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The Bible Friend

The Bible Friend

   There are a number of Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible for the word “friend”. Most of these carry the meaning of “an associate”. In the Old Testament, one Hebrew word translated “friend” can be used to indicate a brother, companion, fellow, husband, lover, neighbor, or other. All through the first part of the Bible we see the word used in this way.     But, when we get to Psalm 18:24 we find a different word employed. The passage reads ” A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” The Word for friend in this passage indicates one who has affection for, or loves another.  

   The next time we see this particular reference used is Proverbs 27:6 and the context indeed shows that the one referenced is one that truly loves. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.   This is a way to say that only a “true friend” will tell you what you need to hear.   Truly, only one who loves you will tell you (as a friend) words you really need to hear, even if they hurt badly, no matter how carefully delivered.   These types of instructions are for our own good.

   Can we not see the application in Isaiah 41:8 when the reference to a friend is to the father of the nation chosen by God to bring Christ to humanity.   But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.   Abraham loved God and believed God – which means that he did that which God asked of him.   This has to be the meaning of the “Bible friend”.     This cannot be denied as there are many references in God’s Word that testify to this.     One such passage is Genesis 26:5 where the promise was repeated to Jacob that had been made to Abraham and also passed on to Isaac, the father of Jacob.   Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. This was definitely holding Abraham up as an example for Jacob to follow.  

   As we go to the New Testament we see a completely different word for friend. One reason for this is because the New Testament was written in Greek and not in Hebrew. However, the same concept is presented in this new (different) language.   As we read this we may also remember that in James 2:23 we find Abraham identified as one that truly loved God and was loved of God.   And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.    We need not go back and read all the accounts proving Abraham loved of God as he did all God commanded.   This is not to say that Abraham did not make any mistakes or that he did not sin. Galatians 3:22 assures of this.   But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.   But we have also seen that those that “believe” will do what the Lord says to do.

   In the account of Jesus ministry given to the beloved John we read in John 14:15 how we show our love for Christ.    He said to His apostles: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”   Would we not be considered friends of those we love?   We might, but Jesus is a friend to everyone; even those who would do Him harm.   In Matthew 26:50 we find Jesus calling Judas a “friend” even though Judas had come to betray our Lord and turn Him over to those that would take His life. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.   This was necessary so Jesus could fulfill the Will of His Father.  

   Part of that Will was that Jesus be a friend to man. Jesus is indeed a friend to all in that He willingly gave Himself on Calvary’s cross so that mankind could have life and have it more abundantly.   When Jesus was here on earth He was accused of being friends with sinners.   Matthew 11:19 is one place this occurred. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.   But we see in Luke 19:10 that Jesus Himself pointed out that it was the lost (sinners) that He came to save.   For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

     Many in the world sing the song “What a friend we have in Jesus” when in fact they have not accepted His friendship or the benefit of that friendship. They want to retain their friendship with the world and still claim friendship with Christ.   The Bible teaches in James 4:4 that this is not possible. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

   Now, do you want a “Bible friend” or a “friend of the world”?   That is a choice you have to make.   Make the right choice and become a friend of God today by being obedient to His Word, the gospel.

                                                                                          Dennis S – Mooresville

 

Gossip

Gossip

    Often when a preacher preaches on gossip some folks comment that he has stopped preaching and gone to “meddling”. Teaching and preaching the truth is not meddling.   It is likely the ones who participate in this dangerous and sinful practice are those who make such accusations. These accusations indicate that this a real issue among humans, and unfortunately also sometimes exists in the church.

   The Spirit had James deal with sins of the tongue in James 3:10; specifically the sin of using the tongue to curse. “out of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” The same phrase at the end of the verse applies to gossip. “these things ought not so to be.”

   There was a comedy T.V. show named “Hee-Haw” that aired from 1969-1971, then ran in syndication for 21 years that treated gossip in a humorous manner. This was done to make a point as to how ridiculous gossip is. The song lyrics are:

"Now, we're not ones to go 'round spreadin' rumors,

Why, really we're just not the gossipy kind,

No, you'll never hear one of us repeating gossip,

So you'd better be sure and listen close the first time!"

