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Adventures in Faith

RIGHTEOUS, BLESSED, AND WASHED

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Solomon stated, “Righteousness exaulteth a nation.” (Prov.14:34). If the nation I am a citizen in does righteous things, does that guarantee my salvation? No. When citizens of a nation do what is morally right, the individuals and nation as a whole enjoy the results. However, salvation is granted by God to individuals, not nations. Salvation takes place in the mind of God. Therefore, man cannot create his own way to be saved. A prophet stated, “The way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life (John 14:6). God gave us the way through His Son. Jesus died in our place for the sins you and I committed. When we place our trust in and follow Him, he takes away all our sins.

In Romans 4:7,8 we read, “Blessed and to be envied, are those whose sins are forgiven and put out of sight. Yes, what joy there is for anyone whose sins are no longer counted against him by the Lord.” When a Christian stands before Jesus in the judgment, guess how many sins he will have to answer for? None. That’s right. None. Why? Because all his sins have not only been forgiven but forgotten. That person will stand before God as though he had never sinned. He will be perfect because he is covered with the blood of Jesus Christ. That’s why we must put our trust in Jesus rather than in our accomplishments. Not our works, but his blood puts us in right standing with God.

We often ask in song, “What can wash away my sins?” The answer is also given, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” That song is correct. We sing God’s truth which is called gospel or “Good News.” How can I bath myself in the blood of Jesus? He died 2,000 years ago. By faith I can die to sin and be buried with Christ into his death. Inspiration tells me that I get into this burial by immersion. What a beautiful picture Paul paints in Romans 6 of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. I can be blessed by what he did by being involved in his sacrifice through that immersion. As a sinner, I must die to the body of sin. I bury that body through a burial with Jesus in water and I am raised from that watery grave as a new or saved person because I became a partner with Jesus in his death. Free at last from the old creature and now revealed as the new man (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:3-4).

Regardless of which path my country takes, I can be right with God. When I am right with God, He removes all my sins. All of them. My trust is in Jesus whose blood keeps me in good standing with the Father. God has provided the way, the truth, and the life for us if we will accept it. God saves. Since He does, we can be saved by following his guide lines rather than ours.

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I FEAR!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

fearWhen I look at my righteous achievements, I fear. When I look at my perfection, I fear.  When I look at the quality of my prayers, I fear.  When I look at my life each day, I fear.  When I think about dying, I fear.  When I think about the judgment, I fear.  Am I paranoid?  Some might think so, but “No!”  Do I have panic attacks? No. How can I possess fear and not have negative results?  How can I own those fears and be a Christian?  I am one, but my shoulders are too small to bear fear’s burden alone!

My righteous achievements?  Laughable.  My perfection?  Nonexistent.  The quality of my prayers? Dismal. My daily life? Inadequate. My death? Frightening. The judgment? Questionable.

Yet, I don’t have panic attacks nor negative results.  I haven’t been defrocked.  My shoulders remain small.  I fall so short, if measured in inches, powerful microscopes would not see me. Paul may have been “chief” but I’m second.  My cry is the same as his, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  (Romans 7:24 (NKJV).  His and my answer?  Jesus!  Jesus!  Jesus!!  What’s yours?

Without Jesus, fear would be my driver.  What can I do to pay for my sins or assist Jesus’ blood in my cleansing?  If perfection is required, failure is my companion.  Perfection was Jesus’ mission, not mine.  Belief in what He did for me is required, not “Look how much I have done for you, Jesus.”  I sin, but it drives me to the one who remits it.  If I thought my prayers paid for my forgiveness, I would be a fool.  My gospel would not be good news but one rewarded with damnation.  I don’t fear dying because I know who walks with me through that valley.  I am not afraid of judgment because I will not stand there to remind Jesus about how faithful I’ve been, but rather praise Him for how gracious He is.  I will not look at my achievements, but glory in His.  He takes away fears and gives peace! He is my focus, not me!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV).

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A COMPLETE BIBLE; A BLESSING!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

In Luke 14: 15-24 Jesus tells about a man who had a banquet but the invited guest had excuses and could not attend.  The master sent hbible-scrollis servant out to invite people off the street.  The hall was still not filled, so the master told the servant to “Go out to the highways and country roads.  Make them come.  I want my house to be full!  I tell you, none of those men whom I invited first will get a taste of my banquet!

We are introduced to the same story in Matthew 22:1-10.  However, a lot of things are added and the purpose is different from the one in Luke.  In Matthew, the secondary invited folks, if not properly dressed, are bound and thrown out.  The story ends with, “Many are invited, but few are chosen” rather than “none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

In Luke’s account the “excuses” are more detailed than in Matthew.  Luke doesn’t mention that this is a wedding party.  Matthew does.  Luke is more descriptive about who the servant invites.  In Luke the guest are compelled to come, but not so in Matthew.  In Luke the host is “a certain man” whereas in Matthew he is “a king.”  In Matthew, how one is dressed is important, but Luke says nothing about it.

