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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

How to understand the Bible

FORTY THINGS WE ALL NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE BIBLE

 

1. The word “Bible” is from the Greek word “byblos/biblos” and means “book.”  Because of its divinely inspired contents the Bible is rightfully known as “the Book.”

2. The Bible is a divine library of sixty-six books.

3. The Bible consists of two divisions—the Old Testament (consisting of 39 books) and the New Testament (consisting of 27 books).

4. The books of the Bible were written over a period of some 1600 years, from Moses (c. 1500 B.C.) to the apostle John (100 A.D.).

5. In all, some forty writers were engaged in the writing of the Bible, with eight of these (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, and Jude) being responsible for the writing of the New Testament.  The apostle Paul wrote at least thirteen of the New Testament books.

6. The Bible covers three major epochs (large time frames, sometimes referred to as dispensations) of God’s dealings with mankind: a) The Patriarchal Age in which the fathers (patriarchs) of families ruled (from Adam to Moses); b) The Jewish Age in which the Law of Moses governed the Hebrew/Israelite/Jewish people (from Moses to the death of Christ); c) The Christian Age in which the New Testament sets forth the will of God for all mankind (from the day of Pentecost [Acts 2] until the end of the world). Thus, the Christian Age is spoken of as “these last days” (see Hebrews 1:1-2). 

7. The Bible also covers fifteen periods (smaller time frames) of God’s dealings with mankind: from the Ante-Diluvian (Pre-Flood) period (from the creation to the world-wide flood) all the way to the Early Church period (from the establishment of the church in Acts 2 to the close of the New Testament).

8. In reading the Bible, it is important to know in which of the above epochs (dispensations) and time periods one is reading. 

9. The Old Testament consists of four major sections: a) Law (5 books: Genesis-Deuteronomy); b) History (12 books: Joshua-Esther); c) Wisdom Literature/Poetry (5 books: Job-Song of Solomon); Prophecy (17 books: Isaiah-Malachi).

10. The New Testament consists of four major sections: a) Gospels/Life of Christ (4 books: Matthew-John); b) History of the Early Church (1 book: Acts of the Apostles); c) Letters to Christians (21 books: Romans-Jude); d) Prophecy/The Ultimate Victory of God’s People (1 book: Revelation).

11. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew (with some small portions being written in Aramaic, a dialect related to Hebrew).  The New Testament was written in Greek.

12. From its original languages, the Bible has been translated into 2546 languages and dialects (as of 2009).  (See Once Delivered Forever Established: The Certainty of the Holy Scripture, Dr. Doug Burleson, p. 83, a book I highly recommend for all who have an interest in learning more about the authenticity and reliability of the Bible.)

13. Some of the better known English versions of the Bible are the King James (1611), the American Standard (1901), the Revised Standard (1946, N. T.; 1951, entire Bible), the New International (1973, N. T.; 1978, entire Bible), the New King James (1972, N. T.; 1982, entire Bible), the New American Standard (1963, N. T.; 1971, entire Bible), the New Revised Standard (1989), and the English Standard (2001). The Douay-Rheims Version (1508, 1609, 1610) was long held as the standard English version for members of the Roman Catholic Church, but Catholic editions of some of the above English versions are used by many Catholics. 

14. The books of the Bible were divided into chapters by Archbishop Stephen Langton, an English scholar, though Cardinal Hugo also has been given credit for doing this, both in the 13th century.

15. The chapters of the Bible books were divided into verses by a French printer by the name of Robert Estienne (Latin name, Stephanus) in 1551 for the New Testament and 1555 for the Old Testament.  (Note: Chapter and verse divisions facilitate the location of particular passages, e.g., “John 3:16,” rather than, “The Bible says in John that God so loved the world . . .”

16. Year after year, the Bible remains the world’s best-seller.  100 million Bibles are printed every year and 20 million of these are sold in the United States.

