Count the Cost

Sometimes I wonder if we realize what we are doing. We work really hard to talk to our neighbors and to convert them. And we should! BUT…Somewhere along the line, we seem to think baptism is the end all and be all. Now, I fully agree that no one can be saved without baptism. It is at that point that God washes our souls clean and adds us to the church. However, how many times do we caution the prospect to “count the cost?” What was the purpose of baptism if the person we taught has no idea that he must give up stealing? Lying? Drunkenness? Foul language? Ball games instead of church? Adultery? Homosexuality? If we have not taught him that he must stop those sins…that he must weigh his sinful nature against serving God…have we done him a favor? Or have we increased his burden? Yes, he can repent after baptism…but what if we have not told him what he needs to change and he has no desire to change? Are we looking for souls…or just looking for numbers?
What say ye?

Words

In my college life, I was an English major. Sometimes, the small things you are forced to learn come back to have meaning later. This recently happened to me.
One of my friends has a bad habit of using slang. Now, in one of my Renaissance English classes, we were introduced to the origin of some of the slang. It seems that, in that time period (indeed, in all time periods), men realized that it was a sin to take the Lord’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 5:11) and, knowing that man is to be judged by every word he speaks (Matthew 12:36), they thought they could fool God by changing what they said slightly.
Now, I grew up knowing that “darn” was a word to avoid, as it was a corruption of “damn.” But, did you know that other phrases we use were similar in origin? Such things as: “Jiminy Cricket”, “gosh”, “dang”, “cheese it”, “drat”, and “doggone”? There are many more, but you get the idea, don’t you? If we are to be judged by our speech—indeed, by every word—should we not strive to be more careful what words we use?
What say ye?

Definition of Evil

Maybe you have already heard this, but I have just recently found it, and I wanted to share.
The theory goes like this: There is no darkness, really. It is simply a lack of light. For example, in a totally dark room, you can light one candle, and there is light. However, in a bright room, you cannot light one “dark” to eliminate the light.
Following this, there is really no evil…it is simply a lack of good, or God.
This goes against what I have always been taught, but, in a way it makes sense. As I look around America today, I see overwhelming evil. But where and when did it become so very bad? When we were growing up, most people at least claimed to read the Bible and believe in God. Today, we have taken the opposite path. We no longer teach Bible in our schools or allow prayer there. Even in the church, we do not study the Bible as we once did. Many of our Bible classes are more “book clubs” than Bible classes. By allowing the “removal” of God, we have made room for evil.
It is really obvious that the evil which surrounds us today in our country is a direct result of the absence of God in our daily lives. If we chose to restore God to His rightful place in our lives, much of the evil would disappear.
What say ye?

Would You?

Some of you preachers, please help me with this alleged situation:
You know, for a fact, that the young couple before you are living together but not married. After a general, casual conversation, they mention baptism. You baptize both of them as you rationalize within yourself that, yes, they are committing fornication, but you will “get to that later.” To help integrate them into the congregation, you immediately put them in charge of a young adult class, in which the woman also takes an equal part in teaching, but “you will get to that point later” because you “don’t want to discourage them now.”
Am I the only one who sees anything wrong with this? Or has the church relaxed to the point that I am just an old fuddy-duddy full of legalism?
What say ye?

Authority of New Testament Letters

Jesus said, “If you continue on My Word, you are my disciples indeed.” (John 8:31) He also said that any who reject His Word would be judged by that Word. (John 12:48) A short time later, He said “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) Then He asked, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things I say?” (Luke 6:46)

Okay, so we all know we must obey what Jesus said to be pleasing to Him. But many in the world will argue that that is different from what the apostles taught. Is it? Really? Let us investigate what else Jesus said.

Jesus, Himself, said: “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, so that He may be with you forever. (John 14:16) But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit Whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring to your remembrance whatever I have said to you. (John 14:26) And when the Comforter has come, Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth Who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. (John 15:26) ”

We are also taught, in II Timothy 3:16, that “All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God…” Taking these verses together, we can easily see that Jesus commanded us to follow His Words, that He promised the apostles that He would send the Holy Spirit to guide them, and that the Holy Spirit inspired them what to write. Therefore, all things found in the writings of Peter, Paul, James and Jude are inspired and are binding upon us today.

What say ye?

#authority-in-religion, #authority-of-the-scriptures, #inspiration-of-the-bible

People of the Book

One of the young men (43) where I worship offered a devotional last night that I thought was outstanding…but it greatly disturbed me. He spoke on the necessity to really “know the Word.” We used to be “People of the Book.” Why do so many of us no longer know Book, Chapter and Verse? Why do so many of us no longer know why we are unique? Or even what we claim to stand for? He was absolutely correct: We all need to devote more time to study so that once again we may be “People of the Book.”

Why Not Us?

“We are indeed in a struggle to preserve our republic, our civilization and our religion and to set free a suffering humanity,” Moore said. “Today, we no longer recognize the universal truth that God is the author of our life and liberty. Abortion, sodomy and materialism have taken the place of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
I don’t know what you think of Judge Roy Moore, who just lost a run for the Senate from Alabama. (Nor is this a political ad, nor an attempt to white wash his actions.) He is the judge who was condemned for refusing to remove the 10 Commandments from his court house.
My reason for posting this is simple:
If a political figure is not afraid to post such a statement where it is seen nationally, why are so many of our preachers afraid to say the same thing in the privacy of their own congregation?
What say ye?

To Be Free

In 1642, Sir Richard Lovelace, then a religious prisoner, wrote the following:
“Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;”
In about 30 AD, as recorded in John 8:32, Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
Why would I dare put these two together? Just this: I am moved to wonder how many of us are imprisoned, not in stone walls and iron bars, but in a conscience that will not set us free when, if we would only turn to Jesus and be obedient to Him, we could be free, indeed?
What say ye?

Am I Worthy?

I recently heard a very perplexing discussion on the subject of worthiness. One person advocated that no one, under any circumstances, could ever be “worthy” of being saved and/or a child of God. The other maintained that, while we could never be worthy in and of ourselves, the fact that Jesus loved us enough to shed His blood to cleanse our souls, that makes us worthy.  I must admit that there is value to either side of the argument. I would love to hear your opinions.
What say ye?

#spiritual-questions, #worthy

A Pattern for Marriage

I was baptized in 1958. Since that time, I suppose that I have heard over 100 sermons based on I Corinthians 13:4-7. So have most of you. However, I want you to try something different.
Please open your Bible, and turn to I Corinthians 13:4-7. Now, as you carefully read these familiar verses, with an open mind, think seriously how you can apply each phrase to your own marriage. God is never wrong. If you use these verses as a template for your marriage, you will be surprised at how much difference it can make.
What say ye?

Salvation Issues

Apparently, the new password for our more liberal brethren is, “That is not a salvation issue.” They use this to seek support for any issue they wish to espouse. I beg to disagree.
In John 12:48, we find the words of Jesus: “He who rejects Me and does not receive My Words has One who judges him; the Word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” Shortly thereafter, in John 14:26, we have record of Jesus saying: “But the Comforter, the Holy Spirit Whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.” Seems pretty plain to me! The words in the New Testament are there because they were spoken by Jesus or they were reminded to the apostles by the Holy Spirit. If Jesus’ Word is to judge us in the last day, it seems obvious that everything we find in the New Testament is a salvation issue.
After all, who decides what is a salvation issue? Jesus answered that question in John 12:48. When someone tells you, “That is not a salvation issue,” you can pretty well guess that it is!
What say ye?

Can We Prophesy?

Mic 2:6 “Do not preach”—thus they preach— “one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us. (Revised Version)
Mic 2:6 Prophesy ye not, thus they prophesy. They shall not prophesy to these: reproaches shall not depart. (American Standard)

Preach? Prophesy? Regardless of the word used, Strong says it means “to speak by inspiration.” Obviously, today we cannot speak by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit except when we are quoting what He inspired in the men who wrote the Bible. However…it would appear that the main thrust of this verse is that some–the “they” in the verse–would like to silence the Word of God. So, today, when we speak from God’s Word, there are many who will tell us that we should not warn of things which do not please God because these things will cause shame to those who espouse them.
Wake up! Do you remember Hosea 4:6…”My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge:” Therefore, we, as Christians, have a responsibility to speak out against the open sins that have overtaken out society today. When was the last time you spoke out against some of the things which are prevalent in America today? When will you speak out?
What say ye?

But XXX Said…

Okay.  Here I am again.  And again, I am saying that we ALL need to rely on what the Bible says instead of some brother.  We are indeed blessed that we have men in the brotherhood who are learned in the Scriptures…men like Moses Lard, Guy N. Woods, Franklin Camp, and others.  BUT, brother, no MAN is always right.  What has upset me this time?

Some learned brother has decided that Luke 22:44 means that Jesus shed actual drops of blood, and now, most of our brethren are going to great lengths to try to prove that idea.  Even to the point of asking non-Christian scientists to verify this…even when the scientist dearly wants to prove the Bible wrong.  I ask you to think back to high school English!  Remember the teacher trying to teach you what a simile is?  A simile occurs when you compare two unlike items by saying one is LIKE the other, or is AS the other.  It is a comparison, not a statement of absolute exactness.  Luke 22:44 says And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground. Please note:  as it were.  Jesus did not sweat drops of blood.  Instead, he sweated so profusely that the sweat dripped like drops of blood would have fallen.

I may be wrong, but Thayer agrees with this interpretation.  English  poetical devices agree with this interpretation.  If I am wrong…prove it, please.  We just need to look at the Scripture and not always depend on Brother X.

What say ye?

Singing

I suppose every Christian has memorized Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, right? We all know we are to sing as a past of the worship service, and to do so without the use of mechanical music. That is a given … I hope.

But, have you also memorized James 4:10 and I Peter 5:6? What do these two verses have to do with the first paragraph? Well, think about it. I have heard many say, “I don’t sing because my voice is bad,” or “I don’t sing because I can’t carry a tune,” or maybe even, “I don’t want to torture those in front of me.” Yes, I have actually heard all of these … excuses. They are excuses, not reasons.

Now look at I John 2:16. (I am not quoting these five verses because I want you to be sure I am using them correctly.) Pride is a common sin, also maybe known as “the pride of life.” I don’t think I know anyone who has never had pride as a sin. So think about it. God said sing. He never said you had to have a beautiful voice. He never said the song service had to sound like a professional choir. No! God said sing. Of course, we want to offer God our very best. No question there. But if my very best voice is a rough croak, and I am singing from the heart because I want to please God—not myself nor my fellow Christians—then my voice is pleasing to God. Isn’t that what really matters?

What say ye?

#singing, #worship

Thanatopsis

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

I don’t remember a lot about William Cullen Bryant, the poet who wrote Thanatopsis, but I did memorize these lines.  It amazed me that a mere poet could grasp the essential tenet of a Christian life.  Isn’t the above exactly what we are taught in the Bible?  To live our lives in such a manner that we do not fear death, but rather have faith that after death we shall be in the arms of Jesus with the rest of the blest?

What say ye?