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THE “YOUTH APPROACH” TO PREACHING - Part 1

Sunday, March 17, 2019

THE “YOUTH APPROACH” TO PREACHING 

(Part I)

Victor M. Eskew 

In our efforts to teach others the Gospel, it is essential that we make ourselves all things to all men. This was definitely the approach the apostle Paul took. In First Corinthians 9:19-23, he discussed this aspect of evangelism. “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; to them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak I became as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.” 

            If we are striving to teach another, we must meet that person where he is. However, we must be careful in how far this approach is taken. Paul understood this. He said that when he went to the Gentiles, he became as one “without law,” but he did not end his comment there. He qualifies it with this parenthetical statement: “Being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ” (1 Cor. 9:21). Even though Paul was ministering to those who were not under the Law of Moses, he did not forget that he was still bound to the law of Christ. 

            One of the grave concerns that leaders in the church have involves the loss of our young people. Many youth leave the church when they leave home and go to college or enter the work arena. This exodus has caused some to reevaluate their approach to young people. It is believed that we have not “become all things” to our youth. With this in mind, a new approach has been taken to our youth, especially when it comes to the proclamation of the Gospel. I have styled this new approach as the “Youth Approach” to preaching. 

            As one listens to the “Youth Approach” to preaching, there are several ways it can be described. First, it is new and modern. Second, it is fresh and hip. Third, it is fun and enjoyable. Fourth, it is soft and non-offensive. Fifth, there is no error, but there is no Bible. Not all of these things are bad. They may make an older crowd somewhat uncomfortable, but they are not sinful. 

            There are some words of warning, however, that need to be applied to the “Youth Approach” to preaching. First, it is very easy for speakers who use this new approach to become flippant and irreverent in their proclamation of the Gospel of Christ.  Just because certain words and phrases are used among our children does not mean they should be used in preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. In Acts 26:25, the apostle Paul described his words as “words of truth and soberness.” Barnes describes Paul’s words as words “that evinced the most perfect self-possession and command of his feelings, and who uttered sentiments deep, impressive, and worthy of the attention of all mankind” (Barnes, e-sword.com). 
 

The Church and Present Trends

Sunday, March 10, 2019

THE CHURCH AND PRESENT TRENDS
Bob Patterson

As a rule, most parents want things to be better for their children than it was for them. As we think about it, each member must recognize that the church’s strength today will help provide for the church’s strength tomorrow. Thus, there is the need for every member to be what God would have him to be and to do what God would have him to do. Every area of obligation, responsibility, and privilege in serving God must be characterized by our giving all diligence and adding to our faith “virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”(2 Peter 1:5-8). In obeying God, performing well in the work, worship, and service that God demands, we have every reason to expect that the next generation will be benefitted by our efforts. The basis of our concern is in knowing what can happen in one generation’s time! Judges 2:10 says, “And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers; and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.”Knowing what can take place in one generation, we had better do our very best!
       Let’s consider some current trends we are facing. If these trends continue, WE ARE CONCERNED THAT THE CHURCH IN THE FUTURE... 
        1. Will be made up of primarily older members!Obviously, because to them, God is not a high priority, we are losing many of our young people (Eccl. 12:1). Older saints are truly a blessing, but let us remember that God has so designed His will for man that every accountable being can respond obediently, and begin to live by that inspired rule and grow up in faithful service! As parents, let us teach our children that ‘youth’ is the time to remember and begin to serve God (Eccl. 12:1; Eph. 6:1-4; Col. 3:20; 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14-15). 
        2. Will be hurting in the area of leadership!In many places the church will not have elders and will not have much prospect of having elders in the future. Sad to say, many elderships today are filled with men who either do not possess the qualifications that God has given (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9), or they do not have any concept of the work that God has placed upon them (Titus 1:9-11; 1 Tim. 3:2; Acts 20:28-31; Heb. 13:17; 1 Thess. 5:12-15; 1 Peter 5:1-3; Eph. 4:11-16; James 5:13-16). There are also many attacks against elderships by some who are unwilling to be submissive and obedient to those men charged with the watch-care of their souls (Heb. 13:17). Thus, there is not very much appeal for men to desire this work! 
        3. Will have little (if any) discipline!To many, the idea of fellowship is absolutely meaningless, making the “discipline” that is often involved meaningless as well! All manner of misconduct is virtually overlooked (or tolerated) without consequences. We dare not neglect this area of responsibility (1 Cor. 5; 2 Cor. 2:1-9; Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Thess. 3:6,14-15; Titus 3:10-11). Discipline ignored for years usually means discipline ignored permanently! 
        4. Will have homes which are unscriptural, or if not unscriptural, homes which are virtually powerless as far as having and demonstrating a godly influence!We are already well aware of the fact that marriage-divorce-remarriage has crippled the church. I was personally told by an elder (concerning a couple in an unscriptural relationship where I was working at the time), “Bob, How can you be so sure? After all, the scholars disagree among themselves!” Can any doubt what direction this kind of thinking will lead the church toward? Jesus, the master teacher, was very plain in the area of marriage, divorce, and remarriage (Matt. 5:31-32; 19:9; Mark 10:11-12). Beyond that problem, there are many other areas of concern relating to the family which are being ignored (Eph. 5; 6:1-4; Col. 3:18-21; Titus 2:1-8; 1 Peter 3:1-7). 
        5. Will replace New Testament truth and work, opting instead to please and entertain the membership!Should we be surprised? I mean, after all, one who is ignorant of the truth is not going to call for a return to the “old paths, where is the good way” (cf. Jer. 6:16) because he does not know any better. Likewise, the same will be true concerning various areas of work because one must go to the Word of God in order to be “throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:17). Minus the Bible, ears will be tickled (2 Tim. 4:3-4), the church will no longer be “holding forth the word of life” (Phil. 2:16), fun will be the order of the day, and souls will be lost (2 Cor. 4:3)! 
        I sincerely hope that we will consider these points of concern. Brethren, we must “give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip”(Heb. 2:1).

