Being children of God and Joint-Heirs with Christ carries certain privileges. However, there are certain obligations as well. Let us consider them both. Continue reading
There is an old hymn entitled, “When My Love For Christ Grows Weak.” I think of this great old song every time this subject comes up. And if we are honest with ourselves it will come up for the simple reason that it is most important to spiritually re-evaluate ourselves often.
Are we as spiritually strong as we were when we were first converted to Christ Jesus? Has our interest in the “cause of Christ” slipped?
Let us think back to that time when we first found Jesus and His power to save. After our conversion to Christ we were zealous and deeply interested in our faith. When we then went out into the world to tell the world of our new found love and dedication to Christ and told this to our friends in school or at work we hoped that they would also see the reasons why we were so happy. Continue reading
There is a scene that I will never forget from my junior high school years in the 1960s. We had just moved in the middle of the school year to Akron, Ohio, 1,500 miles from my childhood region and home. We came from Gladewater, Texas, where my father preached for about five years but was now the new preacher for the Thayer St. church of Christ. Gladewater at that time was a very small town and (still is!) one with Southern manners, genteel people, mostly good citizens and had orderly schools. In great contrast, Akron was a large northern industrial city, bustling with shift workers who were mostly second generation Italian, Polish and Irish and all very Catholic. Close to scenic Lake Erie the land would have been a winter-wonder-land except that the numerous tire plants belched out vast amounts of grimy black soot that settled on top of snow that often was over three feