Monday, December 23, 2013

The Longing That Satisfies

By Ronald Bryant

     Christian character is not developed theoretically. Nor can it be developed merely by the force of human will. The Christian graces are the heartbeat of Christian character. The two are inseparably connected. Both are learned and developed in the deep recesses of the heart, in daily-life, and only in the context of vital life-union with Christ. Communion with God is the environment of spiritual life, and is thus the very nature of life in Christ.
     Discipleship is the manner and method of Christian devotion. The demands of the Christian faith are specific and unalterable, and they are essential to daily life and to the hope of eternal life.
     Christ begins with each Christian at the point of their new birth. He guides, protects, strengthens, and encourages their spiritual growth. That growth ever moves toward the possession of a greater knowledge of God and an ever increasing desire to know Him. Spirituality, in Christ's program, develops steadily within the heart and life of each genuine disciple, as they yield to and honor Him. The various stages of development come in order, with no stage being skipped. Steady growth takes place as each disciple is instructed in the "grace and knowledge" of Christ. God expects each Christian to grow spiritually – to conform to the image of Christ.
     The greatest and noblest desire is to be conformed to the image of Christ.
     The deep sincere desire to be like Christ is life-altering. Under the sway of love for Christ, the ruling desire of one’s heart is to catch and hold His mood and manner, to be attuned to Him in every thought, word, and deed. Such a desire is a blessing, not a burden. To possess this desire, or rather, to be possessed of this longing, is the greatest satisfaction.
     Devotion to Christ is life-altering. It is the rhythm of life, and the labor of a lifetime. It moves one to be ruled by a longing to cast one's heart into the mold that is Christ. Nothing is more attractive than the majesty of Christ. His brightness and glory moves us to love and adore Him; His mercy and grace catch and hold our affections and are the means whereby our souls are transformed as we yield to Him in obedience. We are truly Christian only when we are in Christ and are like Him. Only in Christ are we truly the people of God. Only in Him can our souls be satisfied.

- Ronald Bryant; 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:

Faith and Feeling

By Ty Nichol

     He asked how I was feeling, and I grinned a little—only a little—and said, “Aw, you don’t want to know.”  He nodded like a man that knew from experience what I meant, and he grinned a little—but only a little.  We were silent for a moment and then he said, “And how’s your faith?” It lights me up when I think of my response—a genuinely felt and deeply grounded response.  I said something like, “Now that’s a whole different story! Nothing seems ever to affect that.”  I’m not overly confident that I would be able to say that if I were living under extreme circumstances for a very long time.  As it is, I have my share of troubles and disappointments, but I don’t live in Darfur or Zimbabwe or big city streets or other such models of purgatory.
     But aren’t our feelings a gauge of how healthy our faith is? Um…not really! The notion that if you truly trust God you won’t feel pain or loss or disappointment is silly.  Trust in God doesn’t exempt a man or woman from hurt or frustration or anxiety.  Yes, I know we hear preachers and read others who say otherwise, and I know they can quote texts while they’re doing it.  And worse—because it’s more plausible—they tell us when the roof falls in on us, we shouldn’t stagger under the burden.  Faith is supposed to take the pain out of the pain and the weight out of the load, don’t you know.  (Faith in God through Jesus Christ is not the burdensome thing.  It’s an easy yoke and a light burden; but in a fallen world it generates the stress of swimming against the current.)
     Imagine one of the glib ones asking Habakkuk, “How are you feeling?”  “Awful!” Habakkuk would tell him.  “I just heard a message I don’t like.  I heard and my heart pounded.  My lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled” (Habakkuk 3:16).  If a modern believer answered this way, a modern triumphalist response might well be, “Oh, that’s too bad.  I thought you really trusted in God.  If you did, you wouldn’t feel this way.”  Had someone said that to Habakkuk he would have said, “Oh, but I do trust! Though the fig tree crop fails and the fields produce no fruit, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights” (3:17-19).
     This is one of the loveliest, strongest confessions in the entire Bible, and he makes it while he trembles and while his legs can hardly support him.  The same pounding heart and quivering lips that confessed his awful anxiety defied the anxiety he felt.  This is not an unusual case, but even if it were, it would make the case that fear and anxiety can exist in the presence of the profoundest faith.

- 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:

Christ Crucified

By Bobby Duncan

     Seeing that Jews ask for signs, and Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumblingblock, and unto Gentiles foolishness; but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:22-24).
    Is this statement by Paul concerning his preaching an oversimplification? Or is it actually the case that the term Christ crucified accurately denotes the preaching of that peerless apostle? In 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 he declared: And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
     This verse affirms not only that Paul preached “Jesus Christ, and him crucified,” but that his preaching was limited to that theme; he knew nothing else to preach. That which he here terms, “Jesus Christ, and him crucified,” he calls simply, “the cross,” in 1 Corinthians 1:18, where he wrote, “For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God.”
    While we know that the preaching done by Paul was not limited to the mere fact of the crucifixion of Christ, it is significant that he used these terms to denote what he preached. The cross of Christ was central to the preaching, not only of Paul, but of all inspired preachers in the New Testament. The magnificent sermon delivered by Peter on Pentecost of Acts 2 centered around the cross, and showed both logically and scripturally that Jesus of Nazareth whom the Jews had crucified had been raised from the dead, thus proving Him to be the Christ, the Son of God. In preaching to Cornelius and his household, Peter declared: And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the country of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom also they slew, hanging him on a tree. Him God raised up the third day, and gave him to be made manifest (Acts 10:39-40).
     The Jewish leaders at Jerusalem knew exactly what the theme of the preaching was that was done by the apostles. They said to the apostles on one occasion:
     Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us (Acts 5:28).
     Obviously, the apostles had been preaching about the crucifixion of Christ. Jesus was speaking of His crucifixion when He said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32).
     We understand that Jesus had to die to enable God to be infinitely just and at the same time justify sinners (Rom. 3:24-26). But why the cross? Why crucifixion? The cross underscores the seriousness of sin and God’s hatred of it. The world glorifies sin. The religious world, in large measure, has chosen to classify sin as an ailment instead of a misdeed. Even in the church, sin is overlooked and its seriousness is minimized. But if one wants to know if sin is really bad, let him look at the cross. For me to behold the cross, realizing what took place there was brought on by my sins, causes me to see that sin is not something to be smiled at; it is serious. God hates sin.
    The cross emphasizes man’s lost condition. The familiar parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost boy (Luke 15) remind us that the “Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). If one wants to know God’s estimate of how terrible it is for one to be lost, then let him look at the cross and see the price God was willing to pay to redeem lost humanity.
    The cross points to God’s love for sinners. Though God hates sin, He loves sinners. That which pictures God’s hatred of sin is that which portrays God’s love for sinners. 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).
     Perhaps a passage even more meaningful in one sense is Galatians 2:20: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
     This passage does not merely say He died for sinners, but for me; as much for me as if I were the only sinner in the world. He loved me, and gave himself for me!
     The cross emphasizes the necessity of obedience to the Scriptures. Jesus went to the cross because that was the only way He could be obedient to the Scriptures. With the cross casting its shadow over Him, He said: “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Mat. 26:53-54). In Philippians 2:8 Paul wrote that Jesus “humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Do you want to know if obedience to that which is written is important? You will find the answer when you look at the cross.
     But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world (Gal. 6:14).

- 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, December 16, 2013

Our Diary

By Toby Miller

     I remember walking through a store with my Dad when I was ten years old (52 years ago!), and asking him what gift I could buy Mom for Christmas. He suggested a five - year diary. At the time, I thought that was an extremely unexciting present! I thought Mom would be much more pleased receiving a new fishing pole, or something like that. However, since Dad was paying for it, I went with his suggestion.
     That began a tradition that continues to this day. Every five years, I buy my Mother a new five-year diary! In 1978, my wife and I were doing mission work in England when the fifth year rolled around. I purchased a diary in Birmingham, England and shipped it overseas to her in Indiana thus keeping the tradition going.
     My Dad passed away in 1995, but my Mother, now 86, still enjoys reading through the old diaries and bringing to remembrance many of the good things that happened throughout the past fifty years. Many arguments have been settled by those diaries! When questions arise concerning the time or place of an event, my Mom just looks it up in her diary, and that settles it!
      The fact is, each one of us are writing in a “diary” everyday of our lives, and God is reading it. As we are about to finish our personal 2011 diary, it would be wise to go back and consider how it reads (2Corinthians 13:5). What has Heaven recorded about your life during this past year (cf. Genesis 18:21). What has Heaven recorded about your zeal for the Body of Christ? (e.g. John 2:17). How many excuses has it recorded concerning why you couldn’t assemble to worship on various weeks throughout the year? (cf. John 15:22). We will probably “argue” with God on Judgment Day, but it will avail nothing, as Jesus explains quite potently in Matthew 7:21-23. God will “check our diaries,” compare it with His Word, and that will settle it.
     We need to understand that it is not God who will judge us on the last day - - it is HIS WORD (John 12:48) - - God will simply issue the verdict and sentencing: “enter into the joys of the Lord” (Matthew 25:21), or “cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30).
     My prayer for you is “peace.” But genuine peace can only come from the “Prince of Peace” who is Jesus (Isaiah 9:6 w/ Luke 2:11). Jesus promises this unique peace to His disciples (John 14:27); it is a “peace that passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7). It is an inner peace that surpasses all the uncertainties of this world; but it can only be realized within the soul when one is following in the footsteps of Jesus (1Peter 2:21), who is the Word (John 1:1).
     Diaries can be fun and enjoyable, but they can also have the opposite effect; it all depends on what is written therein.

- 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:

After Baptism

By Bryan Matthew Dockens

     Trusting that God's word means exactly what it says, you have obeyed the gospel by being baptized into Christ to gain salvation (Mark 16:16; 1Pet. 3:21). Now what?
     REJOICE. After Philip the evangelist baptized the treasurer of Ethiopia, “he went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:35-39), and after Paul and Silas “spoke the word of the Lord to him”, the prison keeper in Philippi “and all his family were baptized...and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household” (Acts 16:32-34). Joy is the most appropriate reaction to one’s baptism because baptism brings about salvation, and there can be no greater event in any person's life than to be saved from the condemnation of hell. Neither material success, nor marriage, not even the birth of one’s own children or grandchildren merit as much delight as the knowledge that God’s grace has spared you from the consequences of sin. Even the angels of heaven thrill at the news of one repentant sinner (Luke 15:7,10).
     ENJOY THE COMPANY OF OTHER DISCIPLES. After appearing to him on the road to Damascus, the Lord sent Ananias to Saul, who “arose and was baptized...then Saul spent some days with the disciples”(Acts 9:18-19). Peter went to the household of Cornelius in Caesarea, “And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days" (Acts 10:48). In Philippi, the merchant Lydia believed the gospel when she heard Paul preach it, “And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.’ So she persuaded us" (Acts 16:15). After the Philippian jailor was baptized with his family, he “brought them”, that is Paul and Silas, “into his house” (Acts 16:33-34). “Many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized”, whereafter Paul “continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:8, 11). Although baptism is the culmination of several steps leading to salvation, it is merely the beginning of one's life as a Christian. Those formative days, weeks, and months following baptism require nurturing from other disciples. The scriptures teach that Christians are and ought to be dependent on one another, “so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (Rom. 12:5; cf. 1 Cor. 12:13-27).
     CONTINUE STEADFASTLY. On the day of Pentecost following Christ's ascension, Peter preached repentance and baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), adjuring his audience to be saved (Acts 2:40). “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:41-42). We reiterate: although baptism is the culmination of several steps leading to salvation, it is merely the beginning of one’s life as a Christian.
     With baptism, the new Christian commits to a life of faithfulness thereafter. Paul exhorted, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).
     LEAD OTHERS TO CHRIST. After Saul “arose and was baptized” (Acts 9:18), and “spent some days with the disciples” (Acts 9:19), “Immediately he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). Don’t be satisfied with your own salvation while others perish! Jesus taught, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16).
     What have you been doing since you were baptized?

- via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg Church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL.  You may visit their website at

The Book of Revelation

By Curtis L. Graves

     Revelation 14:6-7 says: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”

     Several years ago a so called religious broadcast network put out a brochure trying to sell subscriptions to their programming. An interesting part of that brochure was the bold headline, which read: “A Fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy.” The brochure claimed that what John saw in the above passage was not an angel but his best description of a modern communication satellite with huge outstretched solar wings. Is this really an example of serious Bible scholarship from these televangelists?
     Revelation is certainly one of the most misunderstood and misused books of the Bible. Would the persecuted Christians of John’s day really be comforted by the fact that one day there would be satellites in space so that so-called preachers could tell fanciful tales such as this one? Halsay and others talk about finding helicopters out of locust, tire rationing, and nuclear weapons in the book of Revelation. Again, I ask what comfort would that be to those persecuted Christians?
      Revelation must be looked at through first-century glasses. What did it mean to the people of John’s day? What message did Jesus have for those persecuted Christians? It was not satellites and tire rationing. It was relief soon (Rev. 1:1); and ultimate, final victory for the faithful, obedient Christian. (Rev. 2:10).
     Do not be lead astray by false teachers. The angel is symbolic of God’s messengers, His saints, preaching the Gospel to the world. The message is: “fear God,” “give Him glory,” and “worship Him.” This is the message we bring to you. We are not trying to sell subscriptions or tell you fanciful tales just the simple message above as presented in the Bible.

- 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, December 9, 2013

Where Are You?

By Charles C. Pugh III

     An old gospel preacher stood before a great audience and announced the text of his sermon.  He said, “My text is Genesis 3:9.  The Bible says, ‘And the Lord God called unto Adam and said unto him, Where art thou?’”  The preacher continued, “I will make three divisions in this study.  First, every man has to be somewhere.  Second, some men are where they ought not be.  Third, they that are where they ought not be are one day going to find themselves where they don’t want to be!”
      God’s question to Adam (“Where are you?”) serves to remind us today of spiritually geographic locations where accountable persons find themselves.
     Some ARE in Christ.  Those who have obeyed the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 6:17), and are living faithful to Christ are in Him (Ephesians 1:3).  There is no condemnation in Christ (Romans 8:1).  There is forgiveness of sins in Christ (Ephesians 1:7).  There is salvation in Christ (2 Timothy 2:10).  The Scriptures teach that one is baptized into Christ’s death where He shed His blood (Romans 6:3-4; John 19:33-34).  Paul wrote, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).  Having been baptized into Christ, one remains in this spiritual location by walking in the light (1 John 1:7) and remaining faithful to Him unto death (Revelation 2:10).
      Some WERE in Christ.  It is possible for those who were once in the right spiritual location (in Christ) to depart (fall away from) that location.  Those who think they stand in Christ are warned to “take heed” lest they fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).  The grace of God is in Christ (2 Timothy 2:1), and some have fallen from that grace (Galatians 5:4).  Some were in the location where they had escaped the sinful pollutions of the world, but they moved to another location where they were condemned (2 Peter 2:20-22).  It is possible for those who have been enlightened by the truth, and received the gift of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 6:4; 10:26-32; Acts 2:38), to fall away (Hebrews 6:4-6).  Those who do not abide in Christ will, one day, be where they will eternally regret such (cf. John 15:6).
      Some ARE NOT (and never have been) in Christ.  To be outside of Christ is to be without hope (Ephesians 2:12).  Most are in this location (Matthew 7:13-14), because they have not obeyed the gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9).
      Where are you?  Are you in Christ?  Are you away from Christ due to having fallen?  Are you outside Christ because of having not obeyed the gospel?  “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith...” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

- via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg Church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL.  You may visit their website at

The Power of One

By Charles Harmon

     We tend to place the value on something by the size of the number. In our thinking, normally ten would be greater than one or of more value than one. But on the contrary, in the economy of God there is power in just one. The number one is most significant and important. There is power in one.
     Walk with me now through the scriptures that we may provide scriptural evidence to substantiate this truth. We want to consider:
The Power of One sin: Romans 5:12-13.
The Power of One Savior: Luke 2:11, Isaiah 53:2, and Luke 10:10.
The Power of One Salvation: Psalms 27, Hebrews 7:25, and Romans 1:16.
     In John 17:20-23 the Bible declares:
"Neither pray I for these alone but for them also that shall believe on me through their word. That they all may be one as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me and the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one even as we are on: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."
     I’d like to challenge our thinking by looking at what Jesus is praying for in our text:
That we may be one as He and the Father are one
That we may be one in the Father and Him
That the world may believe that God has sent Him
     The same glory that was given to Jesus by the Father, Jesus has given to us that we may be one, one even as the Father and Jesus are one.
     My conclusion: In order to accomplish this oneness, we must not allow racial preferences, personal preferences, personal likes and dislikes, past practices, tradition, or any other thing to prevent us from having this oneness. God the Father and Jesus the Son are depending on us to demonstrate this oneness here on this earth while we journey.

- 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:


By Chuck Marshall

      “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mt. 4:20). Simon and Andrew immediately left their nets and followed Him. Having been fishermen since childhood they knew much about catching fish, but probably little about catching souls. By examining biblical principles, you and I can also learn to be fishers of men.
     First, “fish” Fervently. Those who are enthusiastic about fishing spend their time and their money on the sport, or the business as it may be. They don’t give up quickly, and even when the fish are not biting they will fish all night. They also enjoy talking about fishing. Likewise when fishing for men, Jesus teaches us to be fervent—enthusiastic, devoted, and joyful.
      Next, “fish” Intelligently. Understand that everyone is not reached in the same manner. Knowing people and how to respond to different kinds of personalities, knowing the person’s social, religious and biblical background, and knowing when to press and when to “ease up” are all keys to effective soul-fishing. We need wisdom in what we say and how we say it (Col. 4:5-6).
      Then, “fish” Steadily.  Keep at it. Sporadic fishing doesn’t get the job done. Sometimes the fish aren’t biting – there is no interest in the bait. But if you stop because of that you may miss out when they become interested again.
      Finally, “fish” Hopefully.  Discouragement can end a fisherman’s career. You are going to hit slumps if you fish long enough. The prospect of catching a fish keeps a fisherman going. No one gets up at 4 AM, loads up the gear, buys, the tackle and bait, and travels for hours who does not expect to catch something that day. So it should be as we fish for men. It is the joyful anticipation of winning a person to Christ that compels us to keep fishing for men (Luke 15:7).
- via The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Dongola Church of Christ, Dongola, IL.  Gerald Cowan serves the congregation as minister.  He may be contacted at

Monday, December 2, 2013

“You Are the Light of the World”

By John B. Tracy

     In the Los Angeles Coliseum some years ago, more than 100,000 spectators were present for an event honoring the city's war heroes. The master of ceremonies sad, “Perhaps you sometimes say to yourself, ‘My job isn’t important because it is such a little job!’ But you are wrong. The most obscure person can be very important. Let me show you what I mean.” Suddenly, on cue, the great transformers which provided the stadium lighting were shut down leaving the coliseum in total darkness.
     Then the speaker struck a match, and in the blackness the tiny flame could be seen by all. “Now you can see the importance of one little light.,?” asked the master of ceremonies. “Suppose we all strike a light.” Instantly matches were struck all over the stadium and everyone gasped with surprise. Quickly and effectively they understood that it is within the power of each individual to “light a candle” instead of “curse the darkness.”
     Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world...Let your light so shine before men that they see your good works and glorify your father which is in Heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). The apostle Paul adds this admonition: “Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).
     It is true our match-lighting influence can make a difference in a world darkened by sin. It is also the case that our collective lights can come together to shine a great beam of soul-saving illumination. Individually or collectively. God expects us to bum brightly where we are to make a positive difference in our sphere of influence.
     Remember: “You are the light of the world!”

- 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:

The Grandest Name

By Cecil F. Cox

     I want to ask you a question. Why be a Christian? Many times people reason, being a Christian requires very much of one. This is true. Being a Christian requires dedication and commitment to God and His Will. Being a Christian requires sacrifice. It is not the easiest life one could live. As one looks at these things he may be tempted to rephrase the question. Why would any one want to be a Christian?
      One reason to be a Christian is to wear the grandest name given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Let me ask you, How does it feel to wear the name “American”? The mention of this thrills us and we rejoice. How grand and glorious it is to be an “American.” But may I emphasize that this grandeur and glory is multiplied again and again when we think about wearing the name “Christian.” In Jas 2:7, speaking of those who persecuted Christians, James said, “Do not they blaspheme that worthy (honorable, ASV) name by which ye are called?” We want to emphasize, the name “Christian” is a “worthy” name! The name “Christian” is an “honorable” name.
      Someone may ask, “Why?” Some believe the name “Christian” was given to Christians by their enemies, in derision. They tell us the name was given as an object of ridicule. This is not the case. In Acts 11:26 we read, “...the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.” The words “were called” in this verse are from a word meaning a “divine calling.”
      So according to the passage, God was the One Who did the calling. J.H. Thayer in defining the word here translated “were called” says, “to give divine command or admonition, to teach from heaven, to be divinely admonished, instructed.” So, this calling was not by their enemies in derision or ridicule but rather it was given to them by God (cf. Isa. 62:2). When we wear the name “Christian” we wear the name God gave to His people. It is a shame that many people today wear a name in religion that has come from man and not named by God. When we are Christians we can wear the grandest, greatest name given among men.
      This is the name in which the apostle Peter strongly affirms we can glorify God (1 Pet. 4:16). The apostle Paul said that the name of Christ is above every name (Phil. 2:9). He zealously and earnestly sought to persuade King Agrippa to become a Christian (Acts 26:28). We must realize that there is something in a name. We should gladly wear the name God has given us. In religion we need nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else.

- Cecil F. Cox (slightly condensed and adapted); via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg Church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL.  You may visit their website at

Where Did You Learn That?

     They are embedded in our language. We use these expressions often. They are rich in meaning, but do you know their source?
“The skin of my teeth”
      I use this one as a test question on my teaching training series. Did it come from the Bible or from somewhere else? Most folks don’t know its origin, but it comes from Job 19:20. In Job’s suffering, he said, “I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.”
     That’s not a very wide margin unless you don’t brush your teeth for weeks!
“Wolf in sheep’s clothing”
     Jesus is our source on this one. The Lord was warning his disciples not to believe false prophets. Then he said that false prophets often “come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matt. 7:15) Isn’t that a vivid picture? Just imagine how a wolf would look if he had a sheep skin wrapped around his body.
“Salt of the earth”
     In our conversation we often refer to how good a man is. We say he is really wonderful. Then when we want to put the very best spin on his good qualities, we say, “He’s the salt of the earth.” That’s what Jesus said to his disciples. “You are the salt of the earth.”
“A drop in the bucket”
     Isn’t that a strange expression? How would anyone ever come up with that kind of language picture? Believe it or not, we got it from the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah compared God’s power to the power of men. To illustrate it, the prophet said the nations are only “a drop in the bucket.” (Isa. 40:15)
     This means that people are influenced by the Bible even though they haven’t read the Bible in years. The analogies are buried deeply within our English language, and are used by believers and unbelievers alike.
     You might remember some of these the next time you need an opening for a Bible conversation. If someone uses one of these expressions, ask them, “Do you know where that expression originated?” And with that question, you are launched into a spiritual discussion.

- Robert Oglesby; 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: