Monday, January 1, 2018

PERVERTED JUSTICE

Can religious people become corrupt? How so?

The prophet Micah described the people of Israel, the nation thru whom Jesus would later be born. They were about to be punished for their hypocrisy and evil living. From Micah chapters 2 and 3, we read:


"Woe to those who scheme iniquity, who work out evil on their beds! When morning comes, they do it, for it is in the power of their hands. They covet fields and then seize them, and houses, and take them away. They rob a man and his house, a man and his inheritance." ~ 2:1-2


"Therefore thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am planning against this family a calamity from which you cannot remove your necks; and you will not walk haughtily, for it will be an evil time." ~ 2:3


"Recently My people have arisen as an enemy—you strip the robe off the garment from unsuspecting passers-by, from those returned from war. “The women of My people you evict, each one from her pleasant house. From her children you take My splendor forever." ~ 2:8-9


"If a man walking after wind and falsehood had told lies and said, ‘I will speak out to you concerning wine and liquor,’ he would be spokesman to this people." ~ 2:11



"Is it not for you to know justice?" ~ 3:1


"Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who lead my people astray; 'when they have something to bite with their teeth, they cry, 'peace', but against him who puts nothing in their mouths they declare holy war'." ~ 3:5


"Her leaders pronounce judgment for a bribe, her priests instruct for a price and her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the Lord saying, “Is not the Lord in our midst? Calamity will not come upon us." ~ 3:11

How does this happen? Did you notice the false messages that were proclaimed to the people? This is the reason that justice becomes perverted.

Obedience to a TRUE message, will result in an "upright" life...morally and ethically pure. (chapter 2:7 ~ "Do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly?") Justice will permeate in society.

When society perverts justice, rest assured, the perversion of justice can be traced to perversion in the message...not sometime........ALWAYS.

As Micah said, "everything that is straight will become twisted" (3:8)

This is why DOCTRINE MATTERS!
It is why the Lord warned:
"Take heed WHAT ye hear" ~ Mark 4:24
"Take heed HOW ye hear" ~ Luke 6:38

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

“…BUT ONE THING IS NEEDFUL…”

“…BUT ONE THING IS NEEDFUL…”
Luke 10:38-42
In this brief conversation, something is said about Martha that is typical of all of us. “…but Martha was distracted…” (vs. 40) (NKJV)

We are like Martha much more than we are like Mary in our lives. We become concerned about things which do not help us, but rather distract us from what is really needful.

Jesus mentioned something to her that we need to have said to us and it really needs to be stressed because of its effect upon our need of salvation.
“…Martha, Martha, thou art anxious and troubled about many things…” (vs. 41)

Needs such as jobs, careers, school, growing up, family, health, retirement, etc. is…however, all of these should be subordinate to what is really needful. For my salary amount will not matter one day. My level of schooling will not matter. Whether I taught my son or daughter to fish or how well I maintained a good cholesterol level…or anything else you want to put into this scenario; none of them will matter one day. Why?

Because we all know that ‘but one thing is needful’ don’t we? We are concerned about things that will one day pass away. One day we won’t regret the choice of schools, jobs, or not allowing a child to experience a certain activity. However, if our greatest need is not addressed, we will regret it. 

Solomon wrote of this in Eccl. 12:13-14
“…fear GOD and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For GOD will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” 

Search your own soul and answer:
 —What have you been spending your time and efforts on?
—Have you lost focus of what matters?
—Are you giving attention to the ONE THING that is needful?

 I think of the words of James and ask you to consider them as well (James 4:14)
“…What is your life? For ye are a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away”

.Man’s greatest need in this life is to prepare for the next life — hence he needs to understand why he needs to depart this life prepared for the next life. As Solomon stated, GOD will, “…bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

When I reflect on my own life and where I would be today if not for someone taking the time to teach me of what was needful — to seek out the way that leadeth to life eternal…I want to do for you what others have done for me; persuade you to do as the apostle Paul persuaded those of his day. 

(Eph. 5:15-17) – “Look therefore carefully how ye walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is”.

I plead with you to give thought to where you will be in eternity. Are you prepared? That is all that matters. Ask yourself this one thing…is the reason you give today for having never made preparation, sound justifiable on the Day of Judgment?

 James 4:17 – “Therefore to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin”.

Think of why you have not made preparation…If you don’t do so now, that is all you will think about then…

When your time on earth is over, it is all that will matter. Did you prepare to meet thy GOD?

If you know you need to obey the gospel, yet you have not done it, you have sinned (James 4:17). Do you believe GOD? He has provided a way whereby you can receive forgiveness for your sins—Jesus, (John 14:6). Jesus died for you for this reason—John 3:16). He has commanded all men everywhere to repent of their sins (Acts 17:30); to confess Jesus as the Son of GOD (Acts 8:37); and to be baptized for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38). 

This is your response to the grace of GOD. It is so easy if you are willing to trust in His words, “seek ye first the kingdom of GOD and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you”.


Only by being reconciled to GOD, can you be truly happy. What is your life?

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The lingering after-effects of sin...

During the time of the conquest of Canaan, the 2 1/2 tribes which settled east of the Jordan built an altar for a memorial so that they would have a portion in Israel. The 9 1/2 tribes falsely accused them of making this altar for idol worship. They made the statement:
"Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, FROM WHICH WE ARE NOT CLEANSED UNTIL THIS DAY..." Josh. 22:17

This "iniquity" of Peor was a sin that had been committed many, many years earlier (see Numbers 25:1-3 - "And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.")

It was this sin that the statement was made years later, "FROM WHICH WE ARE NOT CLEANSED UNTIL THIS DAY".

This was the lingering after-effects of sin! The fornication that had been learned; the pleasures of sin for a season; their eyes opened to the lewd, lustful behavior of the Moabite women.
So it was with Eve, when her "eyes were opened" (Gen. 3:7).
We are told of the church at Pergamos, "But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication." - Rev. 2:14

The statement "from which we are not cleansed until this day" implies of necessity that fornication, such as was learned from the iniquity at Peor was still being committed by some of the Israelites.

Idols of the heart! They plagued the children of Israel all their existence! They gave lip service to Jehovah, but their heart was far from Him. (see Deut. 12:8; Judges 17:6; 21:25; Jer. 13:10; 16:12; 18:12)
Doing what was right in their own eyes; not as God commanded them!

This is an ever-potential problem with God's people: idols in one's heart. Many are "not cleansed even to the present" because of these idols.

Let us remember these inspired warnings:

~ "Be not deceived, God is not mocked; whatsoever you sow, you will reap." - Gal. 6:7
~ Col. 3:1-3 - 'If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."
~ Col. 3:5-6 - "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience...".

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"BUT HE LIED..."

"I also am a prophet like you, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord, saying, ‘Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.’” BUT HE LIED TO HIM." ~ 1 Kings 13:18

- CAN EVERY PERSON IN A PULPIT, CLAIMING TO HAVE A MESSAGE FROM GOD BE TRUSTED? 
- CAN THEY DECEIVE YOU? 
- DID IT EVER HAPPEN? 
- CAN IT STILL HAPPEN? 
- CAN A MAN "OF GOD" LIE IN PREACHING?

Consider the following two accounts: 
Jeremiah 29:31-32 - “Send to all the exiles, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord concerning Shemaiah the Nehelamite, 'Because Shemaiah has prophesied to you, although I did not send him, and he has made you trust in a lie,' therefore thus says the Lord, 'Behold, I am about to punish Shemaiah the Nehelamite and his descendants; he will not have anyone living among this people, and he will not see the good that I am about to do to My people,' declares the Lord, 'because he has preached rebellion against the Lord'.” 
Ezekiel 13:8-9 - Therefore, thus says the Lord God, “Because you have spoken falsehood and seen a lie, therefore behold, I am against you,” declares the Lord God. “So My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations. They will have no place in the council of My people, nor will they be written down in the register of the house of Israel, nor will they enter the land of Israel, that you may know that I am the Lord God.

Were lies uttered? Were those who uttered lies, prophets? YES, but because of their lies, they were FALSE prophets!

Did Jesus acknowledge the possibility of false prophets? “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves." ~ Matt. 7:15 

Did John? "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but TEST the spirits to see whether they are from God, BECAUSE many false prophets have gone out into the world." ~ 1 John 4:1
Take notice of WHY John said to TEST ALL preaching to what the Bible declares, for UNINSPIRED men can cleverly distort, twist, and pervert scripture, just as Satan did when tempting Jesus (Matt. 4).

Remember the words "BUT HE LIED..." ~ one prophet lying to another ~
This young prophet KNEW that God had told him (1 Kings 13:9); yet listened to an old prophet, who told him to do the very thing that God commanded him NOT to do.
How serious is this?

Consider another area whereby the seriousness of the message is most relevant: SALVATION

A question repeatedly asked in the Bible is: "What must I do to be saved?"


What did an INSPIRED person preach?
~ Jews - Acts 2:37-38 - hear, believe, repent, be baptized
~ Jews - Acts 3:19 - hear, believe, repent, be converted
~ The Samaritans - Acts 8:5-13 - believe, be baptized
~ The eunuch - Acts 8:35-39 - hear, confess his faith, be baptized
~ Saul of Tarsus - Acts 9; 22; 26 - hear, believe, repent, confess his faith, be baptized
~ Cornelius - Acts 10 & 11 - hear, believe, repent, confess his faith, be baptized
~ Lydia - Acts 16:13-15 - hear, believe, repent, be baptized
~ The Jailer - Acts 16:25-34 - hear, believe, repent, be baptized
~ The Corinthians - Acts 18:8 - hear, believe, be baptized


What answer does an UNINSPIRED person preach? 
~ Pray the sinner's prayer ~ "BUT HE LIED..."
~ Confess your sins ~ "BUT HE LIED..."
~ Baptism is an outward sign of an inward grace ~ "BUT HE LIED..."


When you wanted to be saved from your sins, were you told by an UNINSPIRED preacher to do things different from what God said by an INSPIRED preacher? 

Remember these three words from the story of the old prophet and the young prophet:
"BUT HE LIED..." 1 Kings 13:18

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Thoughts on "faithfulness"

There are two ways to keep members of the church “faithful.” The first way is to be sure everyone is involved. Have a project for each member, and make sure that he feels important in his role. Praise him for the good job he is doing. Make him feel needed; make him feel that the well being of the whole congregation rests firmly on his shoulders. That will keep him “faithful.”
There are two problems with this method. In the first place, it encourages the creation of projects that are not remotely related to the work of the local church .One member plays on the church ball team; another member leads the Boy Scout troop; another is an active member of the “Dorcas Society”; another plans the program for the men’s luncheon. Everybody is busy all right, but in activities that are not authorized in the New Testament.
In the second place, members are often given roles for which they are not qualified. A lady is chosen to teach a class not because she is qualified, but because she needs to be involved. A man is appointed a deacon to help him to be “faithful.” Another man is appointed to serve the Lord’s Supper for a month in order to encourage him to be present each Sunday that month. This method thus places “the cart before the horse,” for no one should ever be assigned any work in the Lord’s service who is not already faithful and qualified for the work to be done (2 Timothy 2:2).
The second way to keep people faithful is to develop within them a genuine love for the Lord. When people love the Lord, they will be faithful, and it won’t take some kind of “special” project to keep them faithful.
They will also be involved: in worship, in study, in godly living, in sharing the gospel with a friend, in helping the needy. I have known literally hundreds of Christians who have never in their lives been appointed to any special work, but whose love for the Lord alone keeps them faithful. There is no superficial faithfulness on the part of these; theirs is a faithfulness that is real.
Special responsibilities are fine for those who are qualified, but the man who requires some special duty to be faithful has never learned what true faithfulness is.
Bill Hall
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
HOW is a genuine love for the Lord going to develop? Is it not by the teaching of God's word? As the individual grows in grace and in knowledge, his love will increase. (2 Peter 3:18).
Which prompts another related thought:
HOW does one grow in grace and in knowledge? Will it not come through personal study and meditation on God's word? Is this not the theme of the hymn we sing, "TAKE TIME TO BE HOLY"?
Does not "spiritual growth" point to the need for teaching? Shall we be content to "baptize" and basically leave them to themselves thereafter ~ ["swim or drown" concept]?
Consider in regard to physical growth, what results would come if we gave birth to a baby, then left them to themselves to survive?
Babes in Christ, need to be 'fed' properly; they need to be taught how to 'eat' (i.e., study properly, recognizing the particulars of context; the need for, and how to establish authority).
Otherwise, will not their convictions will be as "someone else preached on the matter"? Is this not what Paul's concern was in Eph. 4:14-15?
"...we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up..."
It is truly a test as to whether our confidence is in the power of God's word to convict, reprove and exhort, or whether we use the bible as a "front", while, in reality, our "tradition" is to do as Bro. Hall pointed out, "give them roles" for which they are unqualified.
Spiritual growth takes "time" (as the hymn says); so does physical growth; there is no shortcut; no steroid...time is needed. The benefit of time, is, it will develop patience in our lives.
The need for patience is seen from these passages:
Rom. 2:7 - to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;
Heb. 10:36 - For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
James 1:3 - knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
2 Peter 1:6 - and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
As a child will benefit physically from patience, so will the babe in Christ benefit spiritually...developing patience is necessary to spiritual growth; bible study will develop patience, for there is no shortcut to learning. We can do a 5-15 minute prep; a "skimming over" and then teach a class, etc. but is this what Jesus died for?
Is not discipleship, following the example of Jesus? Did not Jesus state that "Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me"? (John 6:45)
Let us resolve to address spiritual growth needs, by using the resource of God's word...it contains the power to save (Rom. 1:16). Let us have enough faith in it to do what it alone can do, and teach it.
Faithfulness needs a proper foundation; that foundation is a love & respect for God's word. That will come in time; time spent in study and meditation of God's word. Faithfulness is dependent upon knowledge...knowing how to "handle aright" God's word. This must be taught; a babe, left to himself will develop bad habits, physically AND spiritually. While he may survive, what will his life be compared a life wherein he was taught properly? Did Jesus merely intend for us to only 'survive', or to grow and flourish? Students need a teacher. Each generation needs taught.
Proper spiritual growth is the only way to ensure faithfulness on our part. It will be the fruit produced, when the seed of love for God's word is sown.

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THE PARTING OF THE RED SEA AND SALVATION IN CHRIST.

Moses told the people to “stand by and watch the Lord save…”; God had a different response… “tell the people to go forward…”

Exod. 14:13-14 – But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”
Exod. 14:15-16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.
Exod. 14:21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

Faith and obedience, when the people did as the LORD commanded, the people still ‘saw’ the salvation of the LORD; notice:
Exod. 14:30-31 – Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses.

How often it is that people are preached the same message as Moses’ words, “do nothing; keep silent...just believe in God to do it all; sit back and let Him save; you can’t be saved by ‘doing anything’; salvation is by faith alone...”.

God has given commands for us to obey and He will save us…do we believe that? THAT is exactly what happened in this story from Exodus. Their deliverance from bondage was by the Lord’s hand, yet they were not to sit idly and watch, doing nothing…they were to ACT on their belief in God to save. They were commanded to apply blood, to march as directed by the pillar of cloud and fire that HE provided; and at the Red Sea, they were to march across; Moses was to do something as well. “Lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it…”. Now think for a moment on that command…did Moses, by his own power, cause the waters to divide, or was it God who caused the parting? What did this command have to do with anything…could not God part the waters without Moses doing this act with his staff?

But if Moses did NOT do what was commanded, would the results have been the same? We need look no further than another instance when God gave a command to Moses about causing water to flow by speaking to a rock, yet Moses smote the rock. Water came forth, but what effect did it have on Moses? Who caused the water to come forth? Did Moses please God, or disobey God? Did it matter?
Truth is simple, we can easily see the implication that is meant from these stories…that’s why they’re there for… “our learning”; “our admonition” [Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:6, 11].

These stories are in our bibles that we might know for sure HOW to be saved from our bondage to sin. Faith in God’s power to save us ~ the gospel message (Rom. 1:16). The gospel calls upon us to exercise our faith in obedience to particular commands, given by God, whether those commands have relevance in our minds or not. Did the raising of Moses staff have anything to do with parting water; was it related in any way? From another story (the walls of Jericho); did marching around the city walls contribute to, or cause the walls to fall? Was it not God who accomplished it? Why then, give the command to march, have priests blow on ram’s horns and everyone shout? All these things were to be done BECAUSE GOD COMMANDED IT TO BE DONE!

Nothing commanded was acts of merit, nor understood to be robbing God of the glory due Him. So it is with belief, repentance, confession, and immersion in water ~ these are to be done BECAUSE GOD COMMANDED IT TO BE DONE!

Truth is simple to see, but, as the hymn we sing says, will we “TRUST AND OBEY”?

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Friday, August 18, 2017

"THOSE THAT OPPOSE THEMSELVES"

“In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves
if God peradventure will give them repentance 
to the acknowledging of the truth”~ 2 Tim. 2:25

Many religious and well-intended people who oppose baptism for remission of sins, HAVE been baptized…yet for another reason. It seems strange that they oppose teaching on the purpose of baptism for the reason of ‘remission’, yet, submit to it for another reason. 

Obviously, they have been taught differently as to baptism’s PURPOSE than we in the church of Christ. It seems strange that one would submit to an act that one denies as necessary…all because of its purpose.

Baptism’s PURPOSE: what is it for? Two differing teachings on baptism’s PURPOSE are: to ‘show’ remission, or to ‘receive’ remission?

Further, is baptism a ‘church ordinance’, performed by and on saved people, [as stated in a denominational creed]; or is it a command for an unsaved person to obey as a part of the new birth of John 3?

Again, it is not an act that is entirely opposed, for all those who differ, HAVE SUBMITTED to being baptized. So why oppose the act based upon the lone purpose of it being done “to receive” remission?

Consider some relevant questions and parallel examples to the rational on baptism’s purpose from the Bible:
~ Romans 10:13 – “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Does “calling” show salvation, or does “calling” mean, ‘in order to be saved’?
Is “calling” an outward sign of an inward grace, or does “calling” mean, ‘in order to be saved’?
Does it matter as to the PURPOSE for ‘calling’?

~ Mark 16:16 – “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved.”
Does “belief” show salvation, or does “belief” mean, ‘in order to be saved’?
Is “belief” an outward sign of an inward grace, or does “belief” mean, ‘in order to be saved’?
Does it matter as to the PURPOSE for ‘belief’?

Now, regarding BAPTISM:
Does “baptism” show salvation, or does “baptism” mean, ‘in order to be saved’?
Is “baptism” an outward sign of an inward grace, or does “baptism” mean, ‘in order to be saved’?

Does it matter as to the PURPOSE for ‘baptism’?
Is it not clear that belief AND baptism are HOW one “calls” upon the name of the Lord?
Consider whether or not the logic used toward baptism’s purpose [as being to “show”] would make sense, if the same logic were applied to other matters, whose purposes are regarded as NECESSARY? For example:

“Faith is not necessary for remission of sins, but to show your salvation…”
“Repentance is not necessary for remission of sins, but to show your salvation…”
What about confessing that you are a sinner, quoting Romans 10:
“Confession is not necessary for remission of sins, but to show your salvation…”

What if one were to say that they don’t believe faith is necessary, but they believed to “show”…?
What if one were to say that they don’t believe repentance is necessary, but they have repented to “show”…?

Strange that one would oppose as necessary an act [baptism] that he, himself has submitted to, on the basis of ‘not’ necessary. 

Is not this an example of “those who oppose themselves” in “acknowledging the truth”?

This is why Jesus warned:
"Take heed WHAT ye hear" ~ Mark 4:24
"Take heed HOW ye hear" ~ Luke 6:38


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