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Monday, June 29, 2020

Black Lives Matter

“Black Lives Do Matter!”                                                                      

Text: 1 Corinthians 12:24b-26                                                               


A.        Kent Hughes tells a story about John Reed, a man who drove a school bus in Australia. 

1.    The bus carried both whites and aborigines and the boys on the bus were constantly fussing and fighting about their racial differences.

2.    Finally, John had heard all the bickering he could stand between the boys. 

3.    He stopped the bus on the side of the road and said to the white boys, “What color are you?”  The boys answered, “White.” 

a.    John said, “No, you are green.  All the boys who ride on this bus are green.  Now, what color are you?”  The white boys answered, “Green.”

            4.         Then John spoke to the aborigines and said, “What color are you?”  “Black,” they said. 

a.    “No, you are green.  All the boys who ride on this bus are green.  Now, what color are you?”  The aborigines answered, “Green.”

            5.         That seemed to bring an end to the bickering and fussing — for a while. 

6.    Several miles down the road, one of the boys said to the others, “All right, light green on this side of the bus, dark green on that side.”  Then the fussing started all over again. (borrowed from David Sargent’s sermon “I Wish All People were Green” [(Kent Hughes in Peterman 1]).


B.        Do you wish that all people were green?

            1.         Maybe then, we would realize that we were all created by God.

            2.         “What color of skin did Adam & Eve have?” some may ask.

3.    Can we confidently answer: Adam and Eve were some shade of brown – like the rest of us!?

4.    We all have different shades of brown as the color of our skin – some are really light brown, and others are really dark brown.


C.    What made Adam and Eve God’s special creation was not the color of their skin; it was something far more significant - they were made in God’s image.

1.    Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Gen. 1:26-27)

3.    All humans are descendants from that original couple and are all equally made in God’s image.

4.    But in spite of the fact that all humans are equally made in God’s image, all humans have not been treated equally with regard to love and justice.

5.    Sadly, that has not been a problem only here in the United States of America, it has been a problem throughout history in all parts of the world.


D.   But we are not living in other times and places, we are here in the U.S.A. in June of 2020, and the battle for justice continues and has come to the forefront of our consciousness yet again.

1.    I have been on vacation for the last two weeks, and during that time in the wake of the wrongful death of George Floyd in the custody of 4 Minneapolis police officers, there have been nationwide and worldwide protests.

2.    Internationally, protesters in over 60 countries have rallied opposition to worldwide racism and police brutality, and expressed solidarity with their counterparts in the United States.


E.    For two weeks, this sermon has been marinating inside of me, and today I feel compelled to try to bring some important truth from God and His word to our church family about the racial divide and social injustices occurring in our nation.

       1.  I devoted a sermon to this subject on the day before Martin Luther King Day two years ago.

2.    In that lesson, I tried to help us understand how we all have hidden biases, and how we have to work to try to see things from other people’s perspectives.

3.    In that sermon, I humbly asked for forgiveness if I offend anyone with my insensitivities or misunderstandings.


F.         Today, I also, ask for your forgiveness in advance, because I may not say things just right. 

1.  Please don’t jump to conclusions.  Please give me the benefit of the doubt.

2.    Please know that my intention is to help us all grow and reflect the mind and heart of God.

3.    Please know that I am speaking about moral and ethical issues, and I don’t want to be seen as being political at all, because this is not about politics it is about righteousness.


G.        I admit to you that I don’t know it all.  I don’t have all the answers.

            1.         The issues facing our nation and its people are complicated, and there are no simple fixes.

2.    I recognize that I am an older, white, American man, which means I have to work hard to understand what it might be like to be someone other than me – I have to work to understand a person who is different in age, education, gender, race or nationality.

3.    I have been trying to listen to and understand others.

4.    I watched a helpful discussion on a YouTube channel called Digital Bible Study put together by a couple of brothers from churches of Christ, Eric Owens and Jonathan Jenkins – one is a black brother and the other is white.

a.    They have done a three part series called “He is Our Peace – A discussion of Race in the Church and our Nation.”

b.    Joining them in the series were two other Christian brothers, Melvin Otey and Wayne Jones – one black and the other white.

5.    I have also been watching Emmanuel Acho’s videos “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.”  He has released one a week for the past three weeks.

