Thursday, August 6, 2020

Apostasy

Apostasy? What is apostasy? To some this word may sound strange and may not have meaning. But let us first assign a meaning to this word and then we will understand how serious apostasy is. Webster's New World Dictionary defines apostasy as: "an abandoning of what one believed in, as a faith, etc." Now do you see how serious this word is? The Lord's church is suffering today because of individuals that have abandoned their faith in God and slipped back into worldliness. Peter says "For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them" (2 Peter 20-21). These are some strong words delivered by the apostle Peter! God is very displeased with anyone that accepts his commandments one day and then throws them into the wind the next. Individuals that do this will be lost eternally. James says "My beloved brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:19-20). God takes apostasy very seriously and so should we because our soul is at stake!


If apostasy wasn't a real problem then it would not be addressed so often in the word of God. There are different types of apostasy. The Hebrew writer says "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins," (Hebrews 10:26). Apostasy usually comes about as a result of an individual who willfully strays from God's word but we can also see that apostasy can come in other ways such as deceptiveness. "But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:13).

Apostasy is known by other terms such as "shipwreck" as Paul points out to young Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:19. It is also described as a "falling away" in Hebrews 6:6. James refers to individuals that slip into apostasy as "erring" (James 5:19). As we see various terms associated with this word apostasy - one thing is for certain and that is "one has abandoned their faith in God!"

Now that we know what apostasy is, we need to find out what causes this awful thing to happen to God's children. In today's society there is an endless list of things that can cause someone to turn away from God because their faith is not as strong as it should be. False teachers that are on the television networks and around every corner are being fueled by Satan himself to cause you to fall away from God. Jesus talks about the false prophet in Matthew 24:11 when he says; "...many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many". This is just one cause that will confront the Christian on a day to day basis. There are many, many others such as; the love of this world (2 Timothy 4:10), ignorance (Romans 10:3), carelessness (1 Corinthians 10:12), discouragements (Matthew 24:12), temptations of all kinds (Luke 8:13), developing an attitude of "unbelief" (1 Timothy 1:19), impure hearts (1 Timothy 1:5-6), and the lack of a good conscience before God (1 Timothy 1:19), just to name a few.

But there is a remedy for apostasy and that is to repent and turn back to God's way before it is everlastingly too late (Revelation 2:5)! As Christians, if we would concentrate on adding the Christian characteristics to our lives, then we would not be so easily swayed into apostasy from one form or another. Read 2 Peter 1:5-10 and add these characteristics to your life. Apostasy is real and can happen to anyone that has a weak faith and isn't growing in the ways of Christ!

Friday, July 31, 2020

Hearing the Word of God

Jesus went about His ministry speaking in parables. It says in Mark 4:34 “But without a parable He did not speak to them.” Jesus spoke in parables so that they could more easily understand what He was trying to say to the people. One parable that Jesus spoke about concerns “the sower.” This parable is found in Mark 4:3-20 and in Matthew 13:18-23. In Mark’s account of this parable Jesus said: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed, that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” (Mark 4:3-8). Of all the parables that Jesus told, this one in particular really cuts to the heart of why man does not always respond to the preaching and teaching of the gospel of Christ. Jesus points out to us that there are four kinds of hearers in the world. You and I are one of these kind. So which one are we? The one we are depends on what we do with the Word of God once we have heard it. Assuming that each of us has heard God’s Word, now let’s see where we stand in relationship to this parable that Jesus told.

Are We Shallow?
As the Word of God is sown or preached, and we hear the Word, do we immediately let Satan come along and lead us back into sin and the ways of the world? Some are very shallow, allowing Satan to immediately get his grips back in them. The Word that they heard quickly leaves them as they again become servants of Satan and not the Lord Jesus (Mark 4:15).

