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

Archive for March, 2017

Seek God First

The beloved John wrote: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev 2:10). Is the Lord included in your plans every day? Are you making preparations to grow spiritually? Are your dreams and aspirations concerned solely with “this life” and the things therein? Revelation 2:10 speaks to Christians who were being persecuted because of their faith in the Lord (2 Tim 3:12 f; 1 Pet 4:16). In a very real way, being faithful unto death meant unto the point of death. Even if they were asked to lay their life on the line, they should do so willingly. Are we asked to serve the Lord to such an extreme degree? No, but what would be our reaction if that time came? Actually, you can determine your willingness to serve the Lord in difficult times by how you are serving the Lord now. When the times are favorable for spreading the gospel and worshiping the Father above, do you use every opportunity to put the Lord first? Why do you think that you would give up your life for the Lord, when you will not even put him first now? Jesus plainly says to put Him first (Matt. 6:33).

There will be disappointments in life. Family trouble, a financial crisis, or even trouble on the job will surely come to some. Will we continue to faithfully do the Lord’s will in spite of these problems? Undoubtedly Jesus was disappointed when his followers turned away (Jn. 6:66-69). Paul experienced heartache as his once faithful co-workers turned away in his time of need. Christians are not immune from troubles (Job 14:1). Let us resolve not to let anything or anyone turn us away from the Lord.

Satan will be seeking to gain an advantage of you at any opportune time. He seeks your spiritual destruction (1 Pet. 5:8). The Lord provides the way of escape; make sure you look for it and use it (1 Cor. 10:13).

Do your possessions possess you or do you possess them? Many say they have to work all the time. Other say they have to make ends meet. However, is your soul worth all that you are working for? Do you give God any of your time to do His work? The things of this life have a way of choking out the true riches that should be in our hearts (Lk. 8:14). Are you working for a good retirement in this life or in the one to come (Lk. 12:15-21)? Remember, a Christian has no retirement in this life. Faithful stewardship means that we willingly give back to the Lord what is His already (1 Cor. 4:2). The rich fall into a trap that is hard to get out of (1 Tim. 6:6-8).

A Christian’s resolve in this life should be to obtain an eternal heavenly reward and not an earthly short term gain. Let everything else in this life be secondary. Put the Lord first! Seek heaven first! When we do that, we have blessings now and in the world to come, eternal life!

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Have You Been Saved Like Noah?

 

The beloved John wrote: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14).

The apostle Peter said, “… the ark, wherein few, that is eight souls were saved by water. The like figure where unto even baptism does also now save us . . . by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:20-21). Let’s take a look at what it means to saved like Noah.

Saved By Grace

Christians today are saved by grace just as “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8), “For by grace are you saved” (Eph. 2:8). As Noah found God’s favor and was saved from the waters of the flood, so it is by God’s favor that we can be saved from our sins. It is not by grace alone, or anything else alone, but a number of things work together to bring about our salvation. Noah was saved by grace, but not by grace alone and neither are we.

Saved by Faith

Noah was saved by faith. The Hebrew writer stated, “By faith Noah . . . prepared an ark in the saving of his house” (Heb. 11:7). We, as was Noah, are saved by faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is” (Heb. 11:6). Unbelievers were told to, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house” (Acts 16:31). Every case of conversion in the New Testament, was that of believers. In fact, one must believe in order to have the right to be saved (Jn. 1:11-12). At the point of faith, one may exercise his right to be saved or stay lost! True, we are saved by faith but “not by faith only” (Jam. 2:24).

Water And Baptism

The waters of the flood kept the ark afloat, according to the Bible , “eight souls were saved by water” (1 Pet. 3:21). The Bible does not teach that we are saved by water, but it does say, “The like figure where unto even baptism doth also now save us” (1 Pet. 3:21). You see, the word baptism does not mean water. It means immersion. Baptism is an act of obedience, commanded by the Lord. “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16).

Obedience Saves

Just as Noah was saved, “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he” (Gen. 6:22); we are also saved by obeying the Lord. For Jesus is “the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9). At the very outset, God demanded obedience from man. “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17). A failure to obey brings about the penalty of death. The book of Revelation closes with the demand for obedience. “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Rev. 22:14). It takes the same things to save us today that it took to save Noah in his day.

Have you been saved like Noah? You can be…

Evil Wins When Christians Do Nothing

When good men do nothing, evil wins every time. In the endless battle between good and evil, it is seldom the numbers that determine the outcome of each skirmish. Many times, the side for the right has beaten overwhelming odds. More often than not, evil wins simply because the good men are not willing to stand up and fight for what they know is right.

When Good Men do Nothing, They Get Nothing Good Done

To be good, one must do good. They must do good, expecting nothing in return (Luke 6:35). We were created to do good works (Eph 2:10). Christ gave himself to gain a people zealous of good works (Tit 2:14).

In the parable of the one talent man he took what the Lord gave and hid it (Matt 25:18). He was condemned for returning only what his Lord gave (Matt 25:25). He did not do any outright evil. He did not steal the money. Neither did he do anything good with the money. Simply put, he did nothing at all (Matt 25:26).

The church at Sardis seemed to be alive, but it was dead (Rev 3:1). Too many churches and too many Christians do nothing. They are standing idly by. They are mere spectators, sitting on the sidelines instead of actively participating in the good work of the Lord. If good wins, they join in the celebration, though they did nothing to produce the victory. If evil wins, they complain long and loud, though their own apathy produced the undesirable result.

Learn from the parable of the fig tree. “Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, ‘Let no fruit grow on you ever again.’ Immediately the fig tree withered away” (Matt 21:18,19). What will the great Judge do with those who claim to be good and yet do nothing? Heed the warning of John, the baptizer. “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matt 3:10). Jesus too, gives the same warning. “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (Jn 15:1-2).

When Good Men do Nothing, Evil Triumphs

Evilness, sin, and sinful men must be opposed. God commands that the good are not to just avoid evil, but to actively oppose it. Christians are to have no fellowship with evil, but rather they are to reprove them. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph 5:11). Those who do nothing about sin and evil help sin and evil to prevail. When one is silent before the evil, we become a partaker with them (Ezek 3:18).

Elijah challenged the people to decide between God and the evil of Ahab and Jezebeel, yet the people remained silent (1 Kings 18:21).

In the parable of the good Samaritan, wicked men had robbed and beaten a man, leaving him half dead. The men who did this were very evil. The priest and the Levite, who passed on the other side (Luke 10:31-32) were willing to let evil triumph by not doing anything. Only the Samaritan stood up for what was right. In the fight against evil there is no middle ground, no gray area, no neutrality (Matt 12:30).

When Good Men do Nothing, They are no Longer Good

Too many have the mistaken notion that good is merely the absence of doing wrong. A person is not good merely because he has done no evil. A good person is one who is actively working for what is good (1 Pet 3:11). When we don’t do good, we are sinning. “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (Jam 4:17).

There are Christians today who fail to face the real foe of error and fight the enemy. Instead, they turn inwardly upon their own brethren and brutally attack out of bitterness and hatred. Well did Paul warn about these spiritual cannibals: “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another” (Gal 5:15). Some in their envy of others will provoke Christians, taunting them to misstep so they may feel justified (Gal 5:26). While the actions of these Christians are shameful, what about those who stand by and do nothing? If you stand aside and do nothing while your brothers are being slandered, are you any better?

Conclusion: Those who fail to do the works of God are sowing dangerous seeds. “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Gal 6:7). Do not allow evil to triumph by your inaction. Stand up and be counted. Speak up against evil, rebuke evil men and their wicked ways. These are those who are set for the defense of the gospel (Philip 1:15-17); Those who are ready to give an answer (1 Pet 3:15); Those who are prepared to prove all things (1 Thess 5:21); Those who contend for the faith (Jude 3). Put on the whole armor of God (Eph 6:11-18) and fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim 6:12). If you are truly a Christian, it is your calling, it is your duty.

The Dangers of Great Wealth

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).

Self-Will vs God’s Will

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).

Compromised Truth is a Lie

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).

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