6.    And I’m listening to books and reading articles – I really want to understand.


H.   Meanwhile, when I read and study my Bible, I see very clearly that our God of love is very concerned about justice for all and especially for the oppressed.

1.    Dt. 10:17-18: 17 For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awe-inspiring God, showing no partiality and taking no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the resident alien, giving him food and clothing.

2.    Deuteronomy 16:19: Do not deny justice or show partiality to anyone.

3.    Ps. 82:3-4: Provide justice for the needy and the fatherless; uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.  Rescue the poor and needy; save them from the power of the wicked.

4.    Proverbs 31:8-9: Speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed.  Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy.

5.    Hosea 12:6: But you must return to your God.  Maintain love and justice, and always put your hope in God.

6.    Psalm 146:8: The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.  The Lord raises up those who are oppressed.  The Lord loves the righteous.

7.    Amos 5:24: But let justice flow like water, and righteousness, like an unfailing stream.

8.    I have shared with you only 7 references in the Bible having to do with justice out of over 150!

9.    I am praying that the Lord will open my blind eyes, that the Lord will help me to defend the cause of the oppressed and needy, and to speak up for those who have no voice.

10.  I want to be part of making sure that justice flows like a river.


I.          So, where do we begin?  I think it is best to begin by asking God to help us see and understand.

1.    Having the right perspective, and understanding everything in the proper context, is necessary, but is hard to do.

2.    At the beginning of the presentation I watched from the Digital Bible Study, our black brother named Eric Owens began by stating: “We need to understand that multiple things can be true at the same time…we need to be able to hold multiple truths in our minds at once and try to make sense of them all…for instance…America is a great place to live…America has made strides in race relations…You personally may not be a racist…and there still is systemic racism in America…all these things can be and are true at the same time.” (

3.    America is a great place to live in many ways, but it isn’t a perfect place, and it is better for some than for others.

4.    America has made strides in race relations, but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t a long way to go before things are truly just and right.

a.    If a man who had been beating his wife every day for years, dials it back and only beats her once a week, that is certainly progress, but should she be satisfied with that progress?

5.    You personally may not be a racist, but some are, and others have biases they are blind to.

6.    There still is systemic racism, even though many laws have been passed to get rid of racism and oppression, there still needs to be changes in police practices, educational opportunities, adequate housing for minorities across our country, and so much more.


J.         We all need perspective and understanding – we need to be able to hear and understand each other.

            1.         We need to avoid extremes and we need to avoid painting everything with too broad a brush.

2.    I really like this poster made by 18 year old Keyra Horst-Moore from the Chicago area.

3.    Her poster says: “Not all blacks are criminals. Not all whites are racists. Not all cops are bad. Ignorance comes in all colors.” (

4.    I will have more to say about her story at the end of the sermon.

5.    We must avoid all ignorance!  We need God’s wisdom, God’s love and God’s understanding.


K.        The Bible tells us to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).

1.    The Bible also tells us: “Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other. So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it…” (I Cor. 12:24-26).

2.    Brothers and sisters, there is a part of the body of Christ that is suffering and is weeping, and the whole body must weep and suffer with that part of the body.

3.    The part of the body of Christ that is suffering and weeping is our black brothers and sisters.


L.         Allow me to introduce to you a brother in Christ named Dr. James L. Nesmith, Jr.

1.    Dr. Nesmith serves as minister for the West Broad Church of Christ, in Richmond, VA.

2.    Dr. Nesmith has been preaching the Gospel for more than 30 years.

3.    He and his wife, Seline, have four wonderful adult children. (

4.    On June 12, 2020, Dr. Nesmith posted this poem he wrote, titled “Why I Cry”: (

I cry because this great nation, In which I was born and bred, Is the same nation where because,

          Of the color of my skin, I could end up detained and dead,

I cry because the agony of my suffering, That runs more than 400 years deep, Is dismissed by

          well-intentioned white Christians, Whose privilege won’t allow them to see

I cry because when drugs ravaged my community, I was an addict and thug with criminal vices

But now that drugs are ravaging white communities, They are innocent victims of an

opioid crisis

I cry because the Constitution, With Amendments 1-3, 1-4, and 1-5, Though written long ago

          in a venerated Document, Are still not fully realized in my life, The windows of my church

          building were shattered, White friends saw it and said “What a shame.” But they were

          looking at glass that could be replaced, ignorant of the protesters’ pain

But I believe a new day is coming, For the God I serve does not sleep, He made a promise to

          those who want justice, And I know that His promise He’ll keep

So I press on toward tomorrow, Where streams of hatred and bigotry will be dry, I’ll work in

          God’s strength to make a difference, And create a land in which I will no longer cry.

