Put Your Tongue to Good Use!

How will you use your tongue today?  “Haven’t really given it much thought,” you say.    You should!  Our tongues can be improperly used in a number of negative ways.  A person’s tongue can be used to incite anger (Proverbs 15:1), speak lies (Ephesians 4:25), violate atonguenother person’s trust (Proverbs 11:13), or participate in gossip (I Timothy 5:13).

Thankfully, our tongues can also be used for good.  We can use our tongues to speak the truth or tell others of our faith (Romans 10:9-10), honor God (Hebrews 13:15), encourage others (Ephesians 4:29), and spread God’s word (Psalm 119:172).

No wonder James said we are to be slow to speak (James 1:19).  How will you use your tongue today?  Give some thought!

 

Our Perfect Example in Learning to Work

workJesus Christ has left a perfect example for us to follow.  The apostle Paul wrote, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1).  From the writer of the book of Hebrews we know there was no sin in Jesus’ life (Hebrews 4:15).  In all things, in all areas of life, Jesus has left us a perfect example.

This perfect example includes an example in learning to work.  Mark 6:3 – “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, the brother of James, and Josas, and of Judah, and Simon?  And are not his sisters here with us?  And they were offended at him.”  Being a carpenter required that he spend time learning the trade, allowing someone else to teach him.  Working as a carpenter was often physically demanding.  As further evidence of Jesus’ willingness to work, consider Jesus’ words from John 4:34 – “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”

Consider three points concerning work.  Why work?  What should our attitude be toward our work?  What are some of the consequences of failing to work?

WHY WORK?  First, we are to work because God expects us to work.  God has done for man what man cannot do for himself (Example: Because man cannot save himself, God sent his son to die as the only sacrifice that can provide man with the forgiveness of sins).  But God does not do for man those things that man can do for himself (Example: Even though God has sent his son to die so that we might have salvation, there is still something that God expects man to do in order to be saved.)  It is abundantly clear from the scriptures that God has always expected man to work.  Genesis 2:15 – “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”  The apostle Paul wrote, “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” (I Thessalonians 4:11).

Second, we ought to work to provide for ourselves and our own families.  “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (I Timothy 5:8).

Third, we ought to work to provide for others.  Ephesians 4:28 – “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”

WHAT SHOULD OUR ATTITUDE BE TOWARD OUR WORK?  First, we are to do our work wholeheartedly.  We are to do the very best we can.  Ecclesiastes 9:10 – “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…..”

Second, we are not to be slothful, or lazy.  Romans 12:11 – “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.”   A man may set lofty goals for himself, but a lazy man will never reach those goals.

Third, we are to do our work, not to please men, but as if serving the Lord.  Ephesians 6:5-6 – “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;”  A person who does his work with eyeservice is a person who is busy at work only when the boss is watching.  As Christians, we ought to do our work as if God is constantly watching (because he is).

Consider the following quote from William Barclay’s commentary on Ephesians – “We will never make men good workmen by increasing pay, bettering conditions or heightened rewards. It is a Christian duty to see to these things, of course; but in themselves they will never produce good work. The only secret of good workmanship is that it is done for God.”

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF FAILING TO WORK? First, a person who fails to work will always be limited in what he can accomplish. Proverbs 13:4 – “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”  Young people especially, if you want to accomplish something in life work for it!  If you want good grades, an education, to be hired, to have a house of your own, etc., work for it!

Second, a person who refuses to work will have a difficult life.  Proverbs 15:19 – “The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain. Some people think work is hard.  And often time it is!  But hard work can also be satisfying.  The man who really has a hard life is the man who is unwilling to work.

Third, a person who is unwilling to work will bring shame to himself and to others around him.  Proverbs 10:5 – “He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.”  For example, a loafer will bring shame upon himself when he refuses to carry his weight on the job.  A young person will bring shame upon his family when he refuses to work.

What do I learn from all this?  God expects man to work; and to do so wholeheartedly.  A man’s failure to work brings shame to himself and to others around him.

Patience, Patience, Patience!

Several years agLet God Speako it was common to hear the phrase, “Be patient, God’s not finished with me yet!”  Those words could be seen on T-shirts, coffee mugs, lapel pins, they have even been used as lyrics in a song!  The person who used this slogan was asking others to be longsuffering.  Isn’t this an important building block of love for others?  The apostle Paul wrote, “Love suffereth long” (I Corinthians 13:4).  Yes, love is patient!

