Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Assurance Of Salvation

Posted on: June 26th, 2022

There is such a thing as a well grounded assurance of salvation and there is also such a thing as ill founded presumption. One of the primary goals of the Apostle John in the letter of 1John is to instill confidence in genuine believers that they are right with God and need not fear His judgment.  Consider some of the signs of life given to us in 1 John that help answer the question of “Where do I stand with God?”

The first sign of life is that we are walking in the light – 1 John 1:6-7. Light & Darkness are typically used in scripture with reference to moral uprightness or perverseness respectively. The faithful walk (their general manner of life) in light. They habitually prefer the pure to the impure; clean to dirty. The presumptuous may speak of a commitment, but they love the darkness. You regularly find them skulking about in dark alleys.

Second, is an awareness of sin – 1 John 1:8,10. The more time spent communing with God, the more glaring our sin becomes to us. The real believer knows that if sin were blue, everything he did, thought or said would be in some way shaded blue. By contrast the falsely assured become increasingly convinced that their sins are actually virtues. “I’m not gossiping, I’m just concern about how sister molly is doing with her alcohol problem.”

Third is obedience – 1 John 2:3-5; 3:7-8,10. True assurance knows that salvation is by grace through faith, but that it is a faith that is revealed in specific acts of obedience. False assurance says that it is legalistic to worry about obedience. Obedience grows in the faithful. Excuses grow in the presumptuous.

Next is a genuine longing to see the Lord – 1 John 3:2-3. Do you love theology and the discussion of issues? Nothing wrong with this, but it is possible to imagine we love the Lord, when we are actually in love with ideas and doctrines. Do you ache to see His face, hear His voice, touch His hand? Do you long for the day when you will be perfected and never have another sinful thought or action? If so you will be striving in the present to become what you are destined to be in eternity.

Last is love for the brethren – 1 John 3:14; 4:12-5:3. This is the proof John is most adamant about. The problem with the test of love is that, everyone thinks they are a loving person, but John reminds us that love is not “whatever I define it to be,” but love is seen in God’s sending His Son to take away our sins. In other words, love is actively seeking the best interests of others. Love is not just a pleasant attitude or empty words, but involves emptying ourselves in order to fill others. Love calls for the sacrifice of time, energy and money. In order for our love to give us confidence and assurance in the most frightening place imaginable – before the judgment seat of God – our love must parallel His love. So the question is clear. Do you love others? Are you sure? What deeds and actions are there to prove it?

This kind of evaluation always reveals shortcomings to the genuine soul searcher. Interestingly, the more you are troubled over your lack of holiness, the greater your assurance will be. This is because the one who finds himself regularly in need of the blood of Christ is the one who is daily pursuing Christ. If you find nothing in this article that convicts you or if your shortcomings do not bother you, then you have a deadly serious problem. The characteristic of the falsely assured are three: they are smugly confident that they are lacking in nothing, or they are angry that someone has pointed out their fault, or worst of all they see their errors, but don’t care.

So, let me exhort you to be a confident Christian. As the Apostle said, These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:13). Do you believe in the name of the Son of God? Are you trusting in Him alone to save you from your sins? Have you been joined to Him in Baptism? Are you striving to show your love for Him by the obedience of your faith? Then stop doubting and rejoice that your sins are forgiven and your name is written in His book. <Lawrence Kelley>

Thoughts About Life

Posted on: January 30th, 2022

Solomon was the wisest man of his age.  When he was but a young man and had just ascended to the throne of his father, God appeared to him in Gibeon and said, “Ask what I shall give thee.”  Solomon, showing that he was a wise man even then, said, “Give me an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad…” (I Kings 3:1-ff).  God did according to His word and gave him the mind of minds, a wisdom far above all that were before him. He ultimately became the expression of human wisdom.  He went around once and did it all–all life had to offer.

Solomon ran an experiment with life.  He decided to consider “all things that are done under heaven,” to see what had value and what did not.  His experiment ran the gamut of life.  He searched in science, in politics, in agriculture, in philanthropy, in pleasure, looking in every nook and cranny to ascertain “what was that good for men all the days of their life.”