The Holy Spirit inspired both Matthew and Luke.  So, why are their stories different?  Both are stories or “parables.”  Matthew is writing to a different audience than Luke.  Matthew fills in some details of Jesus’ story not covered by Luke.  Luke is writing to a Gentile readership.  Luke picks out a lesson that fits the audience he is writing to whereas Matthew uses what will best fit his readers.

Preachers are often approached after a service and told what the individual got from the sermon.  Most preachers are surprised because the point they were making is different from the point that person heard.  Sometimes an audience with different needs receives help to deal with that need from a sermon that wasn’t designed by the speaker to address it.  Sometimes a person is feeling guilty about a secret sin and imagines the preacher is exposing it, whereas the minister is totally innocent of the charges.  It is the power of God’s word (Hebrews 4:12)!

Matthew is not contradicting Luke.  Both are giving the essence of Jesus’ story, but dealing with different points from the story which fits their respective readers.  In the first century, most people would not have both Matthew’s account and Luke’s.  We have the advantage of possessing both so we may gain the lessons delivered to both audiences.

In studying Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, one needs to research the parallels of each to gain all that is being said.  Our studies are enriched by this advantageous blessing.

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WHAT’S YOUR ASSURANCE?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A few Sundays ago one of our songs was, “Lord, I Need You,” written by Matt Maher in 2013.  Some of the words are:

assuranceLord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart.

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You.

As the congregation sang that song I wondered how well those words were sinking into our consciousness?  How many believe God will save them because of their righteousness, performed to co-host His?  One faith teaches that we must have more “good” works than bad ones if we are going to heaven.  In other words, you are on a “point system” and must work to produce “x” number in order to save yourself!  If that is our religious foundation, we have no business singing Matt’s song!

In discussing the righteousness of Jesus as compared to ours, an individual asked if his obedience didn’t amount to something in procuring his salvation.  Is “obedience” necessary?  Yes (2 John 1:9 NIV).  If one loves the Lord, he will willingly obey Him (John 14:15, 23; 15:10).  However, that is altogether different than saying, “My righteousness is worth __% in paying for my salvation.”  Actually, “our righteousness” is like a dirty rag, that if you touched it, you would want to immediately wash your hands (Isaiah 64:6)!

At the judgment, one will not remind Jesus about how well his works measured up to Jesus’ actions upon the cross and expectantly state, “You owe me something for what I’ve done!”  Those who do such have missed the Good News completely.  In fact, it could be another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).

If my trust in going to heaven is based upon how obedient I am, my failure to “do enough” will leave me frustrated, ridden with guilt, depressed, and with a fear that will consume me.  Why?  Because our obedience will never be sufficient to make a down payment on our sin debt.  However, I can with assurance say that Jesus is my Savior and I trust that He paid it all for me!

“Lord, I need You, oh, I need You, Every hour I need You, My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need you.”

Jesus paid it all!!  I am not capable of adding even 1%.  Jesus is not a 99% Savior.  He is my 100% Lord and Savior!  He is the one who saves, not me (Hebrews 5:1)!  I obey Him, not to make points, but because He made the points for me.  I can never repay Him.  My obedience does not supplement the full price he paid for me (1 Corinthians 6:20)!  Why do men demote what Jesus did in order to glorify what we think we’ve done?

What is your assurance built on?  You??

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Monday, December 26, 2016

This family got up together.  The boy dressed and went to milk the cow.  The father cut and retrieved wood for the cook stove and started the fire.  The mother prepared breakfast for going-to-church-2everyone after she got the youngest child dressed.

The father fed the livestock.  The mother gathered the eggs and fed the chickens.  The boy strained the milk, separating the cream, and put the milk where it would stay cool.  Everyone finished breakfast, got the Bible, and finished getting ready to go to church.  The mule was harnessed and each member mounted it.  Snow was still on the ground, but the weather had warmed causing the yard and road to be soft and muddy.  They rode five miles to the church building in town, arriving fifteen minutes early.  The year was 1895.

The alarm goes off.  An arm manages to swings out from under the covers and hit the snooze button.  Fifteen minutes later, the scene repeats itself.  He and his wife finally drag out of bed.  He retrieves the Sunday paper and sits to read the funnies.  The wife yells at the two boys to get up, “IT’S SUNDAY”!  There is no response.  A second, third, and fourth warning is called out, each getting louder.  Grumbling is heard.  Arguments begin.  It signals that both are up!

Mom heats up some Pop-Tarts for breakfast.  Three times “Breakfast is ready” bounces off the walls before anyone appears.  There is bantering between the boys but breakfast is soon consumed.  Instructions again about it being Sunday and the boys are admonished to “quit messing around and get dressed.”  Dad is included in the instruction!  He shaves and combs his hair.  He and she get dressed.  A few more admonitions and the boys look half way decent.  It takes a few more warnings to get everyone in the family vehicle.  Off they go.  They live four block from the church building.  The speed limit is 40, but dad fudges 5 miles more.  This morning they hit all the green lights.  They arrive but parking near the entrance is taken.  Four part grumbling fills the car.  They are in the seventh row of parked cars and down about 300 feet.  All four doors open and the family exits, heading for the church entrance.  The wind is brisk and cold.  More grumbling. They are ten minutes late rather than the usual fifteen.  They congratulate themselves on being five minutes earlier!  The father is the great grandson of the youngest brother pictured on the mule.  The year is 2016.

The wife sees that picture every Sunday and wonders if their ride was on a mule rather than in a Ford Bronco, would they arrive at church fifteen minutes early?

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THE SEARCH FOR PERFECTION

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 02/24/2020

Have you ever tried to find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? There were two locations you could begin with. The path was well lit and in color. Did you envision what you would buy with that gold? Those were pleasant thoughts that were never fulfilled.

My grandparents had a birdhouse low enough that I could reach it. Birds had taken up residence. My grandfather told me that if I wanted to catch the resident bird, all I needed was a saltshaker. When the bird left the dwelling, if I sprinkled it with salt, the bird would be mine. Do you think I was successful in my desire to catch that bird? I was as successful in catching that bird as you were in finding that gold!

Some folks will refer to the Bible as “God’s Roadmap to Salvation” or “God’s Roadmap to Heaven.” Yet, there is always that person who cannot read a map! Why? Multiple reasons.

Some put their faith in a system of law which one writer stated, “was ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13). Paul and Barnabas ran into a bunch of preachers who were better at being critics than Christians. Yet they were members of the body of Christ. God had added them to the saved just as He had done with Paul and Barnabas. Yet, they believed Paul and Barnabas were not preaching the full gospel to the Gentile believers. Every good Jew knew a Gentile without circumcision had not completed his obedience to the gospel. He was not obedient to Moses nor Jesus. He had to be circumcised if he wanted to be saved, wanted to be a true child of God, or wanted to be a true follower of Jesus. Their moto could have easily been, “You don’t cut it without receiving the cut”! Paul and Barnabas had to constantly endure their objections and condemnation (Acts 15). This view deserved a conference of the apostles and local elders in the Jerusalem church. The brother of Jesus settled the matter with his “Wherefore my sentence is” (Acts 15:19).   Kinship has its clout. A small epistle was written and delivered to Gentile believers that Moses’ circumcision was not bound upon them. The Gentile brethren received this news gladly, but it took the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. to silence the Jewish church’s objections.

 If inspired history tells us anything, it illustrates the foolishness of attempting to possess personal perfection. Despite Paul’s proficiency in writing most of the twenty-seven New Testament books, he admits his failure in being perfect (Romans 7:5-25). Whoever finds the perfect church will be the one who discovers a pot of gold at both ends of the rainbow.   No doubt he will be capable of catching any bird without salt. All he has to do is be perfect. Without it, no church will possess it if he is their preacher or member. Jerusalem never obtained it. There were some with a fault being mentioned by inspiration, but that doesn’t mean they were perfect. If you are looking for perfection, don’t search for it in men. If a man holds himself up as THE example of perfection, run away as fast as you can. He is lying!

Perfection can be found. One must look in the right direction. He once lived on earth and died for our sins. When he takes away our sins, he gives us something in return. He bestows upon us his righteousness. His name is Jesus. He is God’s anointed (Christ or Messiah).

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

THE DISCIPLINE VOTED IN IS TO VOTE DISCIPLINE OUT!

A Parody on Acts 5:1-11
My Thoughts. . .
Thursday, 02/27/2020
The news media thought it was a hot topic and printed it.  Those involved were the toast of the town, with their socialite fingers in a lot of pies.  His family, as well as hers were on the Social Registry.  The governor as well as State and Federal politicians called them by their first names.  Their house was always the center of social events of one kind or another.  They were people that got the job done.  If you wanted something important taken care of,  you always went through them.  They had property.  They owned multiple enterprises.  He had a great mind for business and knew everything about investments.  He was the Midas of the city and State.
They both attended the assemblies of the local congregation.  Members were always happy to see them attend.  The local church budget was well supported by their contributions.  The elders, deacons, members, and staff thought the world of them.  The local newspaper had reported on a specific Sunday that this couple had attended.  Then they had produced a follow-up story using interviews of different members who were present on that day.
Due to Sunday being a workday, and a sizeable number of the members working, the assembly was what some referred to as a “come-and-go” service.  Members would come in and stay for a short period, then exit on their way back to work.  The husband arrived in time before the contribution was taken.  He and his wife wanted to make a sizeable offering of money they had received from the sell of a large piece of property.  At the last minute something came up so she could not go with him, but would attend as soon as possible.
The congregation had not entered the twenty-first century, so their way of taking up a contribution was a little different.  Men were not selected to go through the audience and take up the offerings.  Instead, each giver would walk forward toward the preacher and lay his gift at the preacher’s feet.  This man walked toward the preacher.  All eyes were on him.  Folks knew he was a generous giver.  Usually his contribution would be more than what forty or fifty others would give.  They didn’t know about the property sale and the amount he and his wife were going to give that morning.
He placed his contribution close to the preacher’s feet.  The preacher looked down, then at the man.  He asked him if he was giving all the money from the recent sale of some of his property.  He responded with a huge smile first then replied in the affirmative.  The preacher asked why he was lying.  The man’s smile evaporated and every mouth in the assembly dropped open.  The man and his wife had agreed to give a large amount, but not all of the price they have received from the sale.  The man suddenly went limp and was dead before his body hit the floor.   Those opened mouths began working.  Shock turned to questions.  Deacons who seldom did much during an assembly were commissioned to take the body, dig a grave, and bury it.  They complied although it would cause them to miss the first serving of the communion.  Later, the wife came in.  She knew what her husband had done so when all eyes were on her entrance, she wasn’t surprised but enjoyed their attention.  After all, she and her husband had given a tidy sum of money that morning.  The preacher questioned her.  She too dropped dead.  The burial party enter in time to take her body out for burial.  Some of the deacons mentioned that they would miss out on the second serving of the Lord’s supper.  Oh well, they’d be back in time for the third serving.
After the services were concluded concerned members huddle in small groups.  The morning’s occurrence was the topic of discussion.  Most had seen the reporter making notes when both husband and wife dropped dead.  Two dead in church because what they gave wasn’t the whole amount of the sale?   Everyone does that, it just isn’t that large of a contribution.  How is this going to affect future attendance?  If attendance drops, contributions will too.  How will the church pay its bills?  How is this going to affect their evangelistic program?  Who will want to be a member of a church that kills its influential givers?  Discipline is good, but this is too extreme.  What kind of name will the church get from the city and state?  Not even the pagan religions do such a thing to their members.   Pressure increases and is dumped upon the shoulders of those who rule.
The next Sunday one officer of the church stood up to make a very important announcement concerning church discipline.  All pews are filled.  Standing it too crowded.  Gossip is tantamount.  Whispers are rampant.  Silence is called for and finally achieved.  The officer announces that the congregation believes in practicing church discipline, but the congregation has decided that all further disciplinary actions needs to be administered with love.  That’s why, from the first century to this date in 2020, no one has been questioned about his contribution and no one has died “in church” from such questioning. 

THE POT LABELING THE KETTLE

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 02/17/2020

In a recent Internet forum, a participant expressed his thoughts against “liking” anything written by someone he labeled as a “liberal.” He felt that if he stated that he liked something written or stated by a liberal, even though it was true, that his action would be seen as being aligned with other things that person taught. Although that view may be held by honest and sincere individuals, it has shortcomings and inconsistencies.

Keep in mind that Luke wrote the book of Acts. In Acts 17:28 he records Paul’s quotation from the Greek poets. Since Luke included it in divine history and Paul, an inspired apostle quoted it, does that mean both men accepted all views of those Greek pagans? One might defend himself today by claiming his approval of a truthful statement by a liberal might be taken as full approval of all that liberal taught. Those who would take that false position aren’t as conservative as they think. In fact, by their innuendoes, their accepted position ends up being falsehood or gossip.

Gossip is “juicy,” and some folks enjoy the feast. The more elaborate the tale, the better its drawing power. The more influential the messenger, the more undeniable it seems.

When Jesus proclaimed the church in Sardis as “dead,” why would some of its members be praised as “not defiling their garments,” walking with Jesus “in white,” and being pronounced as “worthy” (Revelation 3:2, 4)? Wouldn’t their fellowship be tainted, and their souls endangered due to Jesus’ label? If that was today, there would be a fast exodus from that assembly and an immediate establishment of the true, sound Sardis church. If such a modern event took place, would those who were fleet of faith be faithful? How can one be “in white,” “worthy” and not be “defiled” by remaining in a dead body of Christ?   That’s right, “a dead body of Christ.”

It is interesting that although the church in Laodicea turned Jesus’ stomach, he never told one single member to flee and flourish as a new assembly. Although the church of God in Corinth was riddled with false teaching and practice, there was only one person withdrawn from by that divisive assembly (5:1-11). They had the fruit of the vine and the unleavened bread every first day of the week, but they were not partaking of the Lord’s supper. Despite their multiple sins, committed month after month, not once were they commanded nor suggested to establish a true church.   Other churches of God were not commanded to withdraw fellowship from them. Not one evangelist or apostle was warned to not work with them. None of our modern labels of “unfaithful,” “not sound,” or “an apostate” were used to describe them. No, Paul referred to them as “the church of God” or “the body of Christ.” Even when they received the second letter, they were not free of their false teaching and practices. In fact, Paul warned them what would happen when he came (13:1-2). They still had Holy Spirit inspired prophets, language speakers, interpreters, and such.

