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

Is there a set pattern to follow for those who desire to become a child of God? Did Jesus authorize a set plan to be saved or did he leave it up to each individual to come in whatsoever way he wanted to?

We know that Moses was given the pattern for building the tabernacle (Heb. 8:5). Moses did not have authority to change that pattern, providing he wanted to please God. We know that Noah was given the pattern for the building of the ark (Gen. 6). He was not allowed to alter the pattern in any way. In order to arrive at the overall pattern to become a child of God, all examples of New Testament conversion must be taken into consideration. No one example of conversion includes all that is required to be saved. We conclude that all commandments were required even though it is not so stated. Jesus said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16). Does this preclude the necessity of repentance and confession? No! “The Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). Repentance and confession are not mentioned.

When we consider all the listed conversions in the New Testament, we arrive at this conclusion: (1) one must hear the gospel (Word of God) – Rom 10:17, (2) one must believe from the heart that Jesus is the Christ the son of God – Jn 8:24, (3) and confess the same before men – Rom 10:9,10, (4) one must repent of his sins – Acts 17:30,  (5) and one must be buried with Christ by baptized – Rom 6:3,4. This is the pattern which all sinners complied with in order to receive the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).

Preachers have no authority to change what the apostles have bound (Matt. 18:18). Since this is true, then we today are restricted to this pattern in telling sinners what to do to be saved. Can these commands be arranged in a different order than listed above, or does it makes any difference so long as all are obeyed?

Does it matter what order these commandments are obeyed? Yes! One must hear the Word before they can believe it because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17). We know that belief and confession are two acts that are interrelated.  Notice how Paul phrased it in his letter to the Romans: “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation” (Rom 10:9,10). We also know that on the day of Pentecost they asked Peter and the other apostles what they must do in order to be saved. Peter said unto them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Someone might say, some believed and were baptized. Some heard and were baptized. Some confessed and were baptized. Does this negate their proper order? Absolutely not. As said previously, not all the steps of salvation were ever mentioned in any one verse. Each conversion mentioned them partially, but this did not negate all the steps to salvation. Thus, we know hearing the Word came first and baptism last. We know believe and confession were two parts of the same step. We know repentance and baptism were for the remission of sins. Therefore, the examples of the steps of salvation cannot prove their exact order, but the commandments of each step show a clear pattern that was followed by the apostles and early day Christians. And so must we!


Never Look Back

“Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, but on the day that Lot went out to Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. . . Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life shall lose it, and whoever loses his life shall preserve it” (Lk. 17:28-33).

It was Satchel Paige who was known to have said, “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.” In the case of Christians, what might be gaining on you is sin itself. Remember, Paul, instructs us to run from the sin of fornication (1 Cor 6:18). Jesus tells us that there are lessons to remember from the account of the destruction of the cities of the plains found in Genesis 19. As his disciples, we consider his words and seek to discover what application of these ancient events might have in our lives today.

What Are The Signs Of The
Final Judgment?

To be blunt, there will be none! It is true that Jesus told his disciples that there would be signs to precede the destruction of Jerusalem back in the first century. Some have mistakenly applied these signs to Jesus’ final coming, but a reading of Jesus’ words shows that he was talking about first-century events that were to transpire. He begins by telling how the buildings of Jerusalem will be torn down (Matt. 24:1,2) and these things were a fulfillment of what Daniel had prophesied when he had talked about Jerusalem’s destruction (Matt. 24:15-16). Finally, Jesus explains that the things of which he spoke would occur in that generation (Matt. 24:34).

The first evidence of Jesus’ second coming will be trumpets blowing, the dead in Christ rising from their graves and those who are alive being changed from corruptible to incorruptible and rising to meet Christ in the air. All this will take place in a twinkling of an eye as the physical heavens and earth are destroyed by intense heat. We then proceed to judgment, so do not wait for some sign before you become what you already ought to be (1 Cor. 15:50-57 ff; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 2 Pet. 3:10-13).

What’s Meant By “Not Looking Back”?

Lot’s wife had a longing for that which she had left. Consequently, she was overtaken and consumed. Her trust was not in her God but in the things of the world. She could not bring herself to let go. Jesus warns his disciples to remember and learn. The same thing happens to disciples all the time. After fleeing to Jesus for salvation, one will become entangled again in that which he had left. “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:62).

We must be careful to consider something else just here. We do not “look back” only by partaking in some wickedness. We may also be “looking back” simply by filling our lives up with “good” things to the degree that we cannot render our God what is due him. In fact, that is the point that Jesus made in Luke 9:62. Brethren, by the tender mercies of God, do not let it happen to you! Don’t look back! There is really nothing there which is worth forfeiting your soul, and perhaps the souls of your loved ones.

Where Should We Be Looking?

