Monday, August 30, 2010

The "I Must's'' of Jesus

By Dale Jenkins

I once heard a preacher make light of his fellow preachers for tossing around words like "must" and "have to." I didn't agree with him, for the Bible clearly uses such words. But the longer his barb has hung in my mind, the more I think I understand what he meant. We do toss those words around a little too lightly. They are designed to be heavy words.

The word "must" first appears in the New Testament in Matthew 16:21 as Jesus began warning the disciples of His impending crucifixion.

In Luke 4:43 Jesus issues the "must" of responsibility: "I must preach the Kingdom of God to other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose."

Luke also records for us a transaction that lets us know that sometimes the needs of others' "musts" came into His scope: "When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, 'Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house'" (Luke 19:5).

On two occasions Jesus shows us the importance of obedience to the scriptures with the "musts" that He issues (Luke 22:37; 24:44).

And the words of necessity are clear from the lips of the Lord when it comes to worshiping His Father (John 4:24).

In John 9:4 Jesus teaches says: "I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work."

Of course we know that greatest question ever asked involves a "must," "What must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30). But even after that question has been answered and followed correctly, there are still some "musts" for the Christian.

For a culture that prides its "postmodern" self in not accepting being "told" what it has to do, there are "musts" for any person who would be a follower of Christ. Among those things clearly pointed out by Christ involve: denying self and taking up one's cross responsibilities (Luke 4:43), inconveniencing ourselves to meet the needs of others (Luke 19:5), and being involved in the work of God (John 9:4-5).

I didn't ask it lightly: What must you do?

- Dale Jenkins; via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY. Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

God From the Machine

By Gerald Cowan

The expression Deus ex machina (literally - God from a machine) is a literary device. When an author was not able to bring his work to proper resolution some cliche, magic, or divine pronouncement was used. Of course it is artificial and improper. God is often called upon today when people cannot resolve conflicts or sort out the affairs of their lives. That too is artificial and improper. The mistakes made in human relationships with God fall into two categories, both common failures.

(1) Expecting too much of God. Believe it or not, some things are not possible for God to do, because He has set limitations upon himself. Here are a few errors in this category:
* Somebody up there likes me.
* God will save us all, somehow.
* God will always be there for us.
(2) Expecting too little of God. Ours is not an age of great faith. Doubt, fear, self-sufficiency, etc. lead one to expect and receive very little from God. Here are a few errors in this category:
*Want to feel independent.
* Do not want to burden God.
*Do not believe God will do anything.
*Do not believe that God actually can do anything.

We need to stop making these mistakes. The remedy is simple: Let man be man (limited in knowledge, ability, and time); let God be God (all knowing, all powerful, never changing, and absolutely eternal.

Man should use his mind to know and trust God. Man should use his abilities to obey and serve God. When man knows, trusts, and obeys God he will have a sure and certain hope for his life in the future and for eternity.

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL. He may be contacted at

Monday, August 23, 2010

What About the Trinity?

By Travis L. Quertermous

Frederick Power once said of the Trinity, “The arithmetic of heaven is beyond us.” Many people fell the same way about the doctrine of the Trinity and thus reject it or attempt to redefine it because they do not fully understand it. Our English word “Trinity” comes from a Latin word meaning “three.” This word has been used to describe the Godhead because the Bible teaches that there is one God, i.e., one divine nature, shared by three distinct persons known as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Even though the word Trinity is not in the Bible, the concept is definitely there. Scripture teaches that the Father is God (1 Cor. 8:5), the Son is God (Heb. 1:8), and the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4). Yet the Bible also teaches there is but one God. In Deuteronomy 6:4, Moses said, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one.” How can God be one and yet three at the same time? One ancient illustration to help us understand the Trinity is the clover. If you hold a clover in your hand, how many flowers do you have? Just one. Yet how many petals does it have? It has three petals. So we have one flower with three separate petals yet all related to one another inseparably. Even so with God – there is one divine nature shared by three inseparable but distinct persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

- Travis L. Quertermous preaches for the church of Christ in Dexter, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

The Holiness of God

By Ken Chumbley

One of the attributes of God clearly seen in studying the Bible is that of “holiness,” our God is a holy God. In examining the scriptures we see that this Holy God requires that His people be a holy people. This holds true both respecting the Israelites, God’s people under the Old Covenant, and to Christians, God’s people under the New Covenant. “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (I Peter 1:15-16).

The word “holy” is a translation of the Greek word “HAGIOS” and is used in the sense of being devoted or set aside to God. The word translated “saint” is from the same Greek root and thus it is proper to call saints “holy ones.” The Christian, then, is one who is devoted to God, who is set aside to the service of God. Since this is so, then Peter points out that the Christians manner of life (conversation) must be holy.

The essentiality of the child of God being holy is seen in that it is a prerequisite of seeing God:
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). For one to be holy implies a purity of life: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

Since the Christian is devoted and set aside for the service of God, it follows that he will be opposed to sin as is God: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein? …But now being made free from sin and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Romans 6:1-2, 22).

