An empty tomb welcomes tourists and pilgrims in Jerusalem. Located at the foot of a rocky knoll that looks so much like a “place of the skull,” if it is not the place of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and subsequent resurrection, it certainly evokes thoughts of those events. While it inspires interest in the events around the death of Jesus, it does not preach the word by itself (One stills needs a preacher, or at least a friend, for that). It does not feed the poor or heal the hurting. It does not visit those in prison or give water to the thirsty. This place does not baptize or sing or pray. Only people who believe that God loved the world enough to send his Son to die for us can perform those acts. Sadly, sometimes we do as much as the empty tomb. We may do less, since the tomb does teach by symbolizing the place where world-changing events occurred. After the resurrection, Jesus instructed followers to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20 NIV84). We need to leave the empty tomb and direct a spiritually starving world to the Risen Messiah, Jesus. It is time to obey; it is time to go.
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These last 5 Psalms (146-150) are called “Hallelujah Psalms” because they begin and end with that expression: “Praise – Jehovah,” or “Hallelujah.” The author, date, and setting of each Psalm are undetermined, but their acceptance is unquestioned.
Verses 1-5 call for God’s People to praise Him for victory;
Verses 6-9 call for praise and defeat of their enemies.
Verses 1-5: (Verse 1) “A new song” indicates a “new heart,” celebrating a “new victory,” and a “new life.” “The assembly of the saints” is a worship service, where “God is greatly to be feared” (Psalm 89:7). In America, every time there is disaster, trouble, destruction, criminal death, or missing person, there is some candlelight “coming together.” When Peter was kept in prison with the intent of killing him, the church of Christ gathered for prayer (Acts 12:12), not candles! (Verse 2) The people, Israel, especially their religious center, Zion, should rejoice with (verse 3) “dance” and “timbrel and harp,” just as their forefathers had done when God parted the Red Sea for them to escape Egypt and be their own Nation (Exodus 14:21-15:21). (Verse 4) God’s “pleasure” is in His People, who develop beautiful, spiritual character. (Verse 5) “Saints” should be joyful, even on “their beds,” formerly places of sorrow.
Verses 6-9: (Verse 6) While praising God with their “mouth,” “And a two-edged sword in their hand.” This sounds like the Israelites re-building the wall of Jerusalem when they were returned to their Promised Land (Nehemiah 4:17). Apparently, there was no “gun control” then! A dis-armed people can do nothing against the enemies of God! (Verse 7) “Bearing the sword” in “vain” (meaninglessly), or using the power of the sword against “good works,” violates God’s intended purpose for “governing authorities” (Romans 13:1-5). Today, Christians are to praise God while Government uses the sword to be “God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:4).
(Verse 8) God’s government, acting as His minister, defeats evil. (Verse 9) God’s “judgment” in writing was: “When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you, and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them” (Deuteronomy 7:1-2). Today, the “sword of the Spirit” in a Christian hand, “is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17), and the “nations,” “peoples,” “kings,” and “nobles” must be conquered by teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). Since Jesus Christ established His spiritual kingdom on Earth in the 1st Century, there has been NO “Christian carnal war” waged against Muslims, Jews, or anyone else, for that matter, and therefore NO justification for persecuting the churches of Christ! All of those who persecute Christians, even to death, are persecuting Jesus (Acts 9:1-5), and, unless they repent, He will damn them forever (2 Thessalonians 1:3-10)!
“Praise the LORD!”
All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.
I have a sermon that I have titled “The Main Thing Is To Keep The Main Thing the Main Thing. I picked the title up from someone else, it is not original with me. [The phrase comes from Steven Covey, Ed.] I heard a gospel preacher once say that evangelism will keep away the problems many churches have. That may not be entirely true, but evangelism can keep us from becoming bogged down in the dozens of inconsistencies that creep into the lives of even faithful Christians.
Run with me through the Bible and see how evangelism always comes to the forefront of everything in the church. Jesus defined the process of evangelism for us in Matthew 28:19. We are to make disciples (the KJV uses the word “teach”). Two processes are involved in this making of disciples. The first is to make them Christians by baptizing them (obviously they must believe and repent). Then we are to teach them the precepts of Christian living (teach them to observe all that Jesus says). This is evangelism. Paul uses these same two concepts when talking about the miraculous gifts and the offices God placed in the early church (Ephesians 4:11-12). All of God’s effort was for the work of ministry and the perfecting and edifying of the saints.
Jesus summed up all the work he did when he said, “The son of man is come to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). That was the main thing in His life. The virgin birth was to save souls (Galatians 4:4-5). The name Jesus brings evangelism to the front, “for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The sermon on the mount kept evangelism in the forefront. We are to let our light shine so that men will come to “glorify your father…” (Matthew 5:16). We are to lay up treasures in heaven (6:20), seek first the kingdom (6:33), seek the truth to find salvation (7:7-8), enter the strait gate (7:13) and do to others as we would have them do to us (lead us to salvation) (7:12). Before He ascended into heaven, the only commission he left behind was the great commission to save the souls of men—the main thing.
Consider that the apostles always kept the main thing the main thing in the book of Acts. When they had received the miraculous gifts on Pentecost, they did marvel in them. They immediately went to the business of preaching. When they healed the lame man, they used it for a chance to preach (3:12). When they were arrested and threatened for preaching, they preached to the council (4:8). When Ananias and Sapphira were struck down by God, they used the event to add more believers to the Lord (5:14). When murmuring began, they appointed servers and gave themselves to ministry and prayer. When Stephen died for preaching and persecution arose the church went everywhere evangelizing (8:4). Saul, the persecutor, straightway became Saul, the preacher (9:20). So it continues throughout the record of Acts.
In the epistles, there can be no question that evangelism stayed in the mind of the writers no matter what else was happening in the church. The gospel is God’s power to save (Romans 1:16). Even when disputation arose in the church, the solutions were evangelistically oriented(Romans 14:13, 23; 15:1). Even church discipline was for evangelistic purposes (1 Corinthians 5:5, 7). Paul’s sober-mindedness and his obvious zeal was evangelistic (2 Corinthians 5:13-14). Paul fought against Judaizing teachers to save souls (Galatians 5:1-9). The testing of our faith is to save our souls (James 1:2-4). Our new conduct apart from sin may influence former friends to obey the gospel (1 Peter 2:11-12).
Over and over again, everything in the Bible turns to the purpose of saving souls—evangelizing. Let’s follow the example and keep the main thing the main thing.
Everyone has an opinion about the “gospel meeting,” or “revival,” as they are sometimes called.
Some say they should be all about evangelism. Others say they should just focus on edifying the saints. Some like a theme. Some like random lessons. None of these is right or wrong. Every congregation is different.
To have a revival is acceptable. To not have one is acceptable. We are not bound by God in any specific terms to do it. What’s not acceptable is to bother to hold a gospel meeting and not support it. In that instance, it would be better not to have it at all!
What’s not acceptable is to have it for the edifying of the saints, and then not have saints participate. What’s not acceptable is to make it about evangelism, and then make no effort to invite others.
Our elders desire that our revivals/gospel meetings serve both purposes: edification and evangelism. They desire that we both make efforts to invite others, and to participate for our own spiritual up-building.
Now we know; it’s up to us to make it successful!
—Rick Kelley, Prestonsburg KY church bulletin0.000000 0.000000
Just saw a tweet from a Brazilian newspaper: Unicef says that liking on Facebook doesn’t save a life, but money does.
It’s the old well-wishing problem that lacks action behind it.
Now I’m going to say something and don’t take me wrong. (More …)
The title refers to a phrase not heard much in these modern days. It means “grievous distress, affliction, or trouble”. It can also be used as “an affliction” or as “an exclamation of grief, distress, or lamentation”. People would say “woe is me” when they were in the midst of trouble and despair.
In the Bible woe is used most often of a pronouncement of grievous distress, affliction, or trouble: “Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him” (Isaiah 3:11).
Woe is generally used by a person to exclaim their distress or trouble because of something bad that has happened. However the apostle Paul used it as a pronouncement of trouble if he did not do something. “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16)
Many a bad thing had happened to Paul (2 Cor. 11:23-27) yet woe was declared upon himself if he failed to preach to gospel of Christ. Would it be any different for us?
In Christ, Steve Preston
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In Monday’s editorial for Forthright Magazine, I made a short reference that “devoting oneself to the work of God should not make us dependent on the saints.” It was one of two possible explanations for 1Th 4.11, Paul’s instructions about working with one’s own hands. Here’s more on that idea.
Citing two sources, Victor Furnish finds it to be a “somewhat more plausible suggestion” that behind Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians to work with their own hands (1Th 4.11) lies the problem that “some believers were so caught up in a zeal to evangelize that they neglected to care for their own and their families’ needs” (First Thessalonians, Second Thessalonians, Abingdon NT Commentary, 2007, 98).
Would to God that we had that problem in the church today!
One thing that might militate against this proposal is that the church is always (is there an exception?) instructed in the New Testament to support those who teach and evangelize. Might not Paul have told the Thessalonians to get behind such people and provide for their needs? Still, it is an intriguing possibility, is it not?
• One basis of appeal that the prophet Jeremiah uses to urge Israel to repent is so that they might fulfill God’s purpose for them in the world. “Then you would be a blessing to the nations of the world, and all people would come and praise my name” (Jer 4.2 NTL). Israel was not evangelistic, in the strict sense of the word, but God did intend for them to be a blessing to those around them (see his promise to Abram, Gen 12.1-3), by bringing the knowledge of God to the pagans. Is there a lesson for the church here?
• Posterous, I think I’ve said before, is shutting down April 30. We knew it was coming, but I’m still miffed that the owners sold out to Twitter. I considered it one of the coolest services out there. Now, two of the original creators, who parted ways with the sell-outs before the betrayal, have started Posthaven.com, basically a recreation of their first effort. Except this one will have a financial base from the get-go, since they’ll charge $5 a month for up to 10 spaces/sites. Better yet, they’ve done an import path from Posterous. Worked like a charm. I’m pulling for their success.
I’ve already transferred Quick Bible Truths to it. Others will go that route as well. All the features are not yet available, but they’re working on them.
• In his “audience” earlier today, Mr. Francis of the Catholic Church notes correctly that God chose women to be the first witnesses of the resurrection. But he then seems to restrict unnecessarily an application from that truth: “This is beautiful, and this is the mission of women, of mothers and women, to give witness to their children and grandchildren that Christ is Risen! Mothers go forward with this witness!”
We shall be gracious and consider that he is giving an audience and not writing a treatise on the subject. But outside the meetings of the church, there seem to be few New-Testament restrictions on women in the work they do. Their witnessing, or teaching, should not be restricted to their children and grandchildren. (More …)
3-5 Paul Before Felix
There is only one verse and one point that I want to consider for our study tonight. These thoughts are particular addressed to the many folks on this list who are trying to take the gospel to their family, friends and neighbors. The verse is Acts 24:25. This is the statement of both the effort Paul made to communicate the gospel to Felix and the results of that effort.
