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Preparing for a Smaller Brotherhood

Saturday, September 05, 2020

PREPARING FOR A SMALLER BROTHERHOOD

Bill Jackson —Deceased

Before someone tries to rename me, let me state that “I am not Chicken Little, running around crying that THE SKY IS FALLING!” I do not believe that the sky is falling. I do know that many congregations are fallen, and more will fall; and I know many members of the church have done and are doing the same. Sadly, in spite of all the publicity given to the marks of apostasy in our time, some are still prone to chalk it up to “preacher excitability, and exaggeration.” They state that after documentation of more than 160 congregations having had internal problems due to the Crossroads/ Boston Movement errors [Of the late 1970s and early 80s in the church—Editor].

Some will still say, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” I am stating no more, in this article’s heading, than was in the mind of Paul and others as they worked in the first century, and pointed to the coming great apostasy. Paul spoke of the departures from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1), and that due to men who have tired of sound doctrine, and wish to hear something else (2 Tim. 4:1-4). Peter spoke of false teachers who will bring in damnable heresies, and that “many shall follow their pernicious ways” (2 Peter 2:1-2). The Lord had waning faith in mind in looking to His return and asking, “when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Our Lord, and the apostles, were laying before us the matter of the church, as a result of apostasies, being smaller than in an earlier time. We do not see how any informed member can doubt it.

There cannot be great apostasy and the church still be growing in number. There cannot be all the weakness associated with departures from the faith, and great spiritual or numerical strength at the same time. Having fallen from the “top ten,” the church will fall further unless there is, very soon, a turnaround that we cannot now see. In fact, being “in the top ten,” and pridefully desiring to remain so, or to climb even higher, no doubt encouraged some to soften all stance in order to be more pleasing unto men, and to gain the numbers that will be so impressive that we will remain high in denominational favor. After all, the denominational papers and magazines were the ones keeping the count, and some in our ranks wanted to keep these in a favorable mood toward us. But, did not Jesus warn, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!” (Luke 6:26)?

We must then prepare for a smaller brotherhood. When the apostasy has run its course, that is what we will have. But, it will be a more faithful brotherhood, loving God and loving truth, and still holding onto and preaching exactly what we believed and preached since Pentecost, 33 A.D. It will still be the body of the Christ (Eph. 1:22-23), charged with making known to lost men the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10). It will be the body maintaining the New Testament’s marks for the church, in name, in organization, in work, in the plan of salvation taught, and in the form of New Testament worship. It may not be the body once positioned on Main Street, downtown in a large city, having long since had to move once again into the frame building down some side street and across the tracks, but it will be the body of Christ, and faithful to the Lord. It will be the body known by the Lord, and to be claimed by Him when He next appears (1 Cor. 15:24). A congregation does not have to be great in size to be either faithful or blest by God! There will remain, I fear, one confusing element.

Unlike some hobbyistic movements, so anxious to leave the church that they readily adopted some other religious name, the trend in modern-day liberalism is to keep the designation “church of Christ.” Some few, in demonstration of “freedom” will be “the Family of God...Fellowship Cathedral... House of the Carpenter...” etc., but doubtless most will retain the wording “church of Christ.” Those who are traveling will have to do more careful advanced planning as to where they will stop for worship. But still, if worship is important—and it is—the planning is worth it. We will have to do that planning, for the brotherhood will be smaller!

 

Bible Authority Must Be Respected

Friday, August 28, 2020

BIBLE AUTHORITY MUST BE RESPECTED
Marvin L. Weir

The great battle that is being fought today is over the authority of the Bible. Bible authority must be understood, taught, and put into practice if we are to please the Lord.

