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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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BE THOU FAITHFUL

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 01-20-2022

The expression “be thou faithful unto death” is found in Revelation 2:10 (KJV).  It is often quoted from pulpits exhorting those in the pew to be “more” faithful.  The expression “be faithful” is interpreted differently by the listener.  To some the statement demands that the pew warmer is responsible for mastering perfection.  The member’s reply of “I’m fine,” mated with a huge smile, is a poor substitute masking his failure to obtain that lofty goal.  Each week that disciple pleads for divine strength to overcome his frailties.  Some understand that Divine silence in a negative, self-depreciation way.  For them, God’s silence accuses them of not being of the elect. 

Some realize that perfection escapes them because they are not working hard enough to reach it.  So, they pray more.  They show up at the church building every time the doors open.  If a volunteer is needed by the church, they are it.  They increase their Bible reading.  They spend more time visiting the sick and aged.  They are described as being “Dependable.”  Yet, perfection remains a stranger.  Reward makes its appearance, but it is frustration and disappointment.  Those activities do not earn one a special key to unlock the gates of heaven.  Do we earn our medals, or do we receive salvation because of what Jesus did upon the cross?  As faith grows, we learn who to appreciate.  

Some believe our inability to be perfect is minimized when God diverts His view from our imperfections to gaze upon the “truths” which we manage to practice.  Yet the haunting question now becomes “How much doing must I do to be identified as being a faithful doer?”  Those inconsistencies are a nagging question which must be ignored when we make the choice that we will earn our way into heaven!  Then some express their belief toward the opposite extreme.  They will have faith in Jesus’ blood to save, so they don’t need to do anything.  The middle ground contains borders that are not marked well enough for some to see.  Perhaps the question to be asked is, do I have an active faith because I am the Savior, or do my actions glorify the one who is?     Faithfulness is based upon growth.  That growth may be quick, medium, or slow.  One’s faithfulness is not based upon outdoing another.  What did the eunuch fail to observe which was not a problem for Philip?  Did Barnabas outgive Paul when the collection basket was passed (Acts 4:36-37).  How much confidence did Barnabas have in John Mark than what Paul exhibited (Acts 15:37-39)?  Yet all three were saved.  What I did not understand 40 years ago, I do now.  My faith needed time to grow.  Sometimes that growth seemed to stop.  I studied Greek, Hebrew, and French, but still have problems with English.  I have forgotten more Bible than I can remember.  Will I ever be sinless?  Not if I depend upon myself.  Thankfully, the cleansing by the blood of Jesus made me a temple suited for God’s indwelling.  Each Christian is God’s temple, but only because of the blood of Jesus.  If one’s faith is focused on his strength rather than in the blood of Jesus, his faith is misplaced.  Hopefully our faith will grow so we will recognize who is the Savior (1 Peter 2:2).

HOW ASSUMPTIONS CAN MISLEAD!

My Thoughts. . .

Friday, 12-31-2021

In Acts 20:7-11 Luke gives us a few things the believers in Troas did and did not do on the first day of the week.  Paul spoke to the group, stopped to raise a dead member, then continued to speak.  During that period of time the disciples “broke bread.”  Since there were “many lights” in the assembly, speculation questions whether the church was observing Jewish rather than Roman time?  Jewish time was from sundown one day to sundown the next.  Roman time was closer to the way we look at the clock.  

Troas is not a congregation like those familiar to us.  Most today pick from Acts 20 what is already being observed.  The rest of verses 7 through 11 are ignored.  The reader will notice from verse 6 that Paul and his group were in the city seven days.  However, they waited until Sunday to meet with the church.  Does that not sound strange since that is not how we practice Christianity? 

1). Troas did not have a mid-week service nor a Sunday morning one. 

2). If they did have those two assemblies, Paul’s group chose not to attend. 

3). Would we allow a preacher to occupy our pulpit if he would not attend the other two assemblies before he got up to speak? 