17. The Bible is comprised of “all Scripture . . . given by inspiration of God” (II Timothy 3:16-17).

18. Though men were the human instruments used by God for writing the Bible, the Scriptures exist because “holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirt” (II Peter 1:21).

19. The writers of the Bible were conscious of the fact that they were writing the word of God (Exodus 17:14; II Samuel 23:2; Jeremiah 30:2; I Corinthians 2:13; I Corinthians 14:37; I Thessalonians 2:13; II Peter 3:15-16; et al.)

20. There are literally thousands of manuscripts and ancient versions that verify the accuracy of the Bible (more than 5300 Greek manuscripts for the New Testament alone), so that “The Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation throughout the centuries” (Sir Frederic Kenyon [1863-1952], British biblical and classical scholar, as cited by Dr. Neil Lightfoot, How We Got the Bible, Abilene, TX: ACU Press, 1986, p. 126).

21. Being the word of God, and because it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18), the Bible is absolute truth (John 17:17).

22. Jesus relied on Scripture to resist Satan’s temptations (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13).

23. Jesus read and quoted the Old Testament Scriptures and recognized them in their entirety as being the authoritative word of God (Matthew 5:17; John 10:35; Matthew 19:1-9; Matthew 23:34-35 [the equivalent of saying “from Genesis to Malachi”]; Luke 4:16-21; Luke 24:44-47).

24. During His personal ministry Christ referred to and gave credence to the creation of man in the image of God (Matthew 19:4-6), the flood (Matthew 24:38-39), the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah (Luke 10:12; 17:28-29),  the story of Jonah and the great fish (Matthew 12:39-41), the writings of Moses (John 5:46), the writings of Isaiah (Mark 7:6-8), the writings of Daniel (Matthew 24:15), and other Old Testament prophets and events.  He did not view them as folklore, fairytales, myths, or legends.

25. Being comprised of “all Scripture . . . given by inspiration of God,” the Bible “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for

instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (II Timothy 3:16-17).

26. In the Bible God has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (II Peter 1:13).

27. The Bible sets forth the “one faith” (Ephesians 4:5), “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).  There is no authentic revelation from God outside of the Bible.

28. The Bible sets forth commands to be obeyed (I Corinthians 14:37; John 14:15; I John 5:3), examples to be followed (I Peter 2:21; I Timothy 4:12; II Timothy 1:13), warnings to be heeded (Acts 20:31; Colossians 1:28), and promises to be enjoyed (II Peter 1:2-4).

29. The Bible is not to be tampered with by addition, subtraction, substitution, or modification (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19; Galatians 1:6-9; Psalm 119:89).

30. As the word of God, the Bible is “a lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path” (Psalm 119:105).

31. We should love the Bible, read and study it, memorize great portions of it, laying it up in our hearts so that we will not sin against God (Psalm 119:97, 11).

32. The word of God is the sword of the Spirit with which we are able to conquer all moral and spiritual foes (Ephesians 6:17).

33. God’s word (the Bible) is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword . . . and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

34. The Bible is like a mirror into which one may look to see what changes he/she needs to make in order to be right with God (James 1:18).

35. God’s word is “like a fire” and “like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces” (Jeremiah 23:29).

36. The word of God “is able to build [us] up” spiritually (Acts 20:32).

37. It is through the word of truth (the Scriptures/Bible) that one is “brought forth” (born again) to be “a kind of firstfruits of His (God’s) creatures” (James 1:18; cf.  I Peter 1:22-23; John 3:1-5).

38. The Scriptures are to be studied and searched diligently to see if the things that are taught and believed religiously are so (Acts 17:11; cf. I Thessalonians 5:21; I John 4:1).

39. The word of God is indestructible (Matthew 24:35) and will be the standard by which all will be finally judged—not our opinions or what we have always felt, thought, believed, or been taught (John 12:48; Romans 2:16).

40. In summary, the Bible is not a self-help book designed to make its readers healthy, wealthy, happy, or successful (though within its overarching purpose there are broad principles that contribute to these matters).  It is not a book of “codes” and “prophecies” as to when the second coming of Christ will occur and the world will end. Neither is the Bible a disjointed book of disconnected and unrelated documents.  Rather, it is a book that gradually and systematically, from beginning to end, sets forth God’s grand scheme of human redemption from the time of its conception in the mind of God before the foundation of the world (Titus 1:1-3; II Timothy 1:8-11; Romans 16:25-27), through its being made known by Christ, the gospel, the church, and the New Testament (Ephesians 3:1-12; I Corinthians 2:1-13), to its ultimate fruition of the redeemed in heaven—“receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls” (I Peter 1:9).

Learn more about the Bible with the FREE Bible study at https://lordletmegrow.com/index.html

 

Hugh Fulford

 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Is the church the infallible interpreter of Scripture?

The Right of Private Interpretation

 

“The individual's own study of Scripture requires recourse to an apostolic authority that can resolve interpretive disagreements. otherwise there is no way to determine what is orthodox v. heretical Christianity, besides the individual's personal opinion/interpretation.” – Casey Chalk, Roman Catholic author of “ Don’t Protestantize the Church.”

 

To Roman Catholics, our claim to every individual’s right to privately interpret the Scriptures is disproven by the plethora of denominations and the myriad of conflicting interpretations of Scripture.

 

Our response to this is for every individual to rightly interpret Scripture:

 

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God[b] not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,[c] a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:14-15

 

We make an argument by looking at Scriptures which we believe prove our point:

 

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, Ephesians 1:13-20

 

Notice here that all who become Christians have heard, understood and obeyed the word of God in becoming Christians, and Paul prays that God will give all Christians:

·             the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,

·             having the eyes of your hearts enlightened.

 

There is no suggestion here that such knowledge and enlightenment comes only from inspired teachers within the church who are the only ones able to infallibly interpret the Scriptures. 2 Peter 1:20-21 has been erroneously used to deny the right of the private interpretation of the Scriptures, when in reality it is speaking about how Scripture originated, and not how it is to be interpreted by us today. “No Scripture came from one’s own interpretation” is a better rendering than “No Scripture is of private interpretation” – which is highly misleading.

 

In fact, to make this clear, look at the next Scripture from Ephesians:

 

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles — 2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God's grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. Ephesians 3:1-5

 

The Holy Spirit inspired men like the apostle Paul with the revelation of God’s will, which Paul says he has written briefly in this letter to the Ephesians. But Paul then says that when all Christians read what Paul has written in the letter, “you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”

 

In other words, when we read the Scripture that Paul received as an inspired apostle, we can all perceive the insight

Paul received. What an apostle learned by inspiration, and then put in writing, all Christians can perceive when they

read that writing!!

 

Again, there is no suggestion that we today can only perceive God’s word when an inspired teacher infallibly explains it to us. Then, Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord … Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:8-10,17

 

And if we conceded that our churches required Holy Spirit guided interpreters of Scripture as our teachers, doesn’t James imply that they cannot ever be expected to be infallible interpreters of Scripture?

 

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. James 3:1-2

 

Apollos was “mighty in the Scriptures”, but he certainly wasn’t infallible, because he didn’t understand that the

baptism of John was no longer applicable!! He needed Priscilla and Aquila to teach him the way of the Lord more accurately. Acts 18:24-26. It is noteworthy that Apollos didn’t tell Priscilla and Aquila that they didn’t have the apostolic authority to question his teaching!!

 

How can we know what is pleasing to the Lord? How can we understand what the will of the Lord is? By having an infallibly inspired teacher in our church explain it all for us? No, for we already have the only words of the infallible teacher in the Scripture itself. As Ephesians 3 and 1, that have already been quoted, say: we understand God’s will when we read for ourselves and God gives us enlightenment!!

 

As we speak the truth in love, Ephesians 4:15, and take the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, Ephesians

6:17, we will be equipped to live the Christian life. Acts 20:20,27,31-32; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; 1 Peter 2:2.

