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Monday, January 4, 2021

2 Buck Books

The Most Valuable Book

Paul Batura has a friend named Ben that owns a bookstore in Colorado
Springs. The bookstore, which features used books, is called 2 Buck Books.

Explaining to Batura where he obtained the books in his shop, Ben said, "All
of these things come from the boxes of books people bring in - you'd be
amazed what you find."

"Ever find anything really valuable?" Batura asked him.

"My old colleague, Sandy, once took in a big box of books, most likely from
an estate sale. It contained a Bible," Ben replied.

"A valuable Bible?" Batura asked.

"Once she opened it up, she realized it was hollowed out - and it contained
$2,000."

"I think Sandy tried to find out the owner, but never did," Ben added.

Reflecting on his conversation with Ben, Batura wrote: "I've been thinking
about the person who brought those books to Ben's store, never realizing
that the Bible had $2,000 in cash inside - because he or she never bothered
to even crack the cover of the most powerful and most important book ever
written. A book that has changed countless lives for the better."*

The Bible is "the most powerful and most important book ever written"
because it is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Through His Word, God
reveals Who He is, what He has done and will do, and what He expects of us.
In the Bible we learn of God's great power and His great love. We learn
that God loves us so much that He gave His one and only Son Jesus to die on
the cross for our sins (John 3:16; 1 Peter 2:24). God's Word teaches us
that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in
Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

John Fawcett wrote these lyrics in 1782 extolling the value of God's Word:

How precious is the Book Divine,
By inspiration given!
Bright as a lamp its doctrines shine
To guide our souls to heaven.
It's light, descending from above
Our gloomy world to cheer,
Displays a Savior's boundless love
And brings his glories near.
It shows to man his wandering ways
And where his feet have trod,
And brings to view the matchless grace
Of a forgiving God.
This lamp through all the tedious night
Of life shall guide our way
Till we behold the clearer light
Of an eternal day.

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

Paul Batura has a great recommendation: "So if you have a Bible in your
house, open it up. You might just be surprised what you find inside. And you
might never be the same afterward."

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "An old Bible held a shocking surprise that
turned out to be an enriching experience" by Paul Batura, www.foxnews.com.

David A. Sargent, Minister

Monday, December 21, 2020

https://skyrock.com

https://skyrock.com/m/blog/?public=1&posted=3338040690 – our free video Bible studies are now on “skyrock.”

Monday, December 7, 2020

BESTOWALS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

 

In our first essay we discussed Holy Spirit baptism as received by the apostles (including the apostle Paul) and the household of Cornelius and the purpose of Holy Spirit baptism in those instances.  In our second essay we discussed the impartation of the Holy Spirit to various members of the first century church by the laying on of the apostles’ hands and the purpose of these bestowals.

 

But what about today?  Do Christians today have the Holy Spirit?  If so, for what purpose(s)? 

 

The Gift Of The Holy Spirit – In Acts 2:38 the apostle Peter said to inquiring sinners, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).  Some able Bible students take the view that the gift of the Holy Spirit promised in Acts 2:38 is that bestowed by the laying on of the apostles’ hands, as per the passages discussed in last week’s essay.  This is certainly a plausible explanation and not beyond the realm of possibility.  Yet, even if Acts 2:38 is talking about the Holy Spirit being received by the laying of the apostles’ hands, it can still be shown from numerous other passages that the Holy Spirit dwells in God’s people today, not to enable them to speak in tongues, perform miracles, etc., but for greater and nobler purposes.

 

Paul wrote: “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out ‘Abba, Father!’”  It is important to note that the Spirit was not sent to make us sons (children) of God, but because we are sons (children) of God.  In Romans 5:5 Paul affirmed: “And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

 

Ephesians 1:3-14 provides a panoramic “sweep” of God’s magnificent scheme of redemption.  As Paul reaches the climax he affirms: “In Him (Christ) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (vv. 13-14).  In being saved from sin, one hears the word of truth (see Romans 10:17), believes in Christ (with all that is involved in genuine belief—John 3:36 [ASV]; Hebrews 5:8-9), and is then sealed with the Holy Spirit.  This bestowal of the Holy Spirit also serves as the guarantee, deposit, or earnest of our eternal salvation. 

