Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Be Determined to Follow Christ

Sunday will be the first Lord's Day of 2023. Have we determined within our hearts to follow Christ in all that we do this year? Have we thought about making any personal and family changes that would be better in our service to Christ? I would encourage each of us to be more determined than ever to devote personal time in the studying of our Bible. Paul told Timothy 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). Each child of God has the same responsibility in their service as a Christian. Before we can be an effective example and an effective teacher, we must know the Word of God. We can only be approved of by God when we learn those things in which He has instructed for us to do in our life and then carry them out with the love of our Lord and one another.

We need to be more like the Bereans and search the scriptures daily to make sure that we are in compliance with God's will. When we understand and accept that ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God then we will be on our way to carrying out the commandments of God. The basic fundamental principles of Bible authority are recognizing the "need" for authority and having "respect" for authority. We respect the Word of God when we DO what God asks of us. Jesus 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). Do we recognize the need for authority? Do we respect God's Word? If we do, then we must determine now to follow the commandments of Christ in our lives not only in 2023, but in all the days to follow.


Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Sin Separates Us from God

The person who believes in God wants always to enjoy his fellowship, yet the consequences of sin is separation from God. Listen to Isaiah: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). The consequences of sin is that it causes us to be separated from God. A person is lost because of his sin. Paul said, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Death means separation, so the sinner is separated from God. This is true whether or not you have once become a Christian.

There are some human creeds that tell us that you or I cannot fall from grace once we have become a Christian. This can’t be so because Paul says in Galatians 5:4: “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” The apostle Peter writes: “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:20-21). Paul also states in Romans 11:22: “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” We can learn from these and many other scriptures that even the Christian may be cut off from the fellowship of God by not continuing to live in obedience to Him. Revelation 2:10 says we must be “faithful until death.” The terrible consequences of sin is that it causes God to withdraw himself from His children. God does not desire it, but justice demands it, and God cannot deny Himself. If one does not repent of their sin, and live faithfully, then separation from God will be the consequence of that.

Sin Causes an Eternal Separation from God
Hell is eternal separation. Sin separated a man from God here on this earth, but it will also cause him to be eternally separated in the next life. Can you fathom eternity? I cannot. To be in Hell for even a short time would be bad; to be in hell eternally, forever separated from God, is much worse. But that’s what sin will do. After the death in this life a man in Hades, in the place of torment, begged Abraham to have Lazarus to cool his tongue with some water, for he was in torment in the flames. But it was impossible, for the Bible says: “And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us” (Luke 16:26). To avoid hell, man must take advantage of the death of Christ in obeying the gospel. The Roman brethren did this, and Paul said they were baptized into Jesus’ death (Romans 6:4). As long as one remains in sin, then there is no hope of gaining an eternal home with Jesus in heaven when we take our last breath on this earth. We must live for Jesus daily now, so that we can live with Him eternally. 

Monday, December 5, 2022

Man Has His Values Confused

It is very evident that in our society, man has his values confused. What often seems valuable to many is not really valuable at all. Men put a great price-tag on pleasure, money or prominence. Men value wealth, satisfaction of the physical desires and attention from their peers. If they secure this, they think of themselves as successful. But these pass with time.

It is righteousness that is lasting and truly valuable. The greatest of all man’s needs is to be made righteous. In the absolute, God is righteous. But Christ was sent from God to make men righteous. Paul stated: “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19). It is God’s desire to have all men become righteous, but without Christ’s sacrifice, man could never have been righteous. The Bible says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8). The eternal God knows man’s needs and God has supplied the greatest need of all and that is salvation through Jesus Christ.

Man was not born in sin, but men of accountable age do sin. Men do not inherit their sins as they do the color of their hair. Yet, being sinners, man’s greatest need is salvation. Since man cannot save himself, he must have a savior. God in His infinite love and grace has provided man’s salvation through Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Why? Because God was not willing that man should perish, but have eternal life. At great expense God fulfilled His promise to send Christ into the world as our savior. Almost two thousand years ago, Christ died on the cross for our sins. Thanks be to God for His love and mercy! 

Our Spiritual Need is Greater Than Our Physical Need
“What is the greatest need that we have?” We may answer that our greatest need is economic stability or political integrity. We may answer that our greatest need is financial security, or better health. And while all of those things are desirable, our greatest need, regardless of the economic or political situation, is salvation from sin, for sin is the greatest enemy of mankind. Sin is the greatest enemy of man because it is the enemy that can destroy a good life here, and cause us to be eternally separated from God. It is a most troublesome thought to think of a ruined life in this world, but it is even worse to think of an eternity in hell. I am glad I serve a God that anticipated the greatest benefit of man, the salvation from sin. Since sin separates one from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), our great need is reconciliation to God, or salvation from sin. Only Jesus can save us.

God has made two dispositions of sin. First, if not forgiven, sin brings death to the sinner. This is justice. The Bible says “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Also, “the wages of sin is death.” Secondly, God can and does forgive sins. Man cannot live above sin, and man cannot save himself, so he is entirely at the mercy of God for forgiveness. Christ died on the cross for our sins, and had he not done this, we would all be doomed to death, for no other person could have died for our sins. But God promised salvation UNCONDITIONALLY, but salvation is conditional. Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved....” (Mark 16:16).

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Christ's Authority and the Sending of the Holy Spirit

We learn from the Bible that Jesus Christ has ALL authority. Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, grew up into adulthood, and began to preach at thirty years of age. About three years later, he commissioned the apostles to preach. He said unto them: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus had constantly taught that He came from the Father, and brought His message to man. He came to do the Will of the Father. In John 6:38-40 it says: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” The inspired apostle Paul later wrote: “For He has put all things under His feet” (1 Corinthians 15:27). This expression is an idiom meaning God placed all authority in His hands, in His care. We need to understand then that Christ’s authority is God’s authority. At the transfiguration God announced: “....This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5) We must ensure then that everything that we do religiously is based upon the authority of Jesus Christ, and not the doctrines of men because Christ said: “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). 

Christ Sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles

Have you ever heard anyone say that they were being directed by the Holy Spirit? Sure, you have. But let’s see if Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to any or all men. Jesus states in John 15:26-27: “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” This is what Jesus said as He was talking to His chosen apostles. He never promised the baptism of the Holy Spirit on any person except these. Outside of the apostles and Cornelius in Acts chapter 10, no one ever was baptized with the Holy Spirit. If they were, they could do the very same things that the apostles could do. In reading Acts 2:1-4 we find that Christ’s promise was fulfilled. It says: “Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

It says in John 16:13, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” This passage of scripture clearly says that the Holy Spirit came to the apostles, sent by Jesus, to guide them into all truth. While many have claimed the power of the Holy Spirit in a direct measure, those who so claim are not properly informed as to whom the Spirit was to be sent to in the first place. Luke, the writer of Acts, wrote the words of Jesus in Luke 24:49 which says: “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high". Before Christ’s ascension into Heaven, He told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit. They received the Spirit in Acts, chapter 2.

The Bible will not mean anything to anyone if one does not believe that Jesus Christ was given all authority by God the Father and that Christ later sent the Holy Spirit to the Apostles. The Bible is truly the inspired Word of God, and that is why it is so very important that we believe it and do the will of God in our lives; because, in the end, it is the very words of the Bible, the words of Christ, that will judge us in the last day (John 12:48). Have you allowed God’s word, the Bible, to form your life? 

Monday, November 21, 2022

Thanksgiving - More Than a Holiday

This coming Thursday the nation will celebrate together a time of "Thanksgiving" for this country that we live in. The word "thanksgiving" is mentioned several times in the New Testament. We would not get a chance to celebrate the upcoming "Thanksgiving" holiday if God had not created earth and man to begin with. Paul writes to the Corinthians and says, "you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God" (1 Corinthians 9:11). Paul was stressing to the Corinthians that the true reason why wealth was bestowed was not for self-gratification, but in such a way as to cause thanksgiving to God. Yes, we should always want to have a spirit of thankfulness in our hearts to our God. We are told in Philippians that we are to be "anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6). We are also told to have "...an attitude of thanksgiving;" (Colossians 4:2). The true attitude of thanksgiving is an attitude from our heart that says, "I am truly thankful to God for everything that He has given me to enjoy and use while on this earth". Yes, "Thanksgiving" is more than just a holiday, it's an attitude. An attitude Christians should always have on their heart year-round, realizing that all that one has is from God. We can truly be thankful for that!

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Tradition and "I Think"

In regard to tradition, have you ever heard someone say, "that which is good enough for mother and father is good enough for me?" This has been said many times when it comes to family religions. When it comes to religion, any excuse that one uses to do what they want to do seems to be a good excuse as far as they are concerned. But let’s look at this same reasoning when it comes to other areas of our life. Are the farm tools used by our father and grandfather good enough for us? Is the office equipment of a hundred years ago good enough for you? If it is, then why do we have the modern machinery, computers, and electronic devices that are used today? Is the model “T” Ford good enough for us, or do we prefer the modern, faster, more convenient automobile?

So why is this true in religion? Here’s a question for us to ponder: “Could it possibly be that mother and father did not learn all about the truth of God?” If not, would it be wise to hold to their “tradition” of religion if such is not found in God’s Word, the Bible? If we really are as honest as they, will we not accept any new truth we learn? The apostle Paul wrote: “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). And Peter said: “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19). Jesus Himself said: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37-38). When it comes down to tradition, we better make sure that we are following the tradition of Christ, and not our family, friends and other loved ones. 

Besides tradition, many have an “I think” philosophy. I have often heard people say, “I think that one religion is just as good as another.” When I’ve heard that, I must say that it honestly set me back on my heels for I was thinking, now where in the world did he read or hear that? Certainly not from the Bible that I read. In the judgment, will God judge, or will I be my own judge? Will He decide whether I go to Hell, or will I? The answer is obvious. Yet many think themselves to be the judge - or whether they are NOW saved. Just as I will have to meet with God’s approval then, so must I do so now. Yet, I hear this: “I think I am saved.” Or I've heard: “I'm satisfied with my baptism or the church of which I am a member of.”

These type of statements are alarming to me. When I hear them, it makes me think that we have just missed the whole point of religion and the Bible. The questions we should be asking are these: “Will God find me righteous at the judgment? Do I know for certain, based upon God’s written Word, that I am saved? Can I read in the Bible about the church in which I am a member of? Is God really satisfied with my baptism?” We must make sure that our answers are determined by what God has said, not what man has said. God is the judge of present and future righteousness and is the one that has set the standard of the things we must do in order to be saved and go into heaven. God has to be satisfied with what we are doing, not me, or anyone else. Knowing then that God is our judge we better be striving to do all we can to please Him because our eternal destiny depends on it (John 12:48).

The Hebrew writer wrote: “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” and “having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 9:27;5:9). Only those that obey Christ will be able to enter into heaven. Many today think that they can ride the coat tails of their fathers, mothers, grandparents, or friends into heaven. Matthew 7:21 says that only those that do the will of the Father will enter heaven. Let us all live daily, letting God’s inspired Holy Word guide us, being obedient and faithful to His Word, so that we can know that we will have an eternity with Him in heaven. Remember, Jesus also said “If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). 

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Watch and Beware of Satan

In the past I have written several articles on the blessings of being a Christian and the wonderful love of God. But there is another force that we need to be seriously aware of and that is Satan himself. Matthew 4:1 says "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil". It is Satan that temps us and every day that goes by we can see the hand of Satan somewhere in it. That is why the Apostle Paul wrote "Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control" (1 Corinthians 7:15). Paul was giving this advice to those that are married because he knew that Satan is always standing ready to tempt all with fleshly desires. One must understand that Satan is a very strong force and we cannot let our guard down for an instant because if we do, we will be tempted by him in an instant. Peter stressed this in his writing of 1 Peter 5:8 when he said "Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour". Friends, we must see Satan as an active force just waiting for us. Satan has been called a "murderer from the beginning" and "does not stand for truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar and the father of lies" (John 8:44). Not only is he a murderer and full of lies - the father of lies, but he is a sinner, John says "the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8).

Don’t Give Satan the Advantage
We can see from all the above passages that Satan is "no good" and we need to be watchful and cautious of him. At this point you may be asking "what should I do with him?" First of all, don't give him the advantage. Paul said "...that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes". Once he gets the advantage it becomes harder and harder for us to overcome him. We must continually watch out for him (1 Peter 5:8), and resist him as James says in James 4:7 "Submit therefore to God, Resist the devil and he will flee from you". As Christians, we should be confident that when we do resist Satan that he will flee from us.

Put on the Armor of God
So how do we keep from giving him the advantage, to watch for him, and to resist him? By living a life that is sober as mentioned in 1 Peter 5:8. Another way to do this is to put the armor of God on us. Paul told the Ephesians "Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11). We need to study the Word of God and dwell on Godly things while practicing a life of Godliness all the time. When we do so, there will be much less opportunity for Satan to tempt us.
Satan - The Great Deceiver
Here are just a few things that Satan does that hasn't been mentioned earlier. He entraps (1 Timothy 3:7; 2 Timothy 2:26), blinds (2 Corinthians 4:4), takes the truth away (Luke 8:12), resists good (Zechariah 3:1; Revelation 2:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:18), promotes evil (Luke 22:3; Acts 5:3), transforms himself (2 Corinthians 11:14), and he deceives as stated in the book of Revelation 12:9 "And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him".
There will come a time when Satan will cease to exist. "And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). Do you know when that will occur? When this world comes to an end. Do you know who will join him? All mankind who have not believed and have not been baptized into Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16). In addition, those who are in the church who have not remained faithful to the end (Revelation 2:10). WATCH and BEWARE OF SATAN! BELIEVE IN JESUS - Our eternity with God depends on it!

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Our Feelings and the Creeds of Men

Our Feelings
We will never unite on matters religious unless we have the same standard. Referees in a football game would never be able to agree on what was or was not a penalty if they did not use the same rule book as their standard. Whether in the secular or religious realm, we must use the same standard if we are going to come to the same conclusion. If our standards are different, then our practice MUST be different. If our practices are different, then maybe our standard is different. Is God a god of confusion? In 1 Corinthians 1:10 it says: "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." In order for us to be able to speak the same thing, and not to have divisions, then we must make sure we are receiving God's instructions from His inspired Word, the Bible.

While most people claim the Bible is their guide, the facts in the case deny it. For example, we might hear one say, "I know I'm saved, for I feel it." For one to make a statement like that would mean that their inner feelings have become their authority because the evidence of salvation is in their feelings or conscience. The Bible is not their authority, even though they may say it is. Many people (because of teaching), have different feelings. One says I feel like I'm saved when I believe. Another says, I feel like I'm saved when I repent, and another says I feel like I’m saved after I am baptized. Can feelings REALLY tell us when we're saved? Or shall we have God's Word as evidence on whether or not we are REALLY saved? 

The Creeds of Men
Did you know that human creeds have long been the curse of society, a major cause of religious division and an instrument for causing families to be alienated. What a blessing it would be if we could have a great big book burning and destroy every human creed in existence. But of course this will not happen, because men love their religious creeds and family traditions more than the Holy inspired book that God gave us, the Bible. When men go to the source, the standard in religion, the Bible, and do those things that are contained therein, we have unity. But when men add to the Bible and start writing their own creeds, manuals, etc., then we have division. God never intended for there to be division in the area of religion, that was something man came up with! Jesus prayed: "that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:" (John 17:21-22).