The Bible student will notice that Luke and Paul used a quote from pagans to fill out their statement in the seventeenth chapter of Acts. They were not accused by conservative brethren of believing the false teachings those pagans believed. Faithful members could be a part of a dead body of Christ without losing their standing with God, another could make Jesus sick, but not yet be punished, and a badly denominated congregation could be commanded to discipline only one member despite their sinful practices and beliefs.

Perhaps we have not restored New Testament Christianity as correctly as some believe.

HE NEVER SAID HE LOVED ME.  GUESS HE THOUGHT I KNEW

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 02/24/2020

I ran across 12 Pioneer Six-Compact Disc Magazines with each being full of CDs of 1990s period artists.  Reba McEntire had 3.  One of her songs was very nostalgic.  The title was “The Greatest Man I Never Knew.”  The lyrics are sad and so real in describing some families.

The greatest man I never knew lived just down the hall,

and ev’ry day we said hello but never touched at all.

He was in his paper. I was in my room.

How was I to know he thought I hung the moon?

The greatest man I never knew came home late ev’ry night,

He never had to much to say. Too much was on his mind.

I never really knew him, oh and now it seems so sad.

Ev’rything he gave to us took all he had.

Then the days turned into years, and the mem’ries to black and white.

He grew cold like an old winter wind blowing across my life.

The greatest words I never heard I guess I’ll never hear.

The man I thought could never die has been dead almost a year.

Oh, he was good at bus’ness but there was bus’ness left to do.

He never said he loved me. Guess he thought I knew.

– Written by Robert Leigh and Layng Martine, Jr.  Sung by Reba McEntire.  Released July 1992

I was 9 years old when the Navy department shipped dad to Alaska to the Aleutians.  The area had formerly been occupied by the Japanese during WW II.  When the war ended, dad abandoned us for another woman.  I did not see him for another ten years.  He was living in Southwest Missouri.  I called and asked if I could visit.  I spent the night.  I didn’t see him again for another 2 years.  Then he and his wife and three daughters moved to Arizona.  When I had a public discussion with Gene Reynolds of the Alabama City Church of God in 1973, dad disowned me.  He died of Alzheimer in 1995.  I never could get him to reconcile.  Despite his reasons, he was my dad and I still loved him.  But I can relate to Reba McEntire’s song.

In June 1957 I was buried with Jesus into his death and raised with him to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).

For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s goodness into us!” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I was washed in the blood of Jesus and cleansed of all my sins.  Despite my imperfections, He continued to keep me cleansed.  He took up His dwelling place in me (1 Corinthians 3:16).  He washed me clean and remembers my sins no more (Hebrews 10:17).  My Heavenly Father will never abandon me.  He will not abandon you either.  Why not accept His cleansing?  Who not experience His indwelling?

SMILE!  IT’S GOOD NEWS!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 02/14/2020

There are often a number of biblical phrases used from the pulpit that leave questions rather than comfort with the audience.  Nothing wrong with the phrases.  Absolutely nothing wrong using those phrases.  However, some may not know that a phrase can be used out of its context and it will no longer be a biblical truth.  In 1956 a preacher used the expression “top not come down” (Matthew 24:17).  His point was that good Christian women must wear their hair tied up in a knot on top of their head.  His problem originated by substituting the word “top” for the word “housetop.”  Jesus was talking about a person leaving his house, not how a woman fixed her hair.  Perhaps some who preach are guilty of taking a word or words out of context and leaving their audience with nothing worthwhile.

The KJV states, “Be thou faithful unto death” (Revelation 2:10).  What does “faithful” mean?  What is included in that word?  Some narrow it down to a few actions such as not forsaking the assembly (Hebrews 10:25), partaking of the communion each Sunday (Acts 20:7), taking up a collection from each member on Sunday (1 Corinthians 16:1-3), believing that immersion is baptism (Romans 6:4-5), that a fully developed congregation has elders, deacons, evangelists, and members.  It may be true that those scriptures speak about each item listed, but is that the sum total of being “faithful”?  To be honest, the answer is “No.”  Another phrase preached is the word “perfect.”  It is found in Matthew 5:48; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 3:15; Colossians 4:12; and James 3:2.   It is inferred that a disciple of Jesus must be perfect.  Is that correct?  Jesus was.  However, Paul wasn’t.  Neither was Peter.  So, how well are you doing?  Some think if they pray, attend, convert others, give, and do more than others, they will have a better chance of gaining a pseudo perfection that will obligate Jesus to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).  How many really believe their efforts will be addressed as “perfect”?  It is a condition no one actually thinks he will reach or be successful in attaining.  That condition promotes unrest.

