Welcome to the Tiftonia church of Christ
ServicesPlease join us! ALL are invited
Directions and Location
Bible Study 10:00 am
Worship 11:00 am
Bible Study: 7:00pm
TO HEAR SERMONS, or VIEW SERMON VIDEOS, CLICK ON “FROM THE PULPIT” ABOVE
May 1, 2016
A.M. GUEST SPEAKER: Jason McDade
P.M. “Work Out Your Own Salvation”—Philippians 2:12
Our television program, THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL, has been approved to appear on the Gospel Broadcasting Network airing to Chattanooga over EPB Cable Channel 152 at 3 p.m. every Saturday. This adds to our distribution of the 30-minute program which has been airing over KWNTV7 out of Trenton, GA for more than a year now. “Singing In Worship” will be the subject of discussion on the program today on The Everlasting Gospel as we continue our series we call “Teachings In Hebrews.” The primary text for the lesson will be Hebrews 2:12.
YOU ARE INVITED!
MAY 22-27, 2016
Theme: Returning to Romans
l Sunday 9:00 A.M. – Returning to Romans Introduction / Gary McDade
l Sunday 10:00 A.M. – The Creation or the Creator / Gary McDade
l Sunday 7:00 P.M. – The Gospel of Christ & Its Characteristics / Gary McDade
l Monday 7:00 P.M. – The Gospel of Christ . . . and Me / Jeff Archey
l Tuesday 7:00 P.M. – How Will I Be Living When I Die? / Jeff Archey
l Wednesday 7:00 P.M. – Calling on the Name of the Lord / Gary McDade
l Thursday 7:00 P.M. – God Says . . . and I Say / Jeff Archey
l Friday 7:00 P.M. – For Now Is Our Salvation Nearer / Jeff Archey
TIFTONIA GOSPEL MEETING
We hope everyone has his calendar marked and his plans made to attend every service of our gospel meeting this spring. As you know, the dates for it are May 22-27th. Jeff Archey and Gary McDade will share the pulpit in developing the lessons on the theme: “Returning To Romans.” You may want to take a few moments and sit down and create a list of those you’d like to invite to the meeting. We’d all be encouraged to see a good turnout for this special event at Tiftonia. Please, place this spiritual opportunity on your prayer list.
ON LOVE IN THE FAMILY
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
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).
“ALL THINGS ARE BECOME NEW”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a way of setting our life right when it has not become what we really wanted and certainly is not what we like? Without any exaggeration or embellishment, one great thing about preaching and teaching the gospel is we can say to people that the gospel God designed and the apostles of Christ delivered in our New Testament really is able to make “all things become new.”
God’s Word—not mere man’s—says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). In order to make clear how this can happen in a person’s life the operative phrase here is “if any man be in Christ.” Here are some helpful points to consider as we seek to rid our lives of those terrible “old things” and look forward to enjoying the life of a “new creature” in Christ and making “all things become new.”
When preceded by hearing the gospel and believing it (Romans 10:17), repenting of past sins (Romans 2:4), confessing Jesus Christ as the Son of God (Romans 10:9-10), baptism for the remission of sins into the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit puts a person “into Christ” (Acts 2:38; Matthew 28:19; Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:26-29). And, that’s precisely when “all things are become new.”
THE MASTER’S TOUCH
“He touched her hand and the fever left her,”
He touched her hand as He only can,
With the wondrous skill of the Great Physician,
With the tender touch of the Son of Man.
The fever that burned in the throbbing temples
Died out with the flush on brow and cheek,
And the lips that had been so parched and burning
Trembled with thanks that she could not speak;
And the eyes when the fever light had faded
Looked up, by her grateful tears made dim,
And she rose and ministered in her household,
She rose and ministered unto Him.
“He touched her hand and the fever left her;”
Oh, we need His touch on our fevered hands,
The cool still touch of the Man of Sorrows,
Who knows us and loves us and understands.
So many a life is one long fever,
A fever of anxious suspense and care,
A fever of getting, a fever of fretting,
A fever of hurrying here and there.
Ah, what if in winning the praise of others
We miss at the last, the King’s “Well done,”
If your self-sought tasks in the Master’s vineyard
Yield nothing but leaves at the set of the sun?
“He touched her hand and the fever left her;”
Oh blessed touch of the Man Divine!
So beautiful then to rise and serve Him
When the fever is gone from your life and mine.
It may be the fever of restless serving
With heart all thirsty for love and praise;
And eyes all aching and strained with yearning
Tow’rd self-set goals in the future days.
Or it may be a fever of spirit-anguish,
Some tempest of sorrow that dies not down
Till the cross at last is in meekness lifted
And the head stoops low for the thorny crown.
Or it may be a fever of pain and anger,
When the wounded spirit is hard to bear,
And only the Lord can draw forth the arrows
Left carelessly, cruelly rankling there.
Whatever the fever His touch can heal it,
Whatever the tempest His voice can still,
There is only joy as we seek His pleasure,
There is only rest as we choose His will.
And some day after life’s fitful fever
I think we shall say in the home on high,
If the hands that He touched but did His bidding,
How little it mattered what else went by.
Ah, Lord, Thou knowest us altogether,
Each heart’s sore sickness, whatever it be,
Touch Thou our hands, bid the fever leave us,
And so shall we minister unto Thee. —Unknown.
“GO YE INTO ALL THE WORLD”
The Great Commission of Christ is for His followers to “go into all the world” preaching the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15). The world of today into which we are going is moving away from us on belief in God according to a recent study. The researchers found, “’The large declines in religious practice among young adults are also further evidence that millennials [also known as the Millennial Generation and Generation Y being born from 1980 to 2000] are the least religious generation in memory, and possibly in American history,’ said psychologist Jean Twenge of San Diego State University, who led the study.”1 (The team of researchers were from San Diego State University, Florida Atlantic University and Case Western Reserve University. They looked at the General Social Survey, in which up to 58,000 people are interviewed annually about a variety of factors, including religion).
In regard to the followers of Christ, Jesus said, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (John 6:45). This truth never changes; it never varies from generation to generation. In order to “come to Christ” people must hear the Word of God and learn the Word of God. “They shall be all taught of God.”
Therefore, the mission of the church never changes; it never varies from generation to generation. If the researchers are correct, today’s generation may not be as interested as former generations in the Word of God, and the mission of the church only became more difficult as far as visible results, that is, people “coming to Christ.” While it is true that “the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9), He did forewarn us about there being few for whom heaven is of interest. Perhaps instead of discouragement at the habits of “Millennials,” Christians today should learn what Christ said about few being saved and come to realize that it will require more dedication, devotion, and determination than ever before in our lifetime to fulfill the Great Commission.
May we press forward with the teaching of Christ wherein He urged, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
REMEMBER NOW THY CREATOR
IN THE DAYS OF THY YOUTH
The title is from the very familiar first verse in Ecclesiastes 12 which says, “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.” This one verse contains many valuable points.
“Remember.” The mental ability to recollect is both a blessing and a tool for improvement and encouragement. When Paul instructed young Timothy to “meditate upon these things,” he followed up by saying, “Give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all” (1 Timothy 4:16).
“Remember now.” The wise man said, “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).
“Remember now thy Creator.” David spoke of the resurrection of Christ when he said, “I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved” (Acts 2:25). David retained that indelible picture of the Lord before his face continually and would not be moved away from the purposes of God for his life. A steadfast love and a dedicated life to Christ are brought about by keeping the eye of faith focused on Christ today.
“Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.” The sooner in life one learns to honor God in thought and action the deeper is the impression for good. This is true for everyone. What a grave responsibility parents with young children have to entwine this truth into the fabric of their children’s lives. So true the last words, “While the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them,” for both observation and experience prove tough days do come to all and without the constant presence and approval of God over our lives and the lives of our children make no mistake about it they will say, “I have no pleasure in them.” If we do not want to be separated from our children for all eternity, we simply must open our eyes and “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them.”
A RENEWED MIND
Think of the good that can be accomplished with “a renewed mind.” The gospel of Christ uniquely facilitates this renewed mind. The book of Romans urges it, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).
If others have thought in such a creative way as to really transform how things are done without divine help, think of how much could be done with the help of God as a person devotes time and attention to “a renewed mind.” For example, today we live in a digital world. It is vastly different than the world of previous generations. Think of this: Uber, the world’s largest taxi company owns no taxis. Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider owns no real estate. Skype and WeChat, the world’s largest phone companies own no telco infrastructure. Alibaba, the world’s most valuable retailer has no inventory. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner creates no content. SocietyOne, the world’s fastest growing bank has no actual money. Netflix, the world’s largest movie house owns no cinemas. Apple and Google, the world’s largest software vendors write no apps. (www.ibmforentrepreneurs.com).
While the passages mentioned from Romans clearly speak to the transformation of one’s personal life lived for Christ, the concept of “a renewed mind” applied more broadly could really transform a local congregation. For example, instead of fretting over an aging membership making up the majority of the congregation, wake up to the reality that today people are living longer. People above age 65 make up the largest segment of American society. Many of them are retired and have more time to invest in the work of the church. Many of them now have more resources available to use in the Lord’s service. Many of them now have time busy careers took from them to invite their friends to worship services and to offer to study the Bible in people’s homes. Many of them have been studying the Bible for a great number of years and are in a position to share their acquired knowledge of salvation to the benefit of others. Many of them have children and grandchildren they are influencing to be more spiritually minded. Some have children they are trying to bring back to Christ. Others have children and grandchildren they are trying to lead to Christ. Many have schedules that now are so flexible they never miss a service of the church. All of these things can serve to transform a congregation into a thriving, growing force for Christ in a local community.
The afternoon then President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law on August 14, 1935, the average mortality age was 65. Today that age is 85. God has given aging church members 20 more years to find a way to express “a renewed mind” from which to give Him greater glory. Some are worried we have more older members; forward thinking people see great things coming from them on the near horizon.
WHAT JESUS IS EXPECTING
In the first recorded presentation about His coming kingdom, the church, Jesus let the whole world for all time know what He was expecting from those whom He came to save within it. A review of these expectations which we have come to call “the Beatitudes,” provides some answers to concerned members of the church today about the problems we face and how they may be met. Let’s take just four of these in turn and see where they may be applied to improve the church as the spiritual body of Christ which He declared and for which He ultimately died.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). “Poor in spirit” refers to those would not depend upon wealth, learning, and intellectual culture in place of depending upon the Word of Christ. The trends we see in the church today of appealing to what people want instead of adhering to the Bible shows defiance to the attitude Jesus describes here of being “poor in spirit.”
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). The seeming inability to feel or express concern for sin and members of the church who clearly are living a sinful life is the opposite of this feeling of grief, lamentation, and even wailing—whether silently or out loud—because sin reigns among so many church members. The promised comfort is reserved for those who possess the ability to care.
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). Meekness as mentioned here is a person showing enough strength of character to keep his self-interests subdued and to allow the interests and concern for others to be addressed and respected. A void exists here in the church today. Interest in others is imperative. See: Genesis 4:9; Philippians 2:2, and 2 Timothy 2:2.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Jesus set expectations in this sentence regarding Christians’ interest in the Word of God. Why is this quality so rare in the church today? It is resisted so strenuously that Christians may be heard to argue, “Are you saying I’m going to hell if I don’t come to ‘church’?” Always remember that is was Jesus who set the expectations of interest in Bible study and worship that are not being met by so many.
Jesus said these things, and the remainder of the Beatitudes as well as the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, in order to set expectations up front about what He wanted to see from Christians. Looking at just the beginning of Jesus remarks here is sobering. And, our Lord’s ability to hold up the Bible before us like a mirror of the soul to show us our own heart and soul through His Word is either chilling or appreciated depending upon who we really are inside.
STATEMENTS FROM THE BIBLE
ABOUT THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
“Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53). “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7).
“When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left” (Matthew 25:31-33). “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 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; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). “Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 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; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences” (2 Corinthians 5:9-11). “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” (John 5:28-29).
“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:20-21).
STATEMENTS FROM THE BIBLE
ABOUT SPIRITUAL GROWTH
“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14). “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able” (1 Corinthians 3:1-2). “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter 2:1-3).
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). “But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18). “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:14-16).
“Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines” (Hebrews 13:9a). “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words” (Hebrews 13:20-22).
STATEMENTS FROM THE BIBLE
ABOUT TRUE LOVE
“I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:1-2). “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jeremiah 31:3). “And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments” (Daniel 9:4). “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16).
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48). “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-39).