Still, many have their own belief, traditions, and creeds. One denomination has a discipline that teaches the doctrine of "faith only" as wholesome and full of comfort. Yet the Bible clearly says in James 2:24: "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." Faith only implies, and men will say, that no acts of obedience are necessary, whereas Jesus said: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16). I invite you to make an honest choice when it comes to the area of religion. You can determine within yourself to serve a human creed, or simply rely on the Word of God, the Bible. Which will it be? Only the Bible offers what you and I need for eternal salvation. We can't get to heaven any other way except through obedience to God's Word, and His Word ONLY. It is always my hope and prayer that one will truly investigate and meditate on the Word of God and make the right decision to obey God in all things based on the Bible, and not on personal feelings or the creeds of men. Our eternal destiny depends on it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Salvation and the Cleansing of Sin

Man does not inherit the guilt of sin as he does the color in his eyes. Man was not born a sinner as many teach. Yet man does sin. The Bible affirms this truth, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). If there were no remedy for this awful sin then all would be doomed to eternal damnation, for “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

While there is no escape from physical death, there is an escape from the final separation from God and the Bible alone supplies that information. The Bible is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the apostle Paul wrote: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). If we would ever hope to have eternal salvation in Jesus, then we better open up the Gospel of Christ and read what we must do in order to be saved. So many say they believe in God, Jesus, Death, Heaven, and even Hell. Yet these same individuals do not open up the Word of God to find out what God has directed for them to do in this life, in order to be saved! The Bible tells us to “lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).

The Bible is available, and it is the complete and perfect guide which supplies our needs for salvation. Creeds, manuals, prayer-books, catechism, disciplines and the like are completely unnecessary and are in fact additions to God’s Word. The Bible is God’s book, and every other book is man’s book. We must make the right decision in this life in order to gain eternal salvation. Will it be God’s book, the Bible, or the creeds of man? 

"Cleanliness is next to Godliness" it is said. This has been said with reference to the cleanliness of the body or physical surrounding. But we might say in matters that are spiritual, "Cleanliness IS Godliness". For when one is cleansed from sin, he is godly. Just as water is a cleansing agent for the filth of the flesh, just so there is a cleansing agent for the sins of man. That agent is the blood of Christ. Listen to the Bible as it says: “Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:12-14).

But how is it that we gain such spiritual cleansing? The Bible says: “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3). In order for us to become clean spiritually, we must then obey the words of Christ. It is the Words of Christ that tell us of his saving blood and when we are baptized into the death of Christ, we have our sins washed in the blood of the lamb. The Bible says: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:3-5).

We cannot be saved without the blood of Christ, and we cannot be saved without His Word. It is through the Bible, the complete and perfect guide, that we learn that it is through the blood of Christ that we are cleansed from sin. All that will truly matter when we die is that we have been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins and have lived a life pleasing to God so that we can gain eternal life. Please let the Bible guide your steps (Jeremiah 10:23). 

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

The Bible is Needed, and It Directs Our Way

Are we in need of any additional revelation from God today? Or is the Bible complete? I have been told that there have been and still are divine revelations from God since the Bible has been written. As a student of God's Word, I want to know whether everything I need to know is contained in the Bible as I now have it. Therefore, to find out whether the Bible is complete or not, let us go to the source, and that is the Bible itself for the answer. We can turn over to Jude 3 and read where it says: "Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints." The Greek scholars are quick to point out that the expression "once for all" means, "Once, one time ....used of what is so done as to be of perpetual validity and never needs repetition" (Thayer). This says that the scriptures (that which is written from God) were given one time - one time for all time- and there is never a need for repetition. Therefore, any claim of inspiration from anyone since the inspired men died during the first century is a false claim.

The apostle Paul speaking to Timothy tells us that "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," (2 Timothy 3:16). That seems to say it all right there. Every piece of Scripture that we have was given to us through God's inspiration for the purpose of providing doctrine, reproof, correction, and instructing in all righteousness. Don't let anyone tell you differently, nothing but the Bible is needed because the Bible is our complete and perfect guide providing us with everything we need to know on how to be saved. 

The world without the Bible would be worse than a trip through Carlsbad Caverns without a lantern. David said, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." The Psalmist also wrote, "The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple" (Psalms 119:105, 130). The Bible stands as a complete and final revelation from God giving spiritual light to dispel darkness in our individual lives as well as in the world. The Bible lights our way here and shines to show the way to heaven. Truly then, it is a lamp shining in darkness. In the midst of wickedness, sin and selfishness, the Bible shines as a giant beacon showing the way of God like a lighthouse, standing proudly on shore, shining its bright rays to the lost ship at sea.

However, we have got to let the Bible be that shining light for us. It is only going to be able to show us the way if we open it and read what God's Word tells us (Romans 10:17). We must be determined to let God direct our every step through life. The prophet Jeremiah wrote: "O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jeremiah 10:23). When we let the Bible direct our way in our daily life, we are in essence letting God direct our steps because the Bible is God's inspired revelation to man. Have you turned to God's Word, the Bible, to direct your life here on earth? If not, why not? There's no better time to start letting God lead your life, than today. Having an eternity with God depends upon it!

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

The Bible Contains No Errors

Jesus claimed that He fulfilled all Messianic prophecies, that is, prophecies about the Messiah. These were written in the Old Testament hundreds of years before Christ was born and stand as solid evidence that these men were writing by the inspiration of God as stated in 2 Timothy 3:16 which says "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." In the book of Acts we can read where these Old Testament prophecies applied to the Christ of Galilee. It says in Acts 3:18: "But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled." The apostles realized and understood that the prophecies that they had heard about were being fulfilled.

There are literally many dozens of prophecies made of Christ, and when we realize every one of them came to pass exactly as predicted, we begin to ask ourselves the question, "How did these men know of this person hundreds of years before He was born?" In Jeremiah 31:15 it says: "Thus says the LORD: A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more." This prophecy of Jeremiah did not occur until 600 years later when Herod committed this cruel act. We can read of where it was fulfilled in Matthew 2:17-18 which says: "Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:"A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." How then could Jeremiah know of the "weeping" of the people over their slain babes as he predicted? The only explanation is that God was speaking through Jeremiah and all the prophets, concerning the things that were to come to pass. The Bible was truly "given by inspiration of God". 

There are no errors in the Bible and there are no errors in geography concerning the Bible. The Bible is not a geography book; but it is an astounding fact that every single statement the Bible makes about the earth and its make-up has been shown to be true. Yes, it is a fact that the Bible, the Word of God, contains NO errors in the fields of geography and science.

How did Solomon know about 1,000 years before Christ that there was a sphere when man did not? Man, as a result of his own experiments and wisdom, did not know this for hundreds of years. Notice carefully the words of Solomon in Proverbs 8:27: "When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep." The first to give arguments for the earth's round shape was Aristotle who lived from 384-322 B.C. Few people accepted his idea then. Most people believed that the earth was flat until the invention of the compass, which made such voyages as that of Columbus and Magellan possible. When we sailed around the world, we knew then that Solomon in Proverbs 8:27 had told us the truth, nearly a thousand years before man discovered it. This could only have occurred through the mighty God Himself!

Evolutionists would have us to believe that the Bible is scientifically inaccurate. But did you know that many scientists are turning away from the idea or organic evolution? And many more are finding out that the Bible is accurate in each statement that it makes relative to science. Again, while the Bible is not a book of science, it has in each case proven to be accurate.

For example, in the field of sanitation, Moses, as he led the children of Israel through the wilderness, gave some laws of sanitation and food contamination that medical science did not discover for over a thousand years after Christ was born. How did Moses know of these laws of sanitation when man's wisdom did not discover them for thousands of years? Read the book of Leviticus for some of these medical practices far in advance of their time. How did Moses know these things? The only explanation is that God was with him.

In the area of oceanography, Matthew Fontaine Maury, known for charting the ocean currents, wrote a book which became the first textbook of modern oceanography. He became interested in finding the ocean currents after hearing his son read from a book which told of these currents. The currents are of great value to commercial fisherman since they discovered that schools of fish pass through them searching for food. The book Mr. Maury's son was reading was the Bible. 3,400 years before Maury's discovery, David wrote in Psalm 8:8: "The birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas." David was not an oceanographer, sailor, or fisherman, but he spoke with certainty of the paths, or currents, in the ocean, and of the fish that passed through them. How could he have spoken with such certainty? The only explanation is that God revealed these facts as He was was with him. 

Do you believe in the Bible? Do you truly believe that the Bible contains no errors? No errors have ever been found in the Bible. In the areas of prophecy, geography, or scientific facts, no errors have been found in the Bible. It contains no errors because the Bible is truly the “inspired Word of God.” Now, let us live our lives for God, believing and understanding that He created and knows all things, and will judge us when we come to the end of our life (John 12:48).

Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Bible - Prophecies, Archaeology, and Survival

The predictions of men, based on facts of the past and logical conclusions drawn from them, are sometimes right, but more often are in error. Even weather predictions, with all the sophisticated equipment and a storehouse of knowledge, often are wrong. But the difference in human predictions and Bible prophecy is that no man who spoke from God was ever wrong. These men prophesied of men - even mentioning their names and events, hundreds of years before such events came to pass, and concerning things which were obviously beyond the scope of human knowledge and wisdom at the time they were written.

The prophet Isaiah prophesied during the days of the divided kingdom of Israel that Cyrus “shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, You shall be built, and to the temple, Your foundation shall be laid” (Isaiah 44:28). He names Cyrus by name, yet he’s telling of an event that would happen over 200 years later. Cyrus was king of the Medo-Persian empire that allowed the children of Israel to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and temple. Isaiah prophecies this before Judah was taken into Babylonian captivity. Babylon would later be destroyed by the Medo-Persians under king Cyrus. Furthermore, how could Micah know the Savior would be born in little, insignificant Bethlehem when he wrote 700 years before Christ was even born?  And Jesus in Mark 9:1 prophesied that the kingdom would come with “power” which came about in the second chapter of Acts. The prophets could prophesy these things because God was with them. Christ could prophesy because He was God (John 1:1,14).

Besides all the 300 plus prophecies concerning Christ, there are many archaeological and other proofs that the Bible is the product of an all-powerful creator. Scientists digging into the ruins of the past, have uncovered amazing corroborative evidence to verify the Bible account of cities and events, many of which were doubted and even disputed by skeptics. The uncovering of battle records, names of kings and cities, all correspond with the Biblical account of the same events. We have old copies of Bible writing, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are known to have existed long before the fulfilment of these prophecies actually occurred and became facts of history.

Ancient Babylon is a good example. In Isaiah the 13th chapter (written about 700 years before Christ), the prediction is made that the city would become desolate, even to the point that the wild beast would not lie there. Neither would the Arab pitch his tent there. Visitors to this site verify the truthfulness of this statement.

