-36).  Daniel had prophesied: “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven (the ascension of Christ, Acts 1:9-11, hf)!  He came TO (not FROM, emphasis mine, hf) the Ancient of Days (a description of the eternal God, hf), and they brought Him near before Him.  Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall never pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed” (previously spoken of in 2:44) (Daniel7:13-14).

 Simply defined, the kingdom of God is the rule of God.  God’s kingdom is composed of innocent children who have not reached the age of accountability for “of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Luke 18:16). As ministering spirits, obedient angels are part of God’s kingdom (Hebrews 1:7, 14).  (It is worthy of note that some angels sinned, did not keep their proper domain, were cast down to hell [tartarus], and delivered into chains of darkness for the judgment of the great day [II Peter 2:4; Jude 6]. Clearly, they are not a part of God’s spiritual kingdom)!  

 It is sometimes alleged that the kingdom of God is composed of all who believe in Christ.  This view is advanced to downplay the necessity of actually obeying the gospel of Christ in order to be a citizen of the kingdom.  It is an effort to enlarge the umbrella and to include under the rule of God more than His word would allow. The demons believe and also tremble (James 2:19), but it would be ludicrous to say that they are citizens of God’s spiritual kingdom.  Some believed in Christ during His personal ministry, but they would not confess Him (John 12:42-43).  Jesus said if we will not confess Him before men, He will not confess us before the Father (Matthew 10:32-33).  A believer who will not confess Christ surely is not a part of God’s kingdom. Therefore, merely to believe in Christ is not sufficient for making one a citizen of God’s kingdom. 

 With reference to accountable humans, only those who have been “born again . . . of water and the Spirit” are citizens of the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5).  In so doing, they have been saved from their sins and added to the church (Acts 2:47), which is the same as being delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom (Colossians 1:13). From the standpoint of accountable humanity, the kingdom of God and the church are co-extensive in that only those persons who have obeyed the gospel and been added to the church are citizens of the kingdom.  If any accountable person since Acts 2 is in the kingdom of God but not a member of the body of Christ, the church, who is that person?!   

 At the end of time, Christ will deliver the kingdom to God the Father “that God may be all in all” (I Corinthians 15:24-28).  In the meantime, faithful preachers are to preach “the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:12), including how one enters the kingdom (John 3:3-5).  They are to be busy “preaching the kingdom ofGod” (Acts 20:25), and diligent in “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence” (Acts 26:31). As citizens of the kingdom, we are to make it our priority in life (Matthew 6:33).  We are to live in such a way that we might be preserved for the heavenly kingdom (II Timothy 4:18), and experience an abundant entrance “into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Peter 1:10-11)—heaven itself!

 Hugh Fulford 

August 16, 2016


(Part 1 of 2)

Gary McDade

The historical period from Malachi to Matthew contains no new revelation from God through prophet or priest and, while it commonly is referred to as the Intertestamental Period, because of this dearth of new divine revelation it is also known as “the 400 silent years.” In the land of the Bible, these years are rich in historical developments. The waning years of Alexander the Great’s Greek Empire (323-63 B.C.)1 saw political upheaval in Palestine with the exploits of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Greek King of the Seleucid Empire (175-164 B.C.), capturing the Jewish Temple area in Jerusalem and desecrating the altar of burnt offering by sacrificing swine’s flesh thereupon. His name, Epiphanes, means “God manifest,” but in a fitting play on words his enemies called him Epimanes which means “madman.” Interestingly, the prophet Daniel prophesied of these events in Daniel 11:29-35, 350 years before they came about!

In response, a country priest names Mattathias led a revolt against the army of the madman and by his Jewish countrymen Mattathias’ family came to be known as “the hammer” or “the Maccabees” (1 Maccabees 2:27). Mattathias had five sons who would carry on the resistance after his death: John, Simon, Judah, Eleazer, and Johnathan. Just before his death in 166 B.C. Mattathias placed his son Judah in the leadership role of the Maccabean Revolt. Ultimately, the Maccabees defeated Lysias, the madman’s most glorified general, at Jerusalem and regained control of the Temple. After cleaning up the Temple area, Judas and his brethren and the congregation of Israel ordained an annual celebration lasting 8 days beginning on the 25th day of Chislev (December) 165 B.C. This celebration continues today by the Jews and is called Hanukah (1 Maccabees 4:59).

A continuing defense of the independence of Judea was led by Simon Maccabees’ son John Hyrcanus, who was the High Priest from 134 to 104 B.C. The grouping of the succession of 9 High Priests from 153 to 37 B.C. is known as the Hasmonean Dynasty and represent both a source for the defense of Judah from outsiders and a source of internal strife including a civil war during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (103-76 B.C.). (See: The Complete Works of Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, pp. 427-605).

While the Bible is silent during these 400 years, historical sources like 1 Maccabees and the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus yield fairly reliable information concerning what was going on historically, politically, and religiously during this period of world and Bible history. In the next article the rise of the Roman Empire in 63 B.C. and the birth of Jesus Christ in 4 B.C. in Matthew’s gospel will bring “the 400 silent years” to a close and introduce the Savior to the world.


1Upon Alexander’s death at the age of 33 his worldwide kingdom was divided into 4 parts: Egypt, the Seleucid Empire, the Kingdom of Pergamon, and Macedon (including Greece).


(Part 2 of 2)

Gary McDade

The historical period from Malachi to Matthew comes to an end with the rise of the Roman Empire in 63 B.C. and the birth of Jesus Christ in 4 B.C. as recorded in Matthew 1 and 2. Some knowledge of these “400 silent years” where no message from God is revealed to prophet or priest is helpful in understanding from where so many developments not found in the Old Testament came.

New developments in the setting of the New Testament that emerged from this period include submission to Rome and the subdivision of Palestine into 5 parts: Judea, Samaria, Perea, Traconidus, and Galilee. Submission to Rome meant supervision politically, financially, and militarily by procurators like Archelaus (4 B.C.-A.D. 6) and Pontius Pilate (A.D. 26-36).

Synagogues where the Jews met for worship not only in Palestine but in many places throughout the Roman world indicate a scattering of the Jews by wars and uprisings during the period. These Jews come to be known as the Diaspora (“scattering, dispersion”) beginning with the Babylonian Captivity (606-536 B.C.) through the intertestamental period and especially following the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

The Sanhedrin high counsel of the Jews or council of the seventy (actually the number varied from 23 to 71) mentioned some 19 times in the New Testament and thought to descend from the 70 elders associated with Moses in, for example, Exodus 24:1, 9, is more prominent in the New Testament and is the body before whom Jesus and later the apostles were brought for judgment.

Finally, the sects of the Jews arise during the period between the Testaments. They are the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Herodians, the Zealots, and the Essenes. Each sect reflecting a different dimension of Jewish life in Palestine.

A study of this period of history helps provide the background for understanding the setting of the New Testament.

One recommended source for a study of this period is by Charles F. Pfeiffer called Between The Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1959).


Perhaps you recall me mentioning Tim LaHaye as one of the leading proponents of premillennialism with its abstractions and denials of the Bible who is responsible for writing The Left Behind series of books and movies. Tim LaHaye died July 25, 2016, at the age of 90. As you may know, he was retired as the “senior pastor” of the Shadow Mountain Community Church near San Diego, CA. And, it has been reported that his books sold 90 million copies.

I mention this development to show that the emphasis placed by religious people today on what they call “the rapture,” WHICH IS NOT IN THE BIBLE, not only stands against our Lord’s teaching on His second coming (Revelation 1:7: “Every eye shall see Him”—not just a few) but also inappropriately diverts everyone’s attention away from preparing for death, which is certain for all (Hebrews 9:27). People shouldn’t waste their time and money on faithless, fantasy fables. They should be reading and studying their Bibles and developing true Christian character.


Not here but in India. Ben Renegar of Fayetteville, Tennessee who works with Dave Nance, who visited with us recently to update us on the work in India, wrote in their current newsletter an article titled: “Winning Denominational Preachers.” As you know these brethren conduct many gospel meetings a year. They also conduct meetings called “Denominational Preachers Seminars” at which large numbers of denominational preachers attend. They have known for years that when you convert a denominational preacher you get not only him but his family and congregation. You may remember brother P.J. Joseph, who was with Dave on their recent visit with us, formerly was a Methodist preacher. Brother Renegar highlighted one line in his article that says, “Last year, a total of 4,995 denominational preachers were baptized through these programs.” Clearly, denominational preachers in India have more receptive and honest hearts than we see here in America.


Gary McDade

Think of how edifying it would be to see more and more people coming into Bible study and worship carrying his and her Bible. Here are some excellent reasons to do so.

  1. Because it is God’s Word.
  2. Because it will be studied.
  3. Because it will be preached.
  4. Because it is your textbook.
  5. Because it is practical to increase your learning.
  6. Because seeing the text provides you an additional stimulus in learning.
  7. Because you can notate your text for later review.
  8. Because it sets a good example for others.
  9. Because familiarity with your own Bible helps you locate passages later.
  10. Because it strengthens the argument that we are following God, not man.
  11. Because it shows visitors where our priorities are.
  12. Because it shows we are dedicated to living by it.
  13. Because it gives access to the context of any reading or discussion from it.
  14. Because it helps you pay closer attention to the lesson.
  15. Because silently reading appropriate passages helps to remember the Lord in His death during the Lord’s Supper.
  16. Because it helps in review of passages already committed to memory.
  17. Because both seeing and hearing deepens the impression and facilitates the memorization of it.
  18. Because it helps us prepare for the judgment day (John 12:48-49).
  19. Because it allows you to verify the preacher’s sermon is from the Bible.
  20. Because it helps you to participate in the service.
  21. Because it shows what is important to you.
  22. Because it may contain maps, cross references, a concordance, a dictionary, or outlines that will enhance the speaker’s presentation.
  23. Because Christians are commanded to read it (1 Timothy 4:13).
  24. Because Christians are commanded to study it (2 Timothy 2:15).
  25. Because Christ promised to bless those who read it (Revelation 1:3).

May we as Christians exclaim with the Psalmist, “O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). And, “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1).



Gary McDade

A comforting commitment Christ communicated to Christians comes in John 14:19-21, “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 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.” The concept of having Christ in you as a Christian ultimately points to “the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27-28 reads, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”

Paul’s preaching, warning, and teaching was designed to produce spiritual growth and maturity among all the Christians with whom he came in contact. For example, the Galatians were impacted by Judaizing teachers (those who were holding onto the Law of Moses and urging its observance among New Testament Christians), but Paul patiently preached, warned, and taught the gospel among them in hope that they might grow and mature as Christians. He wrote to them, “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you” (Galatians 4:19).

The figure of speech of “Christ being formed in you” emerges from the seed principle. In the physical realm every seed reproduces after its kind (Genesis 1:11-12). Just so in the spiritual realm, where “the seed is the Word of God” (Luke 8:11), it takes the Word of God planted in the heart of a person in order to produce a Christian.

Jesus mentioned two vital elements required for spiritual growth in Luke 8:15, “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” The two vital elements required for “Christ to be formed in you” are a heart that is (1) honest and (2) good. The heart that is lacking these two qualities will never beat in the chest of a Christian because the seed, which is the Word of God, will not grow within that “soil.”

Repentance from dishonesty and disinterest in that which is good cultivates the human heart to receive the good seed, the Word of God. The Bible teaches that people should “provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17). One fruit of the spirit stated in the list from Galatians 5:22 simply is “goodness.” May everyone who thinks on these things work to have “Christ formed in you.”


Gary McDade

Angry, empty-headed people who disrespect and disobey God. The Psalmist paints the verbal picture in Psalm 2:1-4.

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.

When those in authority, kings and rulers, conspire to free themselves from any attachment to God, “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh.”

The Psalmist next explains exactly what he means by “the Lord shall have them in derision,” a word meaning they become “an object of ridicule or scorn.”

Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel (vv. 5-9).

Bible students recognize within these verses the Messianic prophecy of the coronation of Christ who is now seated at God’s right hand “angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him” (1 Peter 3:22; cf. Hebrews 1). When societies, from the ruler or king right on down to the most common citizen, fail to show honor and respect for Jesus Christ, they are held in derision by the God of heaven.

What should rulers do? Be wise and serve Christ and show Him the respect and veneration He rightly deserves. The Psalmist advises, “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (vv. 10-12).

Gary McDade

Our Daily Bible Reading schedule published weekly in The Tiftonia Weekly brings us to the book of Isaiah. A little background goes a long way in enhancing our understanding of a book of the Bible we may be reading or studying. Here’s the dossier on the prophet Isaiah for your edification.

The Man Isaiah

Isaiah most likely was from Jerusalem since he “spent his early years as an official of King Uzziah (Azariah) of Judah” according to 2 Chronicles 26:22.1 Isaiah was married (Isaiah 8:3), and they had two sons whose names reflect elements of their father’s prophetic work. Shearjashub’s name means “a remnant shall return” (Isaiah 7:3). And, Mahershalalhashbaz’s name means “hasten to the spoil” (Isaiah 8:3). The dates during which Isaiah prophesied in the Southern Kingdom were 740 B.C. to 701 B.C.

The Message of Isaiah

As the names he gave his sons suggests, two of the main points of Isaiah’s prophetic work were to call attention to the impending judgment of Israel by removing them from Palestine and to give hope for the righteous remnant, being a tenth of the nation, who would be brought back out of captivity. Isaiah 6:12 -13 serves as a preface to the book, “And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.” In their prosperity they had taken their eyes off God and focused on idols and for this God would judge the nation (Isaiah 44-46).

The Messiah and Isaiah

Isaiah spoke to the setting of his time by discrediting any protective alliance for Israel with Assyria or Egypt urging the leadership to rather trust in God for deliverance. But, the deeper and more long-range dependency upon God would come not just from the return of a remnant of the nation from Babylonian Captivity but the arrival of the Savior of the world. Isaiah prophesied about the new law for all nations that would go forth from Jerusalem under the Messiah’s reign (2:1-5); the virgin birth of the Savior (7:14), the Messiah’s spiritual government (9:6-7), the Messiah’s lineage through David (11:1-5); the peaceable nature of His kingdom (11:6-9); the suffering He would endure to provide the forgiveness from sins essential for God to be merciful to sinners (53:1-12), and more details about the Messiah than can be included here. Isaiah’s prophecy is so filled with specific statements that predict the coming Messiah that is why he received the moniker of “the Messianic Prophet.”


1Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, pp. 512-517.


Gary McDade

 We recently had the local Seventh Day Adventist preacher and a group of their young people in their Pathfinder group to visit with us at the Tiftonia Church of Christ for our morning worship service on first day of the week. We always appreciate our visitors and are honored to discuss spiritual matters.

The church of Christ had its beginning on the first Pentecost after the resurrection in accordance with biblical prophecy (Isaiah 2:1-5; Daniel 2:44) and its fulfillment as seen in Acts 1:6-8 and 2:1-47. The Seventh Day Adventists had their beginning “in the Millerite movement of the 1830s to the 1840s, during the period of the Second Great Awakening, and was officially founded in 1863. Prominent figures in the early church included Hiram Edson, James Springer White and his wife Ellen G. White, Joseph Bates, and J. N. Andrews” (History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church from Wikipedia).

After our services were over, as we visited in the foyer the SDA preacher asked us to do two things: Join with their mission of advancing their vegetarian dietary laws and cease worshipping on the first day of the week and meet on the seventh day of the week. He offered no discussion on their vegetarian dietary laws but focused on meeting on the seventh day of the week instead of the first day of the week. One of the reasons he offered for this practice was the assertion that from the beginning of the creation God’s faithful have always worshipped on the Sabbath. He based his argument on Genesis 2:1-3 where God rested after the six days of creation. His contention was that God’s people have always worshipped on the Sabbath day and have no biblical teaching or example for worshipping on the first day of the week.

The answer to this SDA error is two-fold. One, God did not make known the Sabbath day until the children of Israel escaped Egypt and were sojourning in the Sinai peninsula where at Mt. Sinai they receive the 10 commandments (Exodus 16:22-30; Nehemiah 9:13-14) and no ancient patriarch mentioned in the 2,500 year history covered in the book of Genesis is ever said to have worshipped on a specific day of the week. Moses wrote factually about their fathers not having received the covenant which informed and ordered them to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:3). Two, the church of Christ was established on the first day of the week, the day of the week on which the Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead (Luke 24:1-7; Acts 2:1; Leviticus 23:15-16) and continued steadfastly to worship on the first day of the week (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). The Old Testament law, with its various Sabbaths including the seventh day observance has been “taken out of the way” and changed so the New Testament of Jesus Christ is the law Christians live and worship under now (Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 7:12; 8:8-13; Romans 8:1-2).


Gary McDade

I don’t want to minimize anyone’s suffering, but I do want to ask, “Do we have it too easy?” No doubt we live in the literal “lap of luxury” here in the United States. There’s something about having so much in the way of food, comforts, and entertainment that distracts from the things of God—you know, Bible reading and study, worship, and Christian service.

Let’s strike a contrast in hope of creating a refocusing on what’s more important. To do this, I invite your attention to an excerpt from an actual newsletter we received this week from the church of Christ in Haiti. (I posted it on the bulletin board in case you’d like to see all of it).

A Voodoo chief priest that lives in the bush invited us by way of email to visit him after he heard us over the radio. To get to him we traveled in a big truck, which is public transportation, for three hours, crossed over a river with water up to our shoulders because there were no banana boats in the area, rented a motorcycle and rode one hour, and then walked three hours. It was 4 p.m. before we arrived at the place where we were supposed to meet the chief priest, then we had to wait two hours for him and three of his assistants to come from the field where they had been working all day. We began studying with them, and by 11 p.m. they were convinced they needed to be baptized. We did not want to be responsible for them losing their souls, in case they died during the night, so we risked our lives to walk down a very high hill in the dark to reach water. We passed through areas on the way that are controlled by robbers; we were stopped by some, so we told them we did not have anything they would want. Praise God they did not harm us—we started praying and studying with them, then one of the robbers asked to be baptized! When we arrived at the water it was too shallow to immerse anyone, so we had to take shovels to dig a hole deep enough to baptize. We spent the rest of the night in a house made of cardboard and wood with a roof of palm tree leaves. We had so many mosquito bites, the next day we had to see a doctor.

See what I mean about asking, “Do we have it too easy?” What these men did to reach this Voodoo chief priest and these robbers with the soul saving gospel required worlds more effort than loading our family into an air conditioned car and bringing them to a comfortable air conditioned church building to save their souls. So, why don’t we?


Gary McDade

The church of Christ today stands as God’s way of calling out a people from this wicked world (John 17:15, 25; Galatians 1:4; 1 John 5:19). Old Testament passages that establish the foundation for God’s desire to have a special people are Leviticus 26:12 and Zechariah 8:7-8. The former says, “And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” The latter says, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.”

Three examples from the ninth and eighth centuries B.C. show God’s desire to have a loving, faithful people thwarted by those same people. The first example: In the ninth century B.C. the prophet Joel wrote, “And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed. And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed” (Joel 2:26-27). What a glorious promise because if they had remained faithful to God they never would have been ashamed, yet ultimately their sins would carry them into captivity. In time, God would retrieve a righteous remnant, a tenth of the original number (Isaiah 6:13). Joel wrote, “For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink” (Joel 3:1-3).

The second example: In the mid-eighth century B.C. the prophet Amos wrote, “And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more” (Amos 7:8). God further warned His people, “Thus hath the Lord God showed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit. And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the Lord unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more” (Amos 8:1-2). The last warning from Amos to God’s people included a prophecy of the church of Christ, “For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us. In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the Lord that doeth this” (Amos 9:9-12, emphasis added, see Acts 15:15-18).

And, the third example: In the mid-eighth century B.C. the prophet Hosea wrote, “And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God” (Hosea 2:23). What had happened to God’s people is detailed in Hosea 4:6 and 11:7, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. …And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.” (See also: Psalm 78:1; Isaiah 1:3, 5:13; Jeremiah 2:13; 5:31-32).

The New Testament draws all these prophecies together showing that the long desired people of God today are all the members of the church of Christ throughout the world. The church of Christ in Rome received a letter from the apostle Paul saying, “As he saith also in Osee [Hosea], I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. Esaias [Isaiah] also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth” (Romans 9:25-28). And, again Paul wrote to the church of Christ at Corinth, “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:16-18).


Gary McDade

Safety is one of the basic human needs in which we all have an interest. “Safety in God” is the ultimate safety all should desire and seek. In a few short verses in Psalm 4, we benefit from seeing the Psalmist build the foundation upon which lasting safety rests. Let’s assign a key word or words to each verse to aid in ease of understanding the contents of this reassuring Psalm.


“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.”


“O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.”

SET APART, v. 3.

“But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the Lord will hear when I call unto him.”

STAND IN AWE, v. 4a.

“Stand in awe….”

SIN NOT, v. 4b.

“…And sin not.”


“Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.”


“Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the Lord.”

SHINE ON US, v. 6.

“There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.”


“Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.”


“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.”

The safety about which the Psalmist has written emerges from our being godly or righteous people who stand in awe of God and turn away from sin. We also continually “offer the sacrifices of righteousness” in denying selfish lusts and put our trust in the Lord. God shines on us and we smile receiving His favor. Only the Lord can make us dwell in safety.



Gary McDade

Fathers and mothers have a divine responsibility to raise their children in the teaching and discipline of the Lord. Paul wrote, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). A child is honored who devotes himself or herself to hearing and heeding the instruction and training from his or her father and mother. The Proverbs say, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck” (Proverbs 1:8-9).

Fathers and mothers are required concerning their children to “bring them up.” “Bring them up” in a Christian home. “Bring them up” hearing their parents pray to God. “Bring them up” seeing their parents read the Bible. “Bring them up” hearing the Bible read and explained to them. “Bring them up” taking advantage of those special “teachable moments” when questions are asked and loving parents take the time to give them Bible answers. “Bring them up” seeing a father who loves their mother and lives for her happiness. “Bring the up” seeing a mother who loves their father and ensures his happiness. “Bring them up” in a family circle of compassion and communication. “Bring them up” in a family circle where love is ever present. “Bring them up” in an environment where prayers are a real means of communication to God and not only a dinner formality.

“Bring them up” attending all the services of the church establishing in their hearts and minds what it really means to love God and serve him with their lives. “Bring them up” with the privilege of hearing their parents sing the great songs of the church and to be a recipient of the “teaching and admonishing” that goes with scriptural worship. “Bring them up” with an understanding of their place in the local congregation supporting its work as well as its worship of God. “Bring them up” learning the Bible in both Sunday school and Wednesday night Bible class. “Bring them up” knowing fellow Christians and their role in the church as elders, deacons, preachers, and teachers. “Bring them up” knowing the other members of the church so the subject of fellowship is not just an academic study with them. “Bring them up” with a broader understanding of the Lord’s church by taking them to gospel meetings at other faithful congregations of the Lord’s church. “Bring them up” introducing them to faithful gospel preachers who have dedicated their lives to the study and preaching of the word of God.

The Bible instructs parents concerning their children to “bring them up” and doing so effectively requires diligence and great love for God and His word. No work is more important for those who are blessed with children than to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”


*Note: To see the Gospel Broadcasting Network (GBN)  debate topic “Water Baptism vs Faith Alone” video with Jack Honeycutt of Willette church of Christ and Michael Brawner, A Missionary Baptist Preacher. Part I and Part II, click on “Links” in the above heading.


Gary McDade

LUKE 10:25-37

Life, v. 25; Law, v. 26; Love, v. 27; Live, v. 28.

The Lawyer’s desire to have eternal Life (v. 25) must be sought in harmony with the Law of Moses in his day (v. 26). The Law required everyone to Love both God and his neighbor (v. 27; Leviticus 19:18). This example narrative showed him who he needed to be in order to Live the Life that brings eternal Life (v. 28).

“Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” v. 25.

The question is similar in form and content to Acts 16:30, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” But, a clear distinction of disposition exists between the Lawyer and the Jailor. The Lawyer is tempting; the Jailor is terrified!

The Savior’s answer is straightforward and succinct, but the Lawyer’s reply seems subversive (“a cause of overthrow”).

“Who is my neighbor?” v. 29.

Luke even tells us the motive behind the Lawyer’s question: “But he, willing to justify himself, said” (v. 29). “Justify” is from dikaiosu,h “what is right, righteousness, uprightness, justice; righting wrong; …what God requires;… religious duties or acts of charity (Mt. 6:1)” (Barclay M. Newman, p. 46). The Lawyer may have had under consideration “religious duties or acts of charity” that Jesus might have investigated to verify his good standing before God. Jesus’ reply in the form of an example narrative (like the rich fool, the rich man and Lazarus, and the Pharisee and the tax collector) clearly raised the standard for the Lawyer, and, if we are paying attention, for us too!

The Setting, v. 30.

Jerusalem to Jericho was 17 miles dropping in elevation 3,400 feet. “Desolate and rocky” are descriptive terms for that way from Josephus (Jewish Wars, IV.8.3). Jerome in the late 4th century said in his time that way was still “infested with Bedouin robbers” (On Jeremiah, I. 50).

The Sojourners, vv. 31-32.

Sojourners in the sense of travelers is meant. Luke doesn’t say why the Priest and the Levite passed by on the other side, but he does tell who: a Priest and a Levite—men who should have exhibited compassion and mercy. Jesus will emphasize loving your neighbor as yourself, but these men don’t even love their neighbor!

The Samaritan, v. 33.

Jesus said, “The Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9). (Cf. also the Syro-Phonecian woman of Canaan in Matthew 15:21-28).

The Standard, vv. 34-35.

The Samaritan’s compassion was manifested in the first aid he gave the victim, the transportation he provided him, and the housing and care he provided him—he loved him as himself.

The Selection, v. 36.

Jesus asked, “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?” v. 36.

The Synopsis, v. 37.

The charge Jesus gave the Lawyer who should now recognize the value of mercy is “Go, and do thou likewise” v. 37.


When we see others as we do ourselves, we’ve found our neighbor. When we incorporate the law of love into our interactions with others, we demonstrate compassion and mercy. When we love our neighbor as we do ourselves, we’re living the life that brings eternal life.

The Lawyer Was Tempting

The Jailor Was Terrified

Luke 10:35                                                                 Acts 16:30

A non-Christian who is delaying his obedience to the gospel is in a very similar frame of mind as the Lawyer when he really needs to be in the frame of mind of the Jailor. We encourage you to become a Christian today.