 

Does this mean that our churches do not need preachers and teachers? Not at all, for:

 

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:11-16

 

And, as the evangelist, Timothy, in Ephesus was instructed:

 

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 2 Timothy 2:14-18

 

This Scripture from 2 Timothy is significant. Notice:

 

1.     The evangelist doesn’t get his ability to rightly handle the word of truth from the Holy Spirit through inspiration, but through his being a worker with persistent zeal and who does his best. This implies intensely studying the Scriptures so as to get to understand them correctly.

 

2.     Less diligent people in the church may struggle over words, misunderstand certain truths, spread false ideas, and upset people’s faith, all of which it is the preacher’s job to help correct because his diligence has enabled him to know God’s truth.

 

The teacher in the church needs to equip the members to serve, and also to improve their knowledge of the Scriptures so that they can stand against false teachers, and also play a part in teaching. Viz.:

 

About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:12-14

 

I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. Romans 15:14

 

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us — eternal life.

26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. 1 John 2:18-27

 

We can abide in Christ when we allow the teaching we have received from the beginning to remain with us.

 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:1-15

 

The disciples were to heed what they had been commanded by Christ, and we are to heed the apostolic word we now have in the Bible Scriptures. John 17:14,20-21; 2 Timothy 3:14-17.

 

The teacher teaches with authority, Titus 2:15, not because he is a Holy-Spirit-inspired and infallible, but because he is a teacher of the infallible and authoritative word of God.

 

My brother and friend, Bob Abney, made the following point:

 

Catholic clergy tell the common man/woman that they need an ecclesiastical authority to interpret the word for them. These authorities are depending upon the common person's ability to understand that instruction. If the common person can understand that point why can they not understand what they read in Scripture??????

 

My final question to Roman Catholics is this: where do the Scriptures teach that the church has a Holy Spirit guided,  infallible interpreter of Scripture?

 

David Carr

 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Hebrews 2

 

Heb 2:1  Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 

 

"Therefore" signifies the conclusion the writer has arrived from chapter 1. The writer of Hebrews has arrived that since Christ, the author of the new dispensation, is so far exalted above the prophets, and even above the angels, we ought to give the more earnest attention to all that has been spoken. For even the Father who is in heaven has declared: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him" (Matthew 17:5).

 

The warning is also for us today. The problem with men is not just in talking but also in listening. Studies have shown that we forget ninety percent of what we have heard. Can you recall who spoke during the worship last Sunday and what was his sermon about? How about two Sundays ago? It's even harder, right?

 

God wants us to pay very much closer attention to the things that we have heard, lest we drift away from it. Why? Because the things that we hear from the word of God concern our eternal destiny: "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation" (v.3).

 

"Neglect" is enough to ruin a man. Basically, to neglect is to disregard or do nothing, usually something we know we must do. A person who neglects his health will pay with his wealth. A businessman who neglects his business will lose it all. A student who neglects his studies is certain to fail his exams. Neglect wrecks trains and causes them to stall.

 

What about our salvation? How can we neglect our salvation?

1.      When we do not take our salvation seriously: "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46).

2.      When we put off surrendering our life to Christ for another day: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23).

3.      When we fail to grow spiritually: "For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was" (James 1:24).

4.      When we fail to take worship of God seriously: "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me" (Matthew 15:8).

5.      When we let other matters become more important than the Lord: "And the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful" (Matthew 13:22).

6.      When we fail to use our talents for God: "And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:30).

 

We must admit that the sin of neglect is one sin we continue doing. And, the thing that is going to cost most of us to come to everlasting grief in the Day of Judgment is NEGLECT! No sane person would purposely want to go to hell, but yet, many do not do anything to avoid it. Many want to go to heaven but are unprepared because they are too busy to do anything about it. God has sent out His invitation to all but many just couldn't care about it: "The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.  And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come" (Luke 14:18-20).

