Monday, March 2, 2020

The Great Salvation

By Ronald Bartanen

       The greatest story ever told is a true story. It is the story of how God has provided salvation for man through His Son, Jesus Christ. Obviously, this story would be without significance if man was not lost in sin. Looking at the Bible as a whole, it is the account of creation, the fall of man, the promise of a Deliverer, the coming of the Deliverer, His death for man’s sins, His resurrection, His ascension into glory, and His return “to judge the quick and the dead at his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:1). The writer of Hebrews wrote, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation...” (Hebrews 2:1-4).
       There were other salvations in Scripture. Noah and his household were saved when God destroyed the world by the Great Flood. By faith he obeyed God “to the saving of his house” (Heb. 11:7). God saved Israel from Egyptian bondage as His servant Moses miraculously led them by faith and obedience from Egypt to the Promised Land. But the salvation God has provided in Christ saves those who trust and obey, delivering from sin and its eternal consequences. It is great because: (1) God is its author (Heb. 5:8, 9); (2) it was made possible by the death of Christ (Rom. 1:16; 5:8-9) and (3) it is eternal in duration (Heb. 5:9).

- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Who is Really to Blame?

By David Bragg

       On the morning of July 2, 1881 Charles J. Guiteau shot President James A. Garfield in a Washington D.C. train station. Immediately he was apprehended as doctors rushed to tend to the wounded President. These trained doctors proceeded to probe Garfield's wounds with their unwashed fingers and unsanitized surgical instruments. Over the next eleven weeks this practice would continue and, unsurprisingly, infection sent in resulting in the President's death on September 19, 1881.
       When Charles Guiteau was finally brought to trial his appointed lawyers entered an insanity defense. But Guiteau would contend with the court that he was not guilty, saying, "The doctors killed Garfield, I just shot him" (
       It is interesting how some people refuse to recognize the truth. Garfield’s chief physician, Dr. Doctor Willard Bliss boasted, “If I can’t save him, no one can” (Mark A. Lombardi, The Garfield Observer). Most today acknowledge this as an empty boast.
       When John spoke of Jesus as the embodiment of truth, a truth that will endure through all generations, it was not an empty boast (John 1:14). Jesus also makes that claim, a claim He can easily back up (John 14:6). You can trust Him. You MUST trust Him (Acts 4:12)!

 - David Bragg serves as one of the ministers at the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC and is co-editor of BulletinGold. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: or his blog:

Enhancing Our Time Together in Worship & Bible Study

By Lance Cordle

  • When we come together, let’s greet one another enthusiastically, knowing that our greeting to our brothers or sisters may be the brightest spot of their day.
  • When we come together, let’s practice developing relationships with different people, realizing that some people like to talk (a lot) and others do not (a lot).
  • When we come together, let’s be prompt, knowing that habitual tardiness is a habit that can be discouraging and disruptive to others.
  • When we come together, let’s be aware that we don’t have to sit in the same place every time for every service, especially if a visitor is sitting in “our” seat.
  • When we come together, let’s focus on the true audience—God.
  • When we come together, let’s think of actions that might help someone later—like leaving our contribution check unfolded so that it won’t have to be unfolded by those counting the contribution later. (You can maintain your privacy by placing it face-down in the tray.)
  • When we come together, let’s look at new songs as new avenues to praise God and teach and admonish one another.
  • When we come together, let’s think of old songs as old pathways to God and think of fresh ways to appreciate and concentrate on them.
  • When we come together, let’s actively, yet privately pursue thought in public prayers—thinking of specific blessings God has given us, of specific people we are concerned about, etc.
  • When we come together, let’s find at least one person per week that we can commend (diligent parents, enthusiastic singers, etc.).
  • When we come together, let’s bring a copy of God’s Word to study (whether it is paperback, leather-bound, or electronically-bound).
  • When we come together, let’s be looking for different doors through which to exit, and different people to acknowledge as we exit.
Let us not forsake the gathering of ourselves together, as is customary for some. Instead, let us exhort one another, and so the more as you see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25, McCord’s New Testament Translation of the Everlasting Gospel)

- Lance Cordle preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Walk in the Light (Eph. 5:3-14)

