Saturday, December 24, 2016

How We Should Walk

On Tuesday, December 20, 2016, Carrol R. Sutton was tragically killed in an automobile accident at the age of 84. He preached the gospel of Christ for over 50 years with the East Albertville church of Christ in Albertville, Alabama. He will be greatly missed by those of his immediate family along with many, many faithful brothers and sisters in Christ who loved him so much. Brother Sutton lived his life devoted to Christ, living each day striving to be with Him in eternity. He published so many great articles over the years and I have chosen to borrow this one that was recently posted by the brethren at the New Georgia church of Christ in Rogersville, Alabama this past week. My blog is called "Walking in the Light" and these 13 points truly show us how we should walk in the ways of God.

How We Should Walk
Carrol R. Sutton

As we travel the journey from time to eternity, we have access to the Scriptures in which we have directions provided for us (in the Scriptures) as to how we should walk that we may be saved eternally. (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:25; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Hebrews 11:6: Romans 10:17; 2 John 9-11; James 2:12).


BY FAITH! In 2 Corinthians 5:7 Paul said: "(For we walk by faith, not by sight.)" One cannot walk by faith unless he listens to and learns the Word of God because "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17). One cannot walk by faith unless he walks according to the teaching of God's word.

IN THE LIGHT. John said: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1:7). To walk in the light is to walk according to God's Word. (See Psalms 119:105, 130; Acts 26:18; John 8:12; 2 Corinthians 4:4)

IN TRUTH. John said: "I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father." (2 John 4). Since God's Word is truth, to walk in truth is to walk according to God's Word, (see John 17:17)

AFTER HIS COMMANDMENTS. John said: "And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it" (2 John 2). To walk after them, one must know them. Study to learn them.

WALK AFTER THE SPIRIT. We learn from Romans 8:1-6 that "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit...who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." In Galatians 5:16 Paul said: "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." To walk after the Spirit is to walk according to the revelation of the Holy Spirit as written in the Scriptures. When one engages in the works of the flesh, he is walking after the flesh and not after the Spirit. When a person follows the teaching of the Holy Spirit as revealed in the Scriptures, he is walking after the Spirit and not the flesh.

BY THE SAME RULE. Since we are following the same God, we should be walking by the same standard or rule of authority. Jesus Christ is our Lord and His Word should be our rule of faith and practice. Most denominational churches have their own rule of faith and practice. All who are a part of them are expected to accept and follow them. The apostle Paul said: "...let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing." (Philippians 3:16). As Christians we must all follow the same standard and rule of faith and practice if we expect to please God.

IN NEWNESS OF LIFE. We learn from Romans 6:1-5 that one must die to sin in repentance and be buried with Christ by baptism and be raised to "walk in newness of life". We must "put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit" of our mind and "put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:22-24). As new creatures we must live lives of "newness". (See 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15).

IN GOOD WORKS. Paul says: "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10). We are "to be ready to every good work" and "always abounding in the work of the Lord" because we know our labour is not in vain in the Lord." Faith without works is dead. (See James 2:14-26).

CIRCUMSPECTLY. Paul said: "See that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16). The word circumspectly means carefully.

HONESTLY. "Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying." (Romans 13:13). (See Romans 12:17; 2 Corinthians 8:21)

TO WALK IN CHRIST AND TO WALK AS HE WALKED. John said: "He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." (1 John 2:6). Paul said: "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him..." (Colossians 2:6). Also see Colossians 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 4:1; Colossians 1:10; Ephesians 5:8; Romans 4:12).

IN LOVE. Paul said: "And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us..." (Ephesians 5:2) 2 John 2:6 says: "And this is love, that we walk after his commandments..." To walk in love, we must agree with God. Amos 3:3 says: "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"

IN THE LIGHT. According to Paul in Colossians 1:13 and Ephesians 6:12 the world is in darkness. Darkness represents wickedness. Colossians 3:5-7 teaches that we live in wickedness as we walk in it. Instead of walking in darkness, we should walk in the light. (See John 12:35; 8:12; I John 1:6-7; 2:11).

To walk acceptably in the sight of God it is essential that we give diligence to learn His will, believe and obey it from the heart! Are you walking with God? Is He pleased with your walk? Is your walk a good influence on others? It should be.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Finding Happiness

Everyone wants a life that is filled with joy and happiness. While some manage to find this kind of life, most people don’t. One of the major reasons people fail to find the happiness they seek is because they try to find it through social approval. They are dedicated servants of humanity, working tirelessly day and night for others while neglecting God and their own families. They work furiously on some project and appear to be the epitome of human dedication. 

Could it be they are doing this to compensate for a personal insecurity they’re feeling? Or, is it a sense of something missing in their life? Businessmen frequently work day and night to amass a fortune while neglecting God and their families. Are they trying to find happiness through power, prestige and social approval? 

Don't get me wrong. The approval of society is acceptable to a certain extent. However, it can never bring lasting happiness, and should never be placed ahead of one's relationship with God and family. 

Where can we find happiness? Psalms 128:1-2 tells us, “Blessed is every one who fears the LORD, Who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.” Again, Psalms 146:5 says, “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the LORD his God...” 

How about you? Do you fear God? Are you happy because God is your hope and salvation? Living for God in all aspects of life will bring the greatest happiness of all!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Why Should We Pray?

Some might ask “Why should I pray?” A Christian knows that talking to God is important in drawing them closer to God. God listens to the saints (His children), and when we understand that, then it gives us a closeness to our Father. We need God and we need to ask God to intervene on our behalf. When we pray, we recognize that God is in charge and we need His help to direct our steps in life (Jeremiah 10:23). 

A Fundamental Point
In James 1:5-7 it says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord.” We need to understand that when we are lacking in something, in this case wisdom, then we should pray to God and ask for it. But when we ask, make sure that we are asking in faith, fully expecting God to make the change in our life. A prayer without faith is a prayer offered in vain. A Christian that prays constantly to God is a Christian devoted on serving God. Are you praying to God in faith, fully expecting Him to change your life? Many times our lives are made miserable because we do not take the time to pray to God and allow Him to intervene and help us. How frustrating it must be to God to know that we need His help, but simply refuse to ask!

Consistency is the Key
Please take a moment and read the following scriptures in your Bible: Matthew 15:21-28; Luke 18:1-8; 11:5-8. What do you see in these verses? In each case, what is the one clear message that we can learn about persistency in praying? We must pray to God knowing that He WILL provide for us IF we ask in faith, and if we ask in a persistent manner, expecting Him to deliver. That is what Jesus was trying to teach concerning an individual’s prayer life. When our children want something, don’t they usually ask us for it? And if they REALLY want it, don’t they ask over and over -- even to the point of “wearing us out?” We need faith, a faith that knows God is listening and He will provide for our needs, we’ve just got to ask Him and be consistent about it. Sometimes we just need to stop and look around at life itself. Life is teaching us something whether we recognize it or not. Life says, I need help. God says, “ask and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7).

Learning From The Old
The context of James 5:13-16 is prayer. Then in verses 17-18 it says: “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” Here we have a message about Elijah. Sometimes the praying of Old Testament characters are put in front of us in the New Testament to teach us lessons concerning our prayer life. What lesson do you understand James to be teaching here about prayer? First of all we should pray at all times, whether sick or glad. An effective prayer life can heal wounds, forgive others, and gladden our hearts beyond comprehension! We can also learn that God will listen to the prayers of the righteous and answer them. All we need to do is ask God to help us and He will. Elijah was a man of faith and the example before us is that he was sincere and “prayed earnestly.” Again, we are sometimes our own worst enemy because we don’t take the time to pray to God and allow Him to direct our steps. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “pray without ceasing.” Why? Because when we have an active prayer life, communicating with God, then our lives will be enriched with all the spiritual blessings. Are you happy? Pray. Are you sad? Pray. Are you thankful? Pray. Pray all the time!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Our Father's Business

Jesus, as a child of twelve years, was rebuked by Mary for remaining in Jerusalem after His family and acquaintances had left. He replied, "Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:49). Our Father's business should take priority over everything else in this world. 

Jesus knew and understood the importance of obeying God. Our Father's business should be attended with wisdom and care. If some of those who call themselves Christians operated their own affairs in the sloppy way that they attend to the Lord's work, they would soon go bankrupt. The children of this world are storing up material goods to be used tomorrow, whereas the child of God should be storing up treasures in heaven.

Our Father's business calls for devotion, dedication, and duty. All work is done on a voluntary basis. In secular work, some do only what the boss absolutely requires. In our Father's work, we need to do all that we can. Jesus said, "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'" (Luke 17:10).

Our Father's business demands a positive, loving attitude. A critical, judgmental, harsh, negative tone is not characteristic of God's children.

Let us make sure that we are going about our Father's business.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The New Birth

The New Birth is a very important doctrine of the Bible. Long before Jesus walked on earth God's prophets pointed to it (I Peter 1:10-12). It was the theme of Christ's preaching. He said to Nicodemus, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). That should settle the importance of the subject. What, then is involved in the new birth?

First, there is a cleansing from sin. Paul wrote, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5). The word "regeneration" means "new birth" (Vine, P.267). This cleansing occurs when a penitent believer is immersed in water, as may be seen in Paul's own conversion. The instruction he received was, "arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins....” (Acts 22:16).

A clear example of the new birth is seen in the conversions which occurred on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem. Spirit-filled men preached a Spirit-given message. Believers were told to "repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remissions of sins....” (Acts 2:38). Eager listeners responded by being baptized and "the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41). Remember how Jesus had promised that those who were born again would enter the kingdom? With these first converts on Pentecost that promise was fulfilled.

The Spirit's work in conversion is not in stimulating a feeling of ecstasy, but in providing men a knowledge of the truth. The Bible says, "Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth....” (James 1:18). And Peter declared, “Being born again, not of corruptible, by the word of God . . . And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Peter 1:23, 25).

If you have not believed in Christ, repented of your sins, confessed your faith in Christ before men, and been buried with the Lord in baptism for the remission of sins, then you need to also be born in to His family today.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Is Sincerity Enough for Salvation?

Apparently many sincere people are trusting in their sincerity for salvation. But is sincerity enough? Jesus said, “....I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Now what could this possibly mean if sincerity alone is sufficient? If there is no other way to salvation than through Christ, as He clearly stated here, then sincerity alone will not do, will it?

One of the classical examples of a man who was unquestionably sincere, and yet lost, out of Christ, and even an arch enemy of the early church, is that of Saul of Tarsus. Saul had even participated in the murder of the first Christian martyr, Stephen (Acts 7:58). He “....made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison” (Acts 8:3). It is even reported further that “Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2). So here is a man who is religious about persecuting the way of Christ, believing Jesus to be an imposter. Yet, though misguided, he said, “....I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day” (Acts 23:1). He had been sincere, but that sincerity wasn't enough, because you see, sin is not just a matter of violating your conscience; it is a matter of violating the will of God. John was speaking of this in 1 John, Chapter 3, verse 4, when he said, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”

In the course of time a Christian named Ananias informed Saul, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord’” (Acts 22:16). Yet Saul’s story ends happily because when he learned the error of his way, he was sincere enough to turn from his sins to Christ and he went on to become the great Apostle Paul.