 

Sad, isn't it? Are you one of those who continue to make excuses? The writer of Hebrews is writing to Christians. Are you listening? Your neglect will cost your soul dearly. It is exceedingly necessary that we give heed to what we have heard: "My sons, be not now negligent: for the LORD hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him," (2 Chronicles 29:11).

 

Jimmy Lau

Psa 119:97  Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

1 Thessalonians 5:22--abstain from every form of evil (NASB).

 

There are many activities that are expressly condemned in God's word while there are many activities that are not expressly condemned yet they have attached to them a lot of reasonable doubt. These are activities that may not at first appear to be wrong but upon close examination we will often find it improper to engage in them. This week's "Thought" is  focused on one such activity, namely opposite sex roommates living together as friends outside the marriage bond. This is not referencing blood related family members.

 

We must be careful to not make rash judgments about the way others are conducting their lives (Rom. 14:12-13). However, we do have the duty to be watchmen who will not fail to sound the alarm against any kinds of conduct that would tend to harm our effectiveness in being an example of a faithful child of God (1 Tim. 4:12)  which could/would cause us to become a stumbling block for others. Even though there may not be an explicit command that says, "opposite sexes must not live together as roommates", it is imperative that we be careful in our conduct so as to not hinder our influence for Christ and his church. When a male and a female become roommates, you can rest assured that the conclusion will be drawn that sexual sin in some fashion does take place. While this may not be true, the appearance of improper conduct will ever be present and that will inevitably harm their influence for Christ. While in and of itself, an activity may not be wrong, it simply may not be expedient or profitable to engage in it. I believe this to be the case with "opposite sex roommates" (1 Cor. 10:23).

 

We must not knowingly, willingly place ourselves into a situation that has the potential to make us an obstacle or stumbling block. Listen carefully to what the Lord has to say about being a stumbling block (Luke 17:1)  It is imperative that our lives be conducted in such a way that we give no occasion of offense to God, the church or others. Our conduct should be governed by his authority and must be such that he is glorified (Colossians 3:17. 1 Corinthians 10:31-32). On a personal note, I shudder to think about what will happen when standing in judgment if because of my influence others have been led to conduct themselves in an activity in which they could not contain themselves and did commit sexual sins. Again, even though there is no explicit command found in God's word that says "same sex couples cannot be roommates", it is essential that we conduct ourselves in such a way that we do not put a spot or blemish on the cause of Christ or his church. It is good for a man and woman to live together but it should be as husband and wife, not just as friends--one man's opinion.

 

Charles Hicks

Friday, September 7, 2018

America, Bless God

    We are familiar with the song: “God Bless America.” Over the past couple centuries or so, God has certainly blessed America. This country has become the most prosperous nation this world has ever known.

    In recent times, however, it seems that America, and her leaders, have drifted further from God, being (for the most part) very unconcerned about His laws that are indeed vital to a thriving society.

    There is a reason for concern. The wise man wrote: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). The Psalmist said, “The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God” (Ps. 9:17).

    What will become of this nation? Only God knows for sure.

    Perhaps instead of singing, “God Bless America,” our song (and prayer) should be, “America, Bless God.” If America would once again become a God-fearing nation, so many problems would take care of themselves. America, bless God!

Daren Schroeder

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Did Christ Die In Vain?

"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth" (Isa. 53:7). Isaiah described the events leading up to the death of Christ. In obedience to the Father, Jesus willingly stretched out his hands and died on the cross for our sins. But was his death in vain?

For those who refuse to obey the gospel, they are saying, "Lord, we don't care what you did." "Jesus, so what if you loved me and gave your life for me?" Those who stubbornly reject the gospel of Christ are saying by their actions that the death of Christ was in vain.

If this is true of you, then consider that one day the Lord will return "in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thes. 1:8). Appreciate what the Lord has done for you. Recognize your need for the blood of Christ. Obey the gospel! Don't let Christ's death be in vain.

- by David McPherson

 

 

The Seven Spirits in the Book of Revelation

 

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. Revelation 1:4-5

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:1-2

After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” 2 At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. 3 And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, 6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. Revelation 4:1-6

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Revelation 5:6

The number ‘seven’ in Revelation represents completeness or perfection. What God does is complete. Seven churches, seven stars, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven horns, seven spirits, and other sevens in the book.

