News & Articles News & Articles
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
Check Your Pulse
One of the first things the first responder is taught is how to take the pulse of a victim of an accident and the importance of so doing. Perhaps there are multiple victims and some do not have a pulse. What to do? The obvious answer is that those without a pulse are likely dead and do not need medical attention while those who do have a pulse can possibly be relieved of their pain, suffering and discomfort.
This is perhaps the intent behind the letter to the church at Sardis in Rev 3:1. Here the Lord warns against becoming a “dead” congregation. And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. This is indicative of the fact that churches (congregations) can and sadly do, sometimes die. What if the Lord was to “take the pulse” of the congregation where you worship? Would He provide the same warning we find to Sardis in Rev 3:2? Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
We know that these letters found in the 2nd and 3rd chapters of Revelation are to the seven churches in Asia Minor and are specific to them in the events that were unfolding in the destruction of Jerusalem. This would remove Judaism as a major deterrent to the spreading of the gospel, and foretold that the persecution which the church would suffer at the hands of Roman leaders would be great, but from which the church would emerge victorious. Sadly, during this time some churches (congregations) died.
But God is good! He has provided for us the remedy if our pulse is weak and we begin to falter. This too is found alongside the warning Sardis received. Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
There is also a situation in which one is passing from this life, and barely has a pulse and therefore could be described as “good as dead”. This is an appropriate description of Sardis as in Rev 3:4 there were only a “few names” among them that were worthy. This verse and the one following also explains that only the “worthy” or faithful are those who will not have their names blotted out of the book of life. Rev 3:4-5 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Because congregations consist of individuals, the “pulse” of a congregation is dependent upon the individuals that make up the congregation. If the congregation has a “weak pulse” it is because the members do. Take your spiritual pulse. One cannot do that by placing a couple of fingers alongside the neck or on the veins of the wrist. It can only be checked with the “pulse monitor” the Lord provided; His Holy Word. Remember what Sardis was told so that their “spiritual pulse” could be strong. These Words apply to all Christians. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. Rev 3:3 Those who are not Christians (have not obeyed the gospel), do not have a spiritual pulse. 1Cor 15:22 helps us see that only those “in Christ” are alive. That means one must be in Christ to have a spiritual pulse. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. Check your spiritual pulse.
The Season of Light
Many, upon reading the title of this article may think this is in regard to the festive decorations that grace many homes and communities during the holiday season. While these are often beautiful displays, there is a light offered from the source of light which all men need to see and follow.
We know that God is the source of light. In Genesis 1:3 we are told God spoke light into existence. “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” From that time forward man has sought to “capture” that light and use it in whatever way that best suited his purpose.
Some of the things Christ said while on earth about light were things man had discovered for himself over the years. One such thing is found in Matthew 5:15. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. It did not take man long to figure out that things evil were best done in dimness and darkness so that they could remain hidden and avoid the rebuke and admonition of those who sought to do that which was good and proper to do. Jesus spoke of this also and we have it recorded for us in John 3:20. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
However, there is by far a much more important light offered to mankind by the same source of that light which warms our planet, promotes growth, and without which we would all die. That light is He who is identified for us in John 1:1-4 and provides the spiritual light which can save man from an eternity separated from God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. We find in the book of Luke, the record of the prophecy of Zaharias the father of John the baptizer, as he was filled with the Holy Ghost regarding John and his purpose on earth. Luke 1:79 tells us that John’s function in life was to introduce that spiritual light sent from God to man. To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
As we return to the Words of Jesus, we find in John 12:46 that Christ Himself proclaimed that He came to give light to man. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And, when our Lord appeared to Saul, He told Saul who was later known as Paul (the apostle) in Acts 26:15-18 how that Paul would be a minister to direct them to that light. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
While the bright decoration of holiday lights are enjoyable to see, they are only available for a brief period of time. Interestingly, the light sent from God, was also here in the flesh for but a brief period of time as He told us in John 9:5. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. But, the plan of God is set so that His light could shine among men forever through those who are the sons of God, born through obedience to the gospel. That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; (Philippians 2:15) We are to shine as lights to help guide those who are lost in darkness. In fact, our Christian life is to be a “season of light”. Let us shine brightly by reflecting the Word of God so that all can see to come to God in accordance to His Word.
Dennis Strickland - Mooresville
Conversion is a part of religion that is as misunderstood as religion itself. Perhaps this is because many of those in manmade religions have determined that they will be the ones to decide what conversion is and how one is to be converted.
While it is true that one must be converted to be in a proper relationship with God, it is not man who decides what one must do to be converted . . .but God. Therefore, if we wish to fully understand conversion and participate in it so that we might be in a covenant relationship with God, we must look to God's Word to see what God says about the subject.
We understand that according to Mark 4:12 "true conversion" (conversion which is taught in the Word of God) is that which results in faithfulness to God. However, during the earthly ministry of Christ, (before the establishment of the church) the mystery of the kingdom was not revealed to all. This mystery was revealed to the apostles by Christ as they would spread the Word of the kingdom shortly after Christ purchased the kingdom (the church) by His death on the cross. Mark 4:11-12 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: 12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.
We must also be aware that some even today will not be converted because they refuse to hear God's Word, see the benefit of it, or understand the great change the Word of God can produce in their lives.
In Acts 28:25-27 the Spirit had Paul recount to the chief Jews then dwelling at Rome what the Spirit already had Isaiah say to the Jews many years before. This applies to folks today as well and explains why they refuse to hear what God says in His Word. And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, 26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 27 For the heart of this people is
waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. This healing, (conversion) of which the Spirit directed Isaiah and Paul to speak, is a spiritual healing which is known in the New Testament as the forgiveness of sins.
If you look up the word "convert" you will find that one of the synonyms of the word is transform. In Romans 12:2 we see the word transform, and it is interesting that the Bible shows here that the conversion that takes place begins in the mind, and is to be carried out or completed in our actions and lives. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and cceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Conversion is a transformation that is controlled by the individual. When reading the conversion accounts in Acts and throughout the New Testament, one cannot find a single instance in which the one being converted is not a willing and active participant in his or her own conversion. In Psalm 19:7 we see the Psalmist, as guided by the Spirit, tell us it is the Law of the Lord which converts the soul. The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. So which is it, the Law of the Lord or the individual? It is quite simple. It is the individual
that applies the Law of the Lord and makes the changes in their lives starting with how they think, which then is manifested in what they do.
In 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 we see one of the actions required from the Word of God to those who will be the children of God. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
Remember, "true conversion" is that which results in faithfulness to God. Can one be involved in the world, manmade religions, or with those who teach and preach a perverted doctrine, and still rightly claim to be converted? Can they truly lay claim to being the children of God? Do you wish to be a child of God? If so, you must be converted, and to be converted you have to be separate from the world. That which separates you from the world is obedience to God's Word – the gospel.
God's Word directs one that wishes to be converted to: Hear – Romans 10:17; Believe – John 8:24; Repent – Acts 17:30; Confess that Jesus is the Son of God – Matthew 10:32-33 and Be Baptized into Christ – Galatians 3:26-27. Following this, one is a child of God – they have been converted. Then they must remain faithful to God in continual obedience and growth so they can eventually spend eternity with Him in heaven. We are told this in 2 Peter 2:20-21.
Won't you be converted today? If so, you too according to Colossians 1:12-13, can be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints and will be translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son. Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
Dennis Strickland - Mooresville