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By Edward Bragwell
The difference between miraculous and providential events is a topic of discussion for many Christians. We often have difficulty understanding how God can be active in the day by day affairs of this world without performing miracles. Likewise, we find it hard to grasp the idea of God granting a request for a specific temporal blessing without performing a miracle.
Because of this dilemma, some are prone to shout “it’s a miracle” when they see any natural wonder. A person survives a horrific airplane or automobile crash – “it’s a miracle.” Or, one falls 100 feet on to a concrete pavement, receiving only superficial wounds – “it’s a miracle that he was not killed.” Or, one is seriously ill, the doctors are doing their best, yet little or no noticeable improvement. Prayers are offered, the patient begins feeling better and is pronounced completely well – in about two weeks or so – “it’s a miracle.”
Entire Issue of May 13, 2018
“A laborer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7). In this passage Jesus is describing how 70 disciples were to go to various cities and teach. Among other suggestions, Jesus told them to eat what they would be provided, not look around for the best meal.
Jesus presented a more detailed look at the value of labor in Matthew 20:1-16.
He relates the parable of the harvest, in which a man who owned a vineyard went out early in the morning to hire people to harvest his crop. He may have had a ready supply of workers who only needed to be told to work, or he may have approached a group of men whom today we might call day laborers. He agreed that he would pay each a penny a day and the men went to work.
Entire Issue of April 29, 2018
Do you recall the classic image of supposed advances in evolution of man? At the side of the drawing is a fish, which comes onto land and grows legs, then becomes a bent-over apelike creature, eventually turning into an upright Homo sapien?
This fabricated time-line represents the supposed biologic evolution of man, starting with a small, simple creature and advancing in complexity to an alleged highest form of animal. It is accepted in scientific circles as a graphical representation, if not accurate in minor details, and is presented as scientific proof of the theory of evolution.
In fact, this is someone’s guess as to how evolution proceeded. In the same fashion, physical recreations of what animals looked like are largely based on guesses. We have valid evidence via fossilized bones of some portions of various creatures and with care experts can assemble those fossils (or casts of the fossils) into a partial representation of creatures. But skin, hair and other visual aspects of external features are even more guesswork than that drawing we spoke of earlier.
Entire Issue of April 15, 2018
It is commonplace today that people are distracted in their everyday activities. Much of that distraction is driven by modern technology – wireless devices that can be used anywhere, from sitting at home to behind the wheel of a car (we hear regularly of “distracted driving”) to walking down the street (termed “distracted walking”). And because that distracting behavior can disrupt others’ lives, the distracted people are criticized, sometimes unjustly but sometimes deservedly.
Distraction is not a new phenomenon. Once upon a time, when automobiles did not automatically come with amenities such as radios and heaters, it was not uncommon that drivers would not play the radio for fear of not hearing an approaching police or fire siren, or because their interest in the program might keep them from noticing a crossing pedestrian. (Multi-tasking was not a word or even much of a concept in those halcyon days.)
But distractions occurred long before automobiles were popular. In fact, the Bible recounts several examples of distractions among God’s people that resulted in sin.
Entire Issue of April 1, 2018
In taking away the Law, did Jesus take away all law?
We are hearing a lot lately about how we, living under the dispensation of Christ, are under grace and not under law. The implication being that Jesus died to free us from law – period – not merely the Mosaic law.
Much is made of the fact that, in many translations and manuscripts, the article, the, is not present. Hence the new dispensation is said to be one of grace without rules to be obeyed. It is alleged that our freedom in Christ is freedom for all law – any system containing commandments or rules to be observed.
Entire Issue of March 18, 2018
People often become stressed out in this modern world. They worry about making the car payments, paying the mortgage, feeding and clothing their children, doing a good job at work so they will be promoted or receive a raise.
They worry a lot about matters they can’t always control. They are concerned about political activities, the condition of wars around the world, whether a gunman will shoot up a school or a business, how much traffic exists on their way to and from work.
People, including Christians, become stressed about having stress.
Entire Issue of March 4, 2018
In the previous issue we discussed the beginnings of worship by Christians in and following the first century, and the eventual use of buildings used specifically for worship. We also saw a contemporary account of what second century worship was like.
Because the word was designed to be spread throughout the world (Mark 16:15), we can understand that not all nations, times and civilizations would have (or be able to have) buildings like we use today. Throughout countries even in modern times, because of economic or political considerations, Christians may meet in open-air concrete buildings (that is a usual location in Nigeria), in private residences (Romania is one country where Christians may not meet or teach publicly), or in secluded woods away from cities (China still forbids any unauthorized meetings).
Entire Issue of February 18, 2018
Christians enter an auditorium designed for the purpose, take a seat on a padded pew, chat among themselves and with visitors, settle down as the established time to worship occurs and announcements are presented. Then they sing, pray, take the Lord’s Supper, make a contribution, hear a sermon, sing an invitation song and are dismissed with a prayer.
With relatively minor variations, this is how Christians worship each Sunday. Since we present the argument that we should follow the Bible as it was revealed as late as the First Century A.D., it is natural that we think that the way we worship today is the way it has always been.
Entire Issue of February 4, 2018
(The following article was written by Wes McAdams, an evangelist living in Plano, Texas, who writes a religious blog at www.radicallychristian.com, and who discusses current issues through his articles. Since a shooting at a building used by a church of Christ in Tennessee last September, several congregations have tried to increase their physical security by means of everything from hiring security guards to installing attack-proof doors. This is, in part, a reasoned response to those actions.
Bro. McAdams focuses on the prophecy Jesus cited. In light of the September tragedy, we also need to think of the same prophecy and its meaning for us. There was not the sense of urgency among our brethren to create a fortress mentality when other church-related killings happened to denominational groups. But when the Tennessee event happened “too close to home” in terms of the name of the group attacked, it was somehow easier to foster a defensive posture. Let us determine that we will live according to God’s word and God’s will and God’s way.)
It’s time for us to resume our “Re-Examined” series by considering Luke 22:36, in which Jesus says, “Let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” Many Christians use this passage as a proof-text for the use of deadly force in self-defense. But is that really what Jesus was talking about in this passage? Is Jesus commanding all of His disciples to arm themselves? Let’s take a look at Luke 22:36.)
Entire Issue of January 21, 2018
(This article is based on a recent Wednesday Bible class.)
The Bible teaches us about God, Jesus and how to return to a covenant relationship with Deity. Although the following subjects are not proof of how we can be saved, they do teach us a great deal – the Flood, about King Solomon, the various captivities of the Jewish people, and many other events.
The Bible does explain that not all events are covered within its pages. As one example, John writes in John 21:25: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books which were written.”
Entire Issue of January 7, 2018
We are taught to plan for the future – study for your schoolwork, put aside some money for retirement, set the coffee brewer to turn on just before we awake. Indeed, if we don’t plan for those secular things, our lives could well become chaotic.
The Bible has a different take on planning.
Entire Issue of December 17, 2017
by Heath Rogers
We live in a world that embraces tolerance. "Live and let live" seems to be the ruling spirit of our day. Our culture tells us that we can have and hold our own views, provided they don't condemn the views of other people. When Christians point out and object to the sin and immorality in the lives of other people, we are quickly reminded that we can't do that because our Bible says, "Judge not."
Indeed, Jesus did speak these words of warning to His disciples. Here is the entire quotation: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you,: (Matt. 7:12) A careful look at this passage shows that Jesus did not forbid His followers to make judgments about others. He warned them against making harsh or hypocritical judgments. He stated a general truth, that we will be judged according to the same standard that we use on others.
Entire Issue of December 3, 2017
"Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,” according to English playwright William Congreve, who died almost 400 years ago. The precept lives on today; it also was an accurate concept for thousands of years before Congreve.
One form of music, singing, according to a scholarly paper from Lawrence University, is basic to man and predates spoken language. “The voice,” the paper continues, “is presumed to be the original musical instrument, and there is no human culture, no matter how remote or isolated, that does not sing.
Entire Issue of November 19, 2017
Everything and everyone has a name. We identify by names. “Paul” could be the boy in the neighborhood. “Mrs. Jones” may have been our fifth-grade teacher. “Exxon” may be the place where we buy gasoline.