In Acts Chapter 2, we read that there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven (verse 5). Yet, as Peter preached to these sincere people, he accused them with these words: “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death” (Acts 2:23). Although they were devout, they had participated in the crucifixion of the Lord. On learning of their sin, they were (as the Bible says) "....cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). They now realized that they were guilty before the Lord God. And as they were searching for a cleansing from this guilt, Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

The role of sincerity is to enable a person to be fair and honest with the truth! Sincerity alone does not determine truth, scientifically, and medically, legally, or religiously. We can see then, what Jesus was saying when He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Truth Shall Make You Free

Freedom is a most precious possession. Every creature desires and enjoys its freedom. Place an insect in a jar and it will work to get free. Put a dog on a leash and restrain him in one place and he will howl and bark to be set free. We humans are no different. We do not want our liberties tampered with – we want freedom.

On one occasion, Jesus said to the Jews who believed in Him, "If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" John 8:31-32. The key to genuine freedom is found in the phrase; "continue in my word". Jesus says we come to know the truth by continuing in His teachings, and truth is that which will liberate us or make us free. When we live by the principles of truth we are not bound by Satan. The application of truth will eliminate social as well as moral evils. Sin is what leads to drunkenness, fornication, adultery, idolatry, homosexuality, lasciviousness, and all other forms of immorality.

Truth will lead men and women, boys and girls to love one another. To the extent that we love one another, we shall also respect each other's rights and privileges. Jesus said when asked about the first commandment, "The first of all the commandments is: 'hear, o Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' this is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself.' there is no other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:29-31).

When we have love for God and our neighbor, it will necessitate living by the principle found in the Golden Rule, "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). Or as we have coined the thought: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Such behavior will contribute to peaceful relationships. It will also demand honest dealings. The Bible says, "Provide things honest in the sight of all men" (Romans 12:17). The application of the Golden Rule will cause us to have respect for law and order. This style and quality of living will always lead to the blessings of the Lord. We must understand that freedom is not something that can be legislated. It cannot be guaranteed by maintaining large armies or police forces. It comes when men and women submit to the will of the Lord.

We are reminded of the words of Paul, when he asked, "If God be  for us, who can be against us" (Romans 8:31)? If we walk in truth and worship in truth, we have nothing to fear. We shall be free people in the Lord.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bible Based Religion

Often times, professional people are asked to recommend someone for a job or certain position. David wrote: “Come and hear, all you who fear God, And I will declare what He has done for my soul” (Psalm 66:16). This is a way of saying: “I can recommend my religion to the whole world.” We show each day by our speech and our actions the kind of recommendation we place on our religion.

The question is, can you recommend your religion in light of Biblical teaching, by the way you live, by the way you support it, and by the way it works for you? Let’s consider these points to make sure that our religion is a Bible based religion.

The Standard of the Word of God
In light of the scriptures: would we be willing to compare our religion to the standard of the Word of God? Are we sure God would approve of it? The Bible says: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Or: “Test all things; hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Paul told Timothy: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Some individuals say: “I don’t see any difference that it makes as long as someone is sincere.” Jesus said: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). That is equivalent to saying one must be both sincere and right. 

The Way We Live
Can we recommend our religion by the way we live? This is a rather personal question, but it is also an appropriate question. Does our life and our religion compliment each other? Can people see Christ in us?  Christianity changes people. If our religion hasn’t brought about a genuine change in our life and behavior, perhaps we should consider changing our religion.

The religion of Christ makes one a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). In Romans 12:2, it states: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The word transform means to convert or change. A change must take place in the life of a Christian.

Our lives need to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (Titus 2:10). Of course, that means we are consistent in our teaching and our practice. Our use of anything is the finest recommendation we can give it. Some people are heard to say: “Oh, I curse a little”, or “I smoke a little”, or “I drink a little”, “but I wouldn’t recommend that you do it”. Jesus said: “You will know them by their fruits....” (Matthew 7:16). The  apostle wrote: “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ....” (Philippians 1:27). People are sometimes heard to say: “Religion and business just won't mix.” The apostle Paul said: “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).

The Way We Support It
Can we recommend our religion by the way we support it? When we discover something new that is really good, we are anxious to tell our friends about it. Paul said to the Corinthians: “I believed and therefore I spoke....” (2 Corinthians 4:13). How much time and effort do we devote to our religion? Christianity doesn't come in capsule form to be taken seasonal or every Sunday. We are to be “rich in good works” (1 Timothy 6:18). We have been “....created in Christ Jesus for good works...” (Ephesians 2:10). We are to be “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). The good Samaritan recommended his religion by the way he made it work for himself and others. Read Luke 10:25-37.

The Way It Works For Us
Finally, can we recommend our religion by the way it works for us? In the time of a crisis, does our religion provide an anchor for us? What if we were to lose our job or our money? What about when death reaches in to steal a loved one from us? We should know that the religion of Christ will anchor us during any crisis or catastrophe. Paul said: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). Now thinking back over what has been written, consider this question for ourselves: “Can we really recommend our religion to others?” Is our religion truly a Bible based religion?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Why Be Baptized?

There are two main points of view about why a person should be baptized. One view holds that baptism is a purely symbolic act which should be done in order to show that we have recently been saved.

The other view says that, while baptism is symbolic of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, that it is more than just a symbol. This view holds that baptism is a direct and vital command of the Lord which must be obeyed in order to receive salvation.

If you have been baptized, think back for a moment about why you were you baptized. Was it because you felt that you had recently been saved, or were you baptized in order to be saved? And now with this question in mind, let’s turn to the Bible to see what God really says about why a person should be baptized. In Acts Chapter 2, verse 38, the Apostle Peter in his great sermon on the day of Pentecost said, “Repent and  be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. The Bible says in this passage that both repentance and baptism are equally necessary for the remission of sins. When we remember that Peter was speaking by the inspiration of God, this verse should forever settle this question in our own minds. Baptism, according to the Bible, is not  because we have already been saved, but in order to save us by washing away our sins. Does baptism really wash away sins? Some say no. The Bible says yes!

In other related scriptures we read that “Baptism doth also now save us” (1 Peter 3: 21). The Apostle Paul adds that we are not even in Christ until we have been scripturally baptized. We read this in Galatians 3:27, and in Romans 6:3-4.

If you have never obeyed the Lord by being baptized for the remission of sins as the Bible requires, I encourage you to do so today before it is everlastingly too late.

Friday, September 30, 2016

What Must I Do to Be Saved?

In the book of Acts we read, "Repent you therefore, and be converted that your sins may be blotted out,  when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3: 19). The change in a person’s life resulting in his becoming a Christian is called in the Bible, conversion, and the Bible teaches that conversion is necessary for a person to be saved. Christ likened this change to a birth and taught Nicodemus, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God"  (John 3:5). Of the 27 books comprising the New Testament, there is one book which is particularly helpful in understanding the nature of conversion. This book is Acts of the Apostles which tells of the conversions of many different people. In Chapters 2, 8, 9, 10, 11, 16, 18, and 22 are 8 key examples of conversion and from these examples certain universal principles of conversion can be understood.

Conversion is dependent upon the acceptance of the Word of God by the sinner. Jesus said, "The seed is the Word", and conversions mentioned in the book of Acts bear out the necessity of both the presentation of God’s word to the sinner and his acceptance of it (Romans 1:16). The presentation can be either public or private; through words either spoken or written, but their acceptance always results in belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Romans 10:17). We also read, "They believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 8:12), and in Acts 18:8, "And many of the Corinthians hearing, believed and were baptized".

Faith in Jesus Christ, produced by the testimony of the Word of God leads to a change in a sinner’s attitude toward his own transgressions. With faith comes an understanding of God’s love to man. This, in turn, leads the sinner to determine to turn away from sin, for we read, "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4)? An example of this part of conversion is found in Acts 2 in response to Peter’s preaching of Christ. The Bible says, ”Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:36-38). This change in a person’s heart must lead to certain actions before conversion is complete. One of these actions is confession that Jesus is the Christ, for we read, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

Finally, a person must be baptized in the likeness of Christ’s death and burial (Romans 6:4), in order for God to forgive him of past sins. The Bible says, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). And we also must remember that in Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, he said that both repentance and baptism are necessary in order to receive the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Later, Peter echoed this same thought again when he said that “baptism doth also now save us” (1 Peter 3:21). When a person believes in Christ, repents of sin, confesses Christ, and is baptized into Christ for the remission of sins, he is converted. Only then has he been born of the water and of the Spirit as referred to in John 3:3-5. The Lord then adds him to the body, the Church, the Kingdom of God (Acts 2:47).

The Bible plainly teaches us that there are steps that we must take in order to obtain salvation in Jesus Christ. Hearing the word, believing in Christ, repenting of our sins, confessing Christ as being the Son of God, and being baptized for the forgiveness of our sins are the steps in which every accountable person must do in order to receive salvation. We then must be determined to live a life that is faithful to Christ, according to His teaching (Revelation 2:10; John 12:48).

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Grace of God

There's a lot to be said about the grace of God. One point worth recognizing is that the Bible (the word of God) is the product of God's grace. Much is said in the Bible about the fact that man is saved by God's grace.

Jesus said, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14).

The majority will choose to be lost, by ignoring or rejecting the terms of salvation, while the few will choose to be saved, by hearing God's word, complying with the terms of salvation, and by faithfully serving Him while in this life.

Titus 2:11-12 says, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age..."

Man can either accept or reject the grace of God. He accepts the grace of God by obeying the teaching of God's grace (denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and living soberly, righteously, and godly). He rejects God's grace when he fails to comply with the conditions of His grace. 

Some think that the grace of God and works are incompatible. On the contrary, salvation is both by grace and works. Suppose a particular rich uncle said to his nephew, "I will give you a million dollars if and when you graduate from college, are married, and name your first child after me." When the young man met those conditions, will he have actually earned the million dollars? No, it was a gift; he simply received it by meeting the conditions. So it is with the grace of God.

Thursday, September 8, 2016


Have you ever noticed how miserable some people are and wondered why they were that way? Sometimes it's caused by being long on memory and short on forgiveness. If a person remembers every unkind thing anybody has ever said or done to them, they'll be miserable. Forgiveness is one of the great spiritual medicines and if used, will result in peace of mind.

To harbor grudges, to cultivate malice toward others, or to refuse to forgive, will hurt us far more than the one our ill feelings are directed toward. Colossians 3:13 says, "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." Under the law of Moses, they were commanded, "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD." (Leviticus 19:18).

We demonstrate love when we willingly and readily forgive. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."

To be true disciples of the Lord, we must forgive "from the heart." Jesus said, "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." (Matthew 18:35). So, when someone asks you for forgiveness, forgive them. We fully expect God to forgive us of our sins and shortcomings when we prayerfully ask Him. Therefore as we expect God to forgive us when we seek His forgiveness, let us also willingly forgive others when they seek our forgiveness. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Studying the Bible

When Paul was on the European continent, he traveled from Thessalonica to Berea and found some of the Bereans to be more noble-minded than many he had encountered in Thessalonica.