   The lyrics of this little “ditty” put forth the idea that to tell something “one time” is not gossip.  But, the accepted definition of “gossip” is:  A rumor or report of an intimate nature.  Nothing is said in this definition about the number of times said rumor or report is repeated.   Also, nothing is said in the definition about the often irreparable damage that is done by gossip and the gossiper.  

   While the King James Bible does not use the word “gossip”, it certainly teaches against it.   Space in this article will not allow the listing of all the passages that speak against this most harmful activity.            

    In Psalm 6:19 we find that the next to last in the list of the seven things that are an abomination to the Lord is “a false witness that speaketh lies”.   This seems a lot like gossip.   We will list a couple more verses, one from the Old Testament and one from the New.   Perhaps these should be remembered when information comes to us and we are tempted to pass it on.   We should consider these passages to see if we are living according to them when such information comes our way.   One of the most relevant passages for this situation is found in Ephesians 4:29.  Ask yourself; does the information delivered to you edify if passed on?  Would it minister grace to the hearers? If not it is corrupt communication.   Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.    In Psalm 34:13 we find a stern warning about using the tongue and lips to express that which is evil.   It reads: Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.    This should be enough to convince us that God never has condoned gossip or any other sin of the tongue.

   The Spirit had Paul, in Romans 6:13 put it this way to show we are to have total control of all of our members. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.  If we gossip or slander we “yield” our member called the tongue as an instrument of unrighteousness and are therefore sinning.

    Below are words written by my Father-In-Law, O.D. Wilson, that may help us to see that there can be good in us all and it is totally in our power to control our tongues as well .

Bridle the Tongue

                                                          

Love Will help you see, if there’s good in me,

I’m not perfect brother, what of you?

What you need to see, Is dark Calvary,

God’s Sweet Love will always see you through.

Bridle up the tongue, do so while you’re young,

Fire is dangerous out of control.

James has put it well, “Set on fire of Hell”.

God’s Sweet Love will always see you through.

One may judge the tree, by its fruit you see,

But don’t let your motive be condemn,

When a brother falls, listen for his call.

God’s Sweet Love will always see you through.

Love Will help you,

over your members gain control,

Don’t wait, too late,

Put the bridle on and save your soul.

                                                                                        (Dennis S. – Mooresville)

Strangers and Pilgrims

STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS

   As one reads the list of the “faithful” named in Hebrews chapter 11, it is easy to see they knew they were headed somewhere.   This is perhaps why the Spirit had the penman write what we see in vs 13. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”       Upon reading the 16th verse it is apparent that these “strangers and pilgrims” were indeed on a journey and were striving to get to that heavenly country prepared by God.  

   The physical example of Abraham is offered as an example for Christians as the promise to Abraham was a physical one with a physical inheritance, but with spiritual implications.   In Hebrews 11:8-9 we are told of this, yet in vss 10 & 16 we see the “spiritual application” of the physical existence.    And, we can see both applications in the final two verses of this great chapter of the letter to the Hebrews. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.  (Hebrews 11:39-40)

   In the 13th chapter of John, Jesus told His apostles that He was going away. He too was a stranger on this earth, but He knew where He was going. He came to provide the means so that all others that are strangers and pilgrims can be made whole and that their destination could be defined and attainable.   In John 14:2-4 He told them what was waiting and that they knew the way to get there.   In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.     Then in John 14:6 He tells Thomas (and us) that He is the way, and that none can come to the Father, except through Him.   Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

      And, we have many “hints” as to where our journey should take us as we find out where the Father is.   One such place is found in Matthew 6:9, often referred to as the “Lord’s Prayer”, but in fact is part of the Sermon on the Mount.   After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  From this we see that the Father is in Heaven and that is where we all should want to go as we “sojourn” on this earth.

   But, how are we to know the way?   Jesus had told His apostles that He was the way, yet He was going back to the Father.   Just how were they to follow Him after His departure? Well, the Lord took care of this. We see in John 14:16 & 26 that the Lord would send them the Comforter.   In these verses He identifies this comforter and tells not only what He would provide, but also how long He would be with them.   16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;  26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.    The “all things” the Spirit gave and taught them was the gospel.  

   In 2Thessalonians 2:14 we are told that this gospel calls us so that we can go and be where Christ is after we complete our pilgrimage. Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

And we are told that this gospel is the “power of God unto Salvation” which means that through the gospel we can follow the Christ and ultimately be where He is – With our Father in heaven. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  (Romans 1:16)

   -- It stands to reason that since Jesus is the “way, the truth and the life” and that He sent the Spirit to provide the gospel that guides us to where He and the Father are, that we should make heaven our destination as we sojourn in this life.  We are told in Colossians 1:4-5 that it is through the gospel that we learned of this hope that is only in Christ.   Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, 5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; 

        Isn’t it about time that we all embrace the fact that we are all “strangers and pilgrims and our existence extends beyond this life?   Why not obey the gospel and then do as Paul was doing when the Spirit had Paul write to the brethren in Philippi in Philippians 3:14? I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. 

Everyone has a destination.   What’s yours?   Where are you going?

                                                                     Dennis S. - Mooresville

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It . . .

Your Mission, should you choose to accept it . . . .

   This is the opening line of a popular television show named “Mission Impossible” that ran from 1966 through 1973 and returned from 1988 to 1990.   In this show, a group of specially trained agents took on missions to overcome evil organizations. They were allowed to refuse the mission if they thought it too dangerous or if it was really an impossible one. Of course, on TV the missions were always accepted, never really impossible, and yes, these agents always triumphed over evil.

   Believe it or not, there are applications to the premise for this show as it relates to the Christian. In other words, there are some similarities as well as differences between Christians and these actors playing their parts in this television series.   One of the main differences is that we as Christians are not to be simply “playing a part”.   Our mission is one of life or death according to 2 Corinthians 5:10, and the final outcome will not be determined until we depart from this life to that which is beyond to be judged according to the things we have done in this life. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 

   Upon hearing the Gospel we chose the mission when we believe Christ is the Son of God and all that entails, made the choice to repent or turn away from our sins, confessed before men that Christ is the Son of God and were baptized into Christ. As such we became “agents” of the Lord in this mission.

   We too are to be specially trained. God has given us His training manual – The Bible, to equip us and prepare for the mission.    In 2 Peter 3:17-18 we see that we are to continue our training and as we do we are to grow. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever.

     One similarity between the show and the Christian is that once a mission was begun, it had to be seen to its end.   For the show it was the completion of whatever mission was offered. To the Christian there is but one mission. It is faithful service to God in accordance to the New Testament until death.    

   In the show, there were often parts of the mission that had to be carried out so the main mission could be completed.   The same is true in our mission as Christians.   Jesus made it clear in Matthew 28:19-20 what part of our mission is.   He said this to His apostles, but also applies to us today. He said: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you      

   An important aspect of our mission is to know that it could end at any time.   There is always some uncertainty as to how long we will continue on this earth. The Spirit had James write of this in James 4:14 as a warning to us to always put our mission first.   Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.    Another important part of our mission is to know how that we are not to allow the enemy to influence us or to lead us away from the task we have accepted.   Our mission is one of a religious nature. The Holy Spirit also had James address this in James 1:27. God wants us to participate in pure religion and He has told us how.   Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.  Keeping ourselves “unspotted from the world” means we won’t be fraternizing with the enemy.

   It is also true that we cannot participate in the mission on the side of truth and right until we have become agents for the Lord.   God has given us the instructions as how to take part in the mission as well as the guidelines for that mission.   Isn’t it about time to make a choice to serve God and do His Will?  

   To choose this mission one must:  HEAR THE GOSPEL– Romans 10:14;   BELIEVE – Acts 8:37; REPENT – Acts 17:30; CONFESS – Matthew 10:32-33;  BE BAPTIZED – 1 Peter 3:21.     Then we must REMAIN FAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH – 2 Peter 2:21-22.        Having started the mission and then become unfaithful, one can RETURN TO THE MISSION THROUGH REPENTANCE AND PRAYER – Acts 8:22

   The only way this “mission” is impossible for you is if you refuse to be obedient to the gospel and thereby refuse the mission. Philippians 4:13 reminds us: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  Christ will support you through this mission all the way – if you will let Him.

