Sunday, July 30, 2023

Who Will Hear?

By Bob Prichard
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).
    In the World Trade Center rubble after 9/11, President Bush rallied the people: “I can hear you! The rest of the world hears you! And the people … who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” 
    “The heavens shall pass away with a great noise.” That great noise, literally “a roar,” will come as the elements melt with fervent heat, and the earth and its works are burned up.
    Jeremiah prophesied, “At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is moved, and the cry is heard among the nations” (50:46). After marching quietly around Jericho, on the seventh time, “Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city” (Joshua 6:10), a fearful noise as the walls fell.
    At the day of the Lord, those who were deaf to the will of God will hear and understand that God was serious about His commands and promises. Will we hear?

- Bob Prichard serves as an elder and evangelist for the Hillview Church of Christ in Birmingham, Alabama, since 2016. In his forty-five years of preaching he has served churches in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Alabama.

Alcohol: What Does the Bible Really Say (Part 1)

By Clifton Angel
    “Jesus turned water to wine.” “Paul told Timothy to use a little wine for his stomach.” “The Bible does not condemn drinking, only drunkenness.” “Paul told Timothy that deacons cannot be given to much wine.” We have heard the claims that the world and even God’s children have made to seek justification for drinking “socially”, in “moderation”, or “in the privacy” of their home. They reference the Bible for their justification, but such references are only mentioned in passing and are rarely looked at in detail. What does the Bible really say?
    Jesus DID turn water into wine. It is true. John 2 tells us so. Furthermore, according to the measurement given in John 2:6, A.T. Robertson says Jesus turned about 120 gallons of water into wine! That is an abundance of any kind of beverage! However, let’s look closely at this occasion, what was said, and some inferences that must be made based upon the “sum” (Psalm 119:160, ASV) of the Bible.
    It is first assumed that Jesus made intoxicating wine. Such an assumption is first taken because of the use of the word “wine”. However, the word “wine” does not ALWAYS have reference to an intoxicating beverage. In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, we find that the Bible say “Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all” (Isaiah 65:8). Jehovah said there is wine in the cluster. Therefore, the Bible has referenced even the grapes still on the vine as wine. To call such “wine” intoxicating would be far from the truth!
    Next, it is assumed that Jesus provided intoxicating drink to those that were already drunk. “When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now” (John 2:9, 10). Some believe that the “ruler of the feast” was saying that the men at this particular feast were already “well intoxicated” when Jesus provided this miraculously-changed beverage. That is not what is said. Read it again. The “ruler of the feast” was referencing a common custom where men would bring out worse wine after the good wine; however, on this occasion, the inferor beverage was first. Nowhere in the text does it say that the men at this particular feast were drunk, nor is it defined what is “good” and what is “worse”--such would require an even deeper study.
    Finally, concerning Jesus turning water to “wine”, we must not stray from the truth concerning Jesus’ Deity and perfection. More on this next week.

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

Alcohol: What Does the Bible Really Say (Part 2)

By Clifton Angel
    Concerning Jesus turning water to “wine”, we must not stray from the truth concerning Jesus’ Deity and perfection. He is God; therefore, He cannot lie (Titus 1:2; c.f. Numbers 23:19; 2 Timothy 2:16; Hebrews 6:18). He cannot lie because such would be a contradiction to His very nature. And anything contrary to the commandments in His Word would be contrary to His very nature. Furthermore, if Jesus contradicted His commandments, He sinned, and if He sinned, Christians are of all people, the most miserable. Jesus NEVER sinned (Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5). With that said, what commandments can we find within the Word that cannot be contradicted by Jesus?
    In the old law that He came to fulfill (Matt. 5:17), we find that the Bible says: “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder” (Proverbs 23:29-32). Notice that this admonition of wisdom commands that we not even “look upon” the wine, nor “seek” it because of its end (final effect).
    In the New Testament, for which Jesus shed His blood (Matthew 26:28), we find that the Bible says, “drunkenness, revelings, and such like” will prevent us from going to Heaven (Galatians 5:19-21). Drunkenness is the excess of drinking alcohol, but revelings are the social gatherings where the process of drinking often takes place. Also, let us not overlook the “such like”. Furthermore, we could consider the imperative which forbids beginning the process of intoxication (Ephesians 5:18) and the numerous passages which demand sobriety (1 Thessalonians 5:6, 8; Titus 2:2, 4, 6; 1 Peter 1:13; 5:8). However, the most blatant travesty of suggesting that Jesus converted water to intoxicating wine is the direct contradiction to Peter’s prohibition of “banquetings” (drinking parties; 1 Peter 4:3).
    The honest Bible student must conclude that the miraculous beverage Jesus provided at the wedding feast in Cana was fresh, unfermented wine. Even the ruler of the feast was astonished at the great quality of the beverage (John 2:9–10). Jesus never sinned, Jesus never contradicted His holy Word, and Jesus did not turn water into an intoxicating beverage.

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

Alcohol: What Does the Bible Really Say (Part 3)

By Clifton Angel
    “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” (1 Timothy 5:23). Will you note with me a few things concerning this verse?
    First, this was a direct instruction to Timothy; not to Titus, Barnabas, Peter, or Mary. Paul was addressing a specific situation concerning Timothy. To take this as direct instruction for us today would be an improper reading of the text, and with such logic, one may be led to build an ark from the direct instruction in Genesis 6:14, “Make thee an ark of gopher wood.”
    Second, we do not know what characteristics this “wine” contained. What was its alcoholic content? Did it have any at all? It has been said that our weaker alcoholic beverages today contain greater alcohol content than the “strong drinks” of the first century. I’ve also recently learned there was such a thing as non-alcoholic fermented wine, which we might call vinegar, today. Fermentation could provide beneficial probiotic effects for the stomach. However, we cannot prove the alcoholic content of Paul’s prescription.
    Third, the specific purpose Paul gave to Timothy for the use of this “wine” was for his “stomach’s sake” and his “often infirmities.” It was a necessity for his immediate health. It is interesting, that many will bring up medicinal use of alcohol when trying to justify something far different: freedom to drink, as long as not getting drunk. Such is very different than using medicine which has alcoholic content. We now have ready access to many medicines that do not require alcohol. Red grape juice will do the same for your heart as red wine (which many doctors prescribe), without the alcohol. Drinking plenty of water will aid in cleansing the kidneys, instead of resorting to beer. Do we really need alcohol for medicine today? And if we do, Paul’s principle is “little.” It is not something we do for recreation.
    Fourth, if this is instruction for us to partake of alcoholic beverages, it is also instruction for us to “drink no longer water.” Should we heed Paul’s imperative prohibition of water?
    Finally, keeping things in context, we find in the previous verse that Paul says “neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22). Would such an admonition include drinking with others, or like others? May we all seek to read the Bible correctly and draw the conclusions God would have us to draw.

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

Alcohol: What Does the Bible Really Say (Part 4)

By Clifton Angel
    This will be our final installment of this series of studies; however, more could be said and evaluated on this vital topic. Feel free to ask if you have further questions.
    See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess [ASV, “riot”]... (Ephesians 5:15-18a).
    Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, ... envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21).
    On the surface, it seems that the only sin involved with drinking, according to these passages, is the sin of actually being drunk, but concerning drunkenness, a couple of things must NOT be overlooked in these passages, and reasonable questions must be asked.
    In Ephesians 5, the original terminology includes the process of getting drunk, which would include the first drink.
    In Galatians 5, directly following “drunkenness” are the sins of “revelings” and “such like.” Remember, “revelings are the social gatherings where the process of drinking often takes place”. Now, let us all ask ourselves this question: What is included in “such like”? Whatever is included in “such like” must have some association with the “works of the flesh” preceding. Is the drinking of alcohol “such like” taking part in a drinking party (reveling)? Is the drinking of alcohol “such like” the process of reaching drunkenness?
    Furthermore, at what point is a person drunk? Where is the fine line? Is it not true that the rate of intoxication varies from person to person? How is a person to know at what point he is “drunk” so that he will have a benchmark to never cross again?
    Several years ago, a co-worker of mine would drink beer on his way home from work. I asked: “The stuff smells horrible; does it not taste bad?” His reply: “Not after the first one!” I despised his practices, but I am thankful for his response. He proved to me that just ONE drink can alter a person’s judgment.
    What benefit are we going to bring to our lives by drinking, even in small amounts, alcoholic beverages? What harm are we going to bring to our lives by drinking alcoholic beverages? Paul said “such like” will keep us out of Heaven.

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

Sunday, July 23, 2023

The Necessity of Hearing the Gospel Message of Jesus

By Jeff Arnette
    The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Romans, emphasizes the importance of hearing the gospel message of Jesus Christ. In Romans 10:13-17, he outlines the necessity of proclaiming the good news and the profound impact it has on individuals’ lives. This passage sheds light on the transformative power of the gospel message and highlights the vital role of hearing it.
1. The Call to Salvation:
    Romans 10:13 declares, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” This verse underscores the inclusivity of God’s salvation. It demonstrates that salvation is available to all who genuinely seek and call upon the name of Jesus Christ. However, Paul clarifies that one can only call on the name of the Lord if they have heard of Him.
2. The Role of Preachers:
    Paul goes on to ask a series of rhetorical questions in Romans 10:14-15: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?” These questions highlight the essential role of preachers and messengers who proclaim the gospel. Through their preaching, they make it possible for others to hear and believe in Jesus.
3. The Power of Faith:
    Paul emphasizes that hearing the gospel message is crucial for people to believe in Jesus. Romans 10:17 states, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” The gospel contains the life-transforming power that ignites faith within individuals. It is through the hearing of the message that faith takes root in hearts and lives are changed. Without hearing the gospel, faith cannot be kindled.
4. The Global Mission:
    Paul’s words in Romans 10 highlight the universal reach of the gospel message. He emphasizes the importance of taking the good news to all nations and peoples. In a world of diverse cultures and languages, proclaiming the gospel allows people from every background to have the opportunity to hear, believe, and be saved. This underscores the urgency of global missions and evangelism.
    Romans 10:13-17 serves as a powerful reminder of the necessity of hearing the gospel message of Jesus. The call to salvation is open to all, but it requires individuals to hear and respond to the good news. The role of preachers and messengers becomes paramount in ensuring that the message reaches those who have not yet heard. Faith, the catalyst for transformation, comes through hearing the word of Christ. Therefore, sharing the gospel is not just an option but a global mission of utmost importance.
    As believers, we are called to be active participants in spreading the good news, whether through personal conversations, evangelistic efforts, or supporting missionaries. Let us heed the words of the apostle Paul and embrace our role in making the gospel known to all, so that through hearing, faith may arise, lives may be transformed, and salvation may be experienced by people from every corner of the earth.

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

The Necessity of Believing in Jesus

By Jeff Arnette
    One of the key teachings of the Bible is that faith is essential to pleasing God. In Hebrews 11:6, we read: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” This verse shows us two important aspects of faith: belief and action.
    Belief means trusting that God is who he says he is and that he will do what he promises. It is not enough to have a vague or general idea of God; we need to know him personally and intimately through his word and his Spirit. We need to believe that he is the creator, the sustainer, the redeemer, and the judge of all things. We need to believe that he loves us, cares for us, and has a plan for us. As Romans 10:9 says: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
    Action means living in obedience and submission to God’s will and commands. It is not enough to have a mental assent to God’s existence; we need to demonstrate our faith by our deeds. We need to seek him earnestly, meaning with sincerity, diligence, and perseverance. We need to follow his guidance, obey his instructions, and fulfill his purposes. We need to worship him, serve him, and honor him. As James 2:17 says: “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
    Faith is essential to pleasing God because it shows that we love him, trust him, and depend on him. Faith is the foundation of our relationship with God and the source of our spiritual growth and fruitfulness. Faith is not something we have once and for all; it is something we need to cultivate and nurture every day. Faith is the key to unlocking God’s blessings and promises in our lives. As Hebrews 11:1 says: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

The Necessity of Confessing Faith in Jesus

By Jeff Arnette
    One of the most important aspects of being a Christian is confessing faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This means publicly acknowledging that Jesus is the Son of God who died for our sins and rose again from the dead. Confessing faith in Jesus also means living according to his teachings and commands and following his example of love and service.
    The Bible tells us that confessing faith in Jesus has eternal consequences. In Matthew 10:32-33, Jesus says: “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” This shows us that confessing faith in Jesus is not optional, but essential for our salvation. For example, in Acts 4:12, Peter declares: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Confessing faith in Jesus is the only way to be saved from sin and death.
    The Bible also tells us that confessing faith in Jesus has spiritual benefits. In 1 John 4:15, John writes: “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.” This shows us that confessing faith in Jesus is not only a verbal declaration, but a personal relationship with God. Confessing faith in Jesus allows us to experience God’s presence, power, and love in our lives. For example, in Romans 8:16-17, Paul writes: “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” Confessing faith in Jesus makes us part of God’s family and gives us a glorious inheritance.
    Therefore, confessing faith in Jesus is not something we should be ashamed of or afraid of. It is something we should be proud of and eager to do. Confessing faith in Jesus is a way of honoring him, trusting him, and loving him. Confessing faith in Jesus is a way of expressing our gratitude for his grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Confessing faith in Jesus is a way of witnessing to others about his goodness, truth, and beauty.

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

The Transformative Power of Baptism: Forgiveness and Renewal

By Jeff Arnette
    Baptism is a sacred act and foundational to the teachings of Jesus. In it we find the forgiveness of sins and the transformative power of faith. Two key passages, Acts 2:38 and Romans 6:3-4, shed light on the profound significance of baptism.
    Forgiveness through Baptism: Acts 2:38 states, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” Here, Peter addresses a crowd on the day of Pentecost, urging them to repent and be baptized. This passage underscores the inseparable link between baptism and the remission of sins. Baptism signifies a repentant heart and a turning away from sinful ways, inviting God’s forgiveness and grace into one’s life.
    Through baptism, believers participate in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By immersing themselves in water, they identify with Christ’s sacrificial death, where their sins are washed away. The act of baptism, therefore, becomes a tangible expression of faith in God’s redemptive work and an acknowledgement of personal transformation.
    Renewal through Baptism: Romans 6:3-4 further elucidates the transformative nature of baptism, stating, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
    In these verses, the apostle Paul highlights the profound symbolism of baptism as a burial and resurrection. Just as Christ died and was raised to new life, believers, through baptism, enter a spiritual union with Christ. They die to their old selves, leaving behind the power of sin and embracing a new life in Christ. Baptism signifies a radical transformation, an inner rebirth, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
    Baptism holds immense significance for Christians, representing the forgiveness of sins and the transformative power of faith. Acts 2:38 emphasizes the connection between baptism and the remission of sins, while Romans 6:3-4 speaks to the spiritual rebirth that occurs through baptism. As believers enter the waters of baptism, they identify with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. This act of faith signifies a turning point in their lives, as they leave behind their old selves and embrace a new life in Christ. Baptism unites believers with Christ, offering forgiveness, renewal, and a fresh start on their spiritual journey.

- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Can Straw Become Gold?

By Joe Slater
    Paul lived long before the Brothers Grim published their fairy tale about Rumpelstiltskin spinning straw into gold. The apostle did, however, hold out hope that straw could be transformed into gold (not materially but spiritually).
    Likening the Corinthian church to a building, Paul compared himself to “a wise master builder” who laid the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10). That is, he had come to Corinth and preached Christ’s gospel, leading many to faith and obedience. The foundation was firm and secure.
    Others (Apollos, for example) had built on that solid foundation. A knowledgeable, eloquent teacher, Apollos had skillfully continued the superb work Paul had begun.
    But builders can use only those materials which are available to them. Paul wrote of using “gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw” (3:12). Individual Christians in Corinth and elsewhere would fit these categories. The first three types would stand the test of fire while the latter three would burn. In other words, on Judgment Day some would be saved but others lost.
    In Corinth, many had fallen victim to petty disputes and divisions, fornication (and tolerance of it), corrupt worship, and blatant false doctrine. What a mess! No doubt some were like straw. Yet God hadn’t given up on them, and neither would Paul.
    Could straw become gold? Yes, it could happen then in Corinth, and it can happen today right here! Jesus, not Rumpelstiltskin, can and will transform you when you repent and submit to His will.
(Note: I am indebted to my friend and brother, Guy Orbison, Jr., for the seed thoughts for this article from his excellent publication, Working in the Word.)

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

Sunday, July 16, 2023


By Gerald Cowan
Before the hills appeared,
Before the rivers and the seas,
Before the clouds were formed,
Before the stirring of the breeze;
Before a man was born,
Or any other living thing;
Before the rain or snow first fell,
Before the flowers of spring;
Before the paths of earth
By mortal men were trod –
Before it all, from everlasting was
The Great Eternal God.
When everything on earth
Decays and disappears,
As darkness of the night
Dissolves when daylight nears;
When all the starry universe
Burns up and fades away
With nothing left to measure time,
No sense of night or day;
When challengers and skeptics all
Lie dead beneath the sod –
Through everlasting there will be

The Great Eternal God. 

- 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

Whose Are You?

By David A. Sargent
    While lecturing at Yale University, Fred Craddock told of going back one summer to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to take a short vacation with his wife. One night they found a quiet little restaurant where they looked forward to a private meal — just the two of them.
    While they were waiting for their meal, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting guests. Craddock whispered to his wife, “I hope he doesn’t come over here.” He didn’t want the man to intrude on their privacy. But the man did come by his table.
    “Where you folks from?” he asked amicably.
    “Splendid state, I hear, although I’ve never been there. What do you do for a living?”
    “I teach homiletics at the graduate seminary of Phillips University.”
    “Oh, so you teach preachers, do you? Well, I’ve got a story I want to tell you.” And with that he pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with Craddock and his wife.
    The man stuck out his hand. “I’m Ben Hooper. I was born not far from here across the mountains. My mother wasn’t married when I was born so I had a hard time. When I started to school my classmates had a name for me, and it wasn’t a very nice name. I used to go off by myself at recess and during lunchtime because the taunts of my playmates cut so deeply.”
    “What was worse was going downtown on Saturday afternoon and feeling every eye burning a hole through you. They were all wondering just who my real father was.”
    “When I was about 12 years old a new preacher came to our church. I would always go in late and slip out early. But one day the preacher said the benediction so fast I got caught and had to walk out with the crowd. I could feel every eye in church on me. Just about the time I got to the door I felt a big hand on my shoulder. I looked up and the preacher was looking right at me.”
    “‘Who are you, son? Whose boy are you?’ he asked.”
    “I felt the old weight come on me. It was like a big black cloud. Even the preacher was putting me down.”
    “But as he looked down at me, studying my face, he began to smile a big smile of recognition. ‘Wait a minute,’ he said, ‘I know who you are. I see the family resemblance. You are a son of God.’”
    The old man looked across the table at Fred Craddock and said, “That was the single most important sentence ever said to me.” With that he smiled, shook the hands of Craddock and his wife, and moved on to another table to greet old friends.
    Suddenly, Fred Craddock remembered. There was a man elected governor for two terms in Tennessee.  His name was Ben Hooper. *
    Who are you?  Whose are you?
    God wants each of us to be His child.  Our sins separate us from Him, but God loves us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Through Jesus, we can be cleansed from our sins and become a child of God (Galatians 3:26-27).
    God will forgive and add to His forever family 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 into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).