In Acts 17:10-11, Luke says, "Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men."

I wonder, if the determining factor was our eagerness in receiving the word of God and daily searching of the Scriptures, would Luke think you or I to be fair-minded?

2 Timothy 2:15 says, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Hebrews 5:14 says, "But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." 1 Peter 2:2 says, "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby..." 2 Peter 3:18 says, "...But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Bible study is important and essential for those who wish to receive God's approval. It is through the revelation we call the Bible that we learn of Christ and how we can receive eternal life. Let us examine the Scriptures daily so that we can grow in the grace and knowledge of God, making sure we are doing His will and not the will of man.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Misdirected Love

In 2 Timothy 3:1-5 we read, "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power."

Paul refers to people who have misdirected love. He uses love in four ways in the passage, and only one is in harmony with God's will. In verse 2, he mentions, "lovers of themselves." Love most certainly can be given to wrong things. Love can destroy us when it isn't properly channeled.

Again, in verse 2, he lists, "lovers of money." Jesus taught about money and the proper attitude toward it. The rich young ruler of Matthew chapter 19 failed miserably. If we allow money to become too important in our lives, we too can be destroyed.

Furthermore, Paul mentioned, "lovers of pleasure." We live a "partying," "fun loving" world. People are always looking forward to the weekend. However, there is more to life than fun and games. "Weekending" is killing Christians. Many are spending more time and money on recreation and sports than on the Lord and His cause.

Finally, Paul speaks of "lovers of God." The first three types of love destroy real love for God. Idolatry is simply misdirected love, the love of the wrong thing. We should develop a strong lasting love of God above all others and all things. We should possess the love of Mark 12:30 where it says "and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength..." Where is your love directed today? Is it toward God and His work, or toward the things of this world?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Camouflaged with the World

When I was in the U. S. Air Force I was issued several different sets of uniforms. A few of those sets were the camouflaged uniforms. The purpose of the camouflaged uniform is to help the wearer blend in with his surroundings – to get lost in the crowd of trees, shrubs and leaves. It’s easy to get lost in the backdrop of the forest if you look like the forest.

In the same way, it’s easy to “get lost” in the world if we look like everyone else. Many people, I’m afraid, have traded in their “light” colored cloak of Christianity for a suit which is colored and patterned so that it blends in with the rest of the world. There are many ways to look like the rest of the world. We can dress like them (no matter how immodest, distasteful, or vulgar it may be.) We can talk like them, and participate in their jokes, vulgarity, and disrespect for God. We can act like them - drink what they drink, do what they do, and play what they play.

Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” 1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” God clearly teaches us to not conform ourselves to this world. We shouldn’t blend in, but rather stand out! God expects his children to be different from the world. Peter writes, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). May we always strive to be “seen” as a child of God in all aspects of our life.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Living on Earth, Longing for Heaven!

Bible Christians are truly blessed by God. We enjoy the time that we have been given to live here on earth to serve and honor God, while at the same time sharing His refreshing plan of salvation to everyone we can. We do this because we know that when we die, we have so much more to live for at the resurrection. The longing that we as Christians have for heaven motivates us to be pleasing to our heavenly Father while living on earth. Let’s take a moment to consider some facts concerning heaven.

What Is Heaven?
Heaven is God’s throne. “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord, or what is the place of my rest” (Acts 7:49). “But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne” (Matthew 5:34). Christians look forward to the day that we can inherit an eternity with God in heaven where His throne is. Unlike this earth where we now live, we realize that heaven is a very secure place. Jesus said, “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). It certainly is going to be a much better place (Hebrews 11:16).

What Are We Going to Have There?
While we live here on earth it is important for us to invest in our eternal home. We do that by laying up treasures in heaven (Matthew 19:21). When we practice righteousness, obey, love, and honor God here on earth we are going to have our names written in the Lamb’s book of life. “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20, see also Revelation 20:12). When we stay the course here on earth, even when we are persecuted and treated unjustly until the very end of our life, then we can be assured that a great reward awaits us there. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). What a great and tremendous day that will be to know that we have gained an inheritance in heaven that is kept for us with our Lord (1 Peter 1:4)! What a peaceful thought it truly is to know that we will be living in heaven for evermore with our Father (Matthew 6:9) and Jesus Christ His Son (Mark 16:19; Hebrews 9:24). These are the reasons why the Christian can and should stay motivated to work and serve God faithfully and diligently while living on earth – knowing that we are going to enjoy the beauty and joy of heaven for eternity!

Who Will Be Able to Enter Heaven?
The Bible (the word of God) clearly teaches us who will be able to enter into the beauty of heaven. Bible Christians, those individuals who have become Christians based on the teaching of God, not man, will be able to enter heaven. These are the ones who have heard the word of God (Romans 10:17), believed the word and in Christ (John 8:24; Hebrews 11:6), repented (turned) from sin (Acts 17:30; Luke 13:3); confessed Christ as the son of God (Acts 8:37; Matthew 10:32); and have been baptized for the remission (forgiveness) of sins (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21). Once one has had their sins forgiven by being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, then one is considered to be a Bible Christian (Acts 11:26). The Christian must then be faithful to God until death to be able to receive the crown of life (Revelation 2:10).

We, as Christians, are able to live here on earth, enduring all the persecution, pain, and suffering that may come our way because we know there is something much better awaiting us. The Hebrew writer penned these words, “but now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:16). Satan is alive and well, seeking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8). Therefore we must remain “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Jesus said only those who do His will be allowed to enter the kingdom of God (Matthew 7:21-23). I encourage every Christian to stay the course, be faithful until the very end of life so that we can hear the words of Jesus say to us at the judgment day “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Is My Love for Christ Obvious?

If you are like me you may have a Facebook account and enjoy staying in touch with family and friends while also sharing photos back and forth to one another. Facebook has become a very popular avenue in which to express just about anything that is on our mind and even share postings from others that we find interesting or insightful. This medium is a wonderful way to keep in touch with many people, but I must say that more often than not, I find many posts and photos offensive and discouraging to me. Please allow me to explain my personal thoughts concerning this matter as a Christian who’s first priority is to serve and obey God above all others and anything else.

Christians are posting pictures, or sharing posts, of themselves, family members, friends, or others who are absolutely dressed immodestly. When someone posts a picture of anyone that is not dressed properly, it presents a negative effect to the Christian. The first thing I notice is that it is not an appropriate picture and I immediately delete the image from my news feed. I certainly do not hit the “like” or “love” button because that would give my approval of the photo. My first thought is why did this Christian send this photo for many other Christians to see? My second thought is that I don’t believe that this Christian has the proper love and obedience for Christ. Have we become numb to what God’s word clearly teaches in regard to modesty. And by the way, it does not matter if the individual is dressed in the commonly accepted attire for a sporting event, if their clothing for that event is immodest in God’s sight. Before a Christian steps foot outside the door of their own house they should make sure that they are properly clothed, in God’s sight, before anyone else sees them in any given place or situation.

Christians are posting or sharing posts which contain bad language. We may see a video or post which reflects something that we are passionate about and we know of some others who may appreciate it. We then click the “share” button and off it goes to our many friends on our news feed. Then I see a post and immediately notice a curse word in the caption! What do I do? Do I continue to watch it? No. I immediately delete the post and wonder why would this Christian send something like this? “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37). Again, I certainly would not hit the “like” or “love” button because I don’t give approval for such things as a Christian.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we must think about who we are. We also must be mindful that everything we do, what we say, where we go, what we wear, etc., also reflects upon others who we are. God knows our thoughts and actions and as soon as we hit the “post” button other Christians also know our actions! The title of this article is “Is My Love for Christ Obvious?” Is it? The apostle Paul when writing to Timothy told him: “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all(1 Timothy 4:12-15). When Christians post only those things which are good and acceptable to God, then we can see their progress in Christ, striving to do all things which are pleasing to God and other Christians.

When Christians hit that “like” or “love” button when something is posted that is not acceptable to God (unrighteousness), then one is giving approval for the sin. “who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them(Romans 1:32). We need more Christians to have the kind of mindset that the apostle Paul was writing about in Romans and Philippians. ”I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things(Philippians 4:8). I urge you to read these passages and ask “am I honestly proving my service to God as a Christian by posting or liking the things I do?” We need to understand that we are to be a “living sacrifice” and acceptable to God in all that we do.

When our true love for God motivates us, then we will ensure that we are conducting ourselves in every way that is pleasing to Him. Jesus said that we must “ the lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength....” (Mark 12:30). With that kind of sincere love for God, then we will stay focused on making sure that we please our Lord in all aspects of our lives. When Paul wrote to Timothy, he instructed him to be an example to the believers in “purity”. When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he told them to meditate on those things that are “pure.” The apostle John wrote “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:1-3). I believe that every Christian understands the purity of Christ. He was without sin, the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He gave Himself freely to die on the cross so that we can have forgiveness of sins and to be with Him in eternity if we will obey His word (John 12:48), and be faithful until death (Revelation 2:10). Therefore, before we ever post or share a post on Facebook, think about our love for God and the purity of Christ. A Christian that truly loves God and strives to be pure as Christ is pure, will always make sure that everything that is posted or shared will not only be pleasing to God, but also to all His children who have a desire to be with Him one day. Let us make sure that others will truly be able to see that our progress in Christ is “evident to all.”

Friday, July 29, 2016

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

Consider the question above closely. This is not a matter of what God, Christ, or the Holy Spirit must do. It is not a question of what others have done, what must I feel, what experience must I have, what do I think, or what do other religions think. It is a question of “what must I do?” Matthew 7:21 says: “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (See also Revelation 22:14; James 1:21-25). There are certain things that must be done if we would enjoy the salvation in Christ. The Bible clearly teaches there is something to do; and this must be done.

To Be Saved We Must.....
To be saved we must believe the gospel; we must believe in Christ (John 8:24). After believing, we must repent of all of our sins, which is a turning from the sinful things we have done in our past and be determined to live a life of godliness. “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins....” (Acts 2:38). We must then confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God as stated in Romans 10:9-10. Then we must be buried in baptism to get INTO Christ (Galatians 3:26-27), where all spiritual blessings reside (see also Romans 6:1-5). We must then live a life devoted to Christ in order to receive the eternal reward (Revelation 2:10). Knowledge of God’s Word is of no avail unless we act upon that knowledge. Have you taken the steps needed for salvation?

Friday, July 22, 2016

I Want to be a Worker for the Lord?

