“But by the grace of God I am…

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10-11 NKJV). God’s “gospel of grace” saved Paul when he washed away his sins in baptism, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16). But he knew it was not “once-saved-always-saved,” because he “had labored more abundantly than” the rest of the Apostles.
Paul taught: “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men” (Titus 3:8 NKJV).  A Christian must continually be obedient, or else God’s grace was given “in vain.”  “Good works” are the proper response to God’s grace.

This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

#baptism, #good-works, #grace

Pleasing versus proving

It is one thing to please God, quite another to attempt to buy him with works of merit. We can hold no hope of heaven without pleasing him, Rom 8.8-9; 2 Cor 5.9-10; Heb 11.6. On the other hand, we can never expect divine approval by our selected list of works that we determine as good. Such arrogance smacks of one’s own deification. But pleasing God means that we believe his truth and his promise and act upon them, in order to receive the eternal reward that he bestows based upon his will and conditions.

#good-works, #obedience, #pleasing-god, #works-of-merit

You didn't have to, but thanks!

In the context of stating that he had learned to be content in whatever physical state he had found himself, Paul relates this thought:

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

We’re more than familiar with that thought. It’s been the theme of sermons, it’s been stitched on purses and it’s been painted on walls.

But how about the thought that comes immediately after. The one that says it’s more than just the thought that counts. The one that says:

Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress.” (Philippians 4:14)

When it came to the help that was sent by the church at Philippi to the encumbered apostle who thought so much of them (Philippians 1:3-5), Paul, in a roundabout way, was saying that they didn’t have to do what they did, but what they did made him very happy.

Perhaps this thought should be the theme of as many sermons, should be stitched on as many purses and painted on as many walls as well.

The church at Philippi, along with Paul, had the right mindset – they were doing things out of love, and not necessarily out of necessity. And such a way of doing good works is still the model that will cause many more to say with a smile of their face, “You didn’t have to, but thanks!”

#gift-giving, #good-works, #love, #philippians

Hugh's News & Views (Great Things . . . – Pt. 2)


(Part 2)

The Gospel Advocate is a monthly publication dedicated to the advocacy of the gospel of Christ as set forth in the New Testament. It was begun in 1855 in Nashville, Tennessee, by Tolbert Fanning and William Lipscomb, and except for a few years during the Civil War, has been in continuous publication. I have in my possession a treasured copy of the 100th Anniversary issue dated July 14, 1955, as well as a prized copy of the 150th Anniversary edition of July 2005. In fact, both of them are here on my desk as I write these words. I am looking forward to the special 160th anniversary issue that is being planned for July 2015. Continue reading

#good-works, #hughfulford

Hugh's News & Views (Great Things Going On . . .)


(Part 1)

Pursuant to last week’s column in which I enumerated some things “I’m Glad I Know . . .,” over the next two weeks I plan to call attention to some of the many good things that are being done by individual Christians and by loyal, faithful congregations of Christ, people committed to the New Testament order of things. Continue reading

#good-works, #hughfulford

Doing Good Because It Works

Good works, that’s why we’re called to do them. Good works isn’t just a category – it’s a description out of the outcome. Doing good works works because doing good grabs the attention of other people’s hearts.

Will good works always work out for the betterment of those who see them? Nope. Think about Acts 10:38 and then combine that with Matthew 5:11, 10:22 and we’ll see that despite how good a work is the bad will still be riled up in the eyes who see it. But we must continue in the working of good because the end goal is to let our light shine so that the God of Heaven may be glorified in our actions. And how are we called to do that again? Good works. (Matthew 5:14-16; Philippians 2:15) And why good works? Because they work!

Spiritual fruit is born when works are borne by our hands, feet, back and heart (Colossians 1:10). Where money alone utterly fails, good works bring a value to the soul’s sure foundation that will one day be “cashed in” (1 Timothy 6:17-19). At the end of the day, when it comes to our relationship with God, we don’t make the work good, the good work makes us, and it reveals a relationship with God that is tangible and undeniable (Titus 1:16).

Think about it – the reason that God’s word prepares us for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17) is because it’s the desire of God for us to be ever working what it is good (Titus 2:14). The works work for his purpose and for his purpose we’re called to go to work (Ephesians 2:10). And in doing so we can rest assured that our work will work out for the good because the good work isn’t only good – it’s working (Romans 8:28; Ephesians 4:16).

So now that the point has been made when it comes to works that are good and the good works working, the only question that remains is what will our “time sheet” say at the end of the day when it comes to doing the good that works? (Matthew 25:31-46)

This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.” (Titus 3:8)

Related Article

#christian-living, #god, #good-works, #living-faith, #results


(#89) The Proverbs of Solomon 14:34-God’s Burden Against America

Since God Created humans, only God can provide specific understanding of human behavior. God gave Solomon Divine Wisdom (1 Kings Chapters 3 and 10) to explain what and why behavior is as it is, and Proverbs 10:1-24:34 are randomly written, as if they were Solomon’s judgments about individual cases brought to him, or simply God-given explanations about life. New Testament passages may help see the continuation of Wisdom offered through Jesus Christ.

Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people.”

“Righteousness” is the state or condition of being “right,” as defined by God: “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7); by His commandments: “My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172); by His example: “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).

Governments exist to protect the “righteous” within their citizenry: “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake” (Romans 13:3-5). Every law; court-ruling; verbally-abusive, bullying, headlined propaganda piece; Harlotwood perversely slanted movie or TV program will be considered in God’s Judgment of this, or any other, nation! Speaking to Christians about the Jewish persecution of them, Paul wrote: “For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they do not please God and are contrary to all men, forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved, so as always to fill up the measure of their sins; but wrath has come upon them to the uttermost” (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).

God would not destroy the homosexually-corrupted cities of Sodom & Gomorrah (Genesis 18:20; 19:1-11) if there were as few as 10 righteous among them (Genesis 18:23-33), but there weren’t. God had a “burden” of judgment against nations, countries, and cities where sin had prevailed: Babylon (Isaiah 13:1) and Nineveh (Nahum 1:1); Moab (Isaiah 15:1); Damascus in Syria (Isaiah 17:1); Egypt (Isaiah 19:1); and Arabia (Isaiah 21:13). Assyria (not covenant-keepers of Moses’ Law!) was told by the prophet: “The LORD has given a command concerning you: ‘Your name shall be perpetuated no longer. Out of the house of your gods I will cut off the carved image and the molded image. I will dig your grave, For you are vile’” (Nahum 1:14). Since then, none of these have ever arisen again to their former prominence and power! Since Jesus Christ, no country is God’s chosen People except the spiritual kingdom known as the churches of Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 16:16).

All God requires of every nation is to uphold and encourage right-thinking and right-doing: “Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not fair.’ O house of Israel, is it not My ways which are fair, and your ways which are not fair? Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,’ says the Lord GOD. ‘Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin’” (Ezekiel 18:29-30). God is “fair,” for He accepts anyone who obeys Him: “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him’” (Acts 10:34-35).

Jesus Christ pronounced the principle that saves: “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned’” (Mark 16:15-16). This Gospel obeyed, exalts any nation.

“The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.’” — George Orwell

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version,unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #burden, #church-of-christ, #commandments, #evil, #fair, #god, #good-works, #government, #judgment, #leaders, #obedience, #preaching, #proverbs, #righteous, #righteousness, #terror, #truth, #wisdom

Lifetime Diligence In Service

Our slogan this month is “keep on keeping on.” It is an expression about diligent action. But there is so much in which we can be diligent. What, exactly, are the things in which we are to keep on keeping on?

One of those things can be understood in the actions of Jesus. Acts 10:38 records that Jesus spent His lifetime going about doing good. Jesus, on the occasion of the last Passover meal of His life, taught the disciples that they were to spend their life in service to others (John 13:1-15). It is no wonder then that we find that our reward or punishment pronounced at the judgment will, in part (there are many parts), be based upon our lifetime service to those in difficult situations (Matt. 25:31-46). Some of the types of folks to which we must minister are the hungry, the thirsty, the stranded stranger, the sick, the naked, and those in prison.

You will notice two or three particular points about those in the above mentioned situations.

  • First, such people are always with us. All of our lifetime, we will hear or know of people in these difficult situations. We will never run out of the opportunity to serve others.
  • Second, to give even a brief relief or comfort to any of these folks will require us to go the extra mile. None of this can be done from our pews or armchairs. That means, that for a lifetime, Jesus wants us to plan enough spare time in our days and weeks that we can use it fruitfully in helping folks such as these.

Friends, can it be the case that we should not fill our lives with so much that we enjoy and want? Should we, like Job, search out the people around us to whom we can become servants? Would it be better to fill our children’s lives with examples and opportunities for service rather than quite so much recreation, team sports, boys and girls organizations or too much play time?

Two passages that continually come to my mind as I think about diligence are 1 Cor. 15:58 and Gal. 6:9-10. We are:

  • To be steadfast
  • To always abound
  • In the work of the Lord
  • To not become weary
  • In doing good (as our Lord did)
  • To do good to all men

So, let’s keep on keeping on.

Mike Glenn

#diligence, #good-works, #perseverance, #service


Psalm 69

Vs. 1-4: David presents his woes to God;

Vs. 5-12: David’s zealous obedience to God created the problems;

Vs. 13-18: David’s heartfelt plea for God to step in with help;

Vs. 19-21: David’s hurts caused by his enemies;

Vs. 22-28: David calls for God’s wrath to come upon them;

Vs. 29-36: David offers praise to God who looks after His “prisoners.”

The inspired Apostle Paul quoted Psalm 69:22-23 in Romans 11:9-10 with the words “And David says.” That ends all speculation as to authorship. Psalm 69 is quoted more in the New Testament than most other chapters in the Old Testament. Directly related to Jesus’ life are: Psalm 69:4 (John 15:25); Psalm 69:9 (John 2:17); Psalm 69:9 (Romans 15:3). Not quoted, these verses describe things done in Jesus’ life: Psalm 69:8 (John 1:11; 7:5); Psalm 69:21 (Matthew 27:34; Mark 15:36; Luke 23:36; John 19:28-30). These quotes relate to God’s plan for Jesus: Psalm 69:22-23 (Romans 11:9-10) show God’s plan always was to include Gentiles; Psalm 69:25 (Acts 1:20) describes Judas Iscariot.

Verses 1-4: David’s desperation is described as a drowning man; his cries have dried out his throat; his enemies hate him, though unprovoked by offense that he has committed.

Verses 5-12: David’s appeal is based on his: verses 5-6, integrity, which God certainly would know; verses 7-9, zealous obedience; verses 10-12 shameful treatment by his enemies.

Verses 13-18: David’s prayer and desire is for God to: verses 13-15, hear and deliver him from this terrible situation; verses 16-18, “draw near to my soul.”

Verses 19-21: David’s deep wounds include: “reproach,” “shame,” “dishonor,” “broken heart,” “heaviness,” pitiless, comfortless, being mistreated.

Verses 22-28: Here, David speaks for himself, for he asks for retribution, a far cry from Jesus Christ on the cross who said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). Payback to David included: verse 22, their prosperity “become a snare;” verse 22, their “well-being a trap;” verse 23, darkened eyes means darkened/dim understanding (Ephesians 4:17-20); verse 24, God’s “indignation,” and “wrathful anger;” verse 25, a wiped out land. This request is upon enemies who have abandoned God (verses 26-28).

Verses 29-36: David presents his humility from which he will praise God, which is better than animal sacrifice (verses 29-31). God said in Hosea 6:6: “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Dedication must accompany, and be the basis for, the sacrifices of worship. Christians should remember that: “here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:14-16). Good works are useless without the sacrifices in worship, but worship is meaningless without a consistent service of good works. That God “hears the poor” (verse 32-33) shows no one is unimportant to God who serves Him. Verses 34-36 point universal praise to God because His future plan pointed through Israel to Jesus Christ.

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #book-of-psalms, #daily-bible-reading, #enemies, #good-works, #jesus-christ, #prayer, #worship

Churches of Christ Disaster Relief

The churches of Christ Disaster Relief has been making the news in various ways over the last couple of days here in Middle Tennessee. The following is a short story that one of the local news channels has on their website:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.- As victims from Superstorm Sandy continued to work to get back on their feet, middle Tennessee residents have been doing what they can to help.

At the Churches of Christ Disaster Relief warehouse in South Nashville more than 200 volunteers manned a giant assembly line. Each box they pack can sustain a family of four, for a couple of days.

“We’re loading supplies up for Hurricane Sandy up in New Jersey and New York,’ said one Goodpasture High School student.

Students from Goodpasture High School and local volunteers packed up hundreds of boxes ready to be transported to the Northeast. Thousands of people in the northeast are still without power, so something as simple as a twist off lid on a jar of peanut butter will really be appreciated.

In less than two hours the volunteers filled 1, 300 food boxes. The boxes were loaded up in an 18-wheeler and are on the road to the Northeast.

A few moments ago I heard that one of the trucks was heading to the community of firefighters and police that was hit hard by the fire outbreak. My prayer is that the churches that will be receiving the shipments of supplies will be prepared to help sow some seed along with the charity they will be sharing…perhaps the charity will sow the seed through its actions.

I personally would encourage individuals and congregations alike to keep this work in mind financially speaking. Your dollar will go much, much further with them than with anyone else that is accomplishing any like-minded work.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:9-10)

#charity, #disaster-relief, #good-works, #hurricane-sandy

Another Road Sign

Here’s another road sign I saw on my travels:

A Christian life without good deeds is like a garden full of weeds.

It’s one that  would probably appreciate, and it goes very well with Titus 3:8 – “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.”

#christian-living, #christianity, #good-works, #road-sign


Restoring A Withered Hand Mark 3:1-6 “And He…

Restoring A Withered Hand
Mark 3:1-6: “And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 2 So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 3 And He said to the man who had the withered hand, “Step forward.” 4 Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. 5 And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. 6 Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.” (also in Matthew 12:9-14; Luke 6:6-11)

1. Jesus “entered the synagogue again,” a custom He had from childhood (Luke 2:41-42; Mark 1:21, 39). In fact, Jesus began His public preaching in a synagogue (Luke 4:16) continuing His “custom.” Anyone who follows Jesus Christ today will also adopt His “custom” of assembling with the saints (Matthew 18:20; Acts 20:6-7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Being a Christian begins with a life “customized” by worship assembling.

2. Pharisees were there and “they watched Him closely.” Jesus did not refuse to attend “because there were Pharisees/hypocrites there,” nor did He refuse to attend because it was a “hostile audience,” nor did He refuse to attend because others there were “judgmental.” These who trained their microscopic vision on Him wanted nothing else than to see fault with what He did. It’s sad to think that people attend “church” and miss its beauty and effective strengthening because they are only there to judge and condemn others who are there, but we must not “draw back” (Hebrews 10:32-39) because of them.

3. Jesus focused on the real issue of “is it lawful on the Sabbath…” The Sabbath was a “holy day” only for the Israelites (not Gentiles!), only as long as God planned to use them to produce Jesus Christ, and only for them to cease their usual work during the week (Exodus 31:12-17). Never, in any account of that Sabbath law, did God condemn doing good or saving life on a Sabbath day! Matthew’s account of this incident includes Jesus’ pressing the point at issue by comparing the worth of a man with a sheep (Matthew 12:11-12), a point to remind people of today! When Jesus raised the issue of Truth and the written Law of Moses, “they kept silent.” Just like people today, their dishonesty with Truth shuts them down in open confrontation.

4. Jesus “looked around at them with anger.” His “anger” was prompted by their “hardness of hearts,” was momentary and not permanent, did not lead to other sin (Ephesians 4:26-27), and proved His humanity was tempered by Divine nature (2 Peter 1:2-4). “Anger” is no sin as long as it doesn’t become an excuse for sin (Hebrews 4:15)!

5. One must study all the Bible has to say on a subject before drawing conclusions. An example is that Luke (6:6) is the one who tells us which hand was “withered” (“drawn up”), and mentions it in such a way that it probably was the result of an accident. These accounts converge on Jesus’ command to the man, his response, and the instantaneous healing. The slow-healing nature of tendons, muscles and nerves being what it is, it is impossible that this was anything other than a miracle! Never was the miraculous element challenged by the Pharisees, though they sought other reasons to reject these miraculous “signs” (John 2:11, 23; 3:2; 4:48; 9:16; 11:47; 12:37).
6. The unscrupulous nature of Pharisees is seen in that they “plotted with the Herodians” to destroy Jesus. Pharisees focused on minutiae to preserve what they perceived as “purity” among the Jews, whereas the Herodians sought Jewish power through government as if the compromiser Herod was their predicted Messiah. From opposite ends of the religious spectrum, they unified behind a common enemy. Truly, “politics makes strange bedfellows.” They were willing to reject God’s only begotten Son, the Prophet/Lawgiver after Moses, the miracle worker, in order to preserve their prejudices. They represent denominational attitudes and doctrine today in not letting God’s Word define their faith and relationship with God. They will act as though they are “one” in rejecting what the Bible plainly says! When the man obeyed Jesus’ command, it was by an obedient faith (faith plus the work God commands, James 2:24). No work God commands ever contradicts what He says about faith and obedience (John 6:28-29; Mark 16:15-16; Philippians 2:12-13).

7. Though confirmatory miracles are recorded in the Bible and no longer actively performed (John 17:20-21; 20:30-31; 21:24-25), there are lessons for us:
a. Jesus’ miracles are unquestioned and proof that He was God in the flesh. He, therefore, should be followed passionately before all pretenders who come “in his own name” (John 5:43), such as Mohammed, “Buddha,” Joseph Smith, “The Pope,” Greek-Orthodox “Metropolitan,” ad nauseum;
b. Jesus’ commands to the man in a synagogue (“church service”) to “Step forward” and “Stretch out your hand” illustrate what Christian worship should emphasize. Every time Christians meet, it should be to “let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24-25). We should encourage each other to stretch out our hands to do good works for others (Matthew 25: 31-46; Hebrews 13:16). Christians should always “step forward” to meet every opportunity to learn, and for “teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:43; Galatians 6:10).
Thus will our “withered” hands find new life and strength in serving the Lord Jesus.

—–John T. Polk II, Dover, TN 37058

#good-works, #jesus-miracle, #withered-hand