Monday, April 25, 2011
A November 5 news story, written by Aron Heller of the Associated Press, is titled “Archaeologists Discover Ancient Church.” Of course, the reference is to an ancient building, estimated to have been in existence in the fourth century. The actual ancient church, the one Jesus established, dates back to the first century, and it is still in existence (Mat. 16:18; Acts 20:28). That building consists of living stones.
Yotam Tepper is the lead archaeologist of the dig “on the grounds of a prison near the biblical site of Armageddon, “ in northern Galilee, Those working for 1 ½ years on this project have discovered the floor of a building, and pictures were taken and released by the Israel Antiquities Authority. One picture shows a Mosaic in the floor of two fish, which were symbols of Christianity in the early centuries after its establishment (perhaps based on Jesus telling the disciples that He would make them “fishers of men.”
Far more explicit, however, is one of the inscriptions on the floor of this fairly large church building. Michelle Chabin notes that the writing says the structure was dedicated to “The God Jesus Christ as a memorial.” there were various geometric patterns but no crosses in the floor.
Of what significance might this find be? It shows that those in the early 300s believed that (1) Jesus lived; (2) that He was God in the flesh; and (3) that He was worthy of remembrance. What a coincidence! The Bible teaches the same thing! In fact, the Word says that brethren were “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Tit. 2:13). It should not be surprising that the church had not lost sight of this crucial doctrine - the Deity of Christ - since they were persecuted, tortured, and killed rather than deny Him (Mat. 10:32-33). Other doctrines may have weakened, but this central truth of Christianity remained firm.
Technically, there is nothing wrong with dedicating a church building to the One through whom we worship God - the One who is mediator between God and man (I Tim. 2:5). Probably the motives of these early Christians were pure, but there are two better ways of remembering Him.
The first way to remember Him is the way He showed the disciples on the night He was betrayed. He wanted them to eat the bread, representing His body, and to drink the cup, representing His blood, in remembrance of Him. This we do each Lord’s day, just as our brethren in the first century did. Jesus did not ask to be remembered by church buildings or other monuments made out of brick and stone which could be bombed into oblivion. He did not ask to be remembered by crucifixes or other religious paraphernalia that smacks of idolatry. He chose two items easily accessible and extremely perishable which would remind us of His sacrifice for our sins. Lest we think, because our sins are forgiven, that we now walk according to our own goodness and righteousness (which is still as filthy rags - Isa. 64:6), we have been given a weekly reminder that we always stand in need of - in order to appreciate our Savior.
The second way we can remember Jesus is in the way that we live. Certainly, we must avoid being forgetful hearers (Jam. 1:25) and must let our light shine in the world of lost men and women (Mat. 5;16). Paul told the Corinthians: “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men” (2 Cor. 3:2). In our conduct, our actions - even our attitudes, we must reflect to others Godlikeness.
When they look at us and how we behave, they should see a reasonable facsimile of our Heavenly Father. We observe the way in which Jesus dealt with others; these manners and ways of thinking should be incorporated into our lives. We have a Divine memorial to observe. We have Divine commandments to keep. Doing both will bring honor to Jesus.
- Gary Summers; 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: http://www.belvederechurchofchrist.org
Did you hear about the little boy who went out to his backyard to play some baseball? He thought to himself: “I am the best hitter in the world.” He threw the ball up and took a swing, but missed. Without hesitation he picked the ball up and tossed it in the air, swinging again and missing again. “Strike two,” he thought, “but I am still the best hitter.” Then for the third time he tossed the ball up and with intense determination he swung with all his might, but missed the third time, as well. “Strike three,” he said and laid his bat down, with a great big smile. “What do you know” he said, “I struck out, so I must be the world’s best pitcher!” Now that is the world’s best attitude!
Your mind is the most wonderful computer in the world. Why not fill it with the most wonderful stuff in the world (Philippians 4:7-8) and come up with the most wonderful attitude in the world?