·         In 1:4, the seven spirits are before the throne of God.

·         In 3:1, Jesus has the seven spirits

·         In 4:5, the seven spirits are symbolized as seven torches of fire burning before God’s throne.

·         In 5:6 we have an image of a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

The seven spirits are in the possession of Jesus, before God’s throne. They are the seven eyes of the Lamb slain, and sent out into all the earth.

The seven spirits symbolize the Holy Spirit.

Jesus received from the Father the Holy Spirit, and sent him to earth to begin the church. Acts 2:33.

In John 16:7-15, Jesus promises his disciples the Holy Spirit would take from Jesus all that the Father has given to Jesus, and come to earth to convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment, and to guide the apostles into all truth.

The Holy spirit works hand in hand with Jesus and the Father to carry out their purposes in the world.

In Revelation the seven spirits are Jesus’ eyes that see everything. They represent the Holy Spirit and convey Jesus’ messages to the seven churches, as Jesus had promised his disciples while on earth. “He shall take of mine and disclose it to you.” John 16:15.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Revelation 3:6

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.”  And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:17

Are we listening to the seven spirits?

 

David Hunter

 

Is the judgment day near?

 

2 Thessalonians 1:7-8--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

 

There is no truth more clearly or firmly established in God's word than the one that speaks to the greatest of all days, the judgment day (2 Peter 3:9-10; 1 John 4:17; Romans 2:5 Acts 24:24-25;  Heb. 9:27; Acts 17:30-31) On this day the books will be opened and all who have ever lived will be judged from the things written in the books (Rev. 20:11-15). On this day there will be nothing hidden,  there will be nothing secret that shall not be known (2 Cor. 5:10; Matthew 12:36-37; Eccl. 12:14; Luke 8:17).

 

For all who know God and have obeyed the gospel of the Lord Jesus and have lived their life in submission to his will, it will be a glorious day (Matthew 25:34; Matthew 13:43). It will be the beginning of the day  when heartaches will be no more, a day in which weakness, sickness, pain and sorrow will vanish forever and joy will never end Rev. 21:3-7). For all who do not know God and have not obeyed the gospel of the Lord Jesus, it will be a sad day indeed as they are cast out into everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:30,41,46; Matthew 13:41-42; Matthew 22:13;  Mark 9:43; Heb. 10:27;  Rev. 21:8).

 

On that day all nations shall be gathered before the great Judge (Matt. 25:31-32).Sodom and Gomorrah will be there (Matt. 10:15); people of Nineveh will be there (Matt. 12:41); the Queen of Sheba will be there (Matt. 12:42). And you and I will be right there among them. What will it be, O what will it be, saved through an eternity or lost through an eternity? Enjoy life, cherish family and friends, pursue your dreams, be happy but always, always remember there is a great day coming. Are you ready for that day to come?

 

To God be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.--2 Peter 3:18

 

·     We do not know when the Day or Time of judgment will come (Mt. 24:36).

 

Charles Hicks

Friday, August 31, 2018

Warren Cornelius

Loving Devotion

The world has lost another good man. His name was Warren Cornelius. He lived 96 years on this
planet, and he filled those 96 years with lots of love, hunting, fishing, and storytelling. He was
one of the best storytellers, ever.

Warren lost the love of his life 10 years ago. Her name was Dorothy. They were married for 65
years.

Warren had a way of "enhancing" or "embellishing" his stories to really make them captivating to his
hearers. He used vivid details as he told his stories about hunting, fishing, or interacting with
other people. But there is one story about Warren that needs no embellishment to make it more
interesting, because it's true and it demonstrates true love.