    Accept God’s offer on His terms.  It will change your life forever.

- 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:

* Gleaned from sermon illustrations about fathers in

Where There Is No Wood

By Brian Mitchell
    See if you can guess of whom or what the author is speaking. “I am more deadly than the screaming shell of a canon. I win without killing. I tear down homes, break hearts, wreck lives, and destroy churches. I travel on the wings of the wind. No innocence is strong enough to intimidate me, no purity pure enough to daunt me. I have no regard for truth, no respect for justice, no mercy for the defenseless. My victims are as numerous as the sands of the sea and often as innocent. I never forget and seldom forgive. My name is...?”
    Can you guess of whom or what he is speaking? Most of it sounds like a description of the devil himself. But that is not of whom the article speaks. Who or what could be so cruel and heartless? He ends this article by saying my name is GOSSIP!!! The abomination described in this article is something that indeed is very cruel and heartless, and is something very strongly condemned in the Bible. Yet still it is something often found on the lips of God’s children and we many times are not even aware that we are guilty of gossiping.
    The book of James provides perhaps the most graphic warnings about the tongue in the whole Bible—Jm.3:6 and Jm.3:8. There are very few sins that the Bible describes in more serious terms, and yet there are very few sins which receive so little thought or attention. As I said, there are times when we may not even be aware that we are gossiping and that is why it is so serious. This is why we need to understand what gossip is, so that we might never be guilty of it.
    Taming the tongue is not something that many of us often think about, until it gets us in trouble, or until we are the victim of someone else’s misuse of the tongue. What we must realize is the fact that there are few things in our possession that have the ability to do more harm and damage. With our hands we may take a person’s material goods or even their physical life. But with the tongue you may take a man’s dignity, his good name and reputation, and all that gives his life real value.
    Sadly, you can do all of these things without ever having the intention of doing so, all by getting caught in what may seem like at times harmless chit chat. As I have said before, we don’t get to decide how our words affect the lives of others, and that is why we must be extremely careful with the words we speak. Someone once said, “A three inch tongue can destroy a six foot man.”
    I know a preacher that once promised during his Sunday morning sermon that during his evening lesson he was going to preach about that congregation’s greatest sin. Of course, everyone came back that evening and heard a sermon on the subject of gossiping. The interesting part of the story was the next he received a call from one of his elders saying that two women from the church had called him to complain about the preacher’s sermon—do you see the problem with that??? Instead of calling the preacher to talk with him, these ladies called an elder.

    We should examine what the Bible says about Gossip and we must make this terrible yet often overlooked sin seriously and effectively handle situations where others want to share gossip with you.

- Brian Mitchell serves as a minister with the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at

Defending The Truth Against False Teaching?

By Wes Garland


    In the world today, many false teachings are being proclaimed and believed. What should our response be? Should we just stand by and allow these teachings to go on without saying anything or are we called to do something major? In this series of articles, we are going to look at what the Bible says are reasons why we are CALLED to defend the truth against error.

    First, we must see where God stands on false teaching. Because it is the case that God’s words are truth (Psalm 119:160, John 17:17), anything that is opposite of that IS NOT HIS! When something alters from the word of God, it is NOT what God has said. And if it is not what God said, then the intent for those words spoken by God is missed and overlooked. When we take what God says and try to replace it or misconstrued it, God IS NOT HAPPY with it because it is NOT what He said. We must realize that God says what He says for a reason, and it is for the fact of making us more like Him.

    God is also against false teaching because His word leads to everlasting life and anything different DOES NOT lead to everlasting life. This goes back to the purpose and the intent of His words for us. Do we realize that when we speak anything that differs from God’s word, we are affecting the eternal destiny of the hearers? In John 8:32 Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Truth intends to set free the ones who are willing to listen and obey it. If it is not the truth, NO ONE CAN BE SET FREE! If we are not set free, then we will still be in our sins and therefore will be lost for all eternity.

    God is also against false teaching because God’s word makes disciples of Christ, but error makes disciples of Satan. We see this in John 8:31 when Jesus says, “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” The qualification to being a disciple of Christ is that we follow the word of God as our standard. If our standard is based on anything else, then it is a lie because it is not the truth. Now we know who the father of lies is from John 8:44 where Jesus says, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” If we don’t want to be disciples of the devil, we must change and follow the other standard – the word of God.

    God is also against false teaching because God’s word leads people to have a relationship with Him, but error drives a wedge in the fellowship of God and His people. We see this in 2 John 9 where John states, “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.” God longs to have fellowship with His creation, but He makes the standard of fellowship based on the teachings of His word. When mankind wants to change the source of their teachings from what God says to say and teach another, we have to sacrifice our fellowship with God. We cannot change or alter our teachings from God’s word and be found to be in good standing with God. Galatians 1:6–9 teaches “6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”

    May we stand with God and not be against Him so that we can have Heaven as our home, and we can be in full fellowship with Him!

RIGHTEOUSNESS (being upright before God)

By Ron Adams

"Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do,
and does not do it, to him it is sin."
James 4:17
Those who say:
"I didn't do anything wrong," "I never hurt anyone," or
"I never even bothered anyone,"
fall short of "doing right" and "helping."
Righteousness is not just the absence of sin--
it's the presence of right-doing.
The absence of wrong-doing leaves a void that
is to be filled with righteous deeds.
Faith without works is dead!
Jesus said to those on His left:
"Depart from Me . . .
for I was hungry,and you gave Me nothing to eat;
I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink;
I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in;
naked, and you did not clothe Me;
sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me . . .
to the extent that you did not do it to one of
the least of these, you did not do it to Me."
Matthew 25:43-45

- Ron Adams publishes F.Y.C., a monthly publication. Bible references are from the NASB except where another translation is referenced. Back issues are archived at Be thoughtful and kind. All rights reserved. © 2021

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Back to the Bible

By Bill Brandstatter
    Our society is heading in the direction that Paul describes in 2 Tim. 3:1-3. We have seen a decrease in morals in our society. What is called “same sex marriage” is being widely accepted. That which was once considered against the law, is now legalized in some areas. Hopefully, this will be the year that many will get back to the Bible. I hope you will be part of the effort to return to basic Bible teachings and let the Bible speak in all things that pertain to life and godliness. (2 Pet. 1:3) In this article and in next week's, let us get back to the Bible in our understanding of who God is.
    God is not a panic button. Some only call on Him to help in an emergency. Others believe God exists to grant our every wish and desire. Some only know that God exists when trouble happens in life. Then if God doesn’t deliver, they blame Him. God is a very present help in trouble. (Ps. 46:1) We should live for Him every day, not just use Him as a panic button.
    God is God and we are not. This simple statement is found in Isa. 55:8, 9. God doesn’t think like we do nor does He act and react like us. Paul asked the question: “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” (1 Cor. 2:11) God does things in His way, not in man’s way. Once this simple principle about God is learned, much of the misunderstanding of the nature and role of God will be more clearly seen.
    God is a spirit. We are spirit beings; (1 Cor. 6:19, 20) therefore, we are subject to the Father of spirits. (Heb. 12:9) We live in a physical body in a physical realm. God is a spirit and He lives in a spiritual realm. To connect with God, we must think spiritually. The Bible tells us that “to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:6)
    God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2:4) All truth has already been revealed to us. (2 Pet. 1:3) The apostles were told by the Lord that the Holy Spirit would guide them into all truth. (John 16:13) We have it all today. We don't need any more revelations from God. Such is forbidden by the Bible. (Gal. 1:6-10) God has given us what we need to know to be saved. We can all be saved the same way by doing as the Bible directs. Jesus stated, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mark 16:16) We can all believe the right thing and be baptized the right way to receive the right salvation that Jesus mentioned.

Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website:

Some Words about Deacons (Adapted)

