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

Archive for the ‘1. Sermon Essays’ Category

An Unread Bible Is Worthless

We are faced with a nation of people who outwardly revere the Bible but generally never read it. Many families purchase an expensively bound, large print edition of the Bible to place on the coffee table for everyone to see. Very few families are seeking to study their Bibles day after day in order to learn its rich contents. The same thing which is happening to our society is also happening to Christians. Many Christians revere the Bible as the word of God but go through their day-to-day lives without taking the time to read it. An unread, neglected Bible is no advantage to us. One might as well not have a Bible as to have one and not read it. In fact, an unread bible is not worth the paper it is printed on! An unread bible is worthless. The bible is not an idol for us to worship, but a road map for us to follow.

Our great God in heaven expects us to study the word of God. Here are some pertinent Scriptures which show His attitude toward the study of His word.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut. 6:4-9).

“Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law he meditates day and night” (Psa. 1:1-2).

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is your servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward” (Psa. 19:7-11).

Our New Testament Scriptures enjoin the study of God’s word just as much on God’s people.

“And, you fathers, provoke not your children to anger: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).

Those who claim to be the people of God must be characterized by a constant study of God’s holy word.

Conclusion: The word of God is the only guide we have to spiritual life. If we want to direct our children and ourselves to heaven, we are simply going to have to devote some time to learning the content of God’s word. Does eternal life mean enough to you to spend time learning the word of God?

Taking A Stance Against Homosexuality

Homosexuality is a problem that is plaguing the nation. Television, movies, magazines, and music are bringing this abomination into our homes. Children are being taught that this is just another way of life and that there is nothing wrong with it. They are taught that some people are born to be homosexuals and that such perversions are normal. They are witnessing same sex marriage and are being instructed that this too is normal and acceptable with God. Something must be done!

The problem is: if a person even suggests they disagree or disapprove of homosexuality they are labeled as a bigot, homophobic or ignorant. It is a sad thing when one standing for righteousness is condemned and ridiculed for their actions.

What is most of all troublesome is that Christians have played into the Devil’s hand and have remained silent on this issue. They might from time to time condemn it behind closed doors, but will not publicly take a stand. Good men have been doing nothing far too long and evil has been triumphing when it comes to homosexuality. It is time that Christians speak up and let the truth be known regarding homosexuality.

God has always condemned the practice of homosexuality. Leviticus 18:22 says, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination.” How much clearer can God make the command’? He is saying that men are not to lie with men. An abomination is anything that is disgusting, hated or loathed. This is how God views homosexuality. If this was the only place in the Bible condemning homosexuality, it would be enough for us to know that it is wrong!

Paul also wrote, through the inspiration of God, to the church at Rome regarding this great sin. Notice what he wrote, “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly… ” (Rom 1:27). The men were leaving the women and using each other in a way that was not natural! The advocates for homosexuality want us to believe that it is normal and there is nothing wrong with it, but God says it is not natural and it is wrong.

Don’t forget human reasoning. Where would we be if God made us homosexuals? The answer is simple. We wouldn’t be here, for man with man or woman with woman cannot reproduce. Only man and woman when joined together can produce after their kind. Remember in the Garden of Eden when God saw Adam and said that it was not good for man to be alone. God did not create another man, but instead he created woman. The reason for this is that God’s will is for man to be with woman (Gen 2: 18-25).

In the Old Testament one can read that God disapproved of homosexuality so much that he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities near about (Gen 19:23-29). He destroyed them so completely that it is still not known for sure where they were located.

The Devil would love for Christians to remain quiet and accept homosexuality as just “another lifestyle” or accept the false concept that they were “born that way”. However, God has condemned homosexuality and Christians are not to tolerate it. They are to take the all powerful word of God and teach the truth (Rom 1:16 f; Heb 4:12).

Was Paul An Apostle of Jesus Christ?

There are many who have somewhat against our beloved Paul. They are quick to slander his name and reputation as an apostle of Jesus Christ in order to annul his writings in the new testament. Was Paul an apostle of Jesus Christ? Were all of his writings considered inspired scripture? Nevertheless, what saith the scripture?

Luke (not Paul) records that the prophet Ananias was told concerning Paul, “He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:15-16). Thus we find that Paul was selected by Jesus and sent on a mission to the Gentiles. That, after all, is the definition of an apostle — one who is sent. Paul later confirmed that this was the duty given to him by Jesus, “Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles” (Acts 22:21).

This mission was confirmed by the other apostles. “But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised” (Gal 2:7-9).

Peter wrote, confirming that Paul was an inspired writer for God when he said, “and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation–as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Pet 3:15-16). Notice that the apostle Peter called Paul’s writings Scriptures.

In stating this, Peter is saying that Paul wasn’t writing his own opinions but recording the words of the Lord. “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (1 Cor 2:12-13). Paul was not a compromiser of truth, a braggart, a bully, and someone who hated women. Paul recorded what God wanted written and didn’t shun to declare the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). If you are one who base your doctrine upon the false idea that Paul was not an apostle or an inspired writer of Jesus Christ, you need to repent and turn back to God before it is eternally too late to do so.

True Christians Love Their Neighbor

“And who is my neighbor?” asked a certain lawyer of Jesus. The story that Jesus told in answer to that question shows that my neighbor can be anyone, anywhere, not just the person who lives next door (Lk. 10:25-37). Paul shows in Romans 13:8-14 that our basic duty to our neighbor is to love him.

Love’s Debt

“Owe no one anything except to love one another” (13:8a). Love is the debt we cannot ever pay off. It may seem like we will never get the car or the house paid off, but if time continues those debts can be met, but not love. Every individual on the face of the earth is made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). We must come to respect each person and love him even as God loves him.

Love’s Design

Paul continues, “For he who loves another has fulfilled the law” (13:8b). A man who truly loves his neighbor will not take his neighbor’s wife. A man who truly loves his neighbor will not take his neighbor’s goods. A man who truly loves his neighbor will not lie about his neighbor. A man who truly loves his neighbor will not covet anything that belongs to his neighbor. No wonder Jesus said concerning the commandments to love God and to love our neighbor that “on these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets” (Mt. 22:37-40).

Love’s Degree

To what degree am I to love my neighbor? Paul answers, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (13:9b). Of course, this implies that one loves and is concerned about himself to the right degree. I should do for my neighbor even as I would do for myself. The principle of the “Golden Rule” will be followed here (Mt. 7:12).

Love’s Denial

There is a negative side of love. “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (13:10). Have you ever noticed the number of “nots” in Paul’s great description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7? He says, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Loving my neighbor as myself will keep me from abusing or mistreating him in any fashion.

Love’s Directive

Two reasons are given as to why we should love our neighbors. One is that it is time to awaken. The apostle writes, “And know this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand” (13:11-12a). Opportunities to love my neighbor and do him good are quickly flying by. Soon we will be in eternity and time will be no more. Therefore we should hasten to the duties at hand.

The second reason given is that it is time to alter (13:12b-14). We should put off the deeds of darkness, like revelry, drunkenness, licentiousness, lewdness, strife, and envy. The flesh and its lust have no part in the Christian’s life. Instead, we should put on the armor of light, a proper walk, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Conclusion: Do you treat your neighbor like yourself? You should be ready, willing, and able to  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Are All Things Lawful For Me?

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Cor. 6:12).

Are all things truly “lawful”? Of course not! There are some things that God has forbidden under any and all circumstances. In the Galatian letter, Paul wrote, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21). Are the aforementioned attitudes and actions lawful? Obviously not! Therefore, the statement by Paul must be reexamined in the light of the context and the “all things” must be found to have some limitation.

In the context Paul also says, “but all things are not helpful” or “expedient” (KJV). This would also eliminate another category of things which are lawful, and that is those things which God has bound upon man. Again, Paul wrote in the Galatian letter, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). Is there ever a time or circumstance when the aforementioned characteristics are not “helpful” or “expedient”? Again, we must answer in the negative.

What then is Paul speaking of when he says, “All things are lawful”? We are forced to conclude that he is not talking about those things that God has through his will forbidden nor is Paul speaking of those things which God has bound upon man. Thus, we are left with only one category of things which Paul has under consideration – those things wherein God has not legislated and which are therefore matters of indifference to God, matters which God allows but does not obligate man to do. For example, marriage: God allows us to marry but he has not commanded us to do so. Therefore, it is something that is lawful, but may not prove to be “helpful” or expedient under a given circumstance. In 1 Corinthians Paul determined that the matter of eating meats was a matter of indifference to God (morally neutral or a liberty). Yet, he determined that if the eating of meat was not spiritually profitable but instead destructive, he would never eat meat again (see 1 Cor. 8). Therefore, God would have us to conclude even among those things that may be right and lawful within themselves as to whether or not they will (under a given circumstance) build up my faith, hinder my influence, draw me closer to God, distract from my heavenly goal, etc. We are called upon to ask, “Will it be advantageous under a given circumstance to exercise my liberty in this matter of moral neutrality?” And there should not be anything that we would not be willing to forego for the sake of spiritual interests.