                                                                                                                                                          Dennis S. – Mooresville

Getting Out of Your Own Way

Getting Out of Your Own Way

     According to “Psychology Today” the phrase “getting out of your own way” implies somehow putting aside the anxieties and doubts, ego concerns and career pressures, “mental blocks” and “critical inner voices” that stand between you and the effortless flow of work.     And, if you look on www.success.com you can even find a list of “seven ways to get out of your own way and get things done”.   All of these lists are addressing the things that seem to stymie our progress in the secular aspects of life. All such lists are good because they help us keep our focus and reach whatever goals we have set in life.   However, in setting goals in this life, many fail to set the most important goal in life, and this is when they really “get in their own way”.

   When it comes to our religion and our service to God, it is not just these anxieties and doubts, ego concerns, career pressures, “mental blocks” and “critical inner voices” that get in the way, but our failure to “let go” of earthly things we deem so important and put God first.   One of Jesus’ own disciples seemed to be suffering from this in Matthew 8:21 when he wanted to “wait” to follow Jesus until he had buried his father.   The interesting thing about this is that we have no indication that the man’s father was even dead at that point.   What Jesus said in response in verse 22 have caused many to be confused.   He said: Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.   This meant that the “spiritual dead” could be the ones worrying about the “physical dead”.   I say this because the Lord Himself is recorded in John 10:10 stating the purpose for His coming to earth. He said: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

     The way in which Christ was to provide that “abundant life” required that He give His life on the cross of Calvary.   Christ knew this when He came. He knew all the things He would suffer, but He also knew He would come forth from the grave victorious.   This is what He told His apostles in Luke 9:22-23 when He also instructed them at that time to not tell anyone He was the Christ.   He said: The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. 23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  

     What Jesus said in Matthew 6:31-33 the Sermon on the Mount shows that He knows what the needs of this life are and also who it is that provides these things. This also indicates that the Lord knows what is required of us if we would take part in that abundant life He offered when He so willingly died to purchase the church on Calvary’s cross.   Notice His Words on that great occasion that also place things in the proper order of importance.   Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

   All the “wisdom of the world” and the so-called psychology and philosophy that is in the mind of man is nothing in comparison to the creator of man, nor can any uninspired list provide the instruction needed to navigate this life and at the same time get ready for that life beyond this earthly life. That is what the Spirit had the apostle Paul write the Corinthians in 1Corinthians 1:19-21. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

 It is most interesting that the preaching of both John the baptizer and Jesus was to call Israel to repentance so they would be ready to receive the kingdom when it came.     Many of the Jews could not “get out of their own way” because they could not embrace the “spiritual” nature of the church, but rather held to the “physical” relationship they once had with God because of Abraham.     This is no different than the issue many folks have today when they cannot get out of their own way because of careers, family, entertainment, recreation and such. There is room for all these in life, but if these are put first, there will be no eternal life.   What do you have to lose in putting Him first, or as Christ asked in Mark 8:37?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

                                                                 Dennis S. - Mooresville

The Thrill of Victory

  The Thrill of Victory

   For years the “Wide World of Sports” began with the opening line: “Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport... the thrill of victory... and the agony of defeat... the human drama of athletic competition” This is ABC’s Wide World of Sports.   This television program ran from April 29, 1961 to January 3,1998 and for many families this was a favorite program. The simple formula that made this program a favorite is one that is inherent in all of us. We all like to win!   As we participate in sporting events, games, contests and such while we live our lives we want to win whether we will admit it or not.   This is more evident with some than others and those with whom it is most evident are those that are the most competitive.   What this means is that these folks want very much to win or be victorious.