The point that I want to make is this: Good communication does not always bring the desired result. Paul presented the gospel so well in this audience before Felix that Felix felt its power and trembled at the fear of the judgment to come. Yet, he was not moved to obey the gospel. Sometimes Christians become dissatisfied with themselves because they believe that if they had said just the right thing, if they had communicated the truth in a better way, the person with whom they are working would have obeyed.
It is true that some people are better communicators than others. Some have a personality which others feel compelling. However, no one who has communicated the truth in love has failed in their communication. The power of the gospel teacher does not lie in the wisdom of words (1 Cor. 1:17) nor in the persuasive power of enticing words (1 Cor. 2:4). Paul obviously effectively communicated the gospel to Felix. But Felix did not allow the power of the gospel’s words to work in convicting him. The failure was his, and later, Festus’ and later, Agrippa’s.
When it comes to communicating the gospel, we want to do our best. And then we want to leave the increase to the power of God.
A modest contribution to the audio department is a sermon I preached Mar. 10 on evangelism. My text was Ep 4.6, a verse which has neither the word evangelism nor the term gospel in it. The last of the seven ones. So how did I manage that? You’ll have to listen to figure it out. Is only 24 minutes. Or will I have to compete with Duck Dynasty for your time?
• Speaking of audio, I have a head cold, or something, that has sent my voice range into the lowest possible range of human hearing. Lower than my son The Middleman’s envious bass. Volume I don’t have, but James Earl Jones has nothing on me. Last night, I decided not to cancel our home Bible reading, and “bravely” muddle through the hour. (Was that a slight in disguise?) One participant told me she liked my new voice. But in a day or two, it’ll be back to its normal tenor.
• What baffles one rings another’s bell. I think Twitter’s cool (seven years old today, this service), others still say they’ve not figured it out. What baffles me is LinkedIn.com. I’m on it, but question whether it has any useful purpose. Must have, considering how many use it. I’ll chalk it up to my obtuseness.
• Earlier in the day I watched the live broadcast of Jonathan Last speaking on the decline of the birth rate, on the Heritage Foundation site. Quite interesting. Wondering what implications it might have for the church and its mission. There are going to be fewer people around, says Mr. Last. There will be fewer in the church too unless we’re bringing more in. (Wouldn’t his surname be a great one for a disciple?)
• A recent lesson: I’d like to think that the faithful people of God show solidarity to their own, without coverups of sin. No straggler left behind. No brother or sister left to fend for themselves, or defend themselves without support. I’ve seen the good side of it, and hope and pray it’s a general trait of ours. I try to remember to do that, but I sometimes feel it’s from a distance, and feeble.
• A brother asked me how the favorite-verse project was going. It has stopped, basically. I invited, instructed, helped a number get registered and going, but I don’t have time nor inclination to cajole, wheedle, or pamper. What’s there, written by some Very Good Guys, is very good. Just a shame everyone hasn’t done their piece.
• A lesson about why politics is not for Christians: Ohio Sen. Rob Portman comes out in support of same-sex marriage after his son revealed he’s homosexual. Preibus, RNC chair, supports Portman. Not a few voices recommend change of the Republican Party to push same-sex marriage. The few times I’ve ever considered joining the Republicans, they do something stupid and immoral and remind me why it’s better to stay away.
• I want to like the ESV, but renderings like this make me wary: “I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress” (Psa 17.3c). That’s awkward. And very close to the KJV, more so than the RSV from which the version was tweaked. Much better is the NET: “I am determined I will say nothing sinful.” (More …)
We hear about politicians, and perhaps other public figures, being concerned about the legacy they leave behind them after they leave office or the public eye. Should Christians have such a concern? Or is just being obedient in this life and changing people’s eternal destiny through evangelism sufficient? What do you think about leaving a legacy? Should we be concerned about it, work for that?
FYI, legacy is sometimes defined as “something that someone has achieved that continues to exists after they stop working or die.” We’re not talking money or physical goods, obviously, nor the name of a car or plane (made by our local Embraer).
Patience is a virtue for evangelists. A young man cancelled on our study last week the second time in a row. First time, he had to work late. The second time he talked to The Missus, so he didn’t give his reason for cancellation. It would be wrong to think he’s not interested. He might not be, but we can’t give up at this point. Sometimes, people just don’t feel the urgency they should, even though we tell them. Sometimes, too, they let life get in the way. So if we’re not studying, we’re praying for them, right?
What’s the point of the title of today’s post? Talk of evangelists, and the eyes of many glaze over. “Oh, that’s not me,” they say. “I’m not an evangelist.” And they might even be right. They may not have the gift of evangelism. But isn’t this the purview of all? Rather, they ought to think, “This has to do with the Main Job of the church, I want to learn more, I want to improve my efforts, even though I might not be called an evangelist.” (I’m not even considering full-time evangelists here; some of the best ones I know aren’t supported by churches.) Say something is for evangelists and many saints tune out.
• Now, sometimes elders and preachers do the church a disservice by calling the saints “church members,” which is not a phrase you’ll find anywhere within the NT. We have elders, deacons, preachers, and then comes that unformed and unclean mass of untrained “members.” The rest of them. Now we even have Distinguishing Titles for our Clergy. The other day I came across somebody—in OUR brotherhood, mind you— who called himself the Lead Minister. Obama said he leads from behind. This guy must serve from up front. Really!
But I’m beginning to rant, and that’s not PC any more. My point is that, although we say we’re not clergy, we (third person of solidarity) act like it and quack like it. Caramba! We need more restoration in the church, do we not? And no restoration more needed than that of placing evangelism in its rightful place in the church, by everyone.
Where is today’s Reuel Lemmons? (More …)
My evangelistic study tonight fell through, got rescheduled for Thursday night. After it, I’ll probably return to the dentist, after a week of tooth-testing. The cancellation did allow me to finish up the new series of studies I’m doing, called, in translation, “What Must I Do?” Sounds original, yes?
Internet was down at home a good part of the day. It’s been problematic recently. Steady rains may have something to do with it. Fortunately, I could run to the office and catch my music-school neighbor’s wifi, with his permission.
Since I was planning on the study at 6 pm, I didn’t go into the office until the afternoon. That means I finished up the homemade muffins with fresh blueberries about mid-morning, and had a fine lunch of a artichoke sandwich. After that, a bit of a nap. Don’t forget the nap. Power nap, they call it. I’m a believer.
Have been reading tweets from the FHU Lectures. Sounds lively. Talk of gun control, pacifism, and homosexuality in the Open Forum. Has anybody been by the Forthright Press stand/booth/table (?) in the exhibit area?
Here are a few thing I did today, some of which you can actually read online:
- Faith and action: Whatever it takes (devo) (Portuguese done first)
- Cloudburst Poetry (background): Bereft (on abortion)
- GoSpeak report for Jan: Mother and son baptized (finally!)
- Finished the evangelistic series: “O que devo fazer?”, wrote the last two lessons, nos. 4 and 5.
- Post to Christian Hub, Weylan Deaver: What’s in your heart?
If somebody’s interested in contributing to The Christian Hub, choosing from the listings in the feeds, let me know.
Details are still being hammered out, but put Mar. 10 on your calendar, when I’ll teach a seminar on evangelism in N. Little Rock. Yup, as in Arkansas, USA. Would love to see you there.
Last month I heard a brother share this sentiment: “You’ll not talk about Jesus to your neighbor (friends) because you feel they don’t need Him.”
That is a rather powerful charge, isn’t it? Think about it for a moment. We live in a society that encourages people to do what they want when they want to do it. If that does not include God, then all the worse for Him (so they think)! It seems apparent that some are not interested in hearing about Him from either you or me. Remember the words of Paul, on the other hand, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31, NKJV). Paul thought it was necessary to proclaim Him; we should think the same. Yet, for some, they don’t. Why?
People don’t talk about Jesus to their friends and neighbors because there is no real conviction there is a need to. If you listen to any funeral occasion everyone is going to heaven! Intellectually we know this is false, but emotionally we have accepted the “doctrine” and, thus, don’t talk.
Perhaps all of us are guilty of failing to do as we should in this regard. Our challenge, then, is to resolve to speak more about Jesus to others because of what He means to me. If there is still a problem, then begin here: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? –unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
Last week I asked the regular members of our home Bible reading group, both Christians and non-Christians, for suggestions and ideas on what we could do to improve the group. We had just studied 1Co 10.1-13 with a good deal of explanation of the OT background, so one idea that resonated with most was to do more reading from the OT.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve read fairly exclusively from the New, basing the readings on a yearly NT plan. So we’ll alternate between the Old and New this year.
One person wasn’t as excited about going to the Old, but tonight, after our reading was over, she seemed content with what we had gained from it.
We had 11 people present tonight, four of whom were not Christians, a bit better than our average.
I’m a great believer in such small groups. They provide opportunity to know each other better and allow for adapting the material better to the needs of the participants. They’re great especially for people who’ve had little or no introduction to the Bible. And there are plenty of such folk around.
Of course, I’m thinking in terms of evangelistic outreach. It’s one of the 13 approaches we want to use this year, so we hope to maximize efforts like our home group.
• Looks like I’ll be giving a seminar, probably on evangelism, in N. Little Rock AR in late February or early March. If you’re anywhere within driving distance, do come and share the moment with us. We still have specific dates to set up, format, and other details, but it looks like it will come together. I’m thankful to the Somers Ave. congregation for the invitation. (More …)
Pray for the nine non-Christians The Missus and I have been given to study with over the past two weeks. That one among them, just one, will come to repentance.
Pray for the business owner I talked to yesterday who was helpful and kind to me in my needs, that he might find the truth.
Pray for the Taubaté church which yesterday adopted the “Evangelism 13-13-13″ approach: 13 methods of evangelism in 2013 to reach 13 souls.
Pray that the Word will run, and we with it.
“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” Romans 5:3-4.
No, this isn’t the season to speak about suffering building character; it’s the season of warm, opulent comfort. We like images of roaring fires in a room decked in gold and silver and holly, tables laden with every meat and casserole and pie, and piles of presents under a fat and bejeweled evergreen.
Truth is: this world is too much our home, and instead of celebrating a Savior being born a man to die for His blood to cleanse our sins, we allow ourselves to become mesmerized by a jolly old elf in a red suit and his sugar-cookie-baking wife. We want fat, not frugality. We put down roots in this life instead of yearning for the next. But God’s all about ‘Character, not Comfort.’
Why else would Paul cry out, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead”?
This time of year can be an opportunity for the gospel, but only if those who have obeyed it aren’t too busy loosening our belts and falling asleep by the fire.
Do you seek comfort more than character?
Plattsburgh church of Christ
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|Someone in your town or community will soon die without the Lord. Those who die without God also die without hope. (Ephesians 2:12) Please remember these are people who are precious to you. We must do our best not to allow people to die without the Lord. These beloved lost ones do not have to perish. (2 Peter 3:9) Christ Jesus gave His life to redeem the lost from sin. Jesus lived a life without sin and then died on a cross to save sinners. (Hebrews 2:9) If it were not for the death of Jesus God would have no choice but to punish men for their own sins. (Hebrews 2:2) But, Jesus died as our sin substitute. Paul wrote, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Are you putting forth an honest effort to win the souls of others? The gospel is God’s power to save. (Romans 1:16) We must share this salvation message with as many as we can. Our love, prayers, concern and effort may lead them to the “Lamb of God” so their sins can be forgiven. John said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
Do you want to face God in eternity having done any less than your best in reaching the lost? Do you want to sit by and allow people you love, people who are precious to you, people you work with or even strangers to die without God and without hope? Do you want to look into the cold, lifeless face of a fellow human being and be left with the awful thought that you might have done something to have saved them if only you had tried. Will it do any good to deliver God’s message to our world? The word of God will accomplish that for which God sent it. “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11) Let us ring forth the word of God loud and clear! How foolish we have been in thinking it will do no good to get out into our community with the word of God.
Because the word of God is the word which brings salvation; God commanded that it be preached to every creature. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:15-16) The world will change only through the preaching of God’s word! Faith comes by hearing the word of God. (Romans 10:17) “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6) It is time to use the word of God to clean up our world. Let us get into our community with the gospel and the church will grow! Jesus was able to reach others because He was out in His community. We should follow the steps of Jesus and His steps will lead us out into our community. (1 Peter 2:21) As Jesus moved about in the community, He was able to find Zacchaeus (Luke 19); He found Nicodemus (John 3) and He likewise found the woman at the well. (John 4) He also taught many others as He was out in His community. (More …)
Solomon wrote that “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1). Solomon probably had a battle in mind but this wisdom holds true for us today.
Christians have been given a spirit of “power, and of love, and of a sound mind” because of our faith in God (2 Tim. 1:5-7). And, also knowing that Jesus promised to never forsake us, we can, as the apostle Paul did, declare with boldness that “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Heb. 13:5-6).
Those living in sin have no such strength. When Jesus returns, they will be as the demons who “tremble” at the knowledge of God (James 2:19). While the righteous say “come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20) the wicked will be saying to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:16).
The world needs the word of God and needs us to proclaim it to them. Use that boldness given to us by our Heavenly Father to preach the word at every opportunity.
In Christ, Steve Preston
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From our good brother David Kenney, in the email when he sent out the last Wadworth church bulletin, this good thought:
It is our prayer that you make plans to express thanksgiving on Thursday and go assemble with the saints on the Lord’s Day to continue in thanksgiving and worship to Him! Try to bring someone to church who is not a member or unfamiliar with the gospel of Christ. Maybe you asked someone a 100 times… If Jesus said we have to forgive a brother 70 x 7, then we certainly can invite someone 100+ times.
Reading about the dedication of many brethren to the gospel is just amazing, like this story out today on BNc.
Not many Americans nowadays, and probably not many Brazilians either, would be willing to put themselves out terribly for the gospel’s sake like the poor farmers in the story.
That reminds me of a tweet yesterday by brother Hud Griffin.
Are we too pampered to get out of our recliners and away from our HD wide-screens? Apparently, that tweet is something of a motto for Hud. In case you don’t recognize the Bible reference in the hashtag, it says, “For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason for boasting, because I am compelled to do this. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”
On his Twitter account, Hud said he had two Bible studies yesterday. Let’s imitate his faith. I’m grateful for examples like his and the ones above.
This is what it’s all about, people. Getting the gospel to others, no matter the hurdles, be it transportation, typhoons, or missing your Duck Something TV show.
• Visitors to BNc from India and the Philippines say the site is blocked. Seems our server goes overboard to avoid hackers. Protection is one thing, killing the client is another. Much like Mayor Bloomberg prohibiting people from donating food to homeless shelters after Hurricane Sandy, because the food might not be healthy, eh, Richard? So he’s going to let them starve? Sounds like our web host.
I don’t pretend to understand the specifics behind the practice, but I do understand that when decent folk, people in the church, can’t access a site designed for them, that somebody’s not doing their job right. So looks like we’ll rethink our web host when renewal time comes up.
• I’m finding out that I’m not the only person who doesn’t like to be surprised with changes, implemented without consultation, that affect me. Often, just knowing ahead of time takes out the sting. If a course of action will have an impact on someone, letting them know about it beforehand—not to mention requesting input—is a gesture of basic respect.
• Frustration can sometimes be a feeling of being let down by someone who takes a different direction or none at all, or who doesn’t come up to expectations. Often it’s our own responsibility because of bad or high expectations. But there were times that Jesus, Paul, and others expressed disappointment that people weren’t where they should have been spiritually. See, for example, Mt 17.17, Jn 14.9, 1Co 3.1ff or Hb 5.11-14. These disappointments were expressed, too, as a means of giving the slow or recalcitrant a little push in the right direction. We tend to be too hands-off, maybe?
• I mentioned somewhere that I was writing up some notes for an unlikely autobiography some remote day in the future. One of my jottings in that compilation is that, if there is a title I might aspire to some day, it would be that of poet. Among the many lines carved into a gravestone (buried here, I won’t even get a little plaque) which I would not be unhappy with is one like this, “Here lies a poet.” (More …)
Binoculars are a funny thing to me. Our family only ever owned one pair. I can think of reasons someone would want some: bird watching, hunting, making sure your students survived the downhill slip-and-slide. I think I’ve used our pair one time. I’m pretty sure it was at a football game.
A mirror though, I use every day. We have tons of them in our house. Most are decorative, a few are purely functional. I watch myself brush my teeth a lot. I also see how many spots I can miss while shaving. In normal life, I use a mirror WAY more than binoculars.
When studying the Bible, unfortunately, I find myself using binoculars much more than a mirror.
Many of us study the Bible looking through a pair of binoculars. What I mean is, most of us study the Bible in order to teach someone else the truth we’re learning. This is fine, but most of the time we miss studying the Bible through a mirror. Usually we’re so busy studying the Bible for other people that we rarely look at it for ourselves.
This is a trap too many Christians fall into. Myself included.
The next time you’re studying the Bible in order to teach a lesson or help a friend, try to see how you can apply the truth to your own life first. Not only will your own life be changed as a result of studying the Bible, the truth you try to teach others will mean that much more to you.
When others see that the Bible has changed your life they will be more inclined to change their life based on the truth you teach.
—Ronald Long, in “The Observer,” Somers Ave. church bulletin, N. Little Rock AR
What to make of the American election results yesterday? One, it highlights the task of the church to evangelize a country that moves further and further away from any sort of biblical standard of morality. The US is now a post-Protestant country. The extreme positions of the president and his party on abortion apparently mean little to the nation. We are drowning in the blood of innocents. Support for homosexuals and their so-called marriages grows. The belief that one should support oneself in the world, instead of attaching permanently to the teat of government, falls quickly by the wayside. These basic values have changed and point up the greater work needing to be done by the church, not as a social change agent, but as God’s proclaimer of the gospel which radically transforms the heart, soul, and mind of a person.
Two, that being true, the church needs to invest heavily in evangelism. We’re getting away from it. We’re investing more and more in physical aid, less in spiritual transformation. Church budgets are hiding this shift by classifying it all as missions. It is not. We do not have a mandate for social programs and material improvement. Our abandonment of the Great Commission as a message to be preached for eternal salvation seems to be another election lost, as we turn away from the task of evangelism. In our own way, we are as guilty as the television preachers who promise riches, since we, like the postmodernists, think any good thing you do in this world is worthy and God-approved.
Three, it highlights the truth that human institutions tend to degenerate into corruption and self-interest. We have not kept the republic the founders gave us, for the people have discovered that they can vote themselves money. If in the church it is difficult to preserve the truth, it is impossible outside the church to hope for justice and righteousness to prevail. Yesterday proved to be the irrevocable American decision for inevitable decline. The decline is moral and spiritual, what little there existed. There seems to be, now, no going back, no restoration of respect for the Constitution. The rule of law has turned into the whims of man. So the election demonstrates that the people of God can never place their faith and hopes in a human system. (More …)
If you’re down in the mouth today, read this | Walking with God, preachercarter, J. Randal Matheny, and 3 others are discussing. Toggle Comments
By Charles Box— Our meeting with Eric Lyons has now come and gone. Attendance was good and we again commend all of you who faithfully attended the meeting. Eric did his part. He did what Paul encouraged Timothy to do. He preached the word of God faithfully. Paul charged Timothy, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2)
Any time God’s word is preached good is done. “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watered the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
The good that was done in this meeting will continue into eternity. Gospel meetings remind us of the great opportunities that surround us daily. Paul said, “For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” (1 Corinthians 16:9) Great doors are open for the Walnut Street Church of Christ. It is our responsibility to use these opportunities for God’s glory.
The meeting did eternal good because we were involved in the meeting and now we should continue to be involved in the work of Christ.
Think of the good that could be done if we would all be active in the work of the church and participate in the work that is to be done. I need to make every possible effort to attend every assembly of the church. I need to make the work of this church “My” work. I need to be faithful to participate in the worship of the church and active to involve myself in the work of the church. Let us be active for Christ now. Our time is limited to work in the kingdom. “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9:4) We were challenged in the meeting to give God proper place in our life. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) Did the gospel meeting do any good? Yes, the meeting did eternal good because we were encouraged to be active participants in the work of our Lord’s one true church. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:21) (More …)
In August, I preached on a lectureship in Hinesville, Georgia on the subject of, “What is an Apostle?” I covered the meaning of the Greek term, looked at Jesus as an apostle and made application to us today in the Great Commission.
The Hinesville congregation has been so kind to put our lessons online. If you have any interest in hearing me preach, you can follow this link and hear my lesson. I pray you are edified, as a result.
Job experienced an extended time of suffering. He asked God why he was in such misery. His friends said he was guilty of sin. He protested and maintained the fact that he was innocent. Job desired an audience with God so he could speak to Him about struggles. Job stood defiantly before God and sought an audience to plead his case. He demanded a judicial hearing but got far more than he expected. “Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book.” (Job 31:35) He said, “Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God.” (Job 13:3) We may ask for something that we do not really want when we get it. Job was given an opportunity to face God but it was not at all what he expected. Speaking from a whirlwind God said to Job, “Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous? Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?” (Job 40:6-9) Job was overwhelmed and humbled. He admitted his own unworthiness and inability to answer.
We might likewise be very humbled if God questioned us. What might God ask us in our hearing before Him?
God might ask us, “Who are you who teach everything but the truth?” God asked Job, “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2) God doth not charge Job, as his three friends had done, with hypocrisy and living a sinful life. He charged Job concerning his words. He spoke words without knowledge. His words proceeded from ignorance. God could easily say the same thing about all the false teaching of our day. Peter wrote, “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1) There are many false teachers in this Christian age. They subvert both truth and holiness and bringing upon themselves swift destruction. The sad thing about false teachers is that, “Many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Peter 2:2) God might ask us, “Who are you who teach everything but the truth?” (More …)
The elephant in the room must be introduced: gospel meetings are not what they once were. What’s different? Some of the more common observations are: less participation by members, less attendance by visitors, and fewer apparent “responses” to the preaching.
A couple observations are in order. First, we should ask ourselves, “What is the purpose of the gospel meeting?” Is it part of our evangelism efforts? Is it an effort mainly to edify the church? Is it an effort to open our doors to the community? Is it to inform on a specific issue? Is some combination of these? Has the congregation been clearly informed and unified around that purpose?
Second, we should be more concerned about facing reality than just dreaming about the ideal. The realities are symptoms of something, but what? If attendance is lower, then why? If less visitors attend, then why? If fewer responses, why? Do these things need fixed? If so, how? What will we do so that we can achieve, or even exceed, our expectations of the meeting?
If we want our gospel meetings to be successful, we are going to have to speak of expectations and define success. Surely as we aim at nothing, that’s precisely what we’ll hit. But if we establish goals and strive together to meet them, the numbers will mean far less. We’ll know that we’ve done our part in God’s work, and will remain confident that He’s doing his (cf. 1 Cor. 3:6).
People will usually live up to the realistic expectations set for them. If nothing’s expected, can we complain when we get it?
—Rick Kelley, Prestonsburg KY church bulletin
Jon Galloway is discussing. Toggle Comments
Few secular quotes could ever express the frustrations of evangelism better than this one. We try and spread the gospel but you cannot accept salvation if you will not believe you are lost. That is why we face so much anger and disinterest in the lives of those we meet. Somehow we have to help people see their need for Christ but it will always be an uphill battle.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
And there is nothing more heartbreaking than that.
Glenn Hitchcock sent out the following email to his list. We recommend it as yet another effort to invite others to consider the simple gospel of Christ.
I do hope you will consider me as your friend. I write this letter in the spirit of love and friendship. Jesus was known as a friend of all people. They criticized him for being “a friend of publicans and sinners” (Matthew 11:19). If I follow in the footsteps of Jesus, I too must be a friend of sinners.
The Lord’s church is composed of sinners saved by the grace of God. It’s not to be made up of self-righteous individuals who think they are better than others. We have too much prejudice and hypocritical-type living. Jesus condemned both of these very strongly. Matthew 23, Acts 10:34, James 2:1-9.
I am vitally concerned about the souls of the approximately 6 billion persons on the face of the earth. Studying the Bible with some of these, who may be thousands of miles away, is a privilege that’s a part of our modern world. Traveling to distant places with the Gospel of Jesus is a great blessing as well. (More …)
Turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6), is a mark of having success, but only when it is done in accordance with the Lord’s way of righteousness. In the earlier portion of Acts 17, Paul went into the synagogue to reason with the Jews from the Scriptures. Later, in Acts 18, Apollos vigorously refuted the Jews with regard to Jesus being the Christ, and he did this from the Scriptures (Acts 18:28).
Have you ever wondered if you could (or would) do the same if opportunity presented itself? It’s a challenge to each of us, and knowing that what we read in these two sections pertains to men who were preachers, in our own little “corner of the world” are we guilty of the same?
I hope to be.
The congregation I belong to has helped to support a new and growing congregation in Michigan a few times over the last couple of years. One of the obstacles that the Rogers City Church of Christ has overcome since then is the lack of funds to purchase/build a new building for the congregation to meet in. They had several setbacks in a row with the bank when another, and completely unexpected, door was opened for them.
They had an opportunity to purchase a building that previously housed…wait for it…a bar! This opportunity presented a chance to get an already existing and larger building than previously thought of, and the interesting thing about this opportunity was that the congregation had the chance to get the building for roughly 25% of its estimated value; not to mention at a lower cost than the new building would have required if memory serves me correctly. After much prayer and deliberation about the opportunity the congregation decided to leap.
So, if you ever visit Rogers City, Michigan you will find that there is a better “buzz” going on around town since the local bar has been revamped into the local church house of the only congregation of the Lord’s church in their county.
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE IT!
“Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” (Ephesians 5:17-18- KJV)
I’m working on my message for the Maywood Missionary Retreat (open to all). Looking again at what evangelism is and what its elements are. I’d be interested in reading your well-considered definition of evangelism.
J. Randal Matheny, How would you introduce a course on Christ and salvation? | Walking with God, John Henson, and 2 others are discussing. Toggle Comments
Brothers and sisters, wisdom is the principle thing. Let’s all be diligent to get wisdom. Our text today is 1 Corinthians 1:17-31. This particular passage is about two main concepts: the way man receives instruction about salvation and the nature of God’s wisdom in comparison to ours.
We would generally consider foolishness to be the opposite of wisdom. But verse 25 of our text says that God’s foolishness is wiser than any wisdom which man might believe he had captured.
Of course, God is never foolish. But that which God has done to provide our salvation, which seems foolish to man, is wiser than all the wisdom which the ages of man has been able to concoct.
Consider that the “sages” like Aristotle, Socrates, Plato constantly tried to explain the meaning of man and were never able to even come to consensus, let alone correctness. The “great” religious leaders of centuries past have only confused mankind about the right way to heaven by the establishment of multiple religions. Believing that they were capable of helping God’s plan, multiple new creeds and commandments have been written causing many to turn away from religion altogether and millions others to assure themselves even though they are outside the salvation of God.
God’s simple wisdom is: Salvation is through obedience to the Savior. The plan is disseminated to the world through preaching.