By Larry Miles

       In Ephesians 5:3-14 Paul describes the themes of light and darkness by contrasting the works of darkness and the fruit of the  Spirit. In Eph 5:8 he writes, “For you were once darkness.” Paul  does not say that Christian are  walking in darkness. Rather he uses the term “once.” What did he mean by  that terminology? Just as  he reminded the  church at Corinth that before they became Christians they were involved in many ungodly actions, he tells us here I that we are “light in the world.” We must live out our lives  glorifying God and reflecting that we are  children of light.
       Notice the contrasts that Paul is trying to make:
           Exalt God, not idols (Eph. 5:3-6)
           Exhibit the Fruit of he Light (Eph. 5:7-10)
            Expose the Darkness Eph. 5:11-14)

- Larry Miles lives in Louisville, KY and publishes "Larry's Lines" several times a week. Copyright 2019. Visit his website:

God Gave The Increase

By R. W. McAlister

I Cor. 3:6-7: “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”
       The work done by Paul and Apollos was that of planting and watering the Word of God. This is the preaching and teaching of the Word. You’ll recall that Paul exhorted Timothy, “Preach the Word” (II Tim 4:2). Paul and Apollos engaged in that work with all diligence.
       The planting of the good seed is the laying down of the truths of the Word of God, setting the doctrines of the Bible before sinners. It includes not only expounding the Word but also applying it to the cases of those to whom it is being preached so that they may benefit spiritually. The watering of the seed sown is the nurturing of it so that there will be, in due time, first the shoot, then the stalk, then the full ear of corn. The watering, therefore, is something other than laying down the seed; it’s the further expounding and applying of the Word, especially with regard to the spiritual needs of the Lord’s people.
       We must notice that the planting and watering of the seed - the preaching of the Word - is God’s appointed means of bringing sinners to salvation. Paul said in Rom. 1:16, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
       Also, it is mainly the preaching of the Word by which the Lord’s people are sanctified - by which they grow in grace and in the knowledge of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The prayer of Christ was: “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth” (John 17:7). It follows that by the preaching of the Word, the Church of Christ is both established and built up. By the preaching of the Word, the Lord’s Church was established in Corinth, and by the preaching of the Word it was built up. Therefore, we must ever comply with that all-important command of the Savior, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
       “God gave the increase,” said Paul. Those of us who work or have worked the land know that, however hard-working you may be at planting time, it’s all in vain if God doesn’t give the increase. The Psalmist wrote, “Thou preparest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it” (Ps 65:9). The increase is due to divine power.
       Consider what happened in Thessalonica. When the gospel came to that pagan city, sinners turned from idols “to serve the living and true God and to wait for His Son from heaven” (I Thess. 1:9). What was the cause of that turning? Yes, the Apostle Paul labored night and day – preaching & making tents, but there was also this element: the powerful Gospel (I Thess 1:5).
       We see then that it’s only by the Word of God that sinners are transformed into followers of the Savior. The Word of God was thus fruitful in Jerusalem: “The number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). 

       What about the Christian advancing in holiness? This also takes place by the use of the Word. The Savior, in interceding for His disciples, prayed, “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). When the Word is important to the people of God, it’s effectual to their growth in grace. They increase in knowledge. They increase in love, as they ought to do: to “increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men” (I Thess 3:12). The Word is effectual in increasing their estimate of the One whose name is above every name, and also in decreasing their estimate of themselves. “He must increase, but I must decrease” declared John the Baptist (John 3:30). It is God alone who gives the increase. May we always be about planting and watering, and pray for God to give the increase.

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

This Life is Full of Wrong

By J. Randal Matheny

This life is full of wrong,
Its beauty deeply marred,
A cry behind the song,
And flies within the nard.

Beyond a human’s reach,
Perfection lies ahead
Where blessed acts and speech
Are filling drink and bread.

We gladly leave behind
This evil pit of filth,
To fiercely seek and find
The trove of godly wealth.