Using names is a necessary and convenient method of identification. Imagine, instead of saying “tree,” we would always be forced to say “that large plant with a whole bunch of flat green things all over it.” Or, rather than saying “Paul,” we had to stretch our conversation with “that red-headed boy who wears blue jeans and a sweater and lives four houses down.”
Entire Issue of October 29, 2017
With current issues of sending aid to victims of recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida, it may be appropriate to review what the Bible says about taking care of others.
The subject involves both those who benefit and how money or donations are acquired.
Entire Issue of October 15, 2017
If you have been a member of the Lord’s church for any length of time or have been associated with any number of denominations, you probably have been taught that the Godhead is made up of three persons – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The Godhead also is usually referred to as the Trinity.
Even if you firmly believe that the Trinity exists in the form stated above, you may have trouble understanding what it is. You are not alone.
Entire Issue of October 1, 2017
by Rick Liggin
Modesty aside, do you think you're attractive? Do you think you're beautiful, if you're a woman, or handsome, if you're a man? Are you concerned about being beautiful, staying beautiful, and being around beautiful (handsome) people? No one wants to be ugly. All of us, to some degree, want to be beautiful or handsome...or, at least, attractive. But how do you determine who is or who is not beautiful? How do you define beauty and attractiveness? For many people, and especially for men, attractiveness and beauty are judged purely by what we see physically—by what a person looks like; by his or her outward appearance.
This was Samson's problem!
Entire Issue of September 17, 2017
What does an angel look like? What does an angel do? Are there guardian angels?
What are angels?
We all have mental images of what angels look like. Even though we may not believe in some of the concepts the world ascribes to these heavenly beings, our mind’s eye sees them as dressed in flowing white robes, with long golden hair and white feathered wings on their backs. We see them as either male or female. If you’re a movie fan, you may see them as depicted in Angels in the Outfield, where archangel Christopher Lloyd directs a number of them in assisting the hapless Los Angeles Angels (after all, what other team would they help?).
Apart from Hollywood depictions, artists and sculptors have created enough works of art based on the Bible that we see many images of angels hovering over the baby Jesus in the manger, or walking up and down a ladder in Jacob's dream, or poised at the entrance to Jesus' tomb the day he rose from the grave.
We can't help but form that impression of an angel because that's what the world wants us to see. And the Bible gives us little, if any, detailed picture of how they appeared to men.
Entire Issue of September 3, 2017
A single word may have different meanings. For instance, “stick” may mean a long, thin piece of wood. Or it may mean adhering to another surface, or a tackle in football. The meaning depends on the context of the discussion.
We all recognize that the same word may have different meanings, and that’s important for us to understand what others are talking about. When we misunderstand the meaning by the speaker, we misunderstand what he is trying to tell us.
So valuable conversations are two-way streets: The speaker must be clear in the thought he is trying to convey, and the listener must pay attention without misinterpreting what he hears.
The New Testament uses two words in particular to teach important lessons: first, to anyone who will listen; and, second, to Christians who need to understand the roles they play among believers.
Entire Issue of August 20, 2017
by Morris Fraser
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 KJV
Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them. Proverbs 13:24, KJV
Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Proverbs 23:13 KJV (see also Proverbs 23:14, Proverbs 29:15)
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 KJV (see also Colossians 3:21)
The first verse above is the goal of raising children. The second and third are the methods. The fourth warns of poor discipline.
Entire Issue of August 6, 2017
by Donnie V. Rader
Jesus said, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me" (Mark 8:34). Self-denial is one of the most basic attributes of Christianity. Yet, it is one of the most difficult to attain. One reason for that is that it requires great strength of will.
Man has a great problem mastering himself. Those who willfully engage in sin have not learned to control themselves. Those who are overcome in a moment of temptation have a problem (at least for the moment) with self-control. When we get angry and let our tempers flare and our words fly, our character is then flawed due to not practicing self-discipline. We exhibit a lack of will power when we overeat, are lazy, or are addicted to alcohol, tobacco or some other drug. Thus, mastering self requires constant work for all of us. The difference in us is that we may need to work on it in different areas of our lives.
Entire Issue of June 4, 2017
by Connie W. Adams
When Satan tempted Jesus to make stones into bread, Jesus responded by saying, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4). This was a reference to the incident recorded in Deuteronomy 8 when God gave the Israelites manna in the wilderness. He gave specific instructions as to how much to gather for a day's supply. Any more than that would breed worms and stink and they could not use it. They were to look beyond the actual manna to the source of their very existence. God was their provider and they were answerable to him. So it is in all human relations. The God who made the world and who made us has the right to command, to direct, and to enforce obedience. He also has the right to enact punishment upon the disobedient.
Entire Issue of May 21, 2017
J. R. Bronger
Have you ever wondered why there is such an effort to remove God from public consciousness? I see billboards along the interstate saying things like “God is an imaginary friend,” or “In the beginning man created God,” and “There is no God, don’t believe everything you hear.”
Those most militant in this often equate believing in God with believing in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. If this is the case, then why haven’t we seen billboards proclaiming “The tooth fairy is an imaginary friend”? There is no concerted effort to keep the Tooth Fairy out of schools? There is a reason you know!
Entire Issue of May 7, 2017
by Johnie Edwards
When a person has been led to believe a thing to be true when it is not, the person has been deceived. God warned people in the Old Testament against being deceived. "Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them" (Deut. 11:16). The New Testament contains warnings against being deceived. "Let no man deceive himself..." (I Cor. 3:18). "Be not deceived," are the words of Paul in I Corinthians 15:33. Paul warned the Galatians, "Be not deceived.. " (Gal.6:7). The Hebrew letter contains a warning about deceit. "But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." (Heb. 3:13)
Entire Issue of April 23, 2017
Vaughn D. Shofner
There is a close analogy between the natural world and the spiritual world. They both bear the majestic impress of the same hand. Therefore, the principles and laws of nature present the analogous types and shadows of the spiritual world. These two worlds are two books written by the same finger, and governed and kept by the same intelligence.
One can not pursue a study of plain agriculture without soon finding that chemistry blends into it. Any channel of knowledge, "science," which our minds follow will soon be found to consolidate with another, and we are thus made to understand that one divine idea connects the whole universe in one system of perfect order.
Entire Issue of April 9, 2017
by R.J. Evans
In Joshua 6:1-6, the Israelites were instructed by the Lord to march around the city of Jericho once each day for six days. The priests were told to bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark, and on the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times and when the priests blew the trumpets, all the people were to shout and the wall of the city would fall down flat. The remainder of chapter 6 tells of their obedience to God’s instructions, the wall falling, and the city being destroyed.
Marching around a city thirteen times in seven days, blowing trumpets and making a great shout — who ever heard of such a thing? The wall was of such considerable size that houses were built upon it (Josh. 2:15). How safe the inhabitants of Jericho must have felt. How easy it would have been for the soldiers and commanders on the walls to laugh and ridicule the marchers as they encompassed the city. But suddenly on the seventh day, there was an incredible event — the walls fell! (v. 20).
Entire Issue of March 26, 2017
by Kyle Campbell
[Continued from last issue: Click here for first part]
The Corroborating Evidence: Is There Evidence For Jesus Outside His Biographies?
Corroborative evidence supports other testimony; it affirms or backs up the essential elements of eyewitness accounts. In effect, corroborative evidence acts like the support wires that keep a tall antenna straight and unwavering. The more corroborative evidence, the stronger and more secure the case.
On the whole, the gospels are excellent sources — they are the most trustworthy, complete, and reliable sources for Jesus. The incidental sources really do not add much detailed information; however, they are valuable as corroborative evidence.
Entire Issue of March 12, 2017
by Kyle Campbell
An anonymous statement says, “All the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of mankind on this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.”
In Revelation 1:8, Jesus refers to Himself as the “Almighty.” This title means “the one who has his hand on everything.” It means that He is able to accomplish everything. We need to be passionate about Jesus and His influence on the world, but in order to do so, we must be convinced that He existed and is who He said He was.
Entire Issue of February 26, 2017
by Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.
In my early years, before Daddy got steady work in town, we lived in the country and did small time farming. We had neither electricity nor gas at our house. We heated and cooked using wood for fuel. There were two lessons country dads taught their boys about cutting wood to ensure that it was at a consistent length and thus fit nicely into the fireplace and cook stove.
Lesson 1: Do not guess at the length.
The reason for this should be self-evident.