If faithfulness and perfection are little more than fruitless hopes, and one’s expectation are questionable, why would Paul tell the Philippians to “rejoice”?  If assurance is a foreign word that is inaccessible, could that be the reason so many are still praying the youthful words, “If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take”?  With such hopelessness, what is left to look for if we die without a prayer on our lips?  Did Jesus come to give us insecurity and fear that we will not measure up because our works are too little?  Even if one was able to do enough good works to score 99%, he would still lose by 1%.  He is still troubled not knowing if his gap is too wide for God grace to cover.   Whatever the gap is, God may expect it to be much less.

Preachers who expect their audience to be perfect (without sin), create a false standard that no one in the Old or New Testament reached.  That standard is not Good News.  That standard leaves people hopeless.  It leaves the individual who promotes that interpretation to be void of the salvation he knows he cannot reach nor maintain.  Jesus came to save sinful people who were drowning in their imperfections.  His blood not only cleansed all their sins committed outside the body of Jesus but continues to cleanse those sins committed in his blessed body (1 John 1:7-10; 2 Corinthians 5:21).  That cleansing calls for rejoicing (Philippians 2:17-18; 3:1; 4:4; 1Thessalongians 5:16; 1 Peter 4:13).

A Christian without cleansing is left without light.

IS IT SCRIPTURAL OR NOT?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 02/10/2020

We are a people of the book.  Right?  We believe that if scripture does not teach something in book, chapter, and verse, it isn’t biblical.  Despite that claim there are a number of things accepted as biblical which are not found in the Bible.  Their origin is human rather than divine.  Those items are accepted as scriptural by assuming they fit that category.  Sometimes our assumptions immerse us in human inconsistencies, but we continue to indulge because that’s the way we’ve always done it.  When we fail to find it mentioned in book, chapter, and verse, we accept our assumptions as our authority rather than the Bible.  In other words, we discover “authorized” ways to ignore that “silence.”  See if you can find these modern phrases in the Bible?

  1. We are going to the church to worship God?
  2. Brother/sister [name] is no longer a member of the church?
  3. We decided to build a church building to worship in and paid for it from the 1   Corinthians 16:1-3 collection?
  1. Only men must pass among the audience to distribute the Lord’s supper?
  2. One may keep time to the singing by tapping his finger on the pew, but not loudly?
  3. Only men are allowed to say “Amen” in the worship assembly because women are to Keep their mouths closed?
  1. Our worship assembly begins at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday in our auditorium?
  2. Worship is held in our church auditorium?
  3. Every expenditure of the church must be identified as being under 1) evangelism, 2) benevolence, or 3) edification.  If not, that item is unscriptural?
  1. The worship area may not be labeled as “the sanctuary” but must be called “the       auditorium”?
  1. The Bible teaches that the church must have Sunday morning, Sunday night, and      Wednesday night services at the building?
  2. Our congregation has Sunday School or Bible classes?
  3. Everyone drink the fruit of the vine from one container passed among the members?
  4. Everyone drink the fruit of the vine from individual containers passed among the      members?
  1. Each member must personally contribute upon the first day of the week?
  2. The head of the family is the only one who has to contribute on the first day of the week?
  3. The church met in multiple houses in the first century?
  4. The church had street or building signs to identify their meeting place?
  5. Jesus said, “I will build MY church.” It is scriptural to refuse to put his name “Jesus” on a church’s street or building sign, but best to substitute his title?
  1. When one quotes a passage of scripture, he must always give book, chapter, and verse?
  2. The unleavened bread used in the communion must be commercially bought rather that made and brought by members?
  1. Respectful silence must be maintained in the Sunday morning assembly of worship?
  2. Four-part harmony (soprano, alto, tenor, & bass) were practiced by the church in      Ephesus and Colosse?
  1. A person who was a prophet in the first century always taught God’s truth?
  2. One church may hold a conference to decide a practice for all other congregations    without a representative from those assemblies being present?
  1. “The Lord’s table” is a small piece of furniture identified by the words of Jesus from   Luke 22:19?
  1. Men show the proper respect for God on Sunday morning by wearing a suit and tie?  However, Sunday and Wednesday night one may leave that respect in the closet?

These are just a sampling of most things we accept without producing a specific passage from the New Testament detailing it.  Where is the authority in Scripture giving us that freedom?  This is not to condemn, only to make us think and question our actions.  Why do we do the things we do?

BEING INCONSISTENT

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 02/06/2020

Have you ever been talking to someone about the Bible’s content and the person mentions that Jesus is his “personal savior”?  Did you interrupt and inform him that the expression “a personal savior” is not found in scripture?  Did that tidbit of information lead the individual to respect you and fall at your feet to become your devoted student?  Informing someone that something like “a personal savior” is not in the Bible may win you a few points but it may not lead to a Bible study.

Jesus told his apostles, “Take heed what you hear” (Mark 4:24).  You can’t hear unless you first heed.  Some cannot obey Jesus because they are more in tune with the Pharisees and Sadducees who opposed him.  They believe they possess the truth, so there is no need in wasting their time listening to someone that disagrees.