A good attitude is the biggest factor in living a winning life as we represent heaven. Our challenge today is to think on the wholesome while living in such a negative world. Negative thinking does many detrimental things:
1. It clouds our choices at critical decision time.
2. It is like a contagious disease.
3. It makes the difficult look even worse.
4. It limits God and faith in our life.
5. It keeps us from enjoying life.
6. It hinders our influence among those we love.
Be a Joshua and a Caleb with a positive report, because their kind of attitude is where the “milk and honey flows” (Numbers 13 & 14).
Keep the SON shining in your life.
- Dick Ellis; via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL. You may visit their website at http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org
While thinking about an article for this space in the bulletin, one of those strange thought chains descended upon me. Through several twists and turns it led me to think about the song "Where No One Stands Alone."
"Once I stood in the night with my head bowed low,
in the darkness as black as could be.
And my heart was afraid and I cried,
'Oh Lord, don't hid your face from me.'"
"Like a king, I may live in a palace so tall
with great riches to call my own.
But I don't know a thing in this whole wide world
that's worse than being alone.
"Hold my hand all the way, every hour,
every day from here to the great unknown.
Take my hand, let me stand
where no one stands alone."
While finding ourselves all alone may be a frightening experience, there is great assurance in the realization that regardless of where we may be, Jesus Christ will never abandon us. (Hebrews 13:5) He will accompany us through this life and even through the valley of the shadow of death! Furthermore, the apostle John reassures us with these words, "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (1 John 2:1) Not only does Jesus go with us, He stands up for us, as our Advocate before the Father. What blessings we have in Him!
- Patrick Hogan serves as a minister and elder of the Shady Acres church of Christ, in Sikeston, MO. He may be contacted through the church's website at http://www.shadyacreschurch.com
Monday, April 18, 2011
The Lord knew what He was doing when He chose the method, namely preaching. Castro took Cuba with the method and Hitler took Germany -it was the message they proclaimed that led to much devastating consequences. Preaching can and should be powerful, but the message preached is so important.
We have long believed that in the growth of a local congregation there can be no substitute for a strong, sound pulpit declaring the truth in love. After all, "it pleased God through the foolishness of preaching to save those that believe" (I Corinthians 1:21).
Of course we believe in a dynamic teaching program and a loving benevolent program for the poor, the homeless, and the down-trodden. And yet there can be no substitute for a pulpit that gives a clear sound for New Testament Christianity in its truth and simplicity.
When we hear from the pulpit strange language;
When we see in the pulpit a soft, compromising attitude toward the plan of salvation, the worship and organization of the church;
When we hear a confused sound on the doctrine of faith and grace;
When we have to ask if the preacher believes in the faith-only doctrine;
When we hear language leading us to believe the preacher is teaching the direct operation of the Holy Spirit-via such expressions as "God told me to pray at 1:30 a.m. this morning," etc.
When the preaching becomes tainted with sticky humility, dripping in pity and "oozing" with self-righteousness;
When we detect a disdain for the great restoration preachers who blazed the trail and made possible the fruitful New Testament churches we have today;
When it takes several typewritten pages for the pulpit to explain what it meant by some questionable statement;
And when it becomes more and more obvious that the preacher is really more comfortable with"Pentecostal" and other denominational preachers than with his own brethren;
Then we can expect it to be only a matter of time until the congregation goes digressive, the majority of elders accept mechanical instruments of music in worship, tongue speaking, and other sectarian doctrines.
Thank God a pulpit can be fresh, interesting, inspiring, positive, enthusiastic, loving, kind, and still be sound in its teaching, loyal and faithful to New Testament Christianity, and be filled with the love of the truth, the love of our fellow man, and the love of God.
But when the pulpit goes (giving an uncertain ring), can the congregation be far behind? Let us support our elders of the local congregation in their effort to keep the pulpit sound and solid. A trickle of unsoundness can soon become a torrent and we can see a divided eldership, a confused membership, and a lost congregation.
To put the matter in perspective, we rejoice that thousands of gospel preachers do "preach the word," "contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints," and are dedicated to restoring the New Testament church in name, doctrine, and practice free from the doctrines and commandments of men. Never in our lifetime have we had so many talented and faithful preachers who proclaim the Word and who see that the pulpit gives forth no uncertain sound.
Seven thousand have not yet bowed the knee to Baal and we must hold up their hands. If the congregation where you attend has a clear, helpful, sound pulpit, why not let the elders and preacher know how much you appreciate it.
- Ira North (Gospel Advocate, March 20, 1980, p. 162); 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: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
By Jimmy W. Cox
There are three extremes taught about the coming of Christ. (1) He has already come. (2) He will come soon—some have set dates, all of which have been wrong. (3) He will not come (2 Pet. 3:3-8).
But what do the Scriptures teach on the matter? If we read it in God’s holy word, we know it is true.
We should note that in Matt. 24:1-4, Jesus answers three questions His apostles asked. (1) When will the Temple be destroyed? (1) What will be the sign of Your coming? And (3) When will the end of the age be? One should never try to apply the "signs" of the destruction of the Temple, to the return of our Lord. The temple was destroyed in 70 AD.
Christ will come again! He promised that very plainly in John 14:1-3. (1) He will return in the clouds. (Acts 1:11; "Behold He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him , even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him." (Rev. 1:7). (2) He will return when He has defeated all of His enemies. (I Cor. 15:24-26). (3) He will come with a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the trumpet of God. (I Thess. 4:16).
When will He come? Jesus said in Matt. 24:36–"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." Jesus also warned us–"Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming." Those who want to go to heaven must be ready for His coming, at all times.
What will happen when Jesus returns? We will all be called to be judged. (Matt. 25:31-46). Those not ready, will be punished eternally. The righteous will receive eternal life. "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. (1 Cor. 15:53).
Become one of the righteous ones. Believe in Jesus Heb. 11:6; Repent of your sins Acts 2:38; Publicly Confess Christ Mt. 10:32-33; Be baptized into Christ Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-5.
- Jimmy W. Cox lives in Sandy Hook, MS and attends the Columbia church of Christ in Columbia, MS. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
From the way the apostle Paul used the word “peddler,” it seems apparent that in the Mediterranean world of the first century the peddler had a reputation for cheating and misrepresentations in order to secure some benefit for himself.
Sincerity was not high on the huckster’s list. He was prepared to say anything to make a sale. For example, there is the story of the oft-fooled bald-headed man who asked the peddler, “Can you prove this is a good hair-restorer?” To which the peddler replied, “One lady customer took the cork out of the bottle with her teeth and twenty-four hours later she had a mustache!” So much for sincerity!
Some folks are willing to say almost anything if it works to their advantage. It reminds me of the two years I spent in collegiate debating. One day I would be arguing for the proposition and the next day against it. You were out to win the debate no matter whether you believed what you were saying or not.
The apostle Paul was not that sort of person. In writing to the Corinthians, he said, “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word; but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:17 RSV).
Many, unlike Paul, were “peddlers of God’s word.” They were lovers of self and lovers of money, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Paul calls them “men of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith,” and men “teaching for base gain what they have no right to teach.” Their tribe is still alive and well in the 21st century. Avoid them! Read the warnings in 2 Timothy 3:1-29 and Titus 1:10-12.
Give us men of sincerity! Men who can say, ‘Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, “I believed, and so I spoke,’ we too believe, and so we speak” (2 Cor. 4:13).
-John Gipson, Little Rock , AR; 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: http://www.arthurchurchofchrist.com
If we want to win unbelievers to Christ, we must choose our words wisely. Listen to the words of Paul, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:5-6, ESV).
There are wise ways and unwise ways to conduct yourself as a disciple around unbelievers. You must learn to “pick your battles” and make the most of the opportunities that are presented you to share your faith. Forcing spiritual conversations at unnatural times often prove to be counter-productive. You must look for moments when people you are talking to are receptive to spiritual discussion. Try and find opportunities to naturally bridge your normal conversation into spiritual discussions. “Make the most of the time” that you have with unbelievers.