Lesson 2: Measure each cut by the stick he had originally cut and given to you as a pattern.
Entire Issue of February 12, 2017
by Robert F. Turner
Freedom ... The word is almost sacred to the American people, and over the world today it stirs great hope and aspirations. Our Declaration of Independence calls it an "inalienable" right and a truth "self-evident." What is the source of this freedom, and what does it mean to us?
Free agency, the right to choose, is a gift from God. He elevated man above the beasts of the field: making man in his image (Gen. 1:26), sharing with man the power of choice. Man need not be slave to instinct or norm. He may rise above self, pursue ideals, seek truth, and embrace it.
Entire Issue of January 29, 2017
Roy E. Cogdill
A knowledge and belief of the truth imposes the obligation to obey its demands. There would be no advantage in knowing and believing the truth, if we did not recognize the obligation to do whatever it demands of us. This is true in all phases of life, legally, socially, and religiously. Truth is not just abstract knowledge of certain principles but the rule and standard of human conduct to guide our action and must therefore be respected. No man can in good conscience reject and dismiss the demands that truth makes of him for action. If he does, he does not live up to the best that he knows and thus denies himself the privilege of self-respect. Moreover, the obligations that truth lays upon us toward the well being of our fellows about us cannot be denied and our lives and characters be what they should be. The demands of truth must be met.
Entire Issue of January 8, 2017
by Walton Weaver
The word rendered “church” is found over 100 times in our New Testament. It describes a gathering, assembly or congregation of people, whether secular (Acts 19:32) or religious (Matt. 16:18), or whether a local group (1 Cor. 1:2), or universal (Eph. 1:22) , or distributive (Acts 8:1). Who were these people who are identified with this term in the New Testament?
A Saved People
The church is the body of Christ, a body over which Christ rules as head (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23; Col. 1:18). Christ is also the Savior of this body of people (Eph. 5:23), the body which consists of all the saved throughout the whole world. What makes one a Christian also makes him a member of this church. There is no such thing as being saved and not being a member of the body of Christ, the church. All those who are saved are added to the number of the saved, the church, and they are added as they are saved (Acts 2:47). Since the Lord does the adding, according to this passage, there is no risk of one getting into the wrong body, or church. The Lord adds to “the church” (KJV), which means there is only one church, or body (see Eph. 4:4, “there is one body,” and Eph. 1:22, “the church, which is his body”), for him to add a saved person to. This is Christ’s church. The one he said he would build in Matthew 16:18. Christ adds the saved to his church.
Entire Issue of December 25, 2016
In the first century, after the Lord’s church was established, there were no denominations like we have today. Of course, there were some who departed from the faith while still holding to a form of religion. A notable example is Diotrophes (3 John 9-11) who took control of a congregation and expelled those who wanted to follow the apostles’ doctrine. But generally, the churches in the first century could be accurately called “churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16) because they submitted to Christ’s authority and not to that of any man.
Entire Issue of December 11, 2016
by Fanning Yater Tant
One of the truly frightening things about denominationalism, and one that is often overlooked, is the insidious way in which it lays the basis for complete moral anarchy in human affairs. It destroys and undermines the very standard, the authoritative guide, by which men can tell "right" from "wrong" —good from evil. This is the very same spirit which has produced such chaos within our own ranks in recent years. Indeed, the present horrendous wave of lawlessness in the land, with crime soaring at a terrifying rate, is due in no small measure to the preaching that has been done in American pulpits for the last one hundred years!
Entire Issue of November 27, 2016
by Dee Bowman
Character is the accumulation of qualities that distinguishes one person from another. Character is not just one single trait, but the accumulation of all a person is, the sum total of all his traits.
Someone has suggested that reputation is what others think us to be, character is what God knows us to be.
How does a person develop and maintain a good character?
Entire Issue of November 13, 2016
C. G. Caldwell, Sr.
It is generally accepted by all who believe in Christ that His blood is essential in some way or other to the remission of sins. Without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sins, and all efficacy as a procuring power is in the blood. (Heb. 9:22; I Pet. 1:19) The denominational world has for many years misrepresented the church on this subject, calling us "water salvationalists," etc. Such misrepresentation obviously comes from those who deny that baptism is one of the steps that brings one into contact with the blood of Christ.
The church has never taught, nor do Christians believe that water literally saves from sin, and that power is in the water. Water is simply the means by which one is brought to where pardon is had through the blood. (I Pet. 3:21) The difficulty here lies not so much in a difference of belief, but a lack of belief on the part of some who through prejudice reject the plain teaching of God's word.
Entire Issue of October 30, 2016
George W. Bailey
That Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world is a fact that is widely believed. Before Jesus was born, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him of Mary's child, saying, "and thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins." (Matt. 1:21)
In the midst of his ministry, Jesus himself declared, "The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost." (Lk. 19:10)
After the death and resurrection of Christ, John said, "And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father hath sent the Son to be the Savior of the world." (I John 4:14)
From these three statements we see that (1) before his coming, (2) during his ministry, and (3) after his leaving of the world, Jesus was declared to be the Savior of men.
Salvation Only In Christ
Christ being the Savior of the world, we know that salvation is in him. Man cannot be saved until his sins are forgiven. Sins are not forgiven until one has been redeemed by the blood of Christ; for we read, "the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin." (I John 1:7) Also Paul declares that we have "our redemption through his blood." (Eph. 1:7)
Entire Issue of October 16, 2016
It is easy to pick up preaching themes from the world news. There is much that is shocking – and shockingly wrong. We get caught up with evaluating the world – correcting the world – fixing its ills – reforming society. Actually, little needs to be said about the character of the world. It is evil – always has been.
Preaching like the first century? Which apostle preached about corruption in the Roman government? Where is the New Testament’s expose of the decadent, cruel, and insane policies of Caesar – or Herod – or Agrippa? Who led a crusade for justice and fairness in the Roman government? Who demanded liberty? Who opposed the oppressive taxes? Christians, small and great, were noticeably absent from all attempts to revamp society or to restructure nations.
Entire Issue of September 25, 2016
But some are unwilling to be convinced. We are told that we will know that the end is near when the antichrist appears. We have all heard of the antichrist, haven’t we? He is a prominent theme in many speculative theories about Jesus' return. We are told that the Bible teaches that he is a world leader that will shortly take a major role in world affairs. In the past Adolf Hitler, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Saddam Hussein have all been identified as the Antichrist. So have Mohammed, Henry Kissinger, Moshe Dayan and several of the Popes. The way that some preachers talk about the antichrist the layman might be forgiven for not knowing that the word antichrist is found in only three places in the Bible - 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7. Furthermore, John never says that there would be only one antichrist, but many.
Entire Issue of September 11, 2016
by Kieran Murphy
Throughout history many have boldly predicted the time of Christ’s second coming and the end of the world. The journalist, Jeffery L Sheler and Mike Tharp have written about the intense interest that each generation has had in this subject in an article in the Online US News entitled "Dark Prophecies."
America's fascination with apocalypticism begins in a sense with Christopher Columbus, a devout reader of biblical prophecies who is said to have believed the world would end in 1650. He considered his discovery of the "New World" part of a divine plan to establish a millennial paradise. "God made me the messenger of the new heaven and the new Earth of which he spoke in the Apocalypse of St. John," Columbus wrote in his journal, "and he showed me the spot where to find it."
Entire Issue of August 7, 2016
by William Thompson, Jr.
From several considerations the church of the Lord is distinct from the human organizations of men. One of the essential characteristics of the New Testament Church that differentiates it from Protestant denominationalism and Roman Catholicism is the mission. The divine institution had a divine origin and a divine destiny or mission to fulfill. Jesus taught that the basis of entrance into his kingdom was not physical, but a spiritual birth was necessary to citizenship in it. (John 3:1-5) Nicodemus was a Jew in covenant relationship with God under the Jewish economy, but that would not suffice for entrance into the kingdom of Christ. Nor is the church political in nature or purpose. "My kingdom is not of this world”, John 18:36. The business of the church is not to recreate or entertain, or educate in a secular sense. Other institutions have been established for the provision of those physical and mental needs. The church of Christ is not a benevolent society as such. Though that is a part of the work of the church it is not the purpose for which the church was established.