4). Would Paul and his group not be considered guilty of forsaking those assemblies (Hebrews 10:25)? 

5). If they were not guilty of the sin of forsaking, then would the Troas church not be at fault for having only one meeting each week rather than three as we do?  

6). Would that practice not indicate Troas’ lack of faith?

The third item involves the way communion is served in Corinth.  Since “broke bread” is mentioned and readers usually connect that with communion, why do folks assume a prayer was offered before the serving of the bread or fruit of the vine?  There is nothing wrong with having such prayers, but Matthew (Matthew 26:26-29), Mark (Mark 14:22-25), nor Luke (Luke 22:14-20) mention a statement from Jesus, commanding such.  In fact, when Paul corrected the way, the Corinthians were partaking, he does not command that a prayer must be offered prior to consumption (1 Corinthians 11:20-34).  We assume that a prayer is required.  Does scripture bind that?  May a congregation meet and partake of the Lord’s supper without singing, giving, or preaching and still receive God’s blessings?  If one pointed to Acts 20:7-12 would that not be a “pattern” they could use to authorize their actions?  What if a congregation today wanted to meet only on the first day of the week and the beginning of that assembly would be prior to midnight and dismissal would take place before daybreak?  Would they be criticized because they did not meet Sunday morning nor Wednesday night as most believers do?  Would a congregation be chastised if they followed the Jewish way of determining time?

As one reads Acts 20:7-12 what are some of the other differences between that congregation and those which exist today?  If worship is dismissed by a prayer or song, was worship dismissed before Paul went downstairs to raise Eutychus from the dead?  Since Luke does not mention that dismissal, did they have prayer or a song to re-engage in worship when returning to the third floor?  Luke does not mention a dismissal of worship nor one to readmit it.  What if today shock paddles were used to restore life, would that still be equal to what Paul and the church did?  Would that action be accepted as “worship” or denied?  Would that denial not put us in a contradictory position with the Troas church? When inspiration does not give us all of the details, we often assume something is true.  Assumptions are related to “guessing.”  Neither one can be bound as God’s word.  Traditions are built upon the foundation of assumptions.  How much of what you and I believe is found in that category?  You may even find some of that in this article!  (1 Corinthians 3:10).

THOUGHT FOR YOUR MINUTE!

Jesus promised to build his church (Matthew 16:18). Paul informed his readers about that church being one body with Jesus as its head (Ephesians 1:22-23). In all twenty-seven New Testament books there is only one church. However, man originated the doctrine concerning an “invisible” and a “visible” one. The “visible” church does not and cannot offer salvation. Only the “invisible” one does and only God knows who makes up its membership. If the “visible” church does not offer salvation, what is its purpose? It requires each member’s attendance, contribution, and work. However, nothing done for that “visible” church is for his salvation. His attendance, contribution, and work is required to support that “visible” church but is not essential as far as the “invisible” one is concerned. Only faith is required., not works. The “invisible” church has no building for its members to meet in. It has no treasury to contribute to. It has no personnel staff to operate it. It has no earthly headquarters to overseeing it. It has no school to educate its future ministers. It publishes no Sunday School material. It has no visible membership role. There is no guarantee of fellowship with other members because God is the only one who knows who they are! Since God is the only one that knows, one could actually be in fellowship in a “visible” church with those who are the children of Satan. If the church Jesus promised is “invisible” and its membership known only to God, why belong to a “visible” one that cannot offer salvation? Which one did Jesus build (Matthew 16:18)?

“THEY MADE READY THE PASSOVER”

My Thoughts. . .