   Some want to win so badly that they are even willing to break the rules to try to come out on top. In 2Timothy 2:5 the Spirit had Paul address this so that all will know that this will not work with God. He wrote: “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.This is to say “You can’t win if you cheat”.   Jesus Himself also addressed the issue in John 10:1 in that the only way in which one can enter the kingdom and participate in the victory that God planned for humanity is to do it lawfully. To try to gain entrance into that kingdom in some other way puts one in a very bad light. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 

     It is amazing that the focus of many is on the “games” or the things of this life and not on that which matters the most.   In 1Corinthians 15:57-58 we read where the Spirit had Paul remind the church in Corinth that the “victory” is in Christ and also how to “stay on top” so that they could win the ultimate prize – Eternal life.   But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. 

   Many are so diligent in their pursuit of victory in this life that they lose focus.   Some have latched onto such slogans as: “He who has the most toys wins” and consider it victory in this life to obtain much while here.   In Luke 12:15 Jesus, in speaking of what is of most importance pointed out the fallacy of such thinking. And he said unto them,

Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.    Folks today that seem so intent on retaining all the “earthly goods” they can are much like the young man of Mark chapter 10 who, by his actions, showed he thought victory was indicated in earthly gain. After the Lord talked to him and told him what to do to set himself up for eternal life – the true victory – He went away from the Lord “grieved” or as Matthew records: “sorrowful”.

Mark 10:22 tells us: And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.  In Matthew 6:33 we are told where the focus of our lives should be and that God is fully aware of our basic needs of life.  But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  If we can keep our focus on this, we can truly be victorious.

    But before one can expect to obtain the true ‘thrill of victory’, one has to determine what it is that truly makes one victorious. In 1Corinthians 9:24-27 the Spirit had Paul write to those brethren in Corinth so that they would not lose focus and could live their lives with the ultimate thrill of victory of the “incorruptible crown” in mind. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible26  I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:  27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 

   This passage also makes a point that all Christians need to keep in mind, and that is that just because we have begun the journey to heaven in becoming children of God, we have not yet experienced the ultimate thrill that God has planned for the faithful. I am afraid that many Christians think just because they have been obedient to the gospel, they have a “lock” on victory and have overcome the world.   We have overcome the world, but only in this life and only if we remain faithful.   We cannot just sit back and wait to be rewarded.   Just because we “occupy a pew” or have our names on the church roll doesn’t guarantee victory or a home in heaven.   We must continue to “strive” to remain faithful throughout our lives. We also need to remember that we only have that victory in promise. 1John 2:25 tell us: And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. To have eternal life “in promise” means we can still lose that victory if we are not careful. Those in Galatia were warned of this in Galatians 5:4.   If they could fall from grace, can we not also fall? To fall from grace is to be denied that “Thrill of Victory” when the race is over.   Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. We must keep pressing on toward true victory as was expressed to the Philippian church in Philippians 3:13-14. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus    Press toward that mark. Strive for the “Thrill of Victory” where it really matters.  

                                                                                        Dennis Strickland - Mooresville

 

What About Baptism?

What about Baptism?

The idea of baptism is not foreign to folks of the religious world, but there still remains a great deal of misinformation as to why and how one is to be baptized. Some are quick to point out that they have been baptized at some point, but when questioned as to why, various answers are presented. Some claim to have been baptized as an infant, but don’t remember it.   For what reason were they baptized?   When pressed, some are not sure except that their parents thought it prudent. They didn’t even have a choice in the matter.   The idea behind infant baptism is the erroneous doctrine that one is born in sin. This is sometime called the “Adamic nature”, or that the sin of Adam has passed on from Father to child since the beginning. That idea is quickly dispelled when one realizes according to Luke 3:38 which is the genealogy of Christ as given by the Spirit to Luke, for such a doctrine to be true, God would have to be the first sinner. Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God

Others are of the impression that it matters not when one was baptized or why so long as they were baptized.   This too will not suffice as there is a reason for all that God has directed man to do. In a previous article we pointed out the need of those in Acts 19 who knew only the baptism of John. These folks, when properly instructed were baptized “into” Christ. The difference was the purpose and the result of the baptism. Their first baptism (John’s) was one of repentance under the ministry of John and only applicable to the nation of Israel.    The baptism “into” Christ was different as it brought them into a New Testament relationship with Christ and God.   The baptism “into” Christ is where the operation of God spoken of in Colossians 2:11-12 takes place.   In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.                                        

