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

Archive for the ‘1. Sermon Essays’ Category

Let Brotherly Love Continue

Jonathan loved David as himself insomuch that their souls were knit together (1 Sam. 18:1 cf; 20:17). David reciprocated in his affection for Jonathan (2 Sam 1:25-27). Christians should also be knit together in love (Col. 2:1-3). Jesus gave every Christian a new commandment to love one another even as he loved us and gave himself for us (Jn 13:34 f; Eph 5:25). We are taught of God to love one another (1 Thess 4:9). The noble sons of Jesse and King Saul foreshadow the characteristics of Christian love and brotherly affection.

The hearts of David and Jonathan were knit together by covenant (1 Sam. 18:1-3 cf; 20:8-9; 20:12-17; 23:15-18). Many would violate the covenant of marriage (Prov. 2:16-17 f; Mal. 2:13-16). Others would violate the covenant of friendship (Prov. 27:6, 9-10 cf; 17:17; 18:24). Let us be loyal to God (Hos. 6:4-6) and to one another (Prov. 21:21).

The hearts of Jonathan and David were knit together by courage. David manifested great courage in confronting Goliath (1 Sam. 17:31-49). Jonathan fearlessly challenged the Philistine horde (1 Sam. 13:1-4 cf; 14:1-5). Let Christians be courageous in defense of the truth (the gospel of our salvation) (Josh. 1:5-9 ff; Acts 4:8-18; Eph 1:13; Phil. 1:12-18).

The hearts of Jonathan and David were knit together by conviction. When King Saul sought David’s life, Jonathan spoke well of David, seeking to reason with his father and dissuade him from shameful action (1 Sam. 19:1-7 cf; 20:30-34). Let Christians manifest conviction, standing up for what is right (2 Tim. 1:6-12), and standing beside those who faithfully serve the Lord (2 Tim. 1:16-18).

The hearts of Jonathan and David were knit together by compassion. Separated because of Saul’s malignant hatred, David and Jonathan kissed each other and wept together (1 Sam. 20:35-42). David’s requiem for the fallen king and his son is an unforgettable expression of sympathetic grief (2 Sam. 1:17-27). Let Christians manifest loving compassion toward one another (Phil. 2:1-4 f; Col. 3:12-14).

Conclusion: Unity among brethren is an unparalleled blessing (Psa 133:1-3 f; Eph 4:3,13). However, friendship is no foil for error (Deut. 13:6-11). True friendship respects truth (Jn 15:12-15). No lie is of the truth (1 Jn 2:21). Christians are knit together as we conform to God’s pattern and speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:11-16). Christians are knit together in their obedience to the gospel (1 Cor 2:2), in their continuance to the doctrine of Christ (Acts 2:42 f; 2 Jn 9), and their faithfulness and endurance to the end (Matt 10:22 f; Rev 2:10). As one year ends and another begins, let brotherly love continue (Heb 13:1).

Satan Doesn’t Take Time Off

In the days of Job, we see Satan “going to and fro in the earth, and . . . walking up and down in it” (Job 1:7; 2:2). Satan was walking all over the earth looking for a righteous man. Peter warned, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). As lion seeks its prey and strikes when his prey is unaware, even so, Satan hunts us like a lion. Jesus said that Satan was a murderer from the beginning and the father of lies (Jn 8:44). He is the author of lies and murder and chaos, and his actions continue to this day. Satan doesn’t take vacations or celebrate holidays. He is on the prowl 365, 24/7. Satan in our schools, our military, our government, and in our homes. Satan is working overtime to defeat the work of God for he knows his time on earth is short.

In Our Families

You can’t view modern-day families and not see Satan. Gay marriages, adultery, fornication, and divorce abound in the family. Single parent homes are as common, if not more so than godly marriages. We are led to believe that fornication is the prelude to a good marriage. Who do you think hates marriage? It surely isn’t God! God made woman for man (Gen 2:24). Yet, today we see woman with woman and man with man, and we are told this is normal. We see men and women surgically having their sexual parts removed and changed in order to become the opposite sex (transgendering), and we are told this is normal. We see homosexual and lesbian marriages, and we are told this is normal. Well, here is an eye-opener for the wicked, it is not normal! Remember, as goes the home, so goes the nation. Satan is obviously working overtime in the home, and especially in the homes of Christians to lure them away from God and his will. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Satan is winning.

In Churches

The churches of Christ are not immune from the power of Satan. I dare to inform you that Satan sits on the front pew of every denominational church ever assembled and he sits in the Lord’s church as well. It is more obvious in denominational churches than in the Lord’s church because they have erred so far from New Testament scripture. When you see instrumental music in denominational churches, you know Satan is present. When you see women preachers, teachers, song leaders, who take on leadership roles, you know Satan is present. When you see infant baptism, you know Satan is present. When you see positions like Popes, Cardinals, Priests, and Nuns, you know Satan is present. When you hear doctrines like, “Once saved, always saved” and  “Faith only saves”, you know Satan is present.

When you see the Lord’s church without elders, you know Satan is present. When you see the Lord’s church with unqualified elders and deacons, you know Satan is present. When you see a preacher who alters his message in order to keep his job, you know Satan is present. When you see women taking on leadership and teaching roles in the church, you know Satan is present. When you see the Lord’s church giving its money to non-Christians, you know Satan is present. When you see the Lord’s church investing in colleges, orphanages, or any other man-made institutions, you know Satan is present. When you see the Lord’s church having church sponsored banquets, dances, or any recreational activity, you know Satan is present. When you hear the truth slandered and error applauded, you know Satan is present. Yes, Satan is working overtime in the churches.

In Our Government

When the laws of man are enacted which allow sins like abortion, homosexuality, adultery, fornication, and various kinds of sexual perversion too numerous to name,  you can rest assured that Satan has been working overtime in government. He has been working among the nations of men ever since governments began. Sodom and Gomorrah fell because of such wickedness. Rome and Babylon fell also because of their wickedness. Consider the wicked kings God names in the Old Testament, both among the Jews and among the Gentiles! Then, look into the New Testament and be reminded of the sins of Herod the Great, Agrippa 1 and 2, Caesar, etc. In studying these leaders, we find such sins as pride, lying, stealing, greed, etc. Don’t be fooled by political parties brethren. I declare unto you that both the Democrat and Republican parties are corrupt and wicked. If you think differently, you have been greatly deceived! These facts all bear record to the fact that Satan has been at work in the government!

In People

The book of 1 John lets us know that men are tempted with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life (2:15-17). We are told that Satan walks around like a lion looking for his next meal (1 Pet. 5:8). Satan has not stopped yet but continues to look for the “weak,” “sickly,” and those who are just unaware of their surroundings. When we see folks caught up in alcoholism, abusive behavior with others, lying, stealing, pornography, just being unfaithful to God, ignorant of his word, not praying, not living as we should in Christ, etc., we are seeing the evidence of a people who are victims of Satan.

If people think Satan is a myth or a joke, he is content with this, for he knows such people will not take him seriously, and therefore will not take the salvation of their souls seriously. Solomon wrote, “Fools mock at sin” (Prov. 14:9). Satan wants more people to be foolish, and he works “overtime” at making sure this happens! If Satan can’t keep you from attending a church, he will try to direct you to a denominational one. If he can’t keep you out of the Lord’s church, he will direct you to the most liberal one he can find for you. If he can’t keep you out of a sound Church of Christ, he will encourage you not to read, study, or teach the Word. He will whisper in your ear, “let the preacher and elders do all the work. After all, isn’t that why we have them”? Yes, Satan is inside the hearts of the masses and he has no intention of departing until the day they die.

Conclusion: Can we fight against Satan? Yes, we can! He is powerful, but Christ has given us the weapons and armor for fighting Satan (Eph. 6:10-17 ff; Rom. 13:12, 14; 2 Cor. 10:3-5). Now we must use them! Perhaps we forgot that we are at war with Satan. Let us awake from sleep and get busy fighting temptation, as well as living a faithful life (1 Cor. 15:58). Look to God for strength (Philip. 4:13). Exercise your senses (Heb. 5:14). Search the scriptures daily (Acts 17:11). Study the Word in order to discern between good and evil (2 Tim 2:15 f; Heb 5:12-14). Preach the Word in and out of season (2 Tim 4:2-5). Contend for the faith (Jude 3). Defend the truth (Philip 1:15-18). Pray always (1 Thess 5:17). Satan is strong, but God is so much stronger. You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 Jn 4:4). Satan doesn’t take time off doing the work of wickedness, and neither should we take time off doing the work of God (Jn 9:4)!

The Various Ways To Spread The Good News

There are many ways the Word of God can be spread throughout the world that many of us never take into consideration. Most are focused on hiring a full-time preacher and letting them do all the work of the Church. First of all, the Bible nowhere suggested that a local preacher was to do all the work of the church. Secondly, this would ignore all the talented Christians within a local congregation and allowing them to go to waste. Let us examine those who do the work of the church but get little credit for all of their efforts.

