September 30, 2012

The Word Of His Grace – Don Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified,” Acts 20:32.

Reading this passage makes me marvel at the fact that, in the view of our Calvinistic friends (who comprise the majority of protestant denominations today), the word of God plays no role in the salvation of souls. They believe God acts directly through the irresistible power of the Holy Spirit to save souls.

In our text, the Apostle Paul indicates that the word is the instrument of God’s grace that gives us our inheritance. If this commendation of the word is accurate, Calvinism is not. It, by necessary implication, depreciates the word to the point that it is unnecessary for and plays no role in salvation. Paul’s commendation is opposite.

Many beautiful descriptors that demonstrate the same necessary implication are used in the New Testament to illustrate the powers of the Word of God, both spoken and written. For example, the Lord Jesus is called “the Word of life” in I John 1:1, and Paul, speaking of the Scriptures, reminded the Philippian Christians that they should be “holding forth the word of life,” Philippians 2:16. Think about that. Jesus is “the word of life,” and the Scriptures are, “the word of life.”

Jesus taught that the Scriptures were to be the instrument of spreading His kingdom, like seed sown in a field, calling it “the word of the kingdom,” Matthew13:19. The apostle Paul called the Scriptures “the word of faith, which we preach,” Romans10:8. Quoting a particular Scripture, he spoke of it as “the word of promise,” Romans 9:9.

Christians have the responsibility to sow that seed of the kingdom and referring to this charge, Paul says that to us He “has committed…the word of reconciliation,” II Corinthians 5:19. He is saying that the word is the means by which we are to seek to persuade men to be reconciled to God. Paul also said that “the word of truth” was nothing less than “the gospel of your salvation,” Ephesians 1:13.

The writer of the book of Hebrews called it “the word of exhortation,” Hebrews13:22. The Holy Spirit inspired John to tell to the faithful church in Philadelphia that the Lord Jesus commended them because they had “kept the word of my patience,” Revelation 3:10.

But undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and meaningful of such metaphors of God’s word is the one found in our text, and also in Acts 14:3, that is, “the word of his grace.” There is no grander theme in the Bible than the unmerited, abundant, inexhaustible, saving grace of God in Christ, and it is fitting that God’s eternal Word be known as “the word of His grace” because it is able to build you up and give you an eternal inheritance. In fact this last book of the Bible ends on this very note. “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen,” Rev. 22:21.

The Apostle Paul commended “the word of His grace,” to you. He said it can build you up and give you an eternal inheritance. Jesus taught that it is the means of spreading the Kingdom to lost souls. What do you think you should be doing with it?

 

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September 23, 2012

Looking Forward – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Do you have something to look forward to? When we were young, we probably looked forward to school being out so we could head to the swimming hole, baseball diamond, or to the various places we would hang out with friends during the summer. As we grow older and mature, many of us perhaps look forward to a birthday, an anniversary, or some holiday. As we grow older still, many begin to look toward that life beyond this earthly life. The aches and pains, the uncertainty of life as we have come to know it, and the seemingly endless onslaught against many of the things that we have come to believe and cherish all push us toward a yearning for something better.

But the time of our departure to that heavenly realm is not in our hands. Whether it be before Christ comes or at his coming, while we still have life, there is much to do. Some have elderly parents to care for. Others have children with disabilities needing constant care. There are widows who need a kind word of encouragement or companionship. There are grandchildren who need a grandparent’s comfort and insight to the challenges they face. We should never grow tired of doing good things for all those we know and love. (Galations 6:9-10). We should always rejoice in every opportunity that God gives us to do good and seek them out. We should rejoice in the days that God has given us (Psalms 118:24) and use our talents to the best of our abilities. (Matthew 14-30). While we all look forward to that heavenly home, we should make wise use of the time we have and seek God and his favor in every waking moment.