Some contend they were baptized to “join a church”. This also is erroneous as we read in Acts 2:41 that one cannot “join the church” but can only be “added to the church”, and this only happens when one is obedient to the gospel. One can “join a club” but must be “born of water and the Spirit John 3:5 to become part of the kingdom. That is what baptism is; a birth. Acts 2:47b shows that when one is obedient to the gospel he or she is saved and become a part of the kingdom which is the church. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.  This is how a person comes into having a “saved” relationship with God.   This is confirmed in 1Peter 3:21 where the Bible is very clear as to what “saves us”.   The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 

But, which “baptism” is the right one?   That’s simple as there is only one authorized and acceptable baptism according to the Bible.   In Ephesians 4:4-6 we find the answer. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,  6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.    The explanation of this is equally under-standable.   The one body (the church) is that which is proclaimed by the one Spirit (the Holy Spirit). Christ has “one body” (the church) and He is the head of that body. He calls us through the gospel. (2Thessalonians 2:14) Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.    It is the Word of the Spirit (the gospel) which directs us to that one hope of heaven (Colossians 1:5). For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;.   This was provided by the one Lord (Jesus Christ) in that one faith (system of belief) in Christ.   It was planned before the foundations of the world, and He was made manifest in these last days (1Peter 1:20). Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,.  Then, we read of the one baptism in Romans 6:3-4 which tells how it is that we contact the “blood of Christ” which washes us from our sins and prepares us for the resurrection that will take us to that heavenly home. Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 

We do need to address the “mode” of baptism, about which there is also a great deal of misunderstanding.    We can see from the scripture above that a baptism is a “burial”.  

A burial requires a “covering over” which indicates that the proper mode of baptism is “immersion”.  Therefore, sprinkling, pouring or any other mode will not put one “in Christ”.   This “baptism into Christ” is the means by which God determined in the New Testament age to save man from sin. This was the same plan that the Lord had Ananias bring to the ears of Saul in Acts 22:16 after Saul had been rendered blind by the great light on the road to Damascus. And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. This proves that Saul was not saved on the road to Damascus, but he too had to submit to the plan of God.  

   Won’t you do what Saul did and have your sins washed away in baptism?      

                                                             Dennis Strickland - Mooresville

Why The Gospel?

Why The Gospel?

 In the religious world today, and for many years past there have been those who teach the “direct operation” of God on the heart of a sinner so that the sinner can be saved!   If such is true, there are a number of questions that need to be answered.   Why is the gospel necessary? What is the purpose of the commands given in the New Testament?   Why was Jesus given authority? And, why did He have to die on Calvary’s cross?   There are many more questions that come to mind, but if these could be answered perhaps much confusion in religion today could be cleared up.

   The word “gospel” appears nowhere in the Old Testament” yet when Jesus came we see in Matthew chapter four that Jesus set about gathering men to follow and learn of Him and in vs 23 we see: “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” 

   Then in Matthew chapter 17 we read of the transfiguration of Jesus and the event that took place on a high mountain. As this occurred, the three apostles elect, Peter, James and John were in awe and afraid, having heard the voice of God as He spoke out of a cloud in vs 5 saying: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”   Then we see in Matthew 28:18 that Jesus, having come forth from the grave as He had declared that He would, reminding the apostles of the authority given to Him.   And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Then in vs 19 and in the first part of vs 20 we have the command given by the one in authority as to how people were to be saved. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:

   This is known as the “Great Commission” and covers the scope of the entire New Testament from the cross to the end of time. The great commission represents the constitution of the church. The law of pardon, or terms of admission into it, are clearly and unmistakably set forth. As time continues from the cross onward, we must be aware that God has a Will. In 2Peter 3:9 we are told what that Will is. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentanceThe gospel is the means by which this is to be accomplished.

