The battle rages, and the Captain of our army encourages us to stand in the gap, to “put on the whole armor of God...and having done all, to stand.” A recent bulletin reported that the Episcopalian church is on the verge of allowing homosexuals into their pulpits. Another bulletin reports that the Catholic church is about to capitulate on this same moral issue. Meanwhile, toleration is in, opposition is out, and it is apparent that our brethren are about to succumb to the same kind of “pluralistic” thinking that is sweeping our society. “Judge not that ye be not judged” has become the battle cry for those weak of spirit. Controversy is no longer politically correct, whether it is in the political or the religious realm. I for one, am grateful that neither Jesus, nor His apostles, ever adapted such a philosophy in order to promote and promulgate the “faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Had the restorationist pioneers held to the same attitude toward religious division and error as some of our brethren do today, they would never have gotten to first base in bringing about a restoration of the ancient order of things. J.S. Lamar wrote the following approximately 30 years after the death of Alexander Campbell. I share it with our readers for no other reason than to show that firm conviction and a stalwart stand for the truth is the only way by which the citadels of error will ever be torn down and the truth of God exalted. Here is what brother Lamar wrote:
“Every party had made its own creed, and set forth its conception of Christianity in a form chosen by itself. Every builder had erected a structure in accordance with his own architectural ideas and designs; and the results were satisfactory to the builders and really, for human structures, very good. It was while resting in fancied security in these corrupted and beautiful temples, the product of their skill and the pride of their hearts, that Alexander Campbell, as with the voice of God’s thunder and the sword of God’s Spirit, broke upon them, and aroused them to a sense of their danger. Now, if instead of thus assaulting them, he had been content to accept their guage [sic], and to meet them on their own chosen ground, both the conflict and the result would had been different. They were fully prepared to contest the question of comparative merit; and if the issue had been, for example, whether the English church was better or worse than the German; whether the Methodist had more or less truth than the Presbyterian; whether the creed, the doctrines, the practices, of any given sect, approximated in more respects than those of some others to the apostolic model and teaching - in such case the conflict would have been most welcome. But Mr. Campbell did not condescend to engage in any such useless strife. The peculiarities of sects and their varying degrees of excellency were treated only as side-issues and incidents, while with ponderous and pounding logic he battered upon the very basis of sectarianism - contending that, whether they had more of the truth or less, they were still wrong, fundamentally wrong, wrong in being sects, wrong in not being what Christ had founded, while yet assuming to occupy the place, to command respect, and to wield the authority of the divine institution. And now the fight was on. It was Alexander Campbell against the whole sectarian world - and all this world combining to resist him.”
Thank God for such men as Mr. Campbell, “Raccoon” John Smith, Barton W. Stone, and a host of courageous men who refused to bow to the “pluralistic” mind-set that so dominates our world, yea even our own brotherhood, at this very hour. It is readily admitted that when we take a stand on the side of truth, that we will be criticized. But at least we know we stand with good company, “for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you” (Matthew 5:12b).
The fight is on! We have been provided adequate armor to repel the fiery darts of the evil one, but we must take up the armor. A careful examination of the spiritual armor described by the inspired apostle as set forth in Ephesians 6:14-17 leads us to the inevitable conclusion that God intended us to use the word to engage that battle. Our loins are girt with truth (Eph. 6:14). “Sanctify them in truth, they word is truth” (John 17:17). We have put on the breastplate of righteousness (Eph. 6:14). The Psalmist told us, “all thy commandments are righteousness” (Psa. 119:172). We are to have our “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15). If that is not the word of God, I am at a loss as to its meaning. The “shield of faith” (vs. 16) is more literally, “the shield of the faith,” which, of course, is the system of belief provided in God’s word, and specifically the New Testament (cf. Jude 3). We must “take the helmet of salvation” to protect our spiritual minds and hearts, “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). Each of these six items refer to the word of God, with all of its power and persuasive capability to defeat the enemy and comfort the child of God. Yes, the fight is on! It is left up to us as to whether or not we will engage the battle. It will take courage and the determination to remain faithful to the end. We dare not compromise, and to capitulate is not an option. Martin Luther King once said, “Crowd pressures have unconsciously conditioned our minds and feet to move to the rhythmic drumbeat of the status quo. Many voices and forces urge us to choose the path of least resistance, and bid us never to fight for an unpopular cause and never to be found in a minority of two or three.”
Should it be our lot to stand alone, or at best with the minority, and should the host of the armies of darkness assail us, we can be assured that in the final analysis, when all has been said and done, and we stand before the Captain of our army, we will hear the sweet words, “Enter thou into the joys prepared for you.” It will have been a well fought battle, and the victory shall be ours to enjoy for all eternity. The fight is on! “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
By Tom Wacaster
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Saturday, August 19, 2017
The Baggage Claim
Baggage. What does that word bring to your mind?
To some, the word baggage will bring to mind suitcases and personal belongings of travelers. To others, Webster’s third definition may be considered: “intangible things that get in the way.” To all, baggage will likely be thought of as a heavy burden.
Jacob Hawk recently flew to Nashville, TN for a speaking engagement. He experienced some difficulties in his airline travel. “I was delayed on my first flight, arrived late on my last flight, and lost my bags in the process,” he reported. *
The airline placed his luggage on another plane, so he had to wait for a few hours at the baggage claim for his belongings to arrive. As he waited, he contemplated on some lessons about life learned from the baggage claim.
One lesson that Hawk considered was that every person has some “baggage.” “We have those ‘stories’ and ‘items’ we don’t want others to see. Some ‘carry it’ daily. Others ‘check it’ with Jesus (the much better option), but the baggage still exists. And that baggage is OUR baggage. No one else’s. They can try to claim it, but it’s the wrong bag. They have their own baggage to carry.”
Hawk also thought: “There may be similar ‘bags’ on the conveyer belt of life. Maybe the same size. Or the same shape. But our baggage still is our baggage. No one else can take it home with them.”
Baggage, despite the varying shapes, sizes, weights, and types, is burdensome to all… especially when it comes to the “baggage” of our mistakes, our sins.
But Hawk also considered the Good News (the Gospel): “Jesus gave His life for us so our baggage wouldn’t be charged against us.” “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24 NIV). “So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28 NKJV).
Because Jesus died for our sins on the cross, we can be freed from the burden of sin and enter into eternal life in heaven (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:23).
God will take away the burden of sin and give eternal life to those who accept His offer on His terms by placing our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to free us from the burden of sin as we continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
Your baggage is too heavy for you to keep carrying. In fact, it will destroy you. “Check” your baggage in to Jesus. Allow Him to take your burden from you. Then, you will be free to live for Him and you can look forward to your eternal destination in heaven.
Let Jesus take care of your baggage. Won’t YOU?
-- David A. Sargent
* From “Baggage Claim” by Jacob Hawk in The Hawk’s Nest in Start2Finish.org, 8/13/17.
David A. Sargent
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Alfred Angelo, a national bridal chain, abruptly closed around July 14, 2017, informing customers through their website and printed messages on closed storefront windows that the chain was filing bankruptcy.
Brides and their families who had not received their dresses panicked. Many of them had already paid for the dresses and for needed alterations.
Rose Ellis, a seamstress in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was picking up dresses to alter at the Alfred Angelo store in Oklahoma City when she learned the news that the bridal chain was closing that very day.
Her first thoughts were focused on the brides who were counting on their dresses for their special days. She felt she had to do something about the situation. And she did.
Rose gathered around 60 dresses in the Oklahoma City store that had been paid for and needed alterations and brought them home with her. Her goal was to complete the alterations, contact the owners of the dresses, and make sure the dresses fit properly – all at no additional charge. She was determined to do this despite the fact that she would not be compensated by Alfred Angelo.
Stephanie Huey of Oklahoma City had her bridesmaids’ Alfred Angelo dresses at the OKC store awaiting alterations. She was in a panic fearing that the dresses and her investment were irretrievable. But Rose contacted Stephanie to inform her that she had her dresses and that she would complete the alterations at no charge.
Touched by her thoughtful generosity, Stephanie assisted Rose in contacting other brides-to-be in similar circumstances and arranged for a Holiday Inn Express in OKC to provide a space where Rose could fit the wedding gowns for the Alfred Angelo customers.
“I was just dumbfounded,” Stephanie said. “I thought her good deed was just to bring the dresses back to everyone, but she was still doing all the alterations -- and for free.”
Stephanie and others whom Rose has assisted have opened a GoFundMe account to help defray her travel expenses and the cost of doing the alterations for free. At the time of the writing of this article, almost $24,000 of the $30,000 goal has been raised. *
Doesn’t the word “gracious” describe Rose Ellis?
Her selfless actions also picture the grace that God extends to you and me.
When we were “bankrupt” due to our sins and destined for destruction, God still loved us. He gave His Son to die on the cross for us so that we could be redeemed from sin and receive the gift of eternal life (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 6:23). He did this, not because we deserved it, but because He loves us (read Ephesians 2:8-9).
Because of His love and grace, God will save 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).
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Gracious, full of grace. God is gracious. He wants to save us – and He will, if we will only accept His offer on His terms.
-- David A. Sargent
* Information gleaned from “Seamstress from abruptly closed bridal store reunites brides with wedding gowns” by Katie Kindelan of abcnews.go.com, posted July 27, 2017
David A. Sargent
Saturday, August 5, 2017
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Friday, August 4, 2017
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
I have been accused of over emphasizing the part baptism plays in the salvation of sinners. In view of what the Bible teaches, I do not see how this could be possible.
There are five passages in the New Testament which mention both baptism and salvation in the same verse (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:4; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). In all of these passages, water baptism precedes the remission of sins. Do you know of a passage where the order is reversed?
Mark 16:16 contains two conditions for salvation: faith and baptism. It also contains the conditions for damnation: a lack of faith. If you want to know what you must do to be lost, it will tell you -- all that is necessary is a lack of faith. If you want to know what to do to be saved from your past sins -- it commands you to believe and be baptized.
In Acts 2:38 Peter told a group of believers to "repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins." Our Baptist friends often focus on the word "for" in this passage and insist it means "because of," even though it is never translated that way in any reputable translation of the Bible. We have to remind them that if baptism is "because of" the remission of sins, then so is repentance. Baptism and repentance are joined by the little word "and." Whatever one is "for" the other is "for."
After we are buried with Christ in baptism, we are raised to walk in a newness of life (Romans 6:1-4). This new life comes after baptism in water. Many preachers want to "bury" the "new man," since they claim the newness of life comes before our "burial."
Three days after the Lord appeared to Saul of Tarsus, Ananias told Saul to "arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins" (Acts 22:16). Many preachers today claim Saul was saved three days before Ananias met him. Ananias must not have known it, for he told Saul how to "wash away" his sins. If Saul had been saved on the road as some preachers claim, he must have been the most miserable saved man in the Bible. Saul was blind and spent three days praying and fasting until Ananias arrived.
1 Peter 3:21 states "baptism doth also now save us." However, baptism is not the only condition for the salvation of the alien sinner. Other requirements must be met, like faith, repentance and love. I do not know of anything "alone" that will save a sinner, not even faith (James 2:24).
- by David Padfield
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Thought for the Week
This is a most intriguing question put forth by James and is one that should command our attention. If our high hopes, our great expectation of one day going home to live with the redeemed of all ages is going to become reality, we must be a wise person. I wonder, what would you consider to be characteristics of a wise person. Certainly, I believe we would all agree that a wise person is one who builds his faith and hope on Jesus (Acts 4:12). Of course we must conclude that a wise person is one who fears God and strives to keep his commandments (Eccl. 12:13). There are many other characteristics of a wise man that could be mentioned but suffice it to say that the wise man knows he belongs to God and by a life dedicated to God, a life disciplined by God and a life that is distinctive for God testifies to all who know him that he belongs to God.
The wise man speaks often with his God and seeks God's blessing (1 Thessalonians 5:7; Romans 12:12; Philippians 4:6-7; Hebrews 4:16; 1 Peter 5:7). You see, the wise man knows that there is no problem too great for the Lord to solve. The wise man takes time to feed on God's word (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 5:11-14). The wise man knows that he needs direction in this life so he lets God be his guide (Jeremiah 10:23; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The wise man trusts in God at all times (Psalms 62:8; Isaiah 12:2; Romans 8:28). The wise man diligently seeks first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).
The reward of being a wise man is found in knowing that one day we will stand face to face with our Lord and hear the most beautiful words we will ever hear, "Enter into the joys of your Lord". All of us should be living our lives right now in such a way that we can say with Paul. "I am ready. I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished the course". Live every remaining day of life on this earth as a wise man whose life is dedicated to God. disciplined by God and distinctive for God. If that be the case, the greatest victory imaginable will one day be the result.
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