February 24, 2019

Live Free by Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“Live as free people, not using your freedom as a pretext for evil, but as God’s slaves.” (I Peter 2:16 NET)

What a wonderful privilege it is to live in what the songwriter called the “sweet land of liberty.” Many countries around the world say they are free, while imposing what we would consider terribly oppressive restrictions to freedom, especially freedoms regarding religion. We see dangerous trends in America, indicating still worse impositions may be on the horizon, but we are still more free than most. When we have opportunity, I believe we have responsibility to do what we can to preserve that freedom which our ancestors obtained for us at great cost over two centuries ago.

However, we must never try to turn Christian liberty into license for sin. It would surely hurt those brave forefathers if they could see how we now use “freedom of choice” to justify murdering multitudes of innocent children before they are born, and how we use “freedom of speech” to warrant fouling the eyes and ears of our children with widespread pornography and to promote all kinds of immoral behavior in our society in general.

No nation can remain truly free very long after such practices become widely accepted by its citizens. We need to be praying!

Similar warnings apply to the abuse of our spiritual freedom in Christ. As the apostle Paul said and repeated: “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable.” (I Corinthians 6:12, and I Corinthians 10:23).

Even though Peter says we are to “live as free people,” indicating we have real liberty, we are nevertheless “slaves of God.” The Greek word translated slave or bondservant, “δοῦλος,” actually means…

“1. male slave as an entity in a socioeconomic context, slave.” BDAG

Our liberty in Christ is not freedom to disobey God’s Word whenever we really want to, or feel like we should, but rather it is freedom from our former bondage to sin.

…though you were slaves to sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to, and having been freed from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.” (Romans 6:17-18).

Post-modernism is permeating our society. Our nation is rapidly becoming anti-Christian in belief and practice. Nevertheless, Christians can still best serve our nation and our Savior by practicing and proclaiming Christ’s saving gospel, promising freedom from sin now, and life with God eternally.

Adapted from ideas expressed by Henry Morris.

 

 

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February 17, 2019

Gress by Philip C. Strong

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

I’m intrigued by words that we only use with prefixes or suffixes.  For example, I’ve never heard anyone speak of someone being “gruntled”- only “disgruntled” (yes, I am aware that a pig with laryngitis is “disgruntled”).   If a prefix or suffix can be added, doesn’t the root necessarily have to be a word?  Apparently not, at least not in English.  Consider:  If “gress” was a word, and therefore had a meaning, it would have to refer to “movement.”  This conclusion is forced by all the prefixes we add to “gress” that have to do with the direction or type of movement they describe. Consider that…

Egress means outward movement.  To be in Christ, we have to move out of (and get over) ourselves!  “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me’,” Matthew 16:24.  Consider also Philippians 2:3-7, where the example of Jesus emptying Himself and becoming a servant in obedience to God is given to show how we must get outside of ourselves and “regard one another as more important” than ourselves in order to properly serve God and each other.

Congress means together movement (coming together; contrary to popular belief, it does not mean “no movement”!).  On the day of Pentecost and following, saved individuals came together to listen to the apostles’ inspired teaching, to pray, and to the breaking of bread (generally thought to be the commemoration of Lord’s Supper, cf. Acts 20:7), to care for one another, and to simply be together and enjoy each other’s company, Acts 2:42-45.  Great encouragement and growth were the products of this coming together

Progressive means forward movement.  After thanking and commending the Thessalonians for their reception of the gospel, their imitation of the apostles and the Lord in living the gospel, and their continued endurance in all of these areas, Paul urged them to continue to “excel still more,” 1Thessalonians 4:1,10.  He is counseling them to progress- to continue to move forward in their faith!  Peter makes it clear that Christians must add to their faith and grow as security against stumbling, and to make certain of their entrance into heaven, 2Peter 1:5-11.   But on the other hand…

Aggressive means violent movement.  The apostle Paul said, of his life prior to conversion to Christ, that he was a “blasphemer and a persecutor and violent aggressor,” 1Timothy 1:13.  Those violent and aggressive traits and characteristics are supposed to be a part of that which is put away when we come to Christ, cf. Colossians 3:5-11.  We are to be peaceable (loving and making peace), refuse to take our own revenge, and kind to our enemies to overcome evil with good, Romans 12:17-21.

Regressive means backward movement.  After the ancient children of Israel had been freed from slavery by God’s miraculous plagues upon the Egyptians, after they had been miraculously delivered from Pharaoh and the Egyptian army by crossing the Red Sea on dry land, and after they had been miraculously provided for and sustained by God in the wilderness, when they reached the promised land of Canaan and most of the spies sent into it brought back an intimidating report, Stephen says of them, “in their hearts (they) turned back to Egypt,” Acts 7:39 (cf. Numbers 13:25 – 14:4).  The Hebrew writer seems to referencing this turning back when he urges Jewish Christians of his day (and us today as well!), “we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul,” Hebrews 10:39.  Thus, backward movement is the wrong way for God’s children!

Digressive means downward movement.  In Romans 1:18-32, Paul delineates and describes those who, “though they knew God, did not honor Him as God, or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish hearts were darkened, professing to be wise, they became fools…”  As a result of this rejection of what they knew and could plainly see of God, they digressed away from Him into degradation, depravity and ultimately, destruction.  Surely, this is not the way to move!

We can “gress” (move) out of ourselves and into Christ; we can come together as Christians to worship God and encourage one another; and we can grow and move forward toward heaven; or, we can continue in violent, backward, and downward movements toward hell.  We get to pick the direction we move, but we can’t stay still.  Choose wisely!

(Philip C. Strong; Southport Church of Christ; 7202 Madison Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46227; online at southportcofc.org; email to mrpcstrong@hotmail.com)

 

 

 

February 10, 2019

Continuing Obligation – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

I was recently asked about a question that arises fairly often among conscientious Christians. The inquirer was concerned about whether or not one’s contributions should be “made up” if absent from the first day of the week assembly. There is no passage that deals directly, specifically with this question. However, there are a number of biblical principles, that when considered together, provide answers.

“The sum of Your word is truth,…” (Psalm 119:160)

First, we must understand that Christians are taught to associate themselves with fellow Christians, to function together as a local church.

“When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples;” (Acts 9:26).

This local congregation of fellow Christians constitutes the only functional arrangement authorized to carry out Christ’s mission on earth.

“Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons:” (Philippians 1:1)

Christians associated in this manner form a single, complete functional body of Christians.

“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ….For the body is not one member, but many.” (I Corinthians 12:12, 14).

Only one specified method is “ordered” (I Corinthians 16:1) for obtaining funds necessary to carry out the authorized work of that body. This is the first day of the week contribution.

“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside…” (I Corinthians 16:1)

The apostle Paul compares the work of this local church to the responsibilities of a family.

“(but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)” (I Timothy 3:5)

We must understand that individual Christians are uniquely related in a functioning body, a family, that they are in a relationship that does not exist with other local churches. Then, we should realize that the responsibilities we have as a part of that body do not float around or transfer when we temporarily visit other churches. As when a bread-winner in a family is out of town, so it is with responsibilities in a local family of Christians.

It is possible to fulfill these responsibilities on the occasions when one is absent from the first day assembly, in a number of different ways. It may be wise to plan ahead and leave your contribution with a brother or sister who can place your donation in the “collection” for you, on the first day of the week. If not, remember that your responsibilities did not dissolve just because you were out of town. Your family’s bills must be paid, even while you are at Disney World. Likewise, the responsibilities did not dissolve just because you were out of town. Your family’s bills must be paid, even while you are at Disney World. Likewise, the responsibilities of your local body, the family of God, continue.

When the Lord was in the temple in Jerusalem, He was interested in and watching the many, very different examples of giving.

And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.” (Mark 12:41-42)

We all need to be reminded, He is still interested and still watching.

“Therefore openly before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.” (II Corinthians 8:24)

 

 

 

February 3, 2019

Faith In Our Creator by Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3)

This verse describes the very first example of faith in the Bible’s great “faith chapter,” Hebrews 11. This fact strongly argues that meaningful and effective faith is to be founded, first of all, on the revealed fact of special creation—creation ex nihilo—in contrast to “creation” through some protracted, naturalistic, imaginary process of evolution. All of the “worlds” were simply called into existence by God’s omnipotent word.

“For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.” (Psalm 33:9).

In no way did He have to start with some chaotic form of matter already in existence. Jesus Christ—the Word of God (John 1:14)—created space and time as well as matter/energy.

“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).

“All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:3).

It is interesting that the ancient world saw this characteristic (Creator) as the fundamental factor, distinguishing the true God from all others.

Xerxes, King Of Persia (Esther’s husband, Ahasuerus) placed a huge billboard sized inscription on the stone wall seen by all who approached his magnificent castle (over a mile long) at what is now Van, Turkey. This greatest of monarchs, who “reigned from India to Ethiopia,” (Est.1:1) publicly proclaimed his faith in the Creator to his idol deluded subjects.

“…The Great God, The Greatest God Who Created The Sky And Created The Land And Created Humans Who Gave Prosperity To The Humans Who Made Xerxes King, King Of Many Kings…”

When the apostle Paul spoke to the Athenian philosophers, he proclaimed the “Unknown God,” which he distinguished from all the “gods” worshiped in Athens, the city full of idols. Paul said this was, “The God who made the world and all things in it,…” (Acts 17:24)

This is the beginning point, the foundation of true faith.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen.1:1)

Inspiration records the wisdom of Solomon urging …

“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth,” (Eccl. 12:1)

This is the faith introduced in the last verses of the previous chapter, that is the foundation of our lives and our salvation.

“BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; …But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” (Heb.10:38-39)

Following immediately then is his description of faith.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

After that the great progression examples of faith in Hebrews 11. Heading the list of these, of course, is faith in the special creation of all things by the Word of God. The necessary conclusion is that a “living” faith and “saving” faith must be founded, first of all, on the fact of supernatural creation of all things by God in the beginning.

Evolution is also based on faith, but it is contrary to Scripture and to true science.

Richard Dawkins, known as the “Pope of Evolution,” freely admitted this fact on the BBC program, “Brief History of Disbelief,” broadcast in October of 2004. Jonathan Miller was interviewing and asked about the obvious difficulty in explaining the origin of feathers from scales by natural selection. Dawkins responded…

“…there’s got to be a series of advantages all the way in the feather. If you can’t think of one, then that’s your problem not, not, not natural selection’s problem. Natural selection um, err, well, I suppose that is a sort of matter of faith on my part…”

His conclusions are based on faith, a faith that has a fundamental weakness. Natural selection only operates on what already exists. Random mutations only change what already exists. Neither is a creative process. Neither even addresses the subject of true origins.

Our faith is in a truly adequate cause…an eternal creator. Hard to fathom? Understandable. But honorably face the only alternative… nothing created everything. When, with integrity, we face the fact that there are only two alternatives, the honest choice is obvious.

Adapted from an idea in an article by Henry Morris