Are We Rootless?
Again as God’s Word is taught are we like the seed that fell on the stony ground? Did we receive God’s Word with great gladness of heart and get excited about it for just a short time, only to see it quickly fade away? If this is so, then we are “rootless!” When tribulation and persecution comes our way we quickly succumb to the pressures of having to uphold the Word of God and we immediately stumble away. There are many who have eagerly received the Word of God, got excited about it for a short time but then drifted back into the world, letting Satan take command and control of their life! Individuals like this are simply rootless!

Are We Entangled?
This is where I believe most people are today. They are entangled with the affairs of this world and not the affairs of God. Jesus said that this type of person is the one that is likened to the thorny ground. The Word of God is heard but the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desire for other things choke out the Word to the extent that no fruit can ever be realized. Many today are entangled in the affairs of the world because they neglect the first commandment that Jesus taught and that is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). When we do not truly love God with all of our inner being then certainly the cares of the world and the lusts of it will take over and we will become entangled with them.

Are We Fruitful?
The one who hears the Word of God, accepts it, and bears fruit because of it, is the one that will inherit eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9). We must make sure that our ground (heart) is fertile, always ready and willing to receive God’s Word and DO what He asks of us! Let us all long for a fertile heart, and be anxious to bear fruit.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Conscience

No doubt you have heard things like "let your conscience be your guide," or "if it seems right then it must be right," or "no one can have a good conscience while doing something wrong." To find out if these statements are true we must go to the source of all authority and that is the teaching of Jesus Christ and His inspired Word, the Bible. I believe it is true that our conscience should help guide us through life but we need to understand that our conscience is only as accurate as it has been taught. Just because we think something is right, it may not necessarily be so. The apostle Paul said: "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9). We know that while he was doing these contrary things that he was doing them in "good conscience". "Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, "Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day" (Acts 23:1). Therefore, just because something seems right to us, this does not make it absolutely so and we can also do things without it offending our conscience. 
Our Conscience Must Be Trained By the Word of God
Our conscience must be trained to discern between right and wrong. If it has only been trained by our parents, then we will develop a conscience that will consist of values that we have learned from our parents. We need to ask ourselves, "where did my parents get their values?" If their values came from God’s Word then they have passed on values based upon God’s teaching and that is good. However, if they received their values of life from other sources, then you have received your values of life from your parents based on sources other than the Word of God. Why is this important? Because when our earthly life is over we are going to be judged by the words of Jesus. Jesus said: "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). We need to understand that we must live our life on this earth with a good conscience that is based solely on the words of Jesus Christ and the authority that He gave to His inspired apostles. Peter wrote: "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20-21).
The Bible Is Our Inspired Guide
The apostle Paul plainly taught that the Bible is the true source wherein man can be made perfect in God’s sight. He said: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is only through scripture that we can truly learn what God wants us to do in order to be pleasing to Him. The Bible must be our guide throughout life, not our conscience. Unfortunately most people go through life living for the moment and basing just about everything they do on how it makes them feel. As long as their conscience does not bother them, then they continue to partake of all the pleasures of life without any regard to what awaits them after this earthly life comes to an end. I urge you to do as the Bereans did back in the first century as they "….received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). Remember, your conscience is only as good as it has been taught. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

Punishment of the Wicked

When we hear that the wicked people will be punished by God we usually think about those individuals that murder, maim, steal, etc. We all agree that unrepentant people like this should not get to go into heaven but rather to hell where they will suffer an eternity in punishment. But have you ever stopped to really look at what the Bible says concerning those that will end up in hell? The Hebrew writer said: “And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.” Paul told the Thessalonian brethren: “dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-9). If we “do not obey” God (keep His commandments), then we will receive the same punishment as those awful immoral people. Punishment is certain (Psalms 9:17; Revelation 21:8). Punishment is also eternal (Matthew 25:41). Therefore, knowing this, we should strive to do ALL of God’s will so we can ensure that we will be with Him forever. Live life for Christ -- making the choice to go to heaven!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Must I Be Baptized To Be Saved?

So often we hear people say that they don’t “feel” that baptism is essential for salvation. I am amazed when I hear this because it is so obvious that God clearly gave us many passages in the Bible that show that baptism is essential for salvation. Individuals that say “I don’t feel that it is necessary,” are often the ones that have never opened up the Word of God and taken the time to read what is required for their salvation. One of the greatest examples of proving that baptism is essential is found in the book of Acts, chapter eight. Here, starting in the 26th verse we can read where an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying: “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” The Lord had a mission for Philip to do and sent His angel to inform Philip on what He wanted Philip to do. Philip met an Ethiopian Eunuch who came to Jerusalem to worship (v27). When Philip joined the chariot, he noticed that the Eunuch was reading from the book of Isaiah. The Eunuch did not really understand what he was reading and Philip began from the passage that was being read and “preached Jesus to him” (v35).

The Eunuch understood enough to KNOW that he needed to be baptized to be saved (v36). At this point Philip said: “If you believe with all your heart, you may” The Eunuch answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (v37). Then in verse 38 the action resulting from the Eunuch’s belief in Jesus was accomplished. It says: “And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.” The Eunuch never “felt” saved until he was baptized! And the fact of the matter is, he was not saved until he was baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27). Have you been baptized into Christ? If not, you are not saved in accordance with God’s New Testament teaching. Jesus is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). Have you obeyed Jesus?

Friday, May 1, 2020

Christian Life

Every Christian should strive to live the life that they have been raised to live. The apostle Paul said in the latter part of Romans 6:4 that “even so we also should walk in newness of life.” The Christian life is a life of faith (Romans 1:17). Our old life was buried and now we serve the Lord in “newness of life.” Paul said in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” The “true” Christian realizes that the “old man” was crucified with Christ and now lives a “new”, pure life before God. John wrote: “And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).

The Christian life is also a life of self-denial. Jesus said that “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25). Some have trouble living the Christian life because they have NOT determined to really let Jesus rule their life, denying anything that would stand between them and their service to the Savior.

Peter writes: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8). The Christian realizes that Satan is active and working to destroy all those that try to do good. The Christian life is not an easy life. The apostle Paul told Timothy: “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). If we feel that we are suffering some type of persecution as we live our Christian life, then we must be doing something right. “Count it all joy when you encounter various trials and tribulations” (James 1:2). 

The Christian life is also a life of prayer. Every Christian should be spending time talking to God every day (Matthew 26:41). God wants and expects us to pray to Him (1 Timothy 2:8). Are you spending time talking to God? When we talk to God it shows Him that we are trying to do His will and we are seeking his help and guidance, along with praising Him for all that He has done for us. The Christian life is a life of obedience to God, knowing that Jesus is the “author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9).

In addition to all these things, the Christian life is a life of growth (1 Peter 2:2), and a life of abiding in Christ (John 15:5-6). May we all strive to live the Christian life because after all, we are wearing Christ’s name aren’t we? Are we really living the kind of life that our Savior Jesus Christ would be pleased with? 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Singing to Praise God

Do you enjoy singing praises to God? Singing is a required and important part of our worship to God. It is through the praises that we sing that we get the opportunity to teach and admonish one another. Paul wrote: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). When God’s Word dwells within us RICHLY, we will express our joy to God in the teaching and admonishing of one another in song!

We know that we are not to entertain men with our singing, but rather we are commanded to sing to praise God. The Hebrew writer said: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You” (Hebrews 2:12). When we sing to God we must sing with the spirit and understanding. Paul wrote to the Corinthian brethren and said to them: “What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15). We must also sing with grace in our hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16).

Singing is a vital part of our worship to God. When we sing praises to God with the proper spirit and understanding, with grace in our heart, then our song service will be joyful, meaningful, and able to teach and admonish one another. But if we don’t have the proper attitude and prepare ourselves to sing to God, then our song service will be dull and not able to lift each other up. Let’s all strive to prepare ourselves to give God and each other our very best in our song service!