Lot’s wife should have felt as if she were in a footrace away from Sodom. We ought to feel that we are in a race for salvation. You cannot run as well if you are looking back. Sometimes it is difficult to keep one’s eyes ahead as he hears the sound of running feet behind him, but still, it will only hurt to look back. I remember in the days of my youth seeing my brother winning a foot race, but in his desire to see how far he was winning he looked back. He finished that race in last place because while looking back for a short time he ran right into a telephone pole. “Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1,2).

Discipleship has a positive side. It consists not only of “do not look back” but also “run with endurance” and “look to Jesus.” We must fill our lives with God’s purpose realizing that everything we do as we follow Jesus is another step in our race to our eternal victory.

“. . . but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me . . . forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12-14).

The point is this: we need to remember Lot’s wife. We need to remember her when we feel enticed by the world. We certainly need to remember her as we seek to be entertained by the media as it glorifies the things of Sodom. It’s time to turn around and begin running your race in the right direction when those things no longer shock and dismay you!

We need to remember her when we are urged to partake in that which “sparkles in the cup ” and “goes down smoothly” but at the last “bites like a serpent” and “stings like a viper. ” Who came up with the idea that those who drink “socially” are immune from the “bite of the serpent”?

It is not the time to look back. It is the time to run the race. “ Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air” (1 Cor 9:24-27). The choices we make each day will determine whether we perish with Sodom or receive the prize which the Lord will award to “all that have loved his appearing (2 Tim 4:8).

The ancient city of Corinth, with a population of about four hundred thousand in the time of Paul, was morally corrupt. During this Roman period, it was notorious for its wealth and indulgence. The temple of Venus, with more than one thousand priestesses dedicated to harlotry, was located there. The immoral influence of that city infiltrated the church, and in Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, he had to deal with such sins as fornication among those brethren (1 Cor. 5: 1).

Likewise, ungodly influences in our society have seeped into churches of our Lord. The church is composed of individuals. When a congregation is morally corrupted, it is because of sins committed by individuals. Materialistic thinking in the world permeates the church, and this concept, in turn, produces different forms of immorality. The desire for material things is fulfilled in the home when the race to “keep up with the Joneses” begins. This is very often the basis of marital problems. Communication between marriage partners decreases, the wife finds activities outside the home more interesting, she finds herself being admired by new acquaintances, she becomes independent and eventually, divorce is the result. Hardly a week passes that we do not hear that some church member and his wife are divorced. Too often it is a preacher and his wife, and usually, fornication is involved. Sin is sin, regardless of who commits it, but there is a greater impact upon the church when committed by a public teacher of the Bible.

The Teacher’s Responsibility

A teacher in the Lord’s church (whether he be an elder, deacon, preacher or a Bible class teacher) has a tremendous responsibility, not only for what he teaches but how he lives. Every Christian has this responsibility, but because of his position of leadership, the teacher is looked to for guidance, not only by instruction but also by example. Every teacher should realize that he must not only teach the truth but that he be exemplary in conduct. Paul admonished his beloved child in the faith, Timothy: “Let no man despise your youth, but be an example to them that believe, in word, in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12). These words apply to every evangelist today. It is imperative that every teacher is prepared by diligent study to accurately and efficiently teach the word of God, and that his life is above reproach. James warned his readers, “Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment ” (Jam. 3: 1). Speaking is an indispensable part of the preacher’s work. Therefore, he must be cautious as to his words. This is why James continues his warning in verse 2, “For in many things we all stumble. If any stumbles not in word, the same is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body also.” This is the setting for the remarkable treatise on the tongue which follows. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for evil speaking, warning them of the consequences. “And I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words, you shall be condemned” (Matt. 12:36, 37). The teacher is responsible for what he says, thus every time he speaks, he should remind himself that someday he will have to stand before God Almighty in judgment to give an account (Rom. 14:10-12 f; 2 Cor. 5:10).

The Power of Influence

What the teacher says is important. His speech is to be accurate, instructive and convincing, but it is equally important that his life is in conformity with his teaching. The man whose life is not commensurate with his teaching is inconsistent, and his influence is destructive. He has no respect from those who know what he does. Many young converts and those weak in the faith have been discouraged, shaken, and in instances, have left the faith because some teacher in whom they have placed their confidence has betrayed them by his conduct. We cannot respect the teacher who says: “Do as I say, but not as I do. ” Paul wrote to the church at Corinth: “Be you, imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Paul was doing just what we should all do. He was trying to follow Christ who is our perfect model. He, therefore, urged his readers to follow him as far as he followed Christ. Paul, having given no occasion for any man to stumble, commanded others not to do so (1 Cor. 10:32). He reminded Timothy of his own conduct and commended him for following it. “But you did follow my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, patience, persecutions, sufferings; what things befell me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecution I endured and out of them all the Lord delivered me” (2 Tim. 3:10,11). Paul not only had a tremendous influence upon Timothy and upon the churches, but his godly conduct continues to influence the many who read his biography and writings in the New Testament.

Ungodly Preachers

Gospel preachers are teachers of the word of God as every Christian should be, but his public “position of the Scriptures from the pulpit focuses special attention upon him. It is for this reason that the cause of Christ has suffered immeasurable harm from those who teach the truth, but whose lives are ungodly. Men who have unusual pulpit ability, but whose lives are immoral, have been a great detriment to the Lord’s work.

There is much more to being sound than just being so in the pulpit or in the classroom. Hypocrisy, in all its forms, is despicable in the sight of God and denounced by Jesus (Matt. 23). Honesty is more than telling the truth. Truth that is spoken is made even more attractive by honesty in the life of its teacher. There is much to be considered in the old adage: “I’d rather see a sermon than to hear one any day.”

Perception can be practiced in more ways than one. Paul admonished, “Take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men” (Rom. 12:17). The Christian is to take forethought. He is to provide things that are honest and right and is to provide for his family. He should exercise forethought when he enters a business transaction to be sure it is not “shady.” He should be open and “above board” with all whom he deals. There are instances of preachers who have gone to some remote field to preach and receive their financial support from distant churches. Not under the oversight of elders and not being observed by the brethren who support them, they have taken advantage by engaging in businesses of one kind or another without the knowledge of the supporters. There is nothing wrong with a preacher “making tents” by reason of necessity, but it is another thing to be fully supported and practice deception. It is nothing short of dishonesty. And, this has been the practice of some who have been supported by congregations under elders, not in remote places. The preacher has operated a business without the elders knowing it. It might be amazing to know what some of these men have made on the side, in addition to the full support they have received from the brethren.

Ungodly teachers should be dismissed and exposed, if they refuse to repent. When elders of a local church receive inquiries about such men, they should be forthright in exposing them. This will help to guard against another congregation being hurt by the ungodly preacher’s influence. When brethren remain silent about a culprit, they are doing an injustice in allowing him to run loose, only to victimize some other good church. Sometimes brethren will not reveal the information that is needed because they either fear repercussion from the exposed offender or simply want to get rid of him. Silence, in this case, is deception. If brethren would withdraw from those guilty of disorderly conduct (2 Thess. 3:6) and then expose them, many churches could be spared mental anguish and irreparable damage. On the other hand, we have also known of instances where churches having received warning about a preacher, ignore the warning and hire him anyway. They pay the price, but it is too late. The damage to the church has already been done. It is characteristic of this kind to move about, never staying very long in one place, but unfortunately long enough to damage a church. When asked to leave, they usually stir a stink before leaving.

Then there is the preacher who becomes involved with some woman other than his wife. It is not usually a one-time thing with that kind, but they continue to preach and brethren support them. There are several preachers and elders today who have been married multiple times and given the enemies of God to reason that they are not practicing what they are preaching. More often than not they are not eligible for remarriage and thus have committed adultery (Matt 5:32 cf; 19:9). Eventually, this will cause weak members of the church to commit adultery. This is why the doctrine of Christ and His apostles regarding adultery is not being preached as much, if at all. The influence of the church in some places has been almost annihilated because of the sinful behavior on the part of its members, especially elders and preachers.

The Solution

The solution to the problem of sin committed by the teacher is the same as that of any other member of the church. (1) There must be an about-face in attitude toward the Scriptures. They must be regarded as our complete and final authority in all that we do. When they are disregarded, the door is opened for every form of disobedience. When they are ignored there will be no regard for the sanctity of marriage, the home, nor honesty and chastity. Material things become the priority of life. Only when our attitude is one of humility and wholehearted submission to the will of God, can our lives be pure and holy. (2) A proper attitude toward the Scriptures will result in the proper attitude toward the Lord’s work. Among other prerequisites, a young single man who plans to preach should seek a wife who is devoted to the Lord and who is aware of the sacrifice she will have to make. If she is dedicated to her own selfish interests, she does not qualify to be a preacher’s wife. Young man, if you plan to preach the gospel, then dedicate yourself to preach the truth without compromise and be determined to live a life above reproach. The Lord’s work is the most serious business in the world. Unless you plan to live what you preach, forget about preaching. Each and every teacher should read and ponder the following words of Paul: “You, therefore, that teach another, teach you not yourself? You that preach a man should not steal, do you steal? You that say a man should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?” (Rom. 2:21,22).

The prevalence of sin in the church is obviously the work of the devil. He can only be defeated when our attitude toward God’s word and His work is right. Brethren, evaluate that act of sin before you commit it. Contemplate what it will do to your heavenly Father, to your soul, to your wife, husband, children, parents and other loved ones, and consider the impact that it will have upon the precious church of our Lord.

We are living in a time when civil law and divine law are at complete odds with each other. The ideal situation is that civil government be “the minister of God to you for good” and “not a tenor to good works, but to evil” (Rom. 12:3,4). However, increasingly, the government seeks to “change laws” (Dan. 7:25), God’s laws.

