Speaking where the bible speaks, and silent where the bible is silent.

Possession of great riches involves a tremendous amount of responsibility. The proper use of riches determines whether we are pleasing in the sight of the Lord. Jesus made the statement in the Sermon on the Mount: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal.” (Matt. 6:19.) When Joseph finally revealed his identity to his brethren, he gave them changes of raiment with silver. (Gen. 45:22.) In taking the city of Jericho, God had commanded that they should not take anything of the city, but we find that Achan disobeyed God. “When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.” (Josh 7:21.) Our attitude toward material things determines what we really are in this life. Jesus tells us no man can serve two masters without hating one and loving the other. (Matt. 6:24.) Our purpose in this lesson is to teach us the proper use of our means, whether they be little or much, and the dangers involved in failing to use them in the manner God intended.

Jesus Teaches Against Covetousness
(Luke 12:13-15)

No doubt this man had engaged in a dispute with his brother about the settlement of their inheritance. He knew Jesus had great influence over people; he endeavored to get him on his side of the question and thus gain his point. Jesus refused to be drawn into the controversy. He left that up to the laws of the land. It is true; Jesus gave principles, which if they were followed would settle all such controversies. (Matt. 7:12.)

This afforded Jesus an excellent opportunity to teach against covetousness. Covetousness, is greedy or unlawful desire, for something — usually that which belong to others. In the next verse Jesus teaches a lesson we all should learn: “…. for a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.” (vs 15.) Many today spend their days in fruitless effort to find happiness in storing up the material things of this world. You can drive down the streets of some town and see a fine ten-room brick house, spacious grounds, two or three fine cars; they have servants and maids, and no doubt you will say: “I am sure the people living there are very happy.” Some of the most miserable and unhappy people on earth live in luxurious surroundings, and some of the happiest people may live in poverty, in a shack by the side of the road. The wisest of all men gives us the true recipe for successful living. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Eccl. 12:13, 14.) It is true a covetous man cannot be saved. (Eph. 5:5.)

The Parable of the Rich Fool
(Luke 12: 16-21)

This parable shows the folly of riches, and that a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things he possesses. We know that riches did not save this man. This man was very successful as far as this world was concerned. His ground had brought forth plentifully, and he decided to pull down his barns, build larger, then he would have room to store his goods. Just when he thought he was prepared to live, he was snatched into eternity — unprepared to meet God. Isn’t this true of many good people today? I want to just make a few more thousand, live in ease, and then I will prepare to live with Christ in the other world. You may be like this man– start preparing for eternity too late. There are many good lessons learned from this parable.

(1.) Wicked men are often very prosperous. We see some Christians living on the bare necessities of this life, and think God is unjust. Let us remember God doesn’t settle all accounts in this world.

(2.) Riches always bring a load of care and anxiety. Those that have riches usually worry for fear someone will steal their money and possessions.

(3.) Riches tend to steal affections from God, and place them on worldly things.

(4.) Riches cannot prevent death, nor the grave. Paul said: “And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Heb. 9:27.)

(5.) If we trust in our riches, we are fools in God’s sight.

(6.) True wisdom is what Jesus said in Matt. 6:33: “But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

The Danger in Great Riches
(1 Tim. 6:7-10)

So many people think if they had great wealth they would be satisfied and content. Paul teaches that wealth alone cannot bring contentment. “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Tim. 6:6.) Godliness brings its greatest gain in eternity. I must remember that I didn’t bring anything into this world, neither can I carry anything out. So, when I live a Christian life, and have the things necessary for the body, why not be content? Paul shows this should be true of all Christians. “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he has said I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5.) Those that desire to be rich will fall into many temptations. They will resort to various schemes to accomplish their purpose. They are scraping, gathering and heaping up riches, and scarcely taking the necessary things of life out for themselves.

Many get their wealth by stealing the wages of those who work for them (Jam 5:1-5). We see this today by those who want to prevent the minimum wage from rising in order to gain even more wealth from those who have little. Remember the prophetic words of the prophet Jeremiah who wrote: “As the partridge sits on eggs, and hatches them not; so he that gets riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool” (Jer 17:11).

Sometimes the Bible is misquoted here. Money is not the root of all kinds of evil, but Paul said: “For the LOVE of MONEY is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Tim. 6:10.) The love for money will cause people to lie, cheat, steal, and commit murder.

Paul’s Charge to the Rich
(Tim. 6:1719.)

Those that are rich should remember that we obtain all temporal blessings from God. So many of us are inclined to think that by our power and wisdom we obtain great wealth. Let us notice what God said to the Israelites. “And you say in your heart, My power and the might of mine hand has gotten me this wealth. But you shall remember the Lord your God: for it is he that gives you power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he swore unto your fathers, as it is this day.” (Deut. 8:17-18.) We are not to trust in our riches, at best, they are uncertain. Riches do not constitute an impossible barrier to heaven, but for those that have wealth, it will be more difficult for them to be saved. “And Jesus looked round about, and said unto his disciples, how hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answered again, and said unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” (Mk 10:23-24.) A person may be as rich as Bill Gates and be saved, if the riches are used as God intended, or as poor as Lazarus and be lost. Let us remember poverty is not a passport to heaven. (Prov. 11:4.) However, it would be far better for us to be rich in good works, than in this world’s goods.

Conclusion: The apostle Paul said: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Tim. 6:17-19.) Remember, “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required (Lk 12:48).

When a man is self-willed man he has disqualified himself from serving as an elder in the Lord’s Church (Tit 1:7). Peter gave an additional warning when he wrote: “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (1 Pet. 5:3).

Sometimes we hear people trying to excuse their self-willed ways by saying, “It is just human nature to want to have your own way.” We strongly disagree with the foregoing because the Bible says that mankind was made in the image and likeness of deity (Gen. 1:26). The Bible tells us that God is love. The Bible is in fact an account of God’s age old struggle to redeem and save rebellious and lost mankind. If God had been self-willed, He would never have allowed Jesus to die for mankind and all would have been lost. The self-willed do not manifest “human nature” but rather Satanic nature.

Self-Willed means: self-pleasing, denotes one who dominated by self-interest, and inconsiderate of others, arrogantly asserts his own will. A self-willed person is “stubborn and obstinate”. He will obstinately maintain his own opinion, or asserting his own rights over biblical facts. He is reckless of the rights, feelings and interests of others. He is ready to destroy the weak souls around him just to prove his opinions are equal or superior to God’s Holy Word.

In 2 Peter 2:9-12, the apostle Peter affirms that God will “reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.” He numbers among them to be punished, those that “despise government”__the presumptuous and the self-willed!

Truly, those who practice the “Golden Rule,” “love their neighbors as themselves”, and regard others as more important than themselves; expose the self-willed for what they truly are___ agents of the Devil! Let us always remember this: We can live life one of two ways (1) Our Way or (2) God’s Way. Our way will get our soul cast into hell. God’s way leads to eternal life (Matt 7:13,14).

Identifying A Christian

There have been many articles written and many sermons preached on the identity of a false teacher, but what are the identifying characteristics of a faithful Christian? More imperatively, do you possess these characteristics?

ALL CHRISTIANS HAVE OBEYED THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST

There has never been anyone declared to be a Christian in the New Testament who did not first obey the gospel of Christ. The gospel of Christ is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:1-4). One obeys the gospel by first hearing it taught or preached (Rom 10:17). Secondly, after hearing the gospel one must believe in their heart that Jesus is the Christ and confess such with their mouth before men (Rom 10:9,10). Thirdly, one must repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38). Lastly, one must remain faithful unto death (Rev 2:10).

ALL CHRISTIANS ARE ADDED TO THE CHURCH

All New Testament Christians were added to the Lord’s church. All Christians are baptized into the body or the church of Christ and are members thereof (1 Cor 12:13, 27). Take note, no Christian joined the church of their choice. Jesus himself adds those who have obeyed the gospel of Christ to His church (Acts 2:47).

