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Thursday, January 31, 2019

What is repentance?


Dennis Pence










An Underwhelming Change

According to one writer, “The sinner’s prayer is a Christian term for a prayer that is said when someone wants to repent of their sin, ask God for forgiveness and state belief in the life, death and saving resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Michael Hidalgo responds, “When I hear people speak about sharing the Gospel and inviting others to pray the “sinner’s prayer” it sounds completely underwhelming. At times, the way we talk about the Gospel makes it seem rather small and inconsequential.” The current state of pop Christianity is a state of salvation by underwhelming change. The “sinner’s prayer” and the gospel of easy salvation maximize man’s lip-service while minimizing the role of change, also called repentance, and the commands of God in the salvation process.

Salvation is an act of God’s love and is available to all with a stipulation which is called the Greatest Command; Matthew 22:37-38. While God loves all not all love God. Speaking words, even disguised as a prayer, is not what makes salvation available but it is following the greatest commandment. To be reconciled to God we must repent of our love of the false gods, whatever their name may be, and love only the one true God.

The word “repentance” is used extensively by the Old Testament prophets making prominent the idea of radical change in one’s attitude toward God. The New Testament writers and our Lord use it in respect to the change of heart of those who abhor their errors and misdeeds, and have determined to follow a different and better path that embraces both recognition of sin and loathing for it. Far from mouthing a prayer, though that is necessary as a part of repentance, true scriptural repentance is about a deep, personal, spiritual change in a man’s heart, mind and soul.

The way of the heart

The way we lead our lives is based on the things we hold dear – what is important to mind and heart; Mark 7:20-23. Evil proceeds out of the heart and defiles a man likewise goodness can flow out of the heart and glorify a man.

What happens when the law is written on our heart? Jeremiah 31:33. The law is in effect the will of God writ large for all men to see. When on temporal surfaces it becomes an object to be obeyed for its own sake. When written on the heart it is the life-force of holiness displaying the love of God in words and deeds.

What happens when the law is erased from our heart? Turning to the ancient Israelites we see that though the Law of God was written on their hearts it can also be erased from the heart; 2 Kings 17:16. As a result they came to an end – they were no more; Isaiah 1:28. Once the people of God they changed [repented] and loved another god bringing to an end not just their life but their place in the Book of Life; Psalm 69:28 ; Revelation 20:15. Clear enough?

What does it mean to repent? A literal translation of repentance is “after thought.” In its secular usage it means “to note after”, often with the implication of “too late.” To change one’s mind; to adopt another view. Recognition that the earlier view was foolish or improper For the Greek philosophers repentance was merely changing the way you thought about something, it was a matter of the mind, with knowledge or understanding being the object that changed.

As used by the prophets and apostles the word takes on a deeper meaning. Repentance is seldom a function of the intellect alone. It expresses pain and grief at what has happened. It is a spiritual transformation initiated by the remorse over our sins. While having intellectual effects repentance is fundamentally a change of the heart where we see the sinful nature coming forth from us and accepting that we no longer “LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.”

A change of life

The remorse we feel for our sin is the catalyst for repentance. The outcome is a change in mind and heart and consequently soul. It is a change in life away from sin to God.

2 Corinthians 7:10 (NASB) 10  For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Repentance is a change from eternal death to eternal life. Repentance is the regret for sin and a determined resolve to forsake those ways turning our life to the pathway of Christ.

What leads to repentance?  The very first words of Jesus that Mark recorded are

Mark 1:14-15 (NASB) 14  Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15  and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

It is time to change from the trusting man to trusting the Gospel – the good news that the Messiah has come. It is time to return to loving God and away from loving the world – be a saint not a sinner in Paul’s vernacular.

There is no lesser or greater sin, God does not see just a little sin or accept “all I did” as an excuse; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 in this list some are “major” sinners, thieves, some “minor”, drunkards, but all have the same outcome – they will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Within the concept of repentance is the repugnance of sin. To be truly penitent one must recognize that their deeds are abhorrent to God no matter what those around you may think of them. It is not the opinion of friends and family that open the gates of heaven but the approval and recognition of Jesus that your deeds represent a heart dedicated to God.

What does repentance lead to?

The nature of sin is such that it separates us from God ;Luke 16:13 .  Through sin we are serving the god of wealth and forsaking the God of Heaven. In writing to the Corinthians Paul reminds them that we can be reconciled- in fact must be reconciled - to God; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19.

Reconciliation is the renewal of amicable relations between two parties who had been at enmity or variance; usually implying forgiveness of injuries on one or both sides. With God being the injured party reconciliation is only possible if we change from a worshipper of flesh to a worshipper of God.

We are reconciled to God when we repent of our sins ; Acts 3:19. When our sins are wiped away the gates of heaven will be open for us; Luke 1:77 By turning from sin, the life of the flesh, we will be forgiven of our sins and life eternal will be granted us.

Therefore, our eternal life is dependent on our repentance for the forgiveness of sin through Christ so that we will be reconciled to God.


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

No Place Like Home

$238 million. That is the price that was recently paid for a four-story condo on Central Park South
in New York City. That makes it the most expensive home in the history of the United States. The
unit contains 24,000 square feet and comprises the 50th to the 53rd floors in a building dubbed as
"the billionaires' bunker." The "bunker" features private dining rooms, a sports club, juice bar,
library, and a basketball court.

The buyer, Ken Griffin, has been called a "globe-trotting house collector." He also owns a $58.75
million condo in Chicago; a $60 million penthouse in Miami; $250 million worth of land to build a
Palm Beach compound, and a $122 million London mansion. *

One wonders in which luxurious accommodation he will spend most of his time.

The Bible teaches that one day each of these mansions and condos - all of the earth and the works
therein - will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10). All the things of this earth will "go up in smoke."
This truth indicates that those who have invested only in things of this world are poor investors.

But the Christian has a "mansion" awaiting in heaven.

Jesus offered comfort to His troubled disciples reminding them of their eternal home: "Let not your
heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions
[literally, "abiding places, rooms"]; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a
place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to
Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-3).

Our sin puts us on the path to eternal destruction (Matthew 7:13-14), but the Savior wants to take
us to live in an eternal home (1 Peter 1:3-4). The Apostle Peter encouraged some suffering saints
with these words: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His
abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from
the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in
heaven for you" (1 Peter 1:3-4).

The beauty of this heavenly home is beyond our comprehension (see Revelation 21; cf. 1 Corinthians
2:9). The real beauty of the Christian's eternal home is who will share it with him: the heavenly
Father; our Redeemer, Jesus Christ; and the redeemed of all the ages. Heaven will also be wonderful
because of what will not be there: "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall
be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have
passed away."

This eternal, heavenly home was "purchased" at a great price: the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son.
Jesus died on the cross for our sins so that we can have an eternal home in heaven with Him. This
home can be ours if we will accept it on His terms.

God will save and give life in an eternal, heavenly home 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 and prepare for a heavenly home those who continue to walk in the light
of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).

Our homes on earth, no matter how much we've paid for them, can be special places. But there's no
place like the home that God wants to give YOU in heaven. Won't YOU accept His offer through your
trusting obedience?

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from "Most expensive home in US - dubbed 'billionaires' bunker' - purchased
for $238 million" by Jennifer Gould Keil of the New York Post as it appeared on
January 24, 2019.

Friday, January 25, 2019

I’m a lover of quotations


                                                                        FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION


I'm sure that I've mentioned this before but, in case some of you aren't aware of it, I'm a lover of quotations.  As such, a lot of the quotations I read serve to inspire me towards a spiritual lesson.  Today I'm going to look at a few of them and lay them alongside a Bible passage that fits the thought of the quote.  But, I think that I'll do it a little different and reverse the order.  I'll give you the passage first and then the quote.


Here's our first passage: "....a time to keep silence and a time to speak."  (Eccl. 3:7).


Now, before we look at the quote, let me tell you a little story.  It's about a little boy who was away from his house for awhile and when he returned home his mother asked him, "Where have you been?"  Well, their next door neighbor was an elderly man whose wife had recently passed away and the boy replied to her, "I was visiting next door with Mr. Jones."  She asked her son, "What did you talk about?"  The little boy simply told her, "Nothing, I just sat and helped him cry."


Now the quotation and it's author was the Greek philosopher Socrates.  He said: "There are two sciences which every man ought to learn.  First, the science of speech; second, the more difficult one of silence."