Warren's loving wife, Dot (as he called her), had Alzheimer's disease in the last years of her life.
For as long as he could, Warren kept his dear wife at home and cared for her. When it got to the
point when he couldn't, he painfully took her to live in an assisted living facility that was
equipped to take better care of her needs. But Warren didn't stop caring for her. He went to see
Dot every day, three times a day. He would go at meal times to feed her when she got to the point
where she couldn't feed herself.

As the disease progressed, Dot lost her memory. She even lost her ability to recognize her loving
husband. That didn't stop Warren. He said, "She may not know who I am, but I know who she is."
And he kept going, he kept caring, he kept helping, until she passed away.

That love and devotion that Warren displayed reflects the love of the God that he sought to serve.

"Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are
His,' and, 'Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.'" - 2 Timothy 2:19

"The Lord knows those who are His." He knows. and He cares.

He cares so much about you, me, and every person in the world that He gave His one and only Son to
die on the cross so that we may have the forgiveness of our sins, be added to His family, and
receive the gift of eternal life (Ephesians 1:7; Acts 2:41, 47; Romans 6:23).

God will forgive and add to His family those who place their faith and trust in His Son Jesus (Acts
16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans
10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse from sin
and prepare for heaven those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).

"The Lord knows those who are His." He knows you and He wants you to be a part of His forever
family.

Won't YOU accept His offer of grace and eternal life on His terms?

-- David A. Sargent

* In loving memory of Warren I. Cornelius (February 12, 1922 - August 26, 2018). Thank you for
showing us what God's love is like.

"Hold On to what you have until I Come"

 

“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.

19 “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25 Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule  them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Revelation 2:18-28

 

Let’s summarize what Jesus says to the church at Thyatira:

I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. Presumably this means they have grown in their works of faith and love.

Some of you tolerate a false teacher who leads my people into sexual immorality and idolatry, and who refuses to repent. But those influenced by this false teacher must repent of this, or I will throw you onto a sickbed and even kill some of you.

Those who have not followed this false teacher must hold on to what they have – love, faith, service and patient endurance – until I come.

Keep my works until the end.

The New Testament is replete with exhortations to not depart from the faith – but to maintain their faith no matter what deceivers come along. The severest trials – even those of the Roman Empire, Revelation 13:7-18 - are no excuse for us to relax our vigilant observance of God’s truth. Here are some of them:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained. 17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Philippians 3:12-21

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. Colossians 1:21-23

Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. 2 Timothy 1:13-14

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.

26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. 27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him. 1 John 2:18-27

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:3-4

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 20 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:17-20

 

I know you have but little power yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Revelation 3:8

 

Hold on to what you have until I come, said Jesus.

 

Don’t add or take away from Jesus’ words, because he’s coming soon.

 

We know not when Jesus will come back to resurrect, judge, reward and punish, Matthew 24:36, but what we do know is that He is coming back, and when he comes back we will all be judged by His word.

 

“If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” John 12:47-50

 

The revealed word of God – including the New Testament revealed in the early 1st century – never changes.

 

So-called prophets of God have come along since the 1st century – like Muhammed and Joseph Smith – who have wrought changes and added  to what God has decreed as unchangeable and all-sufficient. They claim to have new revelations from God that were not part of the “all truth” Jesus sent to the inspired apostles in the 1st century. They claim the New Testament is not good enough, and must be updated! But Jesus sent all truth in the 1st century, which didn’t include the Book of Mormon or the Quran, and that truth remains all-sufficient for everyone till the end of time.

 

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. 12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:7-15.

 

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:14-17

 

The New Testament is all anyone needs to save him and to train him in righteousness to be a man of God. “Continue in what you have learned.” Don’t depart from it. Don’t add to it. Don’t distort it.

 

Jesus said his word will never pass away, Matthew 24:35, but false teachers have the temerity to say the New

Testament has been corrupted,  and God sent them to restore it to its purity or to give us an update! That is so wrong! So blasphemous! So dishonouring of God’s truth, power and faithfulness in His promises! The God who sent His word into the world has also preserved it throughout all time. Isaiah 40:8; 1 Peter 1:23-25. Never doubt it.

 

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