The primary mission of the church is to evangelize the world, to preach the gospel. For that there can be no substitute. No human organization can supplant the church of Christ for God's only missionary society is the New Testament church. There is no other institution that can give to men and women the spiritual blessings that are found only in Christ and the church. (Eph. 1:3, 23) Benevolence is done through many channels. The Community Chest with all of its various agencies and activities may clothe a man, bathe him, and supply other physical needs, but there is no substitute for the robes of righteousness and the bath of regeneration. For that purpose God's church was established, and through it the gospel is proclaimed.
Entire Issue of July 24, 2016
by Walton Weaver
A one who gossips is "a person who chatters or repeats idle talk and rumors about others" (Webster). The Bible describes the gossiper as a talebearer, whisperer, busybody, or slanderer. Even Christians who have not learned to control their tongues may be guilty of gossip. Much instruction is given in the New Testament on the proper use of the tongue. In one way or another we are often admonished to lay aside falsehood and "speak truth, each one of you, with his neighbor, for we are members one of another" (Eph. 4:25).
Sometimes Christians who are not especially gifted at being professional liars will without much thought repeat things that they do not know to be the truth. No matter what form it may take, Christians ought not to be found as slanderers or gossipers. This sin does not keep good company. It has as its friends strife, jealousy, angry tempers, arrogance, disputes and disturbances (2 Cor. 12:20), as well as unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, envy, murder, deceit, and haters of God (Rom. 1:29-30).
Entire Issue of July 3, 2016
by David Padfield
In Matthew 10 Jesus sent out the twelve apostles and "gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease" (Matt. 10:1). This commission was limited in that they were not allowed to "go into the way of the Gentiles" or "enter a city of the Samaritans" (Matt. 10:5). Instead, they were sent "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 10:6). Our Lord also warned them that persecution would accompany their preaching (Matt. 10:16-22). As an encouragement in the midst of this persecution, Jesus told the disciples of His Father's care: "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." (Matt. 10:27-31).
"Sparrow" is the name given to several different species of birds in the Bible -- they ate grain and insects and gathered in noisy flocks. Sparrows would often build their untidy nests in the eaves of houses, but were not driven away when they built their nests in the Temple (Psa. 84:3). These insignificant little birds were such social creatures that a lone sparrow was the symbol of deep loneliness (Psa. 102:7).
Entire Issue of June 19, 2016
by Dee Bowman
The human character never functions at a higher level than when it is involved in doing for others. In what is often described as the Golden Rule, Jesus spoke of doing for others as you would have them do for you. In His great commandment concerning discipleship, Jesus spoke of self-denial as the key element. The so-called greatest commandment of all, says that love your neighbor is like unto the love of God.
Giving is the highest essence of human endeavor. “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend” (John 15:13). The Epistles are replete with charges that Christians should place the good of others before themselves (Philippians 2:4; Romans 12:10, etc.). Selflessness is a fitting description of our Savior who gave Himself for our sins.
Entire Issue of June 5, 2016
by Luis Zamora
A disciple is a student, a follower, and an imitator of his or her teacher. Jesus said, “Whoever 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 and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34-35). The Lord expressed Himself plainly: disciples have work to do, and it will cost them something. It is only right, since He denied Himself and took up the cross on our behalf, that we serve Him thus.
The Scriptures also describe Christians as priests of the Most High God. “You…are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). What is that sacrifice? “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). These passages indicate that Christians–all Christians–have a responsibility before God. Every one of us is a priest, and every one of us must offer himself or herself up as a sacrifice to Him by denying ungodliness and worldly desires–yes, and even denying ourselves!
Entire Issue of May 22, 2016
by Walton Weaver
The question concerning the beginning of the New Testament church should be of interest to all Bible students. Since the church was in God's purpose in eternity (see Eph. 3:9-10), we know that it was not simply an after-thought on God's part. God had planned to build the church sometime in the future, but when was He going to build it? Many different answers have been given to this question. Why is this true? Is it because the evidence is not clear? This can hardly be the reason for so many different answers to this question. Let's look at the evidence for the time of the church's beginning.
Entire Issue of May 8, 2016
The question of the Sabbath of the Law of Moses and whether or not it is still in effect today has taken much time, energy, ink and paper over the years. In this article we will consider what can be called the “Last Sabbath.” There is of course a caveat that needs to be noted concerning the “Final Sabbath” which is the rest for the people of God in eternal glory (Hebrews 3). We are concerned in this effort with just those Sabbaths mentioned in Scripture that pertain to earthly history.
If we trace the subject of the Sabbath in the Scriptures we find:
Entire Issue of April 24, 2016
by David Diestelkamp
Nobody knew Jim was the one who did it, so he just shrugged and turned away. He didn’t get far before there was a hard tap on his shoulder and, in an accusatory tone, some- one said, “But I saw you do it!” While still walking away, he mumbled, “It’s no big deal,” and when someone voiced an insistent, “What?!” he said, “It didn’t hurt anyone… everyone does it—in fact you’ve done it yourself!” Jim managed to avoid them for a while, and he hoped it was over.
Wait, wait, wait. Is that how we handle our mistakes? Do we deny them? Are we skilled at making excuses for what we do wrong? Is it our goal to escape facing problems we have caused and wish they will somehow go away? When we make a mistake - whether spiritual or physical, sin or just a slip-up - we need to stop and notice how we are dealing with it.
Entire Issue of April 10, 2016
by Dan S. Shipley
You wouldn't expect to learn much from garage wall graffiti, but this bit of scribbling caught my attention recently while standing around awaiting car repairs: "If you continue to think the way you've always thought, you'll continue to be what you've always been." Good graffiti for a change. There is a strong correlation between what one is and what one thinks. The Bible says so. "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he. . . " (Prov. 23:7).
That's why God says, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23). In this regard, keeping the heart is minding the mind. Physically, the heart is the central organ of the body. In its Biblical and figurative sense, it most commonly refers to the mind of man as the center of moral, spiritual and intellectual life. You might say that man is the living expression of what's in his heart. "All our actions take their hue from the complexion of the heart, as landscapes their variety from the light" (Bacon). Jesus reinforces this idea from the viewpoint of that which defiles a man. "But the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings . . . " (Matt. 15:18). Clearly, the thought in the mind is the seed of the deed. As Jesus teaches, evil men think evil thoughts that produce evil words and deeds while good men think good thoughts that produce good words and deeds (Lk. 6:45).
Entire Issue of March 27, 2016
AUTHORITY is defined to mean, "The right to determine, adjudicate, or otherwise settle issues or disputes; the right to control, command, or determine." (The American College Encyclopedic Dictionary, page 84). The word adjudicate means, "To pronounce or decree by judicial sentence; settle judicially; pass judgment on; to determine an issue or dispute judicially" (ibid page 15). A careful student of the Bible is aware that truth settles issues (II Timothy 3:16-17); exercises control (II Peter 1:1-12); and determines right and wrong (Galatians 2:14). The title of our lesson rightly assumes that truth is authoritative. Hence, our task is to show that authority is established by proper understanding and application of that truth. Truth settles issues and exercises control. Truth also determines the right or wrong of any dispute.
How then can we determine when a matter has been authorized in the Scriptures? The Bible teaches us "explicitly", i.e., clearly developed with all its elements apparent," and also "implicitly", i.e., capable of being understood from something else though unexpressed." I do not believe the matter of implicit authority has received the recognition it deserves. Men do not seem to have difficulty in accepting the fact that the Bible teaches explicitly but ridicule the thought that it teaches implicitly or by implication. If the Bible does not teach us by implication then we are left without a shred of information as to how we are to serve God. Unless, of course, you read explicit instructions to you personally! Find your name on the Sacred pages! You must infer that certain matters apply to you. How do you know that anything God has said applies to you unless you infer it! The Bible does not infer for you. The Bible implies and man must infer. The idea has been suggested that we cannot bind, as matters of faith, anything that has to be determined by necessary inference. The reason is that we have to use "human reasoning" in inference. We also must use "human reason" in matters of precept. We must decide whether a passage is addressing us. To do this we must use "human reasoning."
Entire Issue of March 13, 2016
J.T. Smith, Editor Gospel Truths, April 1990
Part 2 Continued from last issue:
What Part Of The Bible Is Applicable To Us Today?