Isaiah, in speaking of God, stated in Isaiah 40:22: “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.” The Hebrew word that Isaiah used for “circle” is the word khug. It literally means something with “roundness”, a “sphere.” But, of course, the people of Isaiah's day (and in fact, for many generations to come) thought the earth was flat. How did Isaiah know that NOT to be the case? There is scientific foreknowledge in the Bible which is years ahead of its time. How could the Bible writers have known these things and countless more - except God, who created the universe and knew every detail of it, told them! No rational, sane person would believe that such foreknowledge could have come through just men. All this had to come from only one source, and that is God almighty!

If a few uneducated men wrote a book today, what would be the odds of its being a best seller for hundreds of years? Imagine then the odds against the writings of a few uneducated fishermen and uneducated Jews in a captive Roman province surviving the persecutions of the Jewish authorities and the pagan religious leaders, to say nothing of the determined efforts of the Roman Empire to stamp them out! But such writings have not only survived, but they continue to be the best seller of all books. The Bible has not only survived in early days, but it has withstood the blows of the skeptics and the infidel’s best efforts to destroy it through the centuries. If the Bible is not from God, then how do we account for such phenomena? If it is from God, these things are easily understood - God saw to it that it did survive! The Bible (the inspired Word of God), has survived into the 21st century, and will continue to do so until the end of time. 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

The Bible - Its Moral Standard

The Old Testament writers lived in a country surrounded by and influenced by heathen religions. New Testament writers were in the midst of the immoralities and vices of pagan Rome and Greece. Yet the moral standards which these writers set forth were far in advance of anything known at that time. This is again evidence that the Bible is from an omniscient God. The inspired apostle Paul addressed the sins of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21 when he wrote: “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

One must ask, how can the skeptic account for the fact that the world’s greatest literature and the highest moral standards came, not from the geniuses of Rome or the philosophers of Greece, but from a hand-full of Jewish fishermen who never went to college nor published a book. Christianity is the one standard that admits of universal application without destroying the world. No other religion elevates all mankind as does Christianity. The Bible says: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). When we practice what Jesus would have us to do as stipulated in His Word, the Bible, then our moral standard will be above reproach.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

The Bible is Relevant to Our Needs

The Bible's relevancy to human needs stands as mighty evidence that the Bible is from God. Man is spirit and body. Both have needs, and the Bible outlines how God supplies these needs. Every need that man has whether it is physical, mental, moral, or psychological, the need is supplied and anticipated by God in His Word, the Bible. He tells us how to care for our human body. In Romans 12:1-2 the Bible says: "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." It is through the gospel of Christ, the Bible, that tells us how we are to present our body, the body that God gave us in the first place, to Him. The Bible also gives us the formula for peace of mind and peace with God, along with how to get along with others. What a wonderful book that anticipates and supplies all of our needs! This is clearly stated in Philippians 4:19 which says: "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

Man desires to know his origin; the Bible supplies that knowledge. Man wants to know his purpose in life; the Bible supplies that knowledge. Man wants to know his destiny; the Bible answers what will become of man. Man desires to worship; the Bible points to the true God and true worship of God. John 4:24 says; "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." Can this be the product of mere man? We think not, but agree with the Psalmist, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalms 119:105). If man is to know his origin, purpose in life, destiny, and how to worship in spirit and in truth, then man must take up the Word of God, the Bible, and let it light the way for his life. I encourage everyone to think on these things because this is absolute “Bible Truth.”

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Appealing to the Spiritual Interest of Man

According to Matthew 10:28 we can read where man consists of a soul and a body. We can learn from this reading that the soul is more valuable than the body. Jesus said “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” The soul is more valuable because the soul is eternal and body is mortal. The soul of man is that part which was made in the image of God, while the body was made from the dust of the earth.

In the first book of the Bible we read: “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). The Word of God, or the gospel, is that which appeals to the soul, and as the soul is more important than the body, we must present to everyone the gospel, which is God’s power to save the soul from eternal condemnation. The inspired apostle Paul wrote: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). What is it that has the power to save souls? It is the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Therefore, we must learn and understand that it is our soul that is to be cherished. Jesus again tried to make this very clear when Matthew wrote His Words in Matthew 16:26. Jesus said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Have you really thought about this question that Jesus asked? Could it be that you have exchanged your soul for the material wants and desires of this world?

While the Christian is taught to care for their body, the thrust of the gospel of Christ is directed toward the saving of the soul. Too many churches today overemphasize the material, the social, and even the political. But that is not the mission of the church that Jesus built, and was bought and paid for by His blood (Matthew 16:18). Jesus said that He came to “...seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). The church which belongs to Christ is to do the very same thing today; to seek, teach, and save lost souls. May God richly bless you as you nourish your soul daily with the precious words of Jesus.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Jesus - Our All Sufficient Savior

Jesus Christ is for all men, because He is the only and all-sufficient Savior. By His death He made propitiation for the sins of the whole world. “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2). In Christ God reconciled the world unto Himself. “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). Jesus Christ is the only Savior (Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5).

Jesus Christ is an all-sufficient Savior. His name is “Jesus” (Jehovah Savior) (Matthew 1:21), and in His death He met and satisfied every demand of the Law and every claim of Divine holiness, so that God can be just and at the same time justify the guilty sinner who believes on Jesus Christ. “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:24-26). Jesus Christ perfectly accomplished redemption when He died on the cross (John 19:30), and He is a perfect and all-sufficient Savior. 