September 16, 2012

Contentment – Philip Strong

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“Contentment” is not that hard to define- it is “the quality or state of being contented.” But this just leads us back to the root word, “content,” which has two basic meanings. The first is “to appease the desires of” (Webster’s New Collegiate Dict.), that is, to get what you want. This isn’t biblical contentment, but it is, unfortunately, the practical application for most of us. We think we would be content if we could just have all (or most) of our desires fulfilled. However, even when such occurs, it usually doesn’t work that way.

The second definition of “content” is “to limit (oneself) in requirements, desires, or actions,” (IBID). Obviously, this is on the other end of the spectrum. Instead of getting everything you want, this is learning to be happy with what you have. Such is exactly the meaning of the Greek word, autarkeia (autos, self + arkeo, to be enough), which is translated as “contentment” in 1Timothy 6:6, “But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment.”

The pivot-point between these two opposing definitions is the difference between wants and needs. The first definition of “contentment” requires the fulfilling of our desires to be reached; while the second one is achieved when our basic necessities are met. Consider the next verses in 1Timothy 6:7-8, “For we have brought nothing into this world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.” I’m not sure how many of us would be content with just enough food to sustain us, and just enough clothing/shelter to protect us. I do know that whoever is able to be content with those bare necessities, would also be content with whatever luxuries God provided without becoming dependent upon them. Paul spoke of this in Philippians 4:11-12, “Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.” Let’s take this basic understanding of “contentment” a bit further.

It occurs to me that the source of many of our spiritual problems is a lack of contentment with God’s provision. Think about it. What causes marital infidelity? Is it not a lack of contentment with the spouse God gave you, 1Corinthians 7:1-5? What causes greed? Is it not a lack of contentment with God’s provision of sustaining material things, Matthew 6:25-33? What causes most conflicts between us? Isn’t it that we are not content with what we are getting from the other person- whether it’s respect, tolerance, understanding, forgiveness, assistance, etc.? But if, in true contentment, we could obey Philippians 2:2-3, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others,” wouldn’t most of these conflicts disappear?

 

What about “contentment” in religion? If we would just content ourselves with doing what God said, how God said to do it, wouldn’t that simplify things dramatically? If we were content with Christ’s plan to save through believing (John 8:24), repenting (Luke 13:3), confessing (Matthew 10:32), being baptized for the remission of sins (1Peter 3:21), and living faithfully to the best of our abilities (John 14:15), then unity could result. If we were content with God’s instructions for simple New Testament worship, which included praying (1Timothy 2:8), singing (1Corinthians 14:15), partaking of the Lord’s Supper (1Corinthians 11:23-34), preaching/studying the word (Acts 2:42), and giving of our means (1Corinthians 16:1-2), then we could do away with robe-clad choirs, orchestras, dramatic performances, fund-raisers for every kind of activity and function, and all the “special” groups which divide us. Then, we could be together, and simply worship God “in spirit and in truth.” How great is the gain when godliness is accompanied by simple contentment with what God has said, cf. 1Timothy 6:6 and 1Peter 4:11!

September 9, 2012

If You Were To Die Today, Would You Go To Heaven?

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

By Ron Boatwright

If you were to die today do you know for certain, without a doubt, that you would go to heaven and be with the Lord forever? Jesus says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). Our number one priority in this life must be to go to heaven. Nothing is as important as this. We cannot afford to miss Heaven.

Our Lord tells us in Matthew 7:13-14 that only few people will go to Heaven, but the vast majority will be eternally lost in the burning fires of Hell. This is not a pleasant thought. But all of us will make the choice as to where we will spend eternity. The only way, to even grasp how long eternity will be, is to think that after we have been in Heaven or Hell a billion years, eternity will have just begun.

Our soul is the most precious thing we possess. “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Our soul is worth more than the whole world put together. If we lose our soul in Hell, we lose it all.

 

Jesus wants us to pay attention to what He is trying to tell us. He says in Matthew 13:41-43, “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom (the church, that’s us) all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Our Lord is trying to warn us if we will only listen. He has already paid the awful price for our salvation and He doesn’t want to see it wasted.

For a child of God, sin in our life will keep us out of Heaven. Because of unrepented sins, our name will be taken out of God’s Book of Life. Revelation 22:19 says, “God shall take away his part from the Book of Life and from the holy city.” Has your name been taken out of God’s Book of Life? If it has then this is a very serious matter. Revelation 20:15, “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” God wants to forgive us. As a Christian, how do we get our name put back into the Book of Life? “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Jesus has promised, “Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of Life” (Revelation 2:10).

If you are not a Christian, how do you get your name into God’s Book of Life, so you can be saved and go to Heaven? Our Lord says in Luke 13:3, “Except you repent you will all likewise perish.” Jesus also says, “Whoever confesses Me before men, him I will confess before My Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 10:32). Our Lord then tells us, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16). If a person misses Heaven, he will only have himself to blame.

September 2, 2012

Here’s Your Sign – Philip Philip Strong

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

A comedian by the name of Bill Engvall has been making people laugh (and making what I imagine to be a good living too!) for several years by telling “Here’s your sign” stories. The common thread of these stories is the apparently unavoidable tendency we all share to say or do things from time to time that are just plain…. well, stupid. And when we say or do these foolish things, someone is invariably there to hear or see them, and, of course, bring to our attention just how ridiculous we sound or look. Engvall’s signature tagline to such occasions is, “Here’s your sign”- meaning that someone ought to hand us a “Stupid” sign to wear so that others will know to approach or engage us with caution!

Such is the basis of his humor- and it’s funny to us precisely because it is familiar. Most all of us have “been there” and “done that.” Being able to laugh at ourselves, and see the funny side of the really dumb things we say and do, is probably good, and certainly supplies some healthy humility to our egos. We all need someone to help us really see ourselves clearly- to tell us the truth about our identity.

Actually, there is somewhat of a biblical parallel to these things. Under the Law of Moses, a person infected with leprosy was required to cry out “Unclean! Unclean!” to those who approached so that they could avoid close contact with him, cf. Leviticus 13:45 This is likely why those men in Luke 17:12-13“stood at a distance” from Jesus and called out to Him. Though certainly the horrors of an incurable disease are not to be made light of by comparing them to a comedic device, the principle is the same as Engvall’s suggested sign: to let others know you might be dangerous to them!

Given these things, perhaps there are other “signs” which would be helpful as identifiers and warnings to others if we would wear them, like….

A “Liar” sign would let everyone know not to trust us. “Oh, but I’m not really a liar, I just stretch the truth a little sometimes.” Well, all that won’t fit on the sign! Besides, Ephesians 4:26 says, “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak the truth, each of you, with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”

A “Thief” sign would certainly be helpful. That way, everyone would know not to leave valuables unprotected if such a sign-wearer was around. Or, we could all just heed Ephesians 4:28, “Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.”

An “Adulterer” sign could be very beneficial also (yeah, I know- there was a book and a couple of movies about this one). After all, it would be easier than wearing multiple signs since an adulterer has “lied” regarding the contract made with his mate, and has “stolen” someone to whom he did not have a right, cf. Matthew 14:3-4. Or, we could just honor God’s rule of marriage: “One man, one woman, for life,” Matthew 19:6,9.

Do these things sound too harsh? The truth is we could all have multiple signs identifying our own sins, cf Romans 3:10-18,23. Though we may have all earned the right to wear one (or many) of these signs at one time or another, there are other signs we could wear that would also be helpful to those around us, like….

A “Washed” or “Sanctified” or “Justified” sign could help others to more clearly “see” us, and Jesus’ saving power. 1Corinthians 6:9-10 identifies a whole host of folks who “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” This list includes, along with several other sins, liars, thieves, and adulterers. But, the very next verse (v.11) adds, “And such were some of you; but you were washed, you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.”

The great news is the Corinthians changed signs! And you can too- just “be baptized and wash away your sins” as Paul did in Acts 22:16; cleanse yourself from dishonorable things and “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace” so that you can be “sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” as in 2Timothy 2:21-22; and by these things become justified- “for not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified,” Romans 2:13. So, if you have to wear a sign, make it one of these!