I have known many preachers and teachers of the gospel who have chosen to provide for their families by working an occupation in the world. This decision is consistent with the apostle Paul’s decision to provide for himself at certain times in his life as a Christian while still preaching and teaching at every opportunity (Acts 18:1-3 cf; 20:34-35 ff; 1 Cor. 4:12; 1 Thess. 2:9; 2 Thess. 3:7-9). He even refused wages that he abuse not his power in the gospel (1 Cor 9:18).

Some think that if a church does not have a “full-time” preacher they are either unfortunate or failing. Acts 8:4 describes early growth in the church as not necessarily the result of supported evangelists. Yet there remain those who may not appreciate the efforts of the other evangelists of the Lord.

Another group of Christians we sometimes overlook in the work of evangelism are the elders, men who have proven themselves as strong Christians, who preach and teach God’s word, and who stand up for truth (1 Tim. 3:1-7 f; Tit. 1:5-9). Those who rule well are worthy of payment for their efforts (1 Tim. 5:17-18). With the office of elder comes the awesome task of leading, defending, and caring for the flock of God. These responsibilities demand much time, love, and patience. Surely if we can support evangelists for their dedication to preaching and teaching we can support elders for the tremendous work that they do (1 Tim. 5). To their credit, hardly any elders ask for payment for their awesome responsibilities.

The Bible gives a picture of strong churches with elders sending out preachers (Acts 11:19-26 cf; 15:22 f; 1 Pet. 5:1). Would a church be a failure if the duties of preaching and teaching were carried out by non-supported elders and the other Christian men of the congregation, while the congregation provided for sending out evangelists? Certainly not, and as a matter of fact there are congregations of the Lord that have decided to do this.

Constantly we stress the importance of the “full-time” evangelist. Yet, a Christian is to be full-time in his work to the Lord no matter what his occupation (Lk. 9:23). We are to be subjects of our King whether at work, in our neighborhood, in our homes, or in the assembly. Our lives need to be the Lord’s (Gal. 2:20) and our work is to stand for truth as being good examples (Col. 4:5-6 f; 1 Pet. 3:13-17) that others may be influenced to turn to God (Jam. 5:10-20). Each one of us comes in contact with people every day whose only chance to learn of God may be through our efforts (2 Cor. 3:2-3).

Whether we are working as Christians, elders, evangelists (supported or not), or teachers, we are all necessary to accomplish the Lord’s will in spreading his word (Gal. 4:7-16). We all have gifts and should appreciate them, not over or under emphasizing a particular group (1 Pet. 4:7-11). We should all encourage one another in the talents we have (Matt. 25:14-30 f; Rom. 12:6-8).

In today’s multimedia world it is easy to spread the Word of God. Some do it from house to house. Some do it in print. Some do it by phone. Some do it by the world wide web. No matter how you do it, your work and labor of love will not go unrewarded. The Hebrew writer said it this way: “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end” (Heb 6:10,11).

There are many Christians working hard in the Lord’s Kingdom who are teaching, preaching, and spreading the gospel who would not be defined as “a fully supported evangelist.” The Lord needs all of us to accomplish his will (Eph. 4:16). I pray God will continue to provide us with the health and strength to carry on, for the rest we all long for is not in this world. Our rest remains in heaven where we can all be together someday (Heb. 4:8-10).

Hypocritical Judgment

Some people live by one rule, but judge others by a more stringent rule than that imposed upon themselves. The Bible speaks of such a practice and clearly condemns it. The apostle Paul warns against such in Romans 2:1-3: “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?”

The Jews saw themselves as justified in their superior feelings because the law of Moses had been given to them. Even though they did not obey the law, they were proud of the fact that God had given it to them. Thus, Paul reminds them that hearing the law does not make one justified in the sight of God, but rather doing the law. As Jesus reminded his followers with his sermon on the mount, Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt 7:21).

The apostle sums up the state of such a people in this way: “Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written. For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision” (Rom. 2:17-25).

Clearly, God condemned the Jews’ practice of judging the Gentiles by the standard of the law while refusing to live by that standard themselves. Such hypocrisy has always caused the name of God to be blasphemed by those whose only view of the truth is through the lives of those professing to believe in God.

It is the height of absurdity for us to condemn the wrong done by another when we are doing the same thing. Pointing our finger at another’s wrong will not excuse us from God’s judgment of our own wrong actions. Jesus had much the same thing to say about this in Matthew 7:3-5 when he said these words: “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck out of your eye”; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First, remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

The picture Jesus brings to our mind with this teaching is one in which each of us can readily see the absurdity. Who would continue to go to a doctor who instructs you to give up smoking and drinking when he has a cigarette in his mouth and a bottle of alcohol in his hands? Even so, who would adhere to the words of a preacher who condemns you for your sins while they are indulging in the same wickedness?

This is the point Jesus makes in the previous two verses as well when he says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matt. 7:1-2). Jesus is not saying that we should absolutely not judge by showing others about their wrongs. He is saying that we must avoid hypocritical judgment of others by condemning them while we are just as guilty, if not more so. In the same chapter, Jesus commands us to judge some to be false prophets by examining their lives (vv. 15-20). Such would not be possible if all judging is wrong.

The cause of Christ has suffered from a number of preachers who have taught the truth about various subjects but failed to live them from day to day. Some have spoken in livid opposition to fornication and adultery only to practice such in their own lives. Such men need to correct their own lives before preaching to others. The church of our Lord has been dealt untold damage by those who defend it as the one true church purchased by the blood of Christ, but manifest a half-hearted service as members of that body.

Conclusion: When we contrast the actions of Paul and Peter in Galatians 2:11-14, we see the difference between right and wrong judging. Peter acted through hypocrisy on this occasion and stood condemned. Paul rightly rebuked him for such hypocrisy. Paul could effectively do this because he was not acting with the same hypocrisy as was Peter. Other cases in the New Testament show the same thing. We must oppose evil in the actions of others (1 Cor. 5:1-13). We must oppose the error taught by others and even name the false teacher (2 Tim. 2:16-18). However, we must be careful not to judge them while we are guilty of the same thing. This demands that we be constantly involved in self-examination (2 Cor. 13:5). It demands that each “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). This we can do if we let our lives be guided and corrected each day by that word of truth. The bottom line is this, if you are going to preach and teach the truth, live and abide by the truth!

It’s A Sin To Justify The Wicked

The scriptures teach, “He that justifies the wicked, and he that condemns the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord” ( Prov. 17:15).

God tries righteousness but condemns wickedness. The Psalmist David wrote, “The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.  Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup” (Psa 11:5-6). Some men have the reverse attitude. They defend wickedness and find fault with righteousness.

Justifying the Wicked

The wicked are often acquitted and go unpunished. When the prophet Samuel was old, he made his sons judges over Israel. However, they “walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment” (1 Sam. 8:1-3). Any wicked person with enough money could have bought his way out of trouble with these judges.

The law of Moses warned the judges and officers, “You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous (Deut. 16:19). This warning often went unheeded. During many periods of Israel’s history, the magistrates and rulers set the wicked free in exchange for a “gift.”

Today, people who violate the law often escape punishment by bribes and by hiring smart attorneys who can find loopholes in the law or get a client set free on some legal technicality. There is no honor in the exoneration of criminals and lawbreakers. It is even worse when leaders of a country break the law and escape justice because of their great wealth and power for they cause a nation to follow after their evil and misdeeds. Such was the case of David who had an illicit relationship with Bathsheba, Urias’ wife. As King of Israel, he caused evil men to blaspheme the name of the Lord. “For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun. . . However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (2 Sam 12:12,14).

Wickedness coverups their evil as if it were never committed. Sometimes when sin is committed, attempts are made to justify the wicked by acting as if no wrong has been done. These are they who commit a crime in high places and then try to say that their crime is not punishable by law. To them, the truth is not the truth. They cover up their crimes with lies and with bribes. In other words, they claim they are above the law. A person in an important position is found to be immoral, or one of high rank is proved to be guilty of gross misconduct, but in “Watergate” style the whole mess is quickly and quietly swept under the rug. Any statements issued are vague and meaningless, and it is understood that no one is supposed to challenge their authority. If there are investigations, they will render them useless by defaming their accusers or fire anyone who gets too close to their crime.

The scribes and Pharisees were so accustomed to whitewashing their sins that Jesus compared them to “whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness” (Matt. 23:27).

In the present generation, numerous groups are loudly endorsing homosexuality, adultery, fornication, abortion, gambling, drinking, prostitution, etc. There is a widespread clamor for liberalized laws. Some in high governmental circles of influence have spoken in justification of practices explicitly condemned in the Bible. Courts are freeing the smut peddlers and prostitutes. Crime and immorality increase rapidly because wickedness is justified.

Condemning the Just

The righteous are afflicted. In Isaiah’s time, the leaders of Israel were “companions of thieves”; they loved gifts and acted for reward rather than in the interest of justice, therefore “they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them” (Isa. 1:23). Amos made a similar charge. He said the leaders “afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right” (Amos 5:12). “Her heads judge for a bribe, her priests teach for pay, and her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the Lord, and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No harm can come upon us” (Mic 3:11).

The righteous are falsely accused. Jesus our Lord did no sin but was accused and condemned to die. Although perfectly just, He was accused of “perverting the nation,” forbidding tribute to Caesar, and trying to set Himself up as king (Lk. 23:1,2). Paul, the righteous apostle to the Gentiles, was accused of being “a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes,” and one who had tried to profane the temple (Acts 24:1-6).