Don’t be forceful, harsh, or combative in your conversation with outsiders. If you win a religious argument but lose the soul of the person you are talking with, you have lost the battle for the Lord. Let your language be filled with graciousness. Be understanding and patient with them—give them the benefit of the doubt. Try and get in their shoes and look at life from their unique perspective.
The wonderful message of Jesus can become bitter and disgusting to the unbeliever who hears the message in a harsh and bitter tone. The speech we choose must be carefully “seasoned as with salt” to make it as palatable as possible. We must never compromise the message of God’s truth, but we must speak it in a spirit of genuine concern and love (Ephesians 4:15).
You cannot approach all people the same way. Ask God for wisdom and direction to help you know how you should “answer each person.” Every person is different and each individual deserves a tailor-made approach to hearing the gospel that fits his or her situation and personality.
- Jonathan B. Jones II; 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: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
The world can be depressing at times, but God wants His people to be happy. Over 20,000 Americans commit suicide each year. To some, life is simply not worth living. Often as we watch the daily news, the only thing we see is bad news. None of us want to hear or see bad news; we want to see and hear the things that make us happy. A former president of Harvard University said: "The world is looking for a creed to believe, and a song to sing."
Joy is the emotion excited by the acquisition or expectation of good; it is gladness or delight. Christians in the early church rejoiced.
When we read Acts 2:46, we notice that the saints had glad hearts. They had daily teaching programs (5:42); they had consistent lives (2:42); but, most of all, they loved coming together for they had glad hearts.
Numerous examples fill the New Testament. Phillip, when preaching Christ in Samaria, caused great joy in the city (Acts 8:5-8). The eunuch went on his way rejoicing after his conversion into Christ (Acts 8:39). The disciples were filled with joy in Antioch (Acts 13:52), and the jailor rejoiced (Acts 16:34). The brethren had their trials, temptations, burdens, persecutions, and pressures of life but still found time to rejoice. They did not have wonder drugs and hospitals. They did not have the modern conveniences, but they did have the one thing that kept them going: God. God's people are urged to rejoice. Further examples are the saints at Philippi, who were told to rejoice (Phil. 4:4). The church was born in the midst of persecution. If they were in the Lord, they were fit for heaven (Col. 1:12). If they were in the Lord, they were redeemed from sin (Col. 1:14). They were then delivered from Satan's power (Col. 1:13), and they were chosen in Christ (Eph. 1:4), for they now had an inheritance in heaven (1 Peter 1:3-5).
The Thessalonian Christians were instructed to rejoice evermore (1 Thess. 5:16). The church in Thessalonica was born in the midst of persecution, but they could rejoice in spite of their problems, trials, and persecutions. Similarly, God's people at Rome could also rejoice in hope while they were patient in tribulation.
One thing to remember is that the angel brought "good tidings of great joy" when he told the shepherds that Jesus was born. During the last twenty-four hours of His life on earth, Jesus spoke often of joy and peace. Anyone who doubts that God wanted His creation to be happy should read the Genesis account of Eden before sin came. God did not mean for us to be miserable even though the bad news we see depicts the world at its worst. God simply wants His children to be happy. "Happy is that people, that is in such a case: yea, happy is that people, whose God is the Lord." (Ps. 144:15).
- Jeff Johnson; via the Lake Hills Letter, weekly bulletin of the Lake Hills church of Christ in Chattanooga, TN. Shane Robinson preaches for the congregation, and he may be contacted through their website at http://www.lakehillschurchofchrist.org/
We hear much about “witnessing for Christ” in our present day. Even some of our brethren are taking to using it. The denominational world uses this expression to refer to “a special working of grace.”
A dictionary definition is in order. Webster’s Collegiate gives this: “Testimony, one who beholds or has personal knowledge of, to have direct cognizance of or to observe with one’s own eyes.”
The Greek word martus or martur is defined by Vine’s Dictionary of New Testament Words as: “to aver what one has seen, heard, or knows” or “to observe.”
Actual usage in the Bible is in Acts 1:8, 22; 5:32; 1 Peter 5:1. These are but a few. Each time the term is used in the sense of stating what one has actually seen or observed or has direct knowledge of.
