Difficult problemas: Sidetracked saints

Number 613 • February 9, 2021


The term “sidetracked” is railroad terminology. It means that a railroad car or cars, or whole train, have been diverted to a side track away from the main track. Such a car or cars are, at least for a time, “out of service.” The term has also come to mean taking the wrong track instead of the right one, the designated one. There are several ways in which side-tracking may occur: the engineer may choose a side track, or someone may put him on the wrong track by working a switch without the knowledge of the one operating and guiding the train. Continue reading

#dependence, #geraldcowan, #service, #works, #worship

Faith and works

Rising Joy by Vicki Matheny

But would you like evidence, you empty fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. James 2.20-24

What you believe is important. Faith in God is essential, for without it, you cannot please him, Hebrews 11.6. However, faith, which does not motivate you to act, is useless. Even the demons believe and tremble, James 2.19. Just listening to the word and not living it out is of no purpose, for you are only deceiving yourself.

Abraham is a good example of faith and works. He obeyed when told to offer Isaac as a sacrifice to God, Genesis 22. He acted quickly. It is interesting that the Bible does not tell of the emotions that he was bound to be experiencing. That is not what is important. What is important is that his faith in God motivated him to action.

Faith and works go hand in hand. One without the other is useless. May Christians act according to the faith that we profess to have.

#risingjoy #devotional #faith #works

Greater works

“‘Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father’” John 14:12.

Wait! Greater works than what Jesus did while He was here on this earth? There’s no doubt that the King of Kings was the servant of servants. He lived servitude: washing feet, touching a leper, raising the dead, multiplying food, curing the sick, teaching the lost, loving the unloved. And then He endured all He did before hanging on a cross for all of us. He is the peak of what a servant should be about.

And yet, He tells us that if we believe in Him not only would we be doing the works that He did but we would do greater works than these. How?

Again, we limit our perspective. We have to open it up by submitting, trusting, and obeying to let God do incredible things through us. After all, His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. Let God do the driving the car of your life and stop grabbing for the wheel. If He can provide eternal life for sinners from His Son’s death, then there’s nothing He won’t do for and through you.

What great works will He do through you if you’re willing to serve?

Douglas Kashorek

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#devotional #douglaskashorek #works


3-2-2016 What Else Should He Do

Jesus was in Jerusalem, “Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, ‘How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me.’” (John 10:24-25 NKJV). What doubt? (1) Jesus made it so plain, that when “the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, ‘Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?’ Jesus said, ‘I am.’” (Mark 14:61-62 NKJV). (2) There were “many of the people [who] believed in Him, and said, ‘When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these which this Man has done?'” (John 7:31 NKJV). No one who ever lived has claimed what Jesus claimed and proven it with the power He did!
This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

#claim, #signs, #the-christ, #works

The Twist You Didn’t See Coming

The biggest put you on the edge of your seat movies have them. The most drama filled novels are replete with them. And those situations can actually pale in comparison to what happens in real life! What is it? It’s the twist that changes how everything up to a certain point gets viewed. And such a twist gets revealed in Galatians 4.

While talking to the church(es) in the Galatia region about the damage that had been inflicted by false Jewish teachers upon the believer’s faith in Jesus’ work, Paul drops a twist in the plot line of the age-old story concerning God’s promise to Abraham in more ways than one.

The Jewish people prided themselves upon their physical heritage in Abraham (rightly so, but wrongly done), and they used that heritage to “lay claim” to the path that leads to salvation; a path that wrongly included various adherences to the Law of Moses after the Law of Christ had been given by God.

So to make his point clear when it came to the difference between the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ, Paul uses two different mountains, two different women and two different children to show how the people who prided themselves on being the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were in reality more like the sons of Abraham, Ishmael and Nebajoth because of their attitude toward the faith delivered by God through Jesus. Paul says those who boast of Abraham and Sarah outside of Christ find themselves sitting in bondage at the foot of Sinai instead of enjoying the freedom that flows from Mount Jerusalem. At the end of the of day their circumcision had actually cut them out of the promise to Abraham through Isaac. Paul says that the false teachers were children of Abraham alright – but they were the wrong child.

What a twist in the story!

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.” Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.” (Galatians 4:21-28)

#abraham, #christianity, #faith, #hagar, #jerusalem, #law-of-christ, #law-of-moses, #mount-sinai, #salvation, #sarah, #works

Guest Article: Where’s Jesus? by Joshua Gulley

Here’s a good article that reminds us about the importance of feeding our faith over our ego and allowing God’s grace to accomplish what we could never earn.

Where’s Jesus? by Joshua Gulley

Luke 5:15-16 – “The news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would slip away to the wilderness and pray.”

Hold on a minute! I thought this was what Jesus’s job was—to spread the gospel of the kingdom of God, to heal people, to cast out demons, to raise people from the dead, to encourage, to do miracles, to teach, to exhort, to rebuke! You’re telling me that Jesus turned down opportunities to do the Lord’s work?! You mean they had a door-knocking event and He didn’t show up? You mean to tell me that there was a work camp going on and He skipped it? Are you trying to say that there was a revival meeting that night and He didn’t attend?

I’m being overly dramatic, of course. But the fact remains that there was good work available for the doing, and Jesus chose not to be there. How can this be so? I think Jesus had already learned a couple of things that take some experience to figure out—a couple of things that I understand in theory at this point of my life, but have not quite perfected in practice just yet.

First is that your own relationship with God has to be in proper order before anything else can be acceptable. There are always good things to be doing, but if we are always doing good things, we are not taking time to stay close to God ourselves.

Second is that overworking yourself is not good. There are several reasons for this, but the important one here is that when we are working all the time, we may be accomplishing a lot, but we may also be tempted to develop an unhealthy pride in the things we accomplish. I may knock on 500 doors and conduct 30 Bible studies and grade a thousand correspondence courses and mow a dozen yards and clean five gutters and visit 20 widows and carry 40 meals to the sick before I realize that by keeping up with my stats, I’m developing a “salvation by credit” kind of attitude. To twist Paul’s words a bit, I may give all my possessions to feed the poor and surrender my body to be burned, but without the blood of Jesus, none of that will get me to heaven. God is pleased with the good we accomplish as long as we keep in mind that He doesn’t need us to do it. He deserves every bit of our devotion, but ironically, that devotion can be misplaced and actually cause us to move away from God. “Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

Paul perhaps captures it best in Ephesians 2:8-10. “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” We can’t let Satan guilt us into thinking we’ve got to do more, more, more. When you find yourself patting yourself on the back for something good you just did (boasting), then it’s time to go back to the other side of the semicolon to remember that salvation is a gift—not wages. Lord, help us know when it is time to slip away into the wilderness and pray. – Joshua Gulley

Josh is a member at the Smithville Church of Christ and a teacher of music at the High School level

#ego, #faith, #grace, #jesus, #rest, #salvation, #works



A good study of the New Testament helps us to see there is a role for works and a role for faith. Without faith as the underlying foundation in place, the role for works would be useless. The significance of this point is found in relationship to the apostle Paul, James, and many in the denominational world.

Paul, in the context of his letter to Rome, argued that man is justified by faith apart from works (Romans 3:28). In this con-text, it is important to know exactly what Paul had in mind with the word works. It seems that some in the denominational world, reacting to Catholic teachings with regard to works, insert the word alone after faith, thereby giving us the unbiblical doctrine of salvation by faith alone.

One can turn the pages of the New Testament forward from Matthew to Revelation, start again and do the same, and not find anywhere where it is taught by the Lord (or any who represent Him) that man is saved by faith alone. What he will find, however, is that man is saved by faith apart from works (as Paul declared); the word works as used by Paul in Romans is associated with the Law of Moses. In other words, Paul is making clear that justification is by faith apart from the works of the Law of Moses.

In comparison with what Paul said, James said that man’s works bring about God’s declaration of “righteous” (James 2:22-23). The word “works” as used by James (2:14-26) is not the same as the way Paul uses it.

How do we balance the two ideas? To begin, we see there is a difference between the two men in how the word works is used. Let us not misunderstand what Paul had in mind when he said what he did in Romans. If one would be pleasing to God, under the old covenant, then faithful obedience to the Law of Moses was paramount (crucial). Without the foundation of faith in place, obedience to anything the Lord said would not actually be obedience at all, but a mere doing, acting, or complying with some outward requirement, not properly brought about as a result of loving God. This in no way pleases the Lord!

Note how these two ideas play a crucial role in one’s salvation. In Genesis 15, the Lord declared Abraham righteous as a result of his faith (Genesis 15:6), and in Genesis 22:12, the Lord said with regard to Abraham’s work (and faith) “now I know…” The idea is this: faith has a starting point, but obedience to the Lord’s will and deeds (works) of charity bring that faith to a completion, a goal. Thus, when the Scripture says that Abraham was justified by his works, it was in relation to doing the Lord’s will.

When you hear (or read) of a denominational teaching like justified by faith alone, you can be sure that it is not from Scripture, but one’s personal theology (opinion). Yet, the Scriptures teach that, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). One can’t go wrong doing such things as this. RT


#denominations, #faith, #faith-alone, #james, #paul, #works

To those who persevere, well done!

Yet again there was war at Gath, where there was a man of great stature, who had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number; and he also was born to the giant.” (2 Samuel 21:20)

I sure could use an extra finger this morning, an extra thumb really. I cut the thumb on my right hand yesterday pretty good. My thumb is still there, but it’s not doing much!

Have you ever tried to type without using your thumb? Or use a mouse? It doesn’t come very naturally when you’re already used to having it there. There are so many “little” blessings that we can and do take for granted.

I have often felt great admiration for those who persevere through struggles that people with two functioning hands, arms, legs and feet rarely think twice about. I see the great things that they have accomplished in spite of their set-backs and I think about how hard for them it must have been to kick the word “quit” out of their vocabulary. Yet they did. And they’re striving because of it!

In a similar vein, I think about those who are striving to live a Christian life in less than favorable circumstances yet there they are, still hanging in there by God’s grace and perseverance. Every day is a new day in their eyes because this is the day that the Lord has made (Psalm 118:24). And although they carry burdens that I do not, they still manage to allow the yoke of Jesus to carry their burdens to Calvary where they stay (Matthew 11:28-30).

So to those of you who persevere in ways that make “ordinary life” look elementary, well done!

God will repay everyone based on their works. On the one hand, he will give eternal life to those who look for glory, honor, and immortality based on their patient good work.” (Romans 2:6-7 – CEB)

#overcoming-setbacks, #perseverance, #taking-blessings-for-granted, #trials, #works

Outwardly Operative But Inwardly Dead

     In his commentary on James, Douglas Moo commented on the “dead faith” that James mentions in James 2. “James, in other words, is arguing that the kind of faith he has just described [James 2:14-16] is ‘not merely outwardly inoperative but inwardly dead’” (p. 126). It is clear from the context of James 2 this kind of faith is a dead faith and that kind of faith is not pleasing to the Lord.

     I would like to take the phrase he used and rework it for a particular application: outwardly operative, but inwardly dead.

There are a great many people who demonstrate a kind, affectionate heart that results in good deeds. We can’t help but to notice that a great many people volunteer at Habitat for Humanity, get involved in civic clubs for the express purpose of helping the community, contribute to food banks, become involved in Scouting, etc., etc. It is easy to see that such things result in many good works getting accomplished.

It is unfortunate, however, that those involved in these many good things actually try to use these “good things as entry tickets into the heavenly realm. That which they have done to benefit the community or individual is used as works of righteousness offered to God in order to enter the “pearly gates.”

A study of James 2, on the other hand, helps one to understand two components in one’s salvation: works and faith. The kind of works that James speaks about is that which corresponds to Ephesians 2:10. The kind of faith in view is more than a mental assent to God’s existence and “don’t do wrong by anybody.” This kind of faith is a dead faith; it is not faith that comes from God (Romans 10:17; 2 Corinthians 5:7), but a faith that has its origin in one’s thinking.

On the other hand, if one wants to be justified by the works he does (James 2:24), then let us first be justified by our faith (Hebrews 11:6, 1). That kind of faith is an obedient faith (cf. Luke 6:46), and the works to be justified by are the works (commands) of God (1 John 5:3). Those who come to God must believe that He is and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. Do you seek that kind of faith? RT

#faith, #salvation, #works

Three Works

1. There is the work of man. This pertains to that which originates within man regardless of the outside influences.

2. There is the work of the Law. This pertain to that which God authored, but man has manipulated to his own end.

3. There is the work of God. This pertains to that which originates with God and man humbly obeys.

By which are we saved?

#salvation, #works

Can We Be Saved by Works?

My article today at Forthright is the second in a series of articles on the Catholic doctrine of Purgatory. They base their doctrine on works salvation, which is completely foreign to the Gospel.

If we can be saved because of works, we are ostensibly saying that we can live perfectly enough that God would be forced to save us or be shamed before the world. That is laughable but is exactly the idea behind Catholic salvation.

I hope you will read Purgatory 2 and give your thoughts on their false claims.

#catholic, #forthright, #grace, #purgatory, #salvation, #works

A Religion of Works

Works-based religion puts God in our debt and any system which diminishes God is an abomination (Ephesians 2:8-10). “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).

Anyone who brings such a contemptible doctrine to us, must be ignored and sent away immediately (Galatians 1:7-9). Insulting God is obviously not a wise way to get into his heart.

Therefore, we must never countenance such temerity.

#grace, #salvation, #works

Evil Deeds

The queen of a hive of bees ascended one day to Olympus to present Jupiter with fresh honey from her combs. Jupiter, delighted with the offering, promised to grant whatever the queen bee wished. She asked him for a sting, so that if any mortal threatened her honey, she may kill him. The request displeased Jupiter because he loved men so much, but he had no choice. He granted the request, but told the queen bee that if she used the sting, it would take her own life. Evil wishes come home to roost.

Evil deeds “come home to roost,” too. We cannot expect our actions to disappear into a dark void never to return. As much as humans wish to avoid responsibility for their actions, the Bible returns us to the good sense of the Apostle Paul’s words, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,” (Galatians 6:7).

#bee, #sting, #works

Impala Christians

The Impala is an amazing creature that has a vertical leap of more than 10 feet and can jump an amazing 30 feet.

With such abilities, one would think zoos would have to take extraordinary measures to build enclosures to keep these nearly airborne creatures inside, but they don’t. It seems the Impala will not execute its amazing jumps unless it can see where it’s going to land. So, zoos only have to build a six-foot wall to keep the animals inside.

Unfortunately, there are some members of the Lord’s church who have this same problem. They are capable of so many great things, but they’ve limited themselves to going only so far as they can see. Just as the Impala is unable to jump unless it can see the landing, some children of God restrict themselves to doing only those works for God they think they can with the money and talent they believe they possess.

The writer of the Hebrew letter wrote, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is the ability to do something or to see something not on the basis of sight, but on those things that are invisible, or unseen. The apostle Paul wrote, “We walk by faith and not by sight,” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

It is a shame to see churches with so much potential limit themselves because their lack of faith prevents them from using their potential to become great in the kingdom. If it is true that “without faith it is impossible to please him (God),” (Hebrews 11:6), then can a church with a lack of faith be pleasing to God?

All should recall it was Jesus who said to the church at Ephesus who had left their first love, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works or else I will come unto thee quickly and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent,” (Revelation 2:5). What Jesus meant by the candlestick is that if Ephesus didn’t repent and get faithfully busy, the church they had taken for granted would exist no longer.

Brethren, our reach should exceed our grasp because we are people of faith and believe that with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

Thanks to Jacksonville Church of Christ bulletin for the idea.

#faith, #god, #works

The Montana Street congregation consists…

The Montana Street congregation consists of approximately 160 Spanish speaking brethren. They are assisting in the support of various works in Juarez, Mexico, one of those works being a preacher’s training school. There are about 30 native Mexican men presently enrolled in that school. We are also helping to support Brother Bontha Esudas’ work in India: http://www.churchofchristindia.com/.

Additionally, we help provide food and monies for the Lakeview Christian home in Carlsbad, NM, and we produce a weekly television ministry, covering El Paso County and the surrounding area.

#assist, #christian, #training, #works