By Adam Faughn
    Deacons in the Lord's Church may often wonder if people truly understand what they do. For some, deacons seem just like elders (or, maybe, "junior elders"). After all, we will sometimes hear someone pray, "Bless our elders and deacons as they lead and make decisions."
    For others, they simply do not know what deacons do. It's a title, but a recognition of what it means is often missed.
    God, however, laid down a perfect plan for the Church in the pages of Scripture, and He included deacons in that plan. Knowing that, we need to be sure we seek to have deacons, but we also need to grasp what they do and encourage it.
    The word in the New Testament that translates as "deacon" simply means "servant." In a sense, we know that every Christian is to be a servant. However, it is clear from passages like Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13 that God had in mind a distinct and qualified group of men to have this position and work within the local congregation. Thus, we sometimes refer to deacons as "special servants."
    These men are not elders; nor are they "junior elders" or "elders in training." That said, their role is vital to the elders because good and hard-working deacons allow the elders to more effectively and efficiently do their work of shepherding, overseeing, and spiritually feeding the flock of God.
    If we read Acts 6 carefully, the apostles (who were, if you will, "proto-elders" in Jerusalem) appointed seven men to oversee a particular ministry. These, it would seem, were "protodeacons," and they set the standard for that role in each local congregation. These men were put over that specific work so that (1) it would be done well, and (2) the apostles could do what only they were uniquely qualified to do. That sets the design for deacons in the local church. They are placed over certain areas of work, programs, events, and such like to (1) do the work well and in a trustworthy manner and (2) allow the elders to do what only the elders are to be doing.
    I pray that we show our gratitude for our deacons and that we do so, in part, by recognizing and appreciating what they do. But I also would hope that we will show appreciation by lending them a helping hand so that their areas of work do not become a burden and so that those works are a delight as these men serve God in this special way. Finally, I pray that other men and young men would see this role as vital and would try to prepare themselves to serve in this very special way in the future. The church needs good deacons, and we are blessed here to have just that. May it continue to be so.

- Adam Faughn preaches for the Central Church of Christ in Paducah KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: Visit the Faughn Family blog, A Legacy of Faith

Suffering Servant (Part One)

By Clifton Angel
    The bittersweet image of Jesus as the "suffering servant" is most beautifully and concisely portrayed in Isaiah 53. It is this Bible chapter that has been so "titled" because the text foretells of God's "righteous servant" (53:11) who would endure unthinkable suffering "for our iniquities" (53:4). I encourage you to pause here and read Isaiah 53.
    Now, let us endeavor to show from other Scriptures some of the great paradoxes that entailed God coming in the form of a servant and suffering for His creation. Paul wrote:
Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).
    It is unfathomable for one to be “in the form of God” yet take “upon him the form of a servant”! A paradox is something that is not contradictory yet it seems very contradictory. Jesus was a walking paradox.
    Consider Jesus' paradox of poverty. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye throu-gh his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). The word translated “poor” and “poverty” has a root than can be found in Luke 16:20 concerning the beggar
    Lazarus. I cannot wrap my mind around it! The Beginner of all things (John 1:1-3) became like a beggar with no things. He experienced poverty in that He was homeless. “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). The Carpenter (Mark 6:3) of the world (Hebrews 3:4), Who made all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:1-3; John 1:1–3), was homeless! He experienced poverty in that He was hungry. “And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry” (Mark 11:12). “Jesus being full of the Holy Spirit returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
    Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered” (Luke 4:1-2). The Bread of Life (John 6:35), Who sent manna from above (John 6:31), was hungry! He experienced poverty in that He was dehydrated. As He was suspended between Heaven and earth, he cried, “I thirst” (John 19:28).
    The Giver of living water (John 4:10-14) was dehydrated! O how great was the suffering that included the paradox of poverty!

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

Suffering Servant (Part Two)

By Clifton Angel
    Next, let us consider Jesus' paradox of pain. O how paradoxical it is that He who dwells where there is no pain (Rev 21:4) experienced pain!
    He experienced pain in that He was mistreated. Only He truly knows how much He hurt as the very souls that He came to save (Luke 19:10):
1. Spat upon Him and slapped Him (Matt 26:67);
2. Released the criminal Barabbas (ironically, his name means “son of his father”) instead of the sinless Savior, and scourged Him (Matt 27:26);
3. Mocked Him and drove a crown of thorns into His head (Matt 27:29-30);
4. Stripped Him of His clothing and crucified Him (Matt 27:35).
And yet, the text seems to emphasize that greater than these moments of mistreatments may have been the pain He experienced in the garden, where He prayed: “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). The Great Physician, Who can heal all ailments, was in agony!
    Next, His experience of pain can be seen in His verbal mourning. The nature of Jesus‘ offering “up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death” (Heb 5:7) can even be defined as “howling,” which can mean to “weep and cry out loudly” (Oxford Dictionary). The Prince of peace (Isa 9:6), Who provides the peace “that passeth all understanding” (Phil 4:7), was for a time without peace!
    Finally, His experience of pain can be seen His internal mourning.
“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy” (Matt 26:36-37).
He whose “yoke is easy” and “burden is light” (Matt 11:30) had a heavy heart! Such should never have to be experienced by the God of Heaven! However, this section would be lacking if we did not include Scripture which might indicate a period of supreme loneliness (Mark 15:33–34):
“And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying,

Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

Suffering Servant (Part Three)