There is a song that we sing from time to time entitled “I want to be a worker for the Lord.” It is a song that most everyone knows and as a result we really sing out. But have we really paid much attention to the words of that song? Verse one goes like this; “I want to be a worker for the Lord, I want to love and trust His holy word; I want to sing and pray and be busy every day, In the kingdom of the Lord. I will work, I will pray, I will labor every day in the vineyard of the Lord.” Every Christian should love to sing this song because they are living this kind of life on a day to day basis. However, such is not the case. Many, far too many, Christians are singing the words to this song and others without thinking about what they are saying to God. How can one sing “I want to be a worker for the Lord” and seldom attend the services of the Lord? Or how can one sing “I want to sing and pray and be busy every day” when God is not their priority in life? There are many things that are involved in the Lord’s work in which we should be active workers in His vineyard.

The Lord’s Work is More Than Singing
The Lord’s work consists of several areas of our life as a Christian. Before we can get motivated to do His work we must first believe totally in Him (John 6:28-29). When we believe in the Lord we then should be moved to constantly want to do good. Paul wrote: “comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work” (2 Thessalonians 2:17). Wanting to do good and to practice righteousness in the Lord is something that each one of us should WANT to do (Ephesians 2:10; Acts 10:35). A worker for the Lord is one that takes every opportunity to teach someone about the wonderful Christ (1 Corinthians 16:10). However, we can’t teach anyone the word of God if we do not take the time to study the word ourselves (2 Timothy 2:15).

The Lord’s work also consists of keeping ALL of the commandments in which He has given to us (Luke 17:10; Philippians 2:12-14). It does not do us any good to profess to be a Christian, a disciple, if we are not making every attempt to DO all of the things in which Christ has asked us to do. 

How Should We Do His Work?
When we do the Lord’s work we should not do it to be seen of men (Matthew 6:1; 23:5). We should be workers for the Lord because we want to please Him, not because we want to be seen of men to please them. If we are pleasing to the Lord, then we will be pleasing to men. We should desire to do His work because we want to give God the glory (Matthew 5:16; 1 Corinthians 10:31). When we set our minds to do His work willingly (1 Corinthians 9:17), and heartily (Colossians 3:23), then we will ensure that everything we do in word or deed will be in Christ’s name (by His authority, Colossians 3:17).

Why Should We Have a Desire to Do His Work?
There are at least four reasons I can think of why we should have a sincere desire to do the Lord’s work. 1) In order to be saved. Paul wrote: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Eternal salvation with Christ will only come to those that obey him (Hebrews 5:9). 2) In order to be acceptable to Him. “But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:35). When we fear God we will keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13) and do the right thing in His sight (James 4:17). Are you working righteousness in all aspects of your life before the eyes of Christ today? 3) To be blessed. We are blessed when we perform up to Christ’s standards, not ours or our friends (Matthew 5:3-11). 4) To be rewarded. In the book of Revelation 22:12 we read: “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” Since our reward is based upon our work (2 Corinthians 5:10), then what manner of persons ought we to be (2 Peter 3:11). 

May we all be “workers for the Lord” not in word only but in action! A true worker for the Lord will be evident to all. Paul wrote to Timothy: “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all” (1 Timothy 4:15). May we all be determined to work for the Lord to the very end (Revelation 2:26). Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). How sad it will be at the judgment to know that we wore the name “Christian,” and sang the song to God “I want to be a worker for the Lord,” but never put into practice what we said to Him (Matthew 15:8-9)!

Friday, July 8, 2016

What's Our Main Interest?

If the Lord came at this present moment to take the faithful home, would He take one who has intentionally been putting off doing right? Would He take one who weekly sheds his Christianity as often as he sheds his Sunday clothes? Would He receive the one who has been bored with short periods of worship, has found teaching others a chore, or visiting the sick an imposition? Would He take the one who must be continually prodded into doing what he ought to do?

I'm afraid that many have no idea what it means to serve the Lord. I'm concerned for those who have relegated the Lord to only a small portion of their week. I fear for those who have become so preoccupied with material things that they have neither time nor energy to be concerned about the terrible condition of their souls.

When we decide to serve the Lord, we need to know what is involved. Our obedience to the Lord needs to be without reservation. It must be complete. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

Matthew 6:33 says, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Colossians 3:2 says, "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth." 1 Peter 1:13 says, "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ..."

What about us? Do we really have our priorities in order? Is serving the Lord our main interest? Our honest answer to these questions may very well determine where we will spend eternity.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Walk as Children of Light

The children of God are given instructions in the New Testament of grace as to how they are to live their daily walk in Christ. The apostle Paul calls upon Christians to be imitators of God as dear children (Ephesians 5:1). He tells the child of God to walk in love, to walk as children of light, and to walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise (Ephesians 5:2,8,15).

Most of us like to take a walk in the morning or at the end of the day. Our walk might be in our own neighborhood or on a trail or even on a treadmill. Yet, it is evident in this Bible text that the word “walk” is being used figuratively to represent “the whole round of activities of the individual's life” (W. E. Vine's Bible Dictionary).

Here are some New Testament uses of the word “walk” in connection to the life of a Christian: walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4); walk according to the Spirit (Romans. 8:4); walk properly as in the day (Romans 13:13), walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7); walk in good works (Ephesians. 2:10); walk in truth (2 John 4); and walk according to His commandments (2 John 6). The above references of the word "walk" are not exhaustive, but they serve to demonstrate a clear picture of the directives given to Christians to help them walk worthy of their calling in Christ Jesus!

Paul describes the child of God as “light in the Lord.” He then admonishes all followers of Christ to “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). The word “light” is being used figuratively to represent all the goodness, righteousness and truth that comes forth from God and His Son (1 Timothy. 6:16; 1 John 1:5; James 1:17; John 1:4-5, 9; 3:19; 8:12; 2 Peter 1:19 etc.).