THE IDENTITY OF THE LORD’S CHURCH

This is a very imperative identification. There have been many who have obeyed the gospel and then began attending either a denominational church or an errand church of Christ. First of all, the Lord’s church was built by Christ himself (Matt 16:18). Jesus is the head of the body, the church of Christ (Eph 1:22,23 f; Col 1:18). The church of Christ abides in the doctrine of Christ (also called the apostle’s doctrine and the doctrine of God) (2 Jn 9 ff; Acts 2:42; Jn 7:16,17). The church does not teach for doctrine the commandments and doctrines of men (Matt 15:7-9). The church does not change the Word of God (1 Cor 4:6 ff; Gal 1:6-9; 1 Pet 4:11; Rev 22:18,19). The church worships God in Spirit and in truth (Jn 4:23,24). The church assembles each first day of the week to remember the Lord’s death by the partaking of the Lord’s supper and to give of its means (Acts 20:7 f; 1 Cor 15:1-3). The church sings and makes music in their heart to the Lord (No Instrumental Music) (Eph 5:19 f; Col 3:16). The church sings and prays with the Spirit and understanding also (1 Cor 14:15). The church hears the Word by the means of teaching and preaching (2 Tim 4:2-5).

ALL CHRISTIANS LIVE A MORAL LIFE

Christians live a moral and godly life. This means Christians do not commit the works of the flesh which include such sins as adultery, fornication, and homosexuality, etc (1 Cor 6:9,10 f; Gal 5:19-21). This also means Christians do not kill, steal, or lie (Rom 13:9). Christians must obey the laws of the land as long as they are in agreement with the Word of God (Rom 13:1-9 f; Acts 5:29). Christians do good unto all men, especially fellow Christians (Gal 6:10).

ALL FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS ARE PERSECUTED

Jesus and his apostles made one thing perfectly clear, that all faithful Christians will suffer persecution (2 Tim 3:12). Jesus said that all Christians must take up their cross and follow him, and anyone who refused to do so cannot be a Christian (Lk 14:27). Christians follow in the steps of the Savior who suffered for us (1 Pet 2:20,21). No servant is above his Master and a Christian’s Master is Jesus Christ (Matt 10:24). If they hated and persecuted Christ, they will also hate and persecute Christians (Jn 15:18). The prophets were persecuted (Matt 23:24 f; Jam 5:10), the apostles were persecuted (Matt 10:22-25 f; 2 Cor 11), Christ was persecuted (Jn 15:20) and so shall every faithful Christian (1 Pet 4:12,16).

Conclusion: There are many ways to identify a Christian which this lesson only touches the surface. Nevertheless, all Christians obey the gospel, are added to the church of Christ, continue in the doctrine of Christ and his apostles, live a godly life, and are persecuted for the cause of Christ. If there is any thing more than these it is this, that all Christians must love one another even as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us. This is how the world identifies us as Christians (Gal 2:20 f; Jn 13:34,35).

Compromise is the willingness to give up something in order to get something.  It is said to be the “art of diplomacy” or the “art of the deal”. Savvy politicians will tell you that to be a successful politician you must learn to compromise. Because different philosophies and ideologies come to bear within political circles, it is difficult to accomplish anything without being willing to compromise somewhere along the line. Usually, neither side gets all of what it wants. Instead, each side gives up a little in order to get a little. While getting some of what it believes in, each side prevents the other from getting all of what it wants.
Certainly, compromise is necessary under certain circumstances. No one can have a successful and happy marriage without compromise. Corporations compromise with other companies in order to make a profitable deal for the both of them. Nations compromise with each other in order to gain peace. Basically, there’s nothing wrong with compromising under the right circumstances, but a huge problem arises when TRUTH is compromised. Once compromised, truth will never be the same. Truth cannot stand compromise.
If 2+2=4, it can never equal anything but 4 and still be the truth. If someone comes along and insists 2+2=6, and someone else insists 2+2=4, both cannot possibly be correct. One is right and one is wrong. If the two compromise and agree to state that 2+2=5, they have not changed the “absolute truth” of the matter. If they could somehow convince everyone in the world to agree that 2+2=5, then 2+2=5 will become an “accepted truth.” However, it will not change the absolute truth because 2+2 will always equal 4. Absolute truth can never be compromised.
When it comes to doctrinal matters, there’s no room for compromise. The truth is the truth and it comes from God (Jn. 17:17). The Bible is the only body of authoritative truth that has been communicated to man by God in order to guide man in God’s will (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  There is only one true God (1 Cor. 8:4,6). There is only one Savior, Jesus Christ (Jn. 8:24). There is no salvation outside of Christ (Acts 4:12). A person cannot be saved without being baptized (immersed) in water for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38 ff; 1 Pet. 3:21; Mk. 16:15-16).  No one can be saved without being added to the Lord’s church (Acts 2:47).
Truth cannot be compromised and remain truth. When one decides to compromise the doctrinal teachings of God’s word, he casts away the truth and destroys his own soul. Compromised teachings are not absolute truth. The bible calls them the “Doctrines and commandments of men”, which are “Vain worship” (Matt 15:7-9). The only way for one to have absolute truth, doctrinally, is to accept God’s doctrine as it has been communicated to us by His Word (2 Jn. 9). It cannot be changed and still be God’s truth, for no lie is of the truth (1 Jn. 2:21). In fact, compromised truth is a lie, and we all know that Satan is the father of all lies (Jn 8:44). Truth cannot be compromised, because compromise changes truth. This is why it is a mortal sin to add to or to take from God’s Word and all who do will be accursed (1 Cor 4:6 ff; Gal 1:6-9; Rev 22:18,19). Only the truth will set us free if we continue in God’s Word (Jn 8:31,32).

He gets up to speak, and the words flow smoothly. They are well-chosen, rehearsed, and timed to perfection. He knows the hot topics. He’s conducted surveys and conferred with experts. There is a level of eloquence, confidence, and assertiveness that is convincing. Allowed to pick the moment and the setting, he gets his message across and connects with the people with ease. Yet, get him out of his element, ask for the proof behind his confident assertions or present evidence that even refutes his claims, and the well-oiled speech skips a beat. It stutters and stammers to a halt.

Whom am I speaking of? Do you think you’ve figured it out? Is he a politician? Republican? Democrat or Independent? Actually, I didn’t have a specific person in mind. Still, you had no trouble visualizing such a person. The point is that such people are among us, and they utilize their communications skills to draw a following. They may be political, but not necessarily. They’re persuasive and if you dared to admit it, they may have persuaded you at some point. Yet, a piercing question went unanswered. A proof that refuted their points could not be disproven. A truth hidden behind their rhetoric is now easily seen. You never again felt the same amount of admiration or respect for that person. Something was lacking. It had been all along, but now you realize it—and their hold is never the same. Examples of such people are found in the New Testament.

Most are nameless, and no one passage of Scripture sums up their nature and their methods in a nice neat little package. You’ll have to spend some time in the Gospels and in Acts to get the complete picture. Yet, with one word, I can bring that picture into focus for you: Pharisees. They held the people’s attention. And they used a variety of ways to get and keep that attention. They did it by assuming “the chair of Moses,” an accurate analogy to describe their belief in their right to teach and to judge. When their deeds were held to the same standards they meted out, their image was tarnished (Mt. 23:1-4). They did it by posturing in public at every opportunity. They loved to pray loudly at the street corner and to humbly blush when, at their instruction, the horn was blown to draw attention to the alms they gave (Mt. 6:1-5). In short, they did their deeds to be seen of men (Mt. 23:5). They did it by encouraging men to offer to them words of praise and respect. When seen in public settings, they wanted the places of honor (Luke 11:43; 20:46). They did it by accepting, with false humility, the titles conferred on them that denoted their learning and their ability to have a following (Mt. 23:7-12).

That seemingly rock-solid genuineness proved to be a brittle facade when Jesus took His proper place as Rabbi and Teacher. No one with an honest heart who listened to His teachings could doubt Him. The Bible says that His authority was seen in the words He spoke. “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28,29).

It was to those who can be amazed at His teachings that Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” (Jn. 8:32).

The truth be known, no one can handle the truth until they first know the truth (2 Tim 2:15). That’s our task! To know the truth and then spread the truth is our mission (2 Tim 4:2-5).

I BELIEVE the male, generally speaking, is physically and emotionally stronger than the woman, and as such he is to give honor unto the woman, the weaker sex (1 Pet. 3:7).

I BELIEVE the man is to be the head (ruler) of the woman (1 Cor 11:3 f; Eph. 5:23).

I BELIEVE the woman is to submit herself unto the man in everything (Eph. 5:22,24 ff; 1 Tim. 2:11; Tit 2:3-5).

I BELIEVE the man is to love his wife as Christ also loved the church (Eph. 5:25).

I BELIEVE the man is to love the woman as he loves himself (Eph. 5:28).

I BELIEVE women should bear children, if physically possible, and be keepers at home (guide the affairs of the home) (1 Tim. 5:14).

I BELIEVE women must not teach (the Word) or usurp authority (have dominion) over the man, but to learn in silence (1 Tim. 2:11,12).

I BELIEVE a woman cannot, by the authority of God, speak in the assembly (1 Cor. 14:34,35).

I BELIEVE women are to be a help-meet to their husbands (Gen. 2:18).

I BELIEVE women are to love, and to obey their husbands (Eph. 5:33).

I BELIEVE without faithful women, the church cannot have qualified elders and deacons (1 Tim 3:1-13).

I BELIEVE a woman who realizes her place in God’s plan is worth more than all of earth’s riches (Prov. 31:10).

I don’t believe I am a male chauvinist, but if I am considered to be one by society because I believe what the bible teaches, so be it. I believe I am in good company to believe what God’s Word teaches me to believe.

It is scripturally evident that God wants all Christians to worship Him His way and no other way. As John recorded the words of our Lord, “You worship you know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:22-24).

Take note that several features of the Jewish worship are completely eliminated in the doctrine of Christ. For instance: (1) There is no significance regarding any geographical location for any of our worship (Jn. 4:21); (2) The Sabbath day worship was repealed (Col. 2:14-17; Gal. 4:1-11, etc.); (3) The use of instrumental music in worship was eliminated in that it was not included in the New Testament pattern for praise (Eph. 5:19 f; Col. 3:16, etc.); (4) The sacrifices that were permitted and even required under the Old Testament patterns were eliminated because of the supreme sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb of God, once for all (Heb. 10:10-14) and because of the superior sacrifice which we are to offer, that is, “the sacrifice of praise to God . . . the fruit of our lips . . .” (Heb. 13:15).

The New Testament pattern is very simple and uncomplicated. It involves the worshiper in direct communion with God. If we respect the positive Word of the Lord, we will find that we may express the worship that is in our hearts by singing (Eph. 5:19), by praying, teaching, giving and observing the Lord’s supper (Acts 2:42). Furthermore, we find the following demanding characteristics of this simple means of worship.

1. We may express our worship in singing, prayer and study of the Word at any time, anywhere, alone or together (Acts 16:25 f; Eph. 5:19, etc.).

2. We must express our worship in the Lord’s supper and in giving on the first day of the week when brethren gather together for that purpose (Acts 20:7 f; 1 Cor. 16:1, 2).

3. Thus, we may, on the Lord’s day, when we will have come together for giving and for the Lord’s supper, also sing, pray and study, since these latter three may be done at any time. It is note worthy that examples of the church coming together on any other day than the first day of the week (on a weekly basis) to sing, pray and study was never once recorded; Neither was such commanded for Christians to do so. Such is a tradition of men and not the tradition of Christ and his apostles (Matt 15:7-9).

Conclusion: All that we do must be done “as unto the Lord” (Col. 3:23). Indeed, it must be done “in the name of the Lord” (Col. 3:17), which simply means that we must conduct all of our worship by the authority of Christ (Jn. 14:6). He has fully revealed His will to us in the written Word (2 Tim. 3:16, 17 f; 2 Pet. 1:3, etc.). We must determine to be content with what is written – with the revealed pattern. The traditions of men, the customs of our forefathers or the desires of the people today are of no consequence in determining what we must do. In fact, we have no right to decide what we will do. We have only to discern what God has decided! Without wavering with regard to scriptural principles, we must worship God with correct attitudes and in authorized expressions. Today, let us have the honesty to examine every feature of our worship in the light of the revealed Word and then determine to worship in complete accord with the Bible pattern.

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