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

Archive for the ‘1. Sermon Essays’ Category

The Necessity of Negative Preaching

God’s laws have always been of “Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt not.” As God laid down His first set of rules for man to abide by, He said what to do and what not to do. Notice as instructions were given to the first man: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 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, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:15-17).

The teachings found in the Law of Moses were both positive and negative in nature (Ex. 20). God told Israel that “if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord your God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command you this day, that the Lord your God will set you on high above all nations of the earth” (Deut. 28:1). But look at the negative side. “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee” (Deut. 28:15). God simply said, if you do what I say, I will bless you, but if you fail to do what I say, I will curse you.

The Truth

There is nothing as important as truth. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32). The truth has been identified as “your Word is truth” (Jn. 17:17). If men are to be made free from their sins, they must know the truth so they can believe and obey it. Truth must be preached in such a way that those who hear will not have any difficulty in understanding what is required of them in order to please God. There is a great demand for the Lord’s people to take a stand for the truth on every subject. It must be as the apostle Paul wrote the Ephesians, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that he may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness” (Eph. 6:13-14). There are just entirely too many in the church of Christ who don’t have the courage to take a stand for what they really believe to be right and this is a shame.

What It Means To Stand For The Truth

There is more involved in standing for the truth than many realize. Standing for the truth not only involves preaching the truth on every subject but standing for the truth also demands that there be preaching against things which are sinful in the sight of God! It is one thing not to partake of things which are evil and another thing to reprove them. Paul told the Ephesians, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11). So standing for the truth means to stand for what the Bible teaches and stand against sinful things. One reason a lot of churches are weak today is that they never hear anything condemned.

The Charge To Reprove And Rebuke

The need for negative preaching can be seen in Paul’s charge to gospel preachers as he wrote Timothy. “I charge you therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word, be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:1-2). Preaching the word involves some reproving and rebuking. The tendency today is to preach only the things that people like to hear. If we are not careful, we will be preaching like some people in the Old Testament wanted. They said, “speak unto us smooth things” (Isa. 30:10). One purpose for which God gave us the Scriptures is to reprove us. “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 perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

For And Against

Standing for the truth not only involves preaching what we must stand for but likewise what we must stand against. There are things which are sinful and must be preached against.

(1) We must stand against the wiles of the devil. It is written, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). It must be preached that giving in to the temptations of sin will cause one to be lost eternally. John wrote: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of the God abides for ever” (1 Jn. 2:15-17).

Worldliness is a threat to the purity of the church and must be preached against so that every generation fully understands what worldliness is all about. Every Christian must realize that if he is worldly, he will not be allowed to go to heaven!

(2) The works of the flesh will keep one out of heaven. How long has it been since you heard a sermon on the works of the flesh and what will happen to one who does such things? Paul gave a long list of sins which will keep one from inheriting the kingdom of God. Please take your Bible and read and study these in detail.

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).

Since these sins will cause one not to inherit the kingdom of God, don’t you see that they must be condemned!

(3) The church must be kept pure. The New Testament presents the church as the body of Christ and is perfect in work, worship, and organization. However, man not being content with God’s scheme of things, has added to the work, worship, and organization of the church. Fun and frolic have been added to the work of the church; instrumental music to the worship, and sponsoring church arrangements to the organization. It is not enough to just preach what the work, worship, and organization must be, but people need to know that additions or subtractions to God’s will are sinful! To go beyond the word of God is sin (1 Cor 4:6). Paul also said, “For the wages of sin is death. . .” (Rom. 6:23).

(4) The unbeliever is condemned. It must be preached that “he that believes and is baptized shall be saved,” but please take note of the negative side of this passage. “But he that believes not shall be condemned” (Mk. 16:16).

Surely, one can easily see that positive preaching is good and we must do that, while at the same time, a failure to point out what’s wrong will keep a lot of people out of heaven.

What Is Your Position?

If we believe a thing, we should know why we believe it, and be ready to give an answer to those who ask why we believe it (1 Pet. 3:15). The Scriptures will furnish us with sufficient information so that we may make a decision on anything that pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3 f: 2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Peter did not say that we had to answer every question put to us, but those that pertain to “the hope” that is in us. Even Jesus did not answer all questions put to him, depending on the nature of the question and the attitude of the questioner. In fact, Paul says we should avoid the “foolish and unlearned questions” (2 Tim. 2:23).

It is understandable that when an issue presents itself one may need some time to think it through before coming to a conclusion and taking a position. This course would be advisable for anyone, and especially for younger preachers. One may even change his position, and should, if he has previously been wrong. However, it should not be necessary to spend years deciding what course to pursue with regards to something that pertains to the salvation of our souls and affects the welfare of the church. It is always wise to take the safer of two courses, at least until one has had time to assemble all facts and is certain of the course be should pursue.

Once we have taken a position on anything, we should declare that position plainly enough so that others may know where we stand, often enough to deliver our souls, and discreetly enough so that it does not become an obsession with us. Circumstances will determine how frequently and how fervently we advance our position.

Though the foregoing be true, I resent the implication that a gospel preacher has to identify himself with a certain paper, college, or program sponsored by certain brethren. We should all strive to be followers of Christ, true to our convictions, and constant visitors to the word of God and the throne of God as we seek for truth and wisdom. Where do I stand? On the solid rock, and on the promises of God. If we all teach from the same bible and nothing but the bible, we can’t help but speak the same things_the oracles of God (1 Cor 1:10 f; 1 Pet 4:11).

A Peculiar People

According to the scriptures, the people of God are different from the people who are in the world. The evidence is abundantly true. This distinctiveness is the demonstration that a change has been made in a person’s life.

The Bible teaches us that one who is a Christian enjoys “newness of life.” When a person is raised from baptism, note what Paul said: “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). Paul also wrote: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Then, he said that from among the Jews and Gentiles, Christ made “one new man” (Eph. 2:15). Something about the life of a Christian is described by the Holy Spirit as “new.” It is that “newness” that makes the Christian different from those who are still in and of the world about us. Thus, it is imperative that Christians understand just what this difference is all about.

Peter taught, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy” (1 Pet. 2:9-10). Should we not reasonably expect that “the people of God” would be different from the “people of the Devil”? Paul said that Christians should “be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16). And, in that respect, we are taught a “new” conduct and relation to evil: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:17-18). Learning this lesson is the most difficult thing for new and old Christians.

We should be especially distinctive in our moral conduct. Note the following Scriptures, and their emphasis on how we approach life and the evil things of the world.

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be you an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12); “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep yourself pure” (1 Tim. 5:22); “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17); “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2); “If the world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (Jn. 15:18,19); “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you” (1 Jn. 3:13).

Obviously, there are numerous passages which teach this truth, so let us continue to note them: “Nevertheless the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal, The Lord knows them that are his. And, Let every one that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2:19); “Wherein they think it strange that you run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you” (1 Pet. 4:4); “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (Jam. 1:27); “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Tit. 2:11-12); and, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he who does the will of God abides for ever” (1 Jn. 2:15-17).

We can easily see that a certain conduct is expected of us. We surely know that we are not at liberty to act the way we acted before we became Christians. It was that former way of life that brought us under the condemnation of God, and it was from that life that we sought deliverance when we obeyed the gospel. It is totally inappropriate that we should look back to that way of life, and engage ourselves in it again. If we do, we will surely bring ourselves again under condemnation. Peter taught that Christians have “escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet. 1:4), but he also said some will fall back into that way of life: “For if after they have escaped the pollution of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Pet. 2:20-22). Jesus said that those who will not maintain their distinctiveness “are not fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:62).

Thus, the message for us is the same as it was for Timothy, “That you may know how you ought to behave yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). We must “put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:10). Christ is the pattern, the image which Christians try to duplicate in their lives (1 Pet. 2:21). He was certainly different from those of the world of his day. In like manner, so must we be different in our day. May God help us to be what we ought to be: the called, the chosen, and the faithful (Rev 17:14). Above all this, let us be the example to follow and the light of the world, even so let us walk (1 Tim 4:12 ff; Mt 5:14; Eph 5:8).

Abraham’s Faith

There were many times in the life of Abraham when his faith was put to the test. However, these trials were relatively easy when compared with the severity and difficulty of this supreme test of Abraham’s great faith. As Christians, we are “Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29). Let us act like his children by following his example of complete obedience.

God’s Command To Abraham (v. 1, 2)

The scriptures says, “God did tempt Abraham.” God did not try to induce Abraham to sin (Jam 1:13); Satan is the tempter (Matt 4:1, 3). We sin when we permit Satan to entice us to do evil (Jam 1:14, 15). God was proving or testing Abraham’s faith.

