Wednesday, December 6, 2023

To Live is Christ

Paul wrote in the Philippian letter: “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:19-21). This beloved apostle taught us what living unto Christ is really all about. He is not ashamed but rather eager to tell and show these brethren that Christ was being “magnified” in his body. He was living a life for Christ, knowing that when he died that he would spend an eternity with Him.

Can it be said of each one of us “to live is Christ?” This is not a statement that just any Christian can make. Only those who are truly living their life for Christ can make such a statement. Can others see in each of us Christ being magnified as we walk our daily walk in this world? Can it be seen by others that we are not ashamed of Jesus and that our longing for the great expectation and hope is evident by the way that we live? Paul writes to Titus saying: “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,” (Titus 2:12-13).

When we are determined to serve Jesus in our life then it will show to others. We won’t have to tell others that we are a Christian, because they will KNOW it by the example of our life. Considering this, can it be said of us that “to live is Christ?”

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

The Authority of Jesus

Matthew wrote: “Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, by what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority” (Matthew 21:23)? Here we find two questions that these chief priests and elders asked Jesus concerning all the wonderful things that He did. They wanted to know by what authority He was able to do the things He did and who gave Him the authority in the first place. We know that God is the one who has all authority. The apostle Paul said “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1). God later gave this authority to His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus said: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). God told all men to listen to His Son (Matthew 17:5). 

Why Must We Receive Instruction from Jesus?
First of all we MUST listen to the words of Jesus and obey Him because it is He that has all authority to instruct us in righteousness today (Matthew 28:18). We learn from the Word of God that Jesus is the head of man and therefore we must obey Him. Paul writes in Colossians 1:18: “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” See also Colossians 2:19.

In addition, we are commanded to do everything as Jesus has instructed us. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). If we do not receive our instruction from Jesus or change it to suit our own needs or wants, then we WILL be destroyed. “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people” (Acts 3:23). See also Matthew 7:21-23; Galatians 1:7-9; and 2 John 9-11)). The prophet referenced here is in fact the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

What Has Jesus Authorized Us to Do?
There are several things that Jesus has authorized us to do by His authority, given to Him by God, and passed on to the Holy Spirit, who instructed the apostles what to record in God's book, the Bible. Jesus has authorized us to preach the word to all creation. In Mark 16:15, Jesus told His disciples to “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” See also Luke 24:47. We also need to lead people to believe (Acts 10:43), and to repent. In Luke 24:47, Jesus told His disciples “That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” We know this was done when Peter preached His first sermon on the day of Pentecost, and many responded to the gospel by repenting and being baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38). It is also necessary for us to confess Jesus (Philippians 2:11), and to be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 10:48). 

But that is not all, Jesus has authorized us to worship Him (Mark 7:7; Hebrews 1:6), and to do so in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Those that do not obey Jesus and insist on doing their own thing, contrary to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, must be disciplined. The inspired apostle Paul addressed the Corinthian brethren that were having fellowship with a brother who was committing fornication. He instructed the church in Corinth to discipline that brother so he will be shamed into repenting and doing what is right before God (1 Corinthians 5:4-5). Let us ensure that whatever we do and whatever we say that we are doing and saying those things to the glory of God (Colossians 3:17). Are you acting by Divine Authority in everything you do in the name of religion? If not, won't you repent and follow Jesus Christ, the one who has ALL AUTHORITY?

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

"Sin is Lawlessness"

The apostle John writes: “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness(1 John 3:4). From this verse we can learn that all unrighteousness is sin as far as God is concerned. It doesn’t matter how we might want to classify sin such as sins of ignorance, weakness, or even rebellion. If we are doing something contrary to Bible teaching, then it is sin. When we sin, we do so out of our own desire. The Bible says: “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:13-15).

God Cannot Be Tempted with Sin
God cannot be tempted with sin because God has no evil desires. If man could rid his heart of all evil desires, he would not be tempted to sin. God is pure and we also are encouraged to be pure. John writes: “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 3:2-3). When we strive to be pure and righteous in our daily life then we are perfecting ourselves (Matthew 5:48). When we hope for heaven, then we will be obedient to Christ. Christ was pure and we must strive to ensure that we are pure.

Abhor Evil
The apostle Paul wrote: “...Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). Webster’s New World Dictionary defines Abhor as: “to shrink from in fear, disgust, or hatred”. There is no excuse for doing that which one abhors (hates), so if we learn to abhor everything that is evil, we will have no reason or excuse for doing evil. We do the things that we do because we like to do those things. If we like to do only the things which are good and hate only the things which are evil, we will have the problem of right living solved in no time!

Solomon wrote: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). The heart is the home and source of all desires. It does not matter whether these desires are good or evil, holy or unholy, they proceed from the heart. An evil heart cannot send forth a holy disposition or life. Continual evil and wicked deeds in life are proof of impurity in the heart. Jesus said: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:21-23). 

