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

Archive for the ‘1. Sermon Essays’ Category

Praying For The Sick

Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him (Jam 5:14-15).

I have noticed that when we pray for someone who is sick, frequently the prayer goes something like this:

“Our Father in heaven, we thank you for the many blessings you have given us. . . . We come to you in prayer especially at this time in behalf of our brother who is sick. We pray that you will bless the doctors and nurses who are attending to him. We pray that you will be with his family in this hour of crisis that they might minister to his needs and be a source of comfort, consolation, and strength to him”.

There is nothing in this prayer that should not be prayed for. However, the prayer frequently comes to an end without the one leading it ever asking the Lord to heal the sick body of the person who is suffering. In my observations at the hospital, I see the doctor in pretty good health, not worried about how to pay his medical bills, and doing quite well. The nurses attending to the needs of my loved one also look cheerful, in good health, and generally doing better than the one lying in the hospital bed. The family and friends who come to cheer and comfort the sick also seem relatively in good condition. Any of these can properly be the objects of our prayer. However, in this situation, who is most in need of our prayers? Obviously, the sick person who is in such poor condition that he had to be admitted into the hospital. Why should anyone be so reluctant to pray for him?

Have we so studiously avoided the errors of modem Pentecostalism that we are afraid to ask the Lord to heal the body of someone who is sick? I hope that we have not reached a point in our faith that we no longer believe that prayer does any good. Before proceeding any further, let me close a couple of doors. There are two erroneous concepts of the present operation of the world:

(1) The Pentecostals are wrong when they promise miraculous healing to those who are sick. There are no miracles being performed today. Faith is not a condition to physical health.

(2) The naturalists are also wrong who teach that everything is governed solely by natural law. The deistic concept of the universe teaches that God created and empowered the universe; ever since creation everything has occurred as a result of natural law. The naturalists deny that God even created the world, but are agreed with the deists in believing that all things that happen are the result of the operation of natural law. Neither believes that God intervenes in the affairs of man. Neither of these concepts are true. God does work in the affairs of men, as is expressly stated in such passages as Daniel 4:32. I am afraid that some Christians may be approaching the deistic concept of the world. That would be the case if one were to conclude that prayer does not change things.

When Hezekiah became aware that he was sick with an illness that would lead to death, he prayed to God and wept (2 Kin 20:3). The Lord answered his prayer and extended his life for fifteen years.

The 116th Psalm records the praise of a saint delivered from death. He described his condition:

The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell got hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.

Then called I upon the name of the Lord; 0 Lord, I beseech you, deliver my soul (3-4).

The psalmist brought his plight before the Lord and asked for his divine assistance and aid.

If we cannot directly ask for God’s help when we are sick, how can we praise and glorify him when we are healed? If we believe that he has nothing to do with our recovery, why praise him for deliverance? Why not solely give thanks to the doctors, nurses, and natural laws that enable us to recuperate? Most doctors will tell you that they cure no one, but that information evidently hasn’t gotten into the minds of God’s children. Doctors are not God and it is impossible for man to heal anyone. Only God heals! (Jer 17:14)

I plan to ask for God to heal me when I become ill. I am not asking him to perform a miracle, but I am asking him in his providence to heal my sick body. There is not a father or mother among us with a sick child who has not unabashedly taken their prayer directly to God and asked him to let the child live!

Why are we afraid to say in public what we pray in private? Let us not hesitate to ask God to extend the life of our loved ones, to heal their sick body that they might resume their role in the home, and to strengthen them during the hours of their sickness. Let us also recognize that the God who has the power to heal also has the privilege of saying to me like he did to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9). I will pray earnestly until I clearly see that the answer to my prayer is “My grace is sufficient for you.” When I so perceive his reply, I will quit asking for healing and ask for the strength to accept what has come to me.

In the meantime, let us avoid the tendency of allowing our reaction to Pentecostalism to drive us away from asking God to heal the sick.

Who Exactly Is God?

In order to find out who God is, the best source of information to consult would be the book that claims to be the Word of God himself. A thorough examination of the Bible should give us plenty of understanding about who God truly is.

God is “The Creator”

If we look in the Bible, the first time God is mentioned is in the very first verse, Genesis 1:1, which says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” With regard to the Creator, Nehemiah is more specific when he says, “You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all things on it, the seas and all that is in them” (Neh. 9:6). The previous two verses explain how everything came into being. God created them all. And since it was God “who built all things” (Heb. 3:4), including us, we aught to gain a better perspective of our relationship to him. We owe him everything — our very existence and we should be thankful. Moreover, since we are his creation, we should submit to him and reverence him as a child would its own father. We must remember that we are not and never can be greater than he is, as a vessel is not greater than the potter who made it.

God is “Everlasting”

Since recorded history indicates that God began creation as much as 7000 years ago, one might wonder if he is still alive; and if so, what he is doing or where he is.

With regard to his “life-span,” God has this to say: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:8). This verse indicates that God is not dead, as some may argue, but is very much alive. He was present in the past and will be present in the future. He is an “Eternal God” (Deut. 33:27). He will continue living long after you and I are dead and gone.

What is it that makes God eternal? Why does he not die like we do? The reason is that he is not a man as you and I (Num. 23:19). He has no physical temple which can decay, or mortal body which can be killed. Jesus tells us in John 4:24 that God is a spirit. He is an eternal, everlasting, never-ending being.

God is “In Control”

After learning that our Creator is indeed still alive and well after all these years, one might wonder what he is doing. After all, we don’t ever “see” God doing anything. He doesn’t float by and greet us or pass over our towns in plain view to assure us of his presence.

If we turn to the Bible to see if there is any evidence as to what God might be doing now, we find several passages that give us the answer. In Genesis 14:22, Abraham calls God the “possessor of heaven and earth.” This indicates God’s ownership of his creation. In Daniel 5:21 Nebuchadnezzar learned that “the most high God rules in the kingdom of men and appoints over it whomever he chooses.” So God does not nonchalantly sit back and watch things go. These verses indicate that God is still proactive with respect to our world. God is not only watching over us, but has ultimate control over what happens here. If he chooses to overthrow a nation he does. If he desires a specific leader to lead a nation, that person will lead that nation. If he wishes to save a person from death or disease he can. So many people are afraid of man’s ability to destroy the earth and every living thing it sustains with nuclear weapons; but if God doesn’t want that to happen it won’t, for God preserves heaven and earth and all things on it (Neh. 9:6). And think about this: Jesus said of sparrows, “. . . not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will” (Matt. 10:29). The simple fact that God knows this and is aware of the most minute’ details of his creation should show us that he is in complete control.

God is “All-Powerful”

As we continue searching the Bible for attributes about God, we find that he is mentioned as being so powerful that no one is able to withstand him (2 Chron. 20:6). In Deuteronomy 32:39, God himself exclaimed, “. . . I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal, nor is there any who can deliver from my hand!” Truly he is all-powerful. He created all things, he sustains all things, and no one was ever able to withstand him or defeat his purposes. He is the “Almighty” (Rev. 1:8).

One might wonder why he was called the “most high God” (Gen. 14:22). It was most likely to show his standing with reference to the other “so-called” gods of pagan idolatry. In Deuteronomy 10:17, Moses reminded the Hebrews that “…the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the Great God, mighty and awesome!” King David praised God saying, “You are great 0 Lord God, for there is none like you, nor is there any God besides you according to all that we have heard with our ears” (2 Sam. 7:22). Those people who were honest and sincere knew that the idols of their day were only man-made objects fashioned from base materials (Isa. 44:9-20). And, they realized that God was the only supernatural being that made himself known to mankind.

God is “Fearsome”

Throughout the history of the Bible, God has had to lift his hand and wield his power to catch the attention of certain nations and their rulers. They needed a reminder that he was still “All powerful” and in control of things. In many cases those who stood up against God or mocked his Holy name were sent away in shame and despair. And, in some cases, God not only became feared by them, but was praised and adored by them because of his wonderful works. Notice the following:

When Moses came to free Israel, Pharaoh would not release them. He said, “Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice?” But, after the 10 plagues, Egypt became very familiar with God. Unfortunately for them, that was not enough. God had to destroy the Egyptian army in the Red Sea “that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord” (Ex. 14:14).

In 2 Chronicles we find the Moabites, Ammonites, and Edomites joining forces to attack Judah. Upon hearing of the approaching invaders, Jehoshaphat with the elders of Judah came to the temple to call upon the Lord. The Lord answered and comforted them by saying, “. . . do not be afraid . . . for the battle is not yours, but God’s” (v. 15). God then caused the enemy armies to become confused and to destroy one another. Verse 29 shows the attitude of those nations after the great slaughter: “And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel.”

In 1 Samuel 4 the Israelites went out to battle against the Philistines. Israel later brought the ark of the covenant into the camp to help them win. When the Philistines heard of this, they were afraid and said, “God has come into the camp! Woe to us! For such a thing has never happened before! …Who will deliver us?” (vv. 7-8) But after pulling themselves together, they slaughtered Israel and captured the ark as God permitted. Soon after, though, they felt the wrath of God when they desecrated the ark. Their idol, Dagon, was shattered in its temple and they were plagued with disease and death. Finally they sent the ark back saying, “let it go back . . . so that it does not kill us and our people” for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there (1 Sam. 5:11).

In Daniel 3, the three Hebrews Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego were commanded to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s gold image or be cast into a fiery furnace. When they did not, Nebuchadnezzar said, “If you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately .. . and who is the god who will deliver you from my hand?” Then they replied, “Our God is able to deliver us.” So, with rage, he commanded them to be thrown into the fire. But, to his astonishment, they were not even singed; and, an angelic figure appeared with them in the midst of the fire. Then he called them out of the fire and exclaimed, “Therefore, I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this” (v. 29).

In Daniel 6, Daniel had a trap set for him by the other governors and lords of the empire, making it unlawful to pray to anyone but the king. The offenders would be thrown into a den of lions. When Daniel was caught praying to God anyway, the other governors accused him before the king. Even though King Darius did not want to harm Daniel, he could not change the law; so Daniel was thrown to the lions. In the morning, when Daniel was found still alive, Darius, with joy, wrote, “I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel, for he is the living God and steadfast forever. . . He delivers and rescues, he works signs and wonders in heaven and on earth, who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions” (vv. 26-27). The other wicked governors and lords were then fed to the lions for breakfast.

God is “Holy”

It was once said of God, “… who is able to stand before this holy Lord God?” (1 Sam. 6:20) God certainly is holy. He is pure, without fault or blame. There is no sin or guile to be found in him. He is not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell with him. He hates all workers of iniquity, destroys liars, abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful (Ps. 5:4-6). God does not like it when man is unrighteous and sinful. He hates sin. That is because “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 Jn. 1:5). And because evil cannot dwell with God, he made a way for sinful man to be reconciled from their sins by the sacrifice of the pure and sinless Messiah, “who bore our sins . . . on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24).

Conclusion: Even in the ancient history provided to us by archaeology, we can find references to God that corroborate the Bible. There are hundreds of verses in the Bible that help us understand who God is. These are just a few select ones that really hit the spot. From them we see that he truly is the Most High God, the Holy One, the Almighty, the Eternal Father, the Great Creator. He created us and knows what our limitations are and what our purpose is. His inspired Word is the “operators manual” to us his machine; and we would do well to become familiar with it.

Jesus said in Luke 12:7, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” If God knows and sees even the most insignificant things, we had better live and speak and move as if he were walking around behind us every single day! And since God is all-powerful and will judge our deeds when this life is over, we had better be concerned about how we live and where we stand in relation to him; for as Solomon said, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil” (Eccl. 12:13-14).

When You Feel Unworthy to Partake

Some members of the body of Christ do not partake of the Lord’s Supper because they feel they “are not worthy.” The only passage, to my knowledge, to which they might be alluding when expressing themselves in this manner is 1 Cor. 11: 27, 28 which is as follows:

 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup..”

What should the person who is about to partake the Lord’s Supper do when he knows that he has sinned? Perhaps these words of Jesus best explain:

“If therefore you are offering your gift at the altar, and there you remember that your brother has anything against you, leave there your gift before the altar, and go your way, first to be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23, 24).

Notice that Jesus did not say “offer no more gifts” but told the man to correct the sin and then return to offer the gift. Likewise, if, while in the process of self examination, one finds himself guilty of sin, he should do whatever is necessary to obtain the forgiveness of that sin and then partake the Lord’s Supper.

Those who continually refuse to partake the lord’s Supper because they feel they are “unworthy” are openly refusing to obey the Lord’s command of “This do in remembrance of me.”

The Consequences of Fornication

The consequences of fornication are so serious that the wise man warned repeatedly of its dangers:

. . . To deliver thee from the strange woman . . . which forsakes the guide of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God. For her house inclines unto death, and her paths unto the dead (Prov. 2:16-18).

But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword (Prov. 5:4).

Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? . . . But whoso commits adultery with a woman lacks understanding: he that does it destroys his own soul (Prov. 6:27-28,32).

The effects of this sin include the following:

1. The sin of fornication separates a person from God (Gal. 5:19-21). The physical consequences of fornication formerly deterred some from committing the sin; the fear of an unwanted pregnancy and the public shame and embarrassment of an illegitimate baby prevented some from committing fornication. That deterrent to fornication has been removed by the various contraceptives and abortion clinics. Consequently, many more people are involved in the sin of fornication.

We need to be reminded that an unwanted pregnancy might be prevented or terminated. No one on earth may know about the sin except the two participants. However, “the eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3). He knows when the sin is committed. The sin separates the sinner from God, bringing him into a state of spiritual death and in danger of eternal damnation in hell.

2. The sin of fornication endangers the physical body. Trying to deter the young in his day from the sin of fornication, the wise man warned, “And you mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed” (Prov. 5:11).  Fornication leads to several venereal diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and AIDS. Because of the dangers to the physical body, some immoral people have changed their lifestyle; casual sex is not as popular as it once was. Even so, fornication prevails under the veil of safe sex. Yet, there is no such thing as safe sex. Abstinence is the only safe sex. Condoms can prevent child birth, but all the diseases that go with fornication.

3. The sin of fornication damages the emotions of man. When a person engages in premarital or extramarital sexual relationships, he violates his own conscience; a burden of guilt weighs heavily upon his mind. Until the sinner repents or becomes calloused in his sin, he will undergo the same inner turmoil as did David when he committed the sin with Bathsheba. He described this turmoil saying,

When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer (Ps. 32:3-4).

 

The psychological troubles from fornication will be brought into the marriage. One’s husband or wife will have trouble accepting that another has committed fornication with his/her mate. The participant will have trouble blotting out the remembrance of his involvement in that sin.

4. Fornication damages and destroys the marriage. When fornication is committed by someone who is married, his sin frequently causes the destruction of the marriage; if the marriage is not totally destroyed by the sin of fornication, pain and anguish which leave deep scars result. Some become so inflamed by passion that they throw away 20 years of commitment to their spouse and children. Their children suffer through the agonies of a divorce and then are raised in a single-parent home which, however conscientiously managed, is not the ideal home which God ordained as an environment in which to rear children.

Yes, fornication has its consequences. Even its temporal consequences should lead a person to abstain from fornication. Its eternal consequences make the commission of fornication a form of spiritual suicide.

Conclusion: We live in an ungodly age. So has every generation of Christians since the ungodly world crucified Jesus. Like the Christians before us who lived in ungodly eras of time, we must not be conformed to this world (Rom. 12:1-2). We must be willing to be different, strong enough to walk according to the revelation of God instead of according to the course of the world.

As Christians, let us “flee fornication” (1 Cor. 6:18) and “abstain from fornication” (1 Thess. 4:3). Should the temptation to commit fornication present itself, let us flee from it like Joseph. To keep the temptation as far removed as possible, let us avoid those things which create and stimulate one’s inordinate desires and passions. “But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil” (2 Thess. 3:3).

God’s Love

“But God commends his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we love God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn. 4:9,10). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son” (1 Jn. 3:16). “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for ‘us” (1 Jn: 3:16). “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us” (1 Jn. 4:16). “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed on us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 Jn. 3:1). “And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of” the height, the depth and the width of the love of God which “passes knowledge.”

However, with a trembling hand and a grateful heart, we shall seek to magnify our theme and glorify our Rock and our Redeemer. Our theme will lead us as deep into the mystery of God’s nature as man can go, deeper than any of our previous studies have taken us. When we looked at God’s wisdom, we saw something of His mind; when we thought of His power, we saw something of His hand and His arm; when we considered His word, we learned about His mouth; but now, contemplating His love, we are to look into His heart. We shall stand on holy ground; we need the grace of reverence, that we may tread it without sin . . .

It is unbelievable to human thinking that God should love sinners, yet it is true. God loves creatures who have become unlovely and unlovable. There was nothing whatever in the objects of His love to call it forth; nothing in man could attract or prompt it.

Expressions Of God’s Love

All men enjoy the tokens and expressions of love: a nice gift, a warm smile, a kind word. God has not left us without the evidence of His love.