In Genesis 12:3 God made a promise to Abraham that through his seed, all nations of the earth would be blessed. In Galatians 3:16, Paul tells us that the "seed" is Christ. This does not, however, obligate man today to obey the specific things Abraham was told to do to be saved. After God spoke directly to the people in Abraham's time, Paul said the Law was added because of the transgressions till the seed (Christ) should come to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). The Law of Moses was not faultless (Hebrews 8:7), and thus Christ came to fulfill the Law and nail it to the cross (Colossians 2:14). "So," someone says, "you do not believe the Old Testament is worth anything today?"
Entire Issue of February 28, 2016
J.T. Smith, Editor Gospel Truths, April 1990
HERMENEUTICS is the science of interpretation. The word is usually applied to the explanation of written documents, and may therefore be more specifically defined as the science of interpreting an author's language." (The word hermeneutics is of Greek origin from ermeneuo, to interpret, to explain; thence adjective n ermeneutike (sc. tekene), that is, the hermeneutical art, and thence our word hermeneutics, the science or art of interpretation). (Biblical Hermeneutics, by Milton S. Terry, Page 17).
"Biblical or Sacred Hermeneutics is the science of interpreting the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments" (Ibid, page 18).
In his book on Exegetical Analysis Isaiah B. Grubbs said on page 1 under the heading Biblical Hermeneutics, "Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation, and Exegesis is the practical application of the principles of this science in ascertaining or in setting forth the meaning of a passage or a statement. These principles are founded on the laws of thought as related to verbal usage and find their justification in the dictates of common sense."
Entire Issue of February 14, 2016
by Larry Rouse
We would be wise to carefully listen to our Savior who came from heaven to show us the way to God. Throughout His ministry Jesus emphasized His relationship with the Father along with the kind of heart required to know God.
It would take great humility for the Jews that heard Jesus to understand that they really did not know God and that they needed to hear the One who actually had come from God. Jesus stated the obvious to the unbelieving Jews when He said: “You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form.” (Jn 5:37) Why would they resist listening to the One who came from Heaven and accurately testified of things that these men had never seen? They were blinded by their own relationships and religious pride so that they would not hear. “But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive. How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?” (Jn 5:42-44)
Entire Issue of January 31, 2016
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.
Entire Issue of January 17, 2016
Traveling most weekends for Christian evidence seminars means I frequently find myself on airplanes. Planes are unique environments in that for several hours you are often sitting in very close proximity to complete strangers. Some individuals are “non-talkers” and will use the time to catch-up on work, sleep, or listen to media. Other individuals are “talkers,” and will talk to whomever they find themselves sitting beside.
What do you do when sitting next to an enemy of Christ?
Entire Issue of January 3, 2016
by Doy Moyer
“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12).
Think about what this says regarding “the Law and the Prophets,” then add to this that the Law and the Prophets hang on the two greatest commandments: love God and love others (Matt. 22:36-40).
However we understand the Law and the Prophets, we need to see them through the interpretation given to them by Christ Himself. All the Law and the Prophets are summed up in the need to love God and to love and treat others properly. Any interpretation of the Law that does not take these into account will be flawed.
Entire Issue of December 20, 2015
Do you want to have fellowship with God? Do you wish to have a meaningful relationship with your Creator and the Designer of the entire universe? I sure do! I greatly look forward to that day, when I get to join that heavenly throng depicted here:
Entire Issue of December 6, 2015
by Jon Mitchell
I read a story once that says Satan once held a sale and offered all the tools of his trade to anyone who would pay the price. They were spread out on the table and each one was labeled – hatred, malice, envy, gossip, lust – all the weapons that everyone knows so well. However, off to one side lay a harmless looking instrument labeled DISCOURAGEMENT. It was old and worn looking but was priced far above the rest. When Satan was asked why this was, he replied, “Because I can use this one so much more easily than the others. No one knows that it belongs to me, so with it I can open doors that are bolted tightly against the others. Once I get inside, I can use any tool that suits me best.”
Entire Issue of November 22, 2015
by Robert F. Turner
"Now my idea about heaven is. . ." and then the writer or speaker reveals himself far more than he tells us about heaven. The materialist, sensual, mystical, aesthetic, and surrealist all have a field day with heaven. It is "pie in the sky" to those who ridicule its reality; and an extremely plush "paid vacation" for those who equate "real" with earthly literalism.
"Heaven" is a divinely revealed place, state, or condition; and we can know only that which is revealed about it in God's word. We say "place" with some hesitation, using accommodative language; for "location" is space related, and may lose its literal significance when applied to eternity. But God's word is directed to time and space related beings, and information about deity and eternity are necessarily couched in terms that translate into mental images. We can not truly imagine "eternity" or things eternal in nature, so we must expect the Bible to use anthropomorphisms: whereby things of God, totally incomprehensible to mortal man, are described in the time and space terms of man.
Entire Issue of November 8, 2015
by Robert Turner
Did you ever wear a starchy feedsack shirt? (I mean a real one, not the store-bought kind you see now-a-days.) Scratchy, ain't they? Can't you just imagine one made out of towsack? (Grass-sack, for some of us.) Well, wearing sackcloth had a special meaning at one time.
King Ahab, stirred by Jezebel, was an evil man. But when Elijah told him the dogs would eat Jezebel, he "rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly." And God said, "because he humbleth himself before me" judgment upon his house will be postponed. (1 Kings 21:27-29)
Entire Issue of October 25, 2015
by Walton Weaver
The reason God decided to destroy the world in the days of Noah was because "the earth was corrupt in the sight of God ...And God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth" (Genesis 6:11-12).
After God had purged the earth of wickedness, it was not long until moral corruption had filled the earth again. He had promised he would not destroy the earth again by water, and he chose Israel as the people through whom Christ, the seed of Abraham, was to come to save the world from sin (Genesis 12:1-3; John 1:29; 1 John 2:1-2). The Lord's servant of Isaiah's prophecy was to "restore the preserved ones of Israel" and to be "a light of the nations" (Isaiah 49:6). When Jesus came He said that when he was lifted upon the cross He would draw all men to Himself (John 12:32). He also claimed that he was the light of the world (John 8:12). Thus Jesus fulfilled the mission of the Lord's servant predicted by Isaiah.
Ideally speaking fleshly Israel should have been a light to the nations during the Old Testament period. Being in the unique role where God placed her, it was surely God's intention that she should be an influence for good among the nations. Paul found fault with the Jews of his day because though they were confident that they were a guide to the blind and a light to those who were in darkness, they did not even live up to the demands they made of others. Consequently, Paul says, the name of God was blasphemed among them (Romans 2:19-24).
Entire Issue of October 11, 2015
God does not waste words. It is a good idea to look closely at a passage when we think this may be the case. One such passage occurs initially in Amos 9.11-12, which is quoted by James during a gathering of the church in Jerusalem. The quote refers to the “tabernacle of David.” This article proposes to examine that reference and see if it can be determined what the Spirit of God was saying and what treasures of understanding can be had by the effort.
Entire Issue of September 27, 2015
by John Robertson
God told Ezekiel that he would “take away from you the desire of your eyes with a stroke” (Ezekiel 24:16). The “desire” of the prophet’s eyes was his wife. The Lord further instructed his prophet not to cry or mourn the death of her. God stroked Ezekiel’s wife the next evening and she died. Ezekiel did not cry and neither did he mourn her death. Ezekiel writes, “And I did in the morning as I was commanded” (Ezekiel 24:18). The captives of Judah, who were now living in Mesopotamia, ask “Tell us what this means to us.” Ezekiel tells them that as his wife died without his tears so will their sons and daughters die in the siege of Jerusalem and they will not cry nor mourn their deaths. Rather than cry they would “pine away in your iniquities and moan one toward another” (Ezekiel 24:23). The Lord then tells the people, “Thus shall Ezekiel be unto you a sign; according to all that he has done shall you do: when this comes, then shall you know that I am the Lord God” (Ezekiel 24:24).
Many, throughout Bible history, have lacked faith in God just as Judah during the days of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. God has always given man signs to bring them to confess that he alone is the Lord God Almighty. God gave the miraculous sign of creation to produce faith in man (Psalms 33:6-9; Jeremiah 32:17 and Romans 1:18-20). God delivered signs in Egypt so that Pharaoh and the world might believe that he is the one true God (see Jeremiah 32:17-22 and Romans 9:17). God gave signs in the form of catastrophic disasters so that men would come to know that he alone is God (see Ezekiel 4:3). God destroyed the household of Korah so that they may serve as a sign of what happens to those who reject the authorized will of the Lord (see Numbers 26:10 and Jude 7-11).
