Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

Every Form Of Evil

Posted on: August 20th, 2023

Paul writes, “…prove all things; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (I Thessalonians 5:21-22). Pointedly, Paul exhorts the Christian to action: “prove,” “hold fast” and “abstain.” The things to filter through the first step is broad in scope. It includes “all things.” Paul’s concise statements provide an uncluttered process to follow in all manner of holy living.

To prove or test all things demands an infallible Divine standard. God’s criterion for us is the “Godbreathed” Scriptures. It is profitable for the teaching, and spiritual training we need (2 Timothy 3:16). The light of the Gospel shining through the apostles’ doctrine exposes the difference between truth and error (I John 4:1, 6). The verbal light Jesus provides is a touchstone for us to determine the difference between evil doers and truth doers (John 3:19-21).

Through the crucible of the revealed Truth of God, we enter the application phase. We must “hold fast” and continue to grasp that which God identifies as “good.” We must also “abstain” and continue to refrain from Divinely proven “evil.” The process of keeping our walk holy is inclusive, demanding, and unambiguous, right? Not so fast…does “every form of evil” mean we are to abstain from that which “appears” to be evil? Or, does this mean I must refrain from evil when it makes its “appearance” before me. The Greek word, “form” denotes the appearance of something, but it is unambiguous when it appears. For example, at Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit descended in a “bodily form as of a dove” upon Jesus (Luke 3:22).

Paul is exhorting us in Thessalonians to continue to abstain from that which God has already characterized as evil.

Starting within, we must abstain from “evil thoughts.” Jesus characterizes the evil that rises from our hearts naming “murders adulteries, fornications, and thefts…”(Matthew 15:19). Where do these selfish and harmful outward uses of the body originate? Jesus begins His list with “evil thoughts.” Wicked thinking heads the list connecting us with “evil deeds.”

Evil thoughts often arise in the stressful times of conflict. When conflicting views of religious teaching collide, we must recognize the teaching which is not manifesting the sound words of the revealed Gospel and observe the behavior of those who do not want to come to the light of Truth for examination. However, we must be careful the controversy does not generate evil thoughts. Paul reminds us that such outward disputes can lead to inward “evil suspicions” (I Timothy 6:3). We can in times of controversy “surmise” the worst in another, that they are utterly corrupt, not just mistaken. But evil proceeds further…

We must also abstain from “evil speaking.” It is noteworthy Paul in I Timothy 6:3 connects “railings” with “evil suspicions.” If we are not on top of abstaining from evil, we will not be on guard to keep our tongue from speaking evil of another. It is easier to blaspheme and ruin another’s reputation when we surmise our disputant has little or no redeeming qualities.

God’s filtering process also keeps us falling victim to “politically correct” thinking. Paul directed the church to “Put away the wicked man from among yourselves” (I Corinthians 5:13). We should not apologize for God’s wording, in the presence of “wokeness”. This fornicating man in Corinth was an evil man – filtered by God’s Word – as a fornicating sinner. But he was not unredeemable, worthy of surmising and blasphemy, for the same man would turn to God in repentance (2 Corinthians 2:5-11). To identify a person as evil is instructive in our walk with God, not impolite and extreme!

Jerry Fite
Glad Tidings

How Important Is The Family?

Posted on: August 13th, 2023

The Bible says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psa. 127:1a). Rather than being primarily concerned with the building of physical houses made of wood and brick, the teaching of God’s word focuses on the building of households, or families. A “family” is properly defined as consisting of a unit of people who are related to one another. The basic family unit is made up of a husband and wife (Matt. 19:4-6), as well as their children, should they be so blessed (Psa. 127:3).
While the world so often belittles, scorns, and seeks to discard the concept of the family, the Bible places a great deal of emphasis on its importance and significance. Why is the family so important?

1. The family is the first God-ordained institution. Long before the church was brought into existence and even before the implementation of civil government, God created the family arrangement. On the sixth day of the creation God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Gen. 2:18). Accordingly, God created woman and it was decreed that “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (v. 24). God made the family a priority even from the beginning.

2. The family is the first and only honorable arrangement provided by God for the procreation of mankind. With regard to the family unit consisting of a man and a woman, God said at the beginning that the married couple should “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). While children may be conceived outside of the marriage relationship, God did not intend it to be so. Concerning sexual fulfillment, the message of Scripture is clear: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). God arranged the family to serve as a loving environment in which children are to be produced and raised.