Are We Excused on the Grounds of Ignorance?
When the Word of God demands certain things of us and we do not do them because we have no knowledge of the teaching, we have committed a sin of ignorance. When God’s Word forbids certain things and we do these things not knowing that the Word of God forbids them, we have committed a sin of ignorance. The question is raised “are we excused on the grounds of this ignorance?” Think about this. If ignorance will excuse us, it naturally follows that the more ignorant we are the surer we are to go to heaven! Therefore, it can safely be said that ignorance will not excuse our actions. We are either living righteously before God or we are sinning before God. The Jews crucified Jesus in ignorance (Acts 3:17), and the apostle Paul persecuted the church in ignorance (1 Timothy 1:13). But were they not still responsible for their sins simply because they were ignorant? Even the law of Moses did not excuse people on the grounds of ignorance (Leviticus 5:17-19). Man has a responsibility to learn and understand what it is that is required of him to be saved. Only those that obey the Lord will enter heaven (Hebrews 5:9; Matthew 7:21), all others, whether they claim to be ignorant or not, will be sent to their eternal damnation (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

Let’s all be determined to practice only those things that are righteous before God, realizing that when we don’t, we sin. God knows our heart and He knows if our heart is set on practicing what is right or what is evil. The fact is, if it is not right before God, it is sin!

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The Life of a Christian

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Godly Living

In 1 Timothy 4:8 it says: “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” From this verse we can learn that it is godliness that is the most profitable for us because it is through godliness that we have the promise of eternal life. Therefore, knowing this, we should strive diligently to ensure that we are doing everything we can to live our lives in a godly manner which is formal (2 Timothy 3:5) and true (1 Timothy 6:3, 11). 

Finding True Godliness
We can find true godliness only in the gospel. In 2 Peter 1:4, Peter writes: “by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” When we open the pages of the New Testament, we find what God expects of each of us as we journey through this life. He fully expects that we live our life in accordance with His will (Matthew 7:21). When we are determined to live godly then it will show in our daily walk, which everyone in the world will be able to see (Titus 2:12). 

Why Live Godly?
There are several reasons why we must strive to live a godly life. The Bible teaches that ungodliness is condemned (Jude 4:15). When we live an ungodly life, we will NOT get the opportunity to live forever with God. We need to live a righteous life because it is profitable (1 Timothy 4:8), and commanded (2 Peter 1:6). We can live godly by denying sin (Titus 2:12), professing our faith before others (1 Timothy 2:10), and by practicing living a Christian life daily (1 Timothy 4:7).

The Results of Living Godly
First of all, when we live a godly life, doing all of God’s will, be ready to suffer some persecution. Paul told Timothy: “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12). Understanding that this will happen, we should gain strength through His Word because godliness will result in great gain (1 Timothy 6:6), and the promise of eternal life (1 Timothy 4:8). Are we living our life in such a way that it “professes godliness?”

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Where's the Bible?

Have you ever found yourself asking at the conclusion of a church service “where’s the Bible?” Have you gone to church services, taken your Bible with you, and then realized after leaving that you never were asked to open it? In many churches today, sermons are given with little to no scripture included. Many times, lessons are developed and presented around the events of the day. This can help us to learn to deal with life, but it does not teach us, from the Bible, how to live our life. 

In our society, many churches have tried all kinds of things in an effort to bring people to church services. The one thing that is usually missing in most of these efforts is an appeal for people to come and learn more about the Bible. You may have even felt that churches seem to emphasize how the Bible should be made to fit our lives, rather than how our lives should be made to fit the Bible. Many churches today practice various doctrines and traditions that are not found anywhere in the Bible (Matthew 15:8-9). It would seem that if one is trying to please God in all aspects of their life, then one would want to make sure that everything that they are doing religiously is in accordance with the Bible — the Word of God (Matthew 7:21).

If you are interested in knowing this wonderful book of God, the Bible, we encourage you to visit the Poudre (Pooh-der) Valley church of Christ where only the Bible is preached, taught, and practiced. Many people today are interested in church sponsored entertainment to fulfill their needs. We, however, emphasize the necessity of learning and knowing the Bible; we emphasize the need for Christ in our life based upon His Word. We teach only the Bible because we understand the importance of what Jesus said in John 12:48: “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.”

The Poudre Valley church of Christ is a place where you can attend and learn the Bible. In our Bible classes, we study the words of Jesus and the inspired apostles. In this way, we can learn what individuals had to do back in the first century in order to be saved and then make those same applications to our lives. Today, most denominations trace the establishment of their church to a specific person on a specific date: anywhere from 600 A.D. to present time. However, Christ promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18), and we learn from the Bible that His church was established on the first Pentecost after His resurrection (Acts 2). The church of Christ is the church in which we belong; therefore, we strive diligently to practice only that which is authorized by God in His Holy inspired Word, the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17). 

We want to encourage you to come and visit the Poudre Valley church of Christ where you will quickly realize that the Bible is emphasized above all else. You will leave feeling loved and appreciated, not having to ask yourself “where’s the Bible?”

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Satan - The Great Deceiver

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.” Brethren, 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 very 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 no longer be a factor for the Christian. Do you know when that will occur? When this world comes to an end and all the righteous Christians are with God for all eternity. However, all mankind who have not believed and have not been baptized into Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16) and those who are in the church who have not remained faithful to the end (Revelation 2:10) will spend an eternity with the Devil! BEWARE OF SATAN and BELIEVE IN JESUS - Our eternity with God depends on it!

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?