Fortunately, our government has not moved to the extremes of ancient Judea and Rome forbidding that men should preach Christ (Acts 4:18). But, it is nonetheless guilty in that it exercises authority to legalize and protect what God has forbidden and condemned. Ours is not the first nation to do this. Observe Isaiah’s statement concerning Judah:

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of this right!” (Isa. 5:20-23)

The experiences of Daniel, Mishael, Hananiah, and Azariah in Babylon stand as proof that legalizing sin does not make it right. These four young men came to Babylon during the first installment of the captivity. In Babylon, it was certainly legal to eat and drink what would have been regarded as unclean in Judah (Dan. 1:7,8). Yet, they purposed not to defile themselves. Later, Mishael, Hananiah, and Azariah are compelled to worship the image of the king of Babylon which they refuse to do (Dan. 3:1-18). In this case, it was not illegal to worship Jehovah, but it was also required that one worship the image. While Nebuchadnezzar was willing to allow the worship of many gods, Jehovah only allowed the worship of himself (Ex. 20:3-5). During the reign of the Persian kings, Daniel is required to make his petitions to the king only, in other words, prayer to Jehovah is outlawed (Dan. 6:1-17). Here government went to the limit of perversity forbidding what God had commanded. Yet, Daniel remains true to his God in old age as he had in youth. These four men were not deceived by Satan’s attempt to weaken their convictions against sin by having the civil government make it legal. Thus, they are remembered among the great heroes of faith (Heb. 11:33,34).

My purpose in this study will be to consider some practices which our government has decided are legal, but which the Lord condemns. It is hoped that by such a study the faith of some will be renewed and others will be led to repent. Like the companions of Daniel, Mishael, Hananiah, and Azariah, there are some among the church who have succumbed to Satan’s devices and turned aside to “legalized sin.”

Legalized Intoxicants and Addictive Drugs

Since the end of Prohibition, the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages have been legal in the United States. Alcohol sales generate a substantial revenue for the federal and state treasuries. The enforcement of the regulations and collection of the taxes necessitates a sizeable bureaucracy in Washington. Similarly, our government subsidizes the production and sale of tobacco. This, too, generates revenue for the government. Following this precedent, we now have legalized use of medicinal and recreational marijuana in some states. Is heroin and cocaine legalization that far behind? However, the legalization of these intoxicants and addictive drugs will not change the sinful nature of their use in any amount.

The New Testament specifically condemns the drinking of strong drink in any amount: “For we have spent enough for our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles when we walked in licentiousness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries” (1 Pet. 4:3). This text condemns drinking strong drink.

While one may use intoxicants and drugs with impunity from civil authority, there yet remains the consequences of this sinful behavior. In wake of their use lie the dead bodies of innocent men and women (Mk 6:17-29), broken homes (Prov. 23:33), wasted money (Prov. 23:21), lost virtue (Gen. 9:21,22), weakened manhood (Dan. 1:5-16), corrupted manners (Dan. 5:1-4 f; Ps. 78:65), perversity (Gen. 19:32), ruined spirituality (Amos 2:12 f; Isa. 28:1-8) and others sins too numerous to mention.

Solomon knew the consequences of going after strong drink and the only remedy:

“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine. Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper” (Prov. 23:29-32).

Tobacco is no better. We now know that it is an addictive drug which robs a man of his self-control. It too consumes money, health, good manners, and spirituality. While there is no specific prohibition against “smoking” in the Scriptures, how can the smoker justify his habit in light of these general principles? Paul wrote: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful; all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Cor. 6:12). Peter commanded the Christian to “add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Pet. 2:5-7). Consider these facts: Second-hand smoke has been proven to cause heart disease, lung disease, and cancer. Smoking also causes these diseases for the one doing the smoking. This means those who smoke are giving a slow death to those who breathe in their smoke and to themselves. The scripture did say, “Thou shall not kill” (Gal 5:21).

Legalized Gambling

Most states have parimutuel betting on sports events, casino gambling, bingo and lotteries for several years. Las Vegas, Nevada and Atlantic City, New Jersey have been gambling meccas in the United States for decades. Like alcohol and tobacco, gambling is a source of revenue for the state treasuries.

However, the Scriptures condemn every form of gambling. One text in the New Testament, Romans 13:9-10, strikes gambling out: “For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law..”

Gambling is sinful because it is stealing. Granted all parties to a wager are willing, but this does not affect the fact that whoever wins obtains the proceeds by extortion. There are only three authorized means by which property can be exchanged. One may give or receive a gift (Acts 20:35). One may earn it as a wage (Eph. 4:28). Or, property may be obtained through a fair exchange or investment (Jas. 4:13-15).

Gambling is sinful because it is rooted in covetousness, that is, a greedy desire to have more. Those who gamble do not do so in order to provide for someone’s needs. If this were the motive, then following the example of the early saints is in order (Acts 2:44,45 cf; 4:32,34-35). No, those who gamble do so in order to get rich. This is the base desire upon which the government preys when it promotes its lotteries. Paul knew that Christians would be tempted by such means and strongly warned us against the snares and temptations which covetousness brings (1 Tim. 6:5-10).

Finally, gambling is sinful because it is contrary to the ethics of love. Jesus taught, “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do you even so to them” (Matt. 7:12). The gambler does not put up his wager because he wants the other gambler to take his money, deprive his family and make him late on his bills. Let’s get serious. Is the gambler living by the principles of love, blessings, giving and praying for those who bet against him (Matt. 5:44)? Is the gambler when he wagers “envying not” and “seeking not his own” (1 Cor. 13:4-8)? Those who say they love their neighbor and then take his money on a bet do not know the meaning of the word.

Legalized Adultery and Fornication

We have gone from a society in which it was nearly impossible to get a divorce, to a society in which divorce has been relegated to almost a do-it-yourself legal kit. Marriage is held in low esteem by many couples living together without its benefit. Legislators have advocated renewable licenses for married couples which expire every three years, more often than a driver’s license. The federal government actually penalizes through its tax policy married couples on social security. Even the courts of our land are ruling in favor of everything but biblical marriage. Recently many states are allowing homosexuals the privileges of marriage.

The Bible is clear and easily understood on the question of who may marry. In the beginning, God revealed that one man and one woman may marry for life, that is, “until death do us part” (Gen. 2:24). Jesus reiterated this teaching while upon the earth in Matthew 19:3-9. Jesus rejected divorce on all grounds but one, “except it be for fornication” (Matt. 19:9). Any man who divorces and remarries for causes other than fornication commits adultery (Matt. 5:32). Therefore, the only way to avoid this sin is to “remain unmarried, or be reconciled” (1 Cor. 7:11).

To make matters worse some in the church are advocating that alien sinners who have divorced and remarried according to civil law, regardless of the grounds, should be accepted into the church upon their baptism. This cannot be because sinners are as much amenable to the law of God on marriage and divorce as are believers. Jesus said that “from the beginning, it was not so” that a man could not put away his wife for every cause and remarry. Thus, God has never allowed men to divorce and remarry at will.

What Shall We Do?

When we see our nation obviously following the broad way that leads to destruction what should you and I do? Some have taken to the streets in protest, others have organized committees, preachers and elders are becoming more and more involved in politics in an effort to change the course. However, this is not the mission of the church nor the servants of God.

Christians need to exhibit child-like trust in God’s providence over the nations (Dan. 4:25). It is God’s business to rule the kingdoms of men. It is our business to spread the gospel to the whole world (1 Tim. 2:1-4) and save ourselves in the process (Acts 2:40). If the moral character of this nation is to be elevated, it will be accomplished through the transformation of the individual citizen into a child of God. Yet, if this nation falls because of its wickedness, no matter how terrible the destruction you will have saved your soul and the souls of those who hear you. Remember, brother, you are a citizen of heaven (Phil. 3:20).

Let us all strive toward that heavenly kingdom. Let us honor the king and pray for peace that the gospel may be preached (2 Thess 3:1 f; 1 Pet 2:17). But above all, let us obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

During the presidential primaries of 2016, we heard of several allegations against the moral character of now President Donald J. Trump. We heard of Mr. Trump’s alleged affairs against all three of his wives. We heard allegations of groping and abusing women. Now that he is president, we are hearing about a porn star named “Stormy Daniels” whose real name is Stephani Clifford. She accepted a 130 thousand dollar payment from Trump’s lawyer to remain quiet about their affair. While I do not know the veracity of all the allegations and all that went on between the two, one thing I do know is that such sexual immorality is a reflection of character. I would like for us to consider what marital infidelity says about one’s character.

Adultery Equals Lying

In almost every wedding ceremony, both the bride and the groom made vows which went something like this:

Do you take this man/woman to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health? Do you promise to him/her your undying love and life-long devotion? Do you promise to honor and cherish him/her? Forsaking all others, will you keep yourself for this one and this one alone until death severs the tie that binds?

If you are married, do you remember taking a vow similar to that? Do you remember answering something like “I do” to all the questions? I remember that vividly when I married my wife. That was a lifelong commitment! It was a solemn promise. To betray it would make me, in simple words, a liar.

Breaking that commitment of fidelity in adultery not only makes one a liar to the spouse and the people before whom the promise was made at the wedding but also before God. He was a witness to the promise as well. God demands that vows made before him must be kept. Notice what he says: “If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth” (Num. 30:2).

Regarding the commitment of marriage, does God really expect and demand lifelong fidelity? His word is plain concerning the matter: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). That is simple enough for anyone to understand.

Adultery is not a trivial matter! It shows a terrible problem in one’s character regarding a betrayal of one’s spouse, one’s commitment and the God of heaven. In simple words, an adulterer is a liar and lying reveals a serious problem in one’s character. It has tragic and far-reaching consequences. We must not view adultery as a thing to be taken lightly or something about which we laugh. Instead, we must regain the respect for marriage and its commitments which will lay the groundwork for marriages that are severed only by death. The God who is witness to our actions demands such trustworthiness to our vows.

Avoiding the Problem of Adultery

God never meant for the home to be a place of heartache and sorrow ultimately destined to destruction. He meant it to be a place filled with joy and security. How can we build the kind of families God designed and avoid the tragedy of broken homes so common in our time? God’s word has the answer. Let us see what he says.

First, as the core of the home, a marriage must be built upon love. Not merely a love of mutual attraction and “chemistry,” but a love which is deeper, seeking the best for the other. The love God says ought to exist in a joyful home is one that is selfless. Husbands should love their wives as Christ loved us when he died for us (Eph. 5:25). That love must mean more to the husband than all he owns (Sol 8:7). He must never leave that love to engage in adultery (Prov. 5:15-20). In short, he finds the ultimate joy in providing for the happiness of his wife. The kind of love God instructs for marriage is one that can be taught (Tit. 2:4). It is just such a love that causes the wife to seek the happiness of her husband (Eph. 5:24). This kind of wife is pictured in Proverbs 31:10-31.

Where love exists between husband and wife, it will be extended towards the children as well. Where that love is absent, children will also be deprived of the love God intended. When the husband and wife do not have the proper love for one another, the stage is set for multiplied problems. Children learn about love from their parents. When love is not present in the home, the children will grow to imitate the same lack of love in their homes. What is the result? A multiplying of more and more unhappy, unloving homes with each generation. On the other and, when the proper love is shown in the home, children grow to imitate that love in their families as well. The result of such families is a blessing to each member and to the people around them.

Second, God must be respected in the home for it to be complete. In the words of the psalmist, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Ps. 127:1). The joint effort to serve God provides the direction and avenue for the family to work together throughout life. As the wise man of old said, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole of man” (Eccl. 12:13). God designed us as creatures who should reverently serve him. When that central purpose of man is overlooked, it leaves one without the proper foundation for all aspects of life.

Today’s society has denied these two important components to successful families. Instead of selfless love for another, the selfish “what’s in it for me” attitude has prevailed. Instead of jointly serving God, people have increasingly denied God the rightful place as Lord and Master of their lives. Adultery divides the home as the scriptures instruct us, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mk 3:25). Is it any wonder why President Trump has a problem telling the truth? Is it any wonder why his wife is being terribly hurt by all the affairs which are coming to light? Is it any wonder why this nation can not seem to bring itself to back this president beyond party affiliation? Adultery destroyed President Bill Clinton. Adultery destroyed presidential candidates Gary Hart and John Edwards. And adultery destroys the home of every married man and woman who dares to break the marriage covenant. The family that God describes in the Bible still works. It is still a place where joy and peace abound. God’s word shows us how to build it, and it begins with love and ends with faithfulness till death do us part.

There are 7.6 billion people upon the earth as of March 8, 2018. These are but a few when’ compared to the many billions more who slumber in the grave. Every rational creature that has lived can, and someday will be placed in one of two classifications. We are either converted or unconverted. One is either saved or unsaved. There are no gray lines to be drawn. The tragedy of all tragedies is to die unconverted. By studying cases of conversion and non-conversion we may enable ourselves to view our own condition more objectively, and thus guarantee that ours will be a case of conversion.

Let’s take a good look at Unconverted People. All of these individuals are in the same class. They are all lost. But the question arises as to why they are in this class. In the Bible, we read about individuals and groups of individuals who were not converted, and the reason for their non-conversion is apparent. In many instances, the reason for their failure to become Christians is the same as that of people today. In the past centuries, there have been no drastic changes in the nature of people. It takes the same Gospel to save people today that it took in the first century, and many today reject this Gospel for the same reasons first-century individuals did.

A Rich Ruler

In Matthew. 19 we read about a certain rich ruler that came to Jesus. He had been attracted by the message that Christ spoke. “Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, “‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matt. 19:16-22).

Here was a young man who devoutly had followed the Old Testament law, but wanted to live by the higher law of Christ. He was one that did not know what it would involve, or what it would necessitate. He had never thought that it would demand that he forfeit his riches to be a disciple of Christ. There is a class of people just like this rich young ruler. They would like to follow Christ, but they love the riches of the world too much. The trouble with this class of people is that they have not really purposed to do the will of God. They don’t quite understand that “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” (Lk 12:28). They don’t understand that when one obtains riches by stealing the wages of the working class, God will require their very soul (Jam 5:1-6). This man would have liked to be Christ’s disciple if he would dictate to Christ what would be expected of Him.

For one to ever please the Lord Jesus Christ, his attitude must be that I will forsake, and forfeit all for my Lord. We must say, “Where he leads I’ll follow, follow all the way.” Our heart must cry out, “Speak Lord, your servant hears” (1 Sam. 3:9); and I will obey. If we fail to do this, in the day of judgment we will go away sorrowfully into everlasting punishment.

Fulfilling Isaiah’s Prophecy

Then there is another class of people who are unconverted. They are people who close their ears and their hearts. They do not want to learn what God demands of them. There was such a class in New Testament times. Of this class Jesus said, “And unto them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says, ‘By hearing you shall hear, and shall in no wise understand; And seeing you shall see, and shall in no wise perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, And their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed: Lest haply they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should turn again, and I should heal them” (Matt. 13:14, 15). Are there not people today of whom these words may very aptly be spoken?

Many have been the people who have closed their ears to other words from the Lord because they see where they are being led. Perhaps one is a member of a denominational organization, an organization of which one can read nothing in the Bible. When he begins to see enough of Bible truth to learn that to follow Christ he is going to have to leave this human organization and be added to the one body, he turns away. Many people attend a few services of the Lord’s church enthusiastically, but they soon learn they must either obey the Gospel or continue to have their conscience pricked by the powerful Gospel of Christ. Hence they come no more. Those who will attend no longer have closed their ears. They are exactly like these people of whom Jesus spoke in Matt. 13.

Christianity is founded and advanced by teaching the gospel and doctrine of Christ. Jesus said: “Go you therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them… (Matt. 28:19). Those who close their ears so tightly that the treasures of truth cannot penetrate to their heart have closed the door to the only opportunity they will ever have to be saved. But billions have done just this.

Careless Hearers

In the parable of the sower, Jesus depicted another class of unsaved people and tells us why they are unsaved. Jesus told of a “sower that went forth to sow, and as he went forth, some of his seed fell by the wayside, and the birds devoured them. To whom does this refer? Jesus tells us, “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And those by the wayside are they that have heard; then comes the devil, and takes away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved” (Lk. 8:11,12). The precious word of God was so carelessly handled by the recipient of it that the devil snatched it away lest he should believe. In Matt. 13 Jesus tells us that these people understood not the word. But there are many people who do understand the Gospel, but they handle it carelessly, rather than burying it deep in their heart. The seed that fell by the wayside should have been properly buried in fertile soil, but it was not. Hence it brought forth no fruit. Much preaching of God’s word falls by the wayside. Careless hearers let the word be snatched from them to their damnation.

There are many careless hearers who know exactly what God demands of them, but they continue to treat God’s truth lightly. They enjoy living in sin more than suffering the afflictions with the people of God (Heb 11:2). So they let the precious word of God lie outside their heart, waiting to be carefully buried in a good and honest heart until Satan snatches it away from them. Thus carelessly they go on their way to hell.

Preconceived Notions

Finally, the Jews as a nation represent another class of unsaved people. What was wrong with the Jews? Why did they reject Christ? John said, “He (Christ) came unto his own, and they (Jews) that were his own received him not” (Jn. 1:11). Again in speaking of the Jews, John said, And you have not his word abiding in you: for whom he sent, him ye believe not” (Jn. 5:38). The Jews rejected and crucified the only Savior they will ever have. What caused these people to remain unconverted? How could they overlook the miraculous demonstrations of His divine power? The reason is a simple one. Jesus was not what the Jews expected Him to be. They have preconceived notions as to what the Messiah would be like. But Jesus came just as God had said He would. And since He was not what the Jews thought He would be, they simply could not change their notion, so they rejected Christ.

The Jews expected Jesus to be a ruling monarch, and to lead them to victories over their national enemies, but He came meek and lowly, a crucified Redeemer. Since Jesus did not measure up to their standards, they paid no attention to His commands. One of the big reasons for so many different denominations existing today is because people go to the Bible to try to prove what they already believe, rather than going to it to try to learn what it actually teaches. If my mind is already made up as I turn to the Bible for proof, I can never arrive at the truth. The Jews could not, and neither can you or I.

People confidently affirm, “I know I am saved for I feel that I am”, rather than rationally studying what Christ and the apostles say one must do to be saved. One chooses a church and then tries to prove it is the New Testament church, rather than first consulting the New Testament for a picture of the Lord’s church. One decides what he thinks one must do in order to be saved, rather than earnestly seeking God’s truth on the subject from the pages of His word.

Conclusion: Why are so many unconverted? We have noticed four reasons in this article. (1) They have tried to dictate to Christ rather than obey Christ; (2) They have closed their hearts; (3) They have handled the Bible carelessly; (4) They have preconceived notions.

But how may one be converted? We have already studied several cases of conversion. In every Bible instance, they heard the word of God, they believed Jesus to be the Christ in their hearts and confessed such with their mouth (Rom 10:9,10), they repented of their sins, and were baptized (immersed) in water for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38). This is the only way to be transferred from the class of the unconverted to the class of the converted.

Let Us Not Be Foolish

“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you and crucified” (Gal. 3:1).

As Christians, we are not immune from making fools of ourselves. The Galatians not only became foolish, they did it with such speed that it made Paul marvel (1:6).

In Paul’s short letter to them, he points out various ways in which they had acted foolishly and were in danger of doing so. He does this by direct reference to their foolishness or else relating the examples of others for their benefit.

