There’s a good saying that brethren have used over the years to show our sincerity in what we practice and preach: “truth does not fear investigation.” The idea is that if one is genuinely concerned about doing right, he’ll not be afraid of someone else questioning what he does. By frequent examinations and regular defenses, one is constantly kept “in check.” If by an “investigation” one’s preaching and/or practice is proven true, great. If, however it is proven to be false, there’s a sense in which this is also great, for now the sincere individual can make the necessary changes to get back on track and be right.
Unfortunately, not everyone is interested in truth. Some are content to go on in their error hoping no one will ever challenge them. If they are questioned, too many write it off as being “bothered” and ignore the “investigator.” How sad!
Those fearful of investigation need reminded of what Peter wrote, “...be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you...” (1 Pt. 3:15). When a person gets to the point where they cannot defend or give an answer for what they’re doing, it’s time to do something else. While error may clam up, get aggravated and run from it - truth does not fear investigation. What about you?! - David McPherson
The issue of illegal immigrants is a hot topic, both politically and socially these days, for there are millions of people in America who want the benefits and privileges of citizenship without going through the proper channels. Though they blend in and look in a way to be citizens, they really aren’t citizens. They don’t really enjoy the benefits of citizenship. They’re illegal aliens. This reminds me of a spiritual lesson.
There are those who want to be Christians but are unwilling to do what the Bible says to rightfully obtain citizenship. The Scriptures speak of a citizenship in the kingdom of God (Philippians 3:20) and those who are outside as aliens (Ephesians 2:12). So, the analogy is quite appropriate.
How many people today bypass the proper channels of admission into the Lord’s church and begin seeking anyway to receive the benefits and privileges of citizenship? Some will clean up their life morally and think that is sufficient. Others will start “going to church” somewhere. While still others may pray the “sinner's prayer” admitting their guilt and professing their faith in Christ to forgive them and think that gets the job done.
But, the Bible says a man who believes the gospel of Jesus Christ and is then immersed for forgiveness of sins is saved (Mark 16:16). Elsewhere the Bible teaches repentance and confession of Christ’s lordship are also prerequisites of citizenship (Acts 2:38; Romans 10:10). Many, many folks have not complied with all of these requirements and are thus illegal immigrants in the kingdom of God. - Whit Sasser
God Hates Divorce
“I’m getting a divorce, but I don’t plan to marry again” These words are being heard with increasing frequency. Usually the spokesman is thinking that God allows the right to divorce, but would disapprove remarriage.
The truth is, however; Divorce itself is sinful unless it is for the cause of fornication.
a.. Consider Matthew 19:3-6. The question originally asked Jesus by the Pharisees was not concerning remarriage, but concerning divorce: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” Jesus’ reply to that question: ‘What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” It was only after further questioning that Jesus discussed the problem of remarriage and adultery.
b.. Consider Malachi 2:16. “For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away.” Even under the old covenant God did not approve of indiscriminate divorce. It is likely that the “tears” of verse 12 which “covered the altar” and caused the Lord to refuse their offering, were the tears of those who had been wrongfully put away.
c.. Consider Matthew 5:32. “Whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery.” Observe the words, “causeth her” or maketh her” (ASV). This writer understands this verse to say that if one divorces his wife he places her in a position of temptation to commit adultery, and shares the guilt when she does commit adultery. On the other hand, if he puts her away for the cause of fornication, he has put her away legitimately, and shares no guilt in whatever adultery she may subsequently commit.
d.. Consider 1 Corinthians 7:16: “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband.” Observe the word “command” or “charge” (ASV). The following verse (verse 11) does not negate or nullify this command, but simply recognizes that one might disobey the Lord’s command (in which case he sins - 1 John 3:4), and states his options if he has disobeyed. Not only does the Lord command husband and wife to live together, but he commands them to meet one another’s physical needs (1 Corinthians 7:3-5) and to love one another (Ephesians 5:25; Titus 2:4-5)
If one companion in a marriage fails along these lines, the other must still be obedient to God, seeking to be what He would have him or her to be in the marriage relationship. Never should the thought of divorce or separation ever enter the mind unless fornication occurs. We are not suggesting that divorce itself is “adultery,” but we are saying that divorce for any cause other than fornication is sin. Christians must not be influenced by the loose standards that prevail in the world in which they live. - Bill Hall
Do Miracles Occur Every Day?
What does the Bible teach regarding miracles? Is it true, as some claim, that miracles are happening every day?
In reality, even during Bible times, miracles did not occur “every day.” Miraculous activities for the most part were confined to certain periods of Biblical history. These included the miracles of the creation week. Then when Israel was in Egyptian bondage, God sent the ten plagues, caused Israel to cross the Red Sea on dry land, fed them with manna, and on occasion also miraculously gave them water. Later, the ministries of the prophets Elijah and Elisha were characterized by numerous miracles.
The next “cluster” of miracles was during the ministry of Christ, and finally, during the establishment and spread of the church (Acts). Obviously then, miracles were not “evenly distributed” over the centuries of Biblical history, but rather were used by God only at certain times, to meet unique needs, and to accomplish specific purposes.
Among the many miracles Jesus performed we read of His healing the man with an amputated ear be simply touching him (Luke 22:50-51). Honestly, do you see that every day, or any day? When there was a great tempest in the sea of Galilee, Jesus “rebuked the waves and the sea and there was a great calm” (Matthew 8:23-26). On another occasion, on that same sea, Jesus came unto His disciples walking on the water (Matthew 14:26). Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 men plus women and children with five loaves and two fish (Matthew 15:32-39. There are three recorded occasions where Jesus raised the dead. These include the only son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17). Jarius’ daughter (Matthew 9:18-26) and Lazarus (John 11).
These are but a few, a very few of the miracles Jesus did. The purpose of Jesus’ miracles is stated in John 20:30-31: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” That purpose has been accomplished.
Further, Mark gives us insight into the purpose of the miraculous when he writes, “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mark 16:20).
Reference is made to the salvation which began to be spoken by the Lord, “and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His will” (Hebrews 2:3,4).
The purpose of the miraculous then was to reveal and to confirm the word of God. There was a time limitation on the miraculous. Gifts such as tongues, prophecy and knowledge (miraculous) would cease (1 Corinthians 13:8-10) with the completion of the revelation. God’s power has not ceased. His presence and glory are evident all around us. We are abundantly blessed by Him (Acts 14:17; James 1:17). He hears and answers prayer (James 5:16). When the revelation of truth was completed, and had been fully confirmed, the miraculous ceased, having accomplished its purpose. - Leon Mauldin
Why Marriages Fail
Why do marriages fail? Pundits offer a number of reasons, but these explanations don’t tell the whole story.
For example, marriages do not fail due to incompatibility. Every marriage is comprised of two people who are incompatible in some respects. In successful marriages, partners learn how to adapt to each other’s interests. Their differences become a source of strength, rather than a source of conflict.
Marriages do not fail because of money. Our grandparents were far poorer than we are, yet there were far fewer divorces in their day. Somehow they figured out that money - or the lack thereof - was simply something a couple dealt with. When they said, “for richer or for poorer,” they meant it. Poverty was a shared experience that brought them closer together, rather than driving them apart.
Marriages do not fail because of in-laws. God decreed that a man should “leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife” (Gen. 2:24). A failure to cut the apron strings when entering a new relationship with a spouse can generate a lot of problems. But the in-laws generally can’t be blamed for the problems. They can’t intrude into the marriage unless the couple allows them to do so.
Marriages do not fail because of sex. Of all the incompatibilities that a couple has to struggle with, this is probably the biggest. Men and women have completely different libidos, and it takes some couples a long time to understand each other’s needs in this area. Some couples never do reach that understanding. But that doesn’t mean a marriage is doomed. Successful marriages have this problem, too. They just learn to adapt.
Marriages do not fail because of kids. Of all the reasons offered for a failed marriage, this is the most inexcusable. Raising children to be happy, well-adjusted, productive citizens is a primary reason for marriage in the first place. This job can be exhausting, exasperating, and expensive. But if a couple remains patient and committed, it will be the most rewarding achievement of their life. If children become the source of marital discord, there’s something else going on behind the curtains.
All of these issues may contribute to a failed marriage, but they are not the underlying cause. The main reason that marriages fail is simply selfishness. One or both parties in the relationship consider “self” to be more important than “spouse.” Armed with that attitude, every difference, however trivial, becomes a potential battleground that can destroy the marriage.