With a mind filled with determination, he lived life “with all the gusto you can.”  He sought wisdom and knowledge and found that “in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow” (1:18).  He worked on inequities and he saw that “that which is crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is wanting cannot be numbered” (2:15).  He concluded that “it is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting” (7:2), that there is no good to be had in reminiscing about the “good ol’ days” (7:10), that prosperity and adversity both have a place in life (7:14), that life is filled with all sorts of inequities (9:11), that a reputation which was a lifetime in the building can be destroyed in a few minutes by just one misplaced word (10:1), that there is no such thing as a secret (10:20), that diligence (9:10), humility (9:12) and prudence (9:16) are a necessary part of good life here.  But in none of it did he find any real satisfaction.

Life became for him a frustrating experience.  He said, “I hated all my labor which I had taken” and he concluded after having slaked his thirst for living by drinking of the very dregs of life, “I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labor that I had labored to do: and behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun” (2:11).  He found in life only frustration and repeated anxiety.  The more he did the greater his frustration.

Interestingly, as he performed this experiment with life, his wisdom remained with him.  He was able, for instance, to stand off and view himself when he was intoxicated with wine or when he had “increased more than all that were before” him, while apparently retaining a sense of balance that allowed him to objectively appraise what he saw and felt (cf. 2:3,9).

He does note several things which contribute to happiness and tranquility as life is lived “under the sun.”  Good food and good friends, along with nice garments are concluded as being desirable for quality living (9:10).  Living joyfully with “the wife of thy youth” is recommended.  And the ability to accept with resignation the allotments of Divine Providence contributes to a happy life, he says (9:11).  It is not that life has no joy and pleasure, he concluded; there are joyful and satisfying moments in it.

But mostly his experiment is finished in sheer frustration, for he says, “Then the dust shall return to the earth as it was: and the spirit to God who gave it” (11:9).  And in one last gasp of desperation he concludes, “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, all is vanity,” indicating that there is actually no lasting benefit to life under the sun.
Life here us what you make it.  Its real value is to be properly measured by your determination to live it with the joy of salvation in it. To live a truly happy and satisfying life without God in it is a foolish endeavor doomed to sure failure.  And a mind not tuned to the word of God for its guidance and success is a demented mind which in the end produces nothing but sorrow.

And so, “let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter,” he says, “Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13).  A man’s focus must be other-worldly, his attitude that of a sojourner or he will never be truly happy. <Dee Bowman>

The People Connector’s Gift

Posted on: January 2nd, 2022

I have a gift for you. Actually, my part in the gift is just the writing and sending of this. Ultimately, the gift is one you will give to yourself. It’s a type of challenge for me as well as for you. It is this. Starting right now and running through the holidays, let’s determine to apply the following People Connectors every day as a means of making our holidays and the new year even better.

If we’re consistent in the application, I have no doubt that in the new year and going forward, all of our connections will be better and our lives will be fuller. This challenge is in the present tense and in the first person. Each of us is that person.

TODAY I will avoid whining and complaining. Unlike the lady who said she always felt bad even on days when she felt good, for fear she’d feel worse tomorrow, I’ll expose others to a contagious, positive attitude that’s worth catching.

TODAY I will talk about health matters only in a general and a positive way. I will spare others a personal “organ recital.”

TODAY I will talk in terms of the other person’s interest and, when possible, I will eliminate “I” from my pattern of speech. I will measure all that I say by the standard of “value or vanity.”

TODAY I will listen more than I talk, and ask more questions instead of making declarations.

TODAY I will encourage those who need encouragement. I will determine who needs encouragement by merely checking to see who’s breathing.

TODAY I will go the second mile. I will keep in mind that there are no traffic jams along the second mile, and that those who do more than they are paid to do will someday (by someone) be paid more for what they do.

TODAY I will live with enthusiasm, realizing that as I can make myself happy by singing I can also make myself enthusiastic by acting with enthusiasm. I will pick my head up, look others in the eye, call them by name – and smile.

TODAY I will speak my opinions sparingly and give advice cautiously, keeping in mind the proverb that says, “A fool speaks all his mind.”

TODAY I will build connections instead of walls. Life is too short for pettiness.

TODAY I will speak positively. If I can think of nothing positive to say, I’ll say nothing. Especially will I avoid saying negative things about others. Words have wings, and there is no telling where gossip will light.

TODAY I will be open-minded to new ideas and ways of doing things. I will avoid the type of mind that’s like concrete – all mixed up and permanently set. I will also avoid the type of open-mindedness that causes one’s brain to fall out. I will be fair-minded and objective.

TODAY I will keep in mind the words of Mark Twain who said, “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” Or as Erma Bombeck said, “He who laughs…lasts.”

TODAY I will live as a “human becoming,” determined to become a better person today than I was yesterday. Otherwise, why do I need today?

<Terry L. Sumerlin
www.terrysumerlin.com>

Rightly Dividing The Word Of God

Posted on: December 5th, 2021

2.Tim.2:15 reads, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (NKJV). The last phrase, “rightly dividing the word of truth” literally means, “cut the word of truth straight, handle it properly.” This necessity is borne out by examining various translations, “handling aright the word of truth” (ASV), “handling accurately the word of truth” (NASV), ”correctly handling the word of truth” (NIV). All these translations clearly agree that for one to be approved of God as a worker who is not ashamed, one must understand how to properly treat the word of truth from God. At the same time, the phrase teaches that it is possible for people to mishandle the word of truth.

While many people are sincere when they mistakenly fail to rightly divide the word of truth, there are some who mishandle the word of God on purpose 2.Cor.4:2 (handling the word of God deceitfully); 11:3-4 (corrupting people by preaching another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel); 2.Pet.3:16 (twisting scriptures to their own destruction).

Following various religious discussions carried on, and posted on Facebook the last few weeks, I have observed that many of the arguments advanced by those opposed to the truth are based on a failure to rightly divide the word of truth. They draw false scriptural conclusions, based on situations that do not properly apply to the argument they are making. One of the basic things in Bible study is to study the context and understand to whom the things are written and when they are to be applied.

In the next two or three articles, I plan to notice five areas where religious differences have occurred because people are not “rightly dividing the word of truth.” 1. The difference between Faith and Opinion. 2. The difference between the Old and New Testaments. 3. The difference between a citizen and an Alien. 4. The difference between the Local church and Universal church. 5. The difference between Collective and Individual action.

Notice the first one. The difference between Faith and Opinion. It is a fact that some decide the rightness of wrongness of some religious matter simply because they have formed an opinion without a scriptural foundation. They do it because, “in their opinion,” it is right. But, basing an action on human opinion does not please God. As His children we are to “walk by faith, not be sight” 2.Cor.5:7. Since “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” Rom.10:17, and we are to walk by faith, then, logically, if we find no message from God in His word we have no right to assume that it is alright to follow our opinion. But many people do just that.

As we have seen, faith is established by what God says in His word.Rom.10:17; which is His revealed truth Jn.17:17; 16:13; 1.Thes.2:13. His word is plain enough that it can be understood if people want to understand it 2.Cor.4:13; Eph.5:17; 3:3-5. Faith lies in the realm of divine revelation, and we are told to hold fast to sound doctrine 2.Tim.1:13. When we speak as God speaks in His word, we walk by faith 2.Cor.5:7 rightly dividing the word of God 1.Pet.4:11; 1.Cor.4:6; 2.Jn.9. This is the safe course to follow Jn.8:31.

On the other hand, opinion is established by what man thinks or feels which is based on human reasoning, ideas, speculation and thoughts. ”I think” is not divine revelation. The following scriptures make it clear there is a difference between what men think and what God says Acts 26:9; Col.2:6-9; Matt.15:7-9; 21:23-27.