     We have already touched on the authority given to Christ.   There are only three branches of authority – legislative, executive, and judicial. Christ is all of these. He is the lawgiver (legislative); the king (executive) and the judge (judicial) and so, has all authority.   Therefore He has the authority to issue the law, exercise rule over it, and reward or punish those subject to that law based on their observance or lack thereof.

     His law (the gospel) requires teaching, indicates that baptism is to be taught and that those taught and baptized be further taught to “observe all things” that have been commanded by Christ to His apostles. Also, we know what the Spirit had Paul write in Romans 1:16 in regard to the gospel.   He wrote: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”    If the gospel is the “power of God unto salvation” (and it is),why do some hold to doctrines such as “the direct operation”?   It must be that they do not respect the authority of Christ.   Those who hold to and practice any doctrine not specifically taught in the gospel are not doing what God would have done and therefore will not and cannot be saved.  

     Many think that because they are good morally, or just because they have been baptized at some point in their lives that they have a “reservation” in heaven.   Regardless of how good one is, unless they are obedient to the gospel and the commands given therein, they have not complied with the law given by the authority of Christ and thus cannot rightfully lay claim to the promises of God.    We have alluded to the fact that the gospel requires baptism, but we must ask, is any baptism acceptable?   Does God allow any to be “baptized” for any reason or by any means and count it for obedience to the gospel?   If so, then the folks in Acts 19 should not have been taught that the baptism in which they had participated, (John’s baptism) was not sufficient to save them from their sins.   What was missing in their baptism was the blood of Christ, the same thing that is missing in these “good moral persons” who have been “baptized” in some denomination sometime in the past. It is the gospel that delivers that “form of doctrine” we read of in Romans 6:17.    That form of doctrine is the “death, burial, and resurrection of Christ” per Romans 6:3-4. and in that death Christ shed His blood.     According to Revelation 1:5 it is that blood and only that blood that washes us from sin. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,  It looks to me that THE GOSPEL is pretty important.   Won’t you obey it today?  Your soul’s eternity depends upon it.

                                                            Dennis Strickland – Mooresville  

What Is Our Duty?

When one contemplates the Bible and the duty of man before God, perhaps the most well-known passage recalled is found in Ecclesiastes 12:13. This verse gives us the conclusion reached at the end of this volume, provided (as is all scripture) by the Holy Spirit. In this case it was provided to Solomon, son of David and king of Israel. The passage reads: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.    It is likely that when one reads this passage or hears it read they fail to remember how this book begins.   There the Spirit had Solomon point out that all is vanity. The world continues on and the things put in place at the creation and ordered by the Word of God Almighty continue on.   The only things that seem to really change are the generations which come and go.  

It is interesting that throughout this marvelous book the word “vanity” is used 33 times in the King James Version.      It then stands to reason that the conclusion to this book (chapter 12: vs 13) tells us the only thing that is not vanity, even after all that which constitutes life is examined, is to do as God would have us do.  It is in fact man’s duty to fear God and keep His commandments.

Duty is defined as that which is an obligatory task. In other words, that which is our duty is that which we are obliged to do or are required to do. Our “obligation” to God is to keep His Commandments.   Then, there are those that want to stress that this word duty is italicized in the Bible in this passage and that it was inserted by the translators.    Little do they realize that to read the passage without the italicized word changes the passage not at all.   It is as if to stress this point, those who do so try to minimize their obligation to God.   Let’s examine this passage without this italicized word and see if it changes anything. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole of man. (Yes, the word “is” also is italicized in the passage, but most fail to focus on that.)       But still, the removal of the word “duty” does nothing to change the meaning of the verse. The obligation of man; the “whole” of man is to fear God and to keep His Commandments. Without doing that, all is vanity.

We are also told in the New Testament in 1John 5:3 that to do the things God commanded is to love God and that His commandments are not grievous. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.   Why is it then that some of God’s people seem to have difficulty with some of the commandments of God?    Do we not realize that when we made the commitment to God, and responded in obedience that we committed ourselves to be the servants of God?   In Romans 6:16 the Holy Spirit had Paul remind the Roman brethren of this fact. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?   Then in vss 17-18 thankfulness was expressed for their obedience and deliverance. But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. 