God required Abraham to sacrifice that which was very dear to him. Isaac was his only begotten son by Sarah (Gen. 21:3). Ishmael was his son by his handmaid Hagar and they had been driven out (Gen. 21:10-14). Today, God requires us to sacrifice that which is very dear to us – our own selves (Rom. 12:1, 2; Matt. 16:24).

The best we can offer God is ourselves and that involves our: (1) Love, affection, and devotion (Matt. 22:37); (2) Time. He wants the best years of our life, but many want to give Satan the best years of their life and then give God a worn out body and mind; (3) Energy. How much work are you doing for the Lord (1 Cor. 15:58)? (4) Material goods. Many want to give to God what is left over after they have spent money to satisfy their own pleasures. Abraham understood God’s command, and so can we!

Abraham’s Response To God’s Command (v. 3-6)

He “rose early in the morning.” His first order of business was to do what God had commanded. Look how we delay in doing work for the Lord. Look how many arrive tardy out of habit at the worship services.

He did not seek the advice of others. What others might say about such drastic action did not hinder his obedience. Abraham did not let the distance to travel interfere with his obedience.  Abraham did not fuss about the weather or make up any excuse not to do what God commanded him to do. He did not seek the advise of others, nor did he debate with himself or others what God commanded. He was commanded and he obeyed.

Abraham’s Response To Isaac’s Question (v. 7, 8)

“God will provide” – what great faith! Isaac said, “Behold, the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?” The daddy answered his son, “God will provide . . . .” What great faith Abraham possessed! Do we believe that the Lord will provide (Matt. 6:25-34)?

Manifested Complete Trust

Abraham manifested his complete trust in God by obeying this command which cost him dearly and made no sense to the human mind. It was through Isaac that the promises God made to Abraham were to be fulfilled (Gen. 17:21; 21:12). How could God keep His promise if Isaac was killed? Had not God said that it was wrong to kill (Gen. 9:6)?

The only answer to this problem that Abraham could see was that God would resurrect Isaac. What great faith! There is no record of God having resurrected anyone at this time.

“All Things Work Together For Good” When We Obey God (Rom 8:28)

The angel stopped Abraham from slaying his son (v. 9-12). God provided a ram (v. 13, 14). Through an angel, God renewed His promises to Abraham (v. 15-19). If all people would only have the faith to do God’s will in everything, what a wonderful place this world would be to live in, and how much happier we would be!

Abraham proved his faith by works (Jam 2:21-23). Do you have the faith of Abraham? If you do, you will prove it by your complete obedience to God’s commandments (Jam 2:26). You will be a faithful Christian.

Abraham would have offered his son, but God stopped him. However, the Father did not stop Himself for offering His only begotten Son for our sins! Will you show your love for His sacrifice by being baptized into His death so His blood can wash away your sins?

When Elders & Deacons Must Resign

Those who are functioning as elders and deacons must realize despite what their age might be, that they are rapidly passing from the scene of action and one day will need to be replaced. We should all be motivated to instill in those younger than ourselves the desire to serve the Lord in whatever capacity in which they desire and are qualified to serve. We must be willing to teach them and help them to be all they can be in the service of God. Let’s try to accomplish this without envy and strife and not be desirous of vain glory (Gal. 5:26). The apostle Paul said, in Philippians 2:34, “Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” We should not feel threatened by the ability of others, we should rejoice because of it.

The church is more important than any of us and our love for it should be paramount in our lives. We have to look ahead to the time when we cannot carry on our work or we have passed from this life. God’s way is men helping one another to render acceptable service to him. Satan’s way is one of envy and strife and lack of love for one another. One ugly act can destroy a lifetime of our own labor and the labor of others.

When it should come to a time of transition and the duties we perform are given to another, let us help to make it as smooth as possible and assist in any way we can that God’s church will continue to be the glorious church he intended it to be, when it is presented to him not having spot, or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:27). Let us not be one of those spots, wrinkles or blemishes unless our vain pride prevents us from entering into heaven. The apostle Paul said it well in 1 Corinthians 9:27.

Elders

Serving as an elder in the Lord’s church is an awesome responsibility. The effects of what you do or do not do are very sobering when we think seriously about their service. The Lord has made them stewards over his heritage and one day they must give account of their stewardship. They must realize that what they are doing now will determine what the Lord’s church will be twenty years from now.

Shepherds are responsible for leading, feeding and even protecting God’s heritage from false teachers. Serving as an elder is to be the number one priority in their lives. If they do not have time to plan and carry out the work of the congregation because of the precedence of other interests, what they are doing or not doing is a disservice to the church and to the cause of Christ. They can become an impediment to the church and, as such, they should resign. A church without leadership and no plans for spiritual and numerical growth soon will find itself just “keeping house.” Where there is no vision, the people perish (Prov. 29:18).