Brothers and sisters, let’s preach (spread the gospel). But let’s preach the simple message. Let’s not believe that we must embellish it in order to make it palatable to man. An embellished gospel cannot save. Let’s not ignore parts of it. The violation of even one point constitutes breaking the law of God (James 2:10). And, let’s not fail to preach it. That is the wisdom of God.
We are saved by grace, through faith, in baptism, for good works. We are aware that no one can “work their way into heaven,” but once we have obeyed the Gospel our Heavenly Father can expect us to be the best workers for the Lord Jesus and His Church.
One of the reasons that we have salvation is found in I Peter 2:9-11. Peter contrasts the life of the lost with that of one who is a Christian. He tells us what should be the result of our salvation and how that should impact our Christian life and those we come in contact with.
Peter starts off in I Peter 2:9 by describing the church as:
- A chosen generation.
- A royal priesthood.
- A holy nation and
- His own special people.
All of the above designations show us different aspects of what it means to be a Christian. He goes on to further elaborate on that last one, “His own special people.” It is from the description of what it means to be “His own special people” that we get the title of our article.
Peter tells us that it was/and is the will of God that we not keep our salvation to ourselves. We have been given a privilege, yea a command to tell others about our salvation. We are to tell others about God’s love for lost mankind and help them find their way out of darkness into the light of the Gospel, that is, salvation.
He says first of in 1 Peter 2:9 that we should “proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” The Apostle Paul in Col. 1:13-14 sheds some light as he talks about how we were called out of a kingdom of darkness and “conveyed (translated) into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” In both passages, darkness and light are contrasted.
We should love and appreciate the “marvelous light of the Gospel” so much more than the spiritual darkness that leads to Hell that we want to help others who are lost find that pathway. We must, as the song goes, “Take the Name of Jesus With You” and try to fulfill the words of Jesus in the Great Commission to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel…” Our “world” may not be around the world, but in our own family or sphere of influence.
Wherever it is, Christians must be faithful in evangelism. Remember, we proclaim Jesus, both audibly and by our actions– let’s always “practice what we preach” and live our lives as close to the Lord as we can. By doing so, we will not only draw nearer to the Lord ourselves, we might influence some one outside of Christ to desire to know about the Lord Jesus Christ.
We used to go door knocking in our area but for various reasons we stopped and changed our focus to another area of evangelism. Increasingly, we were seeing signs on people’s doors with some reference to people going door to door. People no longer want to be bothered, it seems. One community near Detroit, Michigan is considering a step in that direction.
After the murder of an 80-year-old woman in her home last fall, the City of Royal Oak is looking into possibly adopting a so-called community “no knock” list in an attempt to tighten the limits on door-to-door solicitors. WWJ Newsradio 950 spoke with Royal Oak City Attorney Dave Gillam. “A homeowner would have the ability to have their name and address put on that list. And, essentially, that would make it illegal or unlawful for a solicitor to approach someone at that address for commercial purposes,” Gilliam said.
Can you see this becoming a standard law? I can. Mass media is the wave of future but it lacks that personal touch that face to face interaction brings. What do you think is the answer?
The Southwesterner bulletin highlights fishing for men in its latest issue. Although both articles use figures of angling, which isn’t a New Testament concept, they do well to emphasize what we ought to do as part and parcel of the gospel. Here’s a quote:
As Christians we are all fishers of men. That is, our main job is to catch people for God. Evangelism cannot be separated from Christianity.
This article hit a nerve, apparently, because it’s by far the most popular on my personal website over the past 30 days, and it’s been up only 12 days. “Why the church stops growing” is my take on recent news of church losses. It’s gotten amens and condemnations.
- top 10 reasons your preacher moved (The “I can’t count edition”): (thejenkinsinstitute.com)
- 300 attend first night of Malaysia meeting (brotherhoodnews.com)
- Loss of numbers, loss of mission (forthright.net)
From today’s QBT: God has room for all. He wants all to enter. “Go out … and urge people to come in, so that my house will be filled.” Lk 14.23 NET
Luke 14 is today’s Bible reading from the New Testament plan, one chapter per weekday.
May your day be blessed.
The Missus and I visited a young couple tonight, well versed in Scripture, who visited the church last Sunday. They found us through our congregational website. Providence, they said. They’ve been dissatisfied with the churches where they’ve been. We’re to start studying with them Saturday. Pray they may be receptive to the Word. Very likeable family, two children.
May the Lord help us to connect with others like them as well, who search for truth in the midst of so much religious nonsense.
Near Bridgeport AL on the Tennessee River, a man jumped into the water when he arrived and saw his girlfriend’s vehicle sinking. Except that she’d already escaped and been helped from the water 20 yards downstream by fishermen at a boat ramp.
Was his sacrifice needless? Did he give his life for nothing?
That sad news story prompts three thoughts.
One, for the great multitudes of millions on earth, Jesus’ sacrifice will be for nothing, as far as their salvation is concerned. They will perish, most of them, without ever hearing the true gospel of Christ. They will not experience the redemptive effect of his death. They will die in their sins, in that real place called hell, as if Jesus had never been crucified for them.
Two, for the remnant, so small, it would appear, in comparison to the world’s billions, Jesus did not die in vain. Somehow, it is God’s design to save a few, and these to him are precious.
Three, the man gave little thought for his life, because his sight was set on (the assumption of) saving one he loved. He presumed she was in danger, when she was actually safe. He could not see her drowning, but the mere thought of it caused him to dive into the swift water. How many of us are willing to evangelize in order to save people whom we know for a fact are perishing and who will perish unless we act, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience our lifestyle?