Don’t Be Fooled

A recent program on “The History Channel” highlighted something people ought to remember. Human beings are easily deceived.

The program illustrated its point by showing a few pictures. One of those was of a picture that at first glance appeared to be a picture of former Vice President Al Gore and President Bill Clinton side-by-side. It wasn’t what it appeared to be. Instead, it was two pictures of President Clinton, one with black hair.

The human mind is easily fooled because it basically accepts what it is given without question. Our brains are somewhat lazy. This is how magicians can easily fool audiences with their tricks. On closer examination, the pictures show how the mouths, chins and face shapes are the same. The pictures are of the same man, not of two different men.

The same thing is true in religion. A good example of this is the escape of the prisoners in Acts 16. The Bible tells us how the prisoners were freed and how the jailer was about to kill himself. Paul called out to the jailer and told him to stop. The jailer then asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). In the following verse, Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household,” (Acts 16:31 NKJV).

Many denominational preachers say, “See, that’s all you have to do is to be saved: only believe.”

But a closer examination of the entire text shows baptism is necessary as well (Acts 16:32-34). According to the remainder of the passage, it is clear the jailer and his house repented of their sins, hence the washing of the apostles’ wounds. And, they were baptized.

 A continued closer examination of the New Testament teaches faith is necessary to please God (Hebrews 13:3), repentance is necessary along with confession (Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9-10). And baptism is included in every example of conversion given (e.g. Acts 10:48).

Closer examination leads us to confirm the truth. If you haven’t closely examined the scriptures, why not start today by taking your Bible and start reading and studying it? Don’t be fooled by the pretense and sleight of hand being used by the religious world. Study God’s word and find out what you need to do to be saved by yourself.

 

#bible, #fooled, #study

Different Way of Looking at Job

In the future, I plan on teaching Job in a different way. I’ve taught the book twice using a verse-by-verse study and enjoyed it both times. The book is a towering masterpiece full of deep thoughts to meditate upon. However, I just wonder if you can lose sight of some of the over-arching themes in the book with such a study.

I have thought that another way to examine the book would be to look at the introductory passages and then look at each speech as a whole to extract the main points and lessons from each of them. Finally, we would look at the conclusion to tie it all up.

I hope to embark on this study some day. I think it would be an edifying and fulfilling time

Have you ever studied the book this way?

 

 

#job, #study

New study on answering the new atheism

Ashby Camp writes: I just placed online a lengthy study titled “Answering the New Atheism.” If you think the readers of TFR would appreciate knowing about it, please post a note.

The URL for the study is http://theoutlet.us/AnsweringtheNewAtheism.pdf. Thanks.

In Christ, Ashby

#atheism, #study

Organizing my Books

I sit in my office working and I realize I need a certain book from my shelves. However, I cannot find it.

I mutter to myself, “I must get this office straightened up and organized!”

I answer back. “Yes, absolutely.”

Then I sigh and think,  “Yeah, I’ll do that on a day when I have nothing else to do.”

After a moment, I laughed uproariously and return to my work.

Tomorrow isn’t the only thing that never comes. Preachers never get through with their work. They just stop at a certain point, leaving countless other things undone. It is the nature of the profession.

When would that day come when we have nothing else to do? That would be the day we have forgotten what the ministry is all about.

#books, #ministry, #preaching, #study

Posts on Grace

I appreciate all the good thoughts on grace! Thanks for taking up my question and making application.

I have always liked the following: We cannot live in such a way to put God in our debt. Therefore, we will always be lost without His generous gift of grace. We are completely at His mercy until given an opportunity to serve. Even then, we will still require grace to enter heaven. Once again, God will never be in our debt.

There are so many nuances that exist in the doctrine and emotion NEVER understands nuance. That is why we must remain sober-minded and focused so we can grasp the real meaning of Scripture.

We have to tune out Satan’s doctrines found in those who teach error and not spend all of our time chasing them. That is part of Satan’s plan. We cannot always be teaching against something. We need to be proactive in showing the world and the brethren what Scripture DOES teach on grace and salvation.

 

#ephesians, #grace, #romans, #salvation, #study

Clever Way to Handle Revelation

I am currently teaching Revelation on Wednesday night. We finished our last lesson midway through chapter 16. The study is challenging but empowering as we see the clear gospel and the power of God.

One of our men found an old Adult Bible Quarterly from 2000 on Revelation. We recently spent a good bit of time working through chapter 13 because it is such a difficult chapter. He was curious to see what this book said about that chapter.

He soon discovered that this Quarterly had a clever way of handling Revelation — you skip all the hard chapters. Chapter 13 wasn’t even covered. They also skipped chapters 16-18 and 20-21. hmmm

This may make it easier on the writer but it doesn’t do anything for the teacher or the student. While these chapters are difficult to understand, they are also very powerful testaments to the glory and plan of God.

Ignoring them is an insult to the Holy Spirit’s efforts to give them to us and leaves us without the full message of judgment. How can that benefit anyone?

#bible-class, #challenging, #revelation, #study

Revelation 9

Reading the commentaries on Revelation chapter 9 will make you dizzy. They all feel compelled to find historical figures to plug into this chapter. Since they all have different ones, the reader finds it hopeless. I tend to think that the visions are more timeless than specific. The spiritual war with Satan and his forces will always be with us.

The book showers comfort on the Saints of John’s day and the Christians, Jews and Romans are backdrops. Yet, the overall theme is much larger, encompassing the entire spectrum of spiritual existence. We must be careful not to become lost in the morass of imagination when we study Revelation.

The locusts are the power of Satan and those who do his will. They bring havoc to the world but they are limited in their power and scope. Thank the Lord that He is always with us (Hebrews 13:5) and has prepared an eternal place of comfort for us (John 14:1-6)!

#heaven, #persecution, #revelation, #study

Learn the Scriptures and the People

One can be a devoted student of Scripture and yet not understand the people to whom they minister. We must not be cloistered in our hole, failing to interact with others. The Bible student who is not also a student of human nature, misses the other half of the equation.

The ultimate goal of  Bible study is two-fold.  First, we desire heaven as our own future destination. Secondly, we want to inspire others to take the same path. How do we do the latter if we know nothing of our subjects?

We need to be very attentive to the ways and motivations of human beings. We must study how they think and react to certain ideas. Study the culture and know what turns people’s heads. In so doing, we become better armed when we reach out to people.

There is danger in this method, of course. Nietzsche is credited with saying, “When you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back into you.” If we will learn the culture, we must not let it drag us into its web of deceit.

Continue reading

#evangelism, #humans, #study, #teaching, #wisdom, #word

In a day when a knowledge of…

“In a day when a knowledge of the word of God had to be acquired from manuscripts, and in which the art of reading was acquired by only a few, it was no ordinary endowmnet to be familiar with the Scriptures. Such an attainment is rare, even in this day of printed Bibles, and among preachers who PROFESS to devote their lives chiefly to the study of the Bible. Indeed, the amount of clerical ignorance now extant would astonish the masses of men, if they only had the means of detecting it.”

J. W. McGarvey (p. 231, Original Acts Commentary, writing about Apollos who was “mighty in the Scriptures”)

#apollos, #mighty-in-the-scriptures, #study

Name An Item Or Habit

From a spiritual perspective, the following are some of my observations regarding items or habits no longer in use today (comparatively speaking) as they were three to four generations ago:

1) The Bible is no longer habitually read, studied and used by members of the Lord’s church like it was in the 1940’s and 1950’s (we used to be called “walking Bibles” by those outside the church – http://cedarparkchurchofchrist.org/cpcofc/index.php?n=Articles.2010DailyBibleStudy).

2) Looking at all of the immorality in our society today, we can plainly see that Interest in spiritual values and principles are no longer “in vogue.” If they were, children would be taught these values at home and our society today would be less immoral as a result.

3) Hell fire and damnation sermons are today rarely heard from the pulpit (I grew up hearing these type of sermons on a regular basis back in the 1940’s). And guess what? The Lord’s church grew dramatically.

4) Home Bible studies with others are virtually non-existent today (no time to study, folks say).

5) Personal bible study at home is virtually non-existent today. Too many worldly influences (too many digital “toys”), thus, no time to study.

6) In the 1940’s and 50’s, folks habitually assembled to worship the Lord – so much so, that two to three week gospel meetings were not uncommon (I attended some of them). Today, they are unheard of. If we can get members to come to a three-day gospel meeting, we count ourselves successful.

7) Pews are not being filled today as they were three to four generations ago. The testimony of the “empty pew” is a testimony to our lack of focus on spiritual things (Colossians 3:1-2): http://mbriley.preachersfiles.com/2008/08/09/lessons-from-an-empty-pew/

I could go on and on and on (like the energizer battery bunny), but the above are enough samples to let folks see the fact that spirituality has greatly waned in our country and in the Lord’s church.

What’s the solution to all of the above? Open the Book! (read it and do what it says do – James 1:22-25): http://mbriley.preachersfiles.com/2008/01/08/lets-open-the-book/

#bible, #children, #church, #habit, #home, #meeting, #member, #principle, #read, #society, #spiritual, #study, #value, #vogue, #worship

"Sound Doctrine" Best in My Book

The “Sound Doctrine for Everyday Living” study books by the late Bro. Wendell Winkler are the best study guides for young adult and adult classes, in my opinion.

Two, “Studying Sin Seriously” and “The Christian and His Influence” are the best in that series. They are life-changing books that have the power of the gospel to sink deep into hearts and bear fruit. “Things That Accompany Salvation” is another great book in the series that teaches there is more to being a Christian than just wearing a name.

Here is the link for those who are interested: http://www.winklerpublications.com/index.asp.

 

#books, #study, #sunday-school

An Important Distinction

An important distinction in my life has been the distinction between good and evil. Many people in our society are woefully ignorant of that distinction (Isaiah 5:20). That distinction can only come about by a daily and habitual study of God’s word (Acts 17:11; Hebrews 5:13-14; 2 Timothy 2:15), as well as an application of it (Psalm 119:33-34).

#daily, #distinction, #evil, #good, #habit, #ignorant, #important, #life, #people, #society, #study, #woeful, #word

My Favorite Place To Sit

My favorite place to sit is my in home library room where I study, write, and post my articles to my Bible article blog.

#article, #blog, #favorite, #home, #library, #place, #post, #room, #sit, #study, #write

Loosing Track Of Time

I lose track of time when I’m doing research for an upcoming Bible study article as well as the writing of an article. The time really does fly when you’re really involved and concentrating on getting a Bible study article posted.

#article, #bible, #lose, #research, #study, #time, #track, #upcoming, #writing

Waste Time? Never

The older I get, the more I realize the less time I have on earth, and thus, the more I realize how precious time is: http://mbriley.preachersfiles.com/2007/02/11/appreciating-the-value-of-time/. Once time is gone, it can never be reclaimed. Do I waste time? Not that I know of. I’m always busy taking care of my wife, working in the yard, paying bills, grocery shopping, preparing daily meals, studying the Bible, writing articles, reading good books and publications produced by faithful proclaimers of God’s word, preaching and teaching. Doing all of this plus working as a library substitute for our local school district, keeps me plenty busy – never have time to be bored, that’s for certain.

I do watch the news and weather on television, plus two weekly shows, NCIS and Criminal Minds. Don’t know if that’s wasted time or not, because both shows motivate me to use my mind in figuring out the plots.

#busy, #earth, #older, #preach, #precious, #prepare, #publication, #reading, #realize, #reclaim, #study, #teach, #time, #waste, #work, #writing