The apostle Peter, when speaking of the end of the world and the return of the Lord points out what kind of persons Christians are to be in light of our Lord’s return: “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God” (II Peter 3:11-12).

Let us then remember the admonitions of God’s word and strive to live pure, holy and separated lives that others might see that we are different because we are God’s people and do not indulge in those things that are contrary to the Lord’s will. Also, we must realize that only as we are living a life that is devoted to God and separate from sin can we have the hope of seeing the Lord.

- Ken Chumbley preaches for the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC. He may be contacted at their website:

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Bible and Christ

By Cecil May, Jr.

Jesus said to the Pharisees of his day, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46).

Pharisees were committed to Scripture. They obeyed the law scrupulously and argued its fine points vigorously, but they missed its main point: The Messiah, son of David, was also the Suffering Servant of Isaiah and the Psalms who would die for sinners and only those who believed on him would continue to be part of faithful Israel and receive the promises of God. They were experts in Scripture but failed to recognize the one of whom Scripture spoke.

Scripture is the very word of God, produced by the breath of God (2 Timothy 3:16). Jesus quoted Scripture and said it is what God said (Matthew 19:4-5). Every word of it (Matthew 4:4), every grammatical nuance (Galatians 3:16), every implication God put in it (Matthew 22:31-32) is important. Carefully searching the Scripture in order to understand it and live by it is to be commended.

However, if we end up with the correct view on every divisive issue; if our linguistic scholarship enables us to correctly parse every verb and diagram every sentence; if we memorize a thousand verses; if we trace historically the interpretation of every significant doctrine from today’s theologians to the earliest church fathers; if we trace historically the interpretation of every significant doctrine from today’s theologians to the earliest church fathers; if through it all we missed knowing, loving and appreciating Jesus Christ, and especially if we miss trusting him for the forgiveness of our sins; then the whole of our studies is vain, fruitless.

Some “personal relationship with Christ” talk suggests a mystical, touchy-feely, sensate-ly experienced something that has nothing to do with Scripture. Jesus Christ is a person and any relationship with a person is personal. We do not have a physical relationship with Jesus because he is no longer physically present, but we can have a personal relationship similar to what we have with a loved one from whom we are geographically separated.

In this personal relationship we realize that a written communication is not arbitrary words from an impersonal entity but living words from a loving Savior. We eagerly read his words and talk to him in prayer. We want to please him; so we search his word for what he wants, and when we are satisfied that we have found it, we do it.

The Bible and Christ... It is vital that we see beyond Scripture the Jesus to which Scripture points, but it is equally vital that we understand there is no Jesus except the one Scripture reveals. An imaginary Jesus, a figment combining elements from today’s culture and man’s fertile imagination, is not real, not a person, and one cannot, therefore, have a personal relationship with that. Scripture points us to Christ, but we must accept and trust the Christ to which it testifies

In Scripture, both in the gospels and in the epistles, we learn of Christ. As we see, admire and trust him there, we are transformed into his glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

- via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY. Lance Cordle preaches for the congregation. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

My Help (Psalm 121 Sermon Seeds)

THE SOURCE OF MY HELP - Vs. 1-2-- "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth."

THE SLEEPLESSNESS OF MY HELP - Vs. 3-4-- "He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep."

THE STRENGTH OF MY HELP - Vs. 5-6-- "The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night."

THE STEADFASTNESS OF MY HELP - Vs. 7-8-"The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore."

- via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Monday, August 9, 2010

One of God's Children

Zelda Cornish of Dexter, Missouri tells the following story: I once witnessed an incident of charity that restored my faith in people. While working at a shoe store in downtown Truro, Nova Scotia, I noticed a little boy standing barefooted on the hot air register outside the bakery shop next door trying to keep warm.

I was unsure whether to invite the boy into the store, or just what to do with him, when a middle-aged lady came by. After a few words with the barefoot boy, she brought him into the shoe store. She bought him new shoes and heavy woolen socks, for which he tried awkwardly to thank her. “Are you God’s wife?” he asked his benefactress.

Taken aback by the question, she took some time before replying. “No, son, I’m just one of His children.” “Well, I knew you must be some kin to Him,” he said as he thanked her again and ran out the door.

-The Main Street Harbinger, Milan, Tenn.; via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Tracks of God

“Father,” said Thomas, looking up from his studies. “How do you know there is a God?” “Why do you ask that question? Do you doubt the existence of God?” asked the father. “Well, I heard one of the professors say that we could not be sure that there is a God. Is there any way really to know?”

“Well, my boy. Do you remember the other day that you were laughing about Robinson Crusoe’s dismay at discovering that there were other persons on the island beside himself? How did he discover them? Did he see them? No, he discovered one track of a bare foot in the sand, and he knew that only a human being could have made it, and he knew that whoever made it could not be far off, for the tide had not yet reached it. All those things he knew to be true, although he had not seen a human being within miles of the island. And the knowledge was all gained from a mark in the sand.