Let me just add my own thought here and say that "silence" isn't always better than speech, but on many occasions it is.  In the way of proving my thought let me just ask you how many times have you wished that you'd have kept your mouth shut and just listened.  More times than one I'll wager.


Ok, here's our next scripture reading: "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesars, and to God the things that are God's."  (Mark 12:17)


Frequently we hear something about the First Amendment to the Constitution which deals with the separation of church and state.  And, more often than not, we see it brought up because of a law suit regarding a supposed violation of it.  There's a lot that could be written about this subject, but today I'm going to be brief in commenting on it.


The main problem as I see it is this: I believe that "Caesar" has intruded far more into the "things that are God's" than the other way around.  And that opinion brings us to the quote fitting this passage.  Former President Reagan once was speaking on the subject of people becoming afraid of violating the First Amendment. 


He said: "The First Amendment was not written to protect people and their laws from religious values; it was written to protect those values from Government tyranny."


Next scripture reading: "All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."  (2 Tim. 3:16-17 ESV)


I believe that what that passage shows us is, that the answer to every situation we encounter in our lives, whether good or bad and for all the things which we experience, but more importantly, the key to real and lasting peace for the soul is found in the Word of God - the Bible.  Or, as many times referred to as The Scriptures. 


Again I turn to President Reagan for our comparative quote and here's what he thought about it.  In regards to The Bible, he said: "Within the covers of that single book are all the answers to all the problems that face us today if we'd only read it and believe."


Our next Bible passage was spoken by Moses at a time when the Israelites were behaving themselves in a most corrupt manner, aided and abetted by Moses' own brother, Aaron.  They were behaving so badly that God threatened to destroy everyone of them and start over by making a nation of Moses' descendants.  But, Moses, on behalf of the people, entreated God to spare them and He did.


It was right after this that Moses made a speech to the people.  He started his speech by asking them a question.  He asked them, "Who is on the Lord's side?"  (Ex. 32:26)  There's the implication there that a choice would have to be made as to where their allegiance lay.  There's another implication of a choice having to be made in something Christ said while dealing with the Pharisees and their accusations.  In Matt. 12:30 He said, "He that is not with me is against me..." 


We're going to look at our quote now, but first I just want to mention that we should use caution in making this choice.  I'm speaking in the sense of being prudent because choosing the wrong side will be eternally disastrous.  Now the quote and again I turn to President Reagan.  He said: "We must be cautious in claiming God is on our side.  I think the real question is, are we on His side?"


That wraps up our spiritual thoughts for today, but I'd like to add a closing comment of my own.  It just seems to me, when I look at what our national leaders do and hear the things they speak, it pains me to note how uncivil and untruthful they've become.  Perhaps it's just the memory of a senior citizen, but I remember, not only our government officials, but society as a whole, being far more considerate of manners, truthfulness and piousness towards God than what we have now.


I once had the honor of spending some time close to President Reagan and I can attest to his conduct matching his words.  He truly was a great person and that fact was easily recognizable.  I just wish that we had leaders of his stature with us today.


Respectfully submitted,

Ron Covey

The Importance of Divine Authority in Teaching Spiritual Truth


Throughout history, people claiming to be prophets of God, or having a unique key to God’s will, have come along and deceived millions. Apart from the Papacy in the early centuries and following, then Muhammad early 7th century and founder of Islam that still thrives today. Then look at the 19th century: Baha’u’llah and the multi-religion Bahai movement, Joseph Smith and the Mormons, Ellen G. White and the Seventh Day Adventists, and Charles Russell and the group that became the Jehovah’s Witnesses till the present time. Then in the 20th century we had Herbert W. Armstrong’s World Wide Church of God. The question of who truly has divine authority, is thus crucial to faith.


The self-proclaimed prophet, Muhammad, insisted that God had declared him to be the 'excellent pattern of conduct' for mankind (Quran 33:21), and yet his life is littered with assassinations and massacres.

A former Muslim, Ali Sina, offered this challenge:

"Muhammad is a narcissist, a pedophile, a mass murderer, a terrorist, a misogynist, a lecher, a cult leader, a madman, a rapist, a torturer, an assassin and a looter."

He offered $50,000 to anyone who could prove this wrong based on Islamic texts. The reward has gone unclaimed.

Sadly, millions have followed Muhammad and his religion for centuries, believing he was God’s authoritative prophet.

                 The following Scriptures show how important authority was to Jesus:


One day, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up 2 and said to him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” 3 He answered them, “I also will ask you a question. Now tell me, 4 was the baptism of John from heaven or from man?” 5 And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From man,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it came from. 8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” Luke 20:1-8


After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. 2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. 3 When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” 6 And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. 7 Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. 8 For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 9 When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” 10 And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well …

… And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

24 When John's messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings' courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’

28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.) Luke 7:1-10,19-30


This whole chapter is about the importance of authority: the authority of John and the authority of Jesus.


So they watched Him, and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, in order that they might catch Him in some statement, so that they could deliver Him to the rule and the authority of the governor. 21 They questioned Him, saying, "Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. 22 "Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?" Luke 20:20-22


John had authority from God to do his work. Jesus had God’s authority. Nothing these men did or taught was of their own making. It came because God had commanded them to do it.


“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will

recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” 28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. Matthew 7:13-29


If you don’t accept the principal of divine authority, there’s no point looking at anything Jesus said or did. If Jesus isn’t speaking God’s truth, why listen to him any more than a hundred other claimants? This is why authority is a beginning study in evangelism. Jesus is essentially telling these priests and scribes that he won’t answer their questions because they don’t accept the authority of God behind His work. Jesus never acts independently of His Father. He seeks only God’s glory. When Jesus sends his disciples out into the world, he prefaces their commission with these words: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me … “ Matthew 28:18.


Why is it so important for Jesus to preface His Great Commission with these words? Religious truth is rooted in God. Jesus’ teaching = God’s commandments. Why urge lost souls to follow Jesus unless Jesus has the backing of God?


When Nicodemus came to Jesus, he recognised the authority of Jesus. Because Jesus could see that Nicodemus recognized His authority, Jesus hits him between the eyes with crucial kingdom teaching, unlike the situation described in Luke 20:1-8!!


Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” John 3:1-2


Remember Jesus mentioning His miracles as proof to John the Baptizer that He was indeed the Messiah? Luke 7:18-23. Irrefutable miracles, unlike fake ones, always confirm the divine authority of the performer. Mark 16:15-20; Acts 2:43; 1 Corinthians 1:4-9; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Galatians 3:5; Hebrews 2:1-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:7-12; Revelation 13:11-14. Through such miracles God is bearing witness to His teaching.


The word of God glorifies God - the one who revealed that word. 1 Thessalonians 2:10-20; 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Since this word will judge us at the last day, it is important to ensure we have been led by faithful teachers of that divine and true word. Those in Berea, Macedonia, in the first century, clearly understood how important this was. Acts 17:10-12. Always check your sources!!


And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die. 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them. 37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”

41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 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 12:32-50.


Finally, study the Letter to the Colossians – especially 1:25-2:23; 3:1-4,17 and 4:12. Authority is not found in the Law of Moses, nor in consulting oracles, mediums, channelers, astrologers, tarot cards and fortune-tellers. Claiming a personal, supernatural vision – no matter how real it seems – is also no basis for divine authority. 2 Corinthians 12:1-9; Colossians 2:18-19. Authority for belief unto eternal life with God is found only in Jesus and His words in the New Testament. Jesus has amply demonstrated that such teaching is from God and completely authoritative.


David Hunter

Thursday, January 24, 2019

11-Year-Old Rescued From Icy Naperville Pond" from


On Thin Ice


What started out as fun nearly ended tragically.


Ignoring warning signs, an 11-year-old boy wandered out onto a frozen retention pond last Sunday in Naperville, Illinois, unaware that the ice was too thin.  The ice broke beneath him and he sank into the frigid water.  He was freezing, stranded, and surrounded by ice.  Thankfully, someone saw him and called 911.  Within four minutes, rescuers from the Naperville Fire and Police Departments arrived.


Naperville police Sgt. Brad Marsh threw a safety ring to the boy to keep him afloat.  Marsh and other responders began pulling the boy to shore as Firefighter Mike Leston, wearing an insulated buoyancy suit, swam out to him.  The rescuers knew that given the temperature and conditions that seconds mattered.


Within four minutes of arriving on the scene, the first-responders pulled the boy from the icy water.  He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital and is expected to be okay.


What starts out as fun is always deadly when it comes to sin (see James 1:13-15).  As “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), we are all “on thin ice” and destined for destruction (Matthew 7:13-14).


But at just the right time, Someone came to our rescue.  That Someone was Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Jesus “gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4 NASB).  Jesus had to give His life in order to save us for only by the shedding of His innocent blood on the cross could He pay the price for our redemption (1 Peter 1:18-19).


Just as the boy was saved by clinging to the ring and the rescuer, God will save and give eternal life to those who cling to His Son in trusting obedience by: placing their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turning from their 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 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).


Due to our bad choices, we’ve all fallen into the frigid, deadly waters of sin.  But do not despair!  Our Rescuer, Jesus Christ, has come!


Won’t YOU grasp His life-giving, outstretched hand through your trusting obedience?


-- David A. Sargent


* Information gleaned from “WATCH: 11-Year-Old Rescued From Icy Naperville Pond” from (1/13/19).


Friday, January 18, 2019

Declaring the Whole Purpose of God

And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Acts 20:25-27

The Greek word for “purpose” is boule.

The boule was an advisory citizen body of the Athenian democracy. Members had to be over 30 and citizens could serve on it twice, which was more than other elected offices. There were either 400 or 500 members of the boule, who were selected by lot in equal number by each of the ten tribes. In Aristotle's Constitution of Athens, he attributes to Draco a boule of 401 members, but Solon is generally taken as the one who started the boule, with 400. The boule had its own meeting house, the bouleterion, in the Agora.

-       Source: The Ancient Greek Council,

The boule that Paul talks about – the purpose of God – was God’s own advisory body, comprising Father, Son and Holy Spirit!!

Before the foundation of the world, this divine council came up with a plan to redeem sinners and take them to heaven to live eternally. Ephesians 1:3-14.

In Acts 20:25, Paul says he went about “proclaiming the kingdom,” while in Acts 20:27, Paul said he did not shrink from “declaring to you the whole counsel of God” – the whole purpose or plan of God.

When we today proclaim the kingdom of God, we must proclaim the whole plan of God – not just a few proof texts!

While preaching in Pisidian Antioch, Paul said:

“Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation … 32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,

“‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’

34 And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way, “‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’

35 Therefore he says also in another psalm, “‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’ 36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Acts 13:26,32-39

Boule is used here in verse 36 to say that David “served the purpose of God in his own generation.” And that whole sermon of Paul also includes the whole purpose of God.

                                             Are you serving the purpose of God in your generation?

Boule is found in some 12 places in the New Testament. Here’s one other of those significant places:

When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not

having been baptized by him. Luke 7:20-30.

John’s baptism was in God’s plan, but rejected by some Pharisees and Lawyers. Jesus’ baptism is in His plan:

And Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:15-16

Sadly, today, many reject God’s plan when they distort God’s purpose by claiming water baptism is not essential for salvation.

Messing with God’s purpose is a terribly dangerous thing to do. Beware!

Luke 23:51; Acts 2:23; 4:26; 5:38; 27:12,42; 1 Corinthians 4:5; Ephesians 1:11 and Hebrews 6:11 are the other places boule is found. Here’s one of those, but try reading all of them!

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13In 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, 14who is the guaranteed of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:11-14

Are you in the purpose of God? Has God worked in your life “all things according to the counsel of his will”?


David Hunter

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

What does acappella mean?

The word “acappella” is defined by the dictionary as:  “music without instrumental accompaniment.”  It comes from a Latin word which literally means “as in the church.”  Interestingly, the etymology (origin) of this word, proves that at the beginning of the church (and for many centuries thereafter), the music in worship was singing only, without instrumental accompaniment.

- by Greg Gwin


Sunday, January 13, 2019

We’re going to face both good times and bad while traveling through 2019


"And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: give me a light
that I may tread safely into the unknown! And he replied: go out into the
darkness and put thine hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to thee
better than light and safer than a known way." (Anonymous)

I used the above proverbial saying recently but, I truly love its message and it's so appropriate to our lesson today because we've passed through the gate and have begun our journey. I pray that it's God's will that we all survive this year's journey. My editorial efforts today is directed towards providing us with advice as to what I believe to be the best way of traveling. In order to do this I'm going to use a most profound question asked of Jesus by one of His disciples. Before we get to that question, let me give you some thoughts that will sort of "set the stage" for our question.

Throughout history there have been many great authors and philosophers, people I'll refer to as "users of words." We've had Socrates, Sophocles, Aristotle, Shakespeare and Longfellow (to name a few). All of those were great users of words. And, we still have many today who could be considered in that category. But, all human "users of words" past and present, fall short in the most important usage of words.

The sad thing is that man has always, and still does, look to these "users of words," these renowned philosophers and authors for answers to the real questions of life. And, the sad thing is that none of them can really provide the answers man needs the most. As great of thinkers that they are, they simply cannot answer questions that are most important to our lives.

If you want to know how to live your life in the best way possible, or you want to know what is truly important in this journey of life, where do you go? And, even more important is what happens after this life? All of the great thinkers and authors have no answers for these questions. Especially not reliable in answers to those questions are the psychologists and philosophers because, for the most part, they only ask questions and leave it up to you to figure out the answer.

I guess that what I'm saying here is, that when man needs direction in the most important things of life, the worlds greatest authors, philosophers or "users of words" cannot help us. You see, they can't give us directions to heaven. And, securing that eternal location should be our number one goal while living this life.

A sad thing to note is, that many people rely on the words of other human beings as to reaching the heavenly goal. And some "users of words" such as Jim Jones, David Koresh and others have cost their followers not only their earthly life, but have not led them towards heaven either.

So, where do we go for answers to who we are, how we got here and how to live while here so as to guarantee a future life in heaven? Those questions bring us to the question I referred to at the onset of this lesson. To me, it is one of the "great" questions of the Bible. In the 6th chapter of John, Jesus is seeing that "many of His disciples" were leaving Him. He turned to His Apostles and asked them if they were also going to leave Him? It's Peter that answers for the group and he does it in such a way that he provides us with our most pertinent question. He asks, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou has the words of eternal life."

"Thou," you, Jesus, is the only one who has the words of eternal life. It was true when Peter said it and it's still true today. No earthly writer, or user of words, can provide the route to heaven - only Christ. Later on in John 14:6 He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

Where do we find the "words" we need to follow for eternal salvation? The only source of this information is the "gospel." The "Word of God." There's even another term I like in making this point. It's found in 1 John 5:11 where we read "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." That "record" is the "words" brought to us by Christ and John 12:44-50 tells us that the "words" spoken by Christ are the "words" of his Father.

So, as we go forth on this year's journey, let's always remember Who and What our most trustworthy guide is. Who has given man the most important "words" with which to lead us. Yes, many men give us "words" and many of them are beneficial in many ways. But, just remember, no words of man can save your soul and grant you eternal life in heaven.

Like Peter so beautifully said it in his question, which I see as rhetorical, "Lord, to whom shall we go?" He's making a statement by his question and saying, there's no other place for man to go that has the "words of eternal life." What a tremendous question/statement. There is no other person, however great a "wordsmith" they may be, that can provide the most important information necessary to human & eternal life.

We're going to face both good times and bad while traveling through 2019 and we need to always hold Christ's Words before us as our roadmap to our eternal goal. When we hold Christ's Words, we hold God's hand. That is our safe way through our year's journey. I'll close with one more Bible passage that fits our thoughts here today

"Let that therefore abide in you, which ye had heard from the beginning.
If that which ye had heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye
also shall continue in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise
that He hath promised us, even eternal life." (1 John 2:24-25)

Respectfully submitted,
Ron Covey

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

My Teachers


I like math.  Some may think I’m weird for doing so, but I do.  I like math.  I’ve enjoyed learning through the years about how to solve mathematical equations.  It was my favorite subject from elementary through high school grades.  I even began working toward a math degree in college as one of two majors until I decided to dedicate my life to another field of study and service.  (I’ll come back to that in a moment.)


I’ve been asked how I came to like math.  Was there someone who sparked my interest?  My answer has always been “yes”; it was Mrs. Harrell, my third grade teacher in Stanton (TX) Elementary School.  Over 4 decades removed from that third grade class, I now think back about Mrs. Harrell and my love for math.  What did she do to kindle a love for math in me?  I don’t remember many specific things that she did, but I think I’ve “factored” (a good algebra term) it down to two things: she challenged me to learn math and she cared about me.  I’ve come to recognize that those are two great qualities in teachers.  I’ll always be indebted to Mrs. Harrell who instilled in me a love for solving math equations.  She made a difference in my life.


I have had – and continue to have – many teachers in my life.  I’m especially grateful for those who have taught me and continue to teach me the truths of God’s Word.  In the end, that’s the Subject that matters most.  My teachers have been my parents, my grandparents (even posthumously), my wife and children, countless Bible school teachers, Bible professors at Faulkner and Freed-Hardeman Universities (Bible was my major), mentors, fellow ministers, dear friends, and even complete strangers (through their writings).  I am blessed to be able to personalize what Paul wrote to Timothy: “you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).  I continue to learn from the Master Teacher Himself (Jesus) and His Spirit-guided apostles and prophets in the inspired Word of God.


I’m eternally grateful for my teachers who have taught me the way of salvation.  They have cared enough about me to challenge me to learn God’s Word and to follow Him.


I want to issue a challenge to you.  Read God’s Word.  Study it deeply.  Read it as if your life depends on it.  It does.  “It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).  Don’t miss the main Subject: “the salvation of man through Christ to the glory of God.”


The Truth is: God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:4-6).


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 1:7-9).


Don’t take my word for it.  Read and study God’s Word for yourself.  Read it and heed it.  You’ll never regret it.  And, like me, you will be eternally grateful to those who have helped you to learn the way of salvation through Christ.


-- David A. Sargent


Thursday, January 3, 2019

Insights from a Blind Man

Insights from a Blind Man

My Dad recently told his Bible class about a blind man that he once knew. His name was Leonard
Burford. Burford was professor and head of the music department of Abilene Christian College for 24
years. In my Dad's estimation (and now mine), Burford was an amazing man.

Burford, born on September 30, 1905, and his two siblings, Jack and Mabel, were born with the same
eye condition: retinitis pigmentosa. Leonard's vision was always the poorest. When he was 14, his
sight was so poor he couldn't read even large print. His mother, Mrs. J. L. Burford, located a
Braille alphabet, and he taught himself to read it with a paper and punch. By the age of 28,
Burford was completely blind.

He was blind but he accomplished much. After graduating from high school, he went to college at
Abilene Christian College. He graduated with honors in 1925 earning a degree in education. When he
received his degree, his mother was also awarded an honorary degree for her work with her son.
Burford estimated that his mother did 90 percent of his reading from high school through college.

Burford's mother was also his first music teacher when he was eight-years-old. By the time he was
12, Burford was certain that he would seek a career in music. After graduating from ACC, he went on
to study music at several institutions including the prestigious Juilliard School of Music in New
York. Burford later earned his doctorate from Columbia University in 1952.

Burford's career in music education enabled him to become a member of the faculty at his alma mater
at ACC in 1932. He founded the A Cappella Chorus that year. He became head of the Music Department
at ACC in 1937, a position he held until his death in 1961, at the age of 55. My Dad, Glenn
Sargent, was a member of the A Cappella Chorus under Burford's direction for three years in the mid

In his life, Burford sought to help others who could not see. He compiled 86 religious songs in
Braille which were printed in two volumes and were distributed by the 14th and Vine Streets Church
of Christ in Abilene, Texas. He also wrote articles and tracts in Braille to help those who were
blind to know about Jesus and His church. He wrote a tract on church music and one on "What Must I
Do to Be Saved?" that were printed in Braille. He wanted all, both blind and seeing, to be saved
from their sins by obeying the Gospel (the Good News) of Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the
sins of the world (1 John 2:2).

Perhaps Burford's love for his Lord and his desire for others to know Christ was his motivation for
writing a hymn that came to be loved by many. The hymn was "Come Unto Me," based on the beautiful
invitation of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30:

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you
and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For
My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

That same invitation that Burford sought to highlight in his hymn continues to be offered today.
The proper response is what Burford wrote about in his tract, "What Must I Do to Be Saved?".

God will save and give rest and 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).

Although he was blind, Leonard Burford had tremendous insight. Through his music and his life, he
continues to extend the Lord's invitation: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I
will give you rest."

Won't YOU accept His invitation?

-- David A. Sargent

* Information gleaned from articles in the Firm Foundation (2/7/56) and the Gospel Advocate
(9/28/61) as viewed at and

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