January 17, 2016
In this issue: Then Sings My Soul by Lucas Ward | Can We Agree On This? by Steven F. Deaton
Neh. 9:6 “Thou art Jehovah, even thou alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all things that are thereon, the seas and all that is in them, and thou preserves them all; and the host of heaven worships thee.”
When I went on my trip out west, I traveled through some of the prettiest and most awe inspiring country I’ve ever seen. The morning I drove west out of Albuquerque was just neat. I drove through a series of low mountain ridges with valleys opening up below and stand-alone mountains dotting the distance. There were mesas and multi-colored cliffs all along the way. I could see for miles across incredible vistas, sometimes, and sometimes I was traveling through a narrow pass and my view was limited (but still gorgeous). Of course, the most awe inspiring view was the Grand Canyon. Perhaps the most beautiful things I saw were the alcoves in the Carlsbad Caverns. The neatest things to see, to me, were the great sequoia trees.
Ps. 104:24 “O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.”
While I was traveling through the West, marveling at God’s creation and trying to learn some of what it could teach me about His wisdom and power and love for beauty, a thought occurred to me: most of the people who have ever lived on this planet had no idea this stuff was here. This is especially true about Carlsbad Caverns. To get to the main formations of stalactites and stalagmites and curtains and columns and their beautiful colors takes a hike of about an hour and a half from the main natural cave entrance. And it is DARK down there. There is absolutely no light whatsoever. In the days when torches or candles were the best forms of mobile light sources, it just wasn’t practical for casual explorers to go down that far. It’s only been the last 100 years that people have been aware of the incredible beauty to be found over 700 feet below ground.
Jer. 10:12 “He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding hath he stretched out the heavens.”
Even the Grand Canyon, which is both above ground and slightly larger than the state of Delaware, has only recently begun to be seen and enjoyed by anything like large crowds. The North American continent has always been sparsely settled and, historically speaking, only relatively recently. As far back as we know (not very far) there have been Native American tribes living in the area and engaging in spiritualism at the Grand Canyon, but that was only a relative handful of people. The first European didn’t see the canyon until the 1500’s and the second not until 1776. Tourism didn’t begin until the late 1800’s.
Is. 45:18 “For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it, that established it and created it not a waste, that formed it to be inhabited: I am Jehovah; and there is none else.”
So, what is my point? Well, God conceived of the Grand Canyon, with its immense vistas, multi-layered and multi-colored walls and general awesomeness, and put it in a part of the planet where most of humanity would never be able to see or enjoy it. Or even hear of it. He created the stone formations in Carlsbad Caverns, with their incredible variations in colors, shapes and sizes – and they are truly glorious when lit up – and He put them underground in the dark where it was impossible for any to find or enjoy them until this last century. My point? God is a lover of beauty. Such a lover of beauty and beautiful things that He can’t help but create them even if there will be no one to see or marvel at His creative genius for millennia.
Our God is a God of beauty and glory.
Ps. 68:4 “Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.”
Ps. 57:11 “Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.”
Ps. 8:9 “O Jehovah, our Lord, How excellent is thy name in all the earth!” ~
The Bible teaches believers in Christ are to be unified. Jesus prayed for it Jn. 17:20-23). The Spirit commanded it (1 Cor. 1:10). The disciples practiced it (Acts 4:32). Some believe this is not possible today. However, the gospel was and is for all the world until the end of time; it is that by which we will be judged (Mk. 16:15; Jn. 12:48; cf. 1 Pet. 1:23-25). God made it understandable (Jn. 8:32; Eph. 3:3-4; 5:17). Therefore, agreement can be achieved.
Unity breaks down when men depart from the New Testament of Jesus Christ. For instance, when some insisted that the Gentiles be circumcised or shunned, unity was broken and a split occurred (Gal. 2:11-14). The same thing happens today when men do not abide in the doctrine of Christ; when they lack a "thus saith the Lord" (1 Pet. 4:11; Col. 3:17).
A lack of authority is readily seen in the adoption of a name that is not from the New Testament. The name may be applied to a group or to individuals. The name "Seventh Day Adventist" is not found in the gospel. Thus, when it is used, it drives a wedge between those who embrace it and those who do not. The same can be said for other names applied to religious groups or individuals: Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Baptist, Pentecostal. None of these are applied to followers of Christ in the New Testament. The use of such names brings about division, not unity.
Why not just use the name "Christian"? It is used in the Bible to describe the individual followers of Christ (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16). Can anyone object to "Christian" being used? Is it offensive to anyone who believes Jesus is the Christ? Can we all concur it is proper and acceptable? Also, why not use the New Testament terms for the church: church of Christ (Rom. 16:16); church of God (1 Cor. 1:2); house of God (1 Tim. 3:15); body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23)?
Ask your preacher why he insists on using a name not found in the New Testament.
Steven F. Deaton