Tuesday, 12-28-2021

Matthew, Mark, and Luke discuss the Passover table.  First of all, they asked Jesus where they were going to meet (Matthew 26:17).  Jesus gave them instruction as to the “where.”  They went to a large upper room supplied by the individual Jesus told Peter and John about.  Matthew states, “they made ready the Passover” (v. 19, also Mark 14:17; Luke 22:13).  Apparently, Peter and John were responsible for either making arrangements for the meal to be prepared, or they prepared it themselves.  Matthew and Mark mention a singular cup which Jesus used to introduce his memorial.  Luke goes into more detail and begins with the third of the four cups consumed during that meal.  (1) Jesus begins introducing what inspiration refers to as communion or the Lord’s supper (Luke 22:17-18).  (2) He then takes the bread, gives thanks and breaks it (Luke 22:19).  (3) Then he offers the cup (Luke 22:20).  

In the course of eating the bread and drinking the cup that was available, there is Jesus’ announcement about him being betrayed.  There is a natural response to that topic.  There is also Peter’s future concerning his denials.  Perhaps some today believe the silence expected during the Lord’s supper as we practice it, was also how the apostles engaged in it.  Actually, there was a specific dialogue connected with the Passover feast.  Only John mentions it, but there is the surprise of Jesus becoming the servant and washing the feet of the apostles.  Peter objects but submits.  Although John does not mention communion, he gives us a lot more of the dialogue during that meal than found in Matthew through Luke’s description.

Today’s church usually follows some of the traditions made popular by the Catholic and Protestant churches.  The table where the apostles and Jesus sat has been discarded and replaced with pews.  Men gather around what is identified as “the Lord’s table,” but the pew is where the church actually partakes.  The “table” is symbolic!  The recent pandemic has forced most congregations to change how the “supper” is passed and partaken.  The “supper” has been greatly reduced as well as changed.  During the pandemic, men passed the bread or wine to those who were sitting in the pews.  Also, the Lord’s supper which we participate in today does not remove “hunger” (1 Corinthians 12:20-21).  Cracker Barrel is now the champion filling that need.  Are these changes and adaptions wrong?  They would be IF our substitutions have been accepted as doctrine and bound as the only scriptural way to do communion.  Sadly, some teach as doctrine the commandments of men, binding things which God has not (Matthew 15:9).  Tradition is a terrible animal to kill.

BELONGING TO THE UNSAVED?

My Thoughts. . .

Wednesday, 12-22-2021

Matthew informs us about a conversation between Jesus and Peter.  It begins with a question from Jesus to the group.

But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood,  but by my Father in heaven.   And I tell you that you are Peter,  and on this rock I will build my church,  and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16:15-17).

Notice, Peter answered Jesus’ question with, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus’ response is, “on this rock I will build my church.”  What did Jesus build based upon Peter’s statement “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God“?  Jesus is its foundation, not Peter.

The Holy Spirit paints a picture of that “church” or “assembly.”  It is described, not as a building upon a city street or corner.  It was not constructed of wood, cement, or metal.  It did not have a steeple nor stained glass windows.  It was not furnished with pews or pulpit.  It did not have a street address, offices, or a specific telephone number.  People did not assemble in a specific location to study, edify, pray, or be in the presence of God.  God was not far off.  He was dwelling in each saint.

Neither Jesus, the Holy Spirit, nor any inspired apostle or prophet describes it as an invisible church.  Although every member was without perfection, the membership of congregation like Corinth and Laodicea kind were indwelt by God.  The expression “the body of Christ” is used to describe the saved in different locations  (Romans 7:4; 1 Corinthians 10:16; Ephesians 1:23, 4:4, 12).  No believer was described being in “the invisible church,” then later joining a “visible one.” 

Paul pictures it in the following words,

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,   Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:17, 22-23).

If one is “in the body of Christ,” Jesus is his head.  Being in that saved body, one is indwelt by God and is referred to as “the temple of God” (1 Corinthians 3:16).  Imperfection is found in all such assemblies, yet are saved because God added and  cleanse them with Jesus’ blood (Acts 2:47).  In the first century those added ones did not have “dual” membership in (1) one body that saved and (2) another that was useless in saving.  When division reared its ugly head in Corinth, God did not give it His approval (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).  That division occurred each time man made himself equal to God.

Jesus is the head of his saved assembly.  That assembly was capable of fellowship, worship, edification, teaching, disciplining, and comforting long before man decided God’s way was not enough.  Notice the differences between what Jesus’ “my church” is and what man’s additions have built.

JESUS’ “MY CHURCH”                                                       MAN’S ADDITIONS

1. Jesus is its “head.”                                              1. Man heads each division

2. God adds to its membership                                2. Man outlines how to join

3. God adds those He saves                                     3. Man votes the person in

4. The added are saved by God                              4. Assumes candidate is already saved

5. God & man know the saved                               5. Membership assumed to be saved

6. Saved and belonged to Jesus                            6. Salvation is not its purpose

7. Dividing the saved condemned                        7. Division is glorified

8. Jesus is the 1 head over his 1 body                  8. Multiple heads over multiple bodies

9. Identified as disciples, saved, or Christian      9. Multiple identifications by division

10. Capable of existing without denominating   10. Offers different belief systems

11. One head, one body, one faith, = salvation   11. Does not nor cannot offer salvation

12. Created and identified by God.                       12. Offers conflicting doctrines

First century disciples of Christ did not seek fellowship in an organization which was not the body of Jesus.  Why join something that cannot save?  Can the saved not have fellowship without creating an organization which does not save?  Denominations do not save.  Denominations do not make the Lord favor you over others who are not in that denomination.  One’s contributions goes to an organization which is not the body of Christ.  One’s work in that organization is to glorify that institution which cannot save.  The apostle Peter did not write, “However, if you suffer as a (your denominational name), do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that (denominational) name” (1 Peter 4:16).

Jesus promised to build his church.  Did he keep that promise in the first century or wait until several hundred years later to do so?  If later, what were the apostles, prophets, elders, deacons, and others have their membership in?  They would not be in “the body of Christ” nor be “saved” if the church was late in being established.  Do the scriptures condone or condemn dividing the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)?  Did Paul lie or teach falsely when he stated that there was one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God (Ephesians 4:3-6)?  If Jesus built multiple churches with different doctrines, rules, worship, and organization, why is inspiration silent on that subject?  Could it be that what we read in the New Testament originates from God rather than from man?

WHO IS BEING HONORED?

My Thoughts . . .

Tuesday, 12-07-2021

Have you ever heard about something happening and wondered why it did?  Once when I was having my car serviced a man ran out of a beer joint across the highway, stopped and turned around.  Another man ran out with a pistol. He started shooting at the first man.  I was wondering what the man being shot at had said to the shooter for that individual to want to kill him?  Apparently, the shooter was drunk or not a marksman because he emptied the pistol without hitting the man which he hoped to put bullet holes in.  Jesus asked his apostles who men were saying he was.  Three names were given.  1) John the Baptist, 2) Elijah, and 3) Jeremiah.  Have you ever wondered why Jesus was thought to be one of those three? 

Why would anyone compare Jesus to John?  Did they dress alike?  No.  They were related, but not enough that Jesus appeared to be John’s identical twin.  John did not drink because of his vow.  Jesus did and was falsely accused of being a wine bibber and glutton (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34).  John did not perform miracles.  He immersed people.  He immersed Jesus, but the Lord did not immerse others but left that action for his disciples to perform.

Elijah did performed miracles but why would people believe Jesus was the resurrected prophet?  The angel told Zacharias that he would have a son who “shall go before his face in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17).  Matthew states that John the Baptist was a fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3. Elijah would return to announce the coming of the Messiah.  Yet some in Peter’s crowd in Acts 2 were among those who shouted, “Crucify him” (Mark 15:13-14).  If Jesus was Elijah, why would they desire to kill that prophet?  They respected him. If John the Baptist personified Elijah, then Jesus was the Messiah their prophet Elijah (John) was proclaiming!

Jeremiah was a prophet, but most of the people rejected his message and wished him dead.  Jesus’ ministry lasted about three and a half years.  Jeremiah preached for about fifty.  Although “repentance” was part of both men’s preaching, it is difficult to understand how Jesus could be mistaken as a resurrected Jeremiah.  Jews in Jesus day did not want to kill Jeremiah, they honored him.  Perhaps it was easier to believe Jesus was a resurrected or personification of Jeremiah than to admit he was God in the flesh.  I doubt if Jews in that day wanted to kill Jeremiah, but they did kill Jesus. 

Those who thought Jesus was a resurrected John, Elijah, or Jeremiah recognized those three as God fearing men who preached God’s will.  If they thought Jesus was a personification of all three, Peter’s sermon convicted them of their sin in crucifying our Lord (Acts 2:36-37).  The switch from categorizing Jesus as John, Elijah, or Jeremiah to wanting him dead, highlights the inconsistencies of man.  Even in the church some proudly declared they were followers of Peter, Paul, Apollos, and Christ.  Yet Paul pointed out how each division was digressive rather than something to proudly join.  Those who claimed to follow Peter, Apollos, Paul, or Jesus honored the one they claimed to follow.  Yet each thought their division was the correct one.  It is a sin to be a part of a division even for those who claimed to follow Jesus.  Why?  It divides the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).   It was sinful then and still is.

Have you ever wondered why we follow inconsistency as if it was the truth?

WILL WE BE REMEMBERED?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 12-09-2021

When we pass from this life into the next realm, will we be remembered?  As long as there are friends, neighbors, and family still living who knew us personally, we will be.  When they die will we be remembered by something that we owned that is passed on to the younger generation?  A “saying” or a particular moment in our life will be told.  However, all too soon, our memory will become past history and only a name in the family tree.

There are names in the Bible of people who lived over a thousand years ago that are remembered by Bible students.  David is remembered because he killed Goliath.  He is also remembered because he became king of Israel.  He is remembered because he had Bathsheba’s husband left exposed to the enemy and died in battle.  We remember this was done so David’s adultery with Uriah’s wife would not be disclosed.  Scripture reveals the good, the bad, and the ugly in their triumphs and tragedies as heroes or scoundrels.  Paul is respected, yet admits he was chief among sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).  There are unnamed men and women who lacked perfection but are remembered for their faithfulness.  The Hebrew writer mentions Abel through Samuel with some whose faithful record is very short like “Rahab the harlot” (v.31).  There are “others” who are not named, but who suffered and died for the truth (vs. 35-38).  Only God knows who they are.  But though forgotten by man and their names left out of scripture by the inspired, they were faithful. As years turn into centuries and those centuries surrender to identifiers that are much longer, today’s faithful will be forgotten by tomorrow’s population.  However, those who are no longer with us have not been forgotten by God.  One day we will be reminded of that when He states, “Well done” or “Depart from me . . .”  Whether we express joy or sorrow depends upon our response to Hi

THE PATH TAKEN BY JESUS’ “MY CHURCH”!

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 11-29-2021

What did God have in mind when Jesus promised to build his, “church”?  Some believed we should resurrect the Jerusalem congregation and make it our blueprint for restoration.  Would that be a pattern?  If so, then why did inspired members neglected to preach to the Gentile world for a generation or more?  Who was at fault?  A bewildered apostle Peter went to the house of Cornelius and introduced them to Jesus.  The Spirit fell on the Gentiles causing Peter to command baptism.  When this news reach Jerusalem it did not produce a chorus of “hallelujahs.”  Time and conversions continued in the Gentile world.  However, questions grew asking whether or those converts were “real Christians” without being circumcised.  This question required a counsel made up of the apostles, elders, and Jerusalem congregation on whether to accept uncircumcised Gentiles as “true” Christians (Acts 15).  Although the decision was made to accept Gentiles as saved without being circumcised, not all Jewish Pharisee Christians accepted that decision (Galatians 1:6-9, 5:4).  Yes, God saved Pharisees.  Jesus’ brother, the Jerusalem congregation, and other Jewish churches were allowed to continue following the Law of Moses (Acts 21:20).  Gentiles were not required to do so.  Tolerances between the two was commanded but not always followed (Romans 14).  After the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D., the Gentile churches grew, but not so with the Jewish ones.  Jewish practices in the church were avoided by Gentile saints.