Entire Issue of September 13, 2015
A few years ago I was listening to the radio and a powerful preacher was proclaiming this idea:
"Accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, and let him come into your heart, and you will BE SAVED."
This sounded good, so—
Entire Issue of August 30, 2015
by Sewell Hall
Probably no charge creates more prejudice against a group of people than the charge that they think there is only one church that is right. This fact clearly indicates that most Americans consider all churches right. Is it possible that only one church is right?
At least three other questions must be answered before this one can be answered intelligently.
Entire Issue of August 16, 2015
by Robert Turner
Does man need a personal indwelling of the Holy Spirit; (1) to overcome his inherited sinful nature; (2) in order to (a) understand the Scripture, (b) be converted, and (c) to live a sanctified life? I am especially thankful that this special issue is planned, for our generation is not well schooled in logical consequences of Total Hereditary Depravity. Also, sometimes our own brethren have accepted specific concepts that logically derive from depravity, and when they try to defend their careless statements they are drawn deeper into the fatal web. In order that you may know we are not "shooting in the dark" we will cite recognized sources for these doctrinal concepts.
Entire Issue of August 2, 2015
by Robert Tuten
There is much confusion in the world today about who is a Christian. In this respect the confusion of ancient Babel is still modern history. The word "Christian" appears only three times in the N. T.—Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16. In each of these cases the word appears as a noun, never as a verb [or adjective]. In each of these cases it belongs to individuals. By Divine authority there is no such thing as a "Christian nation" or a "Christian church." It is no more correct to refer to the Lord's body as a "Christian church" than a "Saint church" or "Disciple church, " for like the words "disciples" and "saint", "Christian" refers only to individuals in the Lord's church (Acts 11:26; Phil. 1:1).
Who then are Christians? It is well for us to look at the question from a negative standpoint. If we can first determine who is not a Christian we can better determine who is a Christian.
Entire Issue of July 19, 2015
by W. Frank Walton
"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (II Corinthians 5:17).
The Bible says salvation from sin is only in Christ (Acts 4:12). The most important commitment you'll ever make is deciding to become a true Christian.
What “steps” are revealed in the Gospel to pass from death to life in Jesus Christ the Savior?
Have you done what the Bible teaches to insure you're right with God?
Have you obeyed, in penitent faith, the original gospel of Christ? Jesus is "the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:9).
Entire Issue of July 5, 2015
Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.
Someone coined the expression, “the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed,” a long time ago. It is a good and true saying. The story of man and his relationship to God and vice versa begins in the opening pages of the Old Testament and quickly turns into a story of man falling out of fellowship with God due to sin and of God’s plan to reestablish that fellowship through the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15). The story of the redemptive plan intensifies with the call of Abraham (Genesis 12). God gave Abraham a threefold promise concerning his seed. Two parts of the promise were physical while the third was spiritual.
(1) Through his seed there was to be a great nation (Israel)formed to be God’s own nation, who would receive
(2) a great land (Canaan), both of which were fulfilled according to the Old Testament revelation.
(3) Then there was the third promise which was spiritual in nature – that through his seed all nations would be blessed. The great nation is formed in Egypt and brought out and received a covenant with laws through Moses, God’s chosen deliverer and lawgiver, that was to last until the ultimate Deliverer (Christ) would come to make a New Covenant that would include all nations (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:6-13; Isaiah 2:2)
Entire Issue of June 21, 2015
To trace the development of the word from which we discuss worldliness (kosmos) is an interesting, if somewhat disappointing, exercise. Initially it meant an ornament, then the ordered or beautiful arrangement of the universe, next the earth, then the inhabitants of the earth - most of whom are bad, and thus finally the evil that characterizes the world. It started out beautiful and attractive, but ends up bad and ugly. Most sin is that way. It can take something good and lovely and misuse it so that the result is evil. And this is doubly demonstrated in the title of this article. Doubly, because it takes something good and misuses it; but then to compound the tragedy, the bad is endorsed and becomes respectable so that something evil is portrayed as something good! "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil" (Isa. 5:20). But perhaps you wonder: Just what is respectable worldliness?
Let it be noted to begin with, by respectable worldliness I do not mean that such is respectable with God. The very concept behind worldliness eliminates any idea of God's approval of it. John tells us that it "is not of the Father" (1 John 2:16), and James says, "friendship with the world is enmity with God" (James 4:4).
Entire Issue of April 26, 2015
It seems that the more you study with people the more you realize that many of them are more interested in what they think of what God has commanded than what God has commanded. It is almost as if they wonder at the fact that God did not first consult with them before issuing His decrees.
How many times has someone said something like this: “I can’t believe that God requires that when it would (fill in the blank with “condemn the person who comes to faith in Christ on his deathbed and can’t be baptized” or “condemn all the good and sincere people who may not believe that” or any number of other scenarios they can dream up that seem good objections to them). Here is a news flash for you; God did not consult with man before issuing His requirements for salvation from sin and hell. Nor will He consult with you about it. Get used to it, and get over it.
Entire Issue of April 12, 2015
There are three times in the Bible when it is said that we are made, being made, or will be made in the image of God. One time would have been sufficient to get our attention, but the promises and meaning of the other two are just hair-raising!
Created in His Image
The first, of course, is in the Creation, when it is said that God said “Let us make man in Our image, after our likeness” Genesis 1.26.
What exactly does this mean? Does God stand erect as He made us to do, unique among all His creation? It is interesting that the word “upright” is used in the Scriptures to denote righteousness, godliness. But God is spirit (John 4.24) and so any comparison of our God-given physical features with His own appearance, can only be based on the comparisons we read of in the Bible, and no more. We are told that God sits (Psalm 9.7;29.10), and He also stands (Amos 9.1). He is spoken of as having arms (Num 11.23), hands (Isa 59.1-2), fingers (Psalm 8.3) feet (Ex 24.10), face (Gen 4.14), hair (Dan 7.9) and other characteristics like those of man. In all of these, there is little to make us absolutely sure of God’s actual appearance, and so we must turn to other comparisons.
Entire Issue of March 29, 2015
James W. Adams
For one to assume that he knows the unknowable in religion is the greatest ignorance and the grossest presumption and arrogance. True indeed is the statement, “Wisdom is knowing when you cannot be wise” (Paul Engle). Some have erroneously concluded that Revelation precludes mysteries. To us finite human beings, the omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, absolutely perfect God revealed in the Bible, being infinite, of necessity must be incomprehensible in many aspects of His nature and operations. Only that knowledge of God which is necessary to enable humans to glorify Him in their present earthly environment and to fit them to live with Him eternally in the world to come is revealed in the Bible. To perfectly comprehend God in His nature and operations one would have to be Deity himself. The most perfect revelation of God to man is Jesus Christ and His teaching as set forth in the New Testament.
Recognizing man’s inability to comprehend perfectly and to be able to explain and vindicate God’s nature and operations, Moses said, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong to us and our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut 29:29). Jesus voiced the same sentiment when he said, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father has put in his own power” (Acts 1:6). Paul enlarges on the matter by saying, “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory,” (1 Timothy 3:16). When Paul wrote, these facts had become matters of revelation, but in Old Testament times they were mysteries of Messianic prophecy. In the Bible usage of the term, any unrevealed thing is a mystery.
All of this is noted to emphasize the fact that there are things about God which are not clearly revealed to us, hence are mysteries. The silence of God in reference to such matters must be respected. This precludes speculation and fruitless and divisive wrangling.
Entire Issue of March 15, 2015
All sin takes its origin from a false view of things. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, would never have sinned had they not been deceived by the tempter. Eve saw that the forbidden fruit was beautiful, and she was persuaded also by the good food, that was pleasant to the taste and nutritious. Here was a deception. This fruit was never intended for nourishment, whatever might have been its flavor. It was intended for trial, and not for food.
Sin is very deceitful, alluring, and trapping. Hebrews 3:13 says that we are to "Exhort one another daily…lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." With many people sin is first despised, then as people become more comfortable with it, sin is tolerated, and then it is embraced.