            5.         Do you hear our brother’s pain?

            6.         Our brother weeps, let’s weep with him.

7.    Our brother hopes for a new day and presses on toward a better tomorrow, working in God’s strength to make a difference, let’s hope and work with him toward that end.


M.   One of my Facebook friends is a brother in Christ named Robert Solomon. He was student at Northeastern Christian Junior College a few years after me.

1.    He went on to graduate from Lipscomb University and then got a law degree from The Ohio State University.

2.    He has worked for the Ohio Attorney General, was a magistrate at Franklin County Municipal Court, and worked as an assistant United States Attorney at the Department of Justice.

3.    Robert Solomon is now a Vice President in the office of inclusion diversity and equal opportunity at Case Western Reserve University.

4.    A few days ago, Brother Solomon wrote these words in an open letter to the students and faculty at Case Western: “As an African American man and father of a 24-year-old son and a 22-year-old daughter, the recent tragic deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Atatianna Jefferson and George Floyd have caused me great anguish. However, I did not need these and countless other horrific incidents of racist violence to know that racism is alive and well in America.  I have been racially profiled myself, as well as most members of my family, countless friends, colleagues and former students. It is an unacceptable weight that we of black and brown skin have learned to live with.  Nearly all of us can recall getting “the talk” from our parents and elders, guiding us on how to interact with the police to preserve our lives. Moreover, we have given “the talk” to our own children, knowing that still it is not a guarantee that your children will return home safely.

                 However, we must also understand that the scourge of racism is not only advanced by cruel acts of violence through police brutality, lynching and murder; it is also advanced by structural racism which has produced health disparities, economic disparities and achievement gaps. There are myriad American systems in place that continue to produce inequitable results. It is also advanced by white supremacist ideologies which decry and chide notions of social justice, equity, diversity and equality. It is advanced by those who promote the status quo and those who glorify the good old days when separate was never equal and Jim Crow laws ruled the land.  It is in this context that America has erupted like a volcano which has reached its boiling point.

                 Now we are all asking ourselves, “Where do we go from here?” To move forward, we must also acknowledge that while the death of George Floyd was the catalyst for our current protests, it is only the tip of the iceberg.  All of the decades of pain, frustration, anger, sadness and hopelessness have come to a head.  We have been in this cycle time and time again and have experienced no sustained appreciable change.  America is tired of pretty words and empty promises.  America is demanding action.

                 Despite my anguish, I believe there is hope.  I believe this is a watershed moment in our history.  As Frederick Douglass once said, “power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will…if there is no struggle, there is no progress.”  I believe our current struggles can produce progress, but we must move beyond words.  We must continue to bring pressure to bear on every facet of America to produce the progress we demand.   The protests we see are born out of centuries of pain and oppression, both experienced and witnessed.  Black and Brown are not the only victims of the scourge of racism.  All of America has been victimized and it will require all of us to find solutions. It will require all of us to ensure that sustained change and progress truly happens.” (

5.    These are painful and insightful words from a suffering member of the body of Christ.


N.        I titled today’s sermon “Black Lives Do Matter.”

            1.         I struggled with using that title because I knew that some would be put off by that title.

2.    I don’t use that title to imply that I have joined the “Black Lives Matter” organization, because there are some aspects of that movement that I cannot embrace.

3.    But I chose that sermon title on purpose to make the point that black lives do matter.

4.    When a people in our society begin to wonder if they matter, Jesus says a resounding “Yes! You matter! I came that you might have abundant and eternal life.”

5.    To the black people in our church, community, and everywhere, I want you to know that I love you and we love you – we support you, stand with you, hurt with you, and we hope with you.

6.    Unfortunately, because the “Black Lives Matter” organization and movement can be so extreme and polarizing, the critical point can get lost – black lives do matter!

7.    I love the message on this poster held by a precious young lady: We said – black lives matter; never said – only black lives matter; we know – all lives matter; we just need your help with #blacklivesmatter for black lives are in danger.

8.    In a letter to the editor, L-Mani Viney wrote: To the editor: In response to the letter stating “all lives matter.” To be clear: the Black Lives Matter movement is not saying that all lives don’t matter. What it is saying is that if we care about all lives, we need to start caring more about Black lives.  Donnovan Bennett of SportsNet says, “Imagine if you were at a gala raising money, awareness, and having a conversation about breast cancer, and then suddenly, a bunch of people stormed the banquet hall and started chanting all cancers matter. Talking about breast cancer doesn’t take away from the legitimate concern about other cancers. Or imagine if while ‘Boston Strong’ was trending after the Boston marathon bombings in 2013, a bunch of people started tweeting that ‘all cities are strong.’ ” (


O.   I saw this cartoon and it helped me understand that while we all know that all lives matter, it is helpful at times to focus on one segment or group of lives.


1.    A white man named Jared Price wrote: “If you are a Christian, and can't hear #BlackLivesMatter without feeling the need to respond with a criticism that “All Lives Matter,” then crack open your Bible and hit up Luke 15.  Don’t have it handy?  Let me summarize.  There are 100 sheep, but one goes missing.  Jesus leaves the 99 and goes after the one.  The 99 say: ‘But... what about us? Don't we matter?’  Of course the 99 still matter, but they’re not the ones in danger.  The one is.  I’ll say it again, #BlackLivesMatter.”

2.    Author Kia Nilsen wrote: “I used the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ in a social media post earlier this week. As happens each time I use the phrase, someone asks, ‘Why not just say “all lives matter?”’ Here is my quick response: When one of my four kids got hurt, it didn’t seem to make sense to say to them, ‘All my kids matter.’ In that moment, I embraced them and said, ‘You matter. Your pain matters. Your healing and return to health matters.’ That doesn’t diminish my love for my other kids. It expands my capacity to love as I live with another person’s pain.  Jesus did the same thing in his ministry. He didn’t say, ‘all people matter.’ He went to those who were hurting, who’d been denied a place at the table, who had been cast out of community and said ‘You Matter.’ Samaritans matter. Women matter. Tax collectors matter. Lepers matter. Did that mean he loved other people less? By no means. His life and ministry expanded the vision and capacity of his followers to love as they broke down the religious and cultural walls that had long divided people.”  (5.31.20

3.    And so, yes, all lives matter – that’s what God believes and that’s what I believe, that’s what most believe.

4.    When I say “all lives matter,” I’m including the lives of the unborn, the disabled, the displaced, the incarcerated, the elderly – I have in mind everyone.

5.    But at certain times, certain ones need our special attention and assistance.


P.    Let’s go back to the story I mentioned earlier, and told you we would come back to later.

1.    Jerry Davich wrote a story for the Chicago Tribune about Keyra Horst-Moore, 18, who co-organized a demonstration in her small Lake County town in response to the May 25 killing of George Floyd while in police custody - let me share with you some of the things he included.

2.    Keyra Horst-Moore stood on top of a picnic table under a park shelter to share her feelings: “I’m mixed race and sometimes I feel silenced by both sides,” she told fellow protesters that afternoon at Freedom Park in Lowell. “The human race can be so evil.”

3.    She told the crowd that not all white people are racists, and not all black people are criminals. Stereotypes are keeping Americans in their own comfortable corners.  “We can’t stay in our corners,” she said.

4.    After Floyd’s death, Horst-Moore watched news reports of too many peaceful protests that turned violent, hateful, and destructive. Her initial feelings were anger and unrest. Then a sense of peacefulness washed over her bitter disappointment in our country.

5.    Horst-Moore decided to act on her feelings rather than only voice them on social media.

6.    “People think our town is racist. We have to break the stigma,” she told the reporter before dozens of protesters showed up to march from Freedom Park to Liberty Park.

7.    “Lowell PD are the greatest cops,” Horst-Moore told protesters.

8.    She and co-organizer, Cedric Cashetta, 20, of Lowell, did all the needed legwork to coordinate with police before the event.

9.    “Not everybody has hate,” Cashetta told the crowd while standing next to Horst-Moore on the picnic table. “There’s a difference between looters and protesters.”

10.  “We have to start somewhere,” Horst-Moore told the crowd before marching to Liberty Park.

11.  In Lowell, which has a 95% white population, Horst-Moore did her best Thursday to gently sway public opinion through peace and positivism. 

12.  “I’m glad to call Lowell my home. This is a message of unity,” she told protesters.

13.  Coming from a young woman whose complexion reveals her mixed race adds an additional layer of authenticity to her efforts.

14.  The reporter caught up to her after the protest, and asked how she felt it went.  “It went fantastic!” she replied.

15.  Her Facebook page tagline offers hope to older generations such as myself and every other person who’s been tainted by bitterness or jadedness over this topic: “Everything is gonna be all right.”


Q.        So what should we, Christians, do to make a difference?

            1.         First, Let’s keep our eyes on God and the truths of God, and point people toward faith.

a.    If there is no God then all of us are just products of random chance and evolution, and there is no real value, purpose, and meaning in life, and there’s no such thing as justice.

b.    But because we know there is a God and that truth comes from Him, then we know every life has value, and there is a standard of right and wrong, and that justice matters.

c.    The longing for justice is a beautiful thing and is rooted in the reality that our God is a just God and that He is the only measure of true justice and righteousness.

2.    Second, Keep loving because our God is love and God’s love is the answer for all the hatred and harm done in the world.

a.    But even the definition of love must be rooted in God – Jesus said the most important command is to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself.

b.    Godly love is wanting for others what God wants for them, even when that’s not what they want for themselves.

c.    The apostle John gave us good instruction about love when he wrote: Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth (1 John 3:18).

            3.         Third, Keep on praying for God to make Himself known and transform the hearts of people.

                        a.         Prayer is powerful because God hears and answers our prayers, and God is all powerful!

            4.         Fourth, Keep listening and looking for injustice and say and do something when you see it.

a.    My lifelong friend and brother in Christ, Joe Hamilton, who is a black man and someone I love and respect so much – Joe gave me this answer about what I can do: “I think what is best, as a practical matter and learning opportunity, is to call it out when it occurs.”

            5.         Finally, Keep doing Micah 6:8: Act Justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God.

a.    Let’s be patient and kind with each other as we strive to be like the Good Shepherd and to love people the way He has loved us.

b.    Let’s continue to make sure that the Wetzel Road church is a place where black lives matter, as much as all lives matter.

c.    Let’s make sure we are a family of God where there is equal love and concern for all regardless of shades of skin, sexes, or status – this is God’s will, and God will make a way!


R.        God have mercy and to God be the glory!


David Owens


Friday, June 26, 2020

The word "especially" in the Bible

Especially, Foremost, pre-eminently, MOST OF ALL

“Especially” is a fairly common word, but an important adverb used 12 times in the New Testament. It means chiefly, above all, or most of all. “Especially” qualifies the thought in the sentence by highlighting its superlative nature, often in contrast to something or someone else. Some matters require more attention than others! These we must attended to. Here are the 12 places it’s found in the New Testament, each followed by a brief explanation of what the word  “especially” is stressing :

Acts 20:38, being saddened most of all because of the word he had spoken, that no longer were they going see his face. And they escorted him to the ship. The main reason they were saddened.

Acts 25:26-27, But I do not have anything definite about him to write to my lord. Therefore I have brought him before you all, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that, when the examination has been conducted, I may have something to write. 27 For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to indicate the charges against him.”  Paul was brought by Festus especially before king Agrippa so that the governor would have something substantial to write to his emperor about. (As a significant aside here, note how Governor Festus refers to the Emperor as “my lord”!!)

Acts 26:2-3 “I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defence today against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 especially because you are well acquainted with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently. There would be a number of reasons Paul is fortunate he has opportunity to defend himself before king Agrippa, but especially because the king is familiar with all the issues and can judge fairly.

Galatians 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially  to those of the family of faith.  We are to do good to everyone, but we must regard our fellow-Christians as our number one priority. they are especially special!!

Philippians 4:22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. Even though everyone sent greetings, Paul especially mentions the greetings sent by Caesar’s household, probably because they became converts during Paul’s imprisonment. See 1:12-13

1 Timothy 4:10 we have placed our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, particularly  of those who believe. Jesus is the Saviour of everyone, but especially believers. We are special to him!

1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not care for his own, especially his household members, he has

disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Especially care for widows who live in your home.


1 Timothy 5:17 Let the elders who have been serving well be considered worthy of double honour,

especially those who are labouring hard at preaching and teaching. We honour all elders who serve well, but especially those elders who labour at preaching and teaching.

2 Timothy 4:13 Bring the cloak that I left in Troas with Carpus when you come and the books, especially the parchments. It was especially important that Timothy brought the parchments when he came.

Titus 1:10 For there are many rebellious people, senseless babblers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision. Titus was to warn especially of Jewish deceivers and babblers.

Philemon 1:16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, as a dear brother. He is especially so to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. Onesimus became a brother to those in the church, but especially to  Paul, and even more so to Philemon.

2 Peter 2:9-10 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. The Lord knows how to punish unrighteous people and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion, and who despise authority.

This 2 Peter 2 use of “especially” raises the question of different degrees of punishment for different sins – especially those God regarded as most heinous. Compare 1 Corinthians 6:13b-20, where fornication is distinguished from other sins in that it is a sin against one’s own body, which is for God and not a harlot. For a Christian, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and not a vehicle for wanton immorality. Luke 12:42-49 also speaks of degrees of punishment, although this passage is referring to some who are more ignorant of the light than others.

Several years ago I received a series of lessons from a Melbourne church on the problem of sins against one’s body, and especially sexual sins, as taught in 1 Corinthians 6. Here is a quote from that:

1 Corinthians 6 & 15 teaches us that our understanding of God’s plan for our bodies is imperative and fundamental to understanding the problem of porneia and combating the proliferation of sexual immorality and abuses. We must guard against the notion that the gospel is about the salvation of souls only ... and not about the resurrection of your body. The sexual activity that your body participates in now matters!  Death does not terminate God’s plan for your body … your current body is the raw material of a more glorious existence and reality.


We must take 2 Peter 2:9-10 very seriously, as it relates immorality to judgment. Compare Matthew 5:27-30; Romans 13:12-14; Ephesians 5:3-5; Hebrews 13:4; Revelation 21:8. And let us be careful, as Christians, to note other areas above where we are to be especially diligent – particularly Galatians 6:10, and the many passages in the New Testament, such as Romans 12:9-10; Philippians 1:9-11 and 1 John 2:7-11, which show the priority of loving your brothers and sisters in the household of God.


The following Scripture is a good one to reinforce the “especially” important virtues of our Christian faith:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.   10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. 12 Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. 2 Peter 1:3-15

Having spent just three verses, 5,6,7, listing the virtues to be added to our faith, Peter then takes eight verses: 8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15 -- to stress why he is at pains to keep reminding them!! Clearly, they are an especially high priority to be never neglected. Go and read the whole section again.


David Carr


Sunday, June 21, 2020

Henry G. Bosch

Walk This Way

Henry G. Bosch reflected on a childhood memory of his father:

As a schoolboy, I worked with my father during the summer months. Each
morning we stopped to pick up the early edition of the newspaper at a small
grocery store.

One morning when we got to work, my father found that by mistake he had
taken two newspapers instead of one. He first thought of paying the man the
extra price the next morning, but then after a moment's consideration he
said, "I had better go back with this paper. I don't want the man at the
store to think I'm dishonest." He got in his car, drove back to the store,
and returned the paper.

About a week later, someone stole money from the grocery store. When police
pinpointed the time it occurred, the grocer remembered only two people being
in the store at the time - and one was my father. The grocer immediately
dismissed my father as a suspect, saying, "That man is really honest. He
came all the way back here just to return a newspaper he took by mistake."
The police then focused their investigation on the other man, who soon made
a full confession. My father's honesty made a big impression on that
non-Christian storeowner, and on me. *

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the
truth" (3 John 4 NIV). The inspired writer was speaking of his children "in
the faith" - those whom he had taught the Word of God. It brought him great
joy to hear that those he had taught were continuing to live by the truths
that he had taught them. This verse also reveals the greatest joy of all
Christian parents.

It is reported that Abraham Lincoln said, "For a man to train up a child in
the way he/she should go, he must walk that way himself."

The Truth is: we have all made serious mistakes. "For all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23 NKJV).

The Truth is: God loves us so much that He wants to save us from our sins.
He gave His Son Jesus to die on the cross to pay the price for our
redemption. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we
were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8 NKJV).

The Truth is: We must humble ourselves and submit our lives to Jesus in
order to receive His gifts of salvation and eternal life. 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).

The Truth is: God will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to
walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).

The Truth is: If we want others to walk in the Truth, we must seek to do the
same. That includes acknowledging our failures when we fall short and
genuinely turning from our sins and seeking to conform our lives to the

If we want others to walk in the way of Truth, we must seek to walk that
way. Obey the Truth, live the Truth, and model the Truth before others.
Only then can we invite others to "walk this way."

-- David A. Sargent

* Source: Our Daily Bread, Henry G. Bosch, April, 15, 1998, as quoted in

David A. Sargent, Minister

Friday, June 19, 2020

Sermon on Complacency

Complacency:  Neglecting Salvation and Drifting Away.

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For

since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Hebrews 2:1-4

1.       Neglecting salvation.

2.       Declared at first by the Lord.

3.       Attested by those who heard.

4.       God bearing witness by signs and wonders and miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

1.       Neglecting salvation.

      Neglect is ameleoo, to be unconcerned about. A lot of religious people show they are unconcerned about their salvation because they don’t bother to thoroughly check what they’ve been taught about it. They just assume that what they’ve been taught must be the truth, and so they must be saved. This despite Jesus’ emphatic warning in Matthew 7:13-27, and the fact that different churches teach different ways of being saved:

•         faith only,

•         sinner’s prayer,

•         believe, repent, be baptized,

•         speaking in tongues after baptism,

                etc., etc.

2.       Declared at first by the Lord.

      Well, Jesus said in His great commission:

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

      So Jesus declared here what constituted salvation under the New Covenant.

Not only did He declare it, he also added in verses 17-18:

      And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

       And then Mark summarised what would take place as this salvation was spread abroad, after Jesus had ascended to heaven to be with God:

      So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.

Exactly what our Hebrews 2 passage said about signs and wonders bearing witness.

3.       Attested by those who heard.

      The first people to attest of this salvation were those on Pentecost as described in Acts 2:

And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ Acts 2:21

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three

thousand souls. Acts 2:36-41

4.       God bearing witness by signs and wonders and miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Observe that miraculous confirming testimony accompanied this salvation:

(i)       The tongue-speaking of the apostles, Acts 2:1-4

Notice that immediately after the tongue-speaking, and the question as to what it all meant (vs.12), Peter proceeds to preach the saving gospel that is then followed by 3000 repenting and being baptized and saved.

(ii)      Apostolic wonders and signs:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. Acts 2:42-43

What Mark said would happen is recorded as happening - right at the beginning of the apostles’ work in witnessing of Jesus’ salvation in Acts 2.

·     Mark 16:15-20 has Jesus declaring His salvation with the accompanying signs and wonders.

·     Acts 1:8 has Jesus telling the apostles they will receive the Spirit to enable them to be Jesus’ witnesses in Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world.

·     Acts 2 shows it happening and those who heard the message of salvation attesting.

·     Precisely as Hebrews 2 said had happened.

Then as we proceed further though the Acts of the Apostles we see the message of salvation going to people who are not Jews, notably the first Gentile – the Roman centurion, Cornelius, who stated: “we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” Acts 10:33.

Peter preaches the gospel. Vss.34-43

God bears witness as Cornelius speaks in tongues and extols God, vss.44-46. Peter then commands the water baptism, vs.47-48, that Jesus had said was necessary for the salvation of Jews and Gentiles without discrimination. Cornelius also attests as one who heard “such a great salvation.”

Whether Jew or Gentile are saved, salvation is the same for all. As Ephesians 4:5 summarises:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” Ephesians 4:1-8.

One body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father over all, through all and in all. And the “gifts of the Spirit, distributed according to His will” that Hebrews 2 had mentioned - the churches at Corinth and Ephesus being further examples of signs confirming the message of  salvation, 1 Cor 1:1-9; 12-14; Acts 19:1-7; Ephesians 4:7-16, as well as gifts for service.

The “calling with which you have been called” (note 1 Corinthians 1:2) is what the hearer must pay much closer attention to - the salvation that must never be neglected. To call upon the name of the Lord is to believe, repent and be baptized. See Acts 22:16 as a clear proof. But also compare Acts 2:21 and 2:37-39, and 1 Corinthians 12:3-13. The Spirit revealed His truth, confirmed it with signs, wonders and various gifts, and was then given as a seal of salvation to those who obeyed. Ac 5:32; Eph 1:13-14.

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts“ Hebrews 3:7-8. A warning to those saved, but might drift away, and to those not truly saved in the first place.

Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, Hebrews 5:8-9

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  Hebrews 10:19-23


David Carr


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