An elder is expected to meet the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 and continue them in his life. If he does not continue to possess these qualifications, he has disqualified himself from serving. He would no longer be an example to the flock he is leading (1 Pet. 5:3). The shepherds of olden time went before the flock to lead them to good pasture and good water; they were concerned for the safety of the sheepfold. To maintain the confidence of the flock of God we must take heed unto ourselves (Acts 20:28). If they say and do not, they become modern day Pharisees (Matt. 23:3). One who no longer meets the qualifications can be asked to resign. Hopefully the individual would resign voluntarily. Shepherds of God’s flock need to remember that they have a Chief Shepherd to whom they must give an accounting (1 Pet. 5:4).

An elder who has lost his wife by death is no longer the husband of one wife and no longer qualified. One elder cannot serve alone. There must be a plurality of elders in a congregation (Tit. 1:5).

An elder’s family can be a source of embarrassment both to him and to the church if they are walking disorderly. This being the case he should resign. The church following his leadership expects to see his teaching reflected in the lives of his family.

A loss of confidence in their leadership will hurt. In the Old Testament (Deut. 34:9) after the death of Moses, Joshua became Israel’s leader, the Scripture says he was “full of the Spirit of wisdom” and also that the children of Israel “hearkened unto him. ” May God give us such future leaders and we pray that the church will hearken unto them.

Deacons

Their qualifications should suggest to the elders that here are the men you can count on to help with any problem or any work in which the church is to involve itself. The work of a deacon is not defined in the New Testament as explicitly as that of the elders. Without any assignment, many of them wonder what their role in the church is to be.

A deacon should cheerfully carry out the work given to him by the elders. Deacons generally are younger men than the elders, have younger families and perhaps are involved in more activities. If a deacon does not have the time to serve, he should resign.

The deacon’s work would be similar to that of the seven men appointed to be over the daily ministrations to the widows in Acts 6:1-5. A deacon should continually from his visits among the saints of the congregation know the physical needs of those he visits. He should report his findings to the elders that the needs will be met. I believe that the lack of food, medicine, clothing and shelter can affect our spirituality, especially if we think nobody cares. I would suggest that any deacon who is not making this a part of his work should do so.

Deacons need to maintain both the personal and the family qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13. If these change the deacon must resign.

Conclusion: Serve the Lord as long as you remain qualified and it’s in your capacity to do so, but when your time for serving the Lord has passed, allow a new generation to take your place. Such is God’s will. “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which you have showed toward his name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: that you be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:10-12).

Preach Christ & Him Crucified

I believe sincerely that we are to “Preach Christ and Him crucified”. There is good reason for that belief. Please read, 1 Corinthians 1:23; 15:1-4 cf; 2:2; 1:17-18 f; Gal. 6:14. We must remember what is involved in “preaching the cross.” We might say that it is the foundation facts of the gospel of Christ, but it is not all of the gospel. The gospel reveals the cross and the crucified one to us and sheds illuminating light upon that event and makes it meaningful to us.

Some say, “Just preach the cross, and not baptism all of the time.” “If you will just preach the cross, people will understand the rest and be led to obey it.” “We need to just preach the cross and not argue so much about baptism, etc.” Someone else will say, “We need to preach the cross and not jump right to the conditions of salvation.”

When I speak about preaching the cross, I am talking about preaching the facts of that event and making the application of such to one’s life. It is rather naive to think you can preach the death, burial and resurrection of Christ and not preach baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and church doctrine. Will people automatically understand they are to be baptized for the remission of their sins if we do not teach it to them? Do not be deceived! Most accept the facts of the cross, but when it comes to the application of the facts (Christ’s blood appropriated through baptism) the battle is on. Read Acts 2. The cross was preached, but so was baptism. Read Acts 8 (the account of the Ethiopian man). Jesus was preached, but so was baptism. To the Corinthians, Paul preached “Christ and him crucified,” but he also taught baptism, (Acts 18:8).

I do not know how to preach Christ, the cross, and the blood of Christ, without preaching baptism, obedience, etc. They go hand in hand. Let us never under emphasize the cross, but let us never be afraid to preach baptism for the remission of sins. We will be in good company, for the Lord and His apostles did just that (Mk. 16:16 ff; Rom. 6:1-4; 1 Pet. 3:20-21).

Everything I Have Commanded You

In Matthew 28:18 Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

Jesus has all power (or authority) in heaven and in earth; therefore, we cannot question the authority behind this commission. “In heaven and in earth” is rather inclusive and leaves no room for man, with all his human wisdom, to claim any authority whatsoever! We are to go and teach all nations. Many today have an idea that the Jew has a special corner on God’s blessings. Jesus said all nations; not just Jew, but all! Should we go to Jew, Gentile (black, white, yellow, red, brown, etc.)? Jesus then says, we are to “baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” That is not the commandment of man, but it has the authority of the Godhead behind it. Jesus further says we are to teach them (those we baptize) to observe all things whatsoever (Everything) I have commanded you!

This should be our standard, our rule, by which we walk: “Has Jesus commanded it?” If He has, then I should observe it! Not just some things He commanded, but all things!

1. Where did the Lord command instrumental music in worship of the New Testament church? If the Lord has commanded or authorized the use of it, then we should observe it. However, where has He done so? I can read very clearly the command to sing, but nowhere do I read of instrumental music in connection with the New Testament church. Now I can read of it in the writings of men, concocted after their own wisdom, but when it comes to the New Testament church, it is sing! (Eph. 5:19 f; Col. 3:16). Why can man not be content with “whatsoever I have commanded you”? Do you think it a small thing to tamper with the things of God?

I surely know God did not say, “You shall not use mechanical music in worship,” in those exact words. But He did say sing! If you sent your child to the grocery store to-buy a bag of apples and he came back with the apples plus $5.00 worth of candy, what would you say? Although you did not tell him not to get the candy, you did not intend for him to do so, because you specified the apples. So it is with God! Why be specific, if it does not matter?

2. Where did the Lord command sprinkling and pouring for baptism? There is no doubt that the Lord has commanded baptism (Matt. 28;19), but where has He commanded one to have water sprinkled or poured upon him and call it baptism? Just calling some action baptism surely does not make it so! Baptism is a burial in water (Rom. 6:3-4 ff; Acts 10:47; Acts 8:38-39). You say, “Why do men sprinkle and pour water upon the individual and call it baptism?” Because they are not content with “whatsoever things I have commanded you”! The doctrine of sprinkling and pouring is with us today because of the wisdom of men (if not, where did the Lord command it) and is therefore unacceptable to God.

3. Where did the Lord command people to worship in the “church of your choice”? We read about the church, to be sure. Much is said in the New Testament about it. It is referred to as “my church” (Matt. 16:18). Christ is the purchaser, builder, and head of the church (Acts 20:28 ff; Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:22-23). There is only one church (Eph. 4:4-5 f; Col. 1:18) and it is made up of the saved (Acts 2:41, 47). Therefore, if one is not in the one body of Christ, he is not saved, because Christ is the Savior of the body (Eph. 5:23). There is so much said about the Lord’s church that we could go on and on, but where did the Lord command “the church of your choice”? Suppose man’s choice is not the Lord’s choice? Why is it not up to man to choose (other than accepting the Lord’s choice)? Do you really believe that God is saying that a person should take his pick of one of the countless denominations and serve Him therein? Jesus said, “whatsoever I have commanded you”. Man has no authority whatsoever in the matter. It is up to man to obey God, not decide for himself what he wants to do, (man cannot direct himself to heaven – Jer. 10:23).

4. Where did the Lord command the church to get involved in the socializing recreation, and school business? We can read of the church working (preaching the gospel, edification, and benevolence), but where did the Lord command the church to do any of the far out things they are doing today?

Talk about denominations preachers quibbling and dodging in debates – the attempts gospel preachers(?) make to defend their kitchens, social halls, youth camps, and retreats, all of the gimmicks used in the bus ministries, the allurements of gymnasiums and church ball teams, as well as the Christian Colleges and preacher schools, etc. They know the Lord never did authorize such things, so they just give up trying to find a “whatsoever I have commanded you” and join the sectarians in shouting “we don’t need authority for all we say and do.” Do they really believe it? Dare we forget the words of Paul on this matter? “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col 3:17).

It is no small thing of little consequence. The Lord Jesus Christ meant what He said and said what he meant. He really wants you and I to “observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.’.’ These other things we have mentioned may sound good to you, and you may see no harm in them but remember, “There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12). (Read also Heb. 5:8-9 ff; Matt. 7:21; 15:8-9; 2 Jn. 9.)

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