Nevertheless, the Lord...

Monday, March 04, 2019

Neverthelessthe Lord…”

         It comes as no surprise to hear that we are living in a day in which negativity pervades the American people.  Whether we are listening to the nightly news (local and/or national) or perusing the internet or the social networks, we cannot escape being bombarded by the many reports of hyper-critical and hyper-sensitive attitudes and behavior.  The hope, friends, for improvement rests in the honest assessment and acknowledgment of what has transpired that ultimately brought us, as a nation, to the point where we find ourselves today.

      It is a known fact that our great nation was founded by those who had a strong conviction in the existence of God.  With a little research (Library of Congress Website), this writer learned that many scholars recognized that the first national government of the United States, the Continental-Confederation Congress, was guided by “covenant theology,” a doctrine which held that God had bound Himself in an agreement with a nation and its people, stipulating that they “should be prosperous or afflicted, according as their general Obedience or Disobedience thereto appears.”  Accordingly, it was regarded that wars and revolutions were afflictions from God, as divine punishments for sin; and that a nation could rescue itself by repentance and reformation.  Thus, year in and year out, Congress would urge its fellow citizens to repent “of their manifold sins” and strive that “pure undefiled religion, may universally prevail.

      With this mindset in government, it is no wonder why the United States would flourish to become the greatest nation on earth.  Satan had a war on his hands, and he was losing ground; he was losing the battle. Then, sadly, Judges 2:10happened; and Satan gained a foothold, one in which he has not yet relinquished. What happened, you ask.  Read Judges 2:1-9.  When the nation of Israel, under the direction of Joshua, disobeyed God, they repented; and the record says:  “the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.”  Then something happened:

When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals; and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger. They forsook the Lord and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies. Wherever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for calamity, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed” (Judges 2:10-15)

I ask you:  “Is this not what has happened, and is happening, with us as a nation?” When God is taken out of the picture, all that is left is Satan; and when all that is good is gone, all that remains is evil.  History always has a habit of repeating itself:  it always has, and always will.

      However, friends, though it now seems bleak, the battle is not lost – as far as God is concerned.  We see this as we continue to read Judges 2.  The hope for Israel, the hope for America, is revealed in the first three words of Judges 2:16, “Nevertheless, the Lord…”  Isn’t that GREAT news?  We have made some ungodly decisions and are moving in an ungodly direction; but the blind can see again, and the ignorant can (once again) understand, if only these three words serve as our daily motto:  “Nevertheless, the Lord …

To God Be The Glory Both Now And Forevermore, Amen

David Boren

STANDING FOR THE TRUTH MAKES ENEMIES

Monday, February 25, 2019

STANDING FOR THE TRUTH MAKES ENEMIES
Garland M. Robinson

 

When we choose to become children of God and live by God’s direction (the New Testament), we can’t expect to be friends with everybody. Though we certainly would desire to be, the fact is, those of the world won’t allow it. That’s not our choice — it’s theirs.

The world has never had a greater friend than Jesus the Christ. His mission was to be a friend to all. His own words were that the “Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost”(Luke 19:10). John said of him, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world”(John 1:29). The Savior of the whole world said, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”(John 10:10). But, concerning the world he said, “And ye(the world, sinners) will not come to me, that ye might have life”(John 5:40). “He came unto his own, and his own received him not”(John 1:11).

Though many received the Lord Jesus as their friend, far many more did not. Though the common people received him gladly (Mark 12:37), the rest did not. He told his disciples (John 15:17-25), “These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world... the world hateth you. ... The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. ... He that hateth me hateth my Father also. ... But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.”

Every faithful Christian would love to get along and be friends with everybody. But “everybody” won’t have it. The masses are in love with the world — the things of this world/life, not the things that are eternal. The Lord’s word from Heaven is, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever”(1 John 2:15-17).

Loving the Truth and Standing for the Truth, by its very nature, makes you “at odds” with the world. That was true concerning Jesus and it’s true concerning those who follow him. Standing for the Truth will make enemies. People don’t want the deeds of their life exposed. They don’t want to be told their conduct is wrong, sinful, immoral, shameful, ungodly. They want to put those things far from their mind. They are full of themselves and don’t want to be told what to do. They’ve bought into the lie of the devil that man’s existence is the product of evolution and there is no consequence for their behavior. Others simply don’t care. Would to God we could say something or do something to wake them up and get them to think about their soul and that one day they will stand before the judge of all the earth to answer for their deeds!

It’s frightening to watch people live as they do and know where they’re heading and there’s not a thing we can do to prevent it from happening. We’re standing helpless watching them wreck their lives. Ours is to do exactly what Jesus tells us to do and what he did — warn them of the error of their way! There’s nothing more we can do. It’s up to them to heed the warning. The principle of Ezekiel 3:17-21 is just as true today as it’s always been. God tells Ezekiel to speak to the people and “...give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul”(Ezek. 3:18-21).

The power to change lives and save souls is not in me or you, it’s in the Gospel. Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek”(Rom. 1:16). The power to save is in the teaching of the Gospel, not programs or gimmicks. God gives us the Bible to tell us what to do and how to live. We can’t improve upon that. 

Who is Causing Division?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

WHO IS CAUSING DIVISION?
Garland M. Robinson

The brotherhood has an over-abundance of false teachers in both churches and schools. They are counting on their error not being exposed. False doctrine and those who teach it is like a cancer. Therefore, the faithful will stand up and expose them and their doctrine. Error, left untreated, leads to eternal destruction.

        The same old tired and misused expressions keep surfacing from digressives against the faithful: “You are sowing discord,” “you’re causing division,” “why won’t you fellowship everybody” “you’ve gotten yourself out on a limb,” “you’re in a dilemma,” etc., etc. Such expressions are no better now than they have ever been. They are insults aimed at sound brethren. They are inspired of the devil intended to cause the faithful to “back off” and let up on their pressure against error. However, those loyal to the Lord must not let up! God doesn’t give us a license to relax when the going gets rough and the liberals start whining. 
        The ploy used today is the same as that used by wicked Ahab well over 2,700 years ago. Elijah was accused by king Ahab of stirring up trouble in Israel. “And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim”(1 Kings 18:17-18). 
        The prophet Elijah was faithful in his diligence to proclaim God’s Word. The “sting” of his preaching was felt by Ahab and, as a result, Elijah was hated because of it. Surely, those among Ahab’s camp didn’t like to be around Elijah. You can only imagine the sneers and taunts that were uttered under breath when Elijah would approach. Ah, here comes that troubler! Watch what you say. Don’t let him know what we are doing or he will start preaching about it and we don’t want to hear that! Are not these same sentiments expressed today? 
        Elijah was not the trouble maker! He simply proclaimed the “whole counsel of God” as all faithful preachers and church members do. Paul made this clear to the elders of the church of Ephesus when he said, “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I [am] pure from the blood of all [men]. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God”(Acts 20:26-27). A preacher’s job is to condemn error in public and private. “Preach the word”(2 Tim. 4:2). “Mark...and avoid”(Rom. 16:17). “Have no fellowship with”(Eph. 5:11). Those who won’t heed and obey these passages are the ones causing trouble in the kingdom of our dear Lord. 
        Those who turn aside to the right hand or the left are the troublers in spiritual Israel today. They wish to fellowship everyone and turn a blind eye to the many errors in which they and others are involved! They are the ones who cry, “let us all go along in order to get along,” which is just as false as false can be. There can be no Biblical unity when there is doctrinal error! Those who have “lockjaw” (when it comes to the truth) are the ones who have gotten themselves out on a limb. They are the ones who are in a dilemma. Dear faithful brethren, don’t let the compromisers “turn the tables” on you and make you feel like you are the one in the wrong. This is what Ahab sought to do to Elijah, but he was too wise for that. So must we be also. Stand up for what’s right. “Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might”(Eph. 6:10). 
        The Bible still says, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them”(Eph. 5:11). To “reprove” means to expose them. Ahab fellowshipped the prophets of Baal. It must not be so among us. The Scriptures are clear. “If sinners entice thee, consent thou not”(Prov. 1:10). “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away”(Prov. 4:14-15). “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple”(Rom. 16:17-18). “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. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds(2 John 9-11). Should we cut these verses out of the Bible like those in error do? No we should not. 
        Who is out on a limb? It’s not those who are “contending for the faith” as Jude 3 commands: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faithwhich was once delivered unto the saints.”
        Who will stand up for the Lord and be counted? Life is too short and eternity too long to forfeit the saving Gospel. The apostle John wrote, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed [are] the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them”(Rev. 14:13). I want to die in the Lord, not out of the Lord. Is that not your same goal?

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