Brethren who use the term do not use it in any of the above senses. I cannot bear witness of the death of Christ for I was not there. I cannot testify as to the work of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost because I did not observe it. I can pass on to others the testimony of Luke who wrote the Book of Acts. I can pass on to others the witness of the apostles but it is not my testimony. In other words there is a difference between reporting the testimony of a witness and bearing the witness. When I preach I am simply passing on to my hearers (at least I hope it is passed on) the testimony of those who were actual witnesses. We are taught to speak as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11). For this reason we should be extremely careful in using the expression “witnessing for Christ” lest we not be using it in the way the Bible uses the term “witness.” Let us speak as the Bible speaks then we can be sure of the message we bear.
- J. A. Thornton; via the weekly bulletin of the Lebanon Road church of Christ in Nashville, TN. Adam Faughn serves as the pulpit minister for the congregation, and he may be contacted through the congregation’s website at: http://www.lebanonroadchurchofchrist.org
Monday, April 11, 2011
She married him because he was such an assertive male; She divorced him because he was such a domineering husband.
He married her because she was so gentle and petite; He divorced her because she was so weak and helpless.
She married him because he could provide a good income; She divorced him because all he did was work.
He married her because she was so attractive all the time; He divorced her because she spent too much time in front of the mirror.
She married him because he was so romantic and sociable; She divorced him because he was such a fun-loving playboy.
He married her because she was so quiet and dependent; He divorced her because she was so boring and clinging.
She married him because he was the life of the party; She divorced him because he was such a dud at home.
He married her because she was so sociable and talkative; He divorced her because she could only discuss trivia.
She married him because he was such a good athlete. She divorced him because he was either playing or watching sports.
He married her because she was so neat and organized; He divorced her because she was too compulsive and controlling.
—David Olsen, Developing Skills for Life, Life innovations, Inc.
We have all heard of “rose-colored” glasses. This is the tendency we all have to minimize the negatives of a person we highly value. In dating relationships it is manifested in the ability of one or both potential marriage partners to see outstanding traits from the positive side only and give little or no attention to the possible negative aspects of constant demonstration of those traits.
In facetious style, the writer above observes that some of the very things that couples might point to as building-blocks in their forthcoming marriage, may indeed be stumbling-blocks. So, what’s a young person to do in looking for a mate? Should they not be pleased with positive qualities? Let me offer a few suggestions:
1. Take your time in dating a person. Allow yourself to be with that person in many different types of situations (not sin, of course). Observe how their “positive traits” play out in those situations. Check and see if those traits become annoying over a period of time.
2. Seek the opinion of someone you trust—a friend, relative, counselor. If they do not see your “significant other” on a regular basis, give them all the pertinent information (positive and negative) about them as you can. Take their opinion seriously.
3. Force yourself to be realistic—there is no such creature as a perfect person, male or female. Be as honest as you can, and list (in mind or on paper) their positives and negatives. View both as things you must live with for a LONG time. If you are not willing to do so, WALK AWAY before marriage. It is far better to endure short-term heartache rather than lifetime misery.
- Lance Cordle, editor of The Family Friend, a monthly newsletter published by the Calvert City church of Christ, Calvert City, KY. It is an excellent resource for articles relating to the family. To learn more consult the congregation's website: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com
A nineteenth-century German philosopher once said: “His disciples will have to look more saved if I am to believe in their Savior.” That’s a thought-provoking statement, isn’t it? The man obviously didn’t believe in Jesus, and the reason he cited was his unfavorable observations of Christians. He understood that disciples of Christ believe themselves to be saved. However, he didn’t see this truth manifested in their lives.
That should remind us all of the serious importance of our personal influence. That’s right, we all have influence over others in our lives--perhaps more influence than we even realize. Our decisions and actions impact others directly and indirectly. If people see me living a joy-filled, peaceful life as a Christian (even in the midst of adversity), if they see me doing good unto others (even when others aren't treating me well), if they notice that I'm living a godly, upright life (even though most people aren’t), they will be influenced for good and hopefully impressed by the genuineness of my faith. And if so, perhaps they will choose to further investigate my faith and adopt it for themselves. When we let our lights shine with a proper spirit, God will be glorified (cf. Matt. 5:16)!
