Monday, October 29, 2012

You Win

By Rick Woodall

      As life passes challenges come and there are many hurdles to jump over. Discouragement creeps through the door of many lives and one may get to the point where they feel as if the floor under their feet has disappeared. We can become so preoccupied with what hasn’t happened that we cannot see what has.
      How has God blessed you? Is there anything that stands out in your mind that is delightful and positive? Maybe if we would just stop and calculate the awe-inspiring moments the hurdles will appear shorter.
      In the family of God we all have our worries and troubles. Sometimes we fill the overload of deadlines and personal goals. We get caught up in the nervous tension of the moment. We can’t hear the soothing song that causes worries to flee. 
      One can get all caught up in the physical that it blinds the eyes to the spiritual. The promises of Christ represent His teaching. While on this earth the people envisioned a physical kingdom. His promise was not based on things cash could acquire. Like them, we sometimes have trouble seeing the big picture.
      My gift reminds me that no matter how big the stress, God is still taking charge. One must finish the journey to fully get the picture.
      “Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” -  Phil 3:13-14
      Keep focused. Better days are just beyond the finish line.

- Rick Woodall is the minister for the Yorktown Road Church of Christ in Logansport Indiana. His weekly devotional message, Life Thoughts, can be found through this address:

Finding our Father; Knowing our God

By Bryan McAlister
      At the beginning of creation, Moses records how the Lord set out to form the pinnacle of His creation, mankind. “Let Us make man in our image, according to Our likeness…” (Gen 1:26).
      From the beginning, our relationship with God has been the most unique of all aspects of creation. We possess the “breath of life” (Gen 2:7).
      Our fulfillment was a great concern to God, and thus He made, “a helper comparable to him” (Gen 2:18). As man lived and inhabited Eden, the greatest blessing was that of the direct fellowship with God, “in the cool of the day” (Gen 3:8). If you pause and think about it, our beginning was with the greatest benefit for our souls, because we had the presence of our God, daily.
      Due to man being removed from the presence of God, we are dependent on the Lord revealing to us His will and His desires for our lives. We cannot truly know how to please God or how to respond to Him without being aware of who God is and what He, as deity is like. Furthermore, we will not know these things unless God chooses to reveal them to us. Paul gives us a concise commentary on this truth with I Corinthians 2:11,
      “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”
      God has also made Himself known to us by His relationships. We learn of His compassion and mercy when we look to God and His relationship with King David (Psalm 17:6). We learn of God’s deity when we see Him with Job (Job 38:4). Justice is clearly seen with God and Israel, during Israel’s days of departure and sin from God’s holiness (Isaiah 30:9). Much of what we know about our God, we learn through His dealings with those of the past, and in so doing we understand how the Lord deals with us in the present.
       The assurance we have in knowing our God through His revelation of Himself to us, is that our Lord has not and will not change (Malachi 3:6). Our God is our creator, He is our source of compassion and mercy, He will be our God, and He will show us justice, and when He does, we will understand His grace. Peering into the word, we will peer into our Lord’s identity, and in doing so, we will understand more of His presence with us, see the depth of His promises, and know His power, still reserved for us, the church, of today.

- Bryan McAlister preaches for the Centerville Church of Christ, in Centerville, TN.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Encouragement and Endurance

By Wade Webster

     Years ago, an experiment was conducted to measure people’s capacity to endure pain.
     How long could a bare-footed person stand in a bucket of ice water? It was discovered that when there was someone else present offering encouragement and support, the person standing in the ice water could tolerate pain twice as long as when no one else was present.   (John C. Maxwell, Encouragement Changes Everything, p. 25)
     THOUGHT: Could it also be the case that elders could serve twice as long, preachers could work twice as long, and members could be faithful twice as long if they had someone holding their hands and encouraging them? I believe that this is the case.  As you know, the book of Hebrews was written to those who were discouraged and in danger of falling away.  The inspired writer of this book often exhorted brethren to encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25).  In the twelfth chapter, we read these words: “Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees” (v. 12).

- Wade Webster; via
The Lantern, Highway Church of Christ, Sullivan, IL  Ron Thomas serves as preacher and an elder for the congregation and you may visit their website as

Undenominational Christianity

By William S. Cline
      Continually I come in contact with people who are confused over the various denominations that are in existence. Often I am asked, “Can I be a Christian without belonging to a denominational church?”
      In the early days of Christianity there were no denominations. The early followers of the Christ were simply called Christians (Acts 11:26). Collectively, they were referred to as “churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16). Religiously, the apostles Paul, Peter, John, and all the rest were neither Catholic, Protestant, nor Jew. They were Christians only.
      First century Christianity was undenominational Christianity. There term should not be confused with the modern idea expressed in “inter-denominational” or “all-denominational” Christianity. Those who tried to create divisions within the church in the first century which would have resulted in denominations were reprimanded (1 Cor. 1:10-13). Their allegiance was to Christ and to Him only. The “party spirit” was not present in pure New Testament Christianity. There were no divisions over doctrine which divides the religious world today. Those who followed Jesus, followed His Word; they had a “Thus saith the Lord” for all they practiced. They were followers of Christ, members of the church which He purchased with His blood—this and nothing more. They practiced no man-made creeds which would have made them members of man-made denominations.
       Certainly today if we follow the Christ as they did, we too can be just Christians, having “like precious faith” with the apostles (2 Pet. 1:1). We will be, as they were free from the error and confusion of denominationalism. We can worship and serve the same God as simply and acceptably as they did, following the pattern set forth in the New Testament. When we follow the same God and the same Christ using the blueprint given to us by Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, then we can be New Testament Christians just as men and women were nearly two thousand years ago.
      The plea of the church of Christ has been the same from the beginning. The Scriptures are sufficient to guide us in all matters of religion (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3). We plead for men to abide in the “old paths” and walk therein. You can be an undenominational Christian just as in the early days of the church by following only the teaching of the New Testament.

- William S. Cline; 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: 

Monday, October 22, 2012

We All Need Jesus

By R. W. McAlister
      Many of us feel fiercely independent, as though we don’t need anyone or anything but ourselves. Quite frankly, any who feel like that is simply wrong - everyone needs Jesus Christ: Let me tell you why: In the first place, man needs Jesus because he is a man. The first chapter of the Bible reveals that God created the world and everything in it. Of all God’s creations, only man was created as a spiritual being with the ability to glorify God. While animals act by instinct to fulfill their natural desires, God enabled man to overcome his natural desires and seek his spiritual welfare. “This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard: fear God and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Furthermore, man is not God.
      We have needs that we cannot supply, namely guidance. We need God’s guidance to help us make decisions about our lives. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12). If we are to please God, we must seek his will.
      In the second place, man needs Jesus because he is a sinner. From the time of Adam and Eve until now, the history of man shows clearly that he is a sinner. The Great Flood in the time of Noah was brought on because “the wickedness of man was great in the earth” (Genesis 6:5). Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Because of sin separating us from God, we need a Savior.
      Next, man needs Jesus because he needs help. As noted in Jeremiah 10:23, “It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” We cannot guide ourselves in the spiritual realm, without help, and most of us learn faster with an example to follow. Christ is that example: “For hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps.” (I Peter 2:21). We are exhorted to be “imitators of Christ” in I Corinthians 1:11.
      Regardless of the situation we face or conditions around us, Jesus has shown by His life how we can deal with it.
      Finally, man must spend eternity somewhere. “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Jesus shows only two destinies, and we choose by how we live here in this life. The wicked and righteous are separated to the left and right. He then says of the wicked, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt. 25:46). In spite of our sins, God “wants all men to be saved.” (I Tim. 2:4). The strongest proof of this is found in John 3:16, “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.”
      Dear friend, whether you realize it or not, you need Jesus Christ in your life. Make Him a part of it – build your life around Him - before it’s eternally too late. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).

 - R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Paul Harvey

By Kevin Rayner
     Story telling.  No, I'm not talking about telling lies. Looking at life and its lessons as a story to change a life. Henry Adams said, "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."
     Jesus was the great teacher. He taught by telling stories. Preachers are people who repeat the story of Jesus. Others have made a living telling history and events as story.
     Paul Harvey was born in 1918, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and his father died when he was just three years old. Since he showed an interest in radio, Paul's high school English teacher pushed him to take a job at KVOO, a local radio station. Occasionally, Paul would be allowed to do some announcing. Sometimes he read the news from the wire, and he even filled in a few times by playing his guitar. Paul gradually moved up the ranks, from station "go-fer" to spot announcer, newscaster, and manager. "I hung around the studio every minute I wasn't in school," he remembers. In 1944, Paul began two fifteen-minute news commentaries from a Chicago-based radio station. He added a segment in 1946 called "The Rest of the Story" in which he told an anecdote that had a surprise ending. In 1976, the ABC network decided to spin off that segment into its own series.
     Unlike the stereotype of many broadcasters as liberals, Paul Harvey champions the old-fashioned values of God, country, family, a strong work ethic, and rugged individualism. He speaks with a homespun style that, to many, has made him the spokesperson for middle America. No one sees him as a big city journalist, he's just a guy telling a story. Paul's efforts have earned him numerous honorary degrees and won him some of the most prestigious awards in the communications industry. With his distinctive style and instantly recognizable delivery, Paul Harvey draws listeners into his stories, tells it like it is, and then bids them to have a "Good Day!"
      Jesus came and finished His story so we might have a good day and eternal live. Tell someone else about Him. Be straightforward in your speech. Be clear in your explanations. Say "yes" or "no" more often than you say "maybe."
      Now you know the rest of the story.

- Kevin Rayner preaches for the Highland Church of Christ, Tecumseh, OK.  He may be contacted through the congregation’s website:

The Proper Use of the Old Testament

By Ron Cosby
      The proper way to use the Old Testament is as our example (Rom. 15:1-4; 1 Cor. 11:1-13). Thus, we must first determine what the New Testament teaches on the subject. This is accomplished by proper consideration of the New Testament itself. Then, one may seek to find Old Testament illustrations on the subject.
      For instance, the New Testament teaches that covetousness is idolatry (Col. 3:5). When Bible students search the Old Testament, several excellent examples illustrate God's abhorrence of covetousness. King Ahab coveted Naboth’s vineyard (1 Kin. 21:1ff). Because of Israel's inheritance law, Naboth would not sell the vineyard. Greedy Ahab killed Naboth and took his land. Thus, by this event, we see the wickedness of covetousness.
      Now, consider how we might misuse this same event. Suppose I contend that it is sin for “brother Smith” to sell his land. To prove my contention, I quote the words of Naboth: “Jehovah forbid ... that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee” (1 Kin. 21:3). Is this a proper use of the Old Testament? Don’t think so. I must first determine by the law of Christ, not the law of Moses, whether or not it is sinful to sell property. Where is the New Testament teaching that forbids a Christian to sell his inheritance? There is none. Thus, for me to conclude that the Lord forbid “brother Smith” from selling the inheritance of his fathers is an erroneous conclusion.
      Consider the following perversions of Old Testament concepts.
1) Since David married several wives, some conclude that polygamy is not sin.
2) The use of mechanical instruments of music is acceptable in Christian worship because David played a harp when he worshiped God.
3) The ceremonial priesthood for Christian service and worship is right in God’ s sight because priests mediated David's worship.
      Shall we pick and choose which one of these we want? For those who desire to worship as Heaven said in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), all such erroneous practices will be strenuously avoided. However, the religious world has failed to properly divide Old Testament doctrine from the Law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). They seek to follow the saints of old instead of Christ. Some practice polygamy. Many use the mechanical instrument of music in Christian worship. Others have their priesthoods. According to the teaching of the New Testament, such practices should be cast aside.
      For the cults, the denominations or the church to seek justification by practicing Old Testament law displeases God (Acts 15:10; Gal. 5:1, 6).

- Ron Cosby; - 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: 

Monday, October 15, 2012

God's Fashions

By John Telgren

      There are certain values that most fashion designers have in common. Here are some questions to ask ourselves. Are the values of most fashion designers godly? Do they define beauty in the same way that God defines beauty? Are fashion designers governed by dignity, propriety, or modesty? Do fashion designers want to help you be godly? The answers to these questions should reveal whether they are your people or not.
      Modesty is probably not what many fashion designers have in mind. If they do, they may define modesty differently. What is modesty? Here is the dictionary definition: Modesty is 1.the quality of being modest; freedom from vanity, boastfulness, etc. 2.regard for decency of behavior, speech, dress, etc. 3.simplicity; moderation.
      Here are some synonyms for modesty: Modesty is humility, reserve, constraint, demureness, decent, chaste, quietness. Antonyms for modesty are immodest, pride, ego, audacious, brazen, brash, arrogance, conceit.
      Modesty is something that applies to both men and women. Notice this passage: "Likewise, I want women to "adorn themselves with proper/modest clothing, modestly/decently and discreetly/moderation, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness (1 Tim 2:9-10).
      Some of these words, modestly and discreetly (kosmios and sophron) and are found again in 1 Tim 3:2 concerning elders. They are to be sophron, prudent/modest/sensible and kosmion, modest/respectable. The quality of modesty in dress is not limited to just women. According to this passage, modest dress is "making a claim to godliness." So the question concerning our dress and appearance should be, "Does this make a claim to godliness?"
      A similar passage reads. "Your adornment must not be merely external--braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but{let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God" (1 Pet 3:3-4).
      Our beautification, or adornment, should not be merely external. It is the "hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit..." Another translation for "gentle" is "meek" or "humble." It is the same word Jesus used when he said, "Blessed are the meek..."
      What is modesty? With this passage, you can define it as "Humility expressed in appearance."
     Fashion designers most likely do not have this in mind. In fact, they often have the exact opposite in mind. It is about drawing attention to self. It is about saying, "look at me." Whether it is overdressing or underdressing, humility is probably not what is being expressed. This is something to keep in mind the next time you go to the mall to buy clothes. Ask yourselves these questions when buying clothes or getting dressed. What is my motivation for how I dress? Is it godly? Do my outfits make a godly statement? Whose attention and what kind of attention am I aiming for? Does it reflect the grace and beauty of womanhood? Does it reflect the honor and dignity of manhood? Is it an expression of a humble and gentle spirit which is precious to God?

- John Telgren preachers for the Leavenworth Church of Christ in Leavenworth, KS. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at


By Charlie Gamble
     I looked in the New Testament to find a procedure for dismissing a preacher. I found the following examples:
• Stephen was stoned. (Acts 7)
• Paul speaks of all these things: being beaten, jailed and stoned among other things. 2 Cor 11:23-33
• James was killed with a sword. (Acts 12)
• Jesus was crucified. (Matt. 27)
     Even though emotions can be a little raw on occasion, I believe it is safe to say that these are not the means we want to use. Both the preacher and the congregation must consider the integrity of the church. The separation must be done with love for all souls involved.
     There can be no rumors or gossip. Division is condemned. This is a very sensitive responsibility of the leadership in the local congregation. Since the circumstances can very greatly and each congregation is autonomous, there is no set procedure. Any process decided upon must be fueled by love. Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 1 Peter 1:22 (NKJV) Let me add: “Whatever the circumstances.”

- Charlie Gamble preaches for the Brunswick Church of Christ in Southport, NC. He may be contacted at

Nobody's Perfect

By A.R. Gallaher and David A. Sargent
      “Yes, I made a mistake.  But nobody’s perfect.”
      Have you ever heard that statement?  Have you ever said it?
      Consider the insights of A.R. Gallaher on “nobody’s perfect”:  “It is a statement normally used by such as you and me to expresses a fault in each one of us.  This statement though is not used in a negative connotation.  It is a positive statement expressing that compared to everyone else, I am the same as they; therefore, I am normal and to be accepted by everyone else… We use the expression to excuse ourselves or others of receiving blame or guilt over some kind of behavior.  Expressing “nobody’s perfect,” we find commonality with all those around us and sometimes even feel better that we are not like the murderers, rapists, thieves, or other commonly held notions of ‘REAL BAD PEOPLE.’
      “I ask you to contemplate how terrible and totally depraved that statement is and the one who utters it.  We are not saying that it is wrong to make the statement; only that the statement expresses a horrible truth that absolutely needs a remedy.”
      “Murder is wrong, raping is wrong, theft is wrong; but so is lying, gossip, seeing a neighbor in need and not helping, greed, fornication, deceit, pride, disobeying parents, envy, jealousy, and much more given in Romans 1.
      We are all guilty, guilty, guilty!  There is no "degree" of sin with God [in the sense that ANY sin makes us guilty before God].  There is no “lesser of two evils.”
      When we realize that we are lost and need something from God to make us acceptable, then we will never use ‘nobody’s perfect’ in a positive way.  It should rip out our insides and cause us to fall on our knees and release any dignity and pride we had to ask God to forgive us.  I believe with every fiber of my being that until the complete knowledge of how loathsome my sins are to God, I will not comprehend what God did for me in sending His forgiveness in the person of His Son.”
      It’s true.  Nobody’s perfect.  “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23).  And the holy God can have nothing to do with sin.  Habakkuk the prophet spoke the truth when he said to God: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong” (1:13).  Nobody’s perfect, and that condemns us all.
      But God sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins so that we might have forgiveness and life (Ephesians 1:7).  “For God made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).  “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
      In order to accept His salvation and the gift of eternal life; one must place his faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
      It’s true.  Nobody’s perfect.  That’s the problem!  We need a Savior.
      Jesus IS that Savior.
      Won’t YOU submit your life to the Savior?

- A.R. Gallaher and David A. Sargent; David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled Living Water."  To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website:


By Tim Smith
     MATTHEW 7:13-14 Our Lord said, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth unto destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gait, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). The path we take in this life is of the greatest importance. If we make a mistake in choosing the right one, we will suffer eternally for it "where [the] worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:46). What are some of the markers on the right path? Are you on it?
     THE RIGHT PATH IS MARKED BY FAITH We cannot please God without faith: "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Hebrews 11:6). There is adequate reason for us to believe, for God has revealed the perfect New Testament to that end: "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name" (John 20:30-31). So, we must believe, and the Bible is believable.
      Belief that saves is always connected with the gospel of Jesus Christ. After his resurrection Jesus told the apostles: "...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). Now, they were not to go and preach denominational doctrines or religious error of any kind, but the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what they were to believe. If one believes the doctrines of men in the place of the gospel of Christ, he has not satisfied this requirement. When Philip preached, the people believed "...the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, and they were baptized..." (Acts 8:12). The preaching he did moved them to become citizens in God's Kingdom, not members of man-made churches. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). It is the truth that frees from sin (John 8:32), and the word of God is the truth (John 17:17). When we preach false doctrines to the world, they cannot believe the truth, and therefore they cannot be saved. If you were taught denominational doctrines before "being saved", you were not saved, as salvation is in the truth (I Peter 1:22-23).
     THE RIGHT PATH IS MARKED BY REPENTANCE When the forerunner of the Lord came preaching, he preached repentance (Matthew 3:1-2). When Jesus began preaching, he preached repentance (Matthew 4:17). He said, "...except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). According to Luke 17:3-4, repentance precedes forgiveness. When the apostles preached the first sermon in the name of the risen Christ, they preached repentance before salvation (Acts 2:38). When Peter reasoned with the Jews in Acts 3:19 he placed repentance before forgiveness. Simon, an erring Christian, was told to repent before he could again be saved (Acts 8:22). Paul warned about a time of restitution at the hands of the Lord, stating that God has commanded "...all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30-31).
     To walk in religious error is sin (Matthew 15:9). Therefore, if you walked in the doctrines and commandments of men in denominationalism prior to "being saved", you were not saved. To fellowship those in religious error is sin (Romans 16:17-18; II John 9-11). Therefore if you were "saved" in a church of men, you never really were saved, for all churches of men are in competition with the church of the Lord and shall not stand in the end (Matthew 15:13). Repentance must come before salvation.
     THE RIGHT PATH IS MARKED BY CONFESSION Jesus said that those who would confess him before men would be confessed by him before the Father (Matthew 10:32-33). Some refused to confess Christ because it was unpopular before the world, and they "loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:42-43). Paul said that confession is "unto salvation" (Romans 10:9-10). The classic example of confession is to be found in Acts 8:37 when the Eunuch said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
     Many today confess that they "believe that God for Christ' sake has" forgiven them, but such a confession is foreign to the Bible. Some confess their sins, and whereas we are all sinners (Romans 3:10, 23), we are not to merely confess this prior to salvation, but the Lord Jesus Christ. If you made an erroneous confession prior to "being saved", you were never saved.
     THE RIGHT PATH IS MARKED BY BAPTISM Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:16-17). John the Baptist was a baptizer (Matthew 3:6). Before his ascension to heaven Jesus instructed the apostles to baptize the believers (Mark 16:16). Some were said to have rejected the counsel of God by not being baptized (Luke 7:29-30). When Peter answered the question of the heart-pricked Jews on Pentecost he told them to be baptized (Acts 2:38). Ananias told Saul to be baptized (Acts 22:16). The Romans were told that it was when they obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine that they were saved (Romans 6:17-18). The form of doctrine was baptism, being like the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 6:3-4). Baptism is not for the purpose of joining a church of men, but "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38); for the "washing away" of "sins" (Acts 22:16); to be saved: "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us..." (I Peter 3:21).
     If one was baptized for any reason other than this, his or her baptism is not Bible baptism and does not stand to save the one so baptized. The denominations of men do not baptize for this purpose, therefore one baptized in them is still in need of Bible baptism, and is not saved.
     THE RIGHT PATH HAS ONE ADDED TO THE CHURCH There is nothing in the Bible about "joining the church". On Pentecost those who "gladly received the word were baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41). "The Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47). One cannot join the church, the Lord adds one to it.
     THE RIGHT PATH LEADS ONE INTO THE ONE CHURCH There is only one church which pleases God. Jesus promised to build only one (Matthew 16:18). The saved were added to only one (Acts 2:47). The church is the body (Ephesians 1:22-23) and there is only one body (Ephesians 4:4), therefore there is only one church. "For we have many members in one body...we, being many, are one body in Christ..." (Romans 12:4-5). We were called into one body (Colossians 3:15). Paul, by inspiration, wrote: "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body,...For the body is not one member, but many...But now are they many members, but one body" (I Corinthians 12:12-14; 20). The church of Christ is singular. Jesus warned that all other churches were to be cast into the fire (Matthew 13:15). One church is not as good as another. The Bible clearly teaches that there is only one church, and it is our duty to find it.
     ARE YOU ON THE RIGHT PATH OF LIFE? If not, why not obey the teachings of the Bible today? If we have written words of truth in this article, will you not obey them? If we are wrong, will you do us the service of pointing out the error of our way? Call the church of Christ in your community and ask to study the Bible with them today.

- 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:

Monday, October 8, 2012

An Impractical Prayer?

By Bill McCormick
      Prayers are often led in our assemblies    lamenting the deplorable state of morals and spirituality in our country. The ones offering the prayers sometimes express the hope that “somebody will do something about it,” or that there will be a return to biblical standards in our nation. Rarely do these prayers specify who that somebody is, or what would motivate the nation to return to its religious foundation.
      We need to clearly understand that there is only one valid system of morality and spirituality, and that it is found in the New Testament. We also need to realize that Jesus has given His church the job of making that teaching known at home and abroad (Mt. 28:19,20; Mk. 16:15, 16). The church is the God-ordained  institution that is supposed to “do something about it.” through the preaching of the gospel, we are the ones whose job it is to motivate the nation to return to its religious underpinnings.
      In I John 3:18. John said, “Little children, let us not love with word or tongue, but in deed and truth.” It is perfectly legitimate to pray for the spiritual welfare of the nation. But let us also pray that the church will perform its divine mission to promote that welfare. Let us also individually and congregationally become more active in applying the only solution to the problem.

- 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:

Little Things

By Bill Smith
      I was preaching in a gospel meeting at a rural church in southern  Oklahoma, and staying in the nice farm house of an elder of that church, and his good wife. One morning while I was awaiting the arrival of the local preacher so we could make some visits in the community, I was enjoying a cup of coffee with my hostess. I asked her if she had been reared in the Lord’s church and she said she had not. Then she volunteered the story of her conversion.
      When she was a little girl, probably five or so, a neighbor lady asked her mother if she might take her to Bible school with her. Her mother didn’t mind her going to church but she did not want to be inconvenienced by it. So this good neighbor would keep her Saturday night, bathe and dress her, take her to church Sunday morning, and feed her lunch before returning her to her home that afternoon. This continued until one or the other moved away after several months, or maybe years.
      After this she said she joined her family in a religionless life, and later married a man who was also disinterested in spiritual things. But when their first child was born, her husband decided he did not want to rear their child a heathen, and he suggested they start going to church somewhere. He had no preference and asked her if she did. She told him about the good Christian neighbor who was so kind to her, and had taken her to the church of Christ in their little community. He was impressed by her story and they decided to visit the local church of the Lord. They found a group of good, friendly people who took an interest in them. They studied the Bible and were eventually baptized into Christ. Now her husband was an elder, and they were the backbone of that church at which I was holding the meeting. They had several sons who were deacons in churches elsewhere, and daughters whose families were faithful workers for the Lord.
     All this was the result of a good Christian woman showing love and concern for the soul of a little neighbor girl. And the woman never knew her efforts had turned out. This story convinced me that I should never underestimate the value of doing little things for the Lord, and then leaving it up to the Lord to make them big. “I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:6)

- 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:

The Value of a Good Conscience

By Bob Clardy
     I heard about a man who once promised the Lord that he would sell one of his calves and give the money to the church to be used in mission work. But he disregarded this promise and never followed through. Every time he went to church services his conscience would remind him, ‘The calf must be sold!’ Still he did nothing about it.
     One Sunday he decided to go to an outdoor meeting in the rural community where he lived. As he approached, the people were singing an old familiar hymn, “The half has never yet been told.” Since the man’s conscience was still bothering him, he misunderstood the words and he thought he heard, “The calf has never yet been sold.” Running toward the group, he shouted, “Stop! Please stop singing! I know the calf has not yet been sold, but it will be tomorrow.”
     A conscience trained in accordance with God’s will can be of great help to us in many situations. It has prevented many a person from lying, cheating, stealing, etc.
     It is also wonderful to have a clear conscience. If your conscience is not clear you need to take the necessary steps to make it so.
     But you can reach the point in your life when your conscience no longer bothers you. It can become hardened or seared as with a hot iron. 1 Timothy 4:2- “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” This is a pitiable condition! Where it no longer bothers one that he is lost and in need of salvation.
     The dishonest person can get to the point that his conscience doesn’t bother him. The cheat, liar, adulterer, or meddler in other men’s matters can reach the same sad state.
     Be thankful for your conscience and always keep it trained correctly. Keep it clear by being a faithful Christian.

- Bob Clardy; via
The Contender, the weekly bulletin published by the Walnut Grove Church of Christ in Benton, KY.  Kevin Williams preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted through the church's website:

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Blame Game

By David R. Ferguson

     Man has had to deal with sin and its consequences since the beginning of time. When sin first entered the world in the Garden of Eden the initial reaction was for those who sinned to blame others.
"And the man said, `The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.' And Jehovah God said unto the woman, `What is this you have done?' And the woman said, `The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.'" (Genesis 3:12-13)
     When others are confronted with the sin in their lives they, too, wish to play the blame game, and sometimes they point their finger at God. But James disagreed with this tactic, for he wrote, "Let no man say when he is tempted, `I am tempted of God'; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no man: but each man is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin: and the sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death." (James 1:13-15)
     Other issues start to come into play when we try blaming others for our own behavior. Suddenly, we recognize the reality of sin. Even before God approached Adam and Eve they knew they had done wrong for they tried to hide from the Lord. Their relationship with the Creator had already changed due to their choice to defy the Father. They felt shame for what they had done and what their sin had brought to them.
God confronted Adam and Even when they sinned in the Garden, and He will still confront us today. His word confronts and condemns us, according to Jesus in John 12:46-49: "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believes on Me may not abide in the darkness. And if any man hear My saying, and keep them not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and receives not My sayings, has one that judges him: the word that I spoke, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I spoke not from Myself; but the Father that sent Me, he has given Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak."
     Paul let it be known that all are condemned and fall short of the glory of God because of our own sin in Romans 3:23, but in the very next two verses he tells us that those of us who are in Christ are justified through the grace of God and the redemption that comes through His Son: "…being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in His blood…." (Romans 3:24-25) And being justified by God's grace we become joint heirs of Christ: "…that, being justified by His grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:7)

- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Winning the Battle, But Losing the War

By Wayne Polk

How often have we seen people who got so involved in fighting for a cause they lost sight of the true essence of the cause for which they were fighting? Not too long ago a political advocacy group was standing in behalf of what they perceived to be a free speech issue.  In their opinion their point of view was not being heard on the radio by enough people. Their solution was to take those with the opposing point of view off the air.  When asked how silencing the opposition would further free speech, they had no real answer—just “it’s fair.”  They had become so involved in their agenda that they had lost sight of the real issue.

Sadly, as foolish as such may sound, many a sincere Christian has made that same mistake.  In the early verses of Revelation chapter 2 we read of a church that did that very thing.  The church at Ephesus was as dedicated to the cause of keeping the doctrine of Christ pure and to actively doing the work of God.  Such is indeed laudable, but the problem was, they were so involved in the battle, they forgot the objective of the war.  In silencing false teachers, they had accomplished very important objectives, but while doing so, strayed from the primary goal.

When the Apostle Paul last met with the elders of the church at Ephesus , he warned them to be on guard against false teachers who would come in during his absence (Acts 20:28-30).  Indeed they gave heed to the inspired warning and remained vigilant.  Likewise when the Apostle left Timothy, his young assistant, in Ephesus , his instructions were to teach those who were straying not to teach any other doctrine, and Timothy was successful in completing that assignment. However, though that battle was won, the overall goal was missed, for Timothy was also instructed that “…the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim. 1:5).  The  tragic result was a warning from Jesus, “Repent, or I will remove you as My church.”

The church at Ephesus was not at all rebellious: in fact, they were very eager to please God, but they were not doing so. They had started off as a loving church (Eph. 1:15), but they had become so involved in defending the truth that their love had taken a back seat to what today we often refer to as “faithfulness.”  For certain, doctrinal purity is important, but in the absence of love, it will be of no avail.  The truth must be tempered with love (Eph. 4:15).

When asked what the most important commandment was, Jesus did not hesitate in His reply: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  Then Jesus volunteered the second most important command: “The second is like it.  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:36-40).  The Apostle John quotes our Lord as telling His disciples what would be the thing that most clearly distinguished His followers from those who were not: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another’ (John 13:35).

While no one would dispute that it is of vital importance that Christians teach no other doctrine than that which was once for all delivered to the saints, it is noteworthy to observe that Jesus did not say that we would be known as His disciples by the doctrine that we teach.  Likewise, He also did not say that the most important thing was to teach pure and undefiled religion.  Pure and undefiled religion is practiced as well as taught.  (James 1:26-27)  In the same vein, love is not a doctrine that we teach with words only, but is reflected in the way we care for one another and for those in need.  (James 2:14-26;  1 John 3:13-23) 

The message of Jesus to the Ephesian church is a lesson for us all.  The failure to love makes all else in our Christian endeavor of little or no value, for without love, Jesus Himself will remove our lampstand.  “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18).

- 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:

Tuning To The Standard

By Warren E. Berkley

I was a musician for several years.  In junior high school and high school I enjoyed some achievement playing a trumpet.  I played in the Fort Smith Symphony for two seasons, then served in the Army Band for about three years.  In those days, musicians would tune with a device called a tuning fork (the predecessor of the pitch pipe and the new digital devices).  The conductor of the orchestra or band would strike the tuning fork with his hand, and let a clarinet player or violin player tune to that standard.  Once the musician tuned his instrument to the tuning fork, the rest of us would listen to that note and tune our instruments accordingly.  Today, if you attend an orchestral performance (and you get there a little early), you may hear the piano player striking a note like “C,” and all the musicians listening, then tuning to that note (up or down).  In this process, do you realize the tuning fork was the standard of authority and therefore unity.

Can you imagine the unmusical results if the conductor said to his musicians: “For tonight’s performance, we will not be using a tuning fork.  It will be our purpose to illustrate the beauty of individuality and diversity.  You find your own “C” according to your own desires, or tune to a neighbor if you like.  We do not want anyone to be stifled or limited by the authority of a single standard.  We will perform tonight without tuning to a standard.”  What do you think the performance would sound like?  What would the reviews say?  But why not take it further (this suppression of authority and exaltation of individualism)?  The conductor says, “Each one of you can play your favorite piece; ready, 1, 2, 3...”
But you know what?  The very presence of a conductor requires submission to leadership.  Fire the conductor!  Let the musicians show up whenever they want to, play whatever instrument they want, whatever piece they like, in tune or out of tune; and let them start and finish whenever they desire.  Let individualism prevail and authority die.  What has happened?  You have nothing left of any musical value.  No authority, just unattractive chaos that nobody would want to hear.  It would sound awful! 
Yet this is exactly what we observe in modern religion today.  There is resistance to Bible authority, praise for human plurality, unity in diversity and the growing deception that this is what God wants!

- via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg Church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL.