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

Archive for the ‘1. Sermon Essays’ Category

Prove It By The Scripture

There is too much assuming and asserting going around in the religious world today and not enough proving, proving by the Scriptures. There is even the assertion that we need no book, chapter, and verse for what we teach or do in religion. After all, they say, it’s the “spirit of the law” that counts. The scriptures teach us to, “Prove all things; hold firm that which is good” (1 Thess 5:21). “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord” (Eph 5:9-10).

As it has always been true, error gives no proof, neither seeks it, “for every one that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (Jn. 3:20). In order to show that the need for Scripture for our every belief and practice is not just an assertion, let us look at some verses which prove this fact.

The Bible commands that when we speak in religious matters, we speak only what God has spoken. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles (utterances) of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). If there is not an oracle of God to back up what one says about a certain subject, then you can mark it down, that doctrine came from man, not God. The next time you hear someone preach, be like the Bereans who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). It is by the scriptures one becomes wise unto salvation to discern between both good and evil (2 Tim 3:15 f; Heb 5:14). It is by the scripture one must try the spirits whether they are of God, because many false prophets are gone out into world (1 Jn 4:1). Can one say that they have “spoken as the oracles of God” when all that is heard are jokes and stories? Paul said, “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2).

In order to be pleasing to God, one must have faith, for “without faith it is impossible to please him” (Heb. 11:6). Where does one get this faith? “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10: 17). One cannot be said to have faith if he does not possess the “spirit of faith” as spoken of by Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:13. “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.” So then it takes hearing, believing, and speaking the Word of God to have the kind of faith which pleases God. Thus, if we hear, believe and speak things which are not found in the word of God, then we don’t have faith and we won’t please God.

Not only must we prove our doctrines by the Bible, but we must have biblical authority for what we practice. Jesus told the Devil “that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word of God” (Lk. 4:4). The apostle John taught the same thing when he said, “Whosoever transgresses and abides not in the doctrine of Christ, has not God. He that abides in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn. 9). Thus, if we live by, or abide in, something which is not found in Scripture, then we don’t have God.

The Bible also commands us to follow the example of those who taught and practiced only what God said. “Those things, which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do” (Phil. 4:9). What do we see that Paul did? “And Paul . . . reasoned with them out of the Scriptures” (Acts 17:2). He didn’t just assert that Jesus was the Christ, he proved it to the Jews with Scripture. Apollos did the same by “showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ” (Acts 18:28). Let us “follow” their example (1 Cor. 11:1).

Realize the fact that Scripture may be offered as proof ‘ but not actually prove anything. This happens when false teachers take one scripture in order to contradict another. Biblical fact is that the bible does not contradict itself. Therefore, one scripture cannot contradict itself, but rather it verifies itself (2 Cor 1:18). Taking scripture out of its context or misquoting a scripture leads to false doctrine. The Devil quoted Scripture, but he perverted it (Matt. 4).

Anyone who perverts (changes) the Word shall be accursed (Gal 1:6-9). Examine both the old and new testaments and you will find one consistent law of God, and that is, don’t add or subtract from God’s Word (Deut 4:2 cf; 5:32; 12:32; 28:14 ff; Josh 1:7; Prov 30:6; Eccl 3:14; 1 Cor 4:6; 1 Pet 4:11; Rev 22:18,19). Teaching for doctrine the commandments of men is vain worship (Matt 15:7-9). The commandments of men turn us from the truth of God and not toward it (Tit 1:14).

“All scripture . . . is profitable for doctrine for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Any thing that we would ever need to believe or do to be pleasing to God can be found in God’s holy Word.

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Is Our Attitude of the Scripture Like Jesus?

Jesus gave complete and unreserved endorsement to the old covenant Scriptures (Matt. 5:17,18 f; Jn 10:35) and said that He did not come to destroy, deny or fight against them, but to fulfill them. Our Lord quoted extensively from the old Testament and referred to its people and stories as historical fact.

Jesus upheld the validity of the law in its completeness, and He claimed that the three parts of the former Scriptures prophesied of Him: “the law, the prophets, and the psalms” (Lk 24:44). Our Lord obeyed the law of God under which the Jews lived at that time. He was willingly obedient to parental (Lk 2:51), civil (Matt. 22:21) and religious law (Jn 8:29). In all of His conversations and activities, Jesus’ constant appeal was to the Scriptures.

In defeating the tempter, Jesus wielded the Word of God (Matt. 4: 1-11) by emphatically stating “it is written.” Our Lord used the Scriptures to rebuke wrong-doing (Matt. 21:12, 13) and He exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and their human traditions which made void the Scriptures. The Master Teacher clearly pointed out that the source of error was ignorance of the Scriptures (Matt. 22:29) and He quoted Scripture to silence objectors (Matt. 22:41-45).

Are we like Jesus in our attitude toward the Scriptures? Do we have this appreciation and respect for the sacred writings? How unlike Jesus is the person today who may boast of having “the spirit of Christ” but who at the same time is trampling underfoot the law of God! (Lk 6:46)

God’s only begotten Son loved, trusted, quoted, and believed wholeheartedly the Scriptures even exclaiming “the scripture cannot be broken” (Jn 10:35). Dare our attitude be less? Does one today “mouth love . . . and disregard law”? Does one turn “grace” into an excuse to sin? Does one “bend the law” to conform to his own way? If so, he has none of the genuine “spirit of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:2-4 f; Gal. 5:13-15).

The theme of Jesus’ life was humble obedience to the will of the Father (Heb. 5:8,9). Is that our desire and passion? The grand design of the gospel is to make us more like Jesus every day: to follow His example, to imitate His character, and to be “changed into that same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

The question of eternal significance is not: “Do I have a good attitude toward myself?” but rather: “Do I have a good and proper attitude toward God’s inspired Word?” As Paul instructed a young Timothy, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16,17)

Are You Ashamed of Christ?

“Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mk. 8:38). “Be not therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord” (2 Tim. 1:8). “If we deny him, he will also deny us” (2 Tim. 2:12; f. Lk. 12:9).

Are You Ashamed Of Christ?

Of what is there to be ashamed? Shall we be ashamed of his selflessness? Shall we apologize for his humility, courage, faith, devotion, piety, meekness, gentleness, bravery, love? The Son of God, “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). He divested himself of equality with God, “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:5-11).

Shall we be ashamed of his lowly birth? He was conceived in poverty and born in obscurity. He was “as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not” (Isa. 53:2,3).

Shall we be ashamed of his love, of his willingness to patiently endure cruel insults, aspersions and innuendoes designed to slander his person, slaughter his character, and slur his mission? He who made the worlds was refused by his own creation. The work of his hands and the desire of his heart, turned against his Creator, Sustainer and Savior. Spitting vile insults, they spurned him. Shouting lies in hypocrisy, they shamelessly crucified the Lord of glory. Taunts to come down from the cross to save himself were ignored. His weakness was the strength of their salvation. His foolishness was the wisdom of the ages and of prophetic sages. His shameful death was their glorious life. Despising the pain, suffering and shame, while gasping for breath and writhing in anguish, he begs and pleads, not for his own release or relief, but for his tormentors – “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34). I ask you, is this a cause for which shame is the result?

Ashamed Of His Words?

Just which of Jesus’ words should one be ashamed? “Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28)? This, and numerous comparable utterances, is no reason for shame. What of his threatening words of condemnation and judgment? Are they to be hidden and denied? No, for they too are words of love, grace and mercy. When a parent warns his child, “If you go out into the street, I will spank you,” he is not a monster seeking to arbitrarily restrict and deprive his child of pleasure. Rather, he recognizes the dangers and is protecting him from injury and death. Truly, he chastises those whom he loves (Heb. 12:5-11 f; Rev 3:19,20).

Our Lord’s message is ‘one of grace, hope, peace and love. Juvenile, street corner hucksters hawk their wares of popular psychology with pseudo-words of compassion, positive thinking and self-esteem. “You are wonderful; feel good about yourself.” The Son of God, however, told us we have no reason to rejoice in our sins which have blinded, impoverished and enslaved us. The way up is down, he declared (Lk. 18:14). The way to riches is poverty of spirit (Matt. 5:3). The way to be great is in the pathway of service (Lk. 22:27 f; Matt. 20:26-28). The way of love is the course of obedience and sacrifice (Jn. 14:15; 15:12-14). The way to life is the road to denial of self, and if necessary, to death (Lk. 9:23-25). Certainly, “Never man spake like this man” (Jn. 7:46).