In addition, Paul adds a second principle to “expediency” or “helpfulness” for making such choices among “all things” of moral neutrality. Paul suggested, “I will not be brought under the power of any.” We all are perhaps “creatures of habit” but none of us can afford to allow a “habit” to become an “addiction.” “Gluttony” (the failure to be in control of one’s appetites) is forbidden in any realm. Peter wrote, ‘for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage” (2 Pet. 2:19b). And again Paul wrote, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Rom. 6:16) We can never allow ourselves to become a “slave” to any habit or practice even of moral neutrality. When we do, we lose our ability to practice the first principle Paul suggested. We will no longer be able to determine when a matter of liberty is or is not expedient or helpful. Being enslaved, we will be powerless to say “no.” Later in 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul said, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” Paul is not here speaking of staying away from evil things or things forbidden by God, but instead he was talking about staying away from lawful things. He uses the illustration of an athlete (1 Cor. 9:24-26) to say that just as an athlete chooses to abstain from many good and right things to keep himself in training and strive for the prize, so too the Christian must exercise control over his desires. We must always be in a position to be able to say “no” concerning anything of moral neutrality or liberty. When a Christian clutches to his “liberty” too tightly it becomes his lord. And for a Christian to be overpowered by any custom or habit or practice, no matter what it is, is sin.

Is there anything in your life that is your habit or practice and it really is not helpful or expedient to serving the Lord and living for him under the present circumstances? Why then does it continue to be your habit or practice? Is not the kingdom of God, serving the Lord, encouraging your brethren, and leading others to Christ more important than any matter or liberty? Or do you continue in the practice because the “liberty” has become an “addiction” and is stronger than you are? Recognize that such enslavement is sin. Give the matter over to the Lord and let him and your brethren help you to become “disciplined” so as to “deny self” and have Christ enthroned. “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you become slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17,18).

The Church and Salvation

Where is the passage that says one must be a member of the church of Christ to be saved? Paul wrote, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the Savior of the body” (Eph. 5:23). This statement by the inspired apostle is in every properly translated New Testament. Yet, it is generally overlooked and disregarded. Christ is head of the church and Savior of the body. There is one body (Eph. 4:4), and that one body is the church (Eph. 1:22, 23 f; Col 1:18). These passages make no mistake about the importance of the church to our salvation. Christ is the Savior of the church. We, therefore, must be a part of the church to be saved.

The church is God’s family

Paul wrote, “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly; but if I tarry long, that you may know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:14, 15). The word “house,” as used here, means “family.” Paul is not expressing concern about conduct in a church building; but rather he is speaking of one’s conduct as a member of the family of God. The church is that family.

 Christ is over God’s House.

He is called by the writer of Hebrews an Apostle, High Priest, and Son over God’s house (Heb. 3:1-6). The Father gave Him to be head over all things to the church (Eph. 1:23). He has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18).

Reconciliation to God is in the church

The mystery of the salvation of the Gentiles and their reconciliation unto God was revealed by Paul. How God planned to save the Gentiles was a mystery until it was fully revealed by inspired men. In Eph. 2:11-22, Paul tells how both Gentile and Jew are presently reconciled unto God. “But now in Christ Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself on the two one new man, so making peace; and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (vs. 13-16). Notice that reconciliation to God of both Gentile and Jew is “in one body.” We have already shown that this body is the church.

The church is a habitation of God

Paul speaks of the “household of God” and calls it a  “holy temple” and “a habitation of God” (Eph. 1:19-22). Again, we note that he is not talking about a material building, but those whom he calls “fellow-citizens the saints.” These are the household of God. They are the church. This is where God dwells.

The Lord adds those who are being saved to the church

“And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved” (Acts 2:47, ASV). In the KJV we read, “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” When one repents and is baptized, they receive remission of his sins, and he is immediately added by the Lord to the church. The Lord does His job daily. He does not get behind. He adds people who are being saved to HIS church (Matt 16:18), not to the churches of men. Hence, there are no present day, accountable, saved people outside the Lord’s church.

The Duration of the Law of Moses

There are some people who inform us that the Law of Moses is still binding upon us, and that therefore we should keep the Sabbath Day (or, Saturday) instead of meeting for worship upon the First Day of the week as prescribed in the New Covenant (Acts 20:7). And there still are people who believe and teach that all one has to do to be saved is to keep the Ten Commandments. Paul told us that the Law of Moses was for a certain purpose. He said that the Law of Moses served its purpose, and therefore was done away. Therefore, we are no longer under it. But what did Paul teach about the duration of the Law.

Till the Seed Should Come

The first point we would like to make on the duration of the Law is stated in Gal. 3:19. Notice the context: “Now this I say: A covenant confirmed beforehand by God, the law, which came four hundred and thirty years after, doth not disannul, so as to make the promise of none effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no more of promise: but God hath granted it to Abraham by promise. What then is the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise has been made: and it was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator.”

How long was that? If we simply read the verse preceding the one we have just read, this will be clear: “Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He said not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Gal. 3:16). Paul said that the seed spoken of is Christ. The Law was to last “till” Christ should come. When the seed came (or Christ), the Law was to be done away. This coincides perfectly with’ what Paul had previously said about man’s being made dead to the Law through the body of Christ (Rom. 7:4). The duration of the Law, therefore, was until the death of Christ. At that time Moses’ Law was nailed to the cross. The nature of the Law was temporary.

Till We are Brought To The Instructor

In Gal. 3:24, 25, Paul made another statement that gives us light into how long the Law of Moses was intended to last.  “So that the law is become our tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” One purpose of the Law was to bring us to Christ. So the Law was our “tutor” or “schoolmaster” to bring us to Christ. It was a purpose of the Law to see that mankind was safely delivered unto Christ, the instructor.

If there is any one passage in the New Testament that makes it unequivocally plain that the Law of Moses was temporary, this is it. In language which no man can misunderstand Paul stated the duration of the Law of Moses. This might be language which some do not believe, but it is not language which is not understood. He first said that the Law is our tutor to bring us to Christ (v. 24). Then, he declared that now that faith is come we are no longer under a tutor (v. 25). If the Law is a tutor, and Paul said we are no longer under the tutor, how can men yet declare and argue that we are bound by the Law of Moses? Paul’s argument is that we are released from the Law of Moses, and that we have perfect freedom in Christ. So here is a second statement of Paul as to the duration of the Law. First he said the Law was added because of transgressions till the seed should come (3:19), and then he said the Law is a tutor, but we are no longer under a tutor.

 In chapters 3, and 4 of Galatia, Paul demonstrated the relationship between the Law of Moses, and the Gospel of Christ. So now turn to Gal. 4:21-31: “Tell me, you that desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, one by the handmaid, and one by the freewoman. Howbeit the son by the handmaid is born after the flesh; but the son by the freewoman is born through promise. Which things contain an allegory: for these women are two covenants; one from mount Sinai, bearing children unto bondage, which is Hagar. Now this Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia and answers to the Jerusalem that now is: for she is in bondage with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, which is our mother. For it is written, Rejoice, you barren that bear not: Break forth and cry, you that travail not: For more are the children of the desolate than of her that has the husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit, so also it is now. Howbeit what saith the scripture? Cast out the handmaid and her son: for the son of the handmaid shall not inherit with the son of the freewoman. Wherefore, brethren, we are not children of a handmaid, but of the freewoman.”

In this passage Paul said that those who yet want to be under the Law do not even pay attention to what the Law says, for in the Old Testament we read of Abraham’s two wives, and his two sons. These historical realities, Paul declared, contain a vital and important lesson. The two women represent two covenants. Hagar is representative of the covenant given from Mt. Sinai in Arabia, which can be no other than the Law of Moses. This covenant answers to the Jerusalem that now is. Jerusalem was literally the center of worship under the Old Testament Law. As Hagar’s children are of the flesh and are in bondage. Sarah, Abraham’s real wife, is representative of the Jerusalem that is above, or the heavenly Jerusalem: “but you are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable hosts of angels, and to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.” Sarah’s children are not after the flesh, but are of promise, and are not in bondage, but are free. Then Paul said, but brethren we are children of promise.

Remembering that Paul said the children of Hagar, the handmaid, represented the Law of Moses, let us see the conclusion of Paul’s teaching: “Wherefore, brethren, we are not children of a handmaid, but of the freewoman” (Gal. 3:31). Hagar represented the Law, so Paul said that brethren in the Lord, members of the church, are not under the Law. This would be plain enough for any who are willing to accept the Bible as the final standard of authority.

Conclusion: How long did the Law last? It lasted until Christ nailed it to the cross (Col 2:14). Paul said, “God having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manner, has in these last days spoken unto us in his Son” (Heb. 1:1). We are not to go by the Law of Moses, but by the Law of Christ. Christ died to take the Old Testament out of the way.

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