3. The family is the first place for providing for the physical needs of its members. God designed the family to sustain itself from a physical and material standpoint. With regard to this function of the family, the apostle Paul writes, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). Rather than placing this responsibility upon the government or the church, the family has been created by God to take care of and sustain itself (cf. 2 Thess. 3:10-12).

4. The family is the first and best arrangement for the training and education of children. The word of God makes plainly evident the fact that God designed the family as a training arrangement. The biblical charge to parents is as follows: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6) and, “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die” (23:13). God expects the family arrangement to be one in which godly guidance is provided.
5. The family is the first place where true religion is taught and practiced. Concerning the words of the Law of Moses, Israelite families were instructed as follows: “You shall teach them
diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deut. 6:7). While the local church is responsible for teaching and upholding the truth (1 Tim. 3:15), the Lord has directly charged parents with the responsibility of bringing up their own children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). The undeniable expectation is that God and His word will be held in reverence in the family, as one generation passes His wisdom on to the next.
Conclusion: In numerous and profound ways God has made the family first. The challenge before us is to make sure that God is first in our families. As we seek to fulfill God’s expectations for our families, let us be ever aware that, “The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but He blesses the home of the just” (Prov. 3:33).

David Dann

Me Against The World

Posted on: August 6th, 2023

Elijah once thought, “I am left alone,” the only one right (Rom. 11:3). But he was wrong in this judgment, even though right in his God service. The “one against the world” attitude is self-inflating, and has wrecked the work of many a would-be reformer.

When one recognizes a truth which he had not before seen — and if you have not done this you are not growing as God intended — this should be a humbling experience. Should one not think, “Until now, I have failed in this matter.” Is it not presumptuous to conclude that you alone have such marvelous insight?

What if others are yet unaware of this truth — or perhaps fail to give it the emphasis it deserves? Will we help them by adopting a superior air, and treating them as if they were stupid, or do not love truth? Quite often it is the one who has newly “seen the light” that was — well, not as bright as they now seem to think. It is often the case that others have long known this particular truth, although they may not have set it forth with the clarity it deserves. Our attitude may push good men into defensive positions. (What pushed the “reformer” into his “one against the world” attitude?) When will we learn to teach such truth as we believe we have found, with vigor, application, documented by scriptures, but with no personal “credit” line? I get the impression that some think they invented the gospel.

Besides being the Christ-like spirit, such humility will be very helpful when someone examines our “new” truth, and finds it is an old error. Those who have recently taken excursions in “imputed righteousness” need to do a bit of research on this line.

We do tend to traditionalize our preaching; to emphasize one point to the neglect of others. But if someone knows the truth more perfectly let him balance his preaching and set it before us with clarity. It is not the scriptural, whole-truth scheme of redemption that riles truth lovers. Good men constantly learn more truth, they just don’t like to be fed 16th. Century error, and be classed as legalists if they refuse to eat it.

Robert F. Turner

Why Should I Faithfully Attend A Gospel Meeting?

Posted on: July 30th, 2023

Come August 3rd – 6th, members of the Grissom Road congregation will have a wonderful opportunity to hear Brother Jesse Garcia present lessons from God’s Word. I am confident that Jesse has done his part in preparing and so the rest is up to us. But, why should I want to attend? We already have scheduled services during the week, three hours on Sunday and another hour on Wednesday. Isn’t that enough?

I hope no one at Grissom Road really feels this way, but some professing faith in Christ do. The truth is, if we are not excited about this special opportunity, then chances are we will not get much out of the time spent. We need to meditate and prepare ourselves to have a great time together.

So why should I attend every service possible?

First and foremost, we glorify our God and Creator if we have the right mindset. “For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:20) We should want to take every opportunity to praise His name.

Your presence is such a powerful and wonderful force on other Christians who attend with you. In connection with faithful attendance, the Hebrew writer says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:24)
Again, with the right frame of mind, we have such a powerful moment to rejuvenate and be better prepared for the days to follow. I know that life can be exhausting, but if we are happy to go, it will be a time well spent.

Parents, this is a wonderful teaching moment for your kids, but what kind of impression will you leave on them? Let them hear and see your enthusiasm about going to the meeting. And if they are less than eager about attending, gently remind them of God’s love and sacrifice. Help them to understand the value of going. You give them the best chance to develop their faith and love for God by teaching them the truth from God’s Word and by being consistent, patient, and kind with your guidance.

I hope we all enjoy and benefit from our time together with Brother Jesse Garcia.
Terry Starling

Such As I Am

Posted on: July 23rd, 2023

Near the conclusion of his defense before King Agrippa, the king tells Paul, “With but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian”. Paul answers, “I would to God, that whether with little or with much, not thou only, but also all that hear me this day, might become such as I am, except these bonds.” (Acts 26:29) To wish that others might be “as I am” is not boastful egotism with Paul. This is evident as he invites others to “Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1) Elsewhere, he encourages such imitating of himself and “them that so walk” (Phil. 3:17). And just what does that involve?

To be as Paul is to be a Christian. This is obviously what he has in mind in the statement made to Agrippa. If one is like Paul he is willing to acknowledge his wrongs and make the necessary changes to be right. Such humility and self-denial are fundamental in the serious business of following Christ. So is the faith demonstrated by Paul. When a man is like Paul his faith will lead him to do what Paul did in becoming a Christian, including putting on Christ in the baptism that puts away sins (Gal. 3:27; Acts 22:16). Paul saw salvation in Christ and being a Christian as blessings to be more treasured than any earthly gain (Phil. 3:7,8). His continuing aim and effort was to be well pleasing unto the Lord (2 Cor. 5:9). Agrippa and all sinners, both then and now, need to become Christians as Paul did; then, being a Christian should be to every Christian what it was to Paul! After all, to be as Paul is to have all spiritual blessings.

Further, to be like Paul means helping others to become Christians. He says, “I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.” (1 Cor. 9:22) In this work he sees himself as poor, “yet making many rich.” (2 Cor. 6:10) None can make valid claim to being like Paul or the Christ he served without being deeply concerned about lost souls. Like Paul, our concern needs translating into meaningful efforts to teach and influence the lost. “Knowing therefore the fear of the Lord”, he says, “we persuade men…” (2 Cor. 5:11) — that is what the unsaved need, and that’s what the saved need to be doing. With every conversion we disprove the allegation that “no one will listen” or that “no one wants the truth anymore”. When we develop a soul-consciousness and concern such as Paul possessed, we won’t have to wait for someone to start a personal-work class or give us a name to go visit. What more motivation do we need than to simply remember the value of the soul or the fate of the sinner? To be like Paul here is to care — to the point of commitment.

Finally, to be like Paul means being willing to invite others to be such as I am”. Not only are we to be imitators, we are to be ensamples (as were the Thessalonians, 1 Thes. 1:6,7). Could I, as Paul, wish that all were as I am? If not, then obviously, I am not as I need to be and changes are in order. Paul was willing to confess wrong and change. As we imitate him and do likewise, we become well-pleasing to the Lord and ensamples worthy of imitation by our families, our brethren and the world.

Success In Spite Of Failure

Posted on: July 9th, 2023

I am reminded of a Bible truth from two well-known illustrations of success in spite of failure. One involves the great baseball player Babe Ruth, who had a record-setting 714 home runs. Did you know the “Babe” also reportedly struck out more than any other player in history: 1, 330 times. You might say Ruth had nearly two failures for every home run he hit. But Babe Ruth didn’t let his baseball failures keep him from baseball success.
Another interesting example of success in spite of failure was a young man who ran for the Illinois legislature, but was badly defeated. He then entered business and failed, and spent years paying off his debts. Then the young woman he loved, and was engaged to, died. He then entered politics again, and ran for Congress, but was badly defeated. Then he tried to get an appointment to the U. S. Land Office, but failed. Then he became a candidate for the U. S. Senate, and was badly defeated. Two years later he was defeated again. A man who experienced one failure and setback after another- but he kept on trying, and became one of the greatest men in the history of our nation: President Abraham Lincoln.
The reason I’ve mentioned all of that, is to remind you of the importance of not giving up our determination to serve God. You see, the difference between who will be saved in Heaven or condemned in Hell isn’t that some sin and others don’t. No, we all sin (Rom. 3: 23; 1 Kgs 8: 46).). The difference is that some turn away from their sins, and turn back to God, and others won’t! You see, we all fall into sin, but the difference is that some who fall into sin get up again by obtaining God’s forgiveness, and others just GIVE UP!
My friend, don’t let the failures of the past keep you from succeeding in the future. Don’t let your past sins cause you to give up. Instead of GIVING UP, GET UP from the failures by turning to God for His forgiveness. You can believe in Christ, repent of your sins, confess His glorious name, and be baptized “for the remission of your sins” (Mk. 16: 16; Acts 2: 38; Lk. 24: 47; Acts 10: 9-10; 8: 37). Think on these things.

Preaching and Personality

Posted on: June 25th, 2023

Oratory is an important factor in the history of mankind. The contributions made by great speakers dot the pages of history. Ancient oratory reached its prime with speakers like Demosthenes and Aristotle, who were known for their eloquence. Modern times have produced great orators as well. Men like General Kitchener, who stirred his troops with emotion toward Flanders fields during World War I. Adolph Hitler—a man of meager talents and a poor education, but of extraordinary abilities to move people by oratory—induced his people to the brink of total immorality by his impassioned speeches in the 1930s. And it is said that Sir Winston Churchill once actually turned Parliament from one position to a totally opposite one by use of his unique oratorical skills.
    The great orators of Jewish history—Noah, Moses, Joshua, Ezra, Daniel—admittedly guided by the Holy Spirit, but speaking in their own vernacular and in accordance with their own personalities, gave meaning to the will of God and caused people, by their grand speeches, to return to the old paths. While the preaching of the ancient Greeks lacked morality as the one ingredient to qualify it for greatness, God’s interjection of the same into the preaching of the Old Testament prophets by the Holy Spirit brought not only greatness but effectivity to their speeches.
Preaching is “the gospel in personality” says Dr. Broadus in his Preparation and Delivery of Sermons. That fact is illustrated in every New Testament preacher. The preaching of John the Baptist gives us some idea of what kind of person he was—fiery, unmovable. Barnabas is called “the Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36), telling us something about his personality as well as his preaching. Peter’s impetuosity is continually in evidence in his preaching, and Paul’s dedication was not only common to his preaching, it was part of his personality. Apollos is referred to as “an eloquent man” (Acts 18:24), a fact which would have been so whether or not he ever preached the gospel. Preaching is a blend of the personality of the preacher with the message of the Savior.
Amos was a preacher with little emotion, one who “was not a prophet nor the son of one” (Amos 7:14); his call was for justice, not mercy; while Jeremiah, sometimes called “the weeping prophet,” had an obviously different disposition. Jonah is an example of arrogance coupled with superb oratorical skills (he converted a huge city-state). Luke’s gospel is a manifestation of his own deliberate and cultured personality, and Paul’s concern in the book of 2 Corinthians shows us a side of him not seen in some of his other epistles. The books written by these men would lose some of their flavor, some of their appeal, if divorced from the personality of the writer.
It is somewhat of a paradox that the same message—unaltered, undisturbed by human innovation—is to be delivered in so many different personalities. What a disservice is done to the arrangement of God when we seek to make every man into a clone of what we have surmised in our imaginations to be the best preacher. What is the best preacher, anyhow? Is he timid or gregarious, loud or soft, verbose or concise? And who decides the matter?
God did not choose one man to write the Bible, nor did He choose only one kind of temperament to preach it. He put His gospel in personality. Certainly it is one gospel—complete, immutable—but we do it a great disservice when we try to make every man say its message in the same way, with the same emphases, the same inflections, and without respect to his own personality.

The New Creature

Posted on: June 18th, 2023

“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” (2 Cor. 5:17). Obviously his physical characteristics have not changed, and one does not “partake of the divine nature” in its essence. We suggest a comparison study of verses in the frequently parallel letters of Ephesians and Colossians as a clue to this “new” and different man.

Eph. 4:17-f. defines the changed man. “Walk not as the Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind…” “but ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by Him” “that ye put off… the old man … and be renewed in the spirit of your mind…etc”.

Now, compare this with Col. 3:8-f., “Put off anger, wrath … seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him…”

I have emphasized words pertaining to the common thought: the new man thinks differently, i.e., he has new and different standards; one change has taken place in his mind. The heart (mind) is not different through miraculous operation, but by teaching, hearing, learning (Jn. 6:45). But this “learning” is not simply the accumulation of information …stored so it may be repeated upon examination. The “spirit of the mind” has been affected or “constrained” by our recognition of Christ’s love for us (2 Cor. 5:12), so that vanity has been replaced by humility and dependence (Cf. Phil. 2:5; 3:15). Expositors say, “It is necessary, therefore, to take pneuma here as our spirit…the higher faculty in man …that makes him most akin to God.” Without debating the intricacies of mind-spirit, the man is “new” because his understanding has affected his desires, and the new heart bears fruit for God.

Both passages (Eph. and Col.) tell us that the whole of the “new man” includes his conduct. “Just so the heart is right” is an idle gesture. We can not know one’s heart, but “by their fruits” men are known (Matt. 7: 20). Remission of sins, and heaven, are at the point of doing (Acts 2:38; Rev. 2:10), and short of this point there is no new creature (Matt. 7:21).

Careful To Answer

Posted on: June 11th, 2023

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were called before the king and faced charges of refusing to worship the golden image he had erected, Nebuchadnezzar asked, “Who is that god that shall deliver you out of my hands?” Things looked pretty dark. 

But they replied, “We have no need to answer thee in this matter”. The King James version reads, “We are not careful to answer thee in this matter” (Dan 3:15-16). The thought seems to be, we will not choose our words carefully —- concerned lest we offend; we will not try to “talk our way out of” this situation. And they added, “Our God is able to deliver us” (of it suits His purposes to do so) “but if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Several years back a preacher said John (the Immerser) “lost his head” because he “lost his head” —- he was not tactful in his criticism of Herod. John had said, of Herod’s marriage to his brother Philip’s wife, “It is not lawful for thee to have her” (Matt 14).

John was not “careful to answer,” someone might say. Well, he certainly was not trying to “butter up” the king. On the other hand, John and the captive Jews of Daniel 3, were very careful to maintain their faith in God and to court His approval. John lost his head, and the three Hebrews were thrown into the fiery furnace, but each gained more than he lost. We “have no need” for any man’s approval as we have need for God’s approval. Jesus said, “Fear not those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell” (Matt 10:28).

We are not advocating crudeness! Daniel’s brethren were respectful to the king; and love for souls will forbid our becoming a bully with the truth. Shouting, stomping pronouncements of Damnation are often signs of weakness, while genuine strength is accompanied by humility. But genuine strength speaks truthfully, directly and clearly, regardless of temporal consequences —- and because of inevitable eternal consequences.

Comfort for the Depressed

Posted on: May 28th, 2023

In II Corinthians 1, Paul discusses what must have been one of the lowest points in his life, a time filled with deep feelings of anxiety and despair. He reports that in Asia he was “burdened excessively, beyond… strength” so that he “despaired even of life”, having the “sentence of death” within himself (II Corinthians 1:8-9). He spoke of how he had “no rest” for his spirit, how he was “afflicted on every side”, “conflicts without, fears within” (II Corinthians 7:5). Have you ever felt this way? Have you known this kind of pressure? As Paul reflected upon his sufferings he made several observations that will help each of us when we go through similar times of suffering.
Suffering causes us to trust in God rather than ourselves. “For indeed we have the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead” (II Corinthians 1:9). How powerfully suffering reminds us of our human weakness! Our inability to remove suffering points to the need to trust in God. How hard it is for us to learn that lesson! Often we have to be put flat of our back before we start looking up!

Suffering prompts us to pray. Paul had learned what a great help prayer was in suffering. He reminded the Corinthians that deliverance from his afflictions could be found through their prayers (II Corinthians 1:11). In chapter 12, when he spoke of his thorn in the flesh he mentions how he prayed repeatedly to the Lord. And so we are encouraged to do: “Is any among you suffering? Let him pray!” (James 5:13).

God has the power to deliver us from suffering. In contrast to man’s weakness Paul describes God as one who can “raise the dead” (II Corinthians 1:9). He who can raise one from death can also deliver one from it. In this assurance Paul affirmed that God had not only delivered him in the past but would do so in the future in keeping with his will (II Corinthians 1:10-11)!

God has the power to strengthen us while suffering! Not all God’s comfort comes through the removal of that which makes us suffer. When Paul prayed for relief from his “thorn” (II Corinthians 12) God said, “My grace is sufficient for you” (II Corinthians 12:9). To know that we are Christians, that we have the hope of heaven, that we live in his favor provides sufficient strength to endure for Christ’s sake whatever may be our lot in life. “For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison…” (II Corinthians 4:17).

Our sufferings make it possible for us to comfort others in their afflictions. Paul hoped to comfort others in their afflictions just God had comforted him (II Corinthians 1:4). What a great attitude he had! Rather than complain about his problems, he rejoiced that they provided him with the power and compassion to help others who faced similar circumstances. Who can be a better comforter to the suffering than the one who has experienced suffering and overcame it?

From the day Paul rose from baptism to serve Christ (Acts 9:18; 22:16), he learned as Jesus had foretold “how many things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” And yet in them all, Paul kept the faith. Throughout his life, he demonstrated unswerving commitment to Christ and patient hope of living with him someday. All of us can have that same hope — that whatever life may bring, God will be there to help us remain faithful and to deliver us to world where pain does not exist. Be comforted by this promise.