 

To be sealed with the Spirit is to be marked or labeled as a child of God.  This mark is not outward or physical, but inward and spiritual.  Later Paul wrote: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).  If one does not have the Spirit of Christ (another designation for the Holy Spirit), that person is none of His, i.e., he does not belong to Him (Romans 8:9b).

 

This bestowal of the Holy Spirit to all who obey the gospel in every age also serves as an earnest (as in earnest money in a real estate transaction), a deposit, or a guarantee of eternal life to the child of God who remains faithful to the Lord.  After movingly speaking of our “building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Corinthians 5:1-4), Paul declared, “Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a deposit” (v. 5; see again Ephesians 1:14). 

 

During His personal ministry Jesus had promised, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”  The inspired apostle John then explains: “But this He spoke concerning the Holy Spirit, whom those who believe in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:38-39).  The passages we have cited above, along with numerous others (e.g., I Corinthians 6:19-20; Ephesians 2:19-22; Titus 3:4-7), show the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to all those who become obedient believers in Him.

 

Christians need not fear believing and fully accepting what the word of God says about the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit in His children.  Indeed, we should take great comfort in that promise because it serves as a part of the blessed assurance we have of our being the children of God and of our hope of everlasting life with Him.  On the other hand, we must be wary of and reject the ill-informed and highly emotional views of the Holy Spirit espoused and taught by some who are more influenced by Calvinism and Pentecostalism than they are by the Bible.

 

The Scriptures affirm the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in all of God’s children, but this indwelling is not of a miraculous nature, either in the manner of its bestowal or in its effects.  It is important to understand that all teaching, instruction, guidance, and direction from the Lord come from His word (II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 1:3), not by some supposed special “illumination” of the Holy Spirit.  Additional divine revelation from the Lord has not been received by anyone since the close of the apostolic age (Jude 3). 

 

Hugh Fulford

 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

BESTOWALS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

BESTOWALS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

(Part 2)

 

As was pointed out last week, a careful study of the New Testament reveals that the Holy Spirit was bestowed or imparted to different people, at different times, in different ways, for different purposes.  We learned that the apostles (Jews) and the family of Cornelius (Gentiles) were baptized with the Holy Spirit.  By implication, we concluded that the apostle Paul also received Holy Spirit baptism.  These are the only instances of Holy Spirit baptism found in scripture.  Holy Spirit baptism was neither commanded, nor could it be administered by a human being.  But, there were others who received the Holy Spirit in other ways and for other reasons.

 

Laying On Of The Apostles’ Hands – In New Testament times, the Holy Spirit was sometimes imparted to others by the laying on of the apostles’ hands.  Following the persecution and scattering of the church in Jerusalem, “Philip (not the apostle, but one of the seven who had been chosen to look after the Grecian widows in the Jerusalem church, Acts 6:1-7) went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them” (Acts 8:5).  “When they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12).  “When the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John (apostles) to them, who, when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.  For as yet He (the Holy Spirit) had fallen upon none of them.  They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  Then they (the apostles Peter and John) laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.  And when Simon (the former sorcerer, vv. 9-13) saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money” (Acts 8:14-18).  In this instance, the Samaritans heard the gospel, believed what Philip preached, and were baptized in order to be saved, or, which is the same thing, to have the remission of their sins (see Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; I Peter 3:21; et al).  Later, they received the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of the apostles Peter and John.

 

In Acts 19 Paul found some disciples in Ephesus and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?  They said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit’” (v. 2). Paul immediately deduced that there was something wrong with their baptism.  He asked them, “Into what then were you baptized?”  They said, “Into John’s baptism” (v. 3).  Paul explained that John the Baptist’s baptism had been preparatory in nature, had served its purpose, and was no longer valid, having been replaced by the baptism authorized by Christ in the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16).  “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.  And when Paul (an apostle) had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied” (vv. 5-6).

 

There can be little doubt but that in New Testament times one of the purposes of bestowing the Holy Spirit to obedient believers by the laying on of the apostles’ hands was to impart miraculous gifts to the recipients.  But the apostles of Christ are all long deceased. Therefore, no one today is receiving the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the apostles’ hands. No one today is performing bona fide miracles!  The purpose of miracles was served and when it was they ceased. 