What should motivate us to be patient with others?  First, we should be motivated by God’s patience toward us.  God’s delay in bringing his judgment upon the world is an indication of his patience, enabling every man to have an opportunity to repent before it is too late (II Peter 3:9).

Second, we should be motivated by Christ’s patience with those who mistreated him.  When Christ was mistreated he refused to get even.  When he suffered, he did not threaten in return (I Peter 2:19-24).

Third, we should be motivated to be patient toward others when we realize that this is the only way we can be pleasing to God (Colossians 1:10-11).

Be patient.  God’s not finished with me yet!

 

“Once Saved, Always Saved” Not in the Bible

cropped-open-your-bible1.jpgThe doctrine of “once saved, always saved” teaches that it is not possible for a child of God to sin in such a way that he will be lost. Many people, who undoubtedly are very sincere and possess a desire to do what is right, find tremendous comfort in this doctrine. This doctrine, however, is not taught in the Bible. It is an erroneous doctrine that provides a false comfort and a deceitful feeling of security.

First, let’s examine some of the passages often used to support this doctrine. Concerning the Christians in Asia Minor, Peter wrote “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Peter 1:5). How is it that Christians are kept, or guarded, unto salvation? Through their faith! It is possible for a Christian to lose his faith and quit believing in God. The author of the book of Hebrews warned his readers against the sin of unbelief (Hebrews 3:12). Is a Christian who loses his faith still saved? Of course, the obvious, and only logical, answer is a resounding no!

Others point to John 10:27-28 in an effort to defend the doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” Jesus said “My sheep know my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27, 28). Does this passage really teach “once saved, always saved”? No! Notice Jesus’ words “they follow me.” This passage contains wonderful promises for Christians. However, these promises are conditional upon our continually following Christ. Those Christians who quit following Christ will not receive these promises.

Still others point to I John 3:9 in order to defend their doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” “Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his seed abideth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is begotten of God” (I John 3:9). John wrote that a person does not continue to sin because the seed (the Word of God) continues to abide in him. However, Satan can steal the Word of God out of a person’s heart if that person allows Satan to do so (Matthew 13:19). When a Christian allows the Word of God to be taken away from him, that Christian has fallen from grace and is lost.

Many other passages are used in an attempt to defend the doctrine of “once saved, always saved.” The necessary limitations that are placed upon the length of this column prohibit me from addressing all of these passages. However, numerous passages teach it is possible for a Christian to sin in such a way that he will be eternally lost. First, there are things a Christian must do in order to keep from falling. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:” (II Peter 1:10). This passage provides a clear implication that if a Christian does not do those things Peter detailed in II Peter 1:5-9 he will fall from grace and be lost.

Second, the writings of the apostle Paul teach it is possible for a Christian to fall from grace and be lost. To the church at Corinth, Paul wrote “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Corinthians 9:27).

Third, Paul taught the Christians in Galatia that it was possible for them to fall from grace. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law: ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4). Many of the Christians in Galatia strayed from the truth and tried to be justified by the law of Moses. The Bible not only teaches it is possible for Christians to fall from grace, it gives us an example of Christians who actually did fall from grace.

Fourth, Bible teaches a Christian can sin in such a way that he will be in a worse condition than that which he was in before he became a Christian. Peter wrote “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (II Peter 2:20-22). Those Christians who fall from grace will be subject to a much sorer punishment Hebrews (Hebrews 10:29).

The parable of the vine and the branches proves it is possible for a Christian to fall from grace. Jesus said “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away:…..” (John 15:2). Jesus went on to say “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered: and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6). Notice that the branches in this passage represent individual Christians, not individual denominations. There were no denominations in existence at the time Jesus spoke these words. If everyone today would follow the pattern for the New Testament church given to us in the Bible, there would be no denominations in existence today.

God’s word plainly teaches it is possible for a Christian to sin in such a way that he can fall from grace and be eternally lost.

Which Comes First, Salvation or Baptism?

I once saw the following question on an outdoor sign, “Which came first, salvation or baptism?” Because the future of your soul depends upon the answer, it is a very good question. It is abaptismlso a question that deserves an answer from the Bible. When we set aside all preconceived ideas and prejudices, all human creeds and all doctrines of men, we learn that the Bible teaches that for all those who live according to the New Testament, baptism comes first.

If salvation comes first, Jesus was mistaken when he said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). The word “and” is a conjunction that joins belief with baptism. Either belief or baptism, without the other, does not result in salvation.

If salvation comes first, then Peter was wrong when he preached his sermon on the day of Pentecost. When those present heard Peter’s preaching concerning Christ, they were pricked in their hearts and asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Listen to Peter’s answer. “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). The word “for” is the translated from the same word Jesus used in Matthew 26:28, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Jesus did not shed his blood on the cross because man’s sins had already been forgiven, but in order that man’s sins could be forgiven. Likewise, Peter did not command those present on the day of Pentecost to be baptized because their sins had already been forgiven, but in order that their sins could be forgiven.

If salvation comes first, then we are saved outside of Christ. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death?” (Romans 6:3). But we know that no man can be saved outside of Christ.“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (2 Timothy 2:10).  We are baptized into Christ. Every time the phrase “into Christ” appears in your Bible, it is always preceded by the word “baptized”.

If salvation comes first, then a person is saved without being a member of Christ’s church. “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all been made to drink one Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:13). Because Christ’s church and Christ’s body are one and the same (Ephesians 1:22-23), we know we are baptized into Christ’s church. The only way a person can become a member of Christ’s church is through baptism. Because Christ is the savior of the body (Ephesians 5:23), only those persons who are in Christ’s church are saved.

If salvation comes first, then Saul (Paul) was saved before his sins were washed away. When the Lord appeared unto Saul on the road to Damascus, the Lord told him to go to Damascus where Ananias would tell him what he must do. Do you remember what Ananias told Saul? “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). No friends, Paul was not saved before his sins were washed away in baptism, and you and are not saved before our sins are washed away in baptism.

If salvation comes first, then Peter was wrong when he taught that we are saved by baptism. “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 3:21). Just as the waters of the flood served as a dividing line between death and salvation in Noah’s day, water baptism serves as a dividing line between spiritual death and salvation today.

What must we do to be saved from our sins? We must hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17). We must believe the gospel of Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16). We must repent of our sins (Acts 2:38). We must confess our faith in Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:32-33). We must be baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).

Yes friends, baptism comes before salvation.  A person who has not been baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of his sins is a person who is still lost in his sin.

Let God Speak!

Let God Speak

A book is an expression of thought.  Obviously, a book written by an uninspired man is an expression of an uninspired thought.  It should also be obvious that a book written by an inspired man is an expression of an inspired thought – the thoughts of God (II Timothy 3:16).  What is not so obvious to me is why so many preachers and Bible class teachers are eager to go to books that teach the thoughts of uninspired men, yet so very hesitant to go to “The Book” that teaches the thoughts of God.  Too many are all too anxious to quote the words of men, yet are unable (or unwilling) to quote the word of God.  How disheartening!  Why not let God speak?

Paul wrote that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17).  The scriptures make us complete in matters of religion and thoroughly furnish us unto all good works.  Can any book written by men make that claim?  Certainly not!

Peter wrote “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” (II Peter 1:3).  The Holy Spirit, through the inspired scriptures, has given us everything we need that pertains to living a godly life and obtaining eternal life.  Can an uninspired book of man make such a statement?  Never!

God’s word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105).  Is there any book written by man that can outshine the brilliant light of God’s word?  Of course not!

Paul wrote to Timothy that he (Timothy) had been taught the scriptures from the time he was a babe.  Paul went on to say that the holy scriptures were able to make Timothy wise unto salvation (II Timothy 3:15).  Can the wisdom found in any book written by man begin to compare with the wisdom of our almighty God?  Preposterous!

God’s word is powerful!  “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).  Can the power of the words of men begin to compare to the power of the scriptures?  The very suggestion is laughable!

Can any book written by mere men provide the solution to the problems of youth to even the slightest degree that God’s word can?  How foolish to ever harbor such a thought!  “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word” (Psalms 119:9).

Let’s lay aside our books of men, open our Bibles, and let God speak!

Four Deadly Lies

Featured Image -- 342This past Sunday I preached a sermon at the Maul Road Church of Christ entitled “Four Deadly Lies.”  I am glad to be able to share it with those of you who subscribe to this blog.  Unless noted elsewhere in the post, scripture references are from the King James Version.

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:1-6).

Sin entered into this world when Satan told a lie and man believed it.  This should come as a surprise to no one, for in John 8:44 Jesus referred to Satan as a liar and the father of all lies.  Today, approximately 6,000 years after Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden, Satan is still telling lies.  That rascal still hasn’t learned to tell the truth!  It is important to remind ourselves of these lies.  If not, we may foolishly fall victim to Satan’s deceit.

Lie #1 – “No one is really going to hell.”  “After all,” some would say, “it is unimaginable that a loving God would allow anyone to spend an eternity in eternal torment.  Even some within the Lord’s church have given in to the idea that, if anyone will be in hell, it certainly will not be for an eternity.”

Is this really what the Bible teaches?  Most definitely not!  Consider Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”  Did you notice Jesus’ words?  The path that leads to destruction is broad and heavily traveled.  Yet the way that leads to eternal life is narrow with few travelers.

But what about those who have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ?  What about those who have never heard of the one true and living God?  Consider Paul’s words from II Thessalonians 1:7-9: “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;”

This should serve as a warning, not only to those persons outside the Lord’s church, but to all those within.  Horrible is the fate of many Christians who will be sadly disappointed when judgment comes.  Revelation 3:14-16: “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

Lie #2 – “The Bible is an outdated book, it has no relevance for us today.”  “Sure,” some would say, “No doubt the Bible was useful at one time, but no longer.  What has worked in the past simply will not work today.  Take, for example, the issue of homosexuality and same sex marriages.  Some would say our culture has changed since the Bible was written and homosexuality (including same sex marriages) should be readily accepted by all – we need to catch up with the times.”

If some men had their way, the Bible would be relegated to a cold, lifeless graveyard.  How foolish!  Is the Bible really an outdated book?  No way!  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. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).  Has the gospel lost its power?  If so, when?  Is the gospel no longer able to save man from his sin?  Of course the gospel has not lost its power.  The gospel still has the power to save man from his sin, something nothing else can ever do.

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).  The word translated “quick” means alive.  The Bible is not a dead, irrelevant book!  It has not lost its life!

Lie #3 – “Once saved, always saved.”  This doctrine simply states that, once a person has been saved from his sin, it is completely impossible for him to ever be lost again.  After all, many would say, “God guards those who are his.”  Proponents of this doctrine often attempt to defend their error with arguments such as “Once a person is born, he can never be unborn.  Once a person becomes a child of God he can never cease being a child of God.”  But the reality is that a child can lose his inheritance.

It is difficult, perhaps impossible, for us to fully realize all the good Paul had accomplished throughout his life.  It is difficult, if not impossible, for us to fully grasp all that Paul had endured because of his faith.  Of the Jews he had received forty stripes save one, thrice he was beaten with rods, once he was stoned, three times he was shipwrecked, he had been in perils among false brethren, perils in the sea, perils in the wilderness, perils by the heathen and by his own countrymen (II Corinthians 11:23-28).  Yet, in spite of all he had accomplished and endured, Paul understood that, while he was preaching to others, it was possible for him to be lost.  “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

Notice Paul’s words from Galatians 5:4: “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”  In his writing to the church at Galatia, Paul declared that they had done what many today say is impossible – fall from grace.

Peter wrote that if a person obeyed the gospel, only to later leave the faith, his latter condition would be worse than the first.  “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:20-22).

Lie #4 – “One church is as good as another.”  Satan would love for you to believe that it really doesn’t matter what church you are a part of, just as long as you are a part of a church.  Satan wants you to believe that salvation can be found in any church.  Friend, nothing could be further from the truth!  The Bible teaches the Lord adds those who are saved to the church (Acts 2:47).  Which church were they added to?  Certainly not any of the denominations in existence today, for none of these existed on the day of Pentecost.  And they certainly were not built by Christ (Matthew 16:18).

If it were true that one church is as good as another, it would be true that salvation could be found in any church.  Not so!  Consider the following from Ephesians 1:22-23: “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”  Notice that Christ’s church and Christ’s body are one and the same.  Ephesians 4:4 tells us there is only one body.  Since there is only one body, and Christ’s church and Christ’s body are one and the same, there must be only one church.

Is it really so important that a person be a member of Christ’s one church (not a denomination, but the one church that Jesus built)?  Yes, for Ephesians 5:23 teaches that Christ is the savior of the body.  There are none who are saved outside of Christ’s body, the church of Christ.

But some would say that all of the denominations in existence today cumulatively comprise the Lord’s church.  Really?  Does this idea agree with what the Bible teaches?  Not at all!  Are we really supposed to believe that the denominations today, going by different names, having different times and places of origin, worshiping in different ways, teaching contradictory doctrines, and adhering to a type of organization different from one another and from the Bible, are all a part of the one church we read about in the Bible?  God would never cause such confusion as this.

Jesus said that the truth would set a person free from his sin (John 8:31-32).  Error cannot do this.  Only the truth can set men free!  Satan is still telling his lies.  But when we are familiar with the truth, we can readily recognize these as lies.