- J. Randal Matheny edits and writes UPLift, an inspirational ezine. He
may be contacted here: <http://randalmathenycom/>. When reprinting this
material, please include the following: 
Copyright (c) 2020 J. Randal Matheny
All rights reserved. You may forward the
email to friends as is. You may not alter
it in any way or remove any text or

Do We Mean What We Sing

By Joe Slater

       My friend and brother, Tom Barton, made a shocking statement a few years ago at the Old Paths Men’s Retreat. “More lies are told while singing than at any other time!” I wish he had been wrong, but if you think about it, you see he was right on target.
       Tom was talking, of course, about Christians, not folks in the world. While worldlings may lie routinely about anything and everything, Christians at least try to be honest. But what about our singing? Do we mean what we sing?
       Brother Barton’s assigned topic was “We’ll Work ‘Til Jesus Comes.” Will we? Really? Some of us can’t drag ourselves to the assembly on anything like a regular basis; and Biblically, that’s not even work! What are the odds that we’re doing anything that could be styled even remotely as “work”?
       But that’s just one of many songs I ask whether we take seriously.  “If Jesus Goes With Me, I’ll Go Anywhere!” (As long as it’s within a few miles of all the rest of my family; and as long as it’s a place I like; and as long as . . .” [you get the picture]).
       “Lead me to some soul today!” But I don’t know my Bible well enough to teach that soul the gospel, so maybe that’s not such a good idea.
       “Make me a servant, Lord; make me like You!” But wait! People weren’t always kind to You; sometimes You suffered greatly while serving. Maybe I don’t want to be exactly like You!
       “All to Jesus I surrender!” Well, I surrender a little bit, anyway. I’m not an extremist, you know!
       If you don’t mean it, don’t sing it.

- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Renew us, O Lord!

By Donna Wittlif

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31, ASV).
       This morning we took a truckload of newspapers and junk mail, tin cans, and plastic and glass containers to the recycling center. There they are repurposed for a new, useful life, just like all those who have their lives remade into a glorious life for Christ.
       God makes every person in His image. We are not junk. However, Satan works to turn us into junk--souls and bodies that are not useful for God's purposes. It is indeed sad to see all the people whose bodies and minds are slaves to Satan.
       If only these people could know our God and His promise to renew their minds and transform them in the likeness of Christ. If only we could reach them with the message of God's saving grace through Christ. We wish they could see their lost condition and come to God.
       The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God that dwells within us, works to change us as we read God's Word, as we pray and commune with God, and as we worship Him and strive to live for Him. But there are still times when we are tired, discouraged, and ready to quit. It is at this time we are most vulnerable to Satan's attack.
       At such times we need to stand in God's care and let Him renew us. We can't pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, but we can rely on God and rest in Him as we pray and study. At such times, may we turn to God for help and strength so we can help those who are Satan's slaves.

- Donna Wittlif, the founder and first editor of BulletinGold, lives in Denver, CO. Donna is also a writer of fiction. Her novels, World Eternal: Promises and World Eternal: Proselytes, and World Eternal: Perils, and her newest book, Finding Her Heart,  are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book outlets. For more information visit her website.

Are We Scared...or Comforted?

By Adam Faughn

      A 71-year-old resident of England named Edie Pope recently had enough with reckless driving in her rural neighborhood. She noted that there had been two recent accidents very near her property since a recent change in the speed limit, so she figured out a way to try to combat the issue herself.
      By the road on the edge of her property, Edie placed a scarecrow, but it was not dressed in the way you might think. Instead, she outfitted the mannequin with a yellow outfit, very much like a traffic cop. She even placed a grey object in one of the "hands" that resembles a radar gun. So, as people come near her property, they are led to believe that an officer is checking speeds; all the while, it is just what she is jokingly referring to as a "scare-cop." (1)
      Have you ever been driving and passed what you thought was a police officer checking speeds? How did it make you feel? If we are honest, it probably depended upon how fast you were driving!
      Is the same thing not true of how we react to the knowledge that God is watching over us at all times? For some, that knowledge is almost too frightening or unnerving to bear. They basically hate the idea that God is right there, seeing all that they do. So, they either tune that message out and just live however they wish, or they live nervously all the time, frightened by the prospect of making any misstep.
      However, there is a better way to handle that knowledge, is there not? For those who are law-abiding citizens, the presence of a police officer is typically a reassuring thing. In an infinitely more important way, for those who are striving to live for the Lord, the knowledge that He is present and seeing what we do is a wonderful blessing that touches our soul with comfort.
      Our reaction to the knowledge that God is near and watching us may say more about us than we care to admit. Does that knowledge often frighten and unnerve us, or does it regularly comfort and reassure us? For those who are faithful in their walk with the Lord, there should be far more peace with that knowledge than fear.
      May we live our lives in such a way that the knowledge of His presence fills us far more often with comfort than dread and fear.
 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your  presence? (Psalm 139:7)

- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Sharing God's Word

By Rob Albright

      God’s desire is that everyone be saved (1 Tim.2:4) but that does not mean that all will be saved. Why not? Well, Paul wrote and said God also desires all come to a knowledge of the truth. Have you ever met someone who does not care about learning the truth?
      So, how does God expect people to come to a knowledge of the truth? The answer is that God gave His disciples instructions to share the message of salvation to others (Matthew 28:16-20).
      There are numerous opportunities to tell others the good news of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Sharing with others the word of God is like planting seed into the heart of another (Luke 8:4-15). It is important to understand that not everyone will accept the truth. But, that does not relieve us of the responsibility to share the message.

 - Rob Albright serves as one of the ministers at the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Maintaining Balance

By Johnny Hester

      In a recent phone conversation with a brother in Christ whom I have never met in person, I was asked to sum up my “philosophy of ministry.” After expressing my confidence in the authoritative, infallible nature of the Word of God I went on to explain that in matters of judgment and expedience I try to maintain a balance that is not unduly and doggedly devoted to my own long-held opinions nor that is eager to embrace something different simply for the sake of change. In hindsight I probably could and should have expressed myself more succinctly, but that is often my self-assessment upon further reflection upon my “instant responses.” One thing I did attempt to convey is that I have not attained perfection in that stated aim of being balanced.
      Back in 2012 the aerialist/tightrope-walker Nik Wallenda had millions of television viewers across the globe sitting on the edge of our seats as we watched him walk across the mighty Niagara Falls on a narrow strand of material. Following the spectacular event an interviewer questioned the daredevil about his “perfect balance.” Wallenda’s response is worthy of note and reflection. He said: “There is no such thing as perfect balance, only constant correction.”
      That is a truth I want to remember regarding my on beliefs and positions. The Word of God is inerrant and I will continue to accept it as such without question. In matters God has not specifically addressed in his Word I will pray for wisdom and consider with an open mind the thoughts of godly men and women who have pondered the same concerns.
      When I achieve perfect balance I will let you know, but until then I want to remain humble enough to accept constant correction as needed.

 - Johnny Hester preaches for the Matthews Church of Christ in Matthews, MO. He may be contacted at

Beware of Losing Your First Love?

By David R. Ferguson

      I want to ask you a question: Do you still have a passionate love of Christ, and a burning desire to serve Him? I hope and I pray that you do, but if you don’t, you are not the first to experience this paralyzing lack of happiness in God.
      In the First Century we learn of a congregation of Christians like this. The church in Ephesus seemed to be doing well. It would be hard to find anyone who would deny that by all outward appearances it was a great church, a model church even. It was a church which seemed to be on the move for God. But as always, Jesus could read their thoughts. He knew what was going on underneath the surface. After commending the church at Ephesus concerning their patient endurance, intolerance of evil, suffering for Christ’s name, and exposing false apostles, Jesus confronted them. Because what He saw saddened Him because He knew they had a problem. They had a MAJOR problem. And what Jesus identified was that the people in the congregation at Ephesus had lost their passionate love for Him. Yes, they were doing lots of good things, but they were missing the most important thing of all: they no longer had a growing love for Jesus.
      Jesus told the church at Ephesus, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first” (Revelation 2:5). Remember that it’s all about loving Him. Remember how much He loves you. Remember how He died for you – while He was hanging on the Cross, you were on His mind. When He was being scourged you were on His mind. When He gave up Heaven and came to the Earth you were on His mind. Remember how it used to be with you and Jesus, and how excited you felt when your sins were forgiven. And repent now for letting other things take first place in your heart, instead of letting God occupy that position. Turn from your selfishness and self-centeredness and start seeking the Lord like you used to … with newness, freshness, and tremendous gratitude for His love and grace and mercy. 
      What was taking place at Ephesus was no idle matter with the Lord. It was of such importance that Jesus threatened to remove their lampstand if they continued to slide down the hill that He warned about during His Earthly ministry: “Because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13).
      Remember, “we love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Fill your heart everyday with His great love for you, and you will grow in your love for Him.