In The Physical, Material Realm

We take for granted the beauty of our planet. Yet, imagine a world without the aesthetic sounds and shades of nature. Every stream that gurgles and babbles, every bird that coos and calls, every sunrise and sunset’s radiance and light bathes us in the temporal beauty of the love of God. Surely, the canopy of heaven on a night “clear as crystal” is a taste of the artistic talent of nature’s Creator. The shimmering splendor of a silver star enlightens the heart if not the pathway. Have you never been entranced while watching an eagle soar or hearing an ocean roar and spend itself on the sands of an endless shore? All of these are the touches and brushes of the Master’s stroke. The earth is the canvas of His hues and tints and tones from whence we view the handiwork of God.

In The Spiritual Realm

Observe that God’s love is shown in what God did. The sending of Christ and His sinless, selfless sacrifice reveal God’s love for sinful man. Some translations render Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated his love for us” by having Christ to die in our place. Time and the ravages of life may steal our ability to enjoy the grandeur of our earthly domain, but “I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38, 39). “But though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). The cross of Calvary, above and beyond the manger of Bethlehem, manifests the love of God.

All the signals of love commence with the death of Jesus, but emanating from the cross, like sparkling spokes from a glowing hub are the attendant provisions of God’s love. (A) “That we could be called the sons of God” (1 Jn. 3:1). Consider the pride one might feel if he could cite some famous and honored person.  Then, cease the idle dream and recognize what an exalted tribute it is to be called a son of God, a child of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (B) The word of God is ours. It can be hidden in the heart (Ps. 119:11). It is a divine communication, a heavenly revelation. Occasionally, an “average citizen” in a local community will receive a personal letter from the President or some other head of state. A newspaper in the city will note the letter and write a story, complete with a photo of the recipient and his letter. All of these events occur because someone received a message from the President of the United States. How more wonderful, then, is the love of God because we have His word, His letter to us, to teach, to correct, to admonish and to comfort (2 Tim. 3:16,17 f; 1 Thess. 4:18). (C) Prayer. Esther was afraid to petition the king personally and directly (Est. 4:11). Few members of Congress, let alone “John Doe,” are allowed to have a personal conference with the President. Think what a privilege we have to call upon our Creator and Savior and to know that He hears (Heb. 4:16 f; 1 Pet. 3:12).

Nature Of God’s Love

(1) Active, Not Passive. As alluded to earlier, God’s love is shown in deeds, actions. A woman would not believe a man loved her if his love could not be seen in what he did. “For God so loved that, he gave . . .”

(2) Not Eroded By Time. Time may efface and erase the love of man. Time often dims the luster of man’s ardor and devotion, but time cannot erode or corrode the love of God. It is not subject to the forgetfulness of long separation or to the changes in temper wrought love by age.

(3) Constant. One who loves us may at times appear indifferent or may disappoint us by some thoughtless oversight or “Balance must be maintained, negligence, but God’s love never has to say, “I am sorry.” It is always sentimentality there. It is steady. It is constant. It is true.

(4) Personal. The love of God is not some abstract, intangible quality diffused throughout the universe. It is supremely, intensely personal – “the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). No one is a faceless number on some celestial computer. The God who marks the death of a sparrow and who knows the names and number of the stars and of the hairs of our head certainly loves you and me as individuals and not solely as a drop in the sea of humanity.

(5) Has Moral Requirements. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 Jn. 4:11). “We love him because he first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19). As God says, “Be holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:17); so, we are to love because He loves. The love of God cannot be passively accepted or appropriated. His love is the basis of our love. “Even so, love, if it has not works, is dead, being alone.”

(6) Described And Defined In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. In this passage, Paul was showing the genuine character of Jesus, of true love. Generally, it is applied to the nature of man’s love, but does it not also typify and exemplify the love of God? “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends”.

God’s Love Does Not Exclude

God is often portrayed as a kindly, doting, indulgent grandfather who benignly excuses the mischief of His children. Assuredly, “God is love,” and He is king, but “God is (also) light, and in him is no darkness at all.” Hence, His love does not exclude:

(1) Hatred of Evil. “But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate” (Rev. 2:6). “So had you also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate” (Rev. 2:15). There is a “time to love, and a time to hate” (Eccl. 3:8). “Through your precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way” (Ps. 119:104). “Therefore I esteem all they precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way” (Ps. 119:128). Paul said, “Abhor that which is evil” (Rom. 12:9). God commends love but never of hatred for every false way. Balance must be maintained, but a superficial sentimentality must never suppress hatred of evil. A man can be measured by what he loves, and he can be weighed by what he refuses to hate, despise and denounce. There is a time for smiles and the extension of the right hand of fellowship, but it must be tempered by times of stern rebuke and stiff opposition, yes, with hatred of everything that is not in harmony with the truth of the gospel (2 Cor. 10:3-5). God knows how fervently we love truth by how ardently we hate error.