Our Lord and Savior was perfect and He loved us so much that He was willing to suffer and die on the cross so that we can have forgiveness of sins through obedience to His Word. Each one of us should have a passionate desire to live for our Savior each and every day. We should be determined to follow in His steps. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). May we all strive to abide fully and completely in Christ because we realize that He truly is our perfect and all-sufficient Savior!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

What Does God Want of Us in This Life?

As we struggle with the challenges of life and death, the most challenging question of all is this: What does God want of us in this life?  God answers that question in the Bible. He has made it clear from the beginning until now that He wants our love, trust, and obedience.

Adam and Eve were commanded to care for the Garden of Eden, to enjoy its fruit, but not to eat "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil"--a tree which drew the boundary between good and evil. When they ate of that tree, they were driven in shame from the Garden and suffered the ravages of death (Genesis 2-3). Later, God commended Abraham as one who "will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment" (Genesis 18:19). That is what God wants of all men.

The Bible is full of passages summarizing what God wants of us. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Our love, trust, and respect for God are shown by obeying His Word. Though God commands formal worship, He also teaches us to translate our worship into daily action. At all times and in all situations, we are to "hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate....let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream" (Amos 5:15, 24).

When God taught the Jews to bring animal sacrifices for sin, He made it clear that "thousands of rams" were no substitute for sincere, daily submission to His will. "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:6-8). Life is brief and uncertain, filled with "labor and sorrow."  Knowing our time is short, our prayer should be, "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Psalms 90:10-12). We find God's wisdom in God's Word.

Jesus summed it all up in these words: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). All the commandments of God teach us the true meaning of love for God and for our fellow men. To violate God's Word is to violate that love.

Knowing we have sinned and yet wanting us to be saved, God desires all men to hear, believe, and obey the gospel of Christ. Christ died as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. On the basis of that faith, we must repent of all sin, confess Christ as God's Son, and be immersed in water to receive pardon through his atoning blood. Truly, God "is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9; Acts 2:38; 8:37-38).  

When we obey these first steps of the gospel, God adds us to the church of Christ and then teaches us how to worship Him and how to live for Him each day. Thus, He redeems us from the destiny of hell and leads us to an eternal home in heaven. Ultimately, that is what God wants--for us to spend eternity with Him in heaven!

Written By: Ron Halbrook

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Laying Up Treasures in Heaven

In general, people have become very materialistic. Their trust is being placed in things that exist now, things which are visible and can be touched. Little or no thought is given to the importance of seeking and finding spiritual values. The worldly-minded person is more interested in his assets, his financial affairs, the making of money, and the having of a "good time" than he is in God.

When a person realizes that the pursuit of worldly riches and fame is useless, what will he use to replace the material treasures he's always sought after? Jesus gave the answer in Matthew 6:19-21 when he said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

Peter said in 1 Peter 1:13, "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..." John said in 1 John 3:2-3, "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."

Life can be a beautiful and rewarding experience if one will put spiritual service to God first, and allow the remainder of his existence to revolve around Jesus Christ. There is a life to be lived, deeds to be done, a goal to be reached, commands to be obeyed, and a home in heaven to look forward to. Anything so temporary as the material possessions of this life must not be allowed to take away the marvelous blessings of an eternity with God, our Father. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Spiritual Maturity

We read in Isaiah 44:4 that God’s people will “spring up among the grass like willows by the watercourses.” Our Christian walk should be a walk that desires to be pleasing to God first and foremost. When this happens, then we will see growth and maturity take hold in our life here on earth. Every one of us should have a constant desire to progress toward spiritual maturity in all aspects of our life. There are several areas in our life that God wants to see us mature and develop in. These are:

1)  Fruitfulness: “Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:10). God asks that we share his word with others. This is something that should be on all of our hearts. We should look for opportunities to share the good news to those we come in contact with. 

2)  In Christ: “but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-- Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).  “that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). In order for us to mature in Christ we must learn what a good work is (2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17). When we speak “the truth in love,” we are growing in Christ because we are speaking His truth and we are doing it in love, caring for the soul of another. 

3)  In Love: “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you” (1 Thessalonians 3:12). “But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10). The true Christian test of life is whether one can show a genuine love for the brethren. For us to be able to mature in the sight of God, this is something that all of us must possess. As Paul stated, it is also an area in which we need to continue to increase. There is nothing that takes the place of loving and caring brethren who genuinely look forward to seeing and being with each other at every opportunity. May we all grow in our love for one another!

4)  Unto Perfection: “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God” (Hebrews 6:1). The word “perfection” means “completeness.” Once we have learned the truth of God’s word and have been obedient to the gospel, we should then progress onward to maturity, not returning to the basic elements again. We need to learn to be teachers (Hebrews 5:12-14), and the only way to do this is through the word, having a desire for God’s word in order to grow to completeness. Peter writes, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). When we are “perfect” or “complete,” then we will never stumble (2 Peter 1:10). In order to progress to this point we must strive to put all the characteristics mentioned by Peter to use in our life. We must add “ virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5-7).

5)  Grace and Knowledge: “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). When we learn and understand the great gift that God gave us in His Son, then we should be motivated to grow in the knowledge of our Lord. The more we know, the better we can defend the gospel and spread the gospel. Jesus wants us to know Him as He said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). We need to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord.