Scripture is one thing, but life can force alternate views to become acceptable.  In 1860 to 1865 Southern disciples fought against Northern believers with each thinking that God was on their side.  That thinking ended with 1.5 million military and civilian being killed.  The views of disciples who were US citizens in 1918 were a lot different from the citizenry on December 7, 1941.  Churches cold shouldered those members who fought in WWI but warmed up some in their attitude of those who served in WWII.  Some German believers applauded Adolph Hitler’s resurrection of Germany’s pride after he was elected.  Some blindsided themselves concerning his elimination of the Jews, gypsies, and others.  That conflict ended with worldwide deaths of 70 to 85 million civilians and military from 1940 to 1945.  Lessons were learned, but not enough to stop the same thinking process which continued to take lives from 1946 to the present.

Even today the idea is accepted that we may substitute Jesus’ instructions with practices more in line with modern culture.  Whether this is permitted by God is not clearly outlined in Scripture.  Usually, disciples of Jesus will criticize the political party in control rather than pray for them.  Peter commanded Christians to “honor the king” even though Rome was applauding the lions in Coliseum events where those carnivorous beast were devouring Christians (1 Peter 2:17).   If we do not agree with that kind of response, we describe how hot it will be for those politicians.   If someone slaps us, we seldom turn the other cheek.  When disagreements arise in a congregation, the dissension often destroys fellowship (Acts 15:36-40).  Then both sides justify their behavior, believing God is on their side while the other is following Satan!  If it were not for the grace of God, both would feel the heat!

FILLING IN THE BLANKS?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 12-02-2021

When the Jews began their return to Palestine from Babylonian captivity, only 50,000 of the displaced wanted to go.  During the seventy years of captivity, they had built houses, established businesses, were allowed a good measure of freedom, and had members who enjoyed interaction with the rulers.  Life in Babylon was a lot better than what they would find by returning.

The trip back was about 618+ miles.  It would not be pleasant.  They did not have Interstate nor State highways to travel on.  Restaurants, Rest Stops, Motels, and such were unknown.  Walking was their transportation and camping out was not a recreational vacation.  They did not have refrigeration to keep items from spoiling.  Someone would need to hunt, kill, return with the kill, skin it, cut it up, and cook it.  Older travelers would slow them down.  Finding water would be a problem.  Bathing would be a luxury.  Protection from the locals would require constant lookouts and a well-regulated defense to remain safe.

When the time arrived for that large group to leave Babylon, did those who stayed have different feelings about those who were leaving?  Did they think they were crazy for wanting to return to what had been destroyed?  Did those who were leaving think those who remained were void of trust in God?  The ones who were leaving would not find a welcoming party waiting to greet them.  Jerusalem without walls would open them up to marauding groups who would wish to rob or kill them.  They were leaving good houses behind with no guarantee of housing where they were going.  Their travel time would rule out planting and harvesting food.  The trip would be long.  Danger would be their traveling companion.  Would older folks making the trip make it?  Starvation could happen.  Rebuilding might end in failure due to those who now occupied the land.

What would you have done?  You have a nice house to live in.  You are surrounded by friends and relatives that are not going.  You have a great job and are making a good living.  You have no problem with the Babylonians, and they are not making life miserable for you.  Your children are educated by those who believe as you do.  Your older children have married and have your grandchildren and they are established here and do not plan to leave.  Why go on a trip that will be unpleasant and present unknown dangers?  Once resettled, life will continue to be hard due to those foreigners living there.  They will attempt to remove you by force.

Sometimes, Scripture does not offer details nor the conflicting decisions that had to be made.  These are just my thoughts.  What are yours?   

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