Lord! Let us in! Matthew 25.10-12

“Then the door was shut. Later, the other virgins came too, saying, ‘Lord, lord! Let us in!’ 12 But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you!'”

Matthew 25.10-12

Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins registers the Lord’s sad refusal to let in the unprepared. No one should expect entry into God’s kingdom who has not prepared himself before the hour comes.

Will God change his requirements for heaven? No! Must I believe and obey his commands today? Absolutely! What do I lack to be prepared for eternity?

#votd #Matthew #preparation

Sep. 21. Paul’s Defense Before Mob and Sanhedrin

Acts 22:1-23:11

Paul reviewed his Jewish heritage with the people who were assembled. He told of his background, training and zeal in persecuting the early Christians. The high priest and elders could attest to the fact that Saul (Paul) once had the authority to bind Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem to be imprisoned for their faith.

As Paul continued his defense, he related the events that happened on the road to Damascus when he had seen the bright light from heaven and the voice of Christ telling him what to do. He told how Ananias by divine authority had directed him to be baptized to wash away his sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

The people listened attentively until Paul stated that the Lord said, “Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.”

It was hard for the Jews to imagine their Messiah giving orders to preach to the Gentiles. At that point, they went into a frenzy, and cried out, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live.”

The commander ordered that Paul be bound and scourged to get him to confess to why the Jews were so against him. As the soldiers prepared to beat him, he asked the centurion if it was lawful for them to scourge a Roman, and uncondemned. Upon learning that they were about to scourge a Roman citizen, the commander ordered Paul to be released from the scourging. Since there were still no charges against Paul, the commander ordered the Sanhedrin to meet and state their case against him.

As Paul began to address the council, he stated how he had lived in all good conscience before God until that day.

Ananias, the high priest commanded that Paul be slapped across the mouth. In a rare outburst of anger, he spoke harsh words against the high priest. On other occasions of persecution, he had patiently and humbly defended himself. After being reprimanded for reviling “God’s high priest”, he apologized and continued his defense.

Jews were divided into two distinct sects—Pharisees, who believed in the resurrection of the dead, angels and spirits and Sadducees who did not believe in either. Paul identified himself as a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee and hoping to set them against one another stated that he was being judged concerning the “hope and resurrection of the dead.”

Upon hearing of Paul’s Pharisaical belief, the Pharisees stated, “We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.”

The conflict between the Pharisees and Sadducees became so intense that the soldiers forcibly removed Paul to the barracks for his protection. Having failed to hear definite charges, the commander of the Roman soldiers was still at a loss as to how to proceed next with him.

One can only imagine the state of mind that Paul was surely suffering at that time. He had been warned previously, and these warnings had been fulfilled—he was a prisoner. The Lord recognized his condition and stated to him that night, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”


Your church and mine

Your Church and Mine

As I read the Sunday paper

I ran across this line;

“Today you go to your church

And I will go to mine”.

Sincerely, friend, which is yours?

Is it one of your very own?

Frankly, now, I have no church,

And know of only one.

I’ve read the Bible o’er and o’er

But never found that line,

“Today you go to your church

And I will go to mine”.

“Upon this rock, I’ll build my church’,

The Savior said one day.

And before the dear Lord died

He humbly knelt to pray;

“May they be one as we are one,

All who believe on Me,

So that the world may surely know,

I’m loved and sent by thee.”

He bought the church with His own blood,

This firstborn from the dead.

He is the Savior of the church.

He is its only Head.

Yes, you may go to your church,

but may I tell you this?

The church that Jesus built exists today,

The name it wears is His.

“The churches of Christ salute you.” – Romans 16:16

                                                      – Author Unknown

What does the Bible say about forgiveness?

By Douglas M. Williams, Sr.

Jesus teaches us to pray and in that prayer, he tells us to pray, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).

“And whenever you stand praying if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25).

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

The importance of forgiveness is so important, and the Bible has much to say about it. Here are some reasons why it is necessary that we forgive one another:

  1. God commands it.
  2. Jesus Christ has set the example of forgiveness for us.
  3. We must forgive one another because we ourselves have been forgiven.
  4. We must forgive one another in order that we may be forgiven in the future.

We should forgive as many times as necessary. At Matthew 18:21-22, Jesus teaches this, and at Luke 17:3-4 we are told, if necessary we are to forgive someone seven times in one day. Thus the Bible teaches that our forgiveness is to be unlimited.

There are many Bible examples for us to follow such as Joseph, David, Stephen, and the classic example is Jesus himself who even prayed for his enemies (Luke 23:34).

Forgiveness must be from the heart. It must be full and complete. We must not hold grudges, hatred, and malice in our hearts. Doing so, only hurts us.

Sep. 20. Paul’s Stormy Return to Jerusalem

Acts 21:18-40

The day following Paul’s arrival in Jerusalem, he met with James and the elders of the church there. He reported on the things that he had accomplished with the Gentiles during his journey. Those present rejoiced at his news, but they reported to him that there was a problem among the Jews because of him.

Jewish Christians in Jerusalem had been informed that Paul had taught, “All the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.”

Paul continued to face accusations from the Jews. He did not command them to refrain from circumcision and the other Jewish customs, but taught that those things were unnecessary for salvation and should not be forced upon the Gentiles.

In order to become all things to all men as he had stated in his first letter to Corinth, Paul participated in a vow with four other men. He had hoped that this act would show his respect for the Law of Moses and pacify the Jews without violating a Christian principle.

Jews from Asia who had probably heard Paul preach had come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. When they saw him in the temple completing the vow, they stirred up a mob.

These Jews charged Paul with teaching, “All men everywhere against the people, the law and this place.” Since they had seen Trophimus, a Greek with him in the city, they supposed that he had defiled the temple with a Gentile. They added that charge to Paul also.

Mobs are not noted for being polite or organized. The people ran together, seized Paul, dragged him from the temple to kill him and immediately shut the doors; probably to prevent it from being defiled by his blood.

However, before the Jews could carry out their plan, the Roman garrison commander was notified that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. He took soldiers, arrested Paul, tied him up with two chains and asked who he was and what he had done. Because the commander could not understand what the mob was yelling, he commanded that Paul be taken to the barracks near the temple. This fulfilled the prophecy of Agabus.

As the soldiers reached the stairway leading into the barracks, Paul asked the commander for permission to speak to the mob. After he had explained his identity to the commander, he was allowed to address the Jewish multitude. When the people realized that Paul wanted to speak and had addressed them in Hebrew, their native language, there was a great silence.


The impact of Scripture

Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord. (Zephaniah 2:3 ESV)

Взыщите Господа, все смиренные земли, исполняющие законы Его; взыщите правду, взыщите смиренномудрие; может быть, вы укроетесь в день гнева Господня. (Софония 2:3 Russian)

O LORD our God, hear the prayers of your children on this new day. Guide our thoughts and actions by the impact of your inspired Scriptures and your Holy Spirit. Lead us in the direction where righteousness is flourishing. Help everyone in the world to seriously consider that you have set aside a certain day for the eternal separation of those who have practiced evil, from those who follow Christ in the way of truth. Strike down those who are haughty even toward the way of the Cross that Jesus blazed on our behalf. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

David Binkley, Sr. Gospel Minister

Cedar Key Church of Christ


Sep. 19. Third Missionary Journey Concluded

Acts 20:2-21:17

With the contribution to the Jerusalem church in hand, Paul left Corinth. He had planned to go directly from Corinth to Syria, but because of a plot by the Jews, they traveled through Berea, Thessalonica and Philippi in Macedonia and on to Troas. Paul had sent Timothy and several other men ahead to meet him at Troas. Luke had rejoined Paul’s company at Philippi.

Since the Jews would be observing the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, Paul probably remained in Philippi long enough to preach to as many Jews as possible before leaving for Troas.

Paul stayed a week in Troas and met with the church to worship on the first day of the week. The purpose of the church’s meeting was to break bread (observe the Lord’s Supper)—not to hear Paul or someone else preach. However, since the church was assembled, it was proper and convenient to hear God’s word proclaimed.

The church did, indeed hear the word preached! Paul continued speaking until midnight and Eutychus who went to sleep fell out of a third-story window and died from the fall. This gave Paul an opportunity to show the power of God. He fell on the dead young man, embraced him and said that his life was in him. After raising Eutychus from the dead, Paul had many instructions for the church and continued to talk until daybreak.

Paul departed from Troas and walked a few miles to Assos where he met his co-workers whom he had sent on a ship. They sailed from there to Mitylene, passed near the island Chios and arrived at Samos, another island between Ephesus and Miletus. From Samos the ship sailed on to Miletus.

The Feast of Pentecost was only a few days away and Paul wanted to be in Jerusalem at that time. It was not his purpose to observe the Jewish Pentecost in a religious service, but to present evidence of the unity of Gentile and Jewish Christians to the multitude of Jews who would be there. He had the contribution of aid for Jewish Christians that had been sent by Gentile Christians.

Upon arriving at Miletus, Paul sent for the elders of the Ephesian church, which was only a few miles away. In his farewell message to these men, he reviewed the three years that he had been with them. He reminded them of their responsibilities of keeping themselves pure and caring for and feeding (teaching) the members.

Paul concluded their meeting with a warning to watch for false teachers, and that some of them would even teach false doctrine. After kneeling in prayer, weeping and kissing Paul, the elders went with him to the ship to continue his voyage to Jerusalem.

Luke states that Paul and his companions sailed from Miletus to Cos, Rhodes and Patara. They changed ships (probably to a larger open-sea type vessel) at Patara and sailed toward Phoenicia passing by Cyprus and docked about three hundred fifty miles later in Tyre. While in Tyre, they visited with some of the disciples there for seven days while their ship was being unloaded.

As Paul and his group prepared to leave Tyre, the families that they had visited went with them to the shore. After a prayer, they boarded the ship and the disciples returned home. Notice that the people traveling with Paul and those whom they met were just like we are today with the same feelings, emotions and fears that we experience.

The next stop for Paul and his company was at Ptolemais. They stayed with the brethren there for one day and departed for Caesarea. Upon their arrival in Caesarea, they came to the home of Philip the evangelist and stayed many days. He was not one of the twelve apostles, but was probably one of the seven deacons who was chosen to help care for the Grecian widows more than twenty years earlier.

Paul was in great danger. The Holy Spirit had warned him; his plans to go directly from Corinth to Syria and Jerusalem had to be changed; and the disciples in Tyre had urged him not to go to Jerusalem. At Caesarea, the prophet Agabus came from Judea and took Paul’s belt and bound his own hands and feet. He said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”

Upon hearing the warning from Agabus, Paul’s traveling companions pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. As a man of strong courage and convictions, he refused to turn back. He replied, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Are we that strong? Are we ready to die for Christ? Paul’s purpose in life was to serve. If it cost him his life, his attitude was, “SO WHAT?”

When Paul’s companions saw that he was determined to continue to Jerusalem, they said, “The will of the Lord be done.” That should be the attitude of every Christian.

Paul completed his third missionary journey when he arrived at Jerusalem. He did not complete a circle and end at Antioch as he had done on the first two journeys.


Because in everything: 2 Corinthians 7.16

“I rejoice because in everything I am fully confident in you.”

2 Corinthians 7.16

As problems were being resolved in Corinth, Paul expressed strong confidence in the saints to set things in order. This was a cause of great joy to him.

Expectations often determine or influence outcome. Is my confidence, first of all, in the power of God to work in my life and in the life of others, even when problems arise?

#votd #2-Corinthians #joy

Sep. 18. Concluding Remarks to Roman Christians

Rom. 15:14-16:27

As Paul concluded the main emphasis of his letter it was his prayer that the Romans would be filled with joy and hope from God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul expressed confidence in the Romans that they had the strength to encourage and admonish one another. They had received the signs and wonders earlier that were necessary to establish their faith. Like people everywhere, they needed to be reminded of the basic principles of obedience and Christian living.

As he began to conclude his letter, Paul pointed out his policy of not preaching or building on foundations where others had established churches. In the case of the Roman church, he felt a strong desire to impart some spiritual gifts on them also. He reminded them again that as an apostle to the Gentiles, he most definitely wanted to visit them.

Since Paul had completed most of the work in the areas where he had established churches, he was prepared to go by Rome as he traveled to Spain. Spain was the next mission field that he had determined to work. He planned to make that trip after delivering the contribution from Asia, Macedonia and Achaia to the church in Jerusalem.

Paul expected confrontations with the Jews in Jerusalem and asked the Romans to pray for him as he made his journey from Corinth to Jerusalem and ultimately to Rome and Spain.

As was his custom, Paul closed his letter by greeting various special individuals in the Roman church. He also sent greetings from other Christians who were with him at the time.

Phoebe received specific mention because she was the courier of this letter. She also would probably need assistance with her business matters while in Rome.

Priscilla and Aquila had been very prominent in Paul’s work. They had assisted him on his first visit to Corinth; had accompanied him to Ephesus; risked their own lives for him and had taught Apollos more completely regarding the baptism of Christ. At the time of Paul’s Roman letter, they had returned to Rome and had a congregation of the church meeting in their house.

Many of the people that Paul greeted had been converted by him. Some had been converted before he had become a Christian. Probably some of these Christians had been converted on Pentecost. Whatever their background, they had all been involved in Paul’s previous works.

It was the custom to greet one another with a kiss. It still is in some cultures today. Paul admonished the Romans to use a holy kiss—a warm affection for brothers and sisters in Christ. In our society, one would greet another with a holy handshake—a warm affectionate greeting.

Paul had used a large portion of the body of his letter to point out the errors and dangers of keeping portions of the Law of Moses in their worship. As he is closing the letter, he gave the Romans another reminder and warning against following the Judaizing teachers. Those people were to be identified and avoided.

In addition to the greetings of Paul to various Christians in Rome, several of the people with him in Corinth sent greetings to the church. Timothy was the most notable of those mentioned. Tertius, the penman who wrote the letter for Paul also sent his personal greetings.

Paul ended his letter with an invocation, “To God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.”


Hugh’s News & Views (Forty Things . . . Bible)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugh Fulford

September 18, 2018

Speaking Schedule:

September 21-23: Gatlinburg, TN

#bible, #hughfulford

Sep. 17. Relationship Between Strong and Weak Christians

Rom. 14:1-15:13

There were some weak Jewish Christians in the Roman church who needed special care and encouragement. They still observed some of the outdated laws and traditions of the Old Testament.

The Law of Moses forbade eating certain kinds of meats, but Paul stated that under the new law all meat is fit for human consumption. God has not given a law forbidding certain meats. It just doesn’t matter. Therefore, a person eating meat should not condemn one who does not eat meat. A person who does not eat meat also should not condemn another who does eat meat. If God is silent on a matter, man also should be silent on the same matter.

There were persons who felt the need to keep the Sabbath day, new moon or other special festival days as days of worship. God has directed that the first day of the week be utilized for worship, but if someone wanted to worship on the Sabbath or another day also, it was permissible as long as he did not bind it upon other Christians. Other Christians should not condemn him for worshipping on other days as long as the first day or Lord’s Day was not forsaken.

Paul urged the Romans to remember that Christians do not live to themselves, but to the Lord. Christians must leave the judgment of those matters up to the Lord who is the Judge. One should remember that he is not the judge, but will himself stand before the judgment seat of Christ. There are some judgments necessary for Christians to make. They must recognize false prophets and their false teachings and in areas of specific commandments, erring brothers are to be admonished.

One of the most sobering thoughts in the Bible was stated by Paul regarding the judgment. “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” This is personal. One person will not be judged for another. Instead of being so intent on condemning his brothers for their weaknesses, one needs to keep his own soul prepared for the ultimate judgment.

The Law of Moses specified certain meats to be clean or unclean. Paul pointed out that under Christ, no food is unclean. However, if a brother felt for some reason that a kind of food was unclean, it then became unclean to that individual. Because of Christian love, one must refrain from actions, which within themselves are acceptable to God, but would cause a brother to violate his conscience. A selfish attitude is contrary to the love of Christ.

It is a little thing for a person to forgo certain desires or pleasures. Those things are not the goal of Christian living. Paul stated that peace and edification of one another are the things that are acceptable to God.

A person’s conscience is that wee small inner voice that warns him of evil. Paul urged the Romans to avoid doing anything that would cause another to violate his conscience.

The weak brother should be taught the differences between the old and new laws in a spirit of love. The teacher must not force his personal opinions upon others, but he should guide his hearers to the truth.

If one’s faith leads his conscience to believe a certain action is sinful, he indeed sins when he indulges in that action. Paul stated, “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith, for whatever is not from faith is sin.”

As Paul continued his thoughts regarding relationships with weaker Christians, he admonished the stronger Christians to respect their weaknesses. Strong Christians must use Christ as an example of forgoing pleasures of this life in order to please others.

The Romans were told how the examples of God’s relationships with His people during the Old Testament eras were to encourage and admonish Christians during the New Testament dispensation.

Since Jesus had died for all, Jews and Gentiles alike, Paul admonished the Romans to work together and receive one another as equals. They were to be like-minded as they glorified God.

Paul quoted several Old Testament prophecies regarding the future relationships between Jews and Gentiles. Those prophecies showed them that it was God’s plan from the beginning to include the Gentiles in His promises.


Sep. 16. Various Christian Responsibilities Explained

Rom. 12:1-13:14

Paul utilized a great portion of his letter to the Roman Christians explaining how one is saved through faith in Christ instead of works of the Law of Moses. He also reminded them that the gospel had been presented to the Jews first, but after their rejection, it had been extended to the Gentiles. The latter part of his letter dealt with acceptable Christian living.

The Jews had for many generations, under the Law of Moses offered dead animal sacrifices to God. Christ had offered Himself as a sacrifice for all mankind. Paul admonished the Romans to present a different type of sacrifice—their bodies as a LIVING sacrifice.

As previous sacrifices involved a death, a living sacrifice entails a death also. One dies to sin, rejecting the sins and so-called pleasures of the world and grasping a spiritual life of service for Christ.

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church a few months earlier, he had pointed out the different abilities of Christians. He made these same observations to the Romans. As the human body has different organs with different functions, the church also is made up of different members with differing abilities and functions. Christians are to perform these functions vigorously but with humility. All members are essential.

The family is the closest human relationship on earth. Paul explained how that brothers and sisters in the church are to have that same kind of loving kindred relationship with one another. They were living in a world of sin, hate and persecution. It was and is imperative that Christians have a deep love and affection for one another in order to defend themselves from the world. When one member of the physical family is in pain or rejoices, all members are affected the same way. The same care and concern should be present within the spiritual family. That also includes sharing their blessings with the needy Christians.

Paul commanded the Romans to abhor (hate) what is evil. Jesus said that one is to love his enemies. Christians are to hate the sin, but to love the sinner. People of the world today still have a problem with Christians speaking out against sin. They think that when a Christian condemns a sin, that he is actually judging and hating the person that is involved with the wickedness. Christians should avoid leaving that kind of impression when rebuking sin.

The apostle Paul, stated, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” If you cannot be at peace with your neighbor, be sure that it is his fault.

Human nature leads one to seek revenge for evil that is done against him. Paul admonished the Romans to leave vengeance to God who will repay the evildoers. Instead of seeking revenge, Christians are to do good to their enemies. Being kind and helpful to one’s enemies can make them ashamed and even lead them to Christ. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

As Paul continued his admonitions regarding Christian living, he turned to the relationship that Christians are to have with civil governments. During the earliest history of the world, one finds that God had placed authorities to oversee the civil affairs of man. It is the responsibility of government to punish the evildoers under their authority.

According to Paul, it is man’s responsibility to obey the laws that are enacted by the government. This command is as binding on Christians as any other that the Holy Spirit guided the apostles to write. One who breaks the laws of government breaks the commands of God. Think about this when you are exceeding the speed limit on the local highway.

However, when the laws of the land are in direct conflict with the laws of God, Christians “must obey God rather than men.”

Paul said, “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”

Christians are expected to show their love for God and their fellowman by completing their obligations regarding spiritual, governmental and social debts. They will do good and not evil to others. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself.

Paul urged the Romans to become alert to the occasions that they had to serve others. One does not know how much time he has before Christ will return or that death will end all opportunities for service. He encouraged them to turn from the sinful fleshly works of darkness and to clothe themselves with the spiritual works of light.


Sep. 15. Jews Can Still be Saved if They Return to God

Rom. 11:1-36

After pointing out the rejection of the Jews, Paul asked, “Has God cast away His people?” He answered his own question by stating that there was still a remnant of Jews who were still obedient to Christ and that he also being a Jew was included in that remnant.

Paul reminded the Romans of the story of the prophet Elijah, who felt alone because he had thought that all of Israel had forsaken God and were seeking to kill him also. Even in the darkest hours of the relationship to God’s people with Him, there was still a remnant who had remained faithful.

The grace of God as opposed to works relating to man’s salvation was mentioned again by Paul. Even though works do not save a person, there are certain conditions of obedience that must be met in order to receive God’s grace. Consider a blind man that Jesus healed. He had to wash the mud from his eyes.

Paul used a parable of an olive tree to explain how that through disobedience the Jews had been broken off from the main tree (Christ). The Gentiles through obedience had been grafted into the tree and accepted. That same principle of disobedience breaking one off the tree and obedience grafting one onto the tree is true with individuals today.

“Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God:” Paul warned the Romans that even though God is a God of love and is merciful to those who obey, He is also severe on those who fail in their obedience. If He had cut off the natural branches, the Jews because of disobedience, He would also cut off the grafted branches, the Gentiles if they disobeyed. He also stated that if the Jews would turn again to God, He would graft them back into the olive tree.

It was concluded again that all Jews and Gentiles could be saved if they would accept and obey the Deliverer who was sent to take away their sins.


Sep. 14. Salvation Is Open to all who Will Believe

Rom. 10:1-21

It is natural that one should desire that his household would be saved. Paul had that same desire for his Jewish family. In their ignorance of His purpose, they had rejected Christ and were zealous toward their own traditions in the Law of Moses. He desired that they would redirect their zeal toward the proper knowledge that justification and salvation were through Christ and that the Law of Moses had ended.

We see many religious people today who are greatly zealous, but because of a lack of knowledge, they are promoting religious error. Those who have the truth of God should be as zealous as those who are teaching man-made error.

Paul stated that the person who wanted to live by the Law of Moses was obligated to do the whole law completely, which they were unable to do.

Those who would desire to see Christ come back from heaven or return again from the grave would not benefit because He had been rejected when those events did occur. To bring Christ back from the dead again would be useless because they still would not accept Him.

Paul said that the way to salvation was to believe with all one’s heart that God had raised Jesus from the dead and to confess that faith with the mouth. He reminded the Romans that salvation was available to both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles). Saving faith is one of obedience and action.

Man must hear the truth of the gospel before he can believe it. The first teachers were selected by God and given the message to teach. Today, man still must hear the word of God, but he hears through reading and being taught the word as written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit. Many, however refusing to obey give up their heavenly home.

Again, Paul quoted Old Testament prophecies that foretold the rejection of Christ by the Jews and the acceptance of Him by the Gentiles. Those prophecies were being fulfilled during that period in man’s history.


Growth by Proxy?!

By Johnny O. Trail — Spiritual growth has always been a problem in the Lord’s church. The New Testament has several passages where the inspired writer addresses that very issue. Sadly, immaturity still plagues the church today. Immaturity can rear its head in varied ways but generally stems from ignorance of God’s word. Continue reading

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