We have all spoken words of shame and disgrace. On their death beds, men have recanted idle, irate words of hatred and spite. Some have repented for believing, accepting and following the erroneous doctrines of others. However, on the cross, Jesus did not bewail and bemoan his teaching; he did not need to alter or apologize for anything he had said. And no disciple of the Master has ever had to hang his head in the hour of death and express regret for having believed and obeyed the words of the Son of righteousness.

In view of the undimmed dawn of an unfading eternity, can you put your finger on a line of Jesus’ words which signal shame? By those words we shall be judged (Jn. 12:48). By those words we shall be damned or delivered. “O my God, I trust in you : let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me” (Ps. 25:2). “In you, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in your righteousness. . . . Let me not be ashamed, O Lord; for I have called upon you : let the wicked be ashamed and let them be silent in the grave” (Ps. 31:1, 17). “For the Scripture says, Whosoever believes on him shall not be ashamed” (Rom. 10:11). They are not ashamed of his gospel, for they obey it (Rom 1:16). They are not ashamed of his doctrine, for they continue in it (2 Jn 9). They are not ashamed of being persecuted for the cause of Christ, for they endure it, even unto death (1 Pet 4:16 ff; Jam 1:12 ; Rev 2:10).

Why Is It Apathy Exists?

We see so many in today’s society that are doing so many things to destroy health and shorten life. There are many campaigns and much public advertisement to keep people from the evil of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco but the number who participate is ever growing. Sober thinking people say “Why is it?” But there are areas in which preachers, elders, teachers and concerned Christians may ask, “Why is it?”

Why is it that people have to be urged to love and serve the Lord? It is the only way that man can possibly escape an eternal hell. When people find out that they have some dreaded disease they will immediately see a doctor, and hope that there is remedy that they will be able to follow to rid themselves of the disease. Yet, when they find out that they are on the road to eternal ruin, they very often take offense at the one who sounds the warning. Why is it?

Why is it that people have to be urged to even consider what the Bible says? It is extremely difficult to find people who are even interested in a study of the Scriptures. People who are interested enough in their souls to sit down and talk about what the Bible says for a few minutes. After all, their soul is at stake and they want a remedy for the sin that is in their life.

Why is it that people have to be urged to obey the gospel after they have learned the truth and know what jeopardy their souls are in? Every assembly is characterized by repeating the Lord’s invitation. Lesson after lesson is presented to urge upon those who are not Christians to respond to the Lord’s pleadings, but they spurn invitation after invitation. They spurn the yearnings, the love and encouragement of those who are interested in them. Why is it?

Why is it that “Christians” have to be urged to regularly attend the worship and study assemblies? One would think that those who “love” the Lord would not have to be urged (and really, those who love the Lord do not have to be urged to attend). Those who take the responsibility of teaching, spend so much of their time trying to get people to do what is good for them, and what they know they ought to do. Why is it?

Does this not speak of the fact that others love our souls more then we love our own when we have to be urged to do what is good for our eternal security? Others spend hours in study and prayer, but we lightly turn away their pleadings. Why is it?

Perhaps the answer dwells in the fact that so many really don’t believe enough in God’s Word to do what they are commanded to do. Perhaps they love their children, their parents, their spouse or even themselves, more than they love God (Matt 10:37 f; Lk 14:26). Perhaps they love the pleasures of this world more than they love God (2 Tim 3:1-8). Perhaps they don’t believe that every word of the bible was inspired of God and is absolute truth (2 Tim 3:16,17 f; Jn 17:17). Perhaps they can’t accept the hardships of being a Christian (2 Tim 3:12). No matter the reason, every gospel preacher and teacher keeps seeking ways to reach out to this lost and dying world before it is everlasting too late. Even so do I.

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice,  do not harden your hearts…” (Heb 3:7,8) In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Cor 6:2).

Don’t Be Afraid to Sow the Word of God

As Jesus sat on a boat at Capernaum he spoke to the great crowd in parables, one being the Parable of the Sower. He said: “Behold, the sower went forth to sow; as he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side and the birds came and devoured them; others fell upon the rocky places, where they had not much earth: and straightway they sprang up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was risen, they were scorched, and because they had no root, they withered away. And others fell upon thorns: and the thorns grew up and choked them: and others fell upon good ground, and yielded fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixty and some thirty. He that hath ears, let him hear” (Matt. 13:3-10).

How many of us will produce in such quantities? It is possible! Certainly we can win 10, 20, 30, 60 others to Christ during our lives if we put for the necessary effort.

I have heard many say, “I just cannot do personal work of any kind. I don’t have the ability to do it.” There is not a Christian on earth who does not do this, to a certain extent. The apostle Paul wrote, You are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of all men (2 Cor. 3:2). The words of the apostle to the Corinthian brethren plainly show that the unsaved read the lives of Christians as if they were letters. A preacher is reported to have said to a very wealthy woman, “What did I say in my sermon tonight that caused you to come forward during the invitation song, confess Christ, repent of your sins and be baptized?” Her reply was, “Nothing you said, but the life of a member of the body of Christ I know is a fine Christian, and the life she leads is the sermon that made me want to become a Christian like her.”

Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, “But this I say, He that sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he that sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully” (2 Cor. 9:6). In the same vein Jesus taught: “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together; running over, shall they give into your bosom. For with what measure you mete it shall be measured to you again” (Lk 6:38). Again, Jesus said, “And every one that has left houses or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundred fold, and shall inherit eternal life” (Matt. 19:29). What Jesus meant by this statement is that the heavenly Father and Christ are to be given the preeminence and the things He mentions be made secondary.

The sowing program is far more important than any financial program. This has to do with sowing the seed of the kingdom. This seed will germinate and produce a far more important crop than any other.

It is for us to do the planting, leaving the matter of increase in God’s hand. Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6). In the ninth verse of this same chapter Paul says “We are God’s fellow-workers.” Christians are partners, co-workers with God in the salvation of souls. Don’t be afraid to sow the seed. God will take care of the harvest in His own way. His promise is, “My word shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please” (Jer. 55:11). We need not worry about the fruits to be borne: God will take care of that part of our cooperative effort.

From the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30) we learn a lesson of infinite value to us today. The one talent man was afraid to sow. Because of this fear he lost all opportunities for a successful harvest. In the 30th verse of this same chapter, we are told the one talent man who failed to take advantage of his great opportunity was ordered to be cast into “outer darkness” and in that place there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Whatever talent we may have, we must use it to the very best of our ability and the Lord will hold those responsible for misuse of it in the day of judgment if they neglect or willfully refuse to do so. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For he that sows unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Gal. 6:7-10). Brethren, don’t be afraid to sow.

Aging In the Lord

It is a simple fact that every human born today are all getting older. The myth of the “fountain of youth” has fooled men and women for generations. Try as you will, no one can stop the aging process. Someone once said, “About the time your face clears up, your mind gets filmy.

Let’s not be content with just accepting the fact that we are growing old. Let’s plan and work at becoming better. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:16, “Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” Then there was the fellow who took a different approach, “If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.”

The book of Ecclesiastes talks about life here on earth, and in chapters eleven and twelve describes the aging process. Not only does Solomon tell what happens to us as we get older, he also tells us how to grow old gracefully.

Enjoy Life By Giving
(Eccl. 11:1-2)

The idea of these verses comes from planting rice, sowing the seed on the water that would later produce food. The best way to happiness and true meaning to your life is to share with others. Become involved in the lives of other people. Look beyond yourself.

Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Paul writes in Ephesians 4:28 that a person should work at his job rather than steal so that he will have honestly earned a living for himself and have something to give to those who are in need.

As you get older and look back, the knowledge that you were generous with what God gave you gives you much comfort, not just money, but also your time, abilities and energy. Give yourself to teach those who are younger and to set a good example for them to follow.

Adapt Willingly
(Eccl. 11:34)

In verse 3 Solomon is showing us the inevitability of life. Clouds will pour out rain and trees will fall in the forest, and many other events will transpire which are inescapable.

The counsel comes in verse 4; “He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.” If you keep watching, occupying yourself with those inevitable events, that’s all you will amount to. You’ll never get around to sowing the seed because you are waiting for ideal conditions and therefore you’ll never reap. When you adapt to the inevitable changes in life as you get older, then you can be productive in any given situation. Instead of reaching a point in your life that you cease being productive and think that the only thing you can do is sit in the rocking chair, you must remember that anyone at any age has worthwhile things he can accomplish and contribute to the world around him. Look around and see how you can be a benefit to others.

Trust God
(Eccl. 11:5-6)

“As you do not know what is the way of the wind, or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child, so you do not know the works of God who makes all things. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening do not withhold your hand; for you do not know which will prosper, either this or that, or whether both alike will be good.”

Many things are beyond our comprehension. Even so, that doesn’t mean you can’t try something just because you don’t know or understand everything about it. Being unable to understand all that is involved in reproduction certainly hasn’t stopped people from having children. Therefore, be busy sowing (that is doing whatever needs to be done and is good to do), and trust God to raise it up.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”

Rejoice Daily
(Eccl. 11:7-8)

We are never too old to rejoice. It is good to be alive and to see the beauties of God’s creation. “Truly the light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun.” Psalm 118:24 says, “Today is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And the apostle Paul urges us to, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4).

We are not being encouraged to rejoice in the wrong things, or just make having fun our goal in life. However, see in all that you do there is reason to count your blessings and be thankful.

Remember Your Creator While You Are Young
(Eccl. 12:1-2)

Remember him while you are young lest you look back and say, “I have no delight in them.” Few people are more bitter and lonely today than those who have grown old alone, that is, apart from the Lord. The picture of verse 2 is that instead of clearing after rain, the old person who in bitterness, has closed himself in, and the clouds, instead of refreshment, bring one storm after another. Therefore, lest you find yourself cynical and bitter in your old age keep the Lord in focus throughout your entire life. You won’t regret it.

Why Am I a Member of The Church of Christ?

Why am I a member of the church of Christ and why should all do the same? Because when I obeyed the Lord’s conditions for the forgiveness of sins, he graciously forgave me and began to count me as one of his people, that is, a member of his church.

In accordance with scriptural usage, I use the term church of Christ to refer to the people belonging to Christ those who are saved. When Jesus promised to build his church, he meant that he was going to have his group (Matt. 16:18). His group consists of those who are saved through his blood and on his conditions, which are set forth in his testament. When one obeys those conditions, he is saved and added to that group of saved people (Acts 2:38 cf; 41, 47).

This group may be described as the church of Christ because it belongs to Christ and He is its head (Col 1:18). I, therefore, sometimes refer to the saved as the church of Christ. At other times I refer to them as God’s people, the body of Christ, the church of God, the Lord’s body, and other such terms that accurately describe the people belonging to Christ. I am a member of that group because I obeyed the Lord’s conditions for salvation (1 Cor 12:13,27).

If you ask me why am a member of the particular local church of Christ with which I am identified, my answer is different. I have chosen that local church for five reasons: (1) It consists of those who have met the Lord’s conditions for salvation and are therefore members of his church. (2) Like the churches we read about in the New Testament, it is independent, not affiliated with any denominational organization. (3) They do not teach for doctrine the commandments of men. (4) They require a “thus saith the Lord” for all that they say and do in worship and in their daily life. (5) They are devoted to letting the Scriptures guide them (speak where the bible speaks and is silent where the bible is silent) in all their activities. Hence, I can participate with them in their worship and work without engaging in unscriptural activities. Thus, I am not a member of any local Church of Christ because they say they are right, but because the bible bears record that their teaching is right with God.

The religious world is confused with respect to church membership. There are many denominational organizations among those professing to be Christians. Many people think any of these are fine. Other more conscientious souls may believe that they should find the one that most closely follows the Scriptures. In fact, no denominational body is scriptural, for the Scriptures do not teach that local churches should organize themselves into denominational bodies.

Rather than searching for which denomination one should join, one should search for what to do to be saved. That search should lead him to discover that when he meets the conditions for salvation, he will then be a part of the Lord’s church and he will not have to search for it. Then he must search for a local church consisting of Christians with whom he may participate in the congregational activities God has ordained in the Scriptures. The only searching for the right church that is required is the search for a scriptural local church.

In explaining why we are members of the church of Christ, Christians must be careful to avoid giving the impression that we have selected a denomination called the Church of Christ. Not all local churches of Christ are right with God. Many have gone astray following denominational doctrine. However, the church which Christ built is right with God, and if any local church bearing his name abides in that gospel and in that doctrine, they too are right with God. That is why I am a member of the body, the church of Christ, and I sincerely hope if you haven’t already, you will become one too!

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