Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

What is Truth

Posted on: January 17th, 2021

In the eighteenth chapter of John, Christ stood before Pontius Pilate to answer charges of insurrection. Pilate, the governor of Judea, asked Christ if he was the King of the Jews. Christ answered by saying His kingdom was not of this world. Pilate then asked if He was a King. Jesus responded in John 18:37 by saying, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I came into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate, provoked by this response, replied, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Then Pilate, thinking his last question was unanswerable, departed from the presence of Christ.

More than 1900 years after the question was first asked, many people have not found the answer. We would like to suggest a few.

God’s Word Is Truth

A few hours before His death Christ prayed to His Father. In John 17:17 He said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” The sole source of religious truth is the word of God. Religious truth will never find its source in the creeds, catechisms and church manuals written by men.

Truth Is Valuable

Proverbs 23:23 says, “Buy the truth and sell it not.” The value of religious truth can be seen in John 8:32, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” All men are held in bondage to sin until they are set free by the gospel.

Truth Is Narrow

In mathematics there can only be one correct answer to any given problem. The same is true in religion. Sincerity alone is not enough (Matthew 7:2123). Many people teach that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere. The fallacy of this idea can be shown by the following statement: If it does not make any difference what you believe about Christ, then it can not make any difference if you believe in Christ. If it does not make any difference what you believe about how men are saved, then it can not make any difference if you believe anything about salvation. Will anyone deny it? The same could be said of the church and of God Himself!

Truth Is Binding

When a religiously honest man sees that he is mistaken, he ceases to be one of two things: either he ceases to be honest or he ceases to be mistaken. He cannot remain in error and retain his honesty. Many religious people have remarked, “Well, I don’t believe everything my church teaches.” If the church of which you are a member is in error, then you are obligated to either change that church or get out. Truth can have no fellowship with error. We must not give aid to any false teacher (2 John 9-11).

Truth Will Judge

In the resurrection day, you will not be judged by what your mother believed, what your father taught you or by what everyone else was doing at the time. You will be judged by the words of Christ (John 12:48). What you know about the truth and your reaction to it will determine what He will say to you on that final day. If we can be of assistance to you in your search for the truth, please contact us. If you do have a Bible, we would be happy to provide you with one.

By David Padfield
https://www.padfield.com/1995/what-is-truth.html

What Is This World Coming To?

Posted on: January 10th, 2021

We are now in the third day of the year 2021 and many are fearful of what the future holds for us. We wonder “What is this world coming to?” To us older Christians it is certainly disturbing to see the present “status quo” (the mess our nation is in). As I reflect back to how things were in America during my growing up years, at that time I saw this country as truly “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Our lives were more casual and serene. People were more content, and God, His Son and His word was honored and respected by the vast majority.

I do not have this same view today. Even with the many advancements and improvements in science, medicine, technology, education, service organizations, etc. that have helped to raise our standard of living and make life easier, there still seems to be a feeling of uneasiness, insecurity and uncertainty about the future. The country is in a state of turmoil morally, socially, politically, and spiritually and things seem to be getting worse, not better.

While we may think our present generation is the most wicked and perverse generation ever, It’s not true. Every generation has been wicked, perverse and evil. Some are just more open with their sinfulness than others. Jesus branded His generation as “a faithless and perverse generation” Matt.17:17, an “adulterous and sinful generation” Mk.8:38. Later, when the church was established on the Day of Pentecost, the people were told to save themselves from a “perverse generation” Acts 2:40. And our generation today can be lumped right along with all past generations.

Today morality is no longer respected by many. People, especially among the young, practice all sorts of perverted sins, doing them openly with no sense of shame. But this is nothing new. God’s prophet Jeremiah wrote about people with the same attitude in his day. He asks. ”Were they ashamed when they had committed abominations? No! They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush” Jer.6:15-16. Today many brag about the perversions they practice and think it strange that moral and godly don’t join them in their sinful activities. 1.Pet 4:3-4.

Socially and politically, Jeremiah saw his people as well as the priests and prophets (politicians of that day) and their city Jerusalem of his day the way we see our society, politicians and Washington DC today. Jeremiah wrote. ”She (the country and the main city t.t.) is full of oppression in her midst. As a fountain wells up with water, so she wells up with her wickedness. Violence and plundering ae heard in her. Before Me continually are grief and wounds … because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, saying, ‘peace, peace!’ when there is no peace” Jer.6b-7, 13-14.

Yes, our nation is disintegrating rapidly and one day, sooner or later, will face the wrath of God. The pronouncement made by Isaiah for God still holds true. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink, who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away justice from the righteous man!” Isa.5:20-23.

The things I have written above just remind you of the wickedness of this world. And it will not get any better because “the course (the way t.t.) of this world” is directed by the “prince of the power of the air” (the devil) and he is not going to let it get any better. Those who follow him and walk after the world are “sons of disobedience” who conduct “themselves after the lust of the flesh to fulfill the desires of the flesh and mind, and by nature children of wrath” Eph.2:2-3; ”In the futility of their mind,  having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart, who being past feeling, haven themselves over to licentiousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” Eph.4:17-19.
So “what is this world coming to?” It is headed for destruction. When the cup of the wrath of God has filled to the brim, God will bring judgment to bear. On that Day the world and its lust will pass away 1Jn..2:16, and “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat, both the earth, and the works that are in it will be burned up”.2.Pet.3:10.

So, don’t expect 2021 to get any better. Just remember that as Christians we live in this world, but we are not to live like the world Jn.17:14-16. Here we are just pilgrims and sojourners 1.Pet.2:11-12 traveling toward a better country Heb.11:16 where our true citizenship is found Phil.3:20. So while living in this old sinful world, make sure  we conduct ourselves as children of God. Pray for our country and our leaders.1.Tim.2:1-2; 1.Pet.2:13 Pray for our enemies, return good for evil Matt.5:43-48; Rom.12:9-21. Practice LOVE not HATE. Seek PEACE not TURMOIL. Have FAITH, not FEAR.

THIS WORLD IS NOT OUR HOME, WE ARE JUST PASSING THROUGH.
Tommy Thornhill

Gloom or Cheerfulness – Which?

Posted on: December 27th, 2020

Voltaire, the famous French philosopher, once said: “I wish I had never been born.” Jay Gould, the famous American philanthropist, said when he was dying: “I suppose I am the most miserable man ever to live.” Benjamin Disraeli, the famous prime minister of Great Britain wrote: “Youth is a mistake, manhood a struggle, old age a regret.” Very gloomy words from men who made their mark in the world. But listen to some brighter words from the apostle

Paul, another famous man, near the end of his life: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day” (2 Tim. 4: 7-8).

What enabled Paul to be cheerful, and rise above the gloom and pessimism many people feel at the end of their lives, and kept him from being a bitter old man? Not wealth, he didn’t have much money. Not popularity, many people hated him. Not a life of comfort, his life was filled with hardships. In fact, he was in prison, awaiting execution, when he wrote those hope-inspiring words. It was his faith in Jesus! Because he was a Christian, his life had real meaning, and the end of his life was not gloomy and fearful. That’s what Paul meant when he said: “There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me.” Jesus makes the same promise to you and me, because Paul also said the crown of righteousness was not to him only “but unto all them that love His appearing.”
Don’t live the kind of life that leaves you an embittered, pessimistic old man or woman. You can serve God, and at the end of your life, you can look backwards without regrets, and look forward without fear. It is your choice. Think on these things. < Dennis Abernathy / White Oak church of Christ>

DINNER OF HERBS OR FATTED CALF

Proverbs 15: 17 contains this thought-provoking observation: “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.” A “dinner of herbs” is the kind of meal poor peasants would normally eat. Some translations call it a “meal of vegetables.” A “fatted calf,” on the other hand, depicts the “centerpiece of a sumptuous banquet.” Thus, when the Bible says, “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred,” God is telling us that love is so important to one’s life it makes poor circumstances better than a loveless life with great wealth.

Wise men know this proverb is true. We’ve all heard of wealthy people who are miserable—rich couples, whose love for each other, turned to hatred. They live in mansions, surrounded with finery, eat at tables with filet-mignon, but the love and closeness they once had is gone. Now they spend their days trying to ignore and avoid each other!

So yes, its still true that “a dinner of herbs where love is,” is better than a fatted calf with hatred. It is also true that God’s Word can help people learn how to have real love for others and inspire more love in others. In fact, under the right circumstances it can even restore love to broken marriages.

One final word to those who are newly-weds. Don’t fall into the trap of neglecting your marriage as you scramble around trying to get more things. Remember, love with privations is better than hatred with superfluity. What is the use of the fatted-calf in the stall, if hatred makes a hell of the home? Material success is not wrong, but don’t let die, the love that can turn every simple meal into a banquet, while you are looking for the fatted-calf! Think on these things. < Dennis Abernathy >

Reflection of the Psalms – Psalm 73

Posted on: December 20th, 2020

The vast majority of people in the world have had to deal with some kind of financial hardship from time to time. Money is tight, hours are spent at the kitchen table, or a small desk, deciding which bill gets paid first, or which bill gets paid this month! Coupons and sales take on a more urgent place in shopping. And the situation seems to go on and on.