Jesus answers this question in John 10:10 by saying “...I have come that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” This abundant life is something we can enjoy now and, in the age, to come (Luke 18:29-30). Can anyone else give us life but Jesus? In John 14:6 we read “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” We see that only Jesus can give us life. But not everyone can have this life that Jesus came to give. Only those that do the will of the Father can receive it (Matthew 7:21). The will of the Father is to listen to His Son Jesus (Matthew 17:5). Jesus tells us in John 8:24 “I told you that you will die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” Those that do receive Jesus have the right to become children of God (John 1:12). To do His will means everything that He commands of us. Besides believing in Him we must repent, or we will perish (Luke 13:3). What does this word repentance mean? It’s a turnaround; change of mind or heart; to be sorry for what we did. A biblical example of this is found in Matthew 21:28-30.

After one repents then Jesus must be acknowledged before men (Matthew 10:32-33), this is called confession. It’s important to note here that we are confessing Jesus as being the Son of God - not our sins. We confess Jesus the same say Peter did in Matthew 16:16 when he said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. We can also compare Romans 10:10 with Acts 8:37. Paul tells the Romans that “ is with your mouth that you confess…” and in Acts 8:37 Philip said to the Eunuch “If you believe with all your heart, you may. The Eunuch answered and said I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Confession is simply stating publicly that “Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Is there anything else Christ wants us to do? In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus says to “...go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” We can further learn that if we believe and are baptized, we shall be saved, but if we don't believe we will be condemned (Mark 16:16).

Jesus wants us to be baptized because it’s through baptism that we get into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27). Why is it important that we want to be in Christ? Romans 8:1 tells us that “Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We also learn from the apostle Peter that our sins are washed away in baptism (Acts 2:38). Baptism must be a burial as opposed to sprinkling because it represents the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (Romans 6:3-4). If one is not baptized, then he cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5). Jesus, even without sin, was baptized to show obedience to God’s commandments (Matthew 3:13-17). Peter explained what baptism symbolizes in 1 Peter 3:20-21. Belief, Repentance, Confession, and Baptism are commandments of God and must be obeyed to receive His gift of eternal salvation. If we know the right thing to do and don’t do it, we sin (James 4:17). Do we love Jesus? If so, then we’ll keep His commandments (John 14:15) and receive the abundant life that Jesus came to give.

When studying the Bible often times the obvious is overlooked. The Bible, God's Holy Word plainly teaches that baptism is essential to eternal life. We can’t keep part of His word and discard the other. We must keep the whole commandments of God to be acceptable in His sight. We need to open up the Word of God and see for ourselves all that is required of us to be saved in accordance with what God our Father has instructed? “Let the word of the Lord richly dwell within you…” (Colossians 3:16).


Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Defending Jesus to Others

In Acts 26:18, we find the Apostle Paul before Agrippa, defending his faith. He explains to Agrippa what happened to him on his journey to Damascus. He then explains the words of Jesus and that he is to tell others about Jesus so that others can be saved through Him. “To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18).

We too can have life if we live up to what Jesus told Paul. We must first turn from darkness (sin) to the light (walking with God). “For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). “For He delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). We must then set our sights on having our domain with God and not with Satan. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, {even} to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Through our obedience to the Word of God we will be moved to turn around so that our sins can be forgiven. Only those who determine to follow God, not Satan, can have forgiveness of sins. “And that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). The Apostle Peter wrote, “.... repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Once we have been forgiven of our sins and continue to follow God, then we will receive an inheritance! “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build {you} up and to give {you} the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). That inheritance is everlasting life with God our Father to those who are sanctified (which is set apart from sin and drawn near to Jesus)! Paul understood that for someone to do those things, they would have to have faith in Jesus. We will not put aside the world and draw near to Christ unless we have a true faith in Him. “But let him ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6). Thomas would not believe in Jesus until he felt the scars of His wounds and realized that he really was looking at Jesus! We must believe in Jesus with a true faith - even though we have not personally seen Him. “Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed {are} they who did not see, and {yet} believed. Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:29-31). Are we really defending Jesus to others as Paul did in his day? If so, we can praise God.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Let Us Rise Up and Build

By studying the Bible, we learn how to live as we should. The Bible teaches us that we are the children of God, and each one is an individual different from all others. We must not envy others, but accept who we are, and strive to use all our spiritual potential in pleasing God.

When we fail, we must forgive ourselves, and go on to be faithful to what we know we should. We should love ourselves enough to seek to do that which is best for our souls. We will never be what we should, unless we think that we can be what we ought to be.

I'm not suggesting that we are self-sufficient, but having been created in the image of God, with His help, we can be everything He would have us to be. Paul said in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Thus, the "I can't do it" attitude is a good one. We shouldn't underestimate what God can do through us.

Paul makes another incredible statement in Ephesians 3:20-21. He writes, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

Remember, the power is in Christ. We must rise up and rely upon Him and believe that we can be everything that God wants us to be. Herein lies the secret of an abundant spiritual life in Christ. Let us learn of Christ, obey Him, and rely upon Him. Let us not allow the devil to defeat us with doubt, uncertainty, and inactivity. Let us be like the people of God in Nehemiah's day who said, "Let us rise up and build" and who "strengthened their hands for the good work" (Nehemiah 2:18).

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Do Not Love the World

The apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:15-17, "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. For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."

This command of God is a strong prohibition against loving the things of the world. To have the love of God is the very opposite to loving the world. John declared, "...The world is passing away, and the lust of it..." This means that all who love and gain the world cannot keep it. Neither can they take it with them when them die. The world can never completely satisfy those who indulges in it. Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" It is the Word of God that really satisfies.