        God is the Creator and man is the created. The created is never greater than the Creator. Isaiah noted that man was created to glorify God (Isa. 43:7). The apostle Paul admonishes, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). One cannot glorify God by refusing to be guided by a “thus saith the Lord.”
        Legion are the number of folks today who refuse to abide by Biblical authority because they desire to glorify themselves! So many people prefer to do what they want to do, and they fully intend to do it their way. This type of attitude spawns religious division and promotes denominationalism. It also produces liberalism and modernism within the Lord’s church.
        The Bible plea is that “...ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). The Holy Spirit instructed the Colossian brethren in saying, “...whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col. 3:17). Doing something in the name of Christ Jesus is doing what He has authorized us to do. All unscriptural religious division today is the direct result of people refusing to abide by the authority of the Scriptures.
        God’s law has been absolute and binding in every dispensation of time. Those in denominations and liberal members of the Lord’s church absolutely abhor the principles taught in the Old Testament regarding Bible authority. They have nothing but disdain for Bible examples that clearly show the wrath of God upon those who reject and spurn a “thus saith the Lord.”
        Since God is “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34), we know He communicated with both Cain and Abel regarding an offering acceptable unto Him. God has respect for Abel’s offering, “but unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect” (Gen. 4:4-5). Man has never been given permission to deviate from what God has specified! God expected folks to be submissive and obedient to His will under the Patriarchal dispensation.
        The Mosaical dispensation reveals to us the story of Nadab and Abihu. The liberals and progressives detest such an incident because it vividly reveals that God will not approve that which has not been authorized. The Scriptures read, “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD” (Lev. 10:1-2). There is no getting around the fact that Nadab and Abihu were killed because they took the liberty to do that which God “had not commanded them.”
        God’s will is still to be honored and respected in the Christian age. It is not true that God’s authority was needed under the Patriarchal and Mosaical dispensations but is optional or unnecessary under the New Covenant. Jesus makes it clear that what we say must agree with what He demands that we do if we are going to be with Him in Heaven. The Lord warned, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Again, the Master admonished, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say” (Luke 6:46)? Remember that the words of the apostle Paul in Colossians 3:17 were “whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
        If we abide by the teaching of Christ, it does not allow us hear and do not! James clearly states that we are to be “...doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22). Jesus teaches that the “wise man” who hears His word and respects and follows it will build upon the “rock,” but that the “foolish man” who hears and does not abide by His word will choose to build upon the “sand” (Matt. 7:24-27). It is said of the one who built upon the sand and refused to abide by a “thus saith the Lord” — “and great was the fall it.”
        The standard of authority that we are to abide by is not majority rule (Matt. 7:13-14; Exodus 23:2;) nor is it the Pope of Roman Catholicism. Christ is the head of His church which is His body (Eph. 1:22-23), and He has been given all authority “in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). This leaves no authority for the Pope nor any other man, woman, or creed. As the Scriptures teach “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psa. 119:89).
        One who does not abide by the teaching of Christ and respect His authority does not love the Father or the Son. John makes this clear in stating, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). Neither can one fellowship, aid, support, or encourage the person who refuses to abide in the teaching of Christ without becoming a partaker of his evil works (2 John 10)!
        All people will be judged by the Word of God — not the word of man. Jesus teaches, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). It is true that Christ has become “unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9).
        The great battle that is being fought today is over the authority of the Bible. Bible authority must be understood, taught, and put into practice if we are to please the Lord. Bible authority is not full of comfort for those who insist upon worshiping and living as they please, but for those who want to go Heaven, it is their refuge and source of strength. May we all choose to respect Bible authority!   

Being A Christian is Costly

Saturday, August 22, 2020

BEING A CHRISTIAN IS COSTLY
Marvin Weir

        The devil would like nothing more than for one to believe that it does not cost to be a Christian. Some well-meaning folks will even declare that after one becomes a child of God, his troubles are over. Those who expect their problems and sorrows to disappear after obeying the Gospel are then discouraged when the devil attacks with all his fury. One must remember that the word of God warns: “be sober, be vigilant: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). When Satan loses a soul because of one’s obedience to the Gospel, he will unleash his fury in seeking to tempt the new convert to apostatize from the faith.
        If people are taught and realize that Christianity is costly, it will be more difficult for Satan to sow seeds of discouragement. Let us consider some of the costs of becoming a Christian.
        First, one must be willing to give up the pleasures of sin. Not all are willing to turn from certain sins. The devil will do all in his power to convince one to continue the wickedness that brings temporary pleasure. This is why many folks continue to live in and enjoy an adulterous relationship. They do not desire to forsake that which is pleasurable! The Bible, however, encourages all to imitate Moses. God’s Word says, “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (
Heb. 10:24-25).
        People need to see sin for the bad investment it is. God makes it clear that those who live in or practice sin will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (
1 Cor. 6:9-10). The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23).
        Second, one must be willing to surrender to the will of God. Even the majority of the “religious world” has no desire to turn from their man-made doctrines and surrender to God’s plan of salvation. Jesus said, “If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments” (
John 14:15). Countless thousands say they love Christ, but their actions speak louder than their words! So many claim to believe in and accept Christ but reject the command to be baptized for remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16).
        The truth is that many people today are related to the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. John stated, “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess [him], lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (
John 12:42-43). One must be a “doer” of the word and not a “hearer only” (James 1:22).
        Third, one must be willing to be separate from the world. The apostle Paul said, “But far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (
Gal. 6:14; cf. Gal. 2:20). Paul taught the brethren at Corinth: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Cor. 6:14-17).
        If a man is in love with the world, the love of the Father is not in him (
1 John 2:15-17).
        Fourth, one must pay the cost of self-denial. Many determine this is too high a price to pay as they will not say “No” to themselves. The Lord taught, “...If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (
Luke 9:23).
        It is true that it costs to be a faithful Christian. But the costs are greater when one rejects Christianity. Can you afford to live your life in such a way that it costs you your soul, heaven, and eternal fellowship with God and those of like precious faith?
        The cost is great to be a Christian, but the cost is far greater to be a servant of Satan.

Is America at the End?

Saturday, August 15, 2020

IS AMERICA AT THE END?
Charles Blair

        It is God alone who can read hearts. God gave this truth to Samuel in the long ago. God does not see things as men do; but instead, looks on the heart of individuals (1 Sam. 16:7). The end of America or any nation is determined by God when He sees there is not enough righteousness to turn the nation around. Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin [is] a reproach to any people.”
        How bad is America? If we are left to trusting the media, we need to understand that it feeds on that which is bad. The question becomes, does this represent all of America or is it just a few? There is no way for us to know the actual numbers that are involved. There is an increasing amount of scandals in the nation. These scandals represent individuals who enjoy power and will do anything to get and/or keep it. The scandals also show that some individuals live very immoral lives. The question becomes, does this represent all of America?
        If God sees fit to bring our nation down, we must know it would be because He gave up on the direction in which we’re headed. On the other hand, if it does not fall, then God would see there is yet time to turn things around. This leaves us in the position of knowing how to view the world around us. We are not to love the world or the things in the world such as power, greed, hatred or violence. The message is, “the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). Our view must be to focus our attention on where we live and strive to win as many as we can to the cause of Jesus Christ.
        The rest of the world we must leave in God’s hands and devote ourselves to prayer for our nation and the world. If we stay at home and do not vote, then we in a sense believe God has given up on our nation. We cannot afford to be distracted from reaching lost souls, edifying the church and being benevolent toward all men. This nation has always needed the Lord and more so even now. Let us pray, vote and continue to work for the Lord daily.