Self-help books on sex, children, money, etc., can be good resources for helping a young couple cope with marriage. But the best resource is a thorough indoctrination in the Biblical meaning of “love” - treating others as more important than self. - David King
What’s in it for Me?
The Lord described one of the shortcomings of the ancient Israelites as follows: “Everyone loves bribes, and follows after rewards. They do not defend the fatherless, nor does the cause of the widow come before them” (Isaiah 1:23). Like many today, the people of Israel were not much interested in helping those who could not help them in return. The prevailing way of determining whether or not to be charitable and kind was apparently to ask oneself, “What’s in it for me?” and “What am I going to get out of it?” And so it is today. Unless there is some prospect of being rewarded with pleasure, financial gain or praise, few will show much concern for the welfare of the needy and lowly.
It has been said that you can learn a lot about a man’s character by observing how he treats someone who can do nothing for him. A person of quality will be kind to those who are in positions “lower” than his (e.g. waiters, cashiers, clerks, employees at work, underclassmen at school, etc.). He will go out of his way to be helpful to those who cannot pay him back.
Jesus expects His disciples to “condescend to men of low estate” (Romans 12:16). He explicitly commands us to do good to those who cannot or will not repay us. In Luke 14:13-14 Jesus said, “When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just”. And in Luke 6:35 He commands us to love our “enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High” (Luke 6:35).
Note that in both of the preceding passages, the reward for doing good to others is not material, financial, or even emotional—it’s spiritual and eternal. Let not our love and kindness be sold cheaply for the temporary rewards of this life. Rather, store up eternal treasures in heaven by showing courtesy and compassion to all. Make it your task today to do something for someone who cannot pay you back. - Steve Klein
Growing up on a farm taught me pretty quickly and easily, that there are only two genders, male and female. When I read the Bible, it taught me the same thing (Gen. 1:27; 2:18-20, 23). But now, some have the idea that gender is derived from the brain (what they think and feel they are), and not from biology (what their body shows they are). Furthermore, a growing chorus tells us we must recognize their delusional thinking as an accurate description of who they really are. And, if we do not, we are labeled as biased haters (read Galatians 4:16).
The Washington State Department of Health has enacted new rules allowing a person to select a third gender choice on the WA state birth certificate. Starting January 27, 2018, a person can designate their gender on their birth certificate as male, female or X. Gender X is defined as “a gender that is not exclusively male or female, including, but not limited to, intersex, agender, amalgagender, androgynous, bigender, demigender, female-to-male, genderfluid, genderqueer, male-to-female, neutrois, nonbinary, pangender, third sex, transgender, transsexual, Two Spirit, and unspecified” (“Rule-Making Activities,” doh.wa.gov). That sounds like a lot more than three to me. (I never saw any gender X on the farm!)
“Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. It’s sometimes known as gender identity disorder (GID), gender incongruence or transgenderism. Biological sex is assigned at birth…” (nhs.uk). “People who have gender dysphoria feel strongly that their gender does not match their biology” (WebMD).
Nature teaches two genders; so does Jesus, and the Bible (Matt. 19:4). Our children and grandchildren are being taught falsehood as the truth (1 Tim. 6:20-21). Christ is the Light, who leads the lost out of sin’s confusion into God’s mercy (Eph. 4:17-19; Jno. 1:4-9; 8:12; 1 Pet. 2:9-10). - Joe R. Price
WHO ARE THE SMART PEOPLE?
Today, predominately among academia, there is the notion that, at the end of the day, smart people just aren’t religious, and religious people, well, most of them just aren’t very smart. It is well documented that academia, in general, teaches Darwinism and secular humanism as fact and openly opposes Christianity. For example at the University of North Carolina, a professor abruptly asked for a show of hands, asking: “How many Bible-believing Christians do we have in the auditorium today? Come on. Don’t be bashful.” After about a half dozen students raised their hands, he said: “That’s good. It looks like we have a few Christians here today. Welcome to Intro to the New Testament. My goal this semester will be to change everything you Christians think you know about the Bible and about Jesus.” Romans 1: 21-22 says: “They knew God, but they wouldn’t worship Him as God or even give Him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they became utter fools instead.” The following statement was made concerning Yale University: “The last person I expected to show up at graduation was God!” Where are the “smart” people taking us today? Read the rest of Romans, chapter 1, as you seriously think on these things. - Dennis Abernathy
What Are You Willing To Give Up?
The world that we live in is not one of spiritual-mindedness. It is not a world of godliness or one of righteousness. The world in which we dwell is one full of sin and all kinds of evil. It is a sad thing to look at the world knowing that most people are not going to make it to heaven (Matthew 7:13-14). What is perhaps even more sorrowful is looking at attitudes that individuals have in the church. Think about all the blessings we have as children of God. Look at all the many things He has done for us and what a debt we owe that we will never be able to repay. Yet, although we understand and say, "Yes, I owe a lot to God", we often fail to act as though we truly believe that. Why is it that we claim to understand the blessed state of being a child of God but do not put our best foot forward to be pleasing to Him? Do we not believe that only the faithful will make it to heaven? Do we not believe, as Jesus said, that only he who does the will of the Father will make it to heaven (Matthew 7:21)? I believe a major reason why Christians are not as committed as they should be is because they aren't willing to give up the things of the world to live for the Lord. John said in I John 2:15, "Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." The world and God are on opposite ends of the spectrum. How can you have both? John says later in vs. 17 that the world is passing away. It's only the one who does the will of God who will abide forever. We forget just how temporary our lives are here on this earth. We get caught up in thinking that this is most important, the here and now. It's not!! All that we have on this earth won't be here eternally. It is going to be passing away. Does it make more sense to concentrate on the things that will one day be passing on or is it better to put our efforts into that which will be here eternally? Most anyone will tell you, "Yes, we have to concentrate on spiritual things", but how many are doing just that? What are you willing to give up to go to heaven? Many in the world expect to go to heaven but do not do anything to insure it. Many Christians expect to go to heaven but do not want to give up worldliness. Paul told Timothy that times would come when men would be "lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God"(II Tim. 3:4). The same thing is true today. People just have too many things to do. "I'm too busy to serve God", would fit a lot of peoples actions. Those whose busy lives interfere with their commitment to the Lord will have much time in eternity away from God to think about all the times they were too busy to be spiritual. I ask again, what are you willing to give up to go to heaven? Are you willing to give up things that would interfere with your attendance in worshipping God (hobbies, concerts, sports, etc)? Are you willing to give up the short, tight, and low cut outfits designed only to be seen by others? Are you willing to give up talking, acting, and behaving like those of the world? Are you willing to give up worldly associations that might hinder you from being a faithful Christian? If you are not willing to give up even these few things, how can you say you are willing to sacrifice to go to heaven? Heaven has its cost and so does the life of being a Christian, but the benefits of the sacrifice involved far outweigh the burdens of this life. Think of what Christ was willing to give up so that you could have these blessings (II Corinthians 8:9). He gave up His very life. How much of an inconvenience is it for you to live a faithful obedient life to make it to heaven? It should not be a burden at all but simply a small sacrifice for the love and kindness He showed to us. Abstain from every appearance of evil (I Thess. 5:22) so that you may reap the reward of heaven. – Shane Williams
Genesis 4 relates man's first attempt to worship God. Abel, a shepherd, brought an offering of the firstlings of his flock. Cain, a farmer, brought an offering of the fruit of the ground. The Bible says, "And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering, but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard" (vv. 4-5). Whatever may have been the difference in this case, one thing is clear: God does not accept everything offered Him as worship.
The Concept of Worship. Worship is our acknowledgment of God's worth. Occasionally, the Bible uses the term of everyday living which respects His will (Romans 12:2). Mostly, worship refers to special acts of devotion intended to express to God our regard for Him. Either way, the underlying principle is reverence for God. Worship may therefore be defined as a reverent attitude which is expressed by a life of service and special acts of devotion.
Common Mistakes. The prophets of the Old Testament had much to say about the ancient Israelites' worship. While the forms were different back then - offering animal sacrifices, burning incense, tithing, etc. - we can still learn much from their experiences. The prophets identified three common mistakes: (1) People often mixed their own preferences with God's instructions. Instead of honoring God by doing what He said, they added or substituted what they liked. (2) Even when people were doing exactly what God said, worship at times became a boring ritual. Isaiah called it "lip service," "traditions learned by rote" (29:13). (3) Daily lives were too often segregated from what people expressed in formal worship. People praised God in songs and prayers but lived in complete disregard for His will. This was perhaps the prophets' most common complaint (Isaiah 1:10- 17; Jeremiah 7:1-11; Amos 4:1-4; 8:4-6; etc.). Surely you understand why God would not accept worship from people who are just going though the motions or who substitute their own will for His. How does that honor Him?
Modern Applications. Jesus taught that "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). Spirit emphasizes that worship is the product of a spiritual relationship. Worship is a privilege, not a right. It is the privilege of those who are in Christ, who "through Him . . . offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name" (Hebrews 12:15). Both in the formal sense and the broad sense of daily living, it is the conscious expression of a heart devoted to God. Truth emphasizes worship as God directs. Only that kind truly honors him. Omission of spirit leaves empty formalism. Omission of truth results in honoring self, not God.
The New Testament reveals several avenues of formal worship, either in individual or group settings. The history of the first-century church begins, "And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (Acts 2:42). Instruction in God's word clearly has a part in our assemblies. Breaking bread refers to eating the Lord's Supper, a memorial of Jesus' death (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). This is to be eaten on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7), the day also specified for the contribution, a means of Christians joining together to do the work God has assigned us collectively (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). Prayer is our means of communicating with God, both for praise and requests (1 Timothy 2:1-6). Singing is another means of praising God, with the added benefit of teaching and admonishing each other (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).
Whether done individually or collectively, God's honor, not our pleasure, is the goal of worship. Therefore, His word dictates what is done and how. Is it surprising that the means He has given appeal more to the spirit than the flesh? How it looks, how it sounds, how it feels - these are not the critical factors. Instead, God says, "Let all things be done for edification" (1 Corinthians 14:26). Remember, "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). - Frank Himmel
How Thankful Are We?
November 23rd is the day that is set aside in our wonderful country as a national day of Thanksgiving. As Christians we have so much to be thankful for and it should be very easy to find reasons for being thankful.
Besides having so much of this world’s goods, we have all spiritual blessings which can only be realized by being IN Christ (Eph 1:3). But how thankful are we? There are others in the world that certainly do not have or ever will have the material things that we are blessed with in our life.
Yet we still find ways to complain and wish that we had even more. In addition to all the physical things that we are blessed with, we should thank God every day that we have learned about Jesus Christ, obeyed Him, and are striving to live a faithful life on this earth until we die. We are promised that heaven is waiting for us to possess it IF we are faithful to the very end (Rev 2:10). Now that is something we can truly be thankful for.
As We Bow. As we bow our heads in prayer to God this coming Thursday, before we eat our meal, let us truly be mindful of all the wonderful things that God has allowed us to enjoy here on this earth. We should be thankful for our prosperity and for being able to worship God unmolested at any time. Let us thank God for our health and that He may bless us with many more years of faithful service in His kingdom. May we thank God for those that have had an open heart to receive His Word, and are now determined to serve Him for the rest of their life. We should thank God for the opportunities that He presents to us to share His Word with others. Let us also thank God for our children and pray that we raise them completely in the training and admonition that He dictates to us. May we thank Him for the congregation here and pray that we can all strive to continue to build each other up, keeping one another motivated for the cause of Christ and for each other, longing to be with God and each other forever in heaven. As we bow, there are so many things that we can be thankful for.
Prayer Is Important. The importance of prayers of Thanksgiving to God is taught to us clearly in the Bible. Notice the following:
Psalms 50:14 “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High.”
Psalms 105:1 “Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!”
Psalms 106:1 “Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”
Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”
1Thessalonians 5:18 “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Hebrews 13:15 “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.”
Ephesians 5:20 “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
When we look at God’s Word, we can see where our duty is evident. We know that we have received many blessings from our creator in which we should be eternally thankful. Prayer is important because it is through prayer that God can clearly see in us what kind of children we really are. A prayerful child is one who talks to their father. God wants us to talk to Him and express to Him how truly thankful we are for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us. Can it be seen in us by our expression to God in prayer that we really are thankful for what we have, both physical and spiritual? - Richard Thetford
What The Work Of The Church Is Not
All who know and respect Bible teaching realize the work of the church is spiritual in nature and is done in view of the salvation of souls. However, many churches, including many identifying themselves as churches of Christ, have gotten caught up in the social gospel movement and are involving themselves in activities designed to satisfy and please the carnal desires of men rather than pleasing and glorifying God. In this article, we wish to call attention to those things which are not authorized by God as the work of the church.
Political issues are not the work of the church. Even though there are issues such as abortion, homosexuality, etc. that we must oppose and teach against (as we would any other sins) we must recognize that it is not the work of the church to develop or carry out a political agenda. These same issues may be political issues for some, but as the people of God we deal with them the same way we deal with other sins, i.e., by teaching the word of God and seeking a change of heart in those who hear.
Secular education is not the work of the church. I am sure all agree that proper education of a secular nature is good and beneficial. However, it is not the work of the church to build, support or maintain schools or colleges to provide such education. This is the responsibility of the home rather than the church. Paul acknowledges that there are responsibilities to be fulfilled by individuals “and let not the church be charged” (1 Timothy 5:16). This could be applied to each of the things discussed in this article.
Social activities are not the work of the church. It is good for brethren to get together and enjoy one another’s association whenever possible. However, we need to remember the words of the apostle Paul as he addressed the problem of the Corinthians perverting the observance of the Lord’s supper. He said, “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?” (1 Corinthians 11:22). It is not the work of the church to provide for social meals and gatherings. Several years ago I presented a lesson in which I made the point that the church should not be using “coffee and doughnuts” to entice people to attend. A relative of mine objected and said, “James, if it takes coffee and doughnuts to save souls then I think we should use coffee and doughnuts!” I think she was surprised when I answered, “I totally agree with you!” And I still agree with her statement.
If it takes coffee and doughnuts to save souls then let’s buy all the coffee and doughnuts we can find. However, if we were to do that all we would have is a lot of people full of coffee and doughnuts. If we wish to save souls we must use that which will accomplish such. Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth” (Romans 1:16). Yes, the gospel of Christ is God’s power to save. To resort to gimmicks and carnal attractions is not only without authority but demonstrates a lack of faith in God and His will.
Recreation and entertainment are not the work of the church. Wholesome recreation and entertainment have their place but it is not the work of the church to provide such. This truth has been generally understood and accepted by brethren through the years however, in recent years it seems that many are more desirous of turning the church into a country club or health spa than letting “the church be the church.” As a result of this thinking we see churches sponsoring ball teams, building gymnasiums and sponsoring various forms of entertainment. I have received announcements of “clowns for Jesus,” magicians, puppeteers, body builders or singing groups all being used by churches to reach the masses. The one thing lacking in all these announcements is the scripture or scriptures that would authorize the church providing such. Paul tells us that God has provided all that is necessary “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). Note that all he lists in verse 11 have to do with the revelation and proclamation of God’s word. Note the parallel between Ephesians 4:11,12 and 2 Timothy 3:16,17.
The inspired scriptures are all we need. When Paul had warned the Ephesian elders of the dangers they would face after his departure he said, “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). We, today, need to put our faith in God and His word and not in the schemes and gimmicks of men that appeal to the flesh. - James Hahn
Do You Feel Saved?
Are you saved?How do you know you are saved?“I know I am saved because I feel it in my heart,” many often say.But are the feelings of your heart the proper standard to determine your salvation?We do not use this standard in other matters.No one says of his bank statement, “I know it is right because I feel it in my heart,” while they ignore to properly add and subtract from their balance.No carpenter says, “I know the board is 10 feet long because I feel it in my heart” - he checks the board with the proper standard, the measuring tape!But, when it comes to a matter far more important than bank balances and board lengths - salvation - many are willing to trust their eternal welfare to their feelings.
Can you trust the feelings of your heart to tell you whether or not you are saved?The Bible says “No!” “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool” (Prov.28:26), for “the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jer.10:23).“There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov.14:12).Feelings are subjective, they change from person to person and even within the same person.Truth is objective, it remains fixed and does not change, regardless of the person or the year.
The way you feel about salvation does not change God’s truth concerning it, just as the way you feel about math, does not change the truth of it.Whether or not you are saved is an objective fact, not subject to the whims of how you feel from moment to moment.So how can they know they are saved?The Scripture says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Prov.3:5).
You do not have to rely upon your own faulty and deceptive feelings concerning your salvation.The Lord has given “the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation” (2 Tim.3:15).The knowledge and confidence of salvation can only come from the objective standard of God’s Word.God will judge you by His Word, not by how you feel.Jesus proclaimed, “the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).What is your salvation based upon?Many people feel in their heart they are saved because they have “simply believed” in Jesus.While salvation certainly requires faith in Jesus, faith alone does not and cannot save according to God’s Word.
James wrote, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (Jas.2:24).Other people have prayed and “asked Jesus to come into their heart” and now they feel they are saved.But nowhere does the Bible teach one must simply pray to Jesus in order to be saved.
God’s Word teaches to be saved you must: hear the gospel (Rom.10:17); believe Jesus is the Son of God (Mk.16:16); repent of your sins (Acts 2:38); confess Jesus (Rom.10:9; Acts 8:36-38) and be baptized for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38; Mk.16:16).Those who obey God’s Word do not have to guess whether or not they are saved based upon the feelings of their heart.They know they are saved because their salvation is based on the unchanging Truth of God’s Word. - Wayne Greeson
What Are YOU Looking For In A Church?
At this very moment, hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans are looking for a church (or, as some express it, a “church home”).They are looking (1) because they have recently moved to a new area, (2) because they had drifted and are now ready for a renewal of religious interest in their lives, or (3) because they have become unhappy with “their old church.” What are they looking for?What are YOU looking for?
What do they hope to find?What do they feel they need?
·Some are looking for a church that is like the former church they belonged to.They don’t want to change from the religion or way of worship that they have become accustomed to.
·Some are looking for a church (building) that is close to where they live.One that is within easy driving distance.They don’t want to have to go very far to get to “church.”
·Some are looking for a church made up of friendly people who will make them feel welcome and wanted.Warm feelings and caring hearts are important and a church that is cold and formal has no appeal.
·Some are looking for a church that will lift their spirits and build up their self-esteem.They want a sense of importance and belonging.They don’t want a church whose members just never seem to accept them.
·Some are looking for a big church.They prefer to blend in with the crowd.They don’t want a church that is so small they everyone is noticed and everyone is expected to chip in and help out.
·Some are looking for a small church because they don’t want to be lost in a crowd.Smaller churches, it is believed, are more friendly and more like a family.They don’t want a church that is so big that you don’t know who the regulars are and who are the visitors.
·Some are looking for a church that is busy with all kinds of activities in the community.They like family affairs and youth groups.They want some good wholesome activities that young people can be a part of: a softball team, camping, lock-ins, etc., as long as there are several choices for a family to choose from.
Now, if you will, look back over that list.There is not one word about God, Jesus, the Bible, salvation from sins, strengthening the soul, heaven or eternal life.Churches were established in the first century for the purpose of teaching God’s word, saving souls and strengthening the members.
When a group of Christians constitute a church, they do not have to wonder what God wants of them.The lives they are to live, the organizational arrangement they are to have, the doctrine they are to teach, the collective work that they are to do are all clearly defined in the New Testament.With open Bibles we find out what a congregation of God’s people is supposed to be, to teach, and to do.
Permit me to offer some suggestions:
·Look for a church that respects the sovereignty of God and the authority of Jesus Christ (Col.3:17).
·Look for a church that respects the Bible as the inspired word of God, and the gospel as the power of God unto salvation (Rom.1: 16)
·Look for a church that strives to be like the churches you can read about in the New Testament - in name, in worship, in organization, in teaching and in work (I Thes.2:14).
·Look for a church that is concerned about lost souls and eternal destinies (Mt.28:19-20).
·Look for a church that ministers to the spiritual needs of men.It is the soul of man that will live forever (Eph.4:11-16). - Steve Hardin
Will Someone Please Tell Me Why?
Before Jesus returned to heaven, He spoke to the apostles the “great commission”; what to preach to people that needed to be saved. In (Mk. 16:15-16) Jesus said, “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.”
Beginning in Acts 2 we have various men who will put this command of Jesus into action. First, in Acts 2, Peter preaches the first gospel sermon. After the sermon, the people cried out, “Men and brethren what shall we do?” Peter responded to them, ‘Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…..’ Peter obeyed what Jesus had commanded them to preach.
Turning to Acts 8:5 . . . .”Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.” In verse 12, “when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.” Here we have a different preacher and a different place; BUT he preached what Jesus had commanded, the same things Peter preached.
Turning to Acts 16:25 . . . .Paul and Silas were cast into prison for preaching Jesus. After some miraculous events, the keeper of the prison witnessing these events asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts16:30) In verses 31-34, for the jailor and his household to be saved, they believed and were baptized. The conclusion of the events is found in verse 34. “Now when he had brought them into his house, he sat food before them, and he rejoiced having believed in God with all his household.” So once again we have Paul and Silas preaching what Jesus had commanded. We have different preachers in a different city BUT preaching the same message as Peter and Philip. They obeyed the command of Jesus, all preached the same thing about how to be saved.
Now my question; in the town of Shippensburg or any city, why don’t all the preachers preach the same thing? They are preaching something different than what Jesus commanded. Now you know why there are so many different “churches”, which are not churches, but denominations that have divided preaching a different gospel than what Jesus commanded – Dennis Adams
What To Expect When You Visit With Us
Many people are hesitant to attend worship service at an unfamiliar church. To help alleviate any apprehensions you may have regarding this congregation we would like to explain what you can expect when you visit with us.
Courtesy and Kindness
First of all, you’ll find no exclusive pews for any person. All are greeted with equal courtesy and kindness (Acts 10:34-35; Gal. 3:28).
You will find no tendency toward entertainment with beautiful organ or piano music. Like the first century Christians, we will engage in the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19). The words used in our songs will be easy to understand (I Cor.14:15. God has commanded the sincere praise of His people to come from the heart (Col. 3:16).
Order and Reverence
You will not be confused by many people speaking or praying at the same time.(I Cor. 14:33). You will observe one of the brethren leading the congregation reverently and quietly in prayer (I Tim. 2:1-5).
If you are present on Sunday, the Lord’s day, you will observe the congregation eating bread and drinking the fruit of the vine in memory of the death of Christ (Mt. 26:26-29). We do this on the first day of every week, like the Christians in the first century (Acts 20:7).
You will not find special collections taken at every service. A collection is taken only on the Lord’s day (I Cor. 16:1-3). This congregation is supported by the free will offering of its members. We do not ask non-members to financially support our work, nor do we engage in fund raising activities like rummage sales and bingo games. We specialize in being the church, and do not compete with places of amusement.
The Bible: Our Only Guide
You will observe that the Bible is the textbook to which reference is repeatedly made in our classes and sermons. Special emphasis is placed on that part of the Bible known as the New Testament (II Tim. 3:16-17; Rom. 1:16). You will never be asked to accept what some preacher says about the Bible; we want you to read the Bible for yourself to see“whether those things are so” (Acts 17:11)
The audience will not be embarrassed or singled out for any sort of demonstration or testimony. You can quietly observe and study that which you see and hear. (I Cor. 14:40).
Salvation in Christ
You will hear obedience to the will of Christ emphasized as necessary to salvation: faith in Christ as taught in the gospel (Rom. 10:17); repentance (Lk. 24:47); confession of faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10); and baptism into Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
If there should be a response from someone in the audience to the appeal mentionedabove, you will see them taken to a pool of water where, in simple likeness to the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, they will be buried in water and raised to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:3-4).
You will be more than welcome at all of our services. Please come and bring your Bible to “search the Scriptures” with us. If you do not have a Bible, we will be happy to give you one free of charge.- Dennis Adams
We welcome you to our site and hope that it is informative in your exploration of the church of Christ: as well as the local congregation that meets in Shippensburg. We hope that you will find the time to visit with us and attend one of our scheduled assemblies.
The Shippensburg church of Christ strives to follow the example of the first century church, as found in the New Testament. The Bible is our sole guide and authority. Therefore, we only engage ourselves in those practices authorized by the word of God. We consider ourselves to be non-institutional, or conservative: meaning that we do not support: orphanages, missionary societies, charities, "sister" churches, etc... Each member bears an individual responsibility to be charitable and will answer, as an individual, to God.