John said that the world is made up of three things: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. These three avenues are the means through which sin becomes a reality in our lives. The "pride of life" is the desire for fame, honor, position, and power. Regarding those who seek notoriety, Abraham Lincoln once said, "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you can't fool all the people all the time." We can add, in addition, that "You can't fool God any of the time."

John also added, "...But he who does the will of God abides forever." There is coming a time when this world will pass away, and there will only remain people and God. Those who do the will of God shall receive eternal life. Romans 2:6-7 says that God "...Will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality..."

Where is your love today? Is it for the world, or the things of the world? Or is it for God, and the things that pertain to eternal life? We must ensure that we put all things in its proper order and perspective in life. As far as Christ is concerned, true success in this life is when we have lived in such a way as to enter into heaven eternally!

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Time: A Precious Commodity

One of the most precious commodities known to man is time. We only have so much of it and none of really knows how much we will actually have. It is scarce. A wasted opportunity is gone forever, as time will not bring it back. The opportunity presented to us to teach a friend, relieve a burden, lend a helping hand comes along and then marches along. We must take advantage of that time while we have that time. We must be aware of our time and make the most of it as God has allotted it for us. Time is an important commodity that we must plan to use, just as we plan to budget our money. If we do not schedule our time wisely, it will fade away and we will soon find ourselves at the end of our lives realizing that we may not have used our precious time wisely. Like talents, how we use time spells the difference in success and failure. Time is wealth – how are we really using it?

Most of our weaknesses is procrastination. We don’t get as much done today because we may say “I can do it tomorrow.” We are all too inclined to use the old philosophy of “never do today what you can put off until tomorrow.” This of course, is a take-off on the much wiser one of “never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” We may find ourselves saying “Oh how I wish I had talked to that person about his sins, and how to obtain salvation – but he is gone now.” The Lord is forgiving, and we do have today, so we should be determined to use it to His glory and the advancement of the kingdom of heaven. We have all lost yesterday, but let’s use today so that tomorrow we won’t have to say, “I wish I had used yesterday better.” If we will not procrastinate and strive to use today to its fullest potential, then we will be able to sleep well knowing that “I have done what I could.”

Wasting Time
Wasted time is wasted money, souls, opportunities and accomplishments. Someone said, “time is money.” Therefore, we should not waste it. A wasted today is a lost yesterday, and then we may worry about what should have been done. It is always refreshing to know that we have used each day to its fullest! There are so many ways that we may find that we have wasted time. Perhaps one way is that we realize that we sleep too much, or much more than we really need to. God’s word says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Instead of reading the Bible, people will read a lot of useless literature. The Bible will build us up and give us all we need to know in order to have an eternal home with God. A lot of time is wasted today on entertainment such as television and various electronic devices. We must strive to make the best use of our time that we have been granted by investing in that which will develop our mind in a good and positive way.

I encourage all of us to think seriously about how we are using our time. Souls are dying, unprepared for heaven. Men are suffering without our help. People are in distress, and we may be wasting our time – when we could be making ourselves very useful in our service to God and our fellow man. The apostle Paul wrote, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17).

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

The Breakdown of the Family

Most psychologists will tell us that the American home is in great danger. They will tell us that the home, as we have grown to know and love it, is deteriorating to the point that our whole society is in danger. Why is this? The basic reason lies in the fact that America is losing its true and wholesome concept of God as our creator and the Bible as our guide. As long as families believed in, and patterned their lives after the principles taught in God’s word, America was strong. It may not be an accident that many of our problems have gotten worse as we lose the Bible concept for the family. God ordained the family and it is only by abiding by the clear teachings of God contained in His word that we will have strong families.

Has America “Outgrown” the Family Concept?
There are times in most every young person’s life, that they get the idea that they have outgrown the ideas of their parents. It may be that America, as a whole, is in that state of mind now, for it seems like there are second thoughts of the standards that we have espoused for many generations. Many today are saying things like, “why marry; what can I get inside of marriage that I cannot get outside of it?” If people would have an appreciation of the Bible, then they would learn and know the truth. Now, even psychologists realize that the stable young person is the one who comes from a loving home with parents who love each other and love their children very much. God arranged that (Colossians 3:18-25). America needs to grow up and get out of the adolescent stage, realizing the values of God have always been and still are the very best.

Questioning God’s Wisdom
The breakdown of the American family is the result of questioning the wisdom of almighty God. From the very beginning of recorded history, and even back to the beginning of time, the home, as God ordained it, has been the foundation and basis of a stable civilization. But now God’s wisdom is being challenged as America says the home is no longer needed. Marriage is said to be foolish. The companionship of a husband and wife, and the security of the children in the home has (they tell us) been over-emphasized. The home is the place where children need to be raised and this is especially important during their first formative years of life. Many parents are leaving their young children to be raised by others, sometimes, complete strangers. God created us, everyone of us (Genesis 1:26)! He knows what is best for His creation and we should never question His wisdom.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

The Christian's Attitude Toward Trials

It is a fact that Christian’s will have trials and problems at various times in life. This is evident from the teachings of the Bible and from everyday experience. No one escapes them. James says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3). When a temptation comes that we are able to withstand, or resist, then we have become stronger. We can expect the hills and valleys of life, as well as the pleasant things. Christians learn to understand this and make use of them. Difficulties can either make us bitter or they can be used as steps to higher ground. They can either drag us down, or they can strengthen us. If we look beyond, up the hill, and say “I can’t climb it,” then we are defeated. However, if we say, “I can climb it,” then we become stronger in the process of our continued success.