If you are a Christian, what about your life? What kind of influence are you exercising for the Lord and His kingdom? Do the people you associate with (at school, at work, and at play) know that you are a Christian? Do they know that you’ve been saved as a penitent believer who has been baptized into Christ and received the remission of your sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38)? Do you look saved to your peers? If not, why not? Are you ashamed of the gospel message (cf. Rom. 1:16), afraid to share it through your speech and actions? Are you embarrassed by the Lord and His word--are you scared to truly live for Him or do anything for Him outside the walls of a church building?
Friends, the bottom line is this: if a Christian hasn’t adopted Paul’s philosophy of life recorded in Philippians 1:21, then, in many respects, he just won’t look very saved! If a Christian can’t genuinely say with the apostle, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain”, then his influence on others will certainly not be what it should be! If a self-proclaimed disciple of Jesus is living a selfish life--a life of sin--how will he look any different than the world from which he is supposed to be separate and called out (II Cor. 6:17)? How will he look saved?
A secondary point on this subject of looking saved pertains to Christians exuding confidence in their salvation. I John 5:13 reads, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” Christians who are faithfully serving the Lord in accordance with His inspired word have nothing to worry about regarding the Day of Judgment. We can know that we are saved, and that confidence should be seen in the way we humbly live for God. If we doubt our own eternal home, such will negatively affect our influence.
Dear friends, take a good look at your life. Do you know that you are saved? Do your actions and words exemplify one who looks saved?
- Stephen R. Bradd (slightly adapted); via the weekly bulletin of the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg, IL. You may visit their website at http://www.harrisburgchurchofchrist.org
By Paul L. McElroy
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.". "And I say also to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build MY church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Matt. 16: verses 16-18-19).
Read Acts, chap. 2, for events that took place when the Lord’s church had its beginning. In Peter’s sermon about the death of Jesus, those who believed asked, "What shall we do," and were told, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38). Verse 47 says: "And the Lord added to the church daily those who being saved." Since faith, repentance, and baptism were necessary for salvation then, would it be any different now? Who would dare to change the "salvation" requirements that Peter preached?
Eph. 1:22-23 tells us that Christ is head over all things to the church which is His body. Notice, the words "church" and "body" are both singular. Who will dare to change the Scriptures to say "churches and bodies"?
Notice the teaching in Eph. 4:4-6--"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all." Does any one have the right to change the "ones" in these Scriptures to "many"?
In John, 17:20-21– read the words of Jesus. "I do not pray for these (apostles) alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You Father, are in Me, and I in You, that the world may believe that You sent Me."
After reading so many Scriptures on the need for unity, why are so many millions of religious people still being taught "choose the church of your choice"? Those preachers and teachers who teach such should heed the words of Jesus– "But in vain they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matt. 15:9). Can so many conflicting doctrines be right? Paul said "speak the same things, no divisions" (I Cor. 1:10).
- Paul L. McElroy preaches for the Columbia Church of Christ in Columbia, MS. He may be contacted at email@example.com
Saturday, April 2, 2011
By Larry Miles
If someone were to say to you, "are you a holy person; are you a saint? How would you answer them? Would you say, "no, I am neither." Or would you say, "I sure am!" Would one of the answers right? Or would both be wrong or would the right answer be a combination of the two?
The answer we give depends on how much we understand how the Bible uses these terms. If we take the definitions of the world we are holy or a saint. But if we. Use scriptural definitions then we qualify on both counts. But we must note that neither description is true if we try to fulfill their requirements on our own merit.