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35). “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another” (Romans 12:10). “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. …Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:8, 10). “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Philippians 2:1-2). “Let brotherly love continue” (Hebrews 13:1). “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 1:21).
STATEMENTS FROM THE BIBLE
ABOUT THE NEED FOR SALVATION FROM SIN
“Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:6-8).
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful” (Romans 7:13).
“I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry” (Luke 15:18-24).
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
“And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith” (Romans 4:12-13, emphasis added. Cf. also: Romans 10:17; 2:4; 10:9-10; 6:3-5; 16:16).
STATEMENTS FROM THE BIBLE
ABOUT THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
“And He is the Head of the body, the church: who is the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake, which is the church” (Colossians 1:18-24).
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the church, Which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:17-23).
“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the Head of the church: and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:23-27).
“Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16).
STATEMENTS FROM THE BIBLE
ABOUT THE BIBLE
“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
“For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). “I will worship toward Thy holy temple, and praise Thy name for Thy lovingkindness and for Thy truth: for Thou hast magnified Thy Word above all Thy Name” (Psalm 138:2).
“For we are not as many, which corrupt the Word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:17). “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2).
“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:13-17).
“Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool: where is the house that ye build unto Me? and where is the place of My rest? For all those things hath Mine hand made, and those things have been, saith the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word” (Isaiah 66:1-2). “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:12).
To help read through the Bible this year we are including a link to the Blue Letter Bible.
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST,
THE FUNDAMENTAL DIFFERENCE
A fundamental difference stands between the church of Christ and the religions around us. It is unique to the church of Christ. The catalogue of denominations in Lookout Valley and through the country, and even around the world, differ from the church of Christ in this way. The fundamental difference is the church of Christ believes and teaches that in religious matters we may only do what the Bible authorizes us to do. A key passage from God’s Word that provides us with the truth on the subject is 1 Peter 4:11, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”
How does this belief differ from everyone else? Here is the difference, they all believe that in religious matters they may do whatever the Bible does not specifically condemn. We also believe we are not allowed to do whatever the Bible specifically condemns, but the statement “the church of Christ believes and teaches that in religious matters we may only do what the Bible authorizes us to do” runs deeper, it has another layer foundational to our beliefs and practices, it is the guiding light to the essence of who we are as Christians.
Looking only for what the Bible specifically condemns instead of what the Bible authorizes supports practices foreign to the Bible. Martin Luther (1483-1586), known in history as “the father of the reformation movement” in protest to Catholicism, urged the departure from most of what Rome had demanded on its followers. However, Martin Luther wanted to retain infant baptism. Since the practice is not in the Bible, in order to keep it he resorted to the position that in religious matters we may do whatever the Bible does not specifically condemn. And, since no mention is made of infant baptism, he kept the practice. The late J.W. Shepherd commented,
On other subjects he had been forced, against his will, step by step, to abandon the fathers, the councils, and the Catholic tradition, being driven to it by the Scriptures. But when he found no authority in the Bible for infant baptism he assumed a new attitude. At that point he had a fiery contest with himself as to the true key of Biblical interpretation, and he deliberately chose the negative turn. That is, he determined to abide by what the Scriptures did not forbid, instead of by what they enjoined.1
Martin Luther being “the father of the reformation movement” or “the father of Protestantism” places him as the originator of the belief system followed by all modern denominations today as they continue to uphold the view that they may do whatever is not forbidden by Scripture. Therefore, today we find names for churches creatively—not biblically—based, observance of special days, tantalizing titles for church leaders, instrumental music in worship, and a host of unscriptural items emerging out of this fountainhead source. The church of Christ calls for a return to what the Bible says instead of what the Bible does not say. This is “the fundamental difference.”
1J.W. Shepherd, The Church, The Falling Away, And The Restoration (Nashville, TN: The Gospel Advocate, 1973), p. 115.
No Time For God
You’ve time to build houses, and in them dwell.
And time to do business–to buy and sell;
But none for repentance, or deep earnest prayer;
To seek your salvation you’ve no time to spare.
You’ve time for earth’s pleasures, for frolic and fun,
For her glittering treasures, how quickly you run;
But care not to seek the fair mansion above,
The favor of God or the gift of His love.
You’ve time to take voyages over the sea,
And time to take in the world’s jubilee;
But soon your bright hopes will be lost in the gloom
Of the cold, dark river of death and the tomb.
You’ve time to resort to the mountain and glen;
And time to gain knowledge from books and from men;
Yet no time to search for the wisdom of God,
But what of your soul when you’re under the sod?
For time will not linger when helpless you lie,
Staring death in the face, you will take time to die.
Then what of the judgment–pause, think, I implore!
For time will be lost on eternity’s shore.
THE COMPASSION OF CORNELIUS
Cornelius was a man in need of salvation. We know this because several times the text tells us he needed to “hear words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved” (Acts 11:14, cf. also 10:6, 22, 32-33; 11:1). Of several things listed by the Holy Spirit that attracted God’s attention to this Centurion of the Italian band, one item that shows his compassion receives attention in the text. Luke wrote, “He gave much alms to the people” (Acts 10:2). As he is learning the message of salvation, that point is brought up by the angel of God who appeared to him and by Cornelius himself as he repeated it to Peter (Acts 10:4, 31).
Look at what the text says about Cornelius: “He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God” (Acts 10:3-4). Of the many things that are incorporated into the conversion of Cornelius, one of them is his compassion toward those less fortunate. Do we ever wonder why there are “few that be saved”? (Luke 13:23). Here we have a biblical example of a man whose compassion lies at the base of his opportunity to hear the soul saving gospel of Christ. But, not only is his practice of giving alms or monetary gifts to the poor recognized by heaven, but the content of his heart relating to this admirable trait proved his heart to be fertile ground for the “good seed of the kingdom” to yield fruit! Anyone interested in the salvation of his soul should cultivate this disposition of heart.
In part, his compassion provided the introduction he needed to capture Peter’s interest in his salvation. When Peter arrived at Cornelius’ dwelling his point blank question was, “For what intent have ye sent for me?” (Acts 10:29). Cornelius’ answer included the affirmation of the angel of God when he said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God” (vv. 30-31). An abbreviation of what followed includes Peter’s observation, “Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (vv. 34-35). And, at the end of the chapter Luke informs us that Peter “commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days” (v. 48). Cornelius’ conversion to Christ did not come about entirely because he was a compassionate man, but his compassion absolutely weighed in on this man becoming a Christian. Have you thought how far in this life and eternity showing compassion for others will carry you?
QUESTIONS I’VE BEEN ASKED
Peter taught us to always be ready to answer questions people may ask us regarding our faith with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15). Over the years, I’ve learned a lot from “questions I’ve been asked” because they’ve required me to “search the Scriptures” (John 5:39; Acts 17:11) from perspectives other than my own. Here are three of them for your edification.
According to 1 Timothy 3:4-5 and Titus 1:6 men qualified to serve the local congregation as elders are to have children; does a man meet this qualification if his children are adopted? The answer is yes because the adopted children enjoy the full status of natural children. The proof of the statement comes from Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5; and Ephesians 1:5. As Christians, we are adopted children of God. We enjoy the full status of natural children. No one could ever say the candidates’ adopted children disqualify him from serving God as an elder—provided he is otherwise qualified—because the very basis of our relationship with God rests upon our adoption as His sons.
A godly man divorced his adulterous wife. After much discussion, many prayers, godly examples, and much teaching, she repented of her wrong, and now the couple desire to remarry. A brother says since she committed adultery and was put away by her husband they cannot remarry. What does the Bible say? If the Bible said the one put away cannot marry “again,” the brother would correctly have counselled. However, the Bible does not say she cannot marry “again;” it says she cannot marry “another.” Does the Bible say “again” or “another”? Let’s read Matthew 19:9, “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” So, Jesus said she commits adultery if she marries “another,” not the same husband she cheated on. If he judges her repentance to be genuine, he may forgive her and take her back as his wife. The brother who suggested they cannot marry “again” will need to find the word “again” in the Bible. Until he does his counsel should not be allowed to stand. (See also: Mark 10:11-12 where “another” appears twice).
A preacher is teaching the congregation where he worships that holding up hands in worship is authorized by 1 Timothy 2:8, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” Does this passage call for the lifting up of hands in worship? No, it does not because Paul is here using what is called a metaphor or figure of speech which insists upon purity and honesty as requisites to acceptable prayer not merely raising one’s hands in prayer. Those who do that are out of order (1 Corinthians 14:40). As proof those lifting their hands in worship disregard the Scriptures, observe: they lift their hands during the singing and the preaching too, and there is no verse that even considers that practice. Finally, the position that literally lifting hands in prayer must be done for the prayer to be Scriptural would demand that everyone would be required to lift his/her hands in prayer, and no one believes that. Also, the hand waver’s position is absurd because the text they abuse says lifting holy hands—plural—therefore a person with only one arm couldn’t pray at all!
3 THINGS CHRIST IS DOING FOR US
Since “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17), time and space would fail to allow a complete discussing of what Christ is doing for us. So, in the space allotted please consider just “three things Christ is doing for us.”
One, He is officiating over our worship (Revelation 1:12-13, 20; Ephesians 2:18-21). The Bible teaches that the church is “an holy temple in the Lord” and Jesus Christ is our High Priest (Ephesians 2:21; Hebrews 8:1-2). Therefore, in His role as High Priest in the heavenly temple He is actively participating in our worship services.
Two, He is representing our case for forgiveness of sins before the throne of God (1 John 1:7; 2:1-2). His line of reasoning is based upon the sacrifice of Himself on Calvary’s cross and our baptism into His death where He shed His blood for the forgiveness of our sins (Matthew 26:28; John 19:33-34; Romans 6:3-5). Long ago Isaiah revealed to humanity that when God sees His sacrifice He will accept it for the forgiveness of our sins (Isaiah 53:10-12).
Three, He is delivering our prayers to God (1 Timothy 2:5; John 16:23). Another way of looking at Jesus being the one mediator between God and man is to consider the fact that there is no other way to get our thoughts and words to God than through Jesus Christ. Truly, prayer is one of the greatest privileges given to the human family.
Now, with three things in mind Christ is doing for us, it is equitable to ask “what three things can we do for him?” As before, all we may be doing for Him might exhaust far more than the remaining space and time we’ve allotted for this discussion, so let’s limit our thoughts to only three things. See if you agree with the following three.
One, since Christ is officiating over our worship, it stands to reason we should be making every effort to be in attendance. We know God is not pleased with our absence (Hebrews 10:25-26). Here, as a congregation—and it is very likely the case in all the churches of Christ—room for improvement exists. If we come to every scheduled service during the week, Sunday school, Sunday morning and evening worship, and Wednesday night Bible study, that’s four hours. As a percentage of our time each week: the Lord gives us 168 hours and these 4 hours represent only 2% of our time each week. When you think about it that way, that’s not asking a whole lot from a Christian, yet those who attend all the services are perceived as dedicated Christians. That’s a great reward for 2% of our time every week.
Two, since Christ is representing our case for the forgiveness of sins, surely we want to always be penitent, repenting of sins that emerge in our hearts, minds, and lives from time to time.
Three, since Christ is delivering our prayers to God, we want to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
One of America’s richest couples made a grand announcement yesterday upon the birth of their first child. The headlines in the New York Times read: “Mark Zuckerberg Vows to Donate 99% of His Facebook Shares to Charity.” Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Pricilla Chan are new parents to their daughter, Max, who was born about a week ago. The Times reported,
Mr. Zuckerberg’s charitable plans are the latest indication of a growing interest in philanthropy among Silicon Valley’s young billionaires, who unlike previous generations of business tycoons, appear eager to spread their wealth while they are still young. Mr. Zuckerberg is 31, and Dr. Chan is 30.
They wrote, “Our initial areas of focus will be personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities.” Their estimated worth is $45,000,000,000.
We have insight from the New Testament on what Our Lord might think of this news. In Luke 21, Jesus is in the Temple observing how people contributed into the treasury. Luke tells us,
And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance [superfluity, ASV] cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury [want, ASV] hath cast in all the living that she had (vv. 1-4).
Today’s Investment Daily News tells of a Merrill Lynch survey of retirees completed this past July that according to them “presents evidence that giving of one’s time and money during this later stage of life provides retirees with a feeling of success and helps to replace lost social connections. Therefore, advisers who help guide clients’ philanthropic efforts may be ensuring they have a more fulfilling retirement.”
Sometimes it takes people a while to learn the succinctly stated truths of the Bible like the statement of Christ: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
". . and upon this rock I will build my church . ." -- Matthew 16:18.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.