Don’t Worry About Tomorrow
We are taught by the Bible to “...not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). If we will put off that “worry” until tomorrow, then it probably will never happen. We will not have anything to worry about. The things we worry about usually never happens. There is no use to borrow trouble from tomorrow, for “sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Take care of the present, those things in which we can control, and let tomorrow take care of itself. If we will seek the kingdom first, we will not have the “worries” that frustrate us in this materialistic society. Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). 

Physical Distress Due to Worry
The command to “not be anxious” comes from the Lord. There is so much worry and frustration in our society that doctors tell us that about half of their patients are not physically ill, but are suffering from mental anguish, often times as a result of excessive worry. Many people worry, fret, fear, and doubt over so many things that it is no wonder so many are mentally exhausted which affects them physically. One day when Jesus was taking a ride with His disciples on a boat, strong winds began, and Jesus was asleep. They woke up Jesus because they were all afraid. Jesus asked, “...Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). Our fears, doubts, worry, and frustrations can be cured in Christ, as we listen to His word, trust His will, and obey His commands.

Nothing Good Comes from Worrying
When we worry, there is nothing to be gained. Worry does no good, and it does a great deal of harm. Worry decays the mind, wastes time, robs God of good workers, and causes an employee to be inefficient. Many people worry about the future which most all the time nothing ever happens. When we worry about the past, there is nothing that can be done about it. When we open up our Bible and study the words of Jesus, we can gain the peace of mind that Jesus wants us to have. Think about the following important words that Jesus said about worrying. “Then He said to His disciples, Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Luke 12:22-28). We must all stop “worrying” and let the trials and tribulations of life strengthen us as Christians so we can count these things as joy. Let us all “press on” in our daily walk with Christ!


Thursday, April 13, 2023

Stay Committed to the End

In 2 Chronicles 14-16 we can read about King Asa of Judah who reigned for 41 years, 35 of which was dedicated to God. In the beginning he removed the altars of the foreign gods and the high places. It was said of him that “Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God” (14:2). His first battle was against Zerah the Ethiopian in which Asa and Judah were out manned almost 2-1. But before he began to fight the battle, he cried out to God to ask for His guidance. As a result, “the Lord struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled” (14:12). The prophet Azariah came to Asa and told him that “The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you” (15:2). These words inspired Asa and he became even more courageous, continuing to remove the abominable idols in the land. He proved himself to be a good and righteous king, motivating Judah to collectively engage in a “covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul” (15:12). There was great rejoicing at the oath and as a result the “Lord gave them rest all around” (15:15).

Things were going so very well for Asa and all of Judah. Asa was well respected by the people, and they were pleased to serve a King who was first willing to serve his God. God blessed Asa and the people for 35 years because of their righteousness and faithfulness to Him. However, in Asa’s 36th year, after 35 years of faithful service, he made a grave mistake. Perhaps apathy and pride had become part of his mind set, but whatever the case, Asa neglected to consult God when Baasha, the king of Israel came up against Judah and built Ramah to keep those in his kingdom from coming to Asa in Judah. Instead of crying out to God for help and guidance, he made a treaty with the wicked king of Syria, Ben-Hadad. He bribed him with gold and silver from the house of the Lord to fight against king Baasha of Israel. Ben-Hadad caused Baasha to cease his work at Ramah but the prophet Hanani came to king Asa and said to him: “Because you have relied on the king of Syria, and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Syria has escaped from your hand” (16:7). The prophet told Asa that from this time on he would have wars. Asa became so angry that he threw the prophet into prison and oppressed some of the people. In the end, Asa became diseased in his feet, still did not seek the Lord, but rather the physicians, and he died in the 41st year of his reign. King Asa served God for 35 years and in the end proved himself to be unfaithful to Him the last 6 years. This is a sad commentary for a king that had so much going for him, but in the end he was unfaithful to God. 

We should learn some valuable lessons today from this king from long ago. We need to ensure that we seek God on a daily basis (Matthew 6:33), and when we do we are promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We must never forget God when we encounter various trials in life (James 1:3). With every temptation God has promised us that He will make the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). We must also learn that no matter how long we have been a Christian that we too can fall from God’s grace and be cut off if we do not remain righteous and faithful to Him (1 Corinthians 10:12; 2 Peter 2:20; Romans 11:22). If we get caught up with pride, we must understand that it will lead us to destruction (Proverbs 11:2; 16:18; 29:23). Finally, we must remain loyal in our work and service to the Lord to the very end of our life (1 Corinthians 15:58; Revelation 2:10). May we never be guilty of quitting God and falling short of our eternal home with Him (Matthew 7:13-14). The prophet Hanani said these words to Asa, words that certainly apply to each one of us today: “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (1 Chronicles 16:9). We must make sure that we stay committed to God until the very end of our life. Our eternal destiny depends on our commitment to Him each day that we live. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

What Constitutes Obedience?