The Word of God says, "be holy for I am Holy." The only away that Christians can be holy is that Christ imputed His righteousness to us. We can be "holy" if we seek to be "conformed to the image of the love of the Lord in our lives and help others find their way out of the "kingdom of darkness" and help them find the marvelous light of the Gospel (1 Peter 2:9).." We can be "holy" if we live for him and obey and keep His Word and show forth the
The question was "are you a saint?". We are not in the way many in the world and many in some realms of Christendom view that word. According to the Bible "saints" are living Christians, in fact, all Christians are "saints" in the scriptural application of the word.
The word simply means ones who are sanctified, ones that are called out. Christians have been called out of serving Satan and now are "in Christ.".
Paul refers to Christians as saints both in Eph. 1:1 and in Phil. 1:1. So, all Christians are saints. Now if we live up to the word that is another question. We must put our faith into action. Jesus said, "if you love Me you will keep my commandments." Are you doing that, my fellow believer? Are you living daily for Him who died for you? If so, praise the Lord! Continue to build yourselves up in the most holy faith, living your life for Jesus, knowing that you can impact a lost world with the Gospel and help strengthen the saved by your ministry and work for our Lord.
If you are not seeking daily to "grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus," then you need to repent of your sin of not following Jesus completely. Our Lord has prom is His people if they will look to Him for guidance He will give it. He will equip you for service.
He will give you the resources you need to live holy lives. We are saints, let's live up to what that word means biblically and "let our light shine for Him" so that we may bring"glory to our Heavenly Father." (Matthew 5:14-16)
- Larry Miles lives in Louisville, KY and publishes "Larry's Lines" several times a week. Copyright 2009. Visit his website: http://larryslines.com/
For the past twenty-one years I have been trudging down to the gym five times a week to pump iron, bike, and swim laps. Don’t think I report that boastfully: on the contrary, I’m not trying to bulk up or become the next governor of California or anything like that. It’s just that I have to battle an inherited disability: you see, eating runs in my family. I long ago made the unpleasant medical discovery that unless I regularly engage in some sort of activity that will elevate my heart rate and cause me to break a sweat, all those calories I consume will show up in places where I don’t want them.
Since I have been a regular gym rat for more than two decades, I know what to expect this month. In January the gym is always filled with the New Year’s crowd. You know, those folks who have awakened from their holiday sugar binge and made their New Year’s resolutions to become healthier. The sudden surge after January 1 often causes delays when I want to get on my favorite Nautilus machine, but I don’t become too upset. I have learned to simply wait a few weeks, and the crowd will thin out again. It happens every year.
My personal observation in the gym seems to be typical of human nature in general. Fewer than half of all New Year’s resolutions last six months, according to a study by psychology professor John Norcross of the University of Scranton. I haven’t done any research myself, but I have a tentative hypothesis to explain his findings: people give up on their New Year’s resolutions for the same reason they desert the gym – they arrive at the unwelcome discovery that making beneficial improvements in our life is hard work.
Few New Year’s resolutions involve eating more candy bars or taking more naps or running up a higher debt on our credit cards – those things are easy. We set personal goals because we want changes in our life that are positive, and the positive changes we desire are difficult, or we would already be doing them.
My hypothesis is probably too obvious to win any research grants, but it does help to explain why Jesus candidly cautioned would-be disciples that following him is not easy (Luke 9:57-62). Since the Lord wants everyone to be saved and will never turn away a sincere seeker (John 6:37), I must conclude that Jesus issued such warnings to prevent disillusionment. Our Lord knew full well that the “time of testing” would come for each one of us, and consequently some would fall away (Luke 8:13); that is why he wants us to be prepared for difficulties and stresses that success comes by “persevering” (Luke 8:15). And, of course, on the Cross Jesus set the ultimate example of perseverance, so that by considering his example we would “not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).
So, have you been tempted to give up on your faith, to “quit church,” to withdraw into spiritual isolation? Have you hit a rough patch in the road and now you are questioning your faith? I wish I could give you some easy answers, but the Bible says nothing about easy discipleship.
Following Jesus, like any other positive change in our life, is hard work. Please don’t ever think it’s easy – just remember, it’s worth it.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest, if we do not give up” – Galatians 6:9.
- Dan Williams; 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: http://www.calvertchurchofchrist.com