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

An Amazing Rescue

By David A. Sargent

     On June 23, 2018, twelve members of an 11- to 16-year-old Thailand soccer team – the Wild Boars – and their coach ventured into Thailand’s Tham Luang Cave. They had been in the cave before; this time they were there for an adventure to celebrate one of the boy’s birthdays. Their adventure turned into a near-tragedy and thankfully an amazing rescue.
     Then monsoon rains came and once-accessible caverns were flooded. The boys and their coach found refuge in a narrow passageway above the flooded areas. They were trapped more than a mile underground in the deep recesses of the cave and no one knew their exact whereabouts.
     Then help from all over the world began to pour in, seeking to rescue the boys and their coach. An estimated 10,000 people participated, including 2,000 soldiers, 200 divers and representatives from approximately 100 government agencies. In addition to hundreds of personnel from Thailand, including Navy SEALS and volunteer divers, rescue workers also came to help from other countries including Finland, Britain, China, Australia, and the United States.
     Navy SEAL and volunteer divers painstakingly penetrated the cave in search of the soccer team, securing guidelines along the way to ensure their safety. On July 2, 10 days after the boys entered the cavern, a pair of British divers working to extend a network of guide ropes in water-filled passageways, popped up near a narrow ledge. And there they were: 13 emaciated people perched in the dark but incredibly thankful to have been found. Now they had to be rescued.
     The mile-long stretch between the start and the rescue base, much of which was completely underwater, took about two hours to traverse. Each of the boys was strapped into a stretcher and carried out. Different methods were used to navigate the team members out of the cave. At times, divers had to shuttle them underwater in “cocoons.” The rescue team also used suspended ropes and carabiners to guide each stretcher across jagged peaks and valleys. In one leg of the escape, the cocoons were placed on floating stretchers and Thai frogmen pushed them along. To navigate a wet downhill, the rescue team slid each boy on a stretcher on top of the thick hoses that had been used to pump water out of the cave. Teams of 4-6 rescuers operated a relay on steep, dangerous down hills.
     As a result of these heroic efforts, all twelve boys and their coach were rescued. The last of the boys emerged on July 10th, 18 days after he and his teammates entered the cave.
     Because of our sin, you and I were a lot like that soccer team: trapped, and without a rescuer, doomed to die.
     But God loves us so much that He sent His Son to rescue us! In order to rescue us, Jesus had to die on the cross for our sins (1 John 4:9-10). Because of His atoning death, we can be saved from our sins and receive the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).
     God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38). God will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
     The rescue of those twelve boys and their coach was amazing! Their rescue pictures an even more marvelous rescue mission: when God’s one and only Son came to this earth and died on the cross for our sins so that we can be saved from eternal destruction.
     Won’t YOU accept His offer of salvation and eternal life on His terms?

- 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:

* Information gleaned from “‘Still Can’t Believe It Worked’: TheStory of the Thailand Cave Rescue” by Hannah Beech, Richard C. Paddock, and Muktita Suhartono, in The New York Times, July 12, 2018,

Jesus: Our All In All

By Joe Slater

     Eight times in six verses the apostle Paul used the word “all” relative to Jesus. See for yourself:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father than in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself . . .” (Colossians 1:15-20).
     Jesus is “firstborn over all creation.” Firstborn connotes His authority and rank, even as King David was called God’s “firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth” (Psalm 89:27). Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).
     Jesus created all things (see also John 1:3 “without Him nothing was made that was made”). All things were made for him, and all things consist in Him (that is, He sustains His creation).
     His resurrection from the dead and headship of the church indicate that He is preeminent (occupies first place) in all things. The world does not acknowledge it, but Christians certainly should!
     All the fullness (that is, the fullness of Deity, see 2:9) dwells in Jesus. He is the God-Man! Through Him all things are reconciled to God because Jesus’ blood paid the price for our sins.
Truly, Jesus is our all in all!

- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

A Letter From Christopher Columbus

By Ron Bartanen

     The following is included in a letter written by Christopher Columbus to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, as quoted in “The Founders’ Bible,” explaining his motivation in seeking a new sea-route to the East Indies —

“If those who heard about my enterprise rejected it with laughter, scoffing at me… Who doubts that this illumination was from the Holy Spirit? I attest that He, with marvelous rays of light, consoled me through the Holy and Sacred Scriptures—a strong and clear testimony, with forty-four books of the Old Testament, and four Gospels, with twenty-three Epistles of those blessed Apostles encouraging me to proceed. (Bibles in that age included the intertestamental books of the Apocrypha) … No one should be afraid to take on any enterprise in the name of our Savior if it is right and if the purpose is purely for His holy service…. I stated above that some of the prophecies remained yet to be fulfilled, and I say that they are great things in the world. And I say that the sign which convinces me that our Lord is hastening the end of the world is the preaching of the Gospel recently in so many lands.”
     While Columbus was not correct in his assumption that the end of the world would occur soon, he was correct in believing that the preaching of the Gospel would spread to many lands. Freed from the spiritual bondage of state-churches, in the “new world” emphasis was placed upon Scripture as the guide, not denominational creeds. People were free to search the word of God themselves without clerical dogmatism. I am convinced that the hand of God was providentially guiding him, as well as those who would follow, in founding a nation where freedom reigned, a nation that could, more than any other nation, be identified as a “Christian nation.” 
    From our nation has gone forth the word of God throughout the world, spreading the Good News of Christ, anticipating the time when Christ will indeed return. Second only to the church of our Lord, the United States has been “a city set on a hill,” to be a beacon to the world. Pray that this freedom to fully share the message of redemption-in-Christ both locally and worldwide will continue, and that hearts may be opened before the Day of the Lord arrives.

- Ronald Bartanen preaches for Arthur Church of Christ, Arthur, IL.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:


By Ron Thomas

     What is apologetics? In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter writes, “...but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…” The expression “to make a defense” comes from a Greek word (apologia) that conveys the idea of giving a verbal (or written) defense of the Lord’s way. This pertains not only to the Lord’s character and divinity, but also His teachings.
    Thus, when one denies that baptism is essential to salvation, the faithful Christian will stand up and oppose such words. When one stands opposed to the Lord’s decree on the singular nature of the Lord’s church (one body, one church; Eph. 4:4), the faithful Christian will stand opposed to such words. You get the idea. When the Lord states something, all things contrary to what He said needs to be opposed.

- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.

Do Atheists See the Irony?

By Adam Faughn

     In late April, a Guinness World Record was broken in St. Louis. A charity, which does great work raising awareness and money for research to Alzheimer’s, got together 1,202 volunteers. That large group was given different colored ponchos and stood in a pattern that formed what looked like a picture of the human brain. Each color of poncho was a different region of the brain. It was, according to Guinness, the largest image of a human brain.
     Can you imagine the organization that took? It is remarkable just thinking about getting over 1,200 people to do anything in an organized fashion, but this had to take a while. The number of people had to be decided upon. The colors of the ponchos had to be figured out. How and where the people were to stand had to be known. The list could go on, but just think of the thought that it took to get this “image” of the human brain.
     And then consider: we live in a world where we are told by so many that all the brains it took to organize this “image” of the human brain “just happened” and came from an evolution from nothing. In other words, what we are to believe is that there was more organization of this colored-poncho figure of a brain than there is in all the brains it took to figure out how to make it.
     It is utterly sad that atheists and naturalists do not see the irony in that concept. No one could look at the image (link below) of over 1,200 people, forming this image of a human brain, and think that it “just happened;” yet, when we consider the unspeakably complex nature of our own brains, that is what we are supposed to believe?
     Scripture makes it clear from the very opening chapter that God made everything in the entire universe. Atheism and naturalistic evolution have no answers for how everything came into being from nothingness, nor can they explain how conscious thought came into existence. But, the Bible simply states words written to the Lord, “I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14, emphasis added). May we never forget that God truly is the Creator of it all.

(To see a picture of the group of 1,202 volunteers, go to )

- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

The Lord Will Save, But How?

By Larry Pasley

     A huge dam had cracked and was starting to flood a small town in its path. As people were alerted to the impending flood, one elderly woman refused to evacuate.
     The would-be rescuer told her that if she would just get in the boat, he could take her to higher ground. She replied that the Lord was her savior and if she needed help He would save her with a miracle. The man left. As the water rose the woman had to move to the upstairs to avoid the floodwaters.
     As she sat at her window a man came by in another boat. "Get in," he said, "and I'll take you to higher ground." The woman shook her head and said she would trust in the Lord to save her. He left.
     As the waters rose the woman moved to the roof of her house. A helicopter came overhead and the man said that she should climb the ladder and he would take her to safety. "I will trust in the Lord to save me." The man left.
     As the waters rose again the woman drowned. When the woman went to heaven she had occasion to speak with the Lord, and she asked Him why He hadn't saved her from the flood after showing such strong faith in Him. The Lord said, "I sent two boats and a helicopter and you sent them all away."

     Many in Christian religions today are much like the woman above. They believe God will save them but they are ignoring God’s way of salvation.
     Many believe that ‘faith only’ or “faith alone” will save them and that their works have nothing to do with their salvation.
     Yet the Bible uses the words, “faith only,” only once and it says just the opposite of that common belief.

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? CAN FAITH SAVE HIM? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and BY WORKS FAITH WAS MADE PERFECT? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a MAN IS JUSTIFIED BY WORKS, AND NOT BY FAITH ONLY. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD also" (James 2:14-26).

This section of scripture alone shows that the doctrine of faith only will not save us but there are other scriptures which show that also.

  • Hebrews 5:9  says that Jesus saves those who obey Him. “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,”
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:8  says that God will take vengeance on those who do not obey the gospel. “In flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
  • 2 Corinthians 5:10  says we will be judged by our works not our faith. ‘For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
Many other scriptures show the fallacy of the doctrine of “faith only.” If you have accepted this doctrine please allow me to send you more information on the subject.
     May we always strive to serve God on His terms not ours.

- Larry Pasley serves as a minister with the Jackson Street Church of Christ in Alexandria, LA. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at

Getting the Most out of Sermons and Bible Lessons

By R. W. McAlister

     Have you ever left a Bible class or worship service and thought, “I just didn’t get much out of that.” I daresay we all have at one time or another. Let me offer some suggestions that may help us.

• I know it’s not always possible, but come to worship or Bible class well-rested. If you’re tired, it’s going to be difficult to pay attention and stay awake.
• Before you arrive at the service, prepare yourself to be a good listener and have your mind on God. Some read their Bibles or pray. Others may watch, “A Bible Answer” or “In Search of the Lord’s Way” on TV. Whatever helps you get your mind focused, do it.
• Remind yourself of how important it is to hear God’s Word proclaimed. There is always something new for us to learn or be reminded of.
• When it comes to Bible class, come prepared to participate. If you have some insight on the topic being discussed, share it so that all can benefit from it.
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions in Bible class.
• When it comes to listening to the sermon, have a positive attitude – decide that you’re going to hear something that will help you or someone else. Don’t focus on the mispronounced words or the unintentional errors. Instead, focus on the overall message and what you can learn from it.
• Follow along with the Scriptures, or, if so many are used that you can’t turn to them quickly enough, write the references down and look at them later.
• If taking notes helps you stay focused, then take notes.
• If the lesson being taught reminds of something you need to be doing, do it, because we’re not supposed to be just hearers only, but doers of God’s Word (Jas. 1:22).
     Are you getting as much as you can from the Bible class and the sermons? Let us all be “swift to hear” and “doers of the Word” (Jas. 1:19 & 22).

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

Peace and Assurance

By Gerald Cowan

Lord, You will keep in perfect peace
All whose hearts are set on You.
We trust You to keep Your promise.
We know You are just and true.

Conscious guilt makes cowards of us,
Fear that others may find out
That we have wandered from the path.
Faith has given way to doubt.

We believe Your grace and mercy
Can redeem us, so we live
Rejoicing always in the love that
Makes You willing to forgive.

And so we bring our sins to You,
Trusting in Your endless care.
We will not yield to temptation
Nor surrender to despair.

Keep us confident, our Father,
That in Christ we have release
From sin, and strong assurance that
In him we have perfect peace.

- 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