A passage of scripture comes to mind when I hear the word "obedience" and that is from 1 Samuel 15:22 which says: "And Samuel said, "Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, {And} to heed than the fat of rams". We all need to understand that to obey the voice of the Lord is our first obligation. The truth is what guides us unto salvation and all men should obey the truth of God (Galatians 3:1-5; 1 Peter 1:22). We can learn from the scriptures that no man was saved by obedience to anything other than God's word. King Saul obeyed the voice of the people and that led to his downfall (1 Samuel 15:21). Adam obeyed the voice of Satan (Genesis 3:1-6). Saul of Tarsus obeyed the voice of his conscience (Acts 26:9). Only when one obeys the commandments of God is one able to be saved.

So how do we obey the truth? Before answering this question, let us first see how we disobey it. We disobey the truth by refusing to do anything at all (John 5:40). We disobey the truth by adding anything to it that God has not commanded or allowed. The Proverb writer says: "Do not add to His words Lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar." (See also Revelation 22:18; 2 John 9) Besides adding to God's word we disobey Him by taking away that which He has instructed us to do (Revelation 22:19; Deuteronomy 4:2). The only way that we can obey the truth is by doing the exact thing that God commands for us to do. "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness" (Matthew 7:21-23). Some may think they are doing God's will because it "feels right", or "it is a good work" but that does make it right!

This point is driven home by the example of Moses when he struck the rock when he was not commanded to do so (Exodus 20:7-12). It seemed such a small thing when Uzza touched the Ark to stabilize it, yet it caused his death (1 Chronicles 13:9-10). If we offend in one point, we are guilty of all "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one {point,} he has become guilty of all" (James 2:10). Let us strive to do ONLY those things which ARE AUTHORIZED by God!

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Choosing Our Friends Wisely

How important it is to select the right friends. Solomon said: “Make no friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man do not go” (Proverbs 22:24). In the very next verse he gives us the reason for such a command. He says: “Lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.” There have been many young men that has started down the road to drinking, adultery, hopelessness, drugs, and prison because he picked the wrong friends. Young lady, young man, select your companions on the basis, not of money or fame, but on the solid rock of character, religious convictions and moral judgments.

Money and fame are fleeting; but godliness and truth will last forever. Paul wrote to Titus: “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13). A true friend will stand by us when money is gone. Witness the story of the prodigal son. When his money was gone, his friends were gone. These were some friends weren’t they? A true friend will be there and stick by us even in the very worst of circumstances. We must be sure to choose our friends wisely.

Did you ever think about what it takes to have friends? In order for one to have friends, one must make himself friendly. In Proverbs 18:24 the wise Solomon wrote: “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Friendliness is a characteristic of Christianity. In adversity one must be helpful; in distress, we must be warm and consoling. Solomon said: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). Indeed, if I am at all times helpful and useful to others, I can not only serve my God, but I can make friends at the same time. Also, when choosing our friends, we must make sure that they have our best interests at heart. As a Christian we want friends that will help us get to heaven and we also must strive to help them reach heaven.

Did you know that one of the most admired characteristics of friendship is loyalty. Let us look at two examples of this which show the opposites. First, Onesiphorus, a friend of the apostle Paul was loyal and devoted. Paul said of him: “The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain” (2 Timothy 1:16). Here was a man that this beloved apostle knew that he could count on. Do you have friends like this that you just know that you can count on to be there for you when you really need them? But on the other hand, one of the most disappointing things in the life of Job must have been that his friends turned against him in time of need. They said he was evil because he was suffering so much. It was bad enough that Job was being tried with the loss of his family, friends and the terrible physical problems. But now his so-called friends turn against him. He said: “He has removed my brothers far from me, and my acquaintances are completely estranged from me. My relatives have failed, and my close friends have forgotten me. Those who dwell in my house, and my maidservants, count me as a stranger; I am an alien in their sight” (Job 19:13-15). Yet through all of this he still remained faithful to God. A friend is not one who deserts his brother in time of need. Jesus did not turn away from his friends but comforted and helped them in time of need. Would you do the same for your friends? Often, we say we will but when the situation arises where we must take a stand to show our loyalty will we really come through? I would hope that I would, and I would hope that those that I call my friend would do the same for me. If we are loyal to Jesus, calling Jesus our friend then we must show Him our love. How? By doing what Jesus asks of us. He said: “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). It is very important to choose our friends wisely and then be there for them when needed.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Don't Worry About It

Worry or anxiety is distracting care. It is natural, in a way, to be anxious but we should not worry to the point of distracting us from important things. One cannot live the fullest life if he always worries about all the little things and often things that one cannot do anything about. Paul said: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). This word worry simply means to draw in many directions. Worry draws our mind away from our business and duties and puts it on things we probably cannot do much about anyway. We are afraid of what is going to happen - but it seldom does. Sometimes such worry leads to physical sickness. Do all we can about a problem, and then put faith in God that all will be well. But we can’t put faith in God if we are not a Christian first.

I have always tried to live by this general rule when it comes to the area of worry. If I can’t directly change, control, or alter the situation, then all I can do is pray to God concerning the situation and then just leave it in God’s hands. For example: If I were to send my daughter on an airplane to see her grandparents in another state, once that airplane took off, I can no longer change, control, or alter that airplane. I can only pray to God that she be safe and have a safe trip to her destination. If I worry about the situation, all that I will accomplish is to make myself physically sick. We need to learn and trust to put our cares and anxieties in His hands and let Him who has power over all things to direct the steps. When we do, then our life will be so much easier, and we will be able to fully concentrate on those things in which we can change. Put our trust, faith and hope in God first, then all will work out to His glory. 