Gary McDade

We’ve looked into “what’s in first place” in a previous article where we considered the question, “is it fame, fortune, fun, or family?” However, when you get right down to it the question that strikes closer to home is not “what’s in first place?” but, rather, “who’s in first place?”

The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is Lord “to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11). The word “Lord” insists His sovereignty over all by virtue of His being “Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). Only right now and only during our lifetime do we have the opportunity to recognize and submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Too late for most, “every knee shall bow to me [Jesus Christ], and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11; cf. also Philippians 2:10).


Christ is coming again to be glorified in His saints (2 Thessalonians 2:10), but others will display a reaction not unlike the apocalyptic language of Revelation 6:12-17 when the sixth seal was opened. The apostle John wrote:


And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?


The options really come down to just two. Either Christ is in first place or you are. Are your weeks spent in worship to God every time the doors of the church building are open, or are you doing what pleases you elsewhere? Blessed is the person whose thinking has been arranged according to the example Christ exhibited during His earthly ministry when He said, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). When I should be doing something for the Lord and His cause but instead absent myself from worship and Bible study and service opportunities, the question “who’s in first place?” is painfully obvious.

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Gary McDade

The disciple whom Jesus loved urged Christians not to love the world. He said, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17).

Have you ever noticed how many lyrics within the songs we sing in worship echo this truth. Here are a few. See how many you recognize.


“This world is not my home. I just a passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.”


“To Canaan’s land I’m on my way where the soul of man never dies. My darkest night will turn to day where the soul never dies.”


“There’s a beautiful place called heaven. It is written above the bright blue where the good who from earth ties are riven live and love an eternity through.”


“Earth holds no treasures but perish with using however precious they be, yet there’s a country to which I am going. Heaven holds all to me.”


“Sing to me of heaven. Sing that song of peace. From the toils that bind me it will bring release. Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so. Showers of great blessings over my heart will flow.”


“No tears in heaven. No sorrows given. All will be glory in that land. There’ll be no sadness; all will be gladness when we shall reach that happy land.”


“Some glad morning when this life if over I’ll fly away to a home on God’s celestial shore. I’ll fly away.”


“I am a poor wayfaring stranger. While traveling through this world of woe. Yet, there’s no sickness toil or danger to that bright world to which I go.”


All these thoughts and more help us not to love the world. May it be now and ever that our lives reflect these sentiments in the priorities with which we order our daily and weekly activities. “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”


Gary McDade

Are you saying we can just do whatever we want to do and we’ll be saved? No. The title comes from a verse in the Bible which says, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13).

In the sermon this past Lord’s day evening, I was pleading for more “fear and trembling” in the church today because there is an observable void of it. We studied the word “trembling” from the Blue Letter Bible. It says,

tro,moj—“A trembling or quaking with fear.  ‘With fear and trembling,’ used to describe the anxiety of one who distrusts his ability completely to meet all requirements, but religiously does his utmost to fulfill his duty.”

Points with power from the definition include: One, we’re to be confident in living the Christian life without becoming over confident to the diminishing of our duty to God. Two, “fear and trembling” is an appropriate motivation for our obedience, and we make no apology for urging men and women to have this frame of mind about it in serving the Lord today. Three, an abiding concern that we are doing all the Lord has called upon us to do is woven into the fabric of Christianity, but believing false teaching has caused many to be wearing a frayed spiritual garment. Four, a capable Christian man responding to an assignment to lead a prayer, wait on the Lord’s table, or read the Scripture in worship should be more responsive to serve doing his “utmost to fulfill his duty” than is common today. Five, the need for the attitude of “fear and trembling” as a motivation to attend the services of the church is being callously trodden under foot by many. Comparatively, if many Christians applied the same habit they have established in their sporadic attendance to their employment they would be summarily fired; if they were in the military service they would be court martialed; and if they treated their spouse in that way they would be divorced.

God told the world long ago about the person who may gain His favor. God has said, “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). “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”


Gary McDade

You may have read about this subject in the Times Free Press a couple of weeks ago. Terry Mattingly wrote an article about “Dealing with messiness of modern marriage.”1 In it he told us about “a 60,000-word apostolic exhortation from Pope Francis” on marriage. We should never expect a person, who has taken a vow of celibacy himself and is responsible for ensuring that millions of other adherents of his church do likewise, to speak the truth especially on the subject of marriage and the family. We must bear in mind that a true apostle—not one with a self-imposed air of authority like himself—wrote definitively in opposition to celibacy as a religious trait or “holy order.” The apostle Paul wrote,

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth (1 Timothy 4:1-3).