Jesus said of the righteous, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5:11-12). Among Stephen’s last words were concerning the persecuted righteous. “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:52).

Conclusion: Consider the words of Isaiah: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him” (Isa. 5:20-23). Solomon said, “Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but such as keep the law contend with them” (Prov 28:4). Let it never be once named among us those who justify the wicked and condemns the just!

Christ Does Not Belong In Christmas

Today, millions of little children are going to get up early so that they can open up presents given to them by a mythical character named Santa Claus. Businesses will be counting their profits and parents will be counting their debts. Many churches celebrate the 25th of December as the Lord’s birth. Seemingly few see anything wrong with placing Jesus in the holiday called Christmas.

If you go by any denominational church building this time of year, you will probably see slogans on their outdoor signs like, “Let’s put Christ back into Christmas” or “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Some will even ask, “What are you going to give Christ on His birthday?” Even some liberal churches of Christ will have messages like these inscribed on their buildings. A lot of groups will organize and hold Christmas programs for the community.

Considering Christmas has the word “Christ” in it, it should have some connection with our Lord. If there is a connection with the Lord, then we should be able to turn to our Bibles and read of this observance, but can we?

Most people probably think that people who do not celebrate Christmas in the fullest sense are atheists or anti-Christian because they choose not “to commemorate the birth of Christ.” However, Christmas is not found in the Bible. Matthew and Luke are the only two gospels that deal with the birth of Jesus. Neither of these accounts gives the day of the Lord’s birth.

If there is no mention of Christmas in God’s word, then it is not from God. If it isn’t from God then it must be from the vain imaginations of man. God has given us “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3). Christ promised that the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles into all truth (Jn 16:13), but He did not tell them the month nor the day of the month to observe His birth. In fact, you will not find one apostle mentioning anything about the day of Christ’s birth. The first century Christians never celebrated any such day as Christmas.

In order to find Christmas, one must go outside of the Bible. If you will look in every major encyclopedia, you will find that no one can pinpoint the date of Christ’s birth. In fact, chances are that Christ was born sometime between April and October because December 25th falls within the rainy season in Palestine. Therefore, the shepherds would hardly have been in the fields at night as they were when Jesus was born (Lk 2:8).

Most theologians will place the first Christmas observance somewhere between A.D. 300-350. It is believed that in A.D. 345, Bishop Liberius of Rome ordered the people to celebrate Christmas on December 25th. Christmas probably does not date earlier than A.D. 200. The most likely theory and most generally accepted one is that the birth of Christ was assigned to the date of the winter solstice. This date is December 21st in our Roman calendar but was December 25th in the Julian calendar which predated our own. The solstice, when days begin to lengthen in the northern hemisphere, was a time of rejoicing among many ancient cultures and was referred to by pagans as the “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.” During the third century, Emperor Aurelian proclaimed December 25th as a special day dedicated to the sun-god, whose cult was very strong in Rome at that time. Even before this time, Christian writers already had begun to refer to Jesus as the “Sun of Justice.”

It was logical that as the gospel began to dominate the religious scene in the Roman Empire, the date of the “newborn sun” should be chosen as the birthdate of Christ. Since December 25th was a familiar pagan feast day, it was not very difficult to change the purpose of celebrating the day and give it a religious significance with a supposedly “Christian” flavor. Furthermore, the date of December 25th was undoubtedly chosen for its nearness to Epiphany, which, in the East, was celebrated on January 6th and originally included a commemoration of the nativity and the visit of the Magi. This has given rise in the west to the notion of a twelve-day festival, starting on December 25th, and ending on January 6th, called the twelve days of Christmas. In popular celebration, Epiphany is far more ancient than Christmas. Technically it is more important than Christmas, ranking after Easter and Pentecost.

The origins of “St. Nick” and the Christmas Tree are also Roman Catholic and pagan. In Asia Minor, there lived a Bishop whose name was Nicholas. He was said to be very liberal with his wealth. After he died, people are said to have paid tribute to him by exchanging gifts on December 6th. Later these gifts came to be given at Christmas and Bishop Nicholas, who had by then been “sainted,” became the Christmas saint.

It was the practice of the Teuton pagans to worship a god called Odin during which the sacrificed a child before Odin’s “sacred oak.” In the eighth century, Boniface persuaded them to abandon this worship and to cut down a big fir tree, take it home and celebrate around it with their children. The big tree, with its evergreen leaves and top branch pointing straight to heaven, was supposed to represent immortality. The ancient English used holly branches in their Druidic services on feast days. The “missionaries” under Pope Gregory in A.D. 601 spread the legend that the crown of thorns upon the head of Christ was wreathed with holly and that the berries turned from white to red on the day of the crucifixion. The long holly branches were then woven into fat “Christmas wreaths.”