By Clifton Angel
Jesus as the "suffering servant" included numerous other paradoxes. Consider how:
1. He gave up equality with God (Philippians 2:5-8; albeit, He is still 100% God) because of man’s desire to have equality with God (Genesis 3:5-6)!
2. He gave up the unpronounceable “YHWH” (Psalm 33:6,9; John 1:1-3,14; “Jehovah” in ASV; “LORD” in KJV) for the lowly man-pronounced “Jesus” (Matthew 1:18-25)!
3. He Who created the angels (Colossians 1:16) “was made a little lower than the angels” (Hebrews 2:9)!
4. He Who is not bound by time (Isaiah 57:15) became bound by time (Matthew 26:18)!
5. The God Who “cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13) was tempted with evil (Matthew 4:1-11)! In fact, He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
6. The Giver of all “riches and wealth” (Ecclesiastes 5:19) was sold for a mere thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15)!
7. He Who said “I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28) experienced being restless (Luke 6:12)!
8. The Judge of all (2 Timothy 4:1), Who pronounces acceptation and rejection (Matthew 25:31-46), was rejected (Mark 8:31; 12:10; John 1:11)!
9. He Who is “the Life” (John 14:26), the Giver of eternal life (Romans 6:23), Who dwells in a place where there is no death (Revelation 21:4), tasted death (Hebrews 2:9)!
    Jesus was a walking paradox. Because He is God means He does not have to serve, and He certainly should not have to suffer; yet, Jesus did, and He did it in such a fashion that no man could ever fathom to formulate such a plan. At Isaiah 53:4–6, we read:

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

- Clifton Angel preaches for the Coldwater Church of Christ in Coldwater, MS. He may be contacted through that congregation's website:

Monday, July 3, 2023

Is It The Lord Who Speaks To Me?

By Gerald Cowan
How will I know it is the Lord
Who speaks the words I hear?
Are they direct from him, these words
That sound within my ear?
How can I sort through all the words
And voices that I find
Competing for attention and
For notice in my mind?
They all may seem well-reasoned, sound,
Believable, and true.
Each one is urgent, pressing me.
What then am I to do?
How to decide which way to go,
Which of the paths to take?
Will I be able to change course
If I an error make?
The only words that I can trust
To be from Him I love
Are words that He himself inspired
And sent down from above.
With voices that do not repeat
God’s word I’ll not agree.
Unless I know it comes from Him
It finds no place with me.

- 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

How Do We Stop Gossip?

By Brian Mitchell
    Where there is no wood the fire ceases. Fire needs 3 things to exist: Fuel, Oxygen and Heat. Without anyone of these elements there is no fire. Likewise gossip needs three things to exist, thrive, and do damage. It needs a victim, a tale bearer, and an audience. Again, without all of these constituent elements gossip will not take form and no damage can be done.
    The first step to stopping gossip is the realization that none of us personally wants to be the subject of gossip, tale bearing, or slander. Once we admit that, then we move to the next step, which is the personal application of the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do to you” Mt7:12. If you don’t want to be gossiped about or slandered, then don’t do it to others.
    What do we do when we are tempted to gossip, be a tale bearer, or slander someone? Remember that no one benefits from gossip and slander. “A good name in a man or woman is the immediate jewel of the soul. He who steals my purse steals trash, but he who steals my good name robs me of that which enriches him not and makes me poor indeed” Shakespeare. In other words, no one benefits from gossip and slander. Slandering someone else’s good name not only does you no good, it many times does irreparable harm to those who are the victims of your slander.
    Remember that gossip can and often does destroy your own trustworthiness and reputation—Prov.26:24-26. The more you gossip about others the less trustworthy you become. “He who gossips with you will gossip about you.” One of the gossiper’s main goals is to inflate their own reputation by tearing down the reputation of others, but in the end, it is really your reputation that suffers. Gossip is not befitting a child of God and must be done away with—Col.3:8-10.
    Remember that once gossip and slander is out you can’t get it back. There was a story of the young man who slandered the name of an older preacher that he did not like very much. Upon realizing the error of his actions, he went to the old preacher and repented, he then asked how he could make things right. So the old preacher took the young man outside on a breezy day and tore open a feather pillow, and then as the wind scattered the feathers in every direction he told the young man to go out and retrieve each of those feathers. The point is obvious: “We are many times no more able to repair the damage that gossip does, than the young man would be able to gather all of those feathers back.”
   Realize that your heart is the heart of the matter. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” Mt.12:34. Jesus teaches us that we speak about those things which are present in our minds, so if we are always dwelling upon negative things, those things are going to be manifested in our communications with others. So if gossip and slander come from the heart, and are themselves a direct result of that which I am focused on, then I need to change the things I focus on. If I am continually focused on the negative aspects of people and situations, then those are the kind of things I am going to share with others.
    So we need to change our focus and look for the positive. Instead of dwelling on the fact that someone has done you wrong, and you must therefore get even by talking negatively to others about them, remember God who says “vengeance is mine I will repay.” So speak what is good for necessary edification” Eph.4:29.

- Brian Mitchell serves as a minister with the Jackson Church of Christ in Jackson, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website at