The Harm in Worry
Worry drains our energy. Have you noticed how tired we are after we have been worrying about something in which we have no control over to change. Mental work is hard work, and it tires us the most possibly, when we are in deep pain of worry. So, one cannot live a full, fruitful life with worry always in their mind. We are using up energy which we need for more useful things. And besides a drain on our energy, it is a waste of time. What can be done when our mind is occupied with fear of that which might happen? While I am worrying, I should be using my mental faculties to do something constructive. I should be doing my work; or doing something for others. In fact, one of the best antidotes of worry is going out and helping others - which gets our mind off ourselves. I read of a man once who was so accustomed to worrying that he often worried because he had forgotten what he was worrying about. Faith in God is the remedy for worry!

Faith Repels Worry
Worry is anxiety to the point of distraction. We are usually afraid of what will happen. But trust in God as to the future is the great antidote of worry. With trust in God that He will do what is right, why should we worry? This is not to say nothing unpleasant will happen. But it does say we have a faith in the providence of God that whatever happens, God holds the future in His hands. Again, Paul said: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). It is said that we believe our doubts and doubt our beliefs. When Peter saw the great waves around him while walking on the water, he began to sink. Jesus said: “O thou of little faith.” If God feeds the birds and beautifies the flowers, will He not care for His greater creation? I encourage each one of us to read Matthew chapters 5 through 7 and gain a better, deeper understanding of the hand of God.

Trust in the Lord
Worry decays the mind, makes one miserable, wastes time and energy and makes our friends unhappy. Why worry? Faith in God is the answer to our worry problem. Thousands pop pills, others drink liquor, and many go to the psychiatrists. But the best tranquilizer is faith in God, obedience to the gospel, and living the Christian life. Yes, trust in the Lord is the answer. So, we want to be happy? Here’s how. Trust in the Lord, become a Christian by being baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27), and then live a faithful life in His service (Revelation 2:10). Then, come what may, we know we have a home in heaven after life. But without that faith, or trust in the Lord, what future do we have to look forward to? Yes, the Lord knew what it would take to make men happy here and hereafter. Therefore, don’t worry about it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Abundant Living In Christ

Science has found ways and continues to search for ways to add to life, but the problems with most of us is, “how to add life to our years.” Abundant living is an art, and many do not find fulfilment and beauty in life regardless of years.

Abundant living is not found in materialism. A long existence does not guarantee happiness or success. The oldest man who ever lived was Methuselah and he was 969 years old. Even so, he probably did not accomplish as great things as others such as Moses, David and Paul who lived a much shorter time. Little is said of his accomplishments, but books are written on Paul and Moses. Furthermore, the abundant life is not found in secular knowledge. Solomon was one of the wisest men who ever lived, but much more is said of David, the great king of Israel, and the father of Solomon. In fact, Solomon himself said, “In much wisdom is much grief” (Ecclesiastes 1:18). Furthermore, the abundant life is not accomplished by wealth. The wise man also said of this: “It is vanity and vexation of the Spirit” (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

Jesus came to this earth so man can have and enjoy that abundant life. In John 10:10 he said: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” I ask that you think about the seriousness of life. If we would first strive to serve Jesus, then the other things will fall into place. We can’t do it alone - we need Jesus Christ. The prophet Jeremiah said: “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). You are encouraged to live your life for Christ. It is only when we “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33), that all these things shall be added to our life. 

Strive to Be Optimistic
Also, to be successful in life, there must be optimism and to have an abundant life, there must be optimism centered in Christ. The Christian and the Bible calls it Faith. So often people think it strange that Christ would require something for which they can see no reason. Paul answers: “We walk by faith, not by sight” 2 Corinthians 5:7), and “I can do all things in him that strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). I cannot do all things by myself, but with His help, yes with faith, that is also optimism in Him, I can keep going and expect to receive the crown. Without Christ, how could one be optimistic about world affairs? How could one be optimistic about the moral breakdown of this country? But if one is in Christ, we can say, regardless of what happens in this life, my future is assured - in perfect happiness afterwards! Jesus tells us to “ faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Who Christians are Also Known As

Children of God: I became a child in the Thetford household by natural birth. I became a child of God by Spiritual birth. When I was born, nobody asked if this baby would be in the Thetford household. No one had to ask what my last name would be - because they already knew. When Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again, he was very confused, but then Jesus told him he must be born of the water and spirit. This is baptism. Notice the passage of scripture: Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:3-5).

If you want to know what the new birth is, look at the practice of the inspired apostles as they taught and practiced the new birth under the great commission. This is found in the Acts of the apostles. To the Galatian brethren, Paul said: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). Some say the new birth is affected by faith only. Jesus said one must be born of both water and spirit. To say “water” here refers to natural birth from the mother's womb is nonsense and Jesus did not talk that way. That is why when Nicodemus responded to Jesus’ question concerning the new birth, thinking that one must literally be born again of woman, Jesus made sure that he understood that it is only through the water and spirit that one can enter into heaven. Have you been born again? If not, you will not get to be with Jesus in eternity. Why not put Christ on in baptism before it is everlastingly too late.