What does it mean to walk as children of light? The answer centers in and upon Jesus and His Word. A child of God reflects the life of Christ and His teaching. Christians are to shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15). Jesus said that He is the Light of the world (John 8:12). We are to walk as children of light by being in fellowship with the Father, with the Son, with the Holy Spirit, and with one another (1 John 1:5-7; Galatians 5:22-28).

Walking in the light means that we “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). Light is the opposite of darkness, like righteousness is the opposite of sin. Our light in Christ makes manifest or reveals the sins around us as shameful and evil, things we wouldn't speak of (Ephesians 5:12-13)!

How do we become children of light? We become a follower of Jesus Christ for He will give us the light (Ephesians 5:14). We cannot reflect what we do not have. All who desire light must come out of darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God (Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:12,13)! In Christ “was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4).

Written by: Ron Drumm

Friday, June 24, 2016

Take a Stand for Christ

The apostle Peter says that Christians are supposed to be separate from the world. “as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct  because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy" (1 Peter 1:14-16). The apostle Paul said, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

God demands and expects His dear children to keep themselves unspotted from the world and to concentrate their efforts in living for Him (James 1:27). The way that we can accomplish this is to transform our mind from worldliness to godliness. Our transformation takes place when we read, study, and understand the word of God (2 Timothy 2:15). Instead of getting involved with things of this world we should be teaching the truth and exposing error (2 Timothy 4:2-4; Ephesians 5:11). If we ever feel that we are suffering some kind of persecution in our life because of our Christianity, then we are doing something right. Paul wrote, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). If we don’t stand for something, then we will fall for anything. Take a stand for Christ; don’t let His death be in vain. We must stay focused on reaching our eternal goal of heaven! 

Monday, June 6, 2016

The ? Christian

It certainly would be nice if when we refer to someone as being a Christian that we would know that the individual is practicing godliness just because they are wearing the name. But that is not the case. We often must put some sort of adjective in front of the word Christian to better describe that particular individual. It seems that words such as “active,” “faithful,” “weak,” “strong,” “motivated,” etc. have become part of describing each Christian. But don’t be alarmed, this is nothing new. Christians have always been at various degrees of spiritual development in their lives. The apostle Paul referred to the Corinthian brethren as “men of flesh, as to babes in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1). The Hebrew writer said “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (Hebrews 5:12). The church at Sardis was referred to as being “dead” (Revelation 3:1). Every Christian should be or strive to be the kind of individual that is described in the Bible, but in reality they are not.

The “Strong” Christian
It would be great if every Christian was a “strong” Christian. One can be a “strong” Christian even when they are still a babe in Christ. How can this be? When we look at the Christian life, we can quickly see that no matter who we are, we can be strong in the areas of living as a Christian ought to live. Let’s look at some areas in which all can be “strong.”

1. Examine ourselves to ensure that we are in the faith. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-- unless indeed you are disqualified.” A “strong” Christian realizes that he has a responsibility first of all to save himself. In order to do that, he will pray diligently, keeping God at the very forefront of his thoughts. He will constantly check himself to make sure that he is doing only those things in which Bible authority can be found, trusting in Jesus to lead his life!

2. Study the Bible daily. By doing this every day we can’t help but grow in the Lord. Every Christian should want to grow, whether a babe in Christ or “mature.” The Bereans were excited about learning more about God’s Word and it is said of them: “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Timothy took Paul’s advice to heart when he was told to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We know that Timothy was a “strong, motivated, active, caring” Christian. How did he get that way? He respected authority. He respected his grandmother, his mother, and the Word of God! Every Christian should have the attitude of WANTING to learn more and all they can about God and His will for man.

3. Be faithful in all things. This includes being faithful in the attendance of worship services at the local congregation. The “strong” will not have an attitude of “do I have to attend” but rather “I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go into the house of the LORD” (Psalms 122:1). Forsaking the assembly will not be an issue to the “faithful, strong” Christian. The spiritually mature understand that his presence and participation not only benefits him, but other Christians as well. He loves to attend all the Bible classes and to be present every time the doors are opened to meet together. He develops a desire to teach Bible classes so that he can apply those things that he has read and studied. He realizes his need to be faithful because God is no respecter of persons and that he has a responsibility to set a good example before others.

4. Visit the physically and spiritually sick. The “strong” Christian is one who loves his brethren very much! In so doing, he makes it a point to set aside some time each week to visit those that are physically or spiritually ill. When circumstances don’t allow a personal visit, then he sends a card, letter, or makes a phone call to check on them. He doesn’t just talk about visiting, or think about visiting, he puts it into “practice” because he has studied and understands that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:15-26). Visiting or calling the sick shows them that we are thinking of them and that we really do care. 

Friday, May 13, 2016

A Child of God

When we are young, we learn a whole lot of things, but we seldom fully understand them until we are older. A child (infant) is a begotten one. He did not create himself. He is totally incapable of taking care of himself. He is a learner. He follows the example of those leading him.

Jesus taught that there are only two kinds of children. One is either a child of Satan or a child of God. What does it mean to be a child of God? According to John 1:13, he is one begotten or born of God. He is one who loves the Father with all his heart (Matthew 23:37), and meditates on His word day and night (Psalm 1:2). Applying that criteria to our lives, how many of us are sound, healthy children of God?

There are a lot of physical ailments no one can cure, but there isn't a single spiritual ailment that cannot be fully and forever cured by Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2:17). Hebrews 5:7 says, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

Children imitate their father, and so do God's children. Ephesians 5:1 says, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.” 1 Peter 1:13-16 says, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy.'”

We need to make sure that we study and make application of the Scriptures so that we can be God's holy people even as God is holy.