You know the Catholics are all about Latin, so the Pope’s lengthy discussion of marriage is called Amoris Laetitia meaning “on love in the family.” Instead of strengthening or even reflecting what the Bible teaches “on love in the family,” this communication bows to the sin-sickness of humanity on the subject like the Israelites bowed before the golden calf. Here’s an excerpt,

I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium [i.e., the Catholic Church]. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church [i.e., the Catholic Church], but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. …Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs.2

This religious celibate, “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God,” just voiced the Catholic Church’s acceptance of the LGBT agenda here in the United States of America (2 Thessalonians 2:4). The sickening lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender element in the USA, now strongly supported by our government in all three branches, legislative, judicial, and executive, has the backing of the Catholic Church. Instead of this billion member church upholding the biblical teaching on marriage found in such verses as Genesis 2:23-24; Matthew 19:1-12; Ephesians 5:21-33, and Hebrews 13:4, it’s corrupt head has embraced the wrath of God detailed in Romans 1:18-32. Pope Francis seeks worldly popularity and power at the expense of Bible teaching “on love in the family.”


1Terry Mattingly, Times Free Press, Saturday, April 16, 2016, E1.

2Ibid., p. E4.

Archaeology Proves Liberal Theologians Wrong Again

Gary McDade

Discovery News reporting on biblical archaeology carried an article April 11, 2016, confirming the Old Testament was written earlier than the 2nd Century B.C. The title of the article written by Jennifer Viegas is “Bible Was Written Earlier, Ancient Notes Suggest.” While the article does not support the correct biblical truth that Moses wrote the Law (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) in 1500 B.C., it does prove liberal theologians wrong who promote the view that books like Daniel were written in the 2nd Century B. C. instead of the 6th Century B.C. as must be true for Daniel to be an historical character and the content of his book to be inspired of God.

Here’s why this is important to us. In their book, God’s Holy Fire, authored by Abilene Christian University professors from their so-called College of Biblical Studies, the authors rip the prophet Daniel from his 6th Century B.C. setting and plop him into the 2nd Century B.C. even though the prophet Ezekiel specifically affirmed his contemporary place along with him in the 6th Century B.C. (See: Ezekiel 14:14, 20). Kenneth L. Cukrowski, Mark W. Hamilton, and James W. Thompson wrote, “Daniel was primarily concerned to show that God had acted in the past and would act again among Jews groaning under the misrule of the Greek-speaking Seleucid kings of the second century B.C.” (Cukrowski, pages 143-144, emphasis added). Search in vain if you will to find where these “scholars” believe Daniel actually lived in the 6th Century B.C. They have taken the position the material known as the book of Daniel was handed down through oral tradition and codified in the 2nd Century B.C.

Viegas gives us more information on this particular archaeological find, “Finkelstein, lead author Shira Faigenbaum-Golovin and their team used novel image processing and computer analysis to investigate 16 inscriptions from the desert fortress of Arad, located west of the Dead Sea. The inscriptions, which are correspondence concerning military matters, date to 600 B.C. and were made by putting ink script on ceramic shards [known as ostraca].”3 These “contain military commands regarding the movement of troops and provision of wine, oil and flour among the men. One mentions ‘the king of Judah’ and another ‘the house of YHWH,’ in reference to the Temple in Jerusalem.”4

Christopher Rollston, an associate professor of Northwest Semitic languages and literatures at George Washington University, “believes other inscriptional evidence from the region dates to the late 9th and 8th centuries B.C., and therefore thinks ‘that some portions of the Bible could have been written even earlier than the Tel Aviv study suggests.’” Viegas also said, “As Thomas Römer, a professor at the University of Lausanne and the Collège de France, Paris, told Discovery News, the study ‘shows that there was an important degree of literacy already in the 7th century B.C., and that we should not postulate a first edition of the biblical text in the exilic or postexilic periods.’”

We have believed this all along, and this discovery makes it more difficult for opponents of the Bible to retain any credibility with informed people.



2Cukrowski, Kenneth L.; Mark W. Hamilton; and James W. Thompson (2002) God’s Holy Fire the nature and function of Scripture (Abilene, TX: ACU Press).





It is our desire and intent, to be the church that you read about in the Bible. Not a man-made organization, but the church built by the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

". . and upon this rock I will build my church . ." -- Matthew 16:18.

Mission Statement of Tiftonia church of Christ  

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.

Matthew 28:19-20