Opinion is dangerous because it adds to what God says. People don’t like unexplained mysteries, so if God has not chosen to reveal something, they decide to add their two cents worth to explain it. Sometimes the assumption (opinion) is harmless, unless people seek to bind the opinion on others. Note some examples where men speak their opinion about what God has not revealed. What kind of fruit came from the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Gen.3. We aren’t told, but people assume it was an apple. Is that faith or opinion? What kind of bush did Moses see burning in Ex.3:1-6? Why did Nicodemus come to Jesus by night? Jn.3:1-2. We are not told these things, but people have opinions. What did Jesus write on the ground when the woman taken in adultery was brought to Him Jn.8:6-8? Whatever people might say is opinion, not faith, since we are not told. This is opinion, not faith.

In 2.Cor.12:2-4 Paul tells us he was caught up into the third heaven. I believe this by faith because it is revealed. But what he heard and saw is not told, because he was not permitted to tell these things. Yet, a false religion exists today, based on the claims of a woman, Ellen White, who said she was caught up into the same heaven as Paul, and saw the fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy,” with a halo around it. She took this to mean people were to keep the Sabbath today, and she founded the Seventh Day Adventist church. Did she act by faith, or by opinion? I believe you know the answer.

Religious differences rise over what is not said (opinion, the silence of God). Opinion confuses and divides. If you talk with people you will hear a variety of answers for the kind of fruit eaten, type of burning bush, why Nicodemus came to Jesus at night, what Jesus wrote on the ground. But they speak opinion, not the revealed word of God. One has to know the difference between faith and opinion is discussing different religions practices. Things such as baptism (how, who, why), what names to wear, the type music to use in worship services Prov.14:12. We will deal with some of these later.

Tommy Thornhill

What Is The Church Worth To You?

Posted on: November 7th, 2021

Perhaps the first thing you thought when you read the above question was to think, “Why, the church is worth everything to me!” Is that really true? Most of you who are reading this are members of the church of Christ and able to enjoy the many privileges and blessings that go along with being a member of God’s family. So, we all need to consider the question very carefully, “WHAT IS THE CHURCH WORTH TO ME AS A MEMBER?”

IS THE CHURCH WORTH YOUR LOYALTY? I am sure we all agree the church cost God and Christ more than most are willing to pay. It cost God His Son, Jesus Christ, His blood. It cost the apostles their lives to establish and spread the church throughout the world. The early disciples were so loyal to the cause that the church was spread throughout the world in about 40 years Col.1:23. This was loyalty. It meant DEDICAION TO A CAUSE, willing to die to proclaim it. It meant UNWAVERING ZEAL to spread it, even in working day and night at this task while others turned back. It meant COURAGE and BOLDNESS to stand before rulers and mobs telling it “like it was,” This was loyalty This is what the church was worth to the early disciples. Yet today many are not willing to do the things for the church they claim to love so much. When brethren quit defending the church and no longer demand a “thus says the Lord” and do not speak “as the oracles of God” then I question their loyalty. Some are more zealous and dedicated to the defense of some human innovation or institution than to the Lord’s church. This is not loyalty to the Lord. What about you? Are you resolved to give the Lord your full allegiance?

ISTHE CHURCH WORTH YOUR PRESENCE? The Lord has promised, “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst” Matt. 18:20. Yes, I know the primary application of this scripture is dealing with church discipline, but I also believe it has a secondary application which would include brethren assembling to worship Him. In other scriptures we are exhorted to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together” Heb.10:25. While the primary consideration of this verse seems to be the assembly on the first day of the week, it does say “assembling” which would include other times also. Yet it would seem from the attendance or rather the lack of attendance to the Bible classes and Sunday and Wednesday night serves, that many feel the church is not worth spending too much time with brethren. Some are like butterflies flitting from place to place. How can the classes operate efficiently when the teachers can not be sure who will be there? How can the preacher preach his best when many of the seats are empty from neglect? We see to it that our children are clothed, fed and educated in secular things, but many times fall short with showing the same concern for spiritual things. Every time you do not come on Sunday or Wednesday night because of simple carelessness or neglect you demonstrate the fact that these services are not worth much to you. Isn’t the Lord worth more of your time than two or three hours weekly? How much time do you give to the Lord?

IS THE CHURCH WORTH YOUR MONEY? We live in a land of prosperity with our bodies covered, bellies fed, and a roof and bed to shelter and rest us. Yet the greater portion of the contribution comes from a handful of people. The only way the church can scripturally raise money is through the members laying by in store on the first day of the week 1.Cor.16:1-2. Do you really believe you are abounding in the work if you neglect to give properly? Look at the contribution and ask yourself, “How much of this did I give?” “Could I do more?” Many opportunities to preach the gospel are lost because of a lack of funds. Are you giving your fair share?

IS THE CHURCH WORTH YOUR RESPONSIBILITY? The church cannot function properly unless each member is willing to do his/her share. One problem today is the failure of many to exercise their responsibility to the kingdom. They have been at ease too long. Many have forgotten that someone took the time to teach them the truth. It is time to awake and get busy. Is the church worth working for?

The integrity of a good name, the love of a wonderful family, or even the privilege of living in a free country mean much more to all of us. Many are willing to defend these material freedoms since they are considered precious and desirous. Yet when it comes to spiritual things it doesn’t seem to mean as much to some as it should. Should this be so, brethren? The church is worth all these things! Our loyalty, presence, money and responsibility. Let each of us resolve to get busy and DO ALL WE CAN – WHEN WE CAN. You might be surprised at the result. <Tommy Thornhill>

Arguing With God Won’t Work

Posted on: May 9th, 2021

The New Testament tells us God “has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” Acts 17:31. The Man God ordained is, of course, Jesus Christ. “For we must all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things (reward or punishment- t.t) done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” 2.Cor.5:10.

Those who have believed in Christ and faithfully followed Him will rejoice on that day for they will hear Him say, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” Matt.25:34. The rest who had not believed and refused to obey will be very disappointed, for they will hear Jesus say, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” Matt.25:41.

The disappointed are those “who do not know God, and on those who do obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” for “these shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” 2.Thes.1:8-9. This lost group falls into two classes. One class are those who the Lord “never knew” (they never acknowledged Him, so He never recognized them) and the second class, to whom the Lord says, “I know you not” are those who believed but failed to remain prepared and faithful, so the Lord no longer acknowledges them as His people Matt.25:13

Jesus indicates in His “Sermon on the Mount” that the lost souls will try to argue with Him because of their sentence of condemnation at the judgment. He says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” Matt.7:21-23.

Their arguments at the judgment show they didn’t want to be lost but insisted on being saved on their own terms, not the Lord’s. They may argue “until they are blue in the face” about being lost but they will still lose the argument. In reality, people will have no excuse for their failure to believe in and obey Jesus Christ. Jesus clearly points out that only those who do His will and obey His commands will be saved Matt.7:21; Lk.6:46; Heb.5:9   Don’t think you can argue with Christ and win. You will lose and be lost for eternity!!!.  – end –

HOW DO YOU SERVE GOD?

I have observed through the years that many people who claim to serve God have a superficial type religion (form without substance). Paul saw this in his day. He wrote that a lot of people have “a form of godliness while denying its power. From such people turn away!” 2.Tim.3:5. To Titus he wrote many “profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work” Tit.1:16.

Such people go through the motions of serving God but only at their convenience. Their service and worship, when they find the time, is lackadaisical and unenthusiastic. They just drift along, feeling self-satisfied and complacent with their spiritual lives. They want to be known as real believers but show little interest in getting fully involved in the work of the church.  They find all kinds of excuses for not fulfilling their responsibilities as Christians. They express a critical attitude toward the members who actually put forth more effort, and even find fault with the church for being too strict in following the Bible.

What is wrong with such people? They have the wrong motivation. They want the assurance of salvation but demonstrate little enthusiasm and conviction about what they profess They find very little joy in serving the Lord. They want a religion of convenience and search for excuses to avoid their responsibilities. They want God, but only if He will accept them on their terms. They have a religion that is self-centered. They are tuned into a life that centers in, “what’s in it for me.” They are focused on the wrong thing, just as some were in Jesus’ day. He said, “you seek Me, not because you saw the signs , but because you ate the loaves and were filled”.Jn:6:26. They only followed Him as long as they could get something from Him physically. Real commitment was not part of their activity. This type of service won’t work. Jesus pointed out that this superficial service was worthless. To this same group of people He pointed that true commitment to Him involved absorbing His life into theirs, spiritually “eating of His flesh, drinking of His blood” Jn.6:51-56. They decided this was too hard for them so they turned away Jn.6:60. One must have a faith that is fully committed to diligently seek after God Heb.11:6.

After reading the above thoughts answer the title question, “How do you serve God?” Can you really say you are fully committed to serving God? That’s what it takes. When Jesus was asked, what was the greatest commandment He replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (emphasis mine-t.t). Matt.22:37. I believe you can understand the word “all” in the text means full love and commitment to God, not a superficial one of pretense, form without substance.  <Tommy Thornhill>

A Jealous God

Posted on: April 4th, 2021

When Oprah Winfrey was in her late 20’s, she was sitting in a church where people had to get there early to assure a seat. The preacher was charismatic, and she was caught up in the moment hearing how great God was. He was Omniscient, Omnipresent…and then she heard, “the Lord thy God is a jealous God.”

In an interview, preserved on Utube, Oprah said she “was caught up in the rapture of the moment until he said jealous…something struck me…God is all…and is also jealous? Jealous of me? This was a pivotal moment in the life of Oprah Winfrey for she said there was “something about that did not feel right in my spirit.” Oprah has found her “god” according to her own feelings, but her feelings has closed her mind to God who has revealed His character in the Bible.

What Oprah heard was a reference to Exodus 20:5. God is revealing the Ten Commandment Law to His people, Israel. He begins with commanding His people to have no other gods before Him. He then instructs them to not make images of anything of heaven above, of the earth beneath, or of the water under the earth. This second law also commands these images were not to be worshipped by bowing down before them and serving them. God then gives the reason for not having any other “god” before Him or any “image” to be worshiped as a god: “for I Jehovah Thy God am a jealous God…” (Exodus 20:5).

We are immediately led to the wrath of God to understand the jealous quality of His character. He is a jealous God, “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, upon the third and upon the fourth generations of them that hate Me” (Exodus 20:5). Our “Omnipresent” God does not die or forget in three or four hundred years. The sin of idolatry introduced by the fathers of one generation and practiced by future generations will feel the consequences of their sins before the “Omnipotent” God. His wrath comes with fury, for He is “jealous.” God considers idolatry coming from a heart that “hates Me” (Exodus 20:5).

What turned Oprah away from the God of the Bible is revealed in the context of God’s “lovingkindness.” While promising to manifest His severity, He also promises to manifest his goodness: “…and showing lovingkindness unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments” (Exodus 20:6). His mercy had been manifested to the Israelites by delivering them from the army of Pharaoh and guiding them safely through the Red Sea. God’s “…lovingkindness hast led the people that thou hast redeemed: Thou hast guided them in thy strength to thy holy habitation” (Exodus 15:13).

Who knows if the preacher would have skipped over the “jealous” God reference, and add to his rapturous presentation of how great God is with His merciful “lovingkindness, Oprah would have “felt right” with God? What turned her away from God is part of “His name.” In the context of condemning worshiping and serving “other gods,” Moses reveals the divine reasoning, “…for Jehovah, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14).

God’s “name” connects us with salvation. Paul appeals to a “godly jealously” that Christians in Corinth would not fall away from their total commitment to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2-3). God is jealous for He wants our whole heart and eternal salvation. “For thy name’s sake, O Jehovah, pardon mine iniquity for it is great” (Psalm 25:9). David did not turn away from a forgiving God because God is also a jealous God. Let us pray that Oprah and others like her wake up to the One truly Great God! Jerry Fite

Two Fellowships

Posted on: January 3rd, 2021

In 1 John 1 John describes his fellowship with God as one dependent upon his walking “in the light” of God’s truth. He had learned of Christ, first hand, and then wrote this truth for our benefit; so that we may have the same kind of fellowship he had, i.e., fellowship with God. There is no fellowship with God for those who walk in darkness — error and sin.

But in 3 John 9,10, John tells us of some of his brethren (evidently folk who had fellowship with God) who had been cast out of the church. Diotrephes had severed fellowship with them, and forbad others to have such fellowship. This was wrong, undoubtedly; but the fact remains that it could and did happen. This is a case where God maintained a fellowship which men refused.

The opposite is true in 1 Corinthians 5. Here, a member of the church in Corinth (whom we conclude to have had fellowship with God at one time) now lived in immorality. According to 1 John 1 (and implied here) the man had now severed his fellowship with God. He walked in darkness, but the brethren in Corinth continued to keep fellowship with him. This, too, was wrong — but it did happen. Men maintained a fellowship which God refused.

Thus, two types of fellowship are apparent — that with God, depending wholly upon our walking in truth; and that with men (even brethren), which is subject to man’s approval or disapproval. Saying we should approve only that which God approves (with which I agree) does not change the facts. Brethren sometimes approve that which they should not — or disapprove that which they should accept. God knows the difference; and judges accordingly; but the “party” doesn’t always act as God would have it act.

As we individually obey the gospel we pledge ourselves to serve God. To Him ·we must individually give account when life is through (Matthew 16:24; Romans 14:4,12). Following this agreement of allegiance, and subject to its obligations, we join hands with others to work and worship together in a local fellowship, or congregation. God commands this union; the ties of this association are grand and its obligations real; but it remains the means of serving the Master, and must never become our Master.

Fellowship of men with men is an earthly tie which has an acceptable religious significance only when it complements our service to God. It is given divine regulations, but men do not always follow those regulations. One who counts on the outward bond of “church” fellowship alone to guarantee his spiritual redemption, leans on a broken reed.

NO, I DO NOT DEPRECIATE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE CHURCH. I seek to emphasize the meaning of the true church, as God’s people, who do God’s work, in God’s way — praised for their allegiance and service to God, rather than for their faithfulness to the “party.”

Brethren who are primarily interested in keeping their fellowship with God intact, will be drawn to one another by this common interest, and find a congregational fellowship that forecasts the sweetness of heaven.

Robert F. Turner – Plain Talk (November 1964)

Psalms 70

Posted on: July 26th, 2020

Any reading of the psalms reveals that David turned to the Lord any time he was facing severe trials or was in deep anguish. Many of David’s subjects probably envied the life that he lived. To them, he couldn’t possibly have the problems that they faced. Yet, David’s writings revealed the great pressures and dangers that he faced.

Often, people will look upon a person who is rich and powerful and think, “Oh, I wish I could be like him. Why, he lives the good life. He doesn’t have to face the problems that I have to face!” What a false impression that is! Everything has its price and problems. Money and position do not automatically bring happiness. In fact, the opposite can be true.

Whether rich or poor, young or old, problems will always loom in life; and the only answer is to turn to the Lord for guidance and rescue. David knew that, and he seldom forgot to present his petitions before God.

Psalm 70 is a cry for help. In fact, David saw his need as being immediate. In verse 1 he wrote, “O God, hasten to deliver me; O LORD, hasten to my help!” Today people may pray for rain or no rain, they may pray to lose 10 pounds, or have a successful Gospel Meeting; but David was praying for his life! In verse 2 David wrote, “Let those be ashamed and humiliated who seek my life; let those be turned back and dishonored who delight in my hurt.” David had enemies that were actively seeking his downfall or death.

One can’t help but wonder if a person, a Christian, today would take the time to pray in such a situation. Too often prayer is the last resort, or it is done after safety has been achieved. But here, David wrote his petition while his life was in danger. THAT is true trust in the Lord!

Verse 4 indicates David’s great faith and trust in his God. “Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘Let God be magnified’.” Simply because David saw that his life was in danger from his enemies did not keep him from thinking upon the power and mercy of the Lord.

Throughout the long centuries, Christians have died for their faith in Jesus Christ. They paid the ultimate price, because they knew that, in the Lord, there was a far greater reward. David believed that even without the added revelation of the Good News about Jesus Christ.

Christians have been truly blessed, but with great blessing and privilege comes great responsibility. All Christians should ask themselves, “How strong is my faith? Do I believe in the promises of the Lord enough to die for Him?” Let all rejoice that there is hope in the Lord in spite of the enemies found in this world.

In verse 5, David wrote, “But I am afflicted and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay.” David was the King of Israel, yet he saw himself as having nothing. David knew (and oh do all Christians need to learn this today!) that his wealth rested on his relationship with God. If the revolt by Absalom, David’s son, had succeeded, all of his wealth and power in the kingdom would have vanished. Yes, physical worldly power and assets can disappear overnight. Only a relationship with God will stand the test of eternity.

There are many concerns on the part of Christians today concerning the path this nation is taking. Powers hostile to God seem to be growing stronger. Terrorism is a real threat. Immorality seems to be spreading like an infection.

But when enemies threaten to overwhelm the children of God today, each Christian man and woman can turn to the plea that David made so many centu­ries ago – ” O God, hasten to deliver me.” That prayer was heard then, and it will be heard today. <James Shelburn>

Soul Nourishment

Posted on: July 19th, 2020

Moral statements and positions will, necessarily, impact political issues. This is not because morality is inherently political, but because government has the task of recognizing the difference between good and evil, so moral issues will have to be dealt with (Rom 13:3-4). This means that, contrary to what is so often stated and argued, morality will be legislated by government, and it will be legislated from a worldview that either recognizes the significance of God or not. To say that God needs to be kept out of politics, then, is to default to the secularized view of morality; and secularized morality will then be legislated. Why is it that people default to keeping God out of it instead of keeping the secularized views of reality out of it? And why do some Christians seem to be buying into all of this?

We need to see what has happened here. Many have bought into the notions that 1) God and religion must be kept out of politics, and 2) morality is not something that can be legislated. In fact, both are false. God is never out of politics, and we are fooling ourselves if we think so, given that God rules in the kingdoms of men. Every worldview says something about God. If a worldview says there is no God, then a notion of God is still a part of the position, and actions will be taken that demonstrate that disbelief. Further, every law is a legislation of morality in one form or another; there is no way around it. The question is, will the legislation come from those whose worldview respects God as the foundation or not?

I don’t say all of this in order to argue that Christians need to get more political. I’m arguing that Christians need to say more about God and morality in every area of life. We don’t check our God at the door when we enter a political arena, and we don’t set aside godly morals when we engage the culture. We don’t take a moral view of something based on politics, but surely our political views ought to be based on godly morality. The point then is not that we need more political activists. The point is that we need to be more engaged in the moral discussions of our culture and take a stand for what is right, regardless of political fallout. In other words, it’s not about being political; it’s about standing for what’s right in the middle of a crooked and perverse generation.

Even more, we need to hold up the gospel itself to the world. The answer to our problems is not to vote in or out this or that politician. No government in history has been a bastion of godliness, and I don’t expect that to change. The answer is always where it has been: in Christ. The problems of this world won’t be fixed by human government, but by the gospel. “The kingdoms of earth pass away one by one, but the kingdom of heaven remains.”

So Christians should be concerned with 1) holding out the gospel to a lost world, and 2) standing up for Christ and His morality. It’s not politics. It’s just what’s right. (Irvin Himmel)