Catholicism and paganism, not the Bible, is responsible both for Christmas and much of the tradition surrounding it. God authorized no religious observances peculiar to December and January. However, He does warn against the “doctrines and commandments of men” (Matt 15:9) “not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth” (Tit 1:14). He said through the apostle Paul that those who “pervert the gospel of Christ,” “observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid for you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain” (Col 2:2 f; Gal 1:7 cf; 4:10-11).

Christ cannot be put back into Christmas because He was never there in the first place. The emphasis in the New Testament is on the death of Christ, not His birth. The symbolism of Jesus being born and lying in a manger (a feeding stall) cannot be easily dismissed (Lk 2:12). Just before his death, “Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt 26:26-28). Christians symbolically feast off the Lord’s body and drink the Lord’s blood when they partake of the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week. By partaking of the Lord’s Supper each Sunday we “show the Lord’s death till he comes” (1 Cor 11:23-29 f; Acts 20:7). Jesus was born where animals were fed and why not? Was not Jesus called the “Lamb of God” (Jn 1:36)? God does not want His Son remembered as a baby lying in a manger, but as the suffering Savior and resurrected Redeemer!

God Defined Marriage__Not Mankind

The Bible declares that God instituted marriage from the beginning as an exclusive, lifelong relationship between one man and one woman (Gen 2 f; Matt 19:4-6). Even so, society has redefined marriage to include homosexual and lesbian marriages. This should not be too surprising knowing that society legalizes adulterous marriage as well. More and more young couples choose cohabitation over matrimony these days. It is clear that many people already have redefined marriage as something less than a blessing. All of these are just as much a mockery of God’s design as homosexual marriage is.

No matter how mankind redefines marriage, God has already defined marriage and it will never change. The real definition God gives for marriage is this, “a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24 ff; Matt 19:5; Eph 5:31). God designed marriage to be exclusively for a man and a woman for life. If this isn’t clear enough, then let’s consider some other biblical proofs:

God gave Adam a woman (Eve) to be “a helper suitable for him,” because clearly no other creature, even another man, was fitting for this role (Gen 2:18, 21-24). Verse 24 tells us the role God was referring to was marriage. The only marriages found in Scripture were between men and women (Gen 7:7 cf; 11:29; 24:67; 29:28 ff; Ex 4:20; 1 Cor 7:2).

The only marriage advice given in the Bible is for the relationship between husbands and wives (Prov 12:4 cf; 18:22; 31:10-31 ff; Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Pet 3:1). The only instruction on divorce is for husbands and wives (Matt 5:31-32 cf; 19:3-9 f; 1 Cor 7:10-11). There is not one approved homosexual relationship, or even one piece of advice specifically for homosexuals, can be found in Scripture. In fact, the Bible adamantly condemns homosexuality in both the Old and New Testaments (Gen 19 ff; Lev18:22, 29; 20:13; Rom 1:26-28; 1 Cor 6:9-10; 1 Tim 1:9-10; 2 Pet 2:6-8; Jude 5-7).

The Scripture identifies homosexuality as unnatural (Rom 1:26-27). The Scripture even reveals that people are not born as homosexuals and can change if they choose (1 Cor 10:13; 6:9-11, “such were some of you”).

Let me make this point very clear, fornication is an abomination before God. Adultery is an abomination before God. Homosexuality and lesbianism is an abomination before God. All sexual perversion is an abomination before God. Just because governments legalize abominable sins, and denominational churches approve them, doesn’t make it acceptable with God. All such who commit these sins will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21).

Who Are The Only Ones Going To Heaven?

I have heard slanderous accusations about the churches of Christ over the years, and most of them concern how strict the church is when it comes to the obedience of the gospel and doctrine of Christ. Many accuse the church of believing they are the only one going to heaven. Most members of the Lord’s church deny this accusation, but should they? Can anyone name another church which bears the Lord’s name, gains entrance by their obedience to gospel, and continues in the doctrine of Christ and His apostles? If so, where are they? As Isaiah wrote long ago, “Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” Bring out the blind people who have eyes, and the deaf who have ears. Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled. Who among them can declare this, and show us former things? Let them bring out their witnesses, that they may be justified, or let them hear and say, “It is truth” (Isa 43:7-9).