In conclusion, our spiritual maturity will be realized when we put away childish things from our life (1 Corinthians 13:11) and begin to cultivate an understanding of the word (1 Corinthians 14:20). If we will follow the example of Jesus (Ephesians 4:13, 15; Philippians 3:15), and partake of the deeper truths of the gospel (Hebrews 5:14), then we will be able to overcome any temptation that is cast our way (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 John 2:14). When this happens, then it will be obvious that we are pressing toward maturity in our Christian life. It may then be said of us: “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Living a Faithful Life

We can read in the second book of Timothy where the apostle Paul exhorted young Timothy to live a faithful life unto the Lord. The instructions that he gave him are inspired instructions for us today. Let’s look at this passage of scripture and then I’ll make some comments regarding some of the things that Paul points out. “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things. 22) Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:1-7, 22-26).

Endure Hardship
When we are determined to study God’s Word and to apply His teaching in our life, then we will be able to endure hardship. No matter what Satan throws our way, we will be able to overcome. We can never walk in the steps of the Savior if we don’t learn what it is that we must do to walk in His steps. Jesus said: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). He has promised us that if we will take up His yoke, and learn about Him, then we will find rest for our souls. The faithful man of God is the one that really trusts in the Lord and counts on Him to deliver the faithful from the Devil.

Paul explains to Timothy (and to us), that we must endure hardship if we are to be counted worthy of Christ. A soldier of Christ is one that will do whatever it takes to please Him. If we are honestly, sincerely striving to please Jesus, then we WILL NOT get involved with the various affairs of this life which do not promote good, honest, Christian living. We should be busy pleasing our Lord!

Pursue Righteousness
We are encouraged to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace”. I just don’t understand why it is that individuals become Christians, and yet never really want to live as a Christian. I used to play baseball and I loved to play baseball from the time I was ten until my mid-thirties. When I put on that uniform and took the field, I was determined to do the very best I could for the team and myself. I practiced hard and played hard as I tried to become the best player I possibly could be. Here’s my point; If I was not determined to do the best I could in baseball, why play? Why should I pretend to want to play baseball if my heart was not really into it? When I became a Christian, I decided to live my life the very best I could for the Lord. In order to do that, to pursue righteousness, and the love of God, it meant that there were some things in this life that I could not do. Being a disciple of Christ means that I have to be careful where I go, what I watch, what I do, what I wear, what I say, and what I think. Paul said in Philippians 4:8 “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.” 

Correct Those Who Are In Opposition
A faithful Christian who cares about the souls of others will do what they can to correct those who are in opposition to the truth. Sometimes this is not pleasant but must be done so that they may see their error, repent, and escape the snare of the Devil. Remember, if you are ever corrected by a loving saint, count it a blessing, because they care for your soul.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Keeping Your Christian Charge!

In 1 Timothy 1:5 we read "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith". That one verse pretty much sums up what the Christian charge is all about. If we would all learn to love with a pure heart accompanied with a good conscience before God with an unwaiverable faith, we would possess some fine Christian virtues. The Lord has given us this charge and it was given to preachers (2 Timothy 4:1-2), Elders (1 Peter 5:1-4), the rich (1 Timothy 6:17) and to all (1 Timothy 1:5). The Christian has a big responsibility to God. Among the things we are charged with is "not to teach strange doctrines" (1 Timothy 1:3). However, today we can see man making up new religious rules and changing the doctrine that God has given us in scripture to fit into their individual needs and wants. This is wrong and we are going to be held personally responsible for changing God's word!

We are also told not to trust in riches of this world. Paul told Timothy to "Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy" (1 Timothy 6:17). There is nothing wrong with being wealthy, but when one lets the wealth rule their life instead of allowing God to have that place, then it is wrong and we will be held responsible for it. Those are two things we are charged not to do. But what are we charged "to do" as Christians?

The apostle Paul sent his letter to the Thessalonians and in 1 Thessalonians 5:27 we can read where the Lord was willing for the letter to be read to "all the brethren". Likewise, we are to read the scriptures and put into practice the things that God tells us to do in our own lives. We can further learn from our opening scripture of 1 Timothy 1:5 that we are to have faith in God. This is further stressed in verse 19 where it says "keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith". It is such a wonderful thing to see Christians that possess a deep and abiding faith! No matter what happens they realize that God is with them and they will stay faithful to God to the very end of their days on this earth. But we are not done yet.

The Christian charge continues in that we are to do good (1 Timothy 6:17-18), to love (1 Timothy 1:5), tell others about Christ as Paul instructed young Timothy to do in 2 Timothy 4:1-2, to war a good warfare (1 Timothy 1:18), and to give of our means (1 Timothy 6:17-18). Some Christians have an even deeper responsibility if they hold the position of Elder. Peter said to "shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory" (1 Peter 5:2-4). Men who serve in the position of an Elder in their local congregation have a responsibility to ensure that all Christians that meet together in that local work are instructed in righteousness and must ensure that no false doctrines are preached or taught within the local congregation.

We need to understand how important our Christian charge is to serve God. It is essential to heed the commands of God in order for us to lay a good foundation in which to build upon as Paul instructed in 1 Timothy 6:19 when he said "storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed". Material things of this life will pass away. We brought nothing into the world and can't take anything out of it either (1 Timothy 6:7). We must strive to live a life with God eternally (1 Timothy 6:17-19), and to receive the crown of righteousness that is reserved for us (1 Peter 5:2-4). Won't you keep your Christian charge?