November 29, 2015

The Bottom Line – Terry Bennett

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

I recently read about a high school student who thought he had his math course figured out. He had noticed that every time the teacher presented a new concept, she would spend the first day making them go through all the hard work to solve the equation from beginning to end. It was a tedious, detailed effort that was not at all easy. But then the next day, the teacher would show the class the short cut to solving the equation. After seeing this sequence of events occur several times, the high school student decided that he really didn’t have to pay attention to the first day of the new concept. He would just wait until the second day and learn the short cut. After all, he reasoned, I will only need to give the answer on the test. I just need to know the bottom line. You can imagine what happened on the day of the examination when question after question said, “Solve this equation and show your work.”

The bottom line is obviously important to a company as it shows the difference between income and expenses for an accounting period. They continually try to reduce e costs and improve efficiencies in search of a higher profit margin. However, some have taken this so far as to eschew the law and use fraud and corruption to improve their bottom line. During their prison terms, they have the opportunity to realize that there is indeed a right way and a wrong way to address the bottom line.

I wonder how often we take a similar ‘bottom line’ approach, though, to spiritual matters.

Have you ever seen anyone ask the preacher to “tell me what I believe?” And even if you haven’t heard those words voiced, have you ever noticed a similar attitude? How about the brother who believes that the reason we don’t use instrumental music is simply because “that’s our tradition?” Or the young sister who is sure that dancing is wrong because “that’s what mama told me?” How often do our Bibles simply gather dust?

“Well, after all, our preacher is a smart fella, and we pay him to study and learn what is right, don’t we? And if he does teach something wrong, we’ve got the elders to straighten him out.”

Does that sound like the Bereans who “received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so?” (Acts 17:11) Do we truly become closer to God simply by accepting what someone else tells us, or is there true value in spending time to study and meditate on God’s word?

Some have taken this idea of the ‘bottom line’ even further. For example, I read a recent article where the author declared the bottom line to be that grace saves us and as a result, works have absolutely no bearing on salvation at all. Still others seem to think that use of a choir in worship services is acceptable because singing is still taking place.

Brethren, we must realize that the Lord’s work is not just a job that needs to be done but is instead an outworking of our faith. It’s not just about the bottom line, and we can’t simply ignore His law in doing His work. It’s not about solving world hunger, it’s about each of us serving others as we have opportunity (Galatians 6:10) or when we have this world’s goods and see a brother in need (1 John 3:17). It’s not just about putting money in the collection plate to pay the local preacher and to help support evangelism overseas. It’s about each of us studying God’s word for ourselves to become “equipped for every good work.” (II Timothy 3:17). And it’s about each of us telling our family, friends, and neighbors the good news of Jesus Christ.

From Exhorting One Another – June 27, 2013

 

 

 

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November 22, 2015

Metaphors – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“The Bible means what it says and says what it means.” This statement has been appropriately used to defeat liberal philosophers who try to evade the portions of God’s word that oppose them. They throw the word “figurative” at ideas they don’t accept and believe they are being “scholarly.” To distinguish ourselves from such dishonest shenanigans we may say, “We believe the Bible literally.”

Well, the truth is that the Bible often uses figures to effectively teach God’s divine thoughts. In fact, we all regularly use figurative language. Responding to the abuses described above, we may be guilty of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.” Really? Does that mean what it says? No one is guilty of child abuse and we don’t have to stop and explain. We readily understand the idea communicated effectively by the “metaphor.”

“an expression, often found in literature, that describes a person or object by referring to something that is considered to have similar characteristics to that person or object: “The mind is an ocean” and “the city is a jungle” are both metaphors. Metaphor and simile are the most commonly used figures of speech in everyday language.”

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

Communicating spiritual truths is difficult. Bible often uses colorful metaphors, familiar ideas to impart unfamiliar thoughts. Let’s consider a few examples.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

Christ was a carpenter but the Bible describes Him as a shepherd. He calls us “my sheep,” and has also said: “I am the good shepherd, . . . and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15). If we are “truly” His sheep, then we will surely follow Him, receiving safety, peace, and nourishment.

He has also said: “Ye are the salt of the earth: . . . Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). We are therefore expected to bring the salt of preservation and joy to a bland, tasteless, and otherwise decaying world, and the light of salvation to a dark, sinful world.

Jesus admonished with a beautiful and frightening metaphor, when insisted that we must be fruitful branches:

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” (John 15:5-6).

The apostle Paul teaches that Christians must be good soldiers, good athletes, and good farmers:

“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops.” (II Timothy 2:3-6).

We must be careful to exert our influence upon a wicked world and use our opportunities to teach effectively. Christ tried to impart this concept with a metaphor.

The apostle Paul compares us to parts or organs of a great body as a means of teaching us about unity and diversity in Christ.

“For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (I Corinthians 12:14-26)

The apostle Peter says,

“you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 2:5)

There are many other beautiful and meaningful figures of speech in the New Testament, all of which help us to appreciate the richness and fruitfulness of the Christian life.

Adapted from an article by Henry Morris

 

 

November 15, 2015

Great Verses of the Bible: Philippians 4:7 – Ken Weliever

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Bill Crowder tells the story about the time he was scheduled to teach at a Bible conference outside the US and was waiting for his visa to be approved. It had been rejected once, and time was slipping away. Without the visa, he would lose the opportunity for ministry, plus his colleagues in that country would have to find another speaker at the last minute.

During those stressful days, a co-worker asked Bill how he felt about it all. Bill told him he was experiencing “peaceful anxiety.”

When the friend reacted with a quizzical look Bill explained: “I have anxiety because I need the visa and there is nothing I can do about it. But I have great peace because I know that, after all, there is nothing I can do about it!”

Peace. It’s one of life’s elusive goals. Nations make treaties to restore it. Communities pass laws to keep it. And conflicted people will do anything to find it.

One of the great verses of the Bible, Philippians 4:7, promises peace to believers. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Dr. Thayer says the word peace means “tranquility, exemption from rage and havoc; harmony, concord, security, safety and felicity.” In the Bible it refers to “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot.”

Peace begins with our relationship with God. He is called “the God of peace” (Rom 15:33). William Hendriksen expressed it this way. “This sweet peace originates in God who himself possesses it in his own being. He is glad to impart it to his children. It is, therefore, “the gift of God’s love.” He not only gives it; he also maintains it at every step. Hence, it has every right to be called “the peace of God.” It is founded on grace. It is merited for believers by Christ (John 14:27; 16:33; 20:19, 21, 26).

Peace is the product of prayer. In the previous verse, Paul admonished, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6).

In an earlier post on this passage we wrote, “Worry impedes our relationship with God, weakens our faith, and gives birth to doubt that dampens our hope. Anxiety diminishes our focus and distracts us from spiritual priorities. In fact, brooding can lead us down a dark road of discouragement, depression, and finally despair.” So when we pray, anxiety is replaced by peace.

Peace serves as a guard to the heart. When Paul wrote these words he was chained to a Roman soldier and guarded day and night. Similarly, God guards His people. God guards the hearts and minds of Christians. He watches over them. Protects them. Keeps them from fear, worry, and anxiety.

Divine peace is beyond our comprehension. Just like the love of God surpasses the length, breadth, depth and width of our human understanding (Eph. 3:14-19), so does His peace. It transcends human insight and experience.

Puritan author Thomas Watson was right when he wrote, “If God be our God, He will give us peace in trouble. When there is a storm without, He will make peace within. The world can create trouble in peace, but God can create peace in trouble.

November 8, 2015

Every, No, Any, Some, and One Body – Philip Strong

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

Everybody needs saving.  Salvation is a universal need of mankind.  Since sin’s first introduction into the society of mankind in the Garden of Eden, everybody has become personally acquainted with it, cf. Romans 3:9,23.  And thus, everybody has suffered from its effects.  Though sin certainly may have immediate and physical consequences that can be devastating, its most dangerous outcomes are spiritual- eternal damnation being the foremost of them.  Really stop and think about that for a moment: Everybody needs saving, or else they will be eternally damned.  Such sounds harsh, I know, but it is a natural consequence of sin, Romans 6:23 (see also Ezekiel 18:4).  Unless they are saved, everybody will be condemned because “all have sinned” and “the wages of sin is death.

Nobody can save themselves.  Since the wages, or due compensation, for sin is death, what price can a sinful man possibly pay to redeem himself and prevent the penalty?  None. Jesus made this clear with His rhetorical question in Matthew 16:26, “Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  Could a sinful man sacrifice his life as payment for the redemptive price of his own soul?  How could the just penalty become the justification that prevents the penalty?  No, the redemptive price for man’s sin could not, and cannot be paid by sinful man himself.   

Anybody can be saved. Despite the apparent gloominess of the picture painted by the two previous points, anybody can be saved, nobody has to be eternally damned, and everybody has equal access to the opportunity of salvation.  It does not matter how sinful a body has become, it can be sanctified (made holy) and cleansed (justified) by the “washing of water with the word” (the obedience of baptism based on faith from the word), Ephesian 5:26.  Access to this opportunity to hear and obey the gospel is not limited by race, income, or sinfulness- anybody can be saved, Romans 1:16-17; nobody has to be lost, and everybody can be saved (there is no limit to the number heaven will hold, nor will opportunities to go there be exhausted).

Somebody may need help.  The Ethiopian eunuch needed a little help and guidance.  He was reading the Scriptures, but had questions about the specific passage.  An evangelist named Philip began at the same Scripture and “preached Jesus to him,” cf. Acts 8:30-35.  Though the Scriptures are understandable (cf. Ephesians 3:4), most of us need a little help to overcome our preconceived notions of or prejudices against them.  Or, like the Ethiopian, we may need some guidance to achieve the salvation they offer.  Note that “preaching Jesus” evidently included instruction regarding “baptism”- for the eunuch, after hearing “Jesus” preached, asked about his own ability to be baptized, Acts 8:36.  His guide Philip told him that if he believed (that Jesus was the Christ), he could be baptized.  He immediately responded that he did indeed believe, and was straightway baptized by Philip.  The Ethiopian beieved and was baptized just as Jesus required of salvation in Mark 16:16; but, he needed somebody to help and guide him to and with the gospel, Mark 16:15.

Members of the One body can and should help.  Those who are members of the one body of Christ (cf. Ephesians 4:4) can and should help everybody to see and know the truth of the gospel since nobody can save themselves and anybody can be saved.  After all, having become one body with Christ, surely they know and can tell everybody who needs salvation that nobody but Jesus can save them, and that anybody can become a part of His one body by baptism (being born again), cf. 1Corinthians 12:13; John 3:3-5.

Please don’t take the above trifling use of grammar as any kind of lack of respect for Jesus Christ, the salvation He affords, or the gospel that tells of both of them.  Salvation from eternal damnation is always serious business.  I just hope the word play above helps us to see the plain facts of the situation, and our opportunities to change them by body and blood of Jesus Christ- given in our stead, for the remission of our sins.  Don’t waste that sacrifice, please!

November 1, 2015

Deluded by Persuasion – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.” (Colossians 2:4)

Any man can delude us with words that are designed to capture our reason. The unusual word chosen by the Holy Spirit to describe the process is paralogizomai. The basic meaning is “alongside of reason.” It is used only one other time, in James 1:22, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”

That self-deception is accomplished through “persuasive argument” (Greek pithanologia), used only here in Colossians. It couples the term for “reason” with “persuasion” and contains the foundation for the English word “analogy,” a very similar process of using familiar words to transfer a known idea to something else. It is deception accomplished by transferring truth onto an untruth.

During the training of the disciples, Jesus often warned that it was possible for His followers to be misled by those who would come and make attempts to claim some role with His authority.

For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.” (Matthew 24:5).

“Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.” (Matthew 24:11).

“For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.” (Matthew 24:24).

The stated purpose for gifted leaders in churches was to remedy the immaturity of childish disciples who would be…

tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects…” (Ephesians 4:14-15)

All of this divine instruction is drastically out of tune with the “feel good” proclamations of preachers and pundits who insist that we be “inclusive,” and “tolerant” of those who teach different doctrines. This is desirable among the many who do not believe in “truth.” It produces a “peace” which camouflages error.

The danger is not new. Prophets of old warned of similar deceitful arguments.

“It is definitely because they have misled My people by saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace. And when anyone builds a wall, behold, they plaster it over with whitewash;” (Ezekiel 13:10)

They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 8:11)

Paul taught about peace and full assurance, but certainly did not indicate that it is appropriately attained by ignoring false doctrine. He prayed that the Colossians would attain …

to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge…” (Colossians 2:2-3)

There is a true knowledge, therefore a false knowledge. Paul follows with a reference to Christ…“in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.”

We should be warned and alarmed at the danger of being deluded by “persuasive argument, no matter how appealing and peaceful it may sound.”

Adapted from an article by Henry M. Morris III