Yes, I have discovered one or two which have a similar gospel, but they don’t continue in the same doctrine. Some obey bits and pieces of the gospel and have a distant form of the doctrine of Christ, but mostly they are obeying the commandments and doctrines of men which turn us from the truth of God (Tit 1:14). There is one fact every reasonable person must agree to, and that is, two opposing beliefs can’t both be right. One is right and the other one is wrong. They both can be wrong but definitely both can’t be right. If denominations are right, then every church will be saved. This defies the teaching of Jesus who said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt 7:13-14). We can only judge who is right by the teaching of Jesus and His apostles contained within the pages of the New Testament.

The New Testament clearly teaches who will be saved and who will not. It describes a simple ‘plan of salvation’ that any accountable person can understand and obey. We must hear the gospel taught (Rom 10:17 f; 1 Cor 15:1-4), we must believe Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God (Jn 8:24), we must confess Jesus is the Christ before men (Rom 10:9,10), we must repent of our sins (Acts 17:30), and we must be baptized for remission of sins (Acts 2:38). If we remain faithful unto death, we have been promised a reward in heaven (Rev 2:10). This is not a human dogma or creed. It is the plain and simple teaching of God’s Word (Gal 1:11,12). If a person obeys these commandments, they will be saved. If they do not, they will be lost. It is just that simple. The only ones going to heaven are the ones who submit to God’s will and obey His commands.

Where do the churches of Christ figure into all of this? Acts 2:47 tells us that those who are saved are added to the church by the Lord. When you obey the gospel of Christ, you are automatically added to that church which you read about in the New Testament. This is not some man-made denomination which bears a man’s name and teaches a man’s doctrine. No! It is the church that belongs to Jesus (Matt 16:18). It is the church which he is the head thereof Col 1:18). It is the church which bears his name (Rom 16:16). It is the churches of Christ.

Not every church of Christ member will go to heaven. Remember, “Many are called but few are chosen” (Matt 22:14). Even so, God will reap the tares from the wheat when harvest times comes (Matt 13:24-30). However, no one, and I mean no one who is not of this fold will even be considered for heaven because they have not done the will of God (Matt 7:21). Just like Jesus said in Mark 16:16, Paul warned everyone who has denied God and rejected the gospel of Christ will reap the vengeance of eternal damnation (2 Thess 1:7-9).

False Accusations Won’t Stop Christians

In Revelation 12:10 Satan is referred to as “the accuser of our brethren.” There are examples of Satan accusing “our brethren before God” (Rev. 12:10)? Job was a good man. God verified this fact. Even so, Satan accused Job anyway. This is a revealing picture of Satan as “the accuser of our brethren” (Job 1:6-11; 2:1-6). Satan not only accuses but tempts mankind. Sadly, people can become “accusers of our brethren” and share in the devil’s work.

Job’s brethren falsely accused him (Job 4:7-9). The Pharisees falsely accused Jesus (Matt. 12:22-24). Among the sins characteristic of the “last days” is that some will be “false accusers” (2 Tim. 3:3). If sinners can become false accusers, then brethren can also become false accusers.

Job said to his accusers, “I also could speak as you do: if your soul were in my soul’s stead, I could heap up words against you and shake mine head at you” (16:4). Likewise, the Pharisees’ accusation against our Lord shows that anyone is able to dredge up any kind of false charges against another (Matt. 12:24).

When brethren opposed church contributions to orphans’ homes and “sponsoring churches” in the 1950s and 60s they were accused of being “orphan haters” and “anti-missionary.” Whenever faithful brethren follow the letter of the law as the scriptures command, ultra-liberals will falsely accuse them of being like the Pharisees and pin the words “legalist” to their character. What they fail to understand is that Jesus commanded his own disciples to obey the words of the Pharisees, but not to do the works of the Pharisees, for they said and did not (Matt 23). At least the Pharisees did one of these two and were worthy to be called teachers of the law. However, the ultra-liberals are twice worse off than the Pharisees, for they neither say or do.

If a preacher teaches against homosexuality and gay marriages, he is accused of being a homophobe. If he teaches against women preachers and women elders and deacons, he is accused of being a sexist. If he teaches against abortion, he is accused of infringing upon a woman’s right to choose. If he teaches against unlawful marriages, he is accused of being an extremist or someone who wants to break up happy and loving homes. A major cause of problems among brethren today is unproven accusations and brethren feeling free to make them. Sadly, brethren are doing the work of the devil!