(2) Conditional Blessings. Certain blessings are unconditional, “for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). However, God’s love does not provide benefits unconditionally in all realms or spheres. Religious denominationalism often scoffs at commands or conditions of pardon as though they contradict or make void God’s love. Thus, they hiss and boo at us from the haven of the love of God. They stake claim to God’s love, mercy, grace and blood and mock at “terms of pardon.” They confuse the basis or grounds of salvation with the terms or conditions of forgiveness. It is a fatal error. Even Christians occasionally fall into this trap. Attempting to excuse sin by claiming the merits and benefits of “the perfect doing and dying” of Jesus will not hold. Forgiveness is posited in the blood of the Son of God and granted in the mind of God upon obedience to the word of God (Col. 2:11-13 ff; 1 Jn. 1:7-2:2; Rev. 22:14; Heb. 5:8, 9; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19, 22; Rom. 6;17, 18). He labors in vain who would seek to cite a spiritual blessing provided by God’s love that does not have conditions attached to the reception of it.

(3) Judgment. God loved Adam and Eve, but He drove them from the garden. God loved man in the days of Noah, but he brought the flood “in upon the world of the ungodly.” God loved Israel with an “everlasting love,” yet He brought them out of their favored land and into the chains and shackles of bondage, servitude and death. God loves the world and does not will or desire that “any should perish,” but He will cast all the wicked into hell, into everlasting shame, reproach and contempt, into “tribulation and anguish, indignation and wrath,” into outer darkness, “the blackness of darkness forever.” Yes, God is love, but judgment is not excluded because of His love. Therefore, let us serve Him “with reference and godly fear.”

Helping Widows and Orphans

To my knowledge there is nobody who opposes helping widows and orphans from the church treasury, providing they come within the scope of the church’s responsibility. The church is not obligated to help financially all widows and orphans, only certain ones.

The Word of God teaches to “honor widows that are widows indeed” (1 Tim. 5:3). “Honor” means the respect and material assistance to be given to widows. “Indeed” means  really, actually.  Hence, the meaning of the passage is “to care for those women who are really, actually widows.”

In 1 Timothy 5:16 Paul states the limitations of church assistance to widows very clearly. He says, “If any man or woman that believes have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.” Children should take care of their own mother or grandmother, that the church be not burdened in order that the church may be able to relieve those saintly widows who are dependent and destitute. This dependency may be as a result of not having any family, or the children are so sorry that they will not help.

The Jerusalem church supplied the needs for its widows by selecting seven men to expedite the church’s responsibility toward those worthy saints. We must not be any less concerned for our widows today.

As to orphans, I have never seen a single orphan who became the responsibility of the church. This does not mean there has not been any. It simply means I have not seen one. Someone says, “There are orphans, or homeless children, all over the world.” This is true! But are they the obligation of the church? Certainly not! God never gave the church the chore of taking care of all the orphans any more than he gave the church the job of relieving all the widows, or caring for all the sick, or all the hungry and naked. The governments of the world have not been able to alleviate the benevolent needs of all the people, and it is certain the church cannot.

The Bible teaches that the church is to provide for its own – the needy saints (Acts 2:44,45 cf; 4:32; 6:1-3; 11:27-20 ff; Rom. 15:25,26; 1 Cor. 16:12; 2 Cor. 8:4; 2 Cor. 9:1,12,13). A good example of this practice was at Jerusalem. None of the saints lacked, as stated in Acts 2:44 and Acts 4:32. However, in Acts 3, the beggar at the gate Beautiful, asked alms of Peter and John. Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none . . . .” The church had funds, but Peter did not refer him to the church. Wonder why? Because the church had no responsibility. Brethren, the church’s obligation to the world is to try to save souls through preaching the gospel.

Now then, if there are orphans who are Christians, then the church may relieve their needs. But as I said before, I have never known of a situation where a child was orphaned or left homeless with no one to care for it, other than the church. Either grandparents or an aunt or an uncle would take such a child, and this is the way it ought to be.

Our hypothetical cases about children being abandoned on the doorstep of the church building overlook the civil laws that regulate such incidents, if they ever happened. The first thing the church would do, and must do, is call the police and they would handle the matter from there.

