WHAT WE LEARN ABOUT GOD IN NEHEMIAH 9
On Sunday morning, January 20, 2019, at the Nashville Road Church of Christ in Gallatin, TN, Charles Williams preached a great sermon from Nehemiah 9 about our awesome God. Charles served as the pulpit preacher at Nashville Road for 18 years and continues as the church’s minister of involvement. He is a great student of the Scriptures, a great preacher, a great teacher, and a wonderful friend and brother in the Lord. Jan and I are privileged to be members of this wonderful, loving church. Following are the highlights of his outstanding sermon. Continue reading
INSIGHTS, OBSERVATIONS, AND QUOTATIONS
“According to the plain teaching of the New Testament, the church is a spiritual body, Christ is head over it, every Christian is a member of it, and there is no organization in it but local congregations. All Christians are ‘one body in Christ;” there are ‘many members, yet but one body;” that one body is the church. In New Testament times the Christians in each locality formed, or constituted, a congregation for religious work and worship. Each local congregation thus formed or constituted was the church—the body of Christ—in that place, and every Christian in that locality belonged to it because he was a Christian, and worshiped in it and worked through it because there was nothing else for any Christian to be a member of or to worship in and work through. Thus they kept ‘the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’ There were no ecclesiastical brotherhoods [“tribes,” “traditions,” “fellowships,” “denominations,” etc., hf] in Christianity in New Testament times. Christ and all Christians were one, as the vine and its branches are one” (F. D. Srygley, Letters and Sermons of T. B. Larimore, Volume 1, reprinted by Guardian of Truth Foundation, 2006, p. 208). Continue reading
INSIGHTS, OBSERVATIONS, AND QUOTATIONS
“(5) The disciples were called Christians (Acts 11:26). Let us be candid here. They were not called Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Catholics, Pentecostals, or Episcopalians. The divine name was Christian…It is likely that the majority of those claiming to be Christians in the present day are wearing some humanly devised name” (Alan E. Highers, “Characteristics of New Testament Churches,” The Spiritual Sword, Volume 50, No. 4, July 2019, p. 41).
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Fifty-five years ago (September 1964), my family and I moved to Clarksville, TN in order for me to serve as minister of the Madison Street Church of Christ. Clarksville is located 45 miles northwest of Nashville. I often went to Nashville to visit people in the hospitals, and my family and I frequently enjoyed shopping and pleasure trips to Nashville. I-24 did not exist in those days and the trip was made via Highway 41-A. About halfway between Clarksville and Nashville was a neat little roadside restaurant that served great barbeque on cornbread hoecakes. It was a popular eating place, and it was always a special treat for us to stop and eat there, though I have long forgotten the name of the place. Continue reading
GIFTED OR AUTHORIZED?
In the worship of the church the New Testament authorizes Christians to sing and make melody in their hearts to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; et al). Singing was the specified kind of music to be offered in worship to God by Christians. It was over 600 years after the establishment of the church before instrumental music first began to appear in worship, and some historians say it was at least 1000 years after the church began before instrumental music appeared.
When the Protestant Reformation began, most, if not all, Protestants rejected the use of instrumental music in worship because they viewed it as a part of the apostasy of the Roman Catholic Church. Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists early in their history opposed instrumental music in worship. David Benedict, in his book, Fifty Years Among the Baptists, published in 1859, stated: “Staunch old Baptists in former times would have as soon tolerated the Pope of Rome in their pulpits as an organ in their galleries” (as cited by Alan E. Highers, editor, The Spiritual Sword, Volume 35, No. 2, January 2004). Continue reading
“THE FOOL HAS SAID IN HIS HEART . . .”
“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ ” (Psalm 14:1a). This text is not talking about the avowed atheist who blatantly denies the existence of God. Rather, it is talking about the practical atheist who, while confessing with his mouth that he believes in God, nevertheless in his heart and by his life denies the reality of God. Of such people the apostle Paul wrote: “They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work” (Titus 1:16).
There are many of these kinds of fools in the world at large, in the various religious organizations formed by men, and even in the church of our Lord. Consider the following. Continue reading
TEXTS USED OUT OF CONTEXT
Context has to do with the setting and circumstances in which an event takes place or a statement is made. By ignoring context events can be misinterpreted and statements can be misunderstood. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in today’s world. A man may have made a statement (or be charged with having made a statement), and without knowing the context of his statement, he may be accused of saying and believing something that he neither said nor believes.
In studying the Bible it is important to observe the context of all that it says. Sometimes statements of scripture are lifted from their context and made to teach things that the inspired writer never intended to teach. The statement taken out of context may, indeed, set forth a truth that is taught elsewhere in scripture but not in the text cited. To use a passage out of context is unjustifiable, because as the old hermeneutical saw goes, “A text taken out of context is a pretext.”
Following are a few of many examples that could be given of using a text of scripture out of context. Continue reading
“IF YOU BUILD IT THEY WILL COME”
The title is the popular adaptation of a quote from the movie “Field of Dreams,” released in 1989. The original statement was, “If you build it he will come,” and came from a voice in a “vision” that Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) had while walking in an Iowa cornfield. The voice said that if Ray would build a baseball diamond in the cornfield, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, an old baseball player who Kinsella idolized, would come. This is the essence of the “vision” and the origin of the quote, but it has now been 30 years since I saw the movie, which I remember as a good one.
The quote has become a metaphor for building something that will attract people to it. Businesses believe “if we build it they will come.” Churches also “buy into” this philosophy. That a church needs a place to meet is logically inferred (Hebrews 10:24-25), but where a church meets is a matter of judgment and expediency. There was a time when church buildings were simple, modest, and functional. In time, they tended to become large and ostentatious, appealing to the fleshly pride of the members. Continue reading
Psalm 119 has the distinction of being the longest chapter in the Bible, consisting of 176 verses. It is divided into twenty-two sections, each composed of eight verses and each beginning with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The psalm is a beautiful tribute to the word of God, with all but six verses making direct reference to God’s word. Even those six verses (84, 90, 121, 122, 132, and 149) are tied to statements of tribute to the word of the Lord. Continue reading
HOW CAN I KNOW WHEN I HAVE FOUND THE RIGHT JESUS?
I enjoy preaching about the church and believe that in the light of the astounding lack of Bible knowledge that so many people have about the church that such an emphasis is necessary. I love to preach about “The Church of the Bible” and take my hearers on a journey through the Bible to see what it says about the church. I love to preach on “How Can I Know When I Have Found the Right Church?” in which I set forth the distinguishing marks of the church that Christ established. I think in our day and time it would be hard to give too much emphasis to what God has said about the church and what He wants the church to be in all ages.
At the same time, I recognize the importance of preaching about Jesus. Just as I preach about the church of the Bible, I also need to preach about the Christ of the Bible, and do. Just as I preach on “How Can I Know When I Have Found the Right Church?” I also need to preach on “How Can I Know When I Have Found the Right Jesus?” In His discourse concerning the impending destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the Romans (which occurred in A. D. 70) Jesus warned, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). Through the centuries, many false christs (messiahs) have arisen. So, how can we know when we have found the right Jesus, the right Christ? Continue reading
PROGRESSIVISM IN THE CHURCH OF CHRIST:
INSIGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
In a May 8, 2019 announcement from a once large and influential congregation in Texas advertising a conference among churches of Christ in that area, the following statement was made: “We look forward to partnering with our brothers and sisters in the __(city)__ area to work toward unity within our tribe in the Church.” Referring to the churches of Christ as “our tribe” reflects a glaring denominational view of the church.
This kind of thinking and terminology increasingly plagues a growing number of Christians, and is illustrative of how far some have drifted from the New Testament concept of the church. It demonstrates how desperately in need we are of going back to the New Testament and studying once again the fundamental truths concerning the church that Christ established. Continue reading
GEMS FROM AN UNPUBLISHED BOOK
Sara Savells is a sweet widow who attends church with us at the Nashville Road Church of Christ in Gallatin, Tennessee. She also is part of a group who eats lunch together almost every Sunday at Logan’s Roadhouse in Gallatin. One Sunday, quite by accident, I learned that she is the niece of one of my high school classmates from Mars Hill Bible School—Johnny Faughn—, being the daughter of Johnny’s older sister. As we often say, “It is a small world.”
Sara’s husband—Jerry Savells, who passed away from cancer in 2007 at the age of 65—was a Professor of Sociology for 31 years, first at the University of Memphis (3 years), and then at Wright State University in Fairborn, OH (28 years), retiring as Professor Emeritus in 1995. He held the B.S., M.A., and Ph.D degrees, the latter two from LSU in Baton Rouge. His first degree was in chemistry, but after a few years in that industry, he went back to school and obtained a Masters and a Doctorate in sociology and became a well-liked college professor. He published two books and numerous journal articles in his field—all with a scholarly focus and purpose. An unpublished book written to inspire and entertain is titled “Letters to Christy…Love, Dad.” (Christy is his and Sara’s daughter who lives in California).
Sara has been gracious enough to gift me with a copy of this unpublished book and I have read it with great delight. While Jerry uses some colorful language, his book is one of the most entertaining that I have read in a long time. He touches on so many aspects of life in our culture (as one would expect of an insightful sociologist). He died before the advent of smart phones and many other advances in technology that have—for better or for worse—come to dominate our lives. Nevertheless, the book is filled with provocative gems that speak powerfully, poignantly, and humorously to our lives. With Sara’s permission I am sharing some of them in this week’s edition of “Hugh’s News & Views.” Continue reading
GREAT GOSPEL PREACHERS OF THE PAST
(Part 10: Five Who Greatly Influenced Me In My Youth)
(Note: In my “News & Views” of May 7, I inadvertently tagged it is Part 10 in the series on “Great Gospel Preachers Of The Past.” Actually, it was Part 9. I apologize for the error. In this final installment of the series (Part 10) I will write about five preachers who had a great impact on me in my youth). Continue reading
BIBLE THOUGHTS ON UNITY
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Psalm 133:1).
“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed” (Amos 3:3)?
“I do not pray for these (the apostles, hf) alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You Father, are in Me, and I You; that they all may be one in Us, that the world may believe that you have sent Me” (John 17:20-21). Continue reading
DOES THE CHURCH HAVE AN OFFICIAL, EXCLUSIVE, PATENTED NAME?
In our contemporary world of many religions, including a multiplicity of denominations under the umbrella of what is called “Christianity,” it is exceedingly difficult for most people to think in terms of simple New Testament undenominational Christianity. It is hard for many people to conceive of there being a body of religious people on earth who have become Christians only, but who have not joined any denomination, who do not wear a denominational name, who are not governed by a denominational creed, catechism, or church manual, who do not have a denominational organization/structure or denominational headquarters, who eschew denominational status, but who seek to be just Christians as were the followers of Christ in New Testament times (Acts 22:26; I Peter 4:16). Continue reading