Despite the fact that false accusations hurt people in various ways, it is notable that the saints of God will not be detered in doing the work of God. Job did not yield to the accusations of his friends and even his wife. In the end, Job not only prevailed but was blessed by God twice as much as he had before (Job 42:10). Jesus did not yield to the accusations of the Jews. Yes, they accused him, abused him, and in the end crucified him, but Jesus prevailed by being resurrected from the dead and sitting at the right-hand throne of God (Heb 1:3). Jesus arose to abolish the law of Moses (Col 2:14), build his own church (Matt 16:18), and commissioned his apostles to preach the gospel to every person in the world (Matt 28:19,20 f; Mk 16:16). Paul did not yield to the accusations, persecutions, and great afflictions. As he said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim 4:7,8). That doesn’t sound to me like a group of losers but rather winners in the Lord.

Conclusion: Remember, anyone can make false accusations about anyone else. The tongue can no one tame and as long as there will be evil men there will also be false accusers (Jam 3:8 f; 2 Tim 3:13). God’s people should seek what is true and not be led by idle charges. They should treat others as they would like to be treated (Matt. 7:12) and judge others by their fruits, and not by accusations they have heard (Matt. 7:20 f; Gal. 2:14). The devil is “the accuser of our brethren.” The devil is also a liar and a murderer (Jn 8:44). It is bad enough that he is involved in such activity. God’s people should want no part of the devil’s work. God’s people should want to do the work of God! We should always expect that the wicked will judge faithful Christians with false accusations when they are preaching and teaching God’s unchangeable Word, but it should never be once named among fellow brethren.

“But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Rom 14:10-13).

Have We Forgotten God’s Role For Women?

The Bible warns that all nations which forget God will be turned into hell (Psa 9:17). The fall of any people has had its origin within the home. It is here that God is first forgotten and His commandments ignored. Remember the old saying: “As the home goes, so goes the nation.” When the husband ceases to be the head of his family and the woman is no longer content to lead a subjective life, then destruction is near. Chaos and confusion knock at the door and generations are reared without a sense of order, respect or moral perspective.

Rome crumbled and fell because of domestic disorder. It was the eminent Roman statesman, Cato, who foresaw the fall of his nation and cried aloud, “All other men rule over women, but we Romans, who rule all men, are ruled by our women.”

One would have to be blind and have their head in the sand not to see that women in this country have seized power over man in the last 75 years. It didn’t happen overnight but slowly and surely it did happen. Some will contend that this is a good thing, for women are more nurturing and compromising and thus we should have fewer wars. However, the scriptures beg to differ that such is a good thing. The prophet Isaiah said it this way, “As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths” (Isa 3:12).

It was God who placed the woman under man because of her great sin in the Garden of Eden. What sin did she commit? Eve broke a direct command of God not to eat of a tree called the “Tree of knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:16,17). It is noteworthy that God gave this commandment to Adam, for Eve had not yet been created (Gen 2:18 cf; 2:21-24). Even so, Eve knew of the commandment for she quoted it to the Serpent when she was tempted to eat the fruit of the tree. Thus, she gave it to her husband also and he did eat  (Gen 3:1-6). In many ways, Eve was not only usurping man’s authority but also God’s authority. She wasn’t satisfied to be equal with man but she also wanted to be equal with God. God punished Eve by placing her under the direct authority of man and to bear children (Gen 3:16). As concerning the hierarchy of authority, Paul said it this way, “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor 11:3). In writing to the Ephesians Paul wrote this stern reminder: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (Eph 5:22-24). Older Christian women are to teach younger women of their role in the family. “The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things — that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed” (Tit 2:3-5).

Paul wrote concerning why women were placed under the authority of man. “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived fell into transgression. Nevertheless, she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control” (1 Tim 2:11-15). Remember also that God prohibited women from becoming speakers in the assembly both in the old and new testaments (1 Cor 14:33-40).

Therefore, God made it abundantly clear that he didn’t want woman to have rule over the man in the home or in the church and gave reasons why. Societies often learn the hard way concerning the role of women, but history bears record that these nations who violate God’s hierarchy fall. They don’t fall because woman is ignorant or somehow deficient in some way. No! They fall because they break God’s command concerning such matters. God didn’t make woman to rule over man but to be a help meet for man. In order for a woman to help her man, she must be wise, prudent, and intelligent. It is self-evident that woman is not stronger than man physically, as a whole, but she does have talents and abilities which often far exceed the man. However, she must use these abilities under the guidance of God’s commandments if she intends to be saved when she is judged. No, she is not allowed to be an elder or the deacon of the church but by her obedience to God can make a man qualified to be a leader of the church (1 Tim 3:4,11,12). She is not allowed to preach the word, but like Priscilla (Acts 18:24-26), she can assist her husband even as Phebe assisted Paul (Rom 16:1,2).

The headship of man and the willing subjection of woman is an ancient lesson. It is a lesson which every great civilization has known and forgotten. It is the epitaph of all nations who have been turned into hell because God’s hierarchy has been violated.

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