Monday, December 29, 2008

A “Bold” New Year

By John C. Robertson

What if we could see into the future? What if I knew every physical injury I will sustain in the coming year? What if I knew every emotional pain that I will face in 2009? What if I knew all my successes and failures that will unfold? What if I was able to see a picture of the church here at the end of 2009? The fact of the matter is, I don’t know any of these things or anything that will have transpired by the end of the year. What I do know is that God commands the Christian to approach the coming days of his life with “boldness.”

To be a child of God is to be “bold.” The lexicons define the word “boldness” (parrhesia) as “freespokenness, openness, frankness, confidence, assurance.” The Scriptures are not advocating a manner of arrogance, a cocky, overconfident, and conceited personality, but a disposition that says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel...
”The word parrhesia is found 31 times in the NT and appears to uniformly indicate one who speaks and approaches life in such a way of confidence that says “I have nothing to hide.”

Sometimes people are hasty with their confidence in a man, a corporation, or a sports team. When these entities falter, such a one is left in shame. The child of God confidently approaches life with hope because, unlike these worldly entities, God will not fail him.

Precise areas of boldness revealed in the Scriptures:

* The Christian is bold in the hope of salvation through Christ (Heb. 3:5-6).
* The Christian is bold to approach God in prayer knowing that He hears and understands our pleas (Heb. 4:16; 1 John 5:14).
* The Christian is bold to approach God in fellowship now and into eternity because our sins are forgiven (Heb. 10:19).
* The Christian will have boldness to face Jesus when He comes again rather than being filled with shame (1 John 2:28).
* The Christian is neither ashamed of the gospel message nor of Christ (Eph. 6:19; Phil. 1:20).
* Without shame or fear the Christian boldly proclaims the gospel message (Acts 4:31; 28:31; 2 Cor. 3:12).
* The Christian is bold (confident) in his fellow Christian’s faith (2 Cor. 7:4).
* The Christian faces those who would treat us shamefully for our faith with boldness (Heb. 10:32-35).

Where will this kind of boldness lead Christians in 2009? Only the Lord knows, but for those so bold, the Lord will protect and bless. No matter what awaits us in the coming year, God tells us to approach every day with boldness. Let us not be fearful of failures, pain, nor strife but let us boldly live the Christian life and tell the gospel message.

- John C. Robertson (adapted); via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL. You may visit their website athttp://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org



Sunday, December 28, 2008

On Being Visionary

By Joe Chesser

You’ve heard the proverb at least a hundred times, maybe a thousand. You know which one I am talking about – the one that says “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). This verse has been used (and abused) by dreamers and goal setters for decades to encourage us to make plans for our future. If we don’t, they say, we are doomed to failure and frustration in life.

While I personally believe it is very important to have goals and dreams to work toward, I do not believe having goals is the message of the above proverb – at least, not the primary message.

By taking a closer look at the verse, especially by comparing the KJV translation of it to other versions, a different meaning will emerge. God’s Word translation (GW) says, “Without prophetic vision people run wild. The NIV puts it this way: “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint.” The primary message of this verse, then, is that without guidance from God through His revelation to prophets (i.e., in visions), people will not know how to act properly, and thus will run wild, cast off restraint and perish. It’s about hearing God and following His rules for righteous living.

But it’s not totally unrelated to having the vision to set goals for what you want to accomplish and become in the future. The difference is that it’s not your vision, but God’s vision that this proverb says it’s important to have. Through hearing God’s revelation we all are to become visionaries, or perish. We have to hear from God (through His messengers) what we can become and where we can spend eternity, and then set our sights on those “visions” and work toward achieving them.

Jesus came to give us a “vision” of the Father and to provide the way and means for us to become like Him and live with Him forever (John 1:14; 14:5-9). It’s up to us to not only catch this vision ourselves, but to help others also catch it. A part of being a visionary is to help others become visionaries too. Without this “vision” we will certainly perish.

As a church, let’s be a collection of visionaries in 2009. Let’s encourage each other to have the vision of Christ before us at all times. Let’s talk about it; let’s hope for it; let’s reach for it. About visionaries, the proverb concludes, “blessed are those who follow God’s teaching” (Proverbs 29:18GW).

- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


Monday, December 15, 2008

Restoration Principles


1. The All-sufficiency and the Alone Sufficiency of the Scriptures.

2. The Right of Private Judgment in Matters of Opinion.

3. A “Thus Saith the Lord” in Matters of Faith and Practice.

4. Christian Unity on the Basis of the New Testament Authority.

5. Calling Bible Things by Bible Names.

6. Disavowal of Human Creeds.

7. Christ the Only Creed.

8. The Name Christian to Be Worn to the Exclusion of All Human Designations.

9. The Autonomy of the Local Congregation.

10. Recognition of the Authority of Christ.

11. Rightly Dividing (Handling Aright) the Word of Truth.

12. Conditions of Pardon Preached as Set Forth in the New Testament.

13. Restoration of the Church of the New Testament, in Creed, Name, Doctrine, Order, Membership and Worship.

14. Lives Lived Obedient to the Righteousness of God.
[This list is from the Green’s Lake Road church of Christ bulletin. It did not give credit to authorship, origin, etc., but the contents are something every generation needs to know—Shane]

- Via The Lake Hills Letter, the weekly bulletin of the Lake Hills church of Christ in Chattanooga, TN. Shane Robinson preaches for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://lhcoc.org/