When a few minutes are available, a person sits down to read a newspaper, or watch the news, and there is some story about someone winning a lottery for some obscene amount of money, or a Hollywood couple flying down to the Caribbean for a quick vacation. Then he looks through the mail and finds out that his medical insurance is going up AGAIN. “Too much month at the end of the money” is a cute phrase, but too often it’s just not that funny.

The situations described above can also apply to Christians. The blessings and hope found in the Good News of Jesus Christ is certainly valid, but life CAN get hard; and there are times that even faithful Christians might wish they had just a little more money, or be able to do a few more things. “Why if I won a million dollars, think what I could do for the Lord!” Day dreaming? Yes. But that natural side is still there with a seductive whisper – “You deserve more – you can have more – look at the rich in the world. Are they struggling like you? No. You should follow their examples…”

This is the very situation that the writer of Psalm 73 had experienced. He wrote in verses 1-3, “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart! But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, my steps had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant as I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” The writer knew in his heart that the ways of the Lord God were true, but he still almost walked into the trap of allowing the apparent ease and riches of sinful people to fill him with envy and even bitterness. “When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant; I was like a beast before You.” (21-22) Happily, the key in the first three verses is that he “almost slipped”, he “came close to stumbling”. He did not give in to the temptation.

In the New Testament period, the same attraction existed and warnings were issued by Jesus Christ, “…and the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Matt 13:22) “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:19-21) The spiritual struggle in everyday living is constant. There are a variety of distractions that try to pull a Christian away from the path that is to be followed.

In the case of the psalmist, the threat was overcome. How? “When I pondered to understand this, it was troublesome in my sight until I came into the sanctuary of God; then I perceived their end.” (16-17) Quite simply, the writer refocused himself upon the Lord, God, His Will and His Word. Likewise, Christians must stay focused!

Too many become arrogant in their prosperity. Even Christians can become too absorbed in their things, their possessions. But this leads down a slippery path to ruin. Before long, a person feels like he/she really doesn’t need the Lord. “After all, look what I have done. Look what I have learned.” It is tragic that too many people truly believe that they have “outgrown” their childish notions about God and Jesus Christ. “They say, ‘How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?’” (vs 11)

The Psalmist finished his psalm with the following words, “Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; you have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.”

We smile when we see a parent holding the hand of his/her small child who is just beginning to walk. They walk hand in hand down the sidewalk, or in a store. We know that the child feels very happy and grownup as he/she looks around at everything with great interest. The parent shares the joy, but that parent is also fulfilling the serious role of insuring the child’s safety and direction.

As Christians, we must stay focused upon the Lord, His Will, and His written word. When that happens, the distractions of life become less important. We can live and work with the secure knowledge that our Father has our future firmly in His, and that future is truly eternal.

<Jim Shelburn>

He Always Put The Lord First

Posted on: December 13th, 2020

Following is an article about Lindy McDaniel, a former Major League baseball player and a faithful gospel preacher, who died in early November 2020 of COVID 19. Lindy and I were classmates at Florida Christian College as it was then known (now Florida College), during the fall of 1956 or 57. Even though Lindy was a Big League baseball player, more importantly I knew him as a Christian, seeking to further his knowledge of the Bible. While I knew him personally during our FCC days, I never saw Lindy again in person. But I kept up with him afterward, both in his baseball player career and also in his progress as a Christian. We corresponded from time to time, the last time last year, During his years as a baseball pitcher he began publishing a bulletin, “Pitching for the Master.” which I subscribed to. Following is an article published by someone who knew him even better than I, and I believe you will profit from reading it. <Tommy Thornhill>

HE ALWAYS PUT THE LORD FIRST

Eight days ago, Lindy McDaniel left his earthly tabernacle and went home to be with the Lord. If you were not a baseball fan in the 50s & 60s you have probably never heard of Lindy McDaniel. Lindy was a “bonus baby” in an era of baseball when salaries were not high, but when teams would pay large bonuses to sign a young player right out of high school. Lindy signed with the St. Louis Cardinals for a bonus that today would be worth about a half million dollars. Lindy started his career with the Cardinals in 1955 and later also played for the Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees, and Kansas City Royals. During his outstanding 21 year career he won 141 games, had 175 saves, and had a career earned run average of just 3.45. Twice he received the Fireman of the Year Award, given to the best relief pitcher in each league by The Sporting News Magazine. Although his stats did not elevate him to the Baseball Hall of Fame, he was recognized for many years as one of the most effective relief pitchers in baseball.

But for those who knew him, Lindy McDaniel was more than an outstanding baseball player – he was a devoted Christian. Those in baseball knew him as a Christian and a gentleman. He didn’t smoke or drink; he didn’t “party” after the games; he didn’t “run around” on his wife as many ballplayers did. He was known in baseball circles as being “squeaky clean.” Through the years he taught and baptized several of his teammates. At the time of his death (age 85, Covid related), he was an elder and evangelist for the Lavon church of Christ in Lavon, Texas (about 35 miles northeast of Dallas). For many years he printed a gospel paper called Pitching for the Master, which he mailed out for free to anyone who wanted to receive it. Some of his writings were later compiled and are still available on the internet at pitchingforthemaster.blogspot.com.

Even as a young man, at an age when many are sowing their wild oats, Lindy was a man of great character and conviction. Lindy did something in his career that would be unheard of today (in fact, it was unheard of then). Lindy had it written into his contract that he would always attend worship services each Sunday before going to the ballpark for a game. I read about this recently when someone was writing about his passing, but I knew it firsthand 55 years ago from my father (who heard it directly from Lindy). You see, my family lived in Long Beach, California, just a 35 minute drive from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Whenever the Cardinals were in town to play the Dodgers, my father would get up early on Sunday, drive to downtown Los Angeles to the hotel where the Cardinals were staying, and bring Lindy to church. As soon as services were over, Dad would drive him to Dodger Stadium for the game. You see, during his whole career, Lindy put first things first. The worship of his God always came first!

What an impression that made on me as a young person. It was like a blazing newspaper headline seared into my brain: “Famous baseball pitcher puts Jesus first.” And I’m sure that there were many other young people throughout the country who were impressed in the same way as Lindy visited various congregations in the cities where he was playing. Lindy was “letting his light shine.” In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).

How are we doing at putting Jesus first in our lives? When we have to make a choice between work and worship, which wins? Sometimes we say, “I have to work,” and I realize that sometimes we do. But sometimes I wonder how hard people really try to get out of working on the Lord’s day. Do we really have to work, or do we choose to work? If asked to work by our supervisor do we try to push back? Do we approach our boss and explain that we would really like to attend church services on Sunday before coming in? I’m not saying that you have to quit your job or even “make a stink,” but with a good attitude and a humble approach do we even try? Have we allowed modern culture bully us into silence?

Brethren, I worry about the erosion of our convictions. (Not just about working on Sunday, but about a lot of things.) I worry that we have become too fearful to stand our ground. I worry that there are certain things that we just “accept” as normal that maybe we should not accept. No one, and I mean NO ONE would have thought that a young 18 year old kid, fresh off the farm in Oklahoma, would have been able to walk into the sacred halls of America’s favorite pastime and tell a major league general manager in one of the most storied franchises in baseball history that he wanted a contract that would guarantee him the right to worship God on the Lord’s day before going to the ball park. But Lindy McDaniel did exactly that. And if Lindy could do that (in the big money, high pressure culture of major league sports), what are the possibilities that we might be successful (with God’s help) in pushing back against some of the cultural demands that are placed upon us today. Brethren, we are going to have to learn to push back. The world is not getting more godly or religious – it’s getting darker and more corrupt by the day. The movement in our society is steadily away from God and toward the secular. It is time that we speak up and take a stand against the forces that are seeking our compromise and destruction.

If he were still here, I would say, “Brother Lindy, you don’t even know who I am, but you made a huge impression on me as a child. Thank you for your example. Rest in peace, brother.”

<Wilson Copeland>

Reflections of the Psalms – Psalm 72

Posted on: December 6th, 2020

In the New American Standard translation of the Bible, directly under Psalm 72, there is the statement, “The Reign of the Righteous King. A Psalm of Solomon”. Although the subtitles are not considered inspired, several commentators maintain that Solomon was the writer, and that it was written in the early part of his reign. Still others believe the author was David writing to Solomon.

Regardless of the author, the words and the tone of the psalm points to an enthusiasm for the Lord. There is the feeling of real commitment to the Lord and His will. The main themes are justice, help, and righteousness, and all of these things were found in the early days of Solomon’s reign as king of Israel.

The account of the beginning of Solomon as king is familiar to any student of the Bible. The Lord told him that He would give him anything that he wished. Solomon asked the Lord for wisdom to rule wisely. Because of his unselfish request, the Lord bestowed upon Solomon glory and riches.

Oh, how wonderful must have been the early days of that reign! A godly king, prosperous lands, secure borders, and a just government made Israel a true jewel in the ancient world. After the temple had been built in all of it’s great beauty, the Jewish people probably thought that all would be well with them forever.

However, the situation began to slowly change. As Solomon took for himself more and more wives, and as they turned his head toward idolatry, the enthusiasm began to wane, and the bright light of godly attitudes and conduct began to darken. Finally, at the end of Solomon’s rule, the people were burdened by harsh taxes, the land was again infected with pagan worship, and the people had turned from the Lord. With Solomon’s death, the kingdom would be divided and the world would never see such a kingdom again.

How tragic, and yet, how true of the ways of mankind. Invariably, every good thing and beautiful thing is corrupted by sin. Many individual lives are given to the Lord with joy and thanksgiving, but the distractions of the world are not cast off, the seed of the spirit is sown in shallow soil, or soil is choked by weeds and the pull of the world slowly begins to corrupt that commitment to the Lord. What was a promising beginning gradually fades away.

Although the psalm described the aspirations of the young reign of Solomon, the words also point to another king and another reign – that of Jesus Christ. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the psalmist was looking beyond the reign of his day to the future when the promises would not turn to dust, and the kingdom would last forever. The only way anything can remain pure is to protect it from the corruption of sin. In Jesus Christ, sin is defeated and those that are added to the kingdom can have the real hope of everlasting life with God,

There is an important lesson as people look for answers and a place of refuge. Today, many apparent religious leaders say, “Follow me and I will tell you what to do and keep you safe. If you join me, you will have no more worries”. Political leaders promise to “take care” of those less fortunate. But people that fall for the words of men will be disappointed, because worldly leaders cannot give such assurance.

Only one person has PROVEN that He deserves the worship and trust of man­kind – Jesus Christ the Son of God. Only Jesus voluntarily died on the cross for the sins of the world. Only Jesus arose from the grave and ascended into heaven to show that sin and death have been conquered. Only Jesus has opened the door to the hope of eternal life,

Solomon, with all of his wisdom, failed. Today, any who try to put themselves in a position of authority will also fail. Only in Jesus Christ can people truly trust in what is promised. Only Jesus Christ has been given all authority. The psalmist pointed to the future – today Christians see the fulfillment of that promise. <Jim Shelburn>

Judging – Righteous or Unrighteous?

Posted on: November 29th, 2020

Have you noticed the increasingly common practice of publicly criticizing people who publicly criticize others? Does something about that strike you as a little inconsistent? It reminded me of listening to the terrorists who repeatedly try to justify the killing of innocent people in another country to protest the killing of innocent people in their country. Simply stated, the problem is that some live by one rule, but they judge others by a more stringent rule than the one imposed upon themselves. The Bible speaks of such a practice and clearly condemns it. Notice this warning given by the apostle Paul in Romans 2:1‑3:

Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?

In this context, the hypocrisy of the Jews is being examined by Paul. The Jews would have shouted, “Amen” to the charges of sin Paul laid at the Gentiles’ feet in the first chapter. However, while they looked down their noses in disgust at the sinfulness of the Gentile world, the Jews were guilty of many of the same sins.

The Jews saw themselves as justified in their superior feelings because the law of Moses had been given to them. Even though they did not obey that law, they were proud of the fact that God had given it to them. Thus, Paul reminds them that hearing the law does not make one justified in the sight of God, but rather doing the law. The apostle sums up the state of such a people in this way:

Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written. For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision (Rom. 2:17‑25).

Clearly, God condemned the Jews’ practice of judging the Gentiles by the standard of the law while refusing to live by that standard themselves. Such hypocrisy has always caused the name of God to be blasphemed by those whose only view of the truth is through the lives of those professing to believe in God.

It is the height of absurdity for us to condemn the wrong done by another when we are doing the same thing. Pointing our finger at another’s wrong will not excuse us from God’s judgment of our own wrong actions. Jesus had much the same thing to say about this in Matthew 7:3‑5 when He said these words:

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me remove the speck out of your eye,” and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.

The picture Jesus brings to our mind with this teaching is one in which each of us can readily see the absurdity. None of us want a doctor with a fence post coming out of his eye to try removing a speck from our own eye. We would tell him to get his own eye problem fixed first. In the same way, if we are going to show the wrong in another’s actions, we must first correct our own.

This is the point Jesus makes in the previous two verses as well when he says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matt. 7:1‑2). Jesus is not saying that we should absolutely not judge by showing others about their wrongs. He is saying that we must avoid hypocritical judgment of others by condemning them while we are just as guilty, if not more so. In the same chapter, Jesus commands us to judge some to be false prophets by examining their lives (vs. 15‑20). Such would not be possible if all judging is wrong.

Applying the Principle

It does the cause of Christ no small amount of harm when people with foul mouths and ungodly conduct take it upon themselves to instruct their fellow citizens about morality. The point may be true, but it is coming from the wrong source. Such actions make it appear that people who stand for Bible values are just a bunch of hypocrites.

The cause of Christ has suffered from a number of preachers who have taught the truth about various subjects, but failed to live them from day to day. Some have spoken in livid opposition to fornication and adultery only to practice such in their own lives. Some have proclaimed the truth regarding the need for personal honesty and integrity only to leave town with a load of unpaid debts to local merchants who came to view the church as a gathering of thieves. Such men need to correct their own lives before preaching to others.

The church of our Lord has been dealt untold damage by those who defend it as the one true church purchased by the blood of Christ, but manifest a half‑hearted service as members of that body. When an outsider sees one of the brethren going about their normal routine on Saturday and Monday, but “unable” to go to services on Sunday, they know how much that member really values the church. When people in the world see Christians claim to follow only the Bible, yet know very little of it by heart, those worldly people will not be favorably impressed towards the truth. When a member of the church joins a group like the Masonic Lodge, alien sinners know that member does not really believe in only one way of salvation since Masonry teaches another. Righteous judgment demands that we actually live by the rule we claim to follow.

When we contrast the actions of Paul and Peter in Galatians 2:11‑14, we see the difference between right and wrong judging. Peter acted through hypocrisy on this occasion and stood condemned. Paul rightly rebuked him for such hypocrisy. Paul could effectively do this because he was not acting with the same hypocrisy as was Peter. Other cases in the New Testament show the same thing. We must oppose evil in the actions of others (1 Cor. 5:1‑13). We must oppose the error taught by others and even name the false teacher (2 Tim. 2:16‑18). However, we must be careful not to judge them while we are guilty of the same thing. This demands that we be constantly involved in self‑examination (2 Cor. 13:5). It demands that each “be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). <Harry Osborne>

Be Sure Your Sins Will Find You Out

Posted on: November 15th, 2020

One is more likely to engage in wrongdoing if he thinks he can get by with it. Catching one who thinks he has committed the “perfect crime” not only provides for just punishment, but also serves to deter future offenses. In the early years, parenting is made much easier if you convince a child that you have eyes in the back of your head. A child caught in the act of sneaky misconduct will think twice before misbehaving again. In our society, crime is rampant because criminals believe they can get by with breaking the law. It is a sad fact that many criminals are never caught. When they are caught and sentences are slow to be imposed or greatly shortened, criminals get the message that crime pays, not that it costs.

In the spiritual realm, God declares the absolute rule that wrongdoing will be discovered and punished. God gives time for the evil doer to seek forgiveness through repentance, but those refusing to do so will suffer the consequences. The nature of God assures us of this fact “for the Lord is a God of justice” (Isa. 30:18).

Lesson from Israel

When God commanded Israel about the actions they were to take in entering the Promised Land, He told them that compliance would bring great blessings for them. However, he also warned of the certainty that failure to obey would be discovered. Note the warning:

But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out (Num. 32:23).

When the Israelites disregarded that warning and thought that their sins would not be seen, they were wrong. God spoke of the people’s sins to Jeremiah saying, “For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes” (Jer. 16:17). In fact, God not only knew their evil deeds, He knew the thoughts behind those deeds. This is made clear as He says, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jer. 17:10). In another place, He declares, “I know the things that come into your mind” (Ezek. 11:5).

Application to Us

Let there be no mistake about it – God knows ALL of the facts about our actions. Any sin we have committed, He knows about. If we did it away from the eyes of
any human and have kept it secret from everyone on earth, God still knows. When we remember this fact, the words of Solomon should cause us to reflect more deeply upon the coming judgment:

For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil (Eccl. 12:14).

The thoughts we may have disguised to others are also fully known by God. Whether it be the motive for action already taken or the planning of future action, God knows our every thought (cf. Acts 5:1-4). The Hebrew writer affirms this fact by noting that the word of God declares the insight of God by addressing the “thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). He further states the general truth by saying, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13).

But what will be the result of God knowing about our sin? Will He just turn His back upon it and let us get by unpunished. No, remember His warning, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” That warning is made more pointed when we are told that God will bring “tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil” (Rom. 2:9). Lest we think our sin might be tolerated without consequence, God states this solemn fact:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption (Gal. 6:7-8).

No one will get by with sin! Anyone who thinks he can so mock the Lord and His promise of punishing sin is only fooling himself. Evil actions in life will inevitably bring the fruits of such corruption into the life of the sinner.

Sin Has Consequences

It is true that many sins have a consequence in this life. The users of alcohol and other drugs suffer the physical problems associated with such. Illicit sexual activity often brings disease or unwanted pregnancy. Lying causes one to be rejected by those around him. Hatred and jealousy bring misery. The list could go on and on of the temporal effects of sin.

However, the consequences of this life are not the ultimate punishment for sin. Ultimately, sin has the eternal consequence of hell which will eclipse every temporal problem caused by sin. It is the eternal punishment that should serve as our greatest warning about the effects of sin. We are told,

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Rev. 21:8).

Jesus says it will be “everlasting punishment” (Matt. 25:46). While teaching of the place in more detail, Jesus termed it “hell” and said it is a place “where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mk. 9:44). Such language not only clearly portrays the eternal nature of that place of punishment, but also graphically symbolizes the continual state of death that characterizes hell. On this earth, death is a passing state. In hell, it is an eternal existence.

Examples Of Old

In the Bible, we read of repeated cases where men of faith recognized these facts and lived accordingly. Joseph did not see a situation’s privacy as hiding the sin that Potiphar’s wife urged. Joseph’s answer to the evil enticement remains a sobering question with which to face sin: “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:7-10). Moses also recalled the abiding presence of “Him who is invisible” and made his decisions accordingly (Heb. 11:24-27). Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were young men far away from friends and family, but they did not see it as a license to sin. Though no family members may have ever known of their sin, God would have. That was enough for these young men of faith to live according to God’s law at all times.

When I was a teenager, I remember brother J. M. Gillpatrick preaching a sermon in which he asked if we would do the same thing in private if we knew a movie would be shown of our actions at Sunday morning service. He then noted that God records every moment, public or private. I have never forgotten the point! Let us have the same determination to live righteously, recognizing that we will give answer to God (2 Cor. 5:10). Sin cannot be covered, but must be forsaken (Prov. 28:13). Be sure your sins will find you out. < Harry Osborne >

The Danger of Being Deceived

Posted on: November 8th, 2020

When a person has been led to believe a thing to be true when it is not, the person has been deceived. God warned people in the Old Testament against being deceived. “Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them” (Deut. 11:16). The New Testament contains warnings against being deceived. “Let no man deceive himself . . .” (1 Cor. 3:18). “Be not deceived,” are the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:33. Paul warned the Galatians, “Be not deceived . . .” (Gal. 6:7). The Hebrew letter contains a warning about deceit. “But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13).

People Are Deceived by False Teachers

When a teacher can persuade a person to believe a false doctrine the person has been deceived. Solomon said, “He that speaketh truth showeth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit” (Prov. 12:17). The Bible warns us against false teachers. John said, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). In describing such false teachers, Paul said, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Cor. 11:13-15).

Jesus said, “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:24). False teachers are very effective in misleading people many times. The only way to keep from being deceived by false teachers is to be familiar with the truth. Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Another safeguard against being deceived by false teachers is to demand, chapter and verse for everything that is taught religiously. If a teacher cannot produce the scriptural evidence for his teachings, then we must not accept such as being true. These false teachers “serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly: and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16: 18).

Teachers of the word must use the word of God like Paul did. “For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1 Thess. 2:3-4). The word of God must not be handled deceitfully (2 Cor. 4:2).

Riches Deceive Folks

No doubt people who have a lot of this world’s goods feel a great deal of security in such. But there is a possibility that riches can deceive people and lure them into false security. In the parable of the sower, Jesus warned us against such danger. “He also that received seed among thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful” (Matt. 13:22).

A person may become so concerned over gaining material wealth that he will be led away from the truth and become a man of sorrows. Paul told Timothy, “For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:10). If a person has been deceived into believing, that if he is rich, he does not need the Lord and the Lord’s church, he needs to read what Jesus said. “For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16: 26).

Strong Drink Deceives

Solomon said, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Prov. 20:1). A drinking man thinks he can “drown his sorrows.” Not really — he is just being deceived. I recently read a beer ad, which told how a particular beer was sparkling, tasteful and delightful. I thought that it could have read — sparkling, tasteful and deceitful!

Satan Is a Deceiver

From the time Satan made his appearance on the scene of time to this hour, he has been busy trying to deceive folks. Paul warned the Corinthians about this. “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). Satan is so sly that he “himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). John described Satan in this language: “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:9).

Now let’s take a look at some ways in which people are deceived:

If a Person Believes He Lives above Sin He Is Being Deceived

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10). When every responsible person reaches the age of accountability he becomes guilty of sin. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). After a person has obeyed the gospel, been pardoned from his past sins, he can still be guilty of sinning. The passage in 1st John was directed to Christians. Yet in spite of this teaching, there are those who believe they cannot sin. Really they are just being deceived.

Man Deceives Himself When He Believes He Can Sow One Thing and Reap Something Else

It has always been a law of God that we reap what we sow. Paul expressed it this way: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7) When you hear it said, “Go ahead and sow your wild oats, everyone has to do that,” you just remember this law of God—”you will reap what you sow.” If you are led to believe otherwise, you are being deceived.

One May Be Deceived by a Misuse of His Tongue

James said, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (James 1:26). One may render his service to God as vain because he has been deceived into believing that he can use his tongue as he pleases.

Many Are Deceived by Placing Their Faith in Tomorrow

Too many people plan to do that which they know to do — tomorrow! Someone has well said, “Tomorrow is the thief of time.” Solomon said, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Prov. 27:1). We all need to learn to live each day as if it were the last, for one of these days will be. Listen to James on this: “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil” (James 4:13-16). We need to learn to be obedient and faithful to the Lord today. ” . . . Behold, now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:3).

Johnnie Edwards — Truth Magazine, February 1965 —

What AM I Listening For?

Posted on: November 1st, 2020

A young Native-American man came to the city to visit a friend. One day as they strolled down a busy street the visitor claimed to hear a cricket. The city dweller refused to believe he could hear such a thing amid the bustling people, honking cars and miscellaneous noise. The young man listened intently and was eventually led to a cement planter where he found a solitary insect taking refuge under a leaf. Astonished, the man asked his visitor how he could have possibly heard the cricket above the distractions. He responded, “It simply depends on what you’re listening for.”

Luke’s gospel contains the record of a man who heard what most others didn’t. Though revealed as a man of remarkable faith, his name appears only twice in the biblical record. Additionally, his encounter with Jesus occurs during a unique period—between His birth and ministry (Luke 2:25-35). The scene of Simeon holding a six-week old infant is one of the most compelling in all the New Testament.

Jesus has previously been born to Mary and Joseph. The birth of a child always involved certain requirements of a Jewish mother (Lev. 12:1-8) and when that child was a firstborn male, it brought additional demands (Ex. 13:12; Num. 18:15f). In obedience Jesus’ parents make their way to the temple, a decision which speaks volumes about their dedication. By their submission to divine instruction they will cross paths with Simeon and it’s here we find a wealth of information about this virtually unknown man of faith.

Simeon is introduced as an average man. His name is a common one. We find no hint he is a priest, religious teacher, or even an influential citizen. This seems par for the course as everyone else connected to Jesus’ birth and infancy were also outside the Jewish religious establishment: lowly shepherds, an aging woman named Anna, and a group of magi from the east. None possessed a position of high “religious” honor, including Simeon.

He is presented as an upright man, being “righteous and devout” (Luke 2:25). Simeon behaved properly toward men and exercised diligence in religious duty. The use of these terms places him in good company, including Ananais, and Cornelius. Just as Joseph and Mary conscientiously carried out God’s instruction, Simeon similarly demonstrated a zeal for the will of God.

Obviously Simeon was a man of vision. As he looked for “the consolation of Israel” (v. 25), what God revealed is an infant. Simeon has not witnessed any miracle or heard the first sermon of Jesus, yet he looks into the face of this small child and sees peace, salvation, light and glory! In Simeon’s mind, there is no doubt his arms cradle the Savior of the world. Three decades later multitudes would witness an adult Jesus performing supernatural works and speaking with authority and wisdom yet will not see what Simeon does “by faith” in a six-week old infant!

Simeon shows himself to be submissive. His use of “Lord” (v. 29) is intriguing. It’s an unusual word, found only 10 times in the New Testament. From it we get our English word, “despot.” The title indicates more than a superior status or kingly rule, it denotes total ownership. With a single word Simeon has acknowledged God’s inherent right to rule and his own solemn duty to obey. Absolute authority calls for abject submission—and that is what Simeon looks to give.

Simeon demonstrates himself to be a contented man, painting a picture with words in Luke 2:29. He envisions himself as a sentry who had been on watch through a ong and weary night, whose time has now come to be dismissed from his post so he might head home. As he seemingly speaks of his own death his tone is not despairing or agitated, but tranquil. Having beheld the infant Jesus, he is convinced his eyes have seen and his hands have held all that a man requires in order to be satisfied and blessed; in Jesus the final void of his existence has been filled.

While Joseph and Mary are amazed at what Simeon has said, he’s not quite finished (2:34-35). Here we see an honest man. It won’t be all peace and joy, salvation and security. The words he uses reveal there will also be heartache and struggle, pain and persecution. The good things divinely promised would come about, but not without cost to both child and mother. Just 40 days old and already the shadow of the cross looms across Jesus’ life. For some, this baby would become a stumbling block, but for others the cornerstone. With candor, Simeon communicates neutrality will not be an option.

In Simeon we find a man who listened for God’s voice, and because of it he heard and saw what a multitude of others didn’t. As we ponder his powerful example, surely it ought to stir within each of us a penetrating question: what am I listening for?  <Terry R. Slack>