Entire Issue of February 22, 2015
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
This promise is found throughout the Scriptures and is intended to instill in us the hope that God can and will save us, if we will turn to Him. Yet, among professed Christians today, this statement is the source of confusion and debate; many affirm that calling on the name of the Lord simply involves faith accompanied by repentance and prayer—specifically a “sinner’s prayer.” But is this what the Bible teaches? What is meant by calling on the name of the Lord?
We note, first, that calling on the name of the Lord is not merely a New Testament concept; it is rooted in the Old Testament. It is first mentioned in Genesis 4:26, but faithful individuals, like Abraham, David, and Elijah, also called on the Lord for salvation and blessing, and in worship (see Genesis 12:8; Psalm 18:6; 1 Kings 18:24). Yet, such was not simply making a request; it required seeking God, forsaking evil, and returning to the Lord (see Isaiah 55:6; Jeremiah 29:12-13). In essence, it meant, by faith, doing whatever God expected.
Entire Issue of February 15, 2015
by Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.
A new and dangerous dogma seems to be surfacing in the church. It is really old liberal denominational dogma in new garb. It seems to thrive more near college campuses, but is by no means confined there. We have detected it in the writings, speeches and conversations of some brethren lately. Some consider its promoters to be intellectuals. Fortunately, its influence has been felt but little in the average congregation.
These folks are similar to the Pharisee of old, but a little different. They trust in themselves that they are highly spiritual, humble and thank God that they are not as their brethren, proud, narrow, legalistic, negative, partisan, pharisaical and fossilized. They read their Bibles often, gaining new insights into its meaning to their lives through rapport with those of "other fellowships." They have learned that there is more to learn at the feet (or from the books) of theological liberals than from those who demand a "thus saith the Lord" for all things. They use some old words to most members of the church, but with new connotations.
Entire Issue of February 8, 2015
by Irvin Himmel
Nothing is more clearly revealed in the Scriptures than our dependence on God's grace for redemption. Paul said to the saints at Ephesus, "by grace are ye saved" (Eph. 2:5). Everyone who is permitted to enter heaven will be there by grace.
Today there are teachers, even in the church, who have warped conceptions of grace. Some seem to feel that grace is the big "cover-up" for whatever they want to allow that is not taught in the Bible. There is endless speculation about what grace may do. Having no desire to join the ranks of the conjecturers, I offer the following facts revealed in God's word
Entire Issue of February 1, 2015
by Edward O. Bragwell, Jr.
I often hear people say that the Bible cannot really be understood. One reason some give is that the Bible is a mystery that no one can understand. As proof they point to the fact that the Bible sometimes refers to itself as a mystery. Now it is true that in many passages the Bible does characterize the things within it as a “mystery,” The question that must be asked is if these things continue to be a mystery. Let’s first look at what is meant by the word mystery. A mystery is “something unexplained, unknown, or kept secret.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary) The Greek word “musterion (moos-tay-ree-on)” which is translated mystery in the New Testament literally means “to shut the mouth” and means “a secret” according to Strong. So the things that are contained in the Scriptures are things that at least at one time God kept His mouth shut about or kept secret. But the question is whether these things are a mystery or secret any longer or has God made His will known to us so that we can understand. A careful consideration of a few Bible passages should give us the answer to this.
Entire Issue of January 25, 2015
by Connie Adams
Lust has gone public in America. No subject is too delicate for a television or movie script. Pornography is big business. Absolutely nothing is left to the imagination. Yet, this business would utterly fail were it not for the fact that it feeds the private yearnings of corrupted hearts. It is from this private cesspool of defilement that this flowing well of licentiousness comes. Polluted minds demand a diet of contamination to gratify illicit hunger. This creates a climate in which the problem only feeds itself.
No man ever rises above the quality of his own mind. One cannot be more perverse than his heart allows him to be. Conversely, pure and noble words and deeds first proceed from hearts that are pure and noble. "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7).
Entire Issue of January 18, 2015
[Author unkown: Article is from the website of the Church of Christ meeting at Hayfield Road, Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland, website www.wayoftruth.org.uk. Spelling has been left as is.]
There is probably no question in the Christian world which has received so many different answers. That question is: "What must I do to be saved?"
In the midst of the tumult of voices offering answers, there is one indisputable fact: since the Plan of Salvation comes from God, only God has the authority to determine the means of salvation and the response He requires from those seeking to be saved.
I believe it fair to assume, until evidence indicates otherwise, that each person seeking the answer to that question is both honest and sincere. With that in mind, may I ask you to consider the following statements.
Entire Issue of January 11, 2015
In New Testament days, the word "Christian" had a very special and concise meaning. Peter wrote: "For let none of you suffer as a murderer, or a thief, or an evildoer, or as a meddler in other men's matters: but if a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed: but let him glorify God in this name" (I Peter 4:15-16). The true disciples of Christ understood what it meant to suffer as a Christian, and they glorified God in this name.
Some mistakenly think that the word Christian was coined by the enemies of Christ as a term of ridicule. However, the Bible teaches that the term is of divine origin. Long before Christ came to earth, Isaiah wrote: "For Zion's sake will I hold my peace and for Jerusalem's sake will I not rest, until her righteousness go forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burneth. And the nations shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory, and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of Jehovah shall name" (Isa. 62:1-2). Luke recorded the fulfillment of Isa. 62:1-2 and the history of the new name with these words: "And it came to pass, that even for a whole year they were gathered together with the church, and taught much people; and that the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch" (Acts 11: 26). Not many years later, the word Christian was commonly applied to all the disciples of Christ. It was about 61 A. D. when the apostle Paul stood before King Agrippa defending the religion of Christ. After listening intently, the king replied, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" (Acts 26:28). Thus, the new name was found even on the lips of kings.
Entire Issue of January 4, 2015
by Walton Weaver
Zechariah asked the people of his day, "For who hath despised the day of small things?" (Zechariah 4:10). The people of Israel who had returned from Babylonian captivity were greatly disappointed as a result of the apparent insignificance of the temple being built under the leadership of Zerubbabel. When they compared it with the glory of the temple of Solomon, they wept with a loud voice when the foundation was laid (Ezra 3:12). At the completion of the building fifteen years later, it seemed to them to be nothing (Haggai 2:3).
This disappointment on the part of God's people during that period reminds us of the danger of overlooking the value of small things. Zechariah himself points directly to the danger by asking the question, "Who hath despised the day of small things?" A little reflection will help us see that most things that have become "great" have had small beginnings, and all great things are made up of smaller parts. We must never forget the small beginnings, or undervalue the small parts. Almost without exception the greatest contribution to the success of any endeavor is due to little things and ordinary people.
Entire Issue of December 28, 2014
by Matt Adams
Every life you meet today is going through some trial. Everyone you see has issues that they must confront on a daily basis, some great and some small; yet even the smallest of issues in our lives can seem insurmountable and make us feel like we have the weight of the world on our shoulders. Everyone has the opportunity to be freed from that weight, but not everyone takes advantage of that opportunity (Matt.11:28-30).
Think about your own struggles; it can be seriously difficult some days to just make it through, can't it? However, if you're a Christian, think of the joy and peace you have because you can take it all to the Lord in prayer with the confidence He will hear you (Jms.5:16; Phil.4:4-7). Recognize how you're even able to make it through each day, and who gives you the strength to face and overcome the issues of life. Think of the hope you have, that hope of eternal life, if you will but persevere faithfully to the end (Rev.2:10; Phil.3:12-14). Hold on to that and recognize how blessed you are if you're truly being faithful to God. Let that lift your spirits and help you to press on serving Him the rest of your days, let come what may. Through our Lord, we can not only face the issues of life; no, more than that, we can conquer them (Rom.8:37-39)! What a tremendous blessing!
Entire Issue of December 21, 2014
By Greg Litmer
“Nothing is more distinctly Catholic than devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.” So states J.D. Conway in the authorized Catholic work, “What the Church Teaches.” Those familiar with the outpouring of devotion toward Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the numerous doctrines concerning her in Roman Catholicism recognize the truthfulness of Conway’s statement. The purpose of this article will be to seek to determine the source of this Roman Catholic devotion to Mary and the authority for their Marian doctrines. Well do I remember my days as a student at St. John’s the Evangelist in Cincinnati, Ohio. Each May, one eighth-grade girl would be chosen from her class to receive the honor of placing a crown upon a statue of Mary that stood in the churchyard. The entire school took part in the procession leading up to the climax which was her crowning. It was a marvelously inspiring ceremony, and as a child it never occurred to me to ask where it came from. Yet such a question is important. Did God authorize in His Holy word such devotion to Mary? Did He teach the various doctrines concerning her therein? Or is the entire system of Roman Catholic Mariology entirely man-made and without divine authority?