It is wrong to serve the Lord “only” out of a sense of duty.   To do so would place one into the category of those Jesus identified in Luke 17:10 and would indeed make one unprofitable. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. As we go through life, let us not look at our service to God as duty only. We are told by Jesus in Matt 25:30 what the fate of an unprofitable servant is. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  The 14th verse of Ecclesiastes 12 tells us why the conclusion was revealed and when this will take place.   For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Let us be diligent to show our love for God by doing His commandments. In doing that which God has commanded out of love we can indeed be profitable servants and look forward to eternity with God.

                                                                             Dennis S - Mooresville

 

HALF COMMITTED?

Half Committed?

   The idea of total commitment is one that is clearly taught in the Word of God.   Although the word “commitment” is not found in the Bible, the concept is. The word vow is one Bible Word that states the idea behind the word commitment. The word “vow” is found forty one times in the King James version of the Bible, and most of these are in the Old Testament.   Perhaps “promise” is the most used New Testament word that best describes the idea of commitment.

   How do we feel when others make a promise, vow or commitment to us and fail to keep it?   How do we think it makes God feel when we do that to Him?  God has made promises to various people over the years as He carried out His plan, and showed His love to humanity. That plan was to bring Salvation to man and that plan was in place from the foundations of the world. The most important thing to note is that every promise, or vow that God has made, has or will be carried out.

   For example, God promised Abraham that he would have a son, the child of promise, even when Abraham and Sarah were both well past the age of childbearing.   We know that Isaac was born as promised as the plan of God moved forward to bring Christ to earth to bring salvation to mankind.  In the New Testament record of the account of Abraham in Romans 4:18-21 we read of God’s promise to Abraham, the faith Abraham exhibited in response, and God’s favor shown to him for his commitment to God. Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. 19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb: 20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. 

     While we are aware that the plan of God was to save fallen man, perhaps we need to be reminded that none, while living, have obtained eternal life. In 1John 2:25 we are told how we have eternal life.   We have it in promise. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.   We should also remember that every promise is conditional.

     We see this time after time throughout the Old Testament as God dealt with the Jews, the descendants of Abraham.  One example is found in Deuteronomy 11:13-14 where God promised to bless Israel in a physical manner “if” they would keep His command-ments. And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my command-ments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.  Then Israel is given a choice of a blessing or a curse in Deuteronomy 11:26-28 and the conditions upon which each promise was based. Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; 27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day:  28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.  This required either a total commitment from Israel or a blatant refusal. Anything short of “total commitment” to follow God’s commandments is indeed a refusal to follow them.

   We are told that part of Israel did not keep God’s commandments. Ephraim is an ex-ample for us. In Hosea 7:8, the Holy Spirit directed the prophet to write about Ephraim as an example to the rest of Israel. This should also be a warning to us today. Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. 

   Now, I want you to imagine setting down to a plate of pancakes to find they had never been turned by the cook. Would you say that the cook was committed to his or her job? Would you not think that the cook was half committed? Was that good enough? What if our mechanic was only half committed when he worked on our car? Would we be willing to make a road trip upon receiving our car back from him?  

   We can easily see the application when it comes to something we are going to eat that has been prepared for us or work that others do for us, especially if we have paid for those services.  

Let us be again be assured of the fact that God Will do all He has said and will deliver on every promise. One place we can find confirmation of this in the New Testament is found in 2Peter 3:9, which also tells what God wants for us. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 

   God has indeed paid for our salvation in sending His Son to die of Calvary’s cross. Christ also paid in that He laid down His own life to purchase the church so we could be saved. God also sent the Holy Spirit to bring us the Word, which will never pass away, which instructs us HOW to be saved.    None can say that God is anything but totally committed to His plan to save fallen man.

     How is it that we cannot see the application when our own commitment is in question? Can we afford to be half committed to God?   If we are not totally committed to God, but only half committed, should we expect Him to fulfill any promise to us.   Let’s not be unturned cakes as Ephraim was and miss eternity with God.  

                                                                                                                                                            Dennis S. – Mooresville church of Christ

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