April 25, 2010

Our Singing In Worship – Steve Cuffle

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

Jesus says in John 4:24, “God is spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” Singing has a very definite place in worshipping God “in spirit and in truth”. God has commanded each one of us to sing in worship. When people just sit through the worship service and never attempt to sing (unless they can’t sing) they are not obeying God. Or when people sit and listen to a choir sing they are not obeying God’s command to sing. There is no Biblical authority for a choir in worship. Congregational a cappella singing is the only kind of music divinely authorized by the Lord for Christian worship.

In Colossians 3:16-17 we read, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” In verse 16 we are commanded to sing. In the very next verse we are told, “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Everything we do in religion is to be done “in the name of the Lord Jesus, which means by His authority. We can certainly sing by the authority of the Lord. But where would we go in the New Testament for authority for instrumental music in the worship? It just isn’t there.

In 1 Corinthians 14:15 we read, “I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the understanding also.” Not only does an instrument not have a heart, but it also does not have a spirit with which to understand.

God has spoken in the New Testament concerning the kind of music we must use if we expect to worship Him “in spirit and in truth.” Singing is the limit of God’s command.  God nowhere in the New Testament authorized mechanical instruments of music to be used in worship of the church and to use it is a sin. A lifeless mechanical instrument of music cannot worship.

In Ephesians 5:19 we read, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Also we read in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching, and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Here we see in our singing, we are to speak, teach, and admonish one another. This is what God expects us to do when we sing.

But can a mechanical instrument of music speak, teach, or admonish as God wishes us to do when we sing? No. A mechanical instrument of music cannot accomplish anything God has commanded when we sing to Him in worship. Here we see that when we sing, we are “to sing with grace in your hearts” and “make melody in your heart.” The melody God wants is to come from the human heart and not from lifeless mechanical musical instruments.

Some people say, “I like instrumental music in worship”. It becomes: “I like it, I want it, and I am going to have it.” Their feelings take precedence over what God has authorized. They are trusting in themselves. In Proverbs 28:26 we read, “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool.”

We read in 2 John 9, “Whosoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God.” We can not use instrumental music by the doctrine or authority of Christ, because Christ has nowhere authorized it. If we add mechanical instruments of music to the worship of God then we have added to God’s word. In the closing words of the New Testament we are warned not to add to His word. In Revelation 22:18, “If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book.”

If we follow only what God has authorized in our singing in worship, then the whole congregation will sing without mechanical instruments of music. Only then can we be pleasing to God so we can go to Heaven.

SING AND BE HAPPY

When the skies above you are gray,

You are feeling so blue,

If your cares and burdens seem great

All the whole day through,

There’s a silver lining that shines

In the heavenly land,

Look by faith and see it my friend,

Trust in His promises grand.

Sing and you’ll be happy today,

Press along to the goal,

Trust in Him who leadeth the way,

He is keeping your soul;

Let all the world know where you belong,

Look to Jesus and pray,

Lift your voice and praise him in song,

Sing and be happy today.

 

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April 18, 2010

O Lord Prepare Me To Be A Living Sanctuary – Steve Cuffle

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

In modern religion, “Sanctuary” conjures images of grand cathedrals with high pitched and domed or vaulted ceilings. While these buildings certainly are impressive, they were constructed and designed due to a misunderstanding of the word sanctuary.  This word appears in the Bible 148 times, and , without fail, every time it is used it refers to a place. Granted, its use in Revelation 15:5-8 is certainly part of a figure, sign or symbol, but, within that vision, it is a physical place that may be both touched and entered. Where, then , is the misunderstanding of this word if it always refers to a place that is both tangible and accessible?

Sanctuary comes from the combination of the Latin word Sanctus and the suffix –ary. Sanctus refers to something that has been set apart from all other things; in religion, it applies to something that has been set apart for the express use or service to Jehovah God. The suffix –ary denotes something connected intimately to the word it modifies, and it especially refers to a place. For example, avi-ary is a place where you will find birds. A sanctu-ary is a place where you will find holiness, or a place that has been set apart as holy.

When we examine the Scriptures, this is the exact definition that is used over and throughout all of the passages where the word sanctuary appears.  Exodus 15:17, the first time the word is used in the Bible, sanctuary refers to a place that is God’s “own mountain”: it is a place that God has made as “[his] abode”.  Exodus 25:8 is even more explicit as it states the sanctuary will be a place where God will dwell in the midst of Israel.

What was the difference between The Tabernacle and all the other tents in Israel while the people wandered through the wilderness?  Upon superficial examination, there would not be too much difference:  The Tabernacle was made from fancier material and it had no roof.  The real difference, however, was that people dwelled in the other tents and God dwelled in The Tabernacle.  That was what made it special.  The “holy of holies” is the sanctuary; it was the place where the only thing that is really, truly and purely holy dwelled: God.

Where has God chosen to dwell in the New Testament? Surely not the temple, since it was God who tore the curtain of the temple, which set the sanctuary apart from all other places, in two (Mark 15:38).  In doing so, that place was no longer holy and God no longer dwelt there.  We must learn to flush the images of buildings from our minds.

The apostle Paul tells us that Jehovah, “the God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:24-25).  This is the mistake that is made about “sanctuaries” under the New Testament.  God specifically chose the tabernacle and, later, the temple in Jerusalem in which to dwell.  It was God’s presence that made those places holy.  God has not chosen any building to dwell in after the temple in Jerusalem.

Where does God dwell?   “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16) “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.  Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Romans 8:9). “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:1).

We are “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20-22). We are God’s temple. We are god’s dwelling place. We are the “sanctuary” in the New Testament.

We are “living stones” that are being built upon “the rock” of Jesus Christ so that each day, through our own transformation and the conversion of others to Christ, we are being “built up as a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5, Matthew 16:18). The day is coming when all of these things will pass away and God will dwell with us. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’” (Revelation 21:3). On that day, everything will be holy, all that exists will be the sanctuary of God. Angels and mankind will cry out in a glorious chorus of praise and worship to their creator and king: Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty!

Until that day, however, Christians are the spiritual house which is being built. We are the sanctuary of God on earth. Let us all sing of that day when we will be with God and our faith will be sight:

O Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary,

Pure and holy, tried and true.

With thanksgiving I’ll be a living

Sanctuary for you.

 

April 11, 2010

A Humbling Experience – Bill Pratt

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:00 am by kdkelly

The story is told of a man who got to Heaven and asked about a crowd  he saw gathered. “Oh, it’s show and tell time. Would you care to participate?” “Why sure,” he said. “I’ll tell about the big flood in 1889 when I was a boy in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Twenty-two hundred people drowned.”

“That will be fine,” came the answer, “but remember, Noah will be in the audience. It will be a little hard to tell Noah about Johnstown, or for that matter how a wicked world keeps us from doing God’s will. It will be difficult to tell our aches and pains to Job.”

There is something very humbling when one tries to match story for story, problem for problem with those of God’s faithful servants through the ages. What will be our excuse for not attending every service of the church in our comfortable SUV’s when we talk to the chariot-driving Ethiopian Eunuch? What will Ezra, who walked a thousand miles to rebuild the temple, think of our inability to get to mid-week Bible study? What will Abraham, who was willing to offer his only son in obedience to God, think of the way our kids keep us from God because of extra-curricular activities. What would the widow, who “out of her poverty, put in all she had to live on,” think of our level of giving to the Lord’s cause?

Surely the Bible says it best: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Romans Chapter 6 – Ron Boatwright

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

The vast majority of the denominational world says baptism is not necessary for the forgiveness of sins and to be saved. But let’s see what the Bible says, particularly Romans chapter 6. Romans 6:3-6 says, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”

The only way the Bible says for one to get into Christ is to be “baptized into Christ”. Before baptism one is outside of Christ, and this is where Satan wants to keep people. There is no entrance into Christ and the benefits of His death prior to being baptized into Christ and into His death. Why should one be in Christ? Ephesians 1:3 says that God, “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ”. If every spiritual blessing that God has is located in Christ, then there are no spiritual blessings for those who are outside of Christ.

When one is raised up out of the watery grave of baptism it is then that the “walk in newness of life” begins (Romans 6:4), not before. Romans 6:6 says that it is in baptism, “that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin”. Before baptism one is still an old man of sin, who is a slave to sin. When one is baptized into Christ, “he is a new creature” (2 Corinthians 5:17). If one is still outside of Christ, he is still an old sinful creature and without any hope.

Romans 6:5 KJV says that in baptism “we have been planted together in the likeness of His death”. It is in baptism that we die to sin. Before baptism one has every sin he has ever committed. But when one comes up out of the watery grave of baptism, he is no longer a slave to sin. All of his past sins have been forgiven. A burial implies a death. Baptism is the death and burial of one who has died to sin. Just as death and a burial separates one from his physical life, so being buried by baptism into the death of Christ, separates one from sin. Romans 6:7-8 says, “For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him”. When we died with Christ in baptism, then we were freed from sin, not before. And if we died with Christ in baptism, we will live with Him eternally in Heaven.

Romans 6:17-18 KJV says they had “obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine, which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin”. When they “obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine”, they “were baptized into His (Christ’s) death”…”were buried with Him (Christ) through baptism”, and were raised up to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). It is when we obey this form of doctrine, that is a form of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, that we are made free from sin.

If one does not believe what God’s word says we must do to be saved, then there is no hope of salvation for him. The denominational world says baptism is not essential to salvation, but God’s word says it is. Anything that is more than, less than, or different from what God says in the Bible is false doctrine which is designed by Satan to deceive man and cause him to be eternally lost.

April 4, 2010

There But By The Grace Of God… – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:00 am by kdkelly

We are all probably familiar with the saying “I cried because I had no shoes, and then I saw a man who had no feet.” References to it can be found going back hundreds of years. However, the name of the author is lost in antiquity, but we all understand clearly his message. When we see some poor unfortunate soul, we often say to ourselves, “There but for the grace of God go I.” Once again we understand clearly the meaning. We know the grace being spoken of is a favor bestowed on us by God without any merit on our part. We did nothing to obtain it. We certainly can’t say we deserve it.

However, when grace is involved with salvation, our thinking seems to get all muddled up. Paul writing to the Ephesians said, “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7) The meaning of these words should be just as clear to us as in the previous examples. Man was dead spiritually, and God could have left us that way. Our sins separated us from him and left us for dead. But God showed mercy to mankind and made him alive again. Man doesn’t deserve that mercy and certainly hasn’t done anything to earn it. If fact, we have done the very opposite by  willfully sinning.

How rich is the grace of God? Man has no words to describe it, but we know it was God’s intention to show us his grace throughout the ages through his son Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 2:7) When we consider it was only possible to make us alive again through the death of his only son freely given to us, we better understand the richness of that grace. Not only did he make us alive again, he made us to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Once more we see the richness of God’s grace. He has taken us from a spiritual low point, our death in sin, to a spiritual high point, our eternal heavenly life, sitting us down with Christ his beloved son.

OK, that seems pretty straightforward. God demonstrated the richness of his grace toward us by having his son die on the cross for our sins. It is by Christ’s death on the cross that we can be made alive again to enjoy the benefits of God’s grace. But, we shouldn’t focus so much on the “grace” of God that we miss everything else that follows on from that grace. It is by the grace of God that we are saved, but only through faith. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) By grace God offered salvation to mankind.

God’s part was to send his son to be the perfect sacrifice for our sins. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) But his part did not end there. By his power he brought his son back from the dead. Paul told the Corinthians, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

Man’s part is to give diligence to the word of God (2 Timothy 2:15) so that he might understand the things that are written, to listen to those things that are preached by faithful men so that he might have faith (Romans 10:17), and to be obedient to the will of God. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;” (Heb 5:8-9)

If we obey him, we will be buried with him in baptism and arise to walk in newness of life. “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;” (Colossians 2:12-13)

It is not enough to just say we are saved by God’s grace. We know we are, but we also know that we have a role to play in our salvation, too. Let us heed the words of Paul to the Philippians, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;” (Philippians 2:12-15)

Let us all realize that God’s grace has been extended to us through faith in his precious son. To deny the necessity of obedience to all of God’s will and to rely solely on God’s grace to save us, to is deny that grace. May it never be so with us.