Some believe, “My preacher teaches the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”  Is their preacher Jesus?  The Lord went back to the Father so their preacher cannot be him.  He may be an excellent preacher.  He may study his Bible 6-8 hours each day.  He may be a man of prayer.  He may be the most sincere and honest preacher in the world.  But he isn’t perfect.  He commits sin just like the rest of us.  He is mistaken just like the rest of us.  His knowledge may be better than yours or mine, but that does not make his sinless.  No one is without fault.  No one has perfect understanding.  No one has perfect knowledge.  No one is perfect in practice or preaching.  All of us are inconsistent in one way or another.  In sixty-two years of preaching I’ve had numerous members tell me they disagreed with something I said in the pulpit.  There are some preachers who argue that Jesus did not tell the adulterous woman, “Neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11).

People believe something that sounds true because it came from a respected individual who “knew his Bible.”  Some will accept a teaching because the one who taught it would never, never, never teach anything but truth.  Did you know the church of God in Corinth received two letters from the apostle Paul correcting their erroneous teaching and practices?  Did you know they had inspired prophets, language speakers, and translators inspired by God?  Yet, they were guilty of making a sham out of their assemblies.  God wasn’t guilty, they were by teaching something less or more than the Spirit’s instruction.

I am not asking my reader to accept what I write just because I write it.  Regardless of my feelings that I am honest and telling the truth, your responsibility is to make sure it is the truth.  Jesus said, “Take heed what you hear.”  Satan asked if God had told them not to eat the fruit from all the trees in the garden.  She replied that God allowed them to eat from all of the trees except one.  They were not to eat its fruit” (Genesis 3:3).

Satan has attempted to get mankind to listen and follow his advice ever since Genesis 3.   He tried with Jesus and failed.  However, he is more successful with us.  He will take our weaknesses and use them against us.  Eve looked at that forbidden tree with its fruit and 1) saw it was good for food, 2) it was pleasing to the eyes, and 3) it would make her a goddess knowing good from evil.  Sadly, the evil in her came out because she did not take heed to what she was hearing.

Inconsistency is one of the tools of the devil.  So, “Take heed what you hear.”

WE JUST THOUGHT WE WERE SAVED!

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, February 3, 2020

Sometimes we speak generically and assume people understand us.  Maybe, maybe not.  Sometimes generics are more hurtful than helpful.  Preachers often quote Revelation 2:10, “Be thou faithful unto death” and think the hearer knows what the angel meant when he addressed the church in Smyrma.   Some may and some may not.

I had been a Christian for three weeks when a new worker joined our force.  I asked him what church he attended.  When he replied, “The church of Christ,” I was elated.  We were members of the one New Testament church!  Then he asked me the same question.  My reply?  “I’m a member of the Central church of Christ.”  He quickly informed me that I was not really a Christian because I had been immersed by a preacher who worked with an apostate church.  I was a member of an apostate church; he was a member of the true one.

It did not matter that both buildings supported the proper name.  Both immersed candidates relying upon Acts 2:38. Both had elders and deacons.  Both had preachers.  Both believed the New Testament was our covenant.  Both believed in giving book, chapter, and verse for our authority.  Both believed Jesus had built his church and we were members of it.  But he informed me that Central had left the truth because we had added Bible classes to the scriptures.  The church in Jerusalem did not have them and neither did his assembly.  His winning argument was, “Find the expression ‘Bible classes’ or ‘Sunday School’ in your Bible.”  He had nailed my coffin shut!  I thought I was saved but wasn’t.  I also saw that there were two assemblies claiming to be the first century church that had existed in Jerusalem.  There was only one true New Testament church and Central was not it.  That was an insurmountable revelation that almost destroyed me.  After talking with the preacher, I was convinced that Central was actually the one true church, my fellow workers was the apostate one.

It doesn’t take a novice preacher or experienced one long to recognize that the assembly he is working with isn’t perfect.  I knew I wasn’t.  I added to the problem rather than being its answer.  However, whatever it was that kept us from being perfect, was the very thing stopping us from being the New Testament church.  Preachers sometimes move because they find it impossible to bring the assembly into that perfection that must exist.  So, a move is engaged in, hoping the next congregation will own that perfection.  When it never appears, adjustments must be made to retain one’s salvation despite that shortcoming.  Some preachers see their imperfections as minor when compared to the problem’s imperfect elders, or deacons, or both present.

Overlooked in this cesspool of thinking is that the “mother church” did not have the perfection that most assume was there.  The apostle’s’ and church’s insight was too shallow to recognize who Jesus alluded to when he commanded, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).  Their shortsightedness screamed “Jews,” never “Gentiles.”  If a Gentile wanted to be in the one body of Christ, he must become a good Jew first by submitting to circumcision.  That belief continued for over ten plus years.  A church counsel at Jerusalem had to settle it (Acts 15:1, 5).  Yet, those in the church who were members of the Pharisee Party continued to make it a Bible command.  It wasn’t until Paul wrote to the Galatians that it was labeled as “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6-9; 5:1-12).