Satan is no fool. If he can’t get us to play the fool one way, he will try another. This can be seen from Galatians.

Doctrinal Softness

The Galatians had played the fool with doctrine. They had taken the bait of false teachers (likely Judaizers) — hook, line, and sinker. Having escaped the spiritual bondage of paganism, they are now about to jump into another bondage — the Judaizer’s brand of Christianity (4:8,9).

How could a people, “before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly, portrayed,” act so foolishly-so quickly? Paul hints that the spirit of compromise may have had something to do with it, by relating his own experience with “false brethren.” He says that he did not “yield submission even for an hour.” This was the same Paul, who willingly yielded personal rights and advantages for the cause (1 Cor. 9). However, when the truth of the gospel was in danger of being taken from his brethren, “‘yielding” was out of the question, even if it meant publicly withstanding a fellow apostle to his face (Gal. 2:11-21).

The very fact that Peter was an influential figure in the church made it the more imperative that his actions not go publicly unnoticed. He was not walking uprightly and others were being influenced by him. This was no time for softness and timidity, for the brethren’s relationship to the truth of the gospel was at stake. Would this make an enemy of Peter? It was a risk that Paul had to take. This public exposure of Peter’s hypocrisy did not ruin Peter’s usefulness in the Lord’s work but rather increased it. And what about relations between the two men? We are told little of the immediate reaction, but in the long run, we know about Peter’s attitude. He later wrote of “our beloved brother Paul” (2 Pet. 3:15).

Too often, mere attention is more persuasive than solid information. It has not been long since Paul had, at great personal sacrifice, supplied them with the truth of the gospel. They had been willing to pluck out their own eyes for him. Now, he asks, “Have I become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” What had happened? False brethren had “come-a-courtin”‘ and had turned the heads of the Galatians by the attention given. Paul wrote, “They zealously court you, but for no good” (Gal. 4:17). The truth had not been nearly as influential as “courting” of the false brethren. Like the young man courting the young lady, care is given to saying just what he thinks she wants to hear. She enjoys every minute of it and is often swept off her feet by it, even though most of it is just “sweet nothings.” False brethren have some advantages in the battle for the minds and affections of brethren. They have no problem with using means of persuasion that true teachers dare not use. They give attention to courting, while true teachers are giving “attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine . . . meditation” (1 Tim. 4:13-16).

Dispositional Hardness

If Satan can’t get us through the front door, he will try the back. In this same letter, where Paul urged a kind of hard-nosed approach toward false brethren and compromise, the Galatians are warned against a general hard-nosed disposition — one that showed little softness and tenderness toward brethren but geared more toward selfish ambition.

He warns against “biting and devouring one another . . . lest you be consumed one of another.” While they were to “Stand firm in the liberty by which Christ (had) made (them) free” (5:1), (no room for softness here), they had to be careful lest their need to stand fast in, and faithfully defend their liberty in Christ, did not become an excuse to resort to the works of the flesh (5:13). It is easy to get so involved in fighting the influence of false brethren (and there is plenty of that to do) that we simply cannot find any place to quit fighting. It is so easy to turn to biting and devouring one another until we are consumed one of another.

We pay a lot of attention to some of the “works of the flesh”: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, murders, drunkenness, revelries and the like. And we should. In fact, many of us could stand to give more attention to these things in our teaching and preaching than we do. But, we may miss the very point that the writer had in bringing up this list at the time he did. The attitudes that caused them to bite and devour seem to be the real target of the apostle. These attitudes are linked to those more easily recognized works of the flesh to show these foolish Galatians the kind of company they were in by their hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, and heresies. He then lists the “fruit of the Spirit” to counter this bad disposition (5:22-24). He then says, “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (5:24-26). In the next chapter, he calls for a spirit of gentleness in restoring brethren overtaken in faults, the bearing of one another’s burdens, the sharing with teachers in good things, the sowing to the spirit rather than the flesh, and the doing good to all men as they had opportunity (6:1-10). All this reflecting a tenderness of heart and gentleness of disposition befitting one walking after the Spirit. Thus, if they would “through love serve one another” and put aside selfish ambition and conceit, they would not likely be biting and devouring one another. They could have this soft touch and still be firm for the truth and hard against error. It might take a good balancing act, but it could and must be done.

Conclusion: Let us not be so foolish as to think that we can compromise with “false brethren” even for an hour without getting hurt. Let us not be so foolish as to think, that we can just ignore error and it will go away. Let us not be so foolish as to think that we cannot be deceived by the favorable attention (courting) of false brethren. Let us not be so foolish as to think that time is on our side in the battle for truth. Brethren can “so soon” be carried away into error.

Neither let us be so foolish as to fall into the habit of biting and devouring one another, jumping down each other’s throats at the slightest disagreement and/or provocation. Let us not be so foolish as to allow our desire to stand fast in the faith, to cause us to become hard-nosed, unkind, unforgiving, ungentle and cold in our dealings with one another.

Tag Cloud