When you hear the word saint, what comes into your mind? There is a popular idea that a SAINT is one who has served well in life and has been honored in death. He is “canonized” and so honored. One can travel to the Vatican and see statues of such men circling the famous St. Peter’s square. But on close examination of the Bible, I find no such idea for the word “saint.” Paul, in his letter to the church in Corinth addresses Christians as SAINTS. Yet he found many evils in the lives of these living saints. A saint is a Christian, a child of God, and carries the idea of his holiness or godliness. But how did these Corinthians become saints? In Acts 18 Paul preached in Corinth on his second tour, and in verse 8 the record says, “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.”

We can look to the Bible and find many other occurrences on how one becomes a saint. In Acts 2, on the day of Pentecost, Peter preached to the Jews, and they were pricked in their heart because they knew for sure that they had just crucified the Son of God, Jesus Christ. They asked: “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. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, be saved from this perverse generation. Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (Acts 2:38-41). We can learn from this passage of scripture that when a person is baptized, he is baptized into Christ, his sins are forgiven, and he becomes a saint, or a Christian.

Members of the Body: In 1 Corinthians 12:12-20, the apostle Paul compares the church to a physical body. Members have a definite relationship to the head. The spiritual head is Christ. Paul writes: “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-- whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free-- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body," is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.”

As the arms, legs and eyes, etc., take orders from the head in our bodies, so the members of Christ’s body takes orders from Christ. How does one become a member? The Corinthians were members of the body. How did they get that way? We read where they were “all baptized into the one body.” Note two things: First to get into the body, baptism is necessary. It is absolutely irresponsible to speak of getting into the body by faith only. It is contrary to this passage of scripture. Next, he says there is one body. There are not hundreds of churches, or bodies, as the religious world says, but only ONE. He says, “but now there are many members, but one body.” Nothing can be plainer. One body, and that one body is the church says Paul in Ephesians 1:22-23.  

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

How Does One Become a Christian?

Do you really want to be a Christian? If so, it is a very simple procedure, and yet there is much confusion as to how in the world today. One popular church discipline says that the doctrine of Faith only is a most wholesome doctrine and very full of comfort. But listen to what the Bible says, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). There’s quite a difference in the two. There is no question whatsoever that salvation is by faith, all admit that. The question is, IS SALVATION BY FAITH ONLY? To answer that question, we must define faith. What kind are you talking about? Are you saved by a vain faith? Are you saved by a dead faith? Are you saved by an active faith? Isn’t it noteworthy that in the book of conversions (Acts), that each person saved was saved when their faith led them to be baptized. There was never a saved person in the New Testament dispensation who had not been baptized. Baptism was then, and is now, the consummating act that puts one into Christ. In fact, the Galatian letter tells us just that. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).

How do we gain faith? The Bible answers that question in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” For an example of grace, faith, and works read Joshua, chapter 6 and 2 Kings 5. You will gain a clear understanding of how these three ties together. The first two things that every soul must do is to hear about God and the gospel of Christ, and then believe God and the teaching of Christ and the inspired apostles as they direct us in what we must do in order to gain salvation.

Repent or Perish
Surely people do not think when they say that faith alone will save, that this is really true. If so, this would mean we would be saved while in sin, for it would mean they could be saved without repenting. Repentance is a change of heart, determining to change our life. Can a person be saved without a change of heart or mind? The very idea of conversion demands it. Then if repentance is necessary, then salvation is not by faith only. There are three specifics necessary to remission of sins and becoming a child of God. Faith is necessary. This is the mental assent of mind, or faith in the savior, a deep trust. Then there is repenting, or turning away from sin and turning to God. Jesus said, “unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). The process of salvation is climaxed by the faithful act of baptism which Paul says in Galatians 3:27 puts us INTO Christ. Therefore, faith alone is not enough. James said the demons believed (James 2:19). Will the demons be saved? We should all agree that the Bible says no!

If you came to me and demanded to be baptized, I would ask you a simple question. “Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?” I would not ask: “Do you believe that God for Christ’s sake has pardoned your sins?” I would not because I find no such command or example in the Bible. But over in Acts, chapter 8, I do note that the Eunuch demanded baptism after hearing Jesus preached to him. What did Philip say when the Eunuch asked? “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Then what happened? The next verse of scripture says, “So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.” An important point here is that Philip and the eunuch went down INTO the water. That eliminates sprinkling and pouring because Bible baptism is immersion.

The reason I would not ask if one believed that God for Christ’s sake had pardoned his sin, is that pardon comes, not when one believes, but when one is baptized unto the remission of sins (Read Acts 2:38). But if we confess Christ as Lord, we are saying that He is the Son of God and is the master of my life, and if one believes that, baptism is no problem. Confession of faith is outward profession of the inward trust one has in Christ.

Believing in Christ is so very important because if one truly believes in Jesus, then they will have no problem keeping the commandments of Jesus. Baptism is a commandment of Jesus. It is a commandment not to the Christian to be baptized but to the alien sinner. Cornelius, an alien, though he was a good moral man, was commanded to be baptized in Acts 10:48.

Is baptism really commanded? Listen to what the Bible says, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16); “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38); “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us" (1 Peter 3:21); “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” (Matthew 28:19); “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). These scriptures are but a few from the Word of God that clearly shows that faith must be accompanied with action on our part. Baptism is necessary for remission of sins and the hope of everlasting life. Have you been baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of your sins?