Friday, December 14, 2007
In Acts 20:24, Paul through inspiration tells us WHAT it is. "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." This gospel of the grace of God contains, commandments, words, and laws.
How does this "grace of God" bring salvation? The answer; through preaching. Paul said; "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Rom.1:16). The Holy Spirit also reveals to us that it is the responsibility of the church to proclaim this message. "To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God" (Eph.3:10). This will include all religious instruction man needs for proper service to the Lord.
To whom has this "grace of God" appeared? The scripture says to "all men." It is no longer only for the Jews, but for all men. God does not want for anyone to be lost (2 Peter 3:9), but for everyone to come to repentance. This however does not negate man’s responsibility to be obedient to the Lord’s commands.
We are told that this "Grace of God that brings salvation" teaches things (Titus 2:12). "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;" This will involve more than just "Grace only." The grace of God teaches us both negatively and positively.
Negatively, that we must deny: ungodliness, and worldly lusts. Meaning that even though we live in this world we cannot act like this world, for we, as obedient Christians, have been redeemed from all iniquity, and purified unto Christ, a peculiar people (Titus 2:14).
This grace of God that brings salvation teaches us positively that we must live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (2:13). We are then to be "Christlike" in our thinking and behavior as we influence others in this walk of life.
No doubt, we are saved by GRACE (Rom.8:24), but we are also saved by FAITH (Acts 16:30-31), and by MERCY (Titus 3:5), and by OBEDIENCE (Heb.5:8-9), as well as the WORD (James 1:21). Fact of the matter is that the "Grace of God that brings salvation" includes all of the above.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Even after slavery ended, racism continued. It was institutionalized in the South with Jim Crow laws. Segregated businesses and schools in the first half of the 20th century reminded everyone that black Americans were considered second-class citizens.
America has come a long way since then, but racism still exists. And it probably always will, just like theft, murder and lying will always exist. Some people will always dislike others simply because of the color of their skin.
Unfortunately, sometimes even people who claim to follow Christ look down on those of a different color. But that’s nothing new. Part of the argument for slavery in the 1800s was that the Bible taught that black people were cursed descendants of Ham. Allegedly, the curse was that they would be slaves forever.
Pro-slavery ideology rested on the assumption of black inferiority. This legacy stayed with some Americans through the 20th century, and some still hold this view today.
Are some races inferior? If so, is it OK to treat them with less respect?
The Biblical answers are no, and no.
Genesis chapter one tells us that God created man in His image. If all humans descended from Adam and Eve, this means the entire world’s races have common ancestors. Paul affirms this in Acts 17:26 when he says that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.”
God made all humans of one blood. We all trace our beginning to Adam and Eve. Since they were made in God’s image, all humans are made in the image of God. All people, all nationalities, all colors. We’re all made in the image of God.
This suggests that all people are entitled to equal treatment. IF the Bible tells us how to treat someone, that’s how we should treat everyone, since there’s no difference in value among different races.
Over and over we’re told to treat people with respect and kindness. In Matthew 7:12, Jesus says, “all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” We call it The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Treat other people the way you want to be treated—with kindness, dignity and compassion. Not just people of your race—everybody.
In James 2:1-9, James condemns showing partiality to the rich and mistreating the poor—what he calls showing “respect to persons” in verse 9. The same principle applies when dealing with people of your race and other races. All humans are worthy of equal treatment; we’re all made in God’s image.
Paul tells the Galatians in chapter 3, verses 26 through 28 of that book, that God doesn’t made distinctions among races if you are “in Christ.” It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, black or white, rich or poor; all are equal before God. But even if someone of a different color or race isn’t a Christian, he’s still made in God’s image and is worthy of respect and kind treatment.
People who claim to be Christians, but who discriminate against those of another race or color, give Christianity a bad name. But the Bible, specifically the New Testament, does not teach that whites are superior. It doesn’t sanction discrimination or racism. The religion of Jesus calls on His disciples to “do unto others.”
If you don’t treat all people, regardless of race, color or nationality, as worthy of your respect, you’re certainly not practicing the religion of Jesus. Christianity makes the world better, not worse. If Christianity were practiced the way Jesus and the apostles teach us to practice it through the pages of the New Testament, racism would end.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Every child of God has the sacred obligation to "be ready always to give answer to every man that asketh you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, yet with meekness and fear" (1 Pet. 3:15). We are to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). Our Lord told us to "beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves" (Matt. 7:15). Our responsibility is no less than those Christians of the first century who were told, "believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 Jno. 4:1). The past twenty years have seen an ever increasing defection of once-faithful, stalwart soldiers of the cross. Men who once stood in the gap and wielded the sword of the Spirit with skill and effectiveness have gone over to the enemy.
A once faithful brother wrote: "It is not possible to overemphasize the damage done by perverse preceptors. They not only cause division (a thing God hates), but the ultimate outcome of their treachery, whether that treachery be witting or unwitting, is eternal loss to all who are led astray by their influence." With regard to our Lord's admonition, "beware" is a forceful word. It is a warning. It says to us, "Look out, danger, peril, jeopardy, risk, hazard." It screams at us, "Pay attention. Be on guard."
We are locked in a battle with error. Truth will prevail, of that we are certain. But we must do our part to uphold that truth, moving neither to the left nor to the right. There is always the danger that a little compromise will eventually lead to wholesale apostasy. Hence the need to answer false doctrines forcefully, faithfully, and forthrightly. Time is of the essence; souls are at stake; the cause of Christ must not suffer! Unfortunately the ranks of those who will address the issues continue to diminish. But if we are to pass the torch to the next generation we dare not waver in our sacred duty to uphold the truth at all costs. The late F.B. Srygley was right on target:
"Fighting for the Truth is almost a lost art. Men who are enjoying the benefits of the Gospel unmixed with human error, are enjoying these benefits because our fathers fought for the Truth. Every inch of ground from that mysterious way of being saved, which was better felt than told, to the plain conditions of pardon as taught in the New Testament, was fought out for us by our fathers. If someone before us had not fought for the Truth, most of us might yet be in the fog of denominational teaching. This is not the time to temporize or make friends with error (F.B. Syrgley (Madisonville, KY: In Word and Doctrine, Oct-Dec, 1992), page 19; originally appeared in the Gospel Advocate, 1928)
False teachers have been tolerated, ignored, and in some instances embraced by unfaithful elders, preachers and members. Far too little has been done in answer to the false teachers presently assailing the walls of Zion. We only pray that it is not too late to take our stand and defend the truth.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
The art of peacemaking is an international concern and depends a great deal upon the type of hostility which exists. Studies in peacemaking are offered on the campus of every major university throughout the world. Hostility reduction is an entire field of study itself and one that every child of God should major in. Peacemakers, secular or spiritual; individual, national or international; base their work upon a self-evident principle: you cannot reduce hostilities without an understanding of the nature and background of the hostilities themselves.
Disagreements concerning the method of peacemaking generally depends upon the accepted standard. The Blackstone tradition of law, for example, argues that every law must have its underpinning upon an eternal foundation. According to Blackstone “they are to be found only in holy scriptures.” Again, “Men do not make laws, they do but discover them. Laws must be justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest on the eternal foundation of righteousness.” (Calvin Coolidge).
The following is a list of several types of hostilities that exist between man and his fellow man or between man and his God. Although there may be similarities in the process there are important differences which shall be noted in this article.
Alien Hostilities (Mark 16:15-16)
This hostility exists because of the nature of the two kingdoms; the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light (Col. 1:13; Phi. 3:20; Eph. 2:1—3, 18-19). In fact, Ephesians chapter two is an inspired thesis on divine peacemaking. Within the kingdom of darkness are individuals that are not citizens in the kingdom of God. They have not obeyed the gospel plan of salvation. The blood of Jesus has not washed away their sins (Rom. 3:23; Eph. 1:7). Therefore the wrath of God is upon them (Rom. 5:8-10). If one desires to be translated from the devil’s kingdom to the kingdom of God dear Son, he must be willing to submit to the blessed and only Potentate, Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 6:15). The will of Jesus must be preeminent (Col. 1:18).
Personal Hostilities (Mat. 18:15-17)
This hostility exists because one man has transgressed against another. The misapplication of this passage has made many a man skeptical about God’s pattern of peacemaking and going about to establish their own they have denied the beauty and majesty of God’s wonderful scheme of redeeming man to his former state with his fellowman. Even Eli of old understood the difference in an infraction between two men and one between a man and his God (cf. 1 Sam. 3:25).
Neglected Hostilities (Acts 6:1-8)
This hostility exists because of a carelessness or oversight of the Grecian widows in the church of Christ at Jerusalem. According to many Old Testament passages it is a serious breach of one’s compassion and his desire to be godly (Deu. 24:19-21; 26:12; Isa. 1:17; Mal. 3:5; Jas. 1:27).
Teaching Hostilities (Rom. 16:17-18)
This hostility exists because covetousness wherein teachers using feigned words would seek to make merchandise of the brethren (2 Pet. 2:1-3). Jesus is the first to describe the nature of the hostilities as deception; they are wolves who appear in sheep’s clothing (Mat. 7:15-20). Jude calls them “ungodly men turning the grace of God into lasciviousness and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 4).
Moral Hostilities (1 Cor. 5:1-13)
This hostility exists because of immorality accepted, tolerated or prided within the number of the disciples. It is the redefining iniquity in order to take pleasure in those things that God hates (Pro. 6:16; Isa. 5:20).
Disorderly Hostilities (1 The. 5:14; 2 The. 3:6, 11, 14-15)
This hostility exists because unruly men (cf. Acts 17:5; 19:21-34). Some of the Thessalonians were guilty of walking disorderly because they did not live nor govern themselves according to the principles of Christ (cf. Phi. 3:16; Gal. 6:16). Matthew Henry correctly observes, “It is required of those who have received the gospel, and who profess a subjection to it, that they live according to the gospel. If they do not, they are to be counted disorderly persons.”
Subverted Hostilities (Tit. 3:10-11)
This hostility exists because men would rather draw disciples away to themselves rather than converting men to Christ (cf. Acts 20:28-31). They would use whatever means at their disposal (good or evil) to accomplish this twisted plan to become leaders among men.
Understanding therefore the nature of the hostility is essential in dealing with the enmity that arises because of each.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
The fallen tree was the decision by the Quail Springs Church of Christ elders in Oklahoma City to add mechanical instruments of music to their worship.
When the Richland Hills Church of Christ in Texas decided to add mechanical instruments in December, 2006 the Chronicle rushed into print with a full report of that decision. (www.christianchronicle.org). In that story, Chronicle reporter Bobby Ross, Jr. wrote,
The Richland Hills church in Texas — the largest of the nation’s 13,000 a cappella Churches of Christ — has decided to add an instrumental worship assembly with communion on Saturday nights. Jon Jones, an elder and former pulpit minister at the 6,400-member church, told the congregation Dec. 3 that Richland Hills’ elders "fully and completely" endorsed the decision (ibid, “Nation’s Largest Church of Christ Adding Instrumental Service”).
Neither Chronicle Editor, Lynn McMillon, nor Oklahoma Christian University President Mike O’Neal will take public issue with Quail Springs’ decision, which is, itself, public on the worldwide web, and although it’s been six months since Quail Springs made their announcement on January 28, 2007, Chronicle readers still haven’t heard that tree fall in the forest. Oh, by the way, Rick Atchley was also a chapel speaker at Oklahoma Christian University in the fall of 2006.
Here is a very telling note from a Chronicle reader in response “Nation’s Largest Church of Christ Adding Instrumental Service”.
Here is a very telling note from Mike in response to the Richland Hills article:
“Way to go Richland Hills!!! We did this in Feb. of 2005. In 2006 we moved the service to Sunday nights.”
Saturday, July 14, 2007
- Jesus built and established but one church (Mat. 16:18; cf. Eph. 4:4; 1:22-23).
- Denominations are not a part of the true church (Col. 1:18; 1 Cor. 1:10).
- The Catholic Church is the result of an apostasy from the that one church (1 Tim. 4:1-4).
- The Catholic Church is their own source of authority (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Col. 3:17).
- The Catholic Church worships through Mary, Peter, etc., (Mat. 4:10; Acts 10:26).
- The Catholic Church has a hierarchy system (Phi. 1:1; 1 Pet. 5:1-5).
- The Catholic Church baptizes babies (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38).
- The Catholic Church teaches Adamic sin (Mat. 18:1-6; Eze. 18:4, 20).
- The Catholic preist recieves confession in place of God (1 Jho. 1:7-10; Jas. 5:16).
"Marking the word of God of none effect thorugh your traditions, which ye have delivered:and many such like things do ye" - Mark 7:13
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
- Liberals refuse to appeal to God's book for the answers (Mark 7:3).
- Liberals refuse to appeal to apostolic tradition for the answers (2 The. 2:15).
- Liberals refuse to appeal to apostolic doctrine for the answers (Acts 2:42).
- Liberals refuse to give answer to those who ask of the hope that is in them with meekness and fear (1 Pet. 3:15).
- Liberals refuse to dispute with people about the word of God (Acts 17:17).
- Liberals refuse to speak boldly in the Lord (Acts 14:1-4).
FOR EXAMPLE... We have consistently asked of our detractors to produce one item that the churches of Christ bind that is a tradition of men. We would also ask for one man among them to meet in a four night public discussion upon that subject. Now is the time to put up...!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
We had our lives threatened from an Apostolic “bishop’s” family at least three times (cf. Acts 17:5; 2 tim. 4:14; Acts 19:21-41). This man and his family were nothing but thugs living off the back of widows. The television station went on lock down and three cars of deputy sheriff’s officers had to be called to detain members of the “bishop’s” family. This man drives a Bentley Rolls Royce while requiring the widow’s in his church to give him tithes. His wife threatened us with a .38 while his daughter came to the studio for a showdown to shutdown “Johnny and his posse.” One of his daughters told us that her father “knew a lot of unsaved people in the community who knew where the tent was, so we had better walk softly.” During the mist of all this one of his flock was baptized at 3:00 AM that same morning. The tables turned on these denominational preachers over their “bling, bling – bang, bang” and we had twenty-eight sets of DVD’s requested of the tent meeting and television program in just two days from callers. Each night at the tent meeting we had from eleven to sixteen nonmembers as visitors.
Pray for this good work and your new brethren in Christ that they keep faith and be able to withstand the devil and his workers. All this comes on the heels of a very sucessful campaign in Ardmore, Oklahoma and the planning of another one in Palestine, Texas. More to come in the next Reflections publication which is soon to be published.
Monday, May 14, 2007
- Never consider divorce as an option (Gen. 2:18-24; Mat. 19:1-9).
- Learn to forgive & forget (Col. 3:13).
- Do not be hypercritical (Pro. 19:11; 1 Cor. 13:5, ASV).
- Learn to communicate (Jas. 1:19; Pro. 18:13).
- Keep outsiders outside (Mat. 5:28).
- Learn to trust (Pro. 19:20).
- Do not compare your mate to others (2 Cor. 10:12).
- Give positive reinforcement (Pro. 12:25).
- Pray for your marriage (Phi. 4:6).
- Center your marriage on the Bible (Psa. 119:105).
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
I am sure that all who read this will have read, heard, or even seen the tradegy of Virginia Tech on Monday, April 16 2007 and like me did so with affright, abhorrence and anathema. We extend, with Mr. Steger, not only our sympathies but our prayers rise to the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3) and the Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all (Eph. 4:6) give you aid in this hour of need.
"Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast" (Psa. 57:1).
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
She was a godly woman as far as the scriptures say, and she was married to a godly man. But like her forebear, Sarai, she went for many years without bearing any children for her beloved Elkanah.
Some have recently called upon the story of Hannah as evidence or proof that God works supernatural deeds today. Never mind the fact that the events of 1 Samuel 1 occurred during the days that God admittedly worked through supernatural acts, are the events recorded about the conception and birth of Samuel examples of God's supernatural intervention in human affairs? Regarding most of the events detailed the answer to this question is no.
The story of Hannah should encourage every faithful child of God to fervently pray for God's blessings, but it does not teach that God always answers prayers supernaturally. In fact it teaches the opposite view: God's answers to prayers are usually (today always) answered by His working through the natural laws He ordained at the beginning of time.
Samuel records the events that led up to his birth in the first chapter of 1 Samuel. Hannah was one of Elkanah's two wives. The other wife, Peninnah, had no difficulty bearing children for her husband, but despite Elkanah's greater love for Hannah, she bore him none.
Samuel writes that "the Lord had shut up her womb" (1 Sam. 1:5). We do not know if this means that the Lord specifically caused Hannah to be barren, or (more likely) if it simply means that God allowed her to be so (cf. Job 2:3). Whatever the proper interpretation, however, there is no reason to assume that God employed supernatural power to cause her to be without child. The scriptures often describe things done by the Lord that must be accomplished through natural means (Acts 16:14).
During one of her annual pilgrimages to Shiloh to worship with her husband, Hannah bowed herself in fervent prayer to God that He might grant her request for a son. Eli, the high priest and judge over Israel at the time, at first thought she was drunken and rebuked her, but when he learned her true state of mind, he proclaimed, "Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of Him" (v. 17).
This grant gave Hannah peace after many long years of concern, so she was no longer sad. Though it would still be a little while before Samuel was conceived, and even longer before she had any physical evidence of that conception, she believed the words of Eli, and was comforted (v. 18).
Next we read that "Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her" (v. 19). Then, just as Eli said, "when the time was come about after Hannah conceived," Samuel was born to the faithful woman who prayed a fervent prayer.
Now, just what events in this story give evidence of God working supernaturally? Must God work a miracle to answer her prayer?
As mentioned above there is no reason to believe that it was supernatural that Hannah's womb was closed for so many years. Many women have gone without the ability to have children, and there are commonly recognized natural reasons for such to occur.
Was Hannah's prayer endued with supernatural power? Surely not! The prayer she offered differed little from prayers we might hear ordinarily every day.
How about Samuel's conception; was it supernatural? Not according to the text—it occurred in the ordinary way when Elkanah and Hannah shared the marriage bed. But someone might say that in Hannah's case it must have been supernatural, because she had gone so long without the ability before. There are thousands of documented cases, however, where this occurs naturally today. There is no reason to assume a supernatural event, and since the presumption is always in favor of natural law, we should not assume anything other than that.
Was there anything supernatural about Samuel's gestation? Again the answer is no. Samuel was born "when the time was come about" just as every other healthy human child is born.
The only supernatural act that occurred in this story in as far as the record is concerned is the pronouncement of Eli that Hannah's prayer had been granted even before Samuel was conceived. How was it that Eli could know this? Only by the supernatural (miraculous) power of God that worked within him.
All of the other events occurred in complete conformity with nature's laws.
What does this mean fohe knowledge that God can and does work within the laws of nature to answer our prayers. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man [… or woman] availeth much" (Jas. 5:16).
~ Gil Yoder http://www.letusreason.com/