Eve not excused for being deceived

After Adam and Eve sinned, the Lord came looking for them in the garden. In his conversation with the two, he asked Eve what she had done. She tried blaming the serpent.

“Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate'” Gen 3.13 NIV.

It is notable here that Eve was not excused for being deceived. She had been given a clear commandment. Her conversation with the serpent showed that she understood the commandment. No one twisted her arm. She let herself be deceived.

She allowed the conversation with the serpent to lead her away from the word of God. Continue reading

#deception, #eve, #personal-responsibility

When we find ourselves in a hole we need to quit digging!

You’ve no doubt read about the many times over the children of Israel made things worse on themselves, but what about the time the children of Ammon kept digging their own grave?

It happened when Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had passed away, and, according to 2 Samuel 10:1-2, the word reached the ears and heart of David causing him to send his condolences to the Ammonite royal family:

It happened after this that the king of the people of Ammon died, and Hanun his son reigned in his place. Then David said, “I will show kindness to Hanun the son of Nahash, as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent by the hand of his servants to comfort him concerning his father. And David’s servants came into the land of the people of Ammon.

The trouble begins when Hanun’s advisers convinces him that David’s act of condolence was only a ruse of espionage. Thus David’s servants were ungratefully sent home with a lot less luggage to their name – half of their beard and the bottom-half of their robes to be more specific!

Now you might think the children of Ammon would’ve had an advisor somewhere amongst the king’s “cabinet” smart enough to know about the genuineness of  David’s and Nahash’s relationship and how foolish the nation had treated David’s servants, but such was not the case. As a matter of fact, according to 2 Samuel 10:6, the children of Ammon kept digging:

  • “When the Ammonites realized that David was disgusted with them, they sent and hired 20,000 foot soldiers from Aram Beth Rehob and Aram Zobah, in addition to 1,000 men from the king of Maacah and 12,000 men from Ish-tob.” (NET)
  • “And when the children of Ammon saw that they were become odious to David, the children of Ammon sent and hired the Syrians of Beth-rehob, and the Syrians of Zobah, twenty thousand footmen, and the king of Maacah with a thousand men, and the men of Tob twelve thousand men.” (ASV)
  • “And when the children of Ammon saw that they stank before David, the children of Ammon sent and hired the Syrians of Bethrehob, and the Syrians of Zoba, twenty thousand footmen, and of king Maacah a thousand men, and of Ishtob twelve thousand men.” (KJV)
  • “And when the children of Ammon saw that they had made themselves hated by David, they sent to the Aramaeans of Beth-rehob and Zobah, and got for payment twenty thousand footmen, and they got from the king of Maacah a thousand men, and from Tob twelve thousand.” (BBE)

When it comes to the reaction of David’s nose as he stood downwind of Ammon, I think the KJV hits the nail on the head as far as the word-for-word translation is concerned, but I believe the BBE nails one aspect of this bad to worse situation – the children of Ammon understood, one way or the other, that they had done this to themselves. But instead of putting down the shovel, Ammon picked up the sword!

The children of Ammon could have sought to repair the damage that had been done, they could have fought back the fire they had started, they could have apologized for the shame they had caused and they could have stopped digging the hole they were standing in, but they kept swinging the hammer, they kept adding fuel, they responded with arrogance and they kept digging!

And lest we miss the lesson of Ammon’s mistake when it comes to the stubbornness of king Hanun and his people (by piling on with dirt from our own hole), might I ask how many times have we have found ourselves in a particular situation simply because we refused to put the shovel down?

And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah…” (2 Samuel 11:1)

#bible-application, #learning-from-the-mistakes-of-others, #personal-application, #personal-responsibility

It's not my job!

I believe, unhappily so, that many people in the church avoid serving the Lord (most think they’re just not serving the church) because they think that whatever needs to be done isn’t done by them because it’s not his or her job to do it. This is a sad mentality to say the least. Without a doubt certain individuals take certain responsibilities upon themselves freely, and individuals such as elders, deacons and preachers, need to remember this. But for any individual to shirk his or her duty to the Lord as his servant on the basis of it’s another servant’s job doesn’t just miss the point of setting the table in the Lord’s kingdom – it’s misses the point of sitting at the table in the Lord’s kingdom.

Take this secular example of this spiritual point that I’m making. A dental hygienist who was cleaning a young girl’s teeth noticed something that had nothing to do with her teeth. She noticed that her eyes were yellow, so she called the dentist over to ask for his opinion and he agreed with her that something did not look right. A doctor’s visit and a very rough surgery later (due to a very large tumor on her pancreas), the young girl that was sitting in the hygienists’ chair found herself recovering from an issue that would have killed her had it not been for the steps taken to save her life – steps that were taken because a dental hygienist noticed something wrong with the young girl’s eyes.

The hygienist could have brushed off what she saw in that young girl’s eyes by telling herself that she was a hygienist, not an optometrist, much less a practicing PhD. But she didn’t! She didn’t say “it’s not my job” because she knew she had a responsibility as one person to another. And so we, as “ordinary” Christians, who are all called to serve the Lord in his kingdom, must remember that saying “it’s not my job” does not change the opportunities that we are called to look for. And it does not change the reasons we could have to rejoice.

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)

#personal-responsibility, #serving-the-lord, #spiritual-examples

Where’s the beef…err, where’s the fish?

I mentioned earlier this week that my family and I visited a local county fair. Along with the expected rides, food and agricultural events this particular fair had a lot of information booths set up. The political parties were there. The people who plan parties were there. Representatives selling products from one end of the spectrum to the other were there. Several different organizations were also there. And among those organizations there were several groups representing the religious world. Multiple groups with a wide range of beliefs and teachings concerning the Bible. Unfortunately there was one “group” that I couldn’t find. Unfortunately again, I believe it may be indicative of a common mindset among this particular group.

Now I want to quickly clarify that there was one short stretch of booths on a back row that we did not walk down so it’s possible that I may have overlooked or didn’t notice this particular group, and I would be happy to find out that this was the case. But I didn’t hear otherwise from anyone else who attended the same local fair. And even if I did overlook them what I am about to say is still a glove that would fit many hands, or the lack-there-of.

So anyways, the group that was seemingly M.I.A. among the multiple religiously themed groups was the churches of Christ. Now you might be thinking there may be multiple good reasons for why this was so. And you may be right, but let me first give you some of the reasons that I know it wasn’t if in fact they we weren’t there. You see, I haven’t visited or even seen them all but there are supposed to be in the neighborhood of some 40 congregations of the churches of Christ in this particular county. Yes, that’s a 4 and a 0! That fact alone should take care of any man/woman power that was needed. That fact alone should take care of any financial support that was needed. That fact alone should take care of any reason that I can think of as to why there wasn’t, if there wasn’t, any members of the churches of Christ to help represent and spread the truth of Jesus and His gospel among all of the religiously themed booths that were eager and happy to be there.

That’s why I believe that the answer to many of the frustrations that we experience as a whole when it comes to numerical growth is found in the underlying issue of laziness. Nothing but old-fashioned spiritual laziness. Ah, but there’s the issue of time, you say? Yes I understand that time is valuable. I am a husband and a father. I work a regular 40 hour job every week. And I serve my home congregation as one of the preachers and deacons. Do you know what that takes? It takes time and it takes energy. And I have to make both of them for all of what I do. And I am no different that anyone else.

I am not saying what I am saying because I am an “expert” or an “old professional” at evangelism, outreach efforts, Bible studies or even preaching sermons. I have plenty of room to grow across the board and I know it; so this is no Matthew 7:1-5 moment. But I am saying what I am saying because it bothers me when I hear people preach Mark 16:15-16 but they won’t even take it to the “county fair” down the road. It bothers me when I hear preaching that is directed at the world when it should be directed at the church. It bothers me when I hear preaching that is directed at the church when it should be directed at the world. And it bothers me when I hear people complain of having no fish but they haven’t thrown out any nets in years!

So there’s the beef – now I guess it’s time to go get my net.

But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.” (Matthew 25:26-28 – NKJV)

#evangelism, #laziness, #personal-responsibility

The right attitude toward personal responsibility

Note: As the world grows in rejecting responsibility for one’s actions, more articles, lessons, and sermons like this below by Charles Box are needed.

Accepting personal responsibility is the right thing for every Christian. Members of the church of Christ, in the United States during the 21st century, have truly been blessed. However, with each blessing comes great responsibility.

“The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more” Luke 12:46-48.

Accepting personal responsibility for both your attitudes and your actions is a big thing to God. Once you know and are willing to accept personal responsibility you need to follow through on what is expected of you. Jesus wants us to understand our responsibility both to God and to man.

Christians are called by God to be responsible. God calls His people from all walks of life.

He forgives us when we obey the gospel. “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” Acts 2:38.

To please God, however, we must continue to listen to and follow His instructions concerning what is acceptable behavior.

We must live unto God. “For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him” Luke 20:38.

As we live this life responsibility is often seen everywhere.

  1. We see responsibility toward government. “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” Romans 13:1.
  2. There is responsibility toward parents. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” Ephesians 6:1, and
  3. There is responsibility toward elders in the church. “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” Hebrews 13:17

Fulfilling responsibility is not a burden, but rather a source of joy. “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself” Romans 14:7. God has blessed you with certain abilities. Happiness comes as you use those abilities in His service.

This was the case of the men who had received the talents, Matthew 25. Out of those involved in this lesson, which person was filled with joy? “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” Matthew 25:21. The use of our talents brings “the joy of the Lord.”

It is only right that we do our part in life. It is right to Continue reading

#accountability, #charles-box, #judgment, #personal-responsibility

What Can We Know About Baptism For The Dead?

The NetBible notes say over 200 scenarios for baptism for the dead have been suggested as possibilities! The large number makes sense since there is so little background information on this topic. It’s obscurity leads to wild speculation.

Of those speculations I personally like the one where the person baptized is taking the place of a martyred Christian. Is it possible it’s a baptism in addition to the one when he was baptized for his salvation? Baptism was not exclusive to Christianity and was sometimes used to bring initiates into a specific group. Would it be reasonable to think a Christian might be willing to commit to stand next in line for martyrdom taking the place of a beloved fallen Christian? As we look at the context this is a great fit.

It is also complete conjecture as are practically all the suggestions. Frankly, barring some archaeological discovery, I doubt we will ever know what the reference is.

A list of what it’s not, based on the clear teaching of scripture, is helpful.

It’s not something that saves those:
who don’t choose, wish or want it. Revelation 22:17
without faith. Hebrew 11:6
who do not repent and are not baptized. Acts 2:38
who do bad things while “in the body.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

There’s also room to argue it refers to a practice Paul does not necessarily approve. First, as we have pointed out, this reference to baptism for the dead is obscure. Not only does no other writer mention it in scripture, but neither does Paul mention it elsewhere. If this is an approved practice why is it not described and explained?
Another strong point is Paul does not say “we” but “they” in reference to those who are baptizing for the dead. In doing so he creates grammatical distance between himself and this practice. Was that his intention? One could argue it was not, but it certainly makes his approval doubtful.

#baptism-for-the-dead, #personal-responsibility, #proxy-baptism, #purgatory