August 30, 2015

Restoring the Fallen – Ron Boatwright

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

There are a number of members of the Lord’s church that through spiritual weakness have fallen away and become unfaithful. But in eternity they will be “Having damnation because they have cast off their first faith” (1 Timothy 5:12). And because of this “Knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11).

We should not ever want to see anyone lost in Hell. But Jesus says, “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). Here we see that only few will go to Heaven, but the vast majority of people will be eternally lost in Hell. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). Those who depart from the faith were once faithful Christians who had given up.

But what should we do when we see one of our brothers or sisters depart from the faith? “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). The Lord is depending on us, those of “you who are spiritual”, to help restore one back to the Lord.

What causes one to become unfaithful? “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today”, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13). It is when our faith becomes weak to the point of unbelief that we fall away. If we fall away, wouldn’t we want another brother or sister in Christ to help encourage us to become faithful again so we would not be lost in eternal torment? When one falls away, he usually begins to forsake the worship assembly. God’s word commands us who are faithful, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:24-27). We are to encourage and exhort one another to be faithful.  Unless that brother or sister, who is forsaking the assembly, repents there no longer remains any sacrifice for forgiveness of his sins. If one dies in that condition, he/she will be eternally lost.

God’s word tells us, “And above all things have fervent love for one another” (1 Peter 4:8). If we really love one another, we would not want to see any of our brothers or sisters in Christ lost. “Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). The good we have opportunity to do includes helping to restore an unfaithful brother or sister.  What greater thing could we do for another?  “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). “For the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). “Who will have all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). The Lord doesn’t want anyone to be lost, but He is depending on us to help save the unfaithful and lost.

We should be like the apostle Paul who said, “Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10). We should encourage others to be faithful to the Lord, “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ….So then each of us shall give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10, 12). We too will have to answer for what we did or failed to do.

In trying to restore the unfaithful we should actively “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). In our service to the Lord we should not be like the church at Laodicea to whom the Lord said, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16).

God’s word tells us, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20). When this happens, that unfaithful brother or sister in Christ can now go to Heaven and not Hell. And Jesus tells us, “I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).

Let’s look around and see who is missing from our number, who have become unfaithful and visit with them to encourage them to be faithful so they can go to Heaven and not Hell. The Lord will be very pleased if we do this.

August 23, 2015

Prophecy As Evidence – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“Remember this, and be assured; Recall it to mind, you transgressors. ‘Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done,’ Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; Calling a bird of prey from the east, The man of  My purpose from a far country. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.’” (Isaiah 46:8-11)

Isaiah says that Israel was to remember that God had foretold the history that they were witnessing and that remembrance was intended to be a powerful assurance, irrefutable evidence that would stand as a basis for faith. Similarly, when Peter referred to assurance of eye-witness testimony, he said that the word of prophecy was even “more sure.”

“…we were eyewitnesses of his majesty…we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word…”

(II Peter 1:16,19)

Isaiah 46 is a  remarkable prophecy, one of the main stumbling blocks of liberals who use it as an excuse for their completely wrong notion of a “second Isaiah.” Long before Jerusalem was invaded and its temple destroyed by the armies of Babylon, Isaiah was already prophesying its rebuilding!

Furthermore, the great Persian emperor Cyrus (whose nation would eventually conquer Babylon) was here named by God, about 150 years before he was born and 175 years before he would fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy by giving Ezra authority to rebuild the temple. (Ezra 1:1-2)

Consider the faithful comments of Keil & Delitzsch (quite different from more modern, liberal commentaries).

“Jehovah not only foretells before the appearance of Cyrus what is to be expected of him, but declares that His determination must be realized, that He will bring to pass everything upon which His will is set, and summons the man upon the stage of history as the instrument of its accomplishment, so that He knew Cyrus before he himself had either consciousness or being… (Isa. 45:4, 5).”

“His [Jehovah’s] word is made by Him into a deed, His idea into a reality. rAxÎy is a word used particularly by Isaiah, to denote the ideal preformation of the future in the mind of God (cf., Isa. 22:11; 37:26). … Cyrus comes down like an eagle, in the strength of Jehovah. … Jehovah from the olden time, that is to say, of the One God who is now foretelling and carrying out the destruction of the imperial city through the eagle from the east.”

Since liberal scholars do not want to believe in miracles and fulfilled prophecy, they have decided that this prophecy could not have been written by the original Isaiah but by some later writer living after Cyrus. The truth is, however, that God controls the future and can reveal it if He chooses, using this very fact as proof that He will keep His other promises.

“Thus says the LORD to Cyrus His anointed, Whom I have taken by the right hand, To subdue nations before him. …For the sake of Jacob My servant, And Israel My chosen  one, I have also  called you by your name; I have given you a title of honor though [“when” NLT] you have not known Me.” (Isaiah 45:1,4)

Another of many dramatic examples is seen in the prophecy against the altar that rebellious Jeroboam set up in order to wean Israel away from God’s ordained worship. In this prophecy, God named King Josiah as His agent, long before he was born.

“Now behold, there came a man of God from Judah to Bethel by the word of the LORD, while Jeroboam was standing by the altar to burn

incense.  He cried against the altar by the word of the LORD, and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’” …The altar also was split apart and the ashes were poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD.” (I Kings 13:1-2, 5)

The specific prophecy concerning him waited to be fulfilled for over 300 years after it was first spoken.

“Furthermore, the altar that was at Bethel and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, even that altar and the high place he broke down. Then he   demolished its stones, ground them to dust, and burned the Asherah. Now when Josiah turned, he saw the graves that were there on the mountain, and he sent and took the bones from the graves and burned them on the altar and defiled it according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these things.” (II Kings 23:15-16).

Keil & Delitzsch comment:

“In order to desecrate this idolatrous site for all time, Josiah had human bones taken out of the graves that were to be found upon the mountain, and burned upon the altar, whereby the prophecy uttered in the reign of Jeroboam by the prophet who came out of Judah concerning this idolatrous place of worship was fulfilled;”

It may take a long time, but God will surely do all He has said.

The New Living Testament puts it this way:

“Only I can tell you what is going to happen even before it happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” (Isaiah 46:9)

This is intended to be, and is, truly powerful, faith building evidence.

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

August 16, 2015

Complete In Christ – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;” (Colossians 2:9-10)

Paul begins his letter to the brethren in Colossae with an attempt to impress them with the glorious, exalted nature of Christ.

He is creator, therefore over all!

“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16)

This exalted position is entirely appropriate due to the fact that, unlike our degenerating selves, He is eternal!  – “He is before all things…” Furthermore, we and nothing else could continue to exist without Him. – “…in Him all things hold together”  (Colossians 1:17)

“He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” (Colossians 1:18)

Yes, He was human, but He was no less the fullness of deity.

“For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him.” (Colossians 1:19)

This unfathomable glory is in stark contrast to believers before they were reconciled.  We are described as “alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,” (Colossians 1:21) What a dramatic difference.

Nevertheless (wonder of wonders) we have been completely, fully united with HIM.

“in Him you have been made  complete” NAS

“in him ye are made full” AS

“you have been filled in him” NET

“you are complete in Him” NKJV

“you have been given fullness in Christ” NIV

“you have come to fullness in him” NRSV

“you are complete through your union with Christ” NLT

In chapters two and three Paul teaches that we are inexorably linked with Christ. Our lives and destinies are His—our identification with Him is total. We are not just reconciled, we are with Him in all things.

“having been buried with him in baptism..” .(Colossians 2:12).

“…you were also raised up with Him…” (Colossians 2:12).

“…He made you alive together with Him,…” (Colossians 2:13).

Then Paul explains that “…your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3). To be hidden in Christ is to be totally immersed, covered, our sins concealed, our identity masked within His. Therefore, since God accepts the exalted Christ, He accepts us as well, since we are hidden in Him.

The next verse amplifies this identification, explaining that when Christ, who is our life” (Colossians 3:4) “is revealed” in His glorious return, “then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”

What an incompressible, marvelous privilege is offered to us, undeserving, alienated sinners. Ignoring such an offer is inexcusable. Have you been made complete, united with Christ?

Adapted from an article by John Morris

August 9, 2015

Speaking Where, When, and How The Bible Speaks – Philip Strong

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

The first part of 1Peter 4:11 reads, “Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God…” Though the preceding verse and the rest of this one focuses on stewardship- employing the special gift(s) given by God to be used to the benefit of others and to His glory, the portion quoted emphasizes the need for authority in our speech.

The speaking referenced here is not casual conversation (which is covered in Ephesians 4:29ff), but speech that is spiritual in nature and content. Therefore, speech that pertains to spiritual matters should be true to the Book, so to speak. These things should go without saying, but how often do “spiritual discussions” actually reference a book, chapter, and verse anymore? Many people talk about spiritual matters and what they think, feel, or believe, but when pressed, will quickly admit that they have very little actual Bible knowledge. How can we have any real spiritual convictions about God, life, and eternity without knowledge of God’s word? Those willing to speak of their own minds instead of relying on the revelation of God’s mind to us in the Scriptures (cf. 1Corinthians 2:6-16) are certainly NOT speaking where the Bible speaks.

We must also speak when the Bible speaks. If God’s Word says something is a sin, or even an abomination (utterly vile and disgusting) to Him, we should be willing to stand up and “speak, as it were, the utterances of God” on the matter without compromise or apology. God’s word is not silent about pre-marital or extra-marital sex, divorce for any reason, homosexuality, pornography, lying, stealing, cheating, gossip, slander, hypocrisy, and a whole litany of other sins. Why are so many who claim to speak for and follow Him having such a hard time simply quoting what God has said on these matters? Entire denominations (and their leaders and preachers) have become silent on matters about which God has clearly spoken! Why?

Because it isn’t popular to do so? “Truth” is determined by God’s word, not by what is popular, John 17:17.

Because they fear offending individuals or groups? Jesus was not partial to any individual or group with the truth, Luke 20:21; we shouldn’t be either, Acts 10:34-35.

Because they fear governmental reprisals? When “the government” told the Apostles not to preach the truth of Jesus anymore, they simply replied, “We must obey God rather than men,” Acts 5:29.

Those speaking for God must “stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of life,” Acts 5:17- not just those portions that are popular, give no offense, and are acceptable to the government. To do less is to fail to speak when the Bible speaks.

We should likewise speak how the Bible speaks. Motivated by compassion, Jesus saw the multitude as “sheep without a shepherd” and “began to teach them many things,” Mark 6:34. Speaking where and when the Bible speaks is not a license to ignore how the Bible speaks. We should speak “the truth in love,” Ephesians 4:15, and in keeping with God’s desire for “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” 1Timothy 2:4. It is easy to use the Bible to tell someone else they’re wrong. It is another matter entirely to desire them to be right enough to tell them they’re wrong in a way that encourages them to become right. It is just as important to “exhort with great patience and instruction” as it is to “reprove” and “rebuke” when speaking where the Bible speaks, cf. 2Timothy 4:2. Colossians 4:5-6 dictates that our “speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.” Jesus’ speech was described as “gracious,” Luke 4:22, but not at the expense of “truth” when He provided three examples to demonstrate the sinfulness of His audience, Luke 4:23-27. Neither truth nor graciousness will suffer if we speak how Jesus spoke and the Bible speaks.

Let’s resolve to get back to the Book and speak where, when, and how the Bible speaks. There really is no viable substitute for it! What I, you, or anyone else thinks or feels is impotent to save souls, but the gospel “is the power of God for salvation,” Romans 1:16. Never be afraid or ashamed to say what God has said when and how He has said it.  You surely can’t go wrong when doing so!

August 2, 2015

Love With The Intensity Of Christ – Josh Smelser

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Two weeks ago we had the privilege to have a series of lessons brought to us from the Sermon on the Mount. I know personally these lessons have challenged me to make changes in the way I am living my life in order to mimic a better example of Christ’s teaching. That has brought into question several aspects of my life, and more importantly my attitude.

C.S. Lewis once said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.

This quote made me begin to examine the way I think about others, the way I deal with my friends, my family, even complete strangers. I realized that in some ways the philosophies that I have held to and the politics I have often debated don’t really mirror what my Savior taught in His example. Jesus is challenging all of us; He is extending a very difficult saying. You can’t just believe it. You have to live it.

And that doesn’t mean allowing the bare minimum of love and righteousness into your heart in order to get by. It means allowing the radical ideology of love, and compassion, and forgiveness to transform your entire being and permeate every thought and action in your life. Anything less than that is failure.

I don’t believe that is an exaggeration. In Luke 14 we see Jesus expounding on the Cost of being a disciple:

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.”

We cannot say we are Christians and yet spend more time arguing and sharing our political views and social philosophies with others while neglecting to share with them the good news of the gospel.

We cannot say we are Christians while refusing a spirit of love to those around us. Mark 12:21 says, “ The second is equally important, Love thy neighbor as thyself”. It doesn’t say to love the covenant neighbor as thyself. It is a call to love the entirety of humanity, your drunken neighbor, your homeless neighbor, your racist neighbor, your addicted neighbor, your Muslim neighbor.

Matthew 7:22 shows us that many people who thought they lived good lives will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drinka stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me. Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25:41-45)

Love will either be what saves us, or what condemns us. So lets choose to love as Christ loved us.