If the Jerusalem church is our model, why don’t we meet every day?  Why are Gentiles accepted?  They did not do so for over ten years.  Why don’t we have conferences as they did, making decisions for all congregations without their representation?  Why don’t we worship as the Jews did in order to prove we follow the Law of Moses?  Why do we not keep the Sabbath as the Jewish church did?  Why do we not pay the Jewish priest for animal sacrificing as Paul and the church did?  Why don’t we restrict our preaching to the circumcised as the Jerusalem church did for the first ten plus years?  We don’t follow them; we pick and choose from them what we practice which is far less than what they did.

There is not one first century assembly that got everything right.  None were perfect.  None were without sin because none contained a sinless membership.  All the correction found in the New Testament was not written to the twenty-first century church, but to the first century one.  The two worst congregations were Laodicea and Corinth.  Both lacked perfection and inspiration never pronounces them or others as perfect (sinless).  What is interesting is that one made Jesus vomit, but they were still in fellowship with him.  Corinth had multiple errors and even after the second letter, had not corrected everything.  Yet, it was still “the church of God,” “the body of Christ,” and were still indwelt by God.

So, “be faithful unto death” does not mean sinless perfection.  Every congregation has sinning preachers, elders, deacons, and members, yet God still indwells and cleanses them.  Jesus did not condemn the adulterous woman but told her he would not and then “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11).  Did she live a sinless life after that?  Is that what Jesus was saying?  If so, what about you and me?  If Jesus was saying one must be sinless, then you and I are lost, we just thought we were saved!

WE SHOULD OBEY GOD, BUT. . .

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 01-30-2020

Most Christians would agree with the following sentiments:

“God demands that we show respect, honor and submission to the rulers of this land.  We must obey the laws of the land in which we live.”

The only problem with that statement, we don’t practice it.  Some would be offended by that statement and swear on a dozen Bibles that they always obey the law.  Really?

We do keep the laws of the land except when we drive 39 mph in a 30-mph section of the city.  What is our justification for driving 9 mph over the posted speed limit?  The answer is simple.  We claim our “right” to disobey the law which is: 1) Everyone else is doing it, so I’m going with the flow.  Here is another on: 2) the police will not stop me unless I exceed 41 mph.  They will allow me to speed.”  3) Law makers knew that was a stupid law and expect us to disobey it.  4) A few might argue that disobedience of the law is “when specific laws of the land are contrary to the laws of God, we don’t have to obey them (Acts 5:29).”  The problem with those choices is that they remain acts of disobedience to the law.  In our righteous thinking, those exceptions justify that disobedience.   That fourth choice is interesting.  Just because the officers of the law don’t enforce the law, doesn’t mean we should disobey.  What if officers looked the other way when we beat someone up and put them in the hospital because they deserved it, would our actions merit God’s pat on the back?  Some might agree that such action was needed and justifiable.

Different ones in society applauded abortion when the Supreme Court made it legal in 1973.  Although it began by protecting the unborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy, its proponents are now arguing for its practice to continue after birth.  Some claim that God approves of such to “protect the rights of the woman”!  Weren’t those the same “rights” used by Nazi Germany in 1939 to 1945 to annihilate over six million Jews?  Did it not exist in the early nineteenth century, when Indians were considered savages and an hindrance to Western expansion?  In the forties, some esteemed preachers spoke out against African American preachers because they were not on the same social plateau as God fearing white preachers.  It was the same attitude being justified by those who believed they had God given rights which God had not blessed others with.

There are those in our government who despise Christianity and want it locked away.  We acclimate ourselves to those changes, just as six million Jews walked into those gas chambers.  Our children attend public schools that promote Humanism which denies certain rights to some.  They want us to believe truth is relative and morals are not absolutes.  In the past sixty years we have been increasingly deluged with that philosophy.  Isn’t our society mimicking those mentioned in the book of Judges who “did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25)?  That Humanism is man’s attempt to eradicate God’s absolutes.

We have politicians who claim they are doing God’s will while simultaneously declaring there is no God.  Would Paul and Peter command saints today to obey the very laws which demand their silence and death?  Are we to be the silent minority when laws allow Christians to be treated like six million Jews were between 1939 to 1945?  When may a believer disobey the government when a state or federal law is “contrary to the laws of God?”

We say one thing and practice another.  How many business do Christians frequent that support abortion?  How many are more aligned with Humanistic goals than those of Jesus?  What will Christians do when all businesses support things that are contrary to God’s will?  Will we acclimate or violate?  Sometimes we say and do not.  Sometimes we’re good at preaching but poor in practicing.  We know how to tell others the way they should live, but hypocritical in our way of doing it.

Peter told the Jewish council, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  How far are we allowed to go in our disobedience to the government?

Just my thoughts.  Solutions?  No, just questions.

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