Entire Issue of December 7, 2014
by Robert Turner
In the early days of what is now the Oaks-West church in Burnet, a young man answered the gospel invitation by declaring his faith in Christ, and his desire to be baptized into Christ. We had no baptistery at that time, so we asked leaders of another church in Burnt, if we might use their baptistery. We were refused. The preacher said, "You will baptize him into a sect; bring him to me and I will baptize him into Christ." I replied, "You mean the one baptizing him makes the difference?" No reply! We took the boy to a lake and baptized him "into Christ" - not because we did the baptizing, or because we uttered the right words, but because that is what takes place when one obeys Jesus Christ.
I doubt the boy had any "views" on institutionalism. He had learned that he was a sinner, that Christ had died for sinners, and wanted each of us to trust and obey Him. By repenting of his sins and obeying the Lord in baptism the young man came into an acceptable relationship with Christ, his sins being forgiven. My baptizing him, even if I espoused a "sect," would not make this act "sectarian baptism." Nor was his baptism valid or invalid on the basis of "church authority" to baptize. Baptism is not a "church" ordinance, it is the Lord's ordinance, depending upon the subject's compliance with the Lord's teaching for its validity. The "sectarianism" of the church who heard his confession, if it had any, would not invalidate his baptism. Scriptural baptism is a covenant, direct and immediate, between the subject and his Lord.
Entire Issue of November 30, 2014
by L. A. Stauffer
Harry Emerson Fosdick, a twentieth-century preacher, could have lived at no other time in history. A product of eighteenth and nineteenth-century thought, Fosdick, a popular spokesman for modernism, was a thoroughly modern theologian. Some preachers cloaked modernism in Biblical terminology to conceal certain aspects of the new view, but Fosdick took the new theology outside the seminary and shouted it from the rooftop to the man on the street. The New York pastor openly admitted that modernism called for a new use of the Scriptures.
Fosdick, in fact, entitled a book he published in 1924: “The Modern Use of the Bible.” The author displayed no reticence at all when he wrote of the Bible. “What once was said of Jehovah,” he declared, “can in a different sense be said of the Book-its thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are its ways our ways” (p. 36).
Entire Issue of November 9, 2014
by Robert Notgrass
The world cannot understand Americans. Considering all of our society, Americans have the greatest prosperity and highest standard of living known in any sizable society on earth. In fact, history has never known a sizable nation that had our standard of living. Yet, depression is common in America. Among both young and the old, suicide is significant. Alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography, sexually transmitted disease, promiscuity, dysfunctional families, one parent families, rejection of commitment, dishonesty, and a lack of integrity and character are sources of major social problems.
How can a society with so much, experience so many serious problems? This is why many of the world’s societies cannot understand. In their societies, the majority live in poverty with minimal human rights and to them, the combination of prosperity and human rights produce a wonderful society. America has that combination. So, why do we not enjoy our wonderful existence? It is because these things do not eliminate stress. Our country uses alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sexual indulgences and other things in an attempt to escape stress. Family relationships fail to nurture and sustain healthy love and acceptance and therefore, this brings forth the stress of loneliness, rejection, and despair. Thus, many are in distress.
Entire Issue of November 2, 2014
by Dee Bowman
“If Christianity would go back to its origins, cleanse itself resolutely from the silt of time, and take its stand with fresh sincerity from the personality and ideals of its founder, who could resist it?”
That’s an observation from Will Durant from an article written for the Saturday Evening Post, in August of 1939. Isn’t it amazing how things don’t change? The statement is as relevant to our needs today as it was when Mr. Durant wrote it. It speaks of restoration. It is a call for restoration.
But that’s not the first time a call for restoration has been made. Both the Old and New Testaments are replete with calls for restoration. The Prophet Jeremiah called for a restoration when he said “Thus saith the LORD, ‘Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls’” (Jer. 6:16).
Entire Issue of October 26, 2014
by David Padfield
The New Testament places great emphasis upon the cross of Christ. Whenever Paul went into a city the first thing he did was to preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:1-5). He told the saints at Corinth that "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Cor. 1:18). Christians in the first century suffered "persecution for the cross of Christ" (Gal. 6:12), while others were freely willing to bear "the offense of the cross" (Gal. 5:11). The Law of Moses, the "handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us" was "taken out of the way" and "nailed to the cross" (Col. 2:14). Paul spoke of some who were "enemies of the cross of Christ" (Phil. 3:18).
After reading these passages which deal with the "cross of Christ," we need to ask, did Paul preach about a piece of lumber? Did he suffer for timber? No! Paul was using a figure of speech known as synecdoche which is "a figure of speech in which a part stands for a whole or a whole for a part" (Doubleday Dictionary). If you ask a friend what he had for lunch, he might say, "I stopped at McDonald's for a sandwich," but what he meant was a sandwich, fries, Coke and a hot apple pie. Whether he is aware of it or not, he used a figure of speech -- a synecdoche.
Entire Issue of October 19, 2014
by Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.
"And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:1-5).
One thing should be clear from this text -- just any baptism will not do. The Ephesians had been baptized, but they needed to be baptized again. They had been baptized unto John's baptism -- a baptism that was no longer in effect. It was not the baptism of the great commission. It was a baptism preparing the Jews for the coming of the Christ. By the time the Ephesians were baptized the Christ had come, died, was buried, and had risen from the dead. He had given the baptism of the great commission. The Ephesians needed to submit to that baptism -- baptism "in the name of the Lord Jesus." One must be baptized to be saved (1 Pet. 3:21), but he needs to be sure that he is rightly baptized.
Entire Issue of October 5, 2014
by Frank Jamerson
Under Judaism, or the Old Law, people were born into God’s family by having Jewish parents, and then they had to be taught to “know the Lord.” Jeremiah, the prophet, said that the day would come when “they shall teach no more every man his neighbor and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord…” (Jeremiah 31:34). This passage is quoted in Hebrews 8 and applied to the New Testament. Therefore, under the New Covenant, people must be taught to “know the Lord” before they can enter God’s family.
Jesus emphasized the importance of teaching when he said, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard from the Father, and hath learned, cometh unto me” (John 6:45). In Matthew’s account of the “great commission,” Jesus said, “Teach all nations” and, after baptizing them, “teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 20:18-20). Christ also stressed the importance of teaching when He said that “the seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). Just as there can be no harvest without seed, there can be no child of God without the word being taught and obeyed.
Entire Issue of September 28, 2014
by Heath Rogers
[Continued from last issue]
God’s Law Does Not Change
This fact is easily observed by looking unto God’s natural laws. These laws are established and govern our lives in this world. For instance, the sun always rises in the east and sets in the west. Gravity always works. If one touches a hot stove he will get burned. These observable facts are not relative. They are universal and constant.
God has set forth the boundaries for His physical creation, and He has also set forth the moral boundaries for mankind (Titus 2:11-12, Galatians 5:19-23). If we recognize the permanence of God’s law which governs the physical universe, upon what basis can we logically believe that God’s moral law is subject to change? God has not changed these moral standards. Neither has He given man the right to change these standards.
Entire Issue of September 14, 2014
by Heath Rogers
It seems that our society is always changing for the worse. Immorality is shamelessly promoted and defended by celebrities, educators, and politicians. The law of our nation will allow a mother to kill her unborn baby, but will incarcerate a man for mistreating his pet. We have seen great changes in our nation as a result of the pro-homosexual agenda. What was once considered an abomination, detested and rejected by our society, has become embraced and championed. Laws have been changed, marriage has been re-defined, entire denominations have become split over this issue – and it is only getting worse.
The religious landscape of our nation is also changing. Basic truths of Christianity are constantly challenged and denied by so-called Christians. This change has had an impact upon some of our brethren. In recent years we have heard brethren make arguments for a figurative interpretation of the creation account in Genesis, question the inspiration of 2 Peter and Jude, and deny the eternal nature of Hell.
Entire Issue of September 7, 2014