 

In summation of last week’s and this week’s essays we observe that the apostles, who had been baptized with the Holy Spirit, were thereby enabled to receive and communicate divine truth without error and to confirm that truth by the performance of various miracles (see Acts 1:4-5, 8; Acts 2:1-4; Galatians 1:11-12; Ephesians 3:1-5; Mark 16:20; Acts 2:43; Acts 5:12; Hebrews 2:1-4). By the laying on of the apostles’ hands, miraculous gifts were imparted to various members of the first century church to aid the infant church in its development until the full revelation of the New Testament scriptures had been completed. When all divine truth (“the faith”) had been revealed (Jude 3), miracles ceased. In this connection one needs to study very carefully I Corinthians, chapters 12, 13, and 14.  Before one takes exception to this conclusion, he should carefully read and study all the preceding passages of scripture.  Emotions, feelings, wishful thinking, or what one wants to believe or think about these matters is not what determines the truth and reality about these matters.

 

But what about today?  Do Christians today have the Holy Spirit?  If so, for what purpose(s)?  These questions will be addressed in next week’s essay.

 

 

Hugh Fulford

 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

BESTOWALS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

(Part 1)

 

The Holy Spirit is an eternal and divine person, a member of the Godhead, compatible in nature with the other two members of the Godhead, the Father and the Son (Matthew 28:19; II Corinthians 13:14).  If we have no trouble conceiving of the Father as a divine person or conceiving of the Son as a divine person, then we should have no trouble conceiving of the Holy Spirit as a divine person rather than as an impersonal “it” or only a force, power, or influence.  Seven times in a single text Jesus used personal pronouns to refer to the Holy Spirit, referring to Him six times as “He” and one time as “His” (John 16:13).  This is but one of many texts that speak of the Holy Spirit as a divine person/being.

 

As is true of God the Father and Christ the Lord, there is only one Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:4-6).  The Holy Spirit is designated in various ways in scripture.  He is called the Spirit of God (Matthew 12:28), the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9b), the Spirit of the Lord (Luke 4:18), the Spirit of truth (John 16:13), and simply the Spirit (John 1:32).  In the King James Version, the Holy Spirit is called the Holy Ghost.  “Ghost” is an archaic word that means “spirit.”  When Jesus died on the cross, He gave up the “ghost” (KJV), i.e., His “spirit” (NKJV, ASV, NASB, et al) (John 19:30). “Holy Spirit” is obviously a better term than “Holy Ghost,” but if one uses the KJV it should be understood that the Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit are the same.

 

The New Testament teaches that there have been various bestowals of the Holy Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit has been given to different people, at different times, in different ways, for different purposes.  It is profitable to examine these various bestowals or impartations of the Spirit.

 

Baptism of the Holy Spirit – John the Baptist declared that Christ would baptize with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:1-12; Mark 1:6-8; Luke 3:15-17; John 1:29-34).  (Note: While Matthew and Luke also mention Jesus baptizing with fire, it does not come within the purview of this essay to discuss the significance of “fire baptism”).  It should be observed that Holy Spirit baptism is set forth by John as a promise, not as a command, and that it was to be administered by Christ, not by man.  No man ever baptized anyone in the Holy Spirit and no one was ever commanded to be baptized with the Holy Spirit. 

 

The apostles of Christ were baptized with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Luke 24:44-49; Acts 1:1-5, 8; Acts 1:26 - 2:1-4).  This was done in order for them to be qualified to speak (and write) “all truth” into which the Holy Spirit would guide them (John 14:26; John 16:13; I Corinthians 2:10-13.  (In context, the “us” and “we” in this latter passage refer to Paul and the other inspired apostles and prophets of the New Testament era [see Ephesians 3:3-5; Galatians 1:11-12].  It is an egregious blunder to take the words of Christ to the apostles and apply them to all Christians of all time!) 

 

Cornelius and his household, a Gentile family, received baptism with the Holy Spirit to show Jewish members of the church that Gentiles also were amenable to the gospel and worthy of acceptance into the body of Christ, the church (Acts 10:44 – 11:18).  Having been shown that Gentiles were acceptable to God, Peter preached the gospel to Cornelius and his household and commanded them to be baptized in water, which baptism was for the remission of sins or to have sins washed away and to be saved (Acts 10:47-48; cf. Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Mark 16:15-16; I Peter 3:21).  Holy Spirit baptism did not save Cornelius and his family, but served as a sign to Jewish believers that Gentiles should also have the opportunity to hear and obey the gospel (Acts 10:44-48; Acts 11:15-18).

 

While there is no specific record of the apostle Paul being baptized with the Holy Spirit, it is reasonable to infer that he was.  The 12 apostles had received Holy Spirit baptism on the Day of Pentecost (see above).  At that time, Paul was an unbeliever and an enemy of Christ.  Later, he was converted (Acts 9, 22, 26) and became an apostle.  He affirmed that he was “not a bit behind the most eminent apostles” (II Corinthians 11:5) and that “in nothing was [he] behind the most eminent apostles” (II Corinthians 12:11).  He received the gospel “by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:11-12) and wrote “according to the wisdom given to him” (II Peter 3:15-16), wisdom which God “revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 3:5). 

 

The above are the only cases of Holy Spirit baptism mentioned in the New Testament.  Some 20 years after Cornelius and his family had been baptized with the Holy Spirit Paul wrote to the Ephesian saints (c. A.D. 62) and declared that there is one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). This is baptism in water in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for the remission of sins (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 8:36-39).  This baptism can be and is administered by man, but only Christ could baptize with the Holy Spirit.  In the light of Ephesians 4:5, it is both illogical and inconsistent for anyone today to contend for both Holy Spirit baptism and baptism in water for the remission of sins.  Holy Spirit baptism served its purpose and ceased.  Water baptism for the remission of sins continues in effect until the end of time (Matthew 28:18-20).

 

Holy Spirit baptism is not to be confused with the new birth in which one is born of water and the Spirit (John 3:1-5). The new birth refers to becoming a child of God through obedience to the gospel (Romans 1:16-17; Romans 6:16-18), otherwise known as conversion to Christ (Acts 3:19).  In this “new birth” process one is begotten by the Spirit of God through the word of God (Luke 8:11; James 1:18; I Peter 1:22-25), culminating in one being delivered from the waters of baptism to live in newness of life (Romans 6:1-6). 

 

Neither is Holy Spirit baptism to be confused with the reception of the Holy Spirit by all who obey the gospel.  There is but one baptism and that is baptism in water for the remission of sins (see above).  The reception of the Holy Spirit by obedient believers in Christ is an entirely different thing from Holy Spirit baptism and will be addressed in a future essay. 

 

(To Be Continued)

 

Hugh Fulford

 

Monday, November 9, 2020

What does the Bible really say?

SOME THINGS THE BIBLE PLAINLY SAYS

 

As a sequel to last week’s “News & Views” titled “Where Does The Bible Say . . .?” this week we set forth some things the Bible plainly says.  Seriously reflect on these sacred truths, accept them, and take appropriate action. 

 

1. That there was a beginning in which God created all things (Genesis 1:1; cf. Hebrews 3:4). 

 

2. That the heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork (Psalm 19:1). 

 

3. That Christ, in His pre-fleshly state, was the agent through whom God created all things (John 1:1-3, 14; Colossians 1:15-16; Hebrews 1:1-2).

 

4. That all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

 

5. That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to redeem the world from sin (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; I John 2:1-2).

 

6. That Christ was born of a virgin named Mary, being conceived in her by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:30-35).

 

7. That Christ died for our sins, was buried, and resurrected on the third day (I Corinthians 15:1-4).

 

8. That we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:18-19).

 

9. That without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

 

10. That we must believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (John 8:24).

 

11. That Christ is mankind’s only way to God (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

 

12. That all must repent in order to be saved (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30-31; II Peter 3:9).

 

13. That baptism is essential to salvation from sin (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16).

 

14. That baptism saves us (I Peter 3:21).

 

15. That baptism is a burial in water (Acts 8:35-39; Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12).

 

16. That Christ established His church (Matthew 16:18).

 

17. That the church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18).

 

18. That there is only one body/church (Ephesians 4:4).

 

19. That the Lord adds the saved to the church (Acts 2:47; Ephesians 5:23).

 

20. That Christians must continue faithful (II Peter 1:5-11; Revelation 2:10).

 

21. That the two great commandments are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, and mind, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40).

 

22. That Christ will come again to judge the world in righteousness and that we must all give an account to God of our lives (Acts 1:9-11; Acts 17:30-31; Romans 14:12; II Corinthians 5:10).

 

23. That heaven is the reward of the obedient and faithful (Matthew 25:34; John 14:1-3; I Peter 1:3-5).

 

24. That everlasting torment in hell is the punishment of the disobedient and unrighteous (Matthew 25:41; Romans 2:5-11; II Thessalonians 1:6-10; Revelation 21:8).

 

25. That if we truly love the Lord we will keep His commandments (John 14:15; I John 5:3).  

 

Hugh Fulford

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Why Save a Criminal?

Why Save a Criminal?

"Very few people will die to save the life of someone else. Although
perhaps for a good person someone might possibly die."

Why would a police officer risk his life to save a criminal?

Bridgeton (NJ) police received a burglary call from an ambulance station
very early last Sunday morning. Officer Sean Peak, age 49, responded to the
call around 1:30 a.m. When he arrived, he saw a person running through some
nearby woods who then jumped or fell into the Cohansey River.

Fearing that the person might drown, Peak, in full gear, jumped into the
river to save the burglary suspect.

The suspect, a 29-year-old woman later identified and arrested for the
burglary charge, eventually made it across the river. Peak, weighed down by
his gear, was pulled from the water by other officers. He was taken to the
hospital where he was treated and released. Later that morning, however, he
was found unresponsive in his home by family members. An autopsy was
ordered to determine the cause of death. It would appear that his death was
related to his attempt to save the burglary suspect from potential drowning.

Again, why would a police officer risk his life to save a criminal?

Bridgeton Police Chief Michael Gaimari Sr. answered: "Sean made a decision
as would any officer and entered [the] water in [an] attempt to pull the
person from the running waters no matter what the circumstances." Peak was
simply doing his duty. Yes, he was seeking to apprehend a burglary suspect,
but he was also trying to prevent the same suspect from potentially
drowning. *

"Very few people will die to save the life of someone else. Although
perhaps for a good person someone might possibly die." This is a quote from
the Scriptures. It is Romans 5:7 in the New Century Version.

The Apostle Paul, by inspiration, wrote these words in the context of
discussing what Jesus did for sinners. Read verses 7-8 together:

"Very few people will die to save the life of someone else. Although
perhaps for a good person someone might possibly die. But God shows His
great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still
sinners."

But why would Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God, give His life for ALL
sinners?

Here are two reasons:

1. God loves us. He created us, but we turned against Him in rebellion.
But He loves us anyway. God was not bound by duty to save us; it was His
love that moved Him to do it.

2. God wants to save us. He "desires all men to be saved and to come to the
knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4).

The truth is that ALL of us are sinners and "drowning" in our sins. But
Jesus came to our rescue, not because we deserved it, but because He loves
us. And only Jesus could save us, because only the sinless Son of God could
pay the price for our sins. He paid the price with His life by dying on the
cross for our sins.

The Apostle Peter wrote to Christians: "You were not redeemed with
perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited
from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and
spotless, the blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18-19 NASB).

God will save from sin and give eternal life to those who place their faith
and trust in 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 for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will
continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His
Word (1 John 1:7-9).

Why would a holy God save sinful man? Because He loves us. Won't YOU
accept His loving offer by accepting it through your trusting obedience?

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "NJ officer dies hours after jumping into river
to save burglary suspect" by Robert Gearty, www.foxnews.com.

David A. Sargent, Minister
davidsargent1@comcast.net

Church of Christ at Creekwood
http://www.creekwoodcc.org

1901 Schillinger Rd. S.
Mobile, Alabama 36695

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Monday, September 14, 2020

What does God require of me?

WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

 

Christians are to encourage one another and build up one another (I Thessalonians 5:11, NASB).  This week’s edition of “News & Views” is intended to give encouragement in two important areas.

 

First, to my friends, neighbors, and loved ones who have only had water sprinkled or poured on them (whether as an infant, in childhood, or as an adult) and such action called baptism, let me urge you to pick up your Bible, turn to the first book in the New Testament, the Gospel according to Matthew, and read chapter 3, verses 13-17.  After reading that account of Christ’s baptism ask yourself, “Is that how I was baptized?”  Then check out Mark’s account of the matter.  Mark is the second book of the New Testament.  Read Mark 1:9-11 and ask yourself, “Was I baptized the way Christ my Savior was baptized?” 

 

Now look at an example of how people were baptized in New Testament times.  Read Acts 8:26-40.  Were you baptized the same way that man was baptized?  Then read some passages from the pen of the apostle Paul: Romans 6:3-6 and Colossians 2:12.  Once more, ask yourself, “Is that how I was baptized?” 

 

Look at passages telling the purpose of baptism: Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Galatians 3:27; I Peter 3:21; et. al. and ask yourself, “Is that why I was baptized?”

 

Eternity is too long for anyone to take a chance on such a simple but important act of submissive obedience to the Lord as immersion in the name of Christ for the remission of sins.  If you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and are willing to turn from your sins in genuine repentance, then please reach out to a faithful member of the church of Christ or to a faithful minister of the gospel of Christ at a nearby church of Christ and ask to discuss this important matter with him.  Your obedience to the gospel will result in your being a Christian only, a member of the one undenominational body (church) of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  You can then meet and worship with these people, knowing that your worship is according to the will of God and pleasing to Him.

 

My second word of encouragement has to do with the importance of reading the Bible.  In order to understand the Bible, one must read the Bible.  (That sounds like a “given,” doesn’t it?)  A person who never reads God’s message to man will never know God’s will for his or her life.  Let me encourage you to pick up your Bible, turn to the New Testament, and come over to the gospel of Luke to begin your reading.  It is the third of four accounts of the life of Christ and comes after Matthew and Mark.  I would suggest beginning with Matthew, the first gospel account, but Matthew chapter one could be intimidating to the new reader with all of its many difficult and hard to pronounce names found in the Jewish ancestry of Jesus.  Therefore, I suggest starting with Luke, and coming back to Matthew, Mark, and John later.  They each provide marvelous insights into the life of our Lord.  In Luke chapter 3 you also will encounter the genealogy of Jesus all the way back to Adam, but by then you already will have been introduced to Him and several interesting events in His early life, and may not be so intimidated by the names of His human ancestors.

 

After you finish reading Luke, turn to the fifth book of the New Testament, the book of Acts.  It also was written by Luke and continues the story of Christianity after the ascension of Christ back to heaven.  Check out how the ending of the book of Luke (Luke 24:44-53) dovetails with the beginning of the book of Acts (Acts 1:1-11) to show the continuity and connectedness of Luke’s two-volume work.  The book of Acts tells of the beginning of the church, how people were saved and added to the church, the spread of the gospel, persecutions and problems that the early church faced, when the followers of Christ were first called Christians, and many other exciting events.  One will read many interesting stories of people being converted to Christ, including Saul who started out as a rabid enemy of Christ but who went on to become the great apostle Paul and accomplish so much for the cause of Christ. 

 

After reading Luke and Acts, you will have a good foundation of biblical Christianity.  You can then turn your attention to the other gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and John), the letters of Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude, and the book of Revelation.  As long as you have life, it is never too late to start this exciting journey of reading and comprehending God’s saving message to humanity, but someday it will be too late.  Do not die having had a Bible in your home but having never read it to find out what God would have you do to be saved forever in heaven.

 

A closing thought:  Our emotions, feelings, and “think-so’s” do not determine how one is saved, who is a Christian, how we are to worship, or how we are to live.  Our parents and grandparents do not set the standard for these matters.  Many courageous people have left their parents’ religion in order to be right with God. Modern religious sociology does not determine the nature of the undenominational church of which we read in the Bible or who comprises that church.  The word of God alone determines these matters.  The Bible is to be our sole standard for determining the answer to religious questions and our only standard of religious authority. 

 

Hugh Fulford

 

Friday, August 21, 2020

FW: A Place to Call Home

A Place to Call Home

Nine-year-old Jordan wants to be a police officer when he grows up.

"Why do you want to be a police officer?" asked Reporter Lacey Lett.

"Because they're fun and they protect people," he said.

But there's something that Jordan wants even more: a family.

Jordan has a brother, Braison. Braison has been adopted and Jordan does not
get to see him very often. Jordan is living in a group home; he has been in
the care of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) for six years.

Jordan longs for a family of his own.

"If you could go anywhere - anywhere in the whole wide world - where would
it be?" Lett asked.

"To an adoption party for a home," Jordan replied.

And if he were granted three wishes?

"To have a family, and family, family. Those are the only wishes I have,"
Jordan said.

"The reason it's important is because -- so I could have some people to talk
to anytime I need to," Jordan explained. "I hope one of y'all pick me."

After his interview was aired on KFOR, families from several different
states reached out to the news station, wanting to adopt him, according to
The Daily Mail. Lett reported that OKDHS has received thousands of online
inquiries and countless phone calls to their hotline with people wanting to
adopt Jordan.

There is Good News for everyone: there IS a place that everyone can call
home. There is a Father that wants to adopt every person who will accept
His invitation. His family is the church - "a place to call home," a people
to call family.

God wants YOU to be a part of His forever family.

The Father paid a great price in order to adopt you. Peter reminded some in
God's family of that great price: "For you know that it was not with
perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the
empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the
precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" (1 Peter 1:18-19
NIV).

God will save from sin, adopt into His family, and give eternal life to
those who place their faith and trust in 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). Those who
accept His offer receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy
Spirit (Acts 2:38), and they are adopted (or "born again") into the family
of God.

The Apostle Paul wrote to some who accepted God's offer of adoption: "For
you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received
the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit
Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if
children, then heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we
suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together" (Romans 8:15-17
NKJV).

Borrowing some words from Jordan, "I hope ALL of y'all accept God's offer!"

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "'I hope one of y'all pick me,' 9-year-old boy
desperately wants a place to call home" by Lacey Lett of KFOR, www.kfor.com,
and "Oklahoma boy gets 5,000 adoption inquiries in 12 hours after
heartbreaking interview in which he pleaded for a family" by Nick Givas,
www.foxnews.com.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

When In Need

When In Need

Last Sunday night, Fresno (CA) police officers went to the home of Mayra
Varela in search of her brother, Gerardo Varela, who was a suspect in a
robbery committed the previous night. Gerardo was in the home and tried to
elude the police by setting fire to his sister's home. Gerardo was
apprehended, but the house was lost. That left Mayra and her three-year-old
child homeless.

Sgt. Stacie Szatmari was one of the police officers who responded to the
call. The plight of Mayra and her daughter touched her heart. She resolved
to try to help the small family. Szatmari reached out to the police
chaplaincy to get the family a room for the night. She also contacted the
Red Cross to secure more long term housing. Szatmari also collected
toiletries, clothes, and shoes for the family and delivered the supplies to
the family last week.

"It was like Christmas Day," Valera told KFSN-TV, an ABC affiliate. "She was
bringing Christmas gifts. Some stranger just said, 'Here's everything you
need for your family now.'"

When asked why she helped the Varela family, Szatmari responded, "That's the
way I was raised. If someone is in need, I need to help out." *

When we were in dire need, Someone came to our rescue.

Our greatest need is salvation from sin. Our sin puts us on the path to
eternal destruction in the fires of hell (Matthew 7:13-14).

But despite the fact that our sins are a direct affront to the God who
created us, God loves us so much that He made provision for our salvation
from sin. He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to our rescue. Jesus had to
give His life to pay the price of redemption for our sins. He died for us
so that we can be saved from sin and receive the gift of eternal life. "In
Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according
to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).

God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust
in 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 for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will
continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His
Word (1 John 1:7-9).

When "our house was burning to the ground," God sent Jesus to save us.
Jesus "gave Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age,
according to the will of our God and Father" (Galatians 1:4 NIV).

Won't YOU accept His offer of salvation and eternal life by trusting and
obeying Christ today?

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "California cop brings summer 'Christmas' to
family left homeless by fire" by Julia Musto, www.foxnews.com, and "Fresno
police officer helps family that lost home in house fire" by Nathalie Granda
of KFSN Television, LLC - ABC30, www.abc30.com.

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