“If one print of a bare foot in the sand is absolute proof of the existence and presence of a human being, what are we to suppose when we see the prints of the Master’s shoe, as Bunyan calls it, covering the whole wide world? We see on mountain and valley the print of the fingers of God. We see a million plants and flowers and trees that only God could make grow. We see all the rivers and the springs of the world fed from invisible specks of atmospheric moisture. What do all those things mean—those millions upon millions of footprints on the clay of the world? They mean God living, present, ruling, and loving! They mean God and nothing else!”

- Author Unknown; via the Belvedere Beacon, the weekly bulletin of the Belvedere church of Christ, Belvedere, SC. Ken Chumbley preaches for this congregation, and he may be contacted at their website:

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Will of God

By Gerald Cowan

God’s will can be discussed in terms of His

* PURPOSE. Eph. 1:9-11
* PLAN. Psalm 19, 1 Thess. 4:1-8
* PROMISE. 2 Pet. 1:4, Jas. 1:12
* PREFERENCE. 2 Pet. 3:9
* PLEASURE. Phil. 2:13
* PERMISSION. Acts 17:24-26
* PREVENTION. 2 Thess. 2:6-7
* POWER. Eph. 1:11, Gen. 18:4

We must know several aspects of God’s will to apply it properly in regard to the human soul. God’s will is a broad not narrow, subject. It is:

* ULTIMATE and ABSOLUTE. Mt. 25:36-46, Rev. 20:12-15, Rom. 6:23
* INTENTIONAL and INSTRUCTIVE. 1 John 1:5, Rom. 1:16-17, 2 Th. 1:8
* PERMISSIVE and at the same time RESTRICTIVE. Job 1:12, James 1:2 and 12-15, 1 Pet. 4:12-19, 1 John 3:4 and 7, James 4:17.
* CIRCUMSTANTIAL AND, RESPONSIVE. Is. 59:1-2, Heb. 5:9, 1 Cor. 10:13, Rom. 8:28, Phil. 2:12-13
* EMOTIVE. Love is part of it, but so is wrath. Rom. 5:1-8, Rom. 2:6-11

We certainly must consider GOD’S RELATIONSHIP TO BOTH GOOD AND EVIL. God is not the direct author or source of anything evil, and He will not send into our lives anything that is not essentially, potentially, or eventually good. James 1:17. Good is anything that helps one see his need for God, brings him into a right relationship with God, and enables him to continue in God’s fellowship. Evil can be defined as anything that keeps one away from God, prevents him receiving and maintaining fellowship with Him.

God’s response to human sin and human need shows:

* OMNISCIENCE. Heb. 4:12-13
* GOODNESS. Rom. 2:4
* POWER. Rom. 8:37-39

One of the greatest questions we have is about the will of God and our personal prayers.

* Pray only according to His will in all things. James 4:15-17
* We can be sure God hears, and He answers all our prayers according to what He knows is good.
* Sometimes the answer must be no.

- Gerald Cowan preaches for the Dongola church of Christ in Dongola, IL. He may be contacted at

There Was a Man

More than nineteen hundred years ago there was a Man born contrary to the laws of life. This Man lived in poverty and was reared in obscurity. He did not travel extensively. Only once did He cross the boundary of the country in which he lived; that was during His exile in childhood.

He possessed no wealth. His relatives were inconspicuous, uninfluential, and uneducated. In infancy He startled a king; in childhood He puzzled the doctors; in manhood He ruled the course of nature, walked upon billows as if pavements, and hushed the sea to sleep. He healed the multitudes without medicine and made no charge for His service. He never wrote a book, yet all the libraries of the country could not hold the books that have been written about Him.

He never wrote a song, and yet He has furnished the theme for more songs than all the song writers combined. He never founded a college, but all the schools put together cannot boast of having as many students. He never practiced medicine, and yet He has healed more broken hearts that all the doctors far and near. He never marshaled an army, nor drafted a soldier, nor fired a gun, and yet no leader ever had more volunteers who have, under His orders, made more rebels stack arms and surrender without a shot being fired.

The names of the past proud statesmen of Greece and Rome have come and gone; but the name of this Man abounds more and more. Though time has spread almost two thousand years between the people of this generation and the scene of His crucifixion...HE STILL LIVES!

Herod could not kill Him, Satan could not seduce Him, death could not destroy Him, and the grave could not hold Him! He stands forth upon the highest pinnacle of heavenly glory, proclaimed of God, acknowledged by angels, adored by saints, feared by demons, as the living, personal Christ, our Lord and Savior.

“Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (Mark. 15:39). Truly He is!

Christ died on the cross for our sins, and His blood will cover our sins if we will believe and trust Him (Acts 16:31), repent of our sins (Acts 17:30-31), confess His deity before others (Romans 10:9-10), be baptized (immersed) in His name (Acts 2:38), and follow Him for the rest of our lives (1 John 1:7).

There was a Man - He is Savior and Lord. Will you trust and obey Him?

- from the Crystal Lake Church of Christ Bulletin (adapted); via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL.