Sunday, February 18, 2024

The Wrath of God

By Andrew Beasley


    To this day I can still remember the anxiety and the fear that would overcome me when my mother instructed me to go and “pick a switch.” Being on the end of the wrath of an authority figure because of our wrongdoing is not a pleasant feeling. Yet, at the same time, when people break the law or cause us offense we desire retribution, justice, and vengeance. As Christians, we can be certain that our God will avenge the wrongs we are subjected to by Satan and his forces. The book of Revelation, in part, is a reminder that God will avenge His people.
    However, we should remember what the wrath of God unleashed upon man looks like. One might think of the flood, or the Amalekite people, or perhaps even the people of Nineveh (Nah. 1:2) who were spared for a time by the preaching of Jonah. Paul describes the wrath of God as being terrible (2 Cor. 5:11) and points to it as a reason we persuade others to follow Jesus. Yes, God is an avenger and yes, He will avenge His people. But that does not mean we should hope for this. Instead, we should desire that everyone we meet in our lives avoids our avenging God.


- Andrew Beasley serves as a minister with the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: https://nwchurchofchrist.com/about/



Priscilla and Aquila and Apollos

By David R. Ferguson


    There’s a very interesting passage from the Book of Acts I want like to share with you: Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by race, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, knowing only the baptism of John: and he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:24-26)
    This passage is a wonderful example of demonstrating proper behavior towards one another on the part of brothers and sisters in Christ. As part of our growing in the fruit of the Spirit, we are commanded to be patient with our fellow Christians, and especially those who are babes in Christ: "I...beseech you to walk worthily of the calling wherewith you were called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; giving diligence to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3)
    What if Priscilla and Aquila had behaved differently when they first encountered Apollos? What if they had immediately criticized him in front of everyone in the synagogue? How do you think Apollos would have felt and reacted if these two individuals, without confronting him first in private, had talked about him behind his back, and called him a "false teacher" and circulated letters among the brethren disparaging his character and motives? Wouldn’t great harm have come to the church, the church which Jesus loved so much that He purchased it with His own blood (1 Peter 1:18-19)? I dare say it would have! Too many times people wish to brand their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ with appellations such as "false teacher" or "apostates" when an honest examination of the facts doesn’t warrant these labels being attached. Many times, these individuals may only be mistaken, as was the case with Apollos, or maybe they simply hold a difference of opinion on a matter that falls within the parameters of Christian liberty, as Paul wrote in Romans 14. It’s true that we must "contend earnestly for the faith" (Jude 3), but let’s make certain we aren’t being contentious for the faith instead. Let’s follow after the example of Priscilla and Aquila, so that we can achieve the same result as they did with Apollos: And when he was minded to pass over into Achaia, the brethren encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him: and when he was come, he helped them much that had believed through grace; for he powerfully confuted the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. (Acts 18:27-28) Thankfully, Priscilla and Aquila demonstrated true agape love for Apollos. The world has been greatly blessed by their love. May the Lord bless you!


- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Mentor Church of Christ in Mentor, OH.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://mentorchurchofchrist.com/ or davidferguson61@yahoo.com



The Gospel According to You

By Gerald Cowan

  We write a living gospel,
    Adding to it every day
    By every thing we do
    And every word we say.

  We write it in the eyes of those
    Who see how we treat each other
    And who we think is worthy 
    To be called a sister or a brother.
   
  We write it in the hearts of those 
    Who hear us promise as we pray
    Then close our hands and hearts
    To those who struggle in the way.

  Others estimate our wealth
    By how we act and live.
    They estimate our spirit’s health
    By what to man and God we give.

  Way of the world and way of God
    Is easy to compare. 
    They know the place we give the Lord
    By what our lives declare.

  You write a living gospel, and 
    It may be false or true.
    What does anybody read in
    The gospel according to you?


- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com



Grow Up and Do Better

By Joe Chesser


     How sad it is for Christians to make foolish threats towards other Christians. How wrong it is for worldly minded Christians to bully the church into getting their way: “If I don’t get my way, I’ll never come back to this church!”  How disheartening it is when Christians act like mere men instead of having the Spirit of Christ.
    I suspect that being sad and disheartened, maybe even shocked, were some of the feelings the Apostle Paul must have felt when he heard about what was going on in the church at Corinth.  In the church!  Christians acting like the rest of the world! There was jealousy and quarreling.  There were people arguing and dividing over who their favorite preacher was. He wanted to address them in a spiritual way, but it was all too obvious that they were incapable of comprehending what he would have said.  Babies can’t be fed solid food, and it was shocking that they were still acting like babies (1 Cor. 3:1-4).
    Fast forward 2000 years, and churches are still troubled with Christians who are acting like worldly-minded babies.  It would be shocking to us if it wasn’t so common. If I were a betting man I’d wager a bunch of money that every one of you reading this article knows of a church that’s troubled right now by quarreling, jealousy and/or division over preachers.
    I’m sorry that the church in Corinth was having trouble. However, I am thankful that the Holy Spirit included their story in the Scriptures.  It helps us realize that there will always be churches plagued with problems of spiritual immaturity.  It gives us hope that churches in trouble can find solutions to their problems. But most importantly, the trouble in Corinth teaches us what the major solution is. Actually what is alarming is not that the church in Corinth had problems.  What is most surprising is that the solution is so simple.  You want to stop the fussing and fighting and division in the church?  The way to do is to listen to the Spirit of God instead of the spirit of the world.  Just look at the larger context of 1 Cor. 2 & 3.
    Paul said, beginning in 2:6, that he was speaking a message of wisdom to the spiritually mature, a message God had in mind before time began, revealed by the Spirit.  However, the “rulers of this age,” or worldly-minded people, could not understand it.  They didn’t have the Spirit’s help.  In 2:12 Paul wrote, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.”  Living by the spirit of the world is different from living by the Spirit of God. When people, even Christians, listen to the spirit of the world instead of the Spirit of God there will be quarreling and jealousy and division (3:1-4).  When Christians listen to the Spirit of God there will be peace, love, patience, gentleness, kindness, etc. (Gal. 5:22-23).  Threats and bullying come from worldly-minded people.  Dividing over preachers comes from worldly-minded people.  As Paul said in 3:16-17, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys the temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.”  Selfish, worldly-minded thinking will destroy God’s sacred temple, the church, and dishonor God.  No church anywhere in the world is immune to this.  However, Spirit led thinking will bring peace and unity to the church, and glorify God. 
    The trouble in Corinth doesn’t have to be our trouble.  We can grow up and do better.


- Joe Chesser worked for years with the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. Now retired from full time preaching, he may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com


Who is Lord?

By Ronald Bartanen


Therefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
    Our world seems to be having a problem deciding who is Lord—who has authority over all.  Who infallibly defines what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil? Atheism, in excluding any divine deity, leaves it open to the subjective judgment of man himself, whether that of an individual or that of an elite group representing a particular culture.  Some seem to believe the U.S. Supreme Court has such a privilege.  We have evolved (or, more accurately, devolved) into denying millions of unborn children the right to life, and, by court-authority, redefining marriage to include same-sex couples.  Others look to religious leaders, accepting what is decreed by ecclesiastical authorities as acceptable, with little question as to its legitimacy.  Still others look to none other than themselves.  To such, if it feels good, or if it seems good, it; must be good; and if it deprives them of pleasure, or if it seems bad, it must be bad.  Whichever of the positions is considered, it puts man himself in the position of lordship.
    A true Christian will agree with Paul, who, in Philippians 2:11, declared that “Every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”  Jesus gave His apostles the Holy Spirit to guide into “all truth” (John 16:13).  Their words, written in Scripture, are by the authority of Christ, who is Lord.  Courts, popes, church councils and others may seek to deviate from His authority, replacing it with their own opinions, based on their own hearts, but in the end it will be that “Every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”  God’[s woes will be pronounced upon a people who “call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20). 
     Jesus asks, “Why call ye; me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).  Who is your Lord?

- Ronald Bartanen is a retired minister who for many years served the Lord's church in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. After the passing of his beloved wife, Doris, Ron has relocated from Illinois to Florida where he is near family. He may be contacted at: ron33dor@yahoo.com


Sunday, February 11, 2024

Forsaking All To Possess Everything

By Wes Garland


    I want to ask you a question, “Would you be willing to give up everything so that you could possess everything?” Now I know that you are probably saying, “Well, it depends on what it is.” What if I were to tell you that everything you would have to give up is only the things that you don’t like or care about? You would probably say, “SURE!” What if I were to tell you that everything you would have to give up is the temporal thing to possess something for all eternity? With this, you would probably be a little more skeptical to agree to do it. But what if I were to tell you that everything that you would have to give up are the things that mean something to you and you have close ties? Now you would probably be more like, “NO!” We would say this because these things are things that we believe are important to us or mean more than everything in the world to us. It is here that CHANGE would be required and it makes us uncomfortable. Jesus made a very clear statement in Luke 14:33 “So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” We have to compare the value of the things that we are involved in, intertwined with, and enjoy to the value of having Christ in our lives and life everlasting. Only those who see the value of salvation will be willing to forsake everything they have to to possess everything that is the best of eternity. These are the ones who believe, and I mean absolutely believe, in what the Bible says and the reward that God has for those who are willing to do what He says. I’m reminded of Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Do we firmly believe in the word of God and the reward that God has promised? If we are not willing to forsake everything, then there is a change that needs to happen in our lives.
    Are we one of the ones who are willing to forsake all to possess everything?


- Wesley Garland preaches for Warners Chapel church of Christ in Clemmons, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://warnerschapelchurchofchrist.org/



What True Fellowship Involves

By Edd Sterchi


    “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16a, NKJV)
    Even though written in the negative, I believe we can examine this text and extrapolate many positive aspects of true fellowship which come forth clearly in the words used. So here’s what true fellowship involves:
* Yoked together – True fellowship involves being linked together for the purpose of being productive. Fellowship operates best when people work closely together for a common cause.
* Fellowship – True fellowship involves companionship and comradery (which is the definition of the Greek word translated “fellowship”). Fellowship is formed when people are truly together.
* Communion – True fellowship involves close, personal association with one another. Fellowship is strengthened when personal connections are made.
* Accord (harmony, NAS) – True fellowship involves unity, harmony, and peace. Fellowship grows when people get along.
* Part (share, ESV) – True fellowship involves sharing and partaking together. Fellowship blossoms most beautifully when everyone does their part.
* Agreement – True fellowship involves being one in thought, belief, expression, effort, and outlook. Fellowship moves forward when there is common ground.
    Truly, true fellowship is wonderful. Take a look at the above list again and note all the benefits of true fellowship. Resolve to do your part to be in true and total fellowship with Christ and His church.


- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Broadway Church of Christ in Campbellsville, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.broadwaychurchofchrist.net/