JUDGMENT OF GOD ON NATIONS

        The prophet Ezekiel wrote about God’s judgment coming against Tyre and Zidon in chapter 28 and then against Egypt in chapter 29. Daniel, who was already in Babylon captivity having been taken in the first deportation, spoke about God reigning in the kingdoms of men (Daniel 4:17). History tells us a great deal about empires, nations, thugs and rulers who believed their power was absolute. At times when evil seems to be the way of all men’s hearts, God’s people are reminded that God is observant and concerned about what men do with their lives.
        In the days of Noah, God saw a world that could not be redeemed. It was a world where the wickedness of man was great and was growing (
Gen. 6:5). At least the cause was addressed as Moses tells us that man’s imagination was on evil continually. Long after the flood, the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim did not possess enough righteousness to stop the wrath of God from being poured out on them (Gen. 19). God would likewise deal with His own people in Israel and Judah. He would be forced by their yearning for evil to finally divorce them (Isa. 50:1). Israel would go into Assyrian captivity and Judah would a short time later go into Babylonian captivity. Both actions were a result of the judgment of God.
        What we find in prophets like Ezekiel, Daniel, Jeremiah and Isaiah is that those who were not God’s chosen people still faced the wrath of God. The message presented is that at times evil grows and the hearts of men turn from trusting God. Then things happen and mankind tires of the effects of sin and start searching for answers about life itself. God is not now nor has He ever been powerless. When one argues that God does not care what we do, they are given examples of Tyre, Zidon, Egypt and many more. No civilization can reject the knowledge of God for any length of time and survive very long (
Prov. 1:7). The book of Psalms speaks about all the inhabitants of the world being in awe of God (Psa. 33:8).
        Aside from the days of Adam and Eve and Noah and his family coming out of the ark, there has never been a time when the righteous outnumbered the unrighteous. The idea then of all the inhabitants of the earth standing in awe of God is another way of saying that at times, righteousness and moral conduct is what the world chooses. Not even in such times of the revival of men’s spirits do we find everyone participating. The sad truth from the Scriptures is that many will walk the broad way as opposed to the narrow way selected by the few (Matt. 7:13-14). I had rather live next door to moral or religious people than one who has no moral compass at all.
        In the church, Paul writes to Corinth about any person “who is called a brother” (
1 Cor. 5:11). He warned the Galatians about false brethren being brought in (Gal. 2:4). Jude warned about those pretending to be Christians that were spots on the body of Christ (v.12). My point is, that even though God’s people have the truth, it does not necessarily mean that all will follow the way of God.
        Those who are not ready to meet God must face this truth. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). Pharaoh believed he could cross the Red Sea just like his slaves (Israel) did. Assyrians thought they could enter Jerusalem like they had done to all other cities. Babylon thought there was no way they could ever fall. History contains the ruins of civilizations, families and individuals who thought the judgment of God is always far away from them.
        We are all warned to be sober and vigilant (
1 Peter 5:8). Are you?

The Christian and Facebook

Saturday, August 08, 2020

THE CHRISTIAN AND FACEBOOK
Mark Lance

        Some people love Facebook while others seem to think it’s evil. The truth may be somewhere in between. It depends on how we use something, whether it is good or bad. Alcohol is a wonderful thing when it is used properly. It can cleanse and sterilize. But it’s a terrible thing when it is misused. When used wrongly it can lead to someone cheating on their spouse, or it can even cause someone to be involved in an automobile accident killing themselves or someone else. It all depends on how it is used. God gave it to us, but He expects us to use it wisely.
        Facebook can be a great tool used to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some preachers post messages every day that are very inspiring. They strengthen those who read them and put them to use in their lives. Facebook can be a great way to encourage those going through difficulties. Friends can stay in contact with each other and see what is going on in the lives of others that they may not otherwise know. We can share our funny stories. We can share the pictures of the family as we go through our daily lives. Facebook can truly be a wonderful tool when we use it as is proper in God’s sight. We should even thank God that it is available, and we can reach around the world in a matter of seconds.
        Facebook can be a deadly tool when misused. Unfortunately this happens all too often. Even those professing to be Christians are posting pictures that, to say the least, are not approved by God. Pictures that show people dressed immodestly. Pictures that show people doing ungodly acts. One thing that is very disturbing is to see those who post things they shouldn’t and Christians hitting their “like” button. Why would any person professing to be a child of God want to put their approval on something that God condemns? In the words of James, “My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (
James 3:10).
        Another area on Facebook that is causing great harm to the body of Christ are those who are posting things about other brethren that otherwise would not have been known. Jesus said, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican” (Matt. 18:15-17). It is possible to have truth and misuse it. When it is posted on Facebook, even non- Christians are seeing things that should have been handled privately.
        Yes, I know there will be brethren that will encourage the ones posting such things with their “teach the truth brother” and “I am with you brother“, but we should remember the approval of men is not the same thing as the approval of God.
        Dear brethren, may we use Facebook, and all things, to bring glory to our loving Father in Heaven. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen” (
1 Thess. 5:28).

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