However, the crux of this issue is not so much whether the church may care for widows and orphans, but whether the church may make contributions from its treasury to human benevolent institutions in order for them to care for widows and orphans. This, the Bible does not authorize. The church may not scripturally subsidize any human organization. If so, where is the passage that authorizes it, either generically or specifically?

Although the church is limited in its benevolent work, there is a need in the world for general benevolence toward orphans and homeless children, the elderly, the infirm and the sick. Institutional homes for children and nursing homes for the elderly and infirm serve a useful purpose for the indigent. All of us, individually, may contribute to any deserving benevolent organization to help provide food, shelter and clothing for homeless children, the elderly and the infirm. If circumstances permit, we could adopt one or more of these children or act as foster parents. Pure religion is “to visit the fatherless and the widows” (Jam. 1:27).

I Am RESOLVED

“…Daniel resolved not to defile himself” (Dan. 1:8). Defile means “to make filth; to tarnish, as reputation; to dishonor.” I am reminded of the following passages: “Since we have these promises dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates (filthiness) body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Cor. 7:1-2). “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (Jam. 1:21).

We defile ourselves, tarnish our reputations, and bring dishonor on the Lord and his church when we give ourselves over to the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). The same apostle said the following in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolators nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

I want to emphasize the phrase: “Do not be deceived.” In our day an age, many are deceived into thinking that they can commit these sins and be teachers and preachers and God will usher them right into heaven. But Paul said “and that is what some of you were, ” not “what some of you are”! One could not be washed, sanctified, and justified from his defilement and continue to commit such acts. Let us resolve not to defile ourselves, but to keep ourselves pure and holy even as our Lord did before us.

I Resolve To Preach Christ To A Lost World

As Paul proclaimed the testimony of God, he said: “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Like Paul, we need to determine now that we will preach Christ (Matt. 28:19 f; Mk. 16:15). “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord” (2 Cor. 4:5).

Many have the idea that to preach Christ, is to preach only the facts about him and not his doctrine or teaching. But preaching Christ is the same as preaching the word or the gospel. This is made clear in Acts 8:4-5: “Therefore, those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip, went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.” Philip preached the same thing those who were scattered preached! In verse 35 of the same chapter, it says, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.” You cannot preach Jesus independent of the Word! Also we note that, involved in “preaching Jesus,” was preaching water baptism. Since Philip was doing the preaching on this occasion, it stands to reason that he introduced the matter of baptism, because the Ethiopian asked about being baptized as soon as they came to sufficient water. Preaching Jesus, a part of which, is preaching water baptism, is preaching salvation to lost souls. This is true because Jesus died to save lost souls, shedding his precious blood on a Roman cross, and we contact that blood in baptism (Rom. 6:3-4). Also, it was Jesus himself who commanded baptism in order to be saved (Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:46-47; Acts 2:5,38).

The only way the church will grow numerically or spiritually is for you and me to get busy preaching Christ. People will not come to our buildings unless we first go to them! The Lord said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” He didn’t say “build a building and sit down and wait for the people to come to you that you may then preach to them.” Let each of us resolve now to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:2).

I Resolve To Press On Toward Heaven

” . . . forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God, in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).

We must not dwell on the past. We must put it behind and move on in our service to God. I don’t mean that we are just to forget sin – no, we must correct sin. But we can’t allow the past to hold up our progress for the Lord.

It is so easy to allow church problems of the past to hinder us in our service in the Lord’s work. They can warp our concept of faithful brethren and make us bitter and cynical, if we will allow it. Personal sin can hold us up. We need always to repent when we sin, asking God’s forgiveness, and then move on in his service. Perhaps we have received mistreatment from brethren. Will we allow such to cloud our thinking and hinder us from faithfulness to him?

In many ways the Christian life is like a foot race. We sometimes encounter adverse track conditions. Competitors may occasionally jostle us as we run. At times we might even trip and fall. No doubt, all of us have probably stumbled a time or two along the way. We have said something we should not have said, we have failed to do things we know we should have and could have done. Instead of heading toward the goal, we find ourselves flat on our face! Brethren, this will happen. It happened to the best of God’s servants. But, when it does, what will we do? Do we stay down? Do we bemoan our situation, or do we get up and double our efforts? If you have fallen down in the past, get up and dust yourself off and get back into the race. Forget the failures of the past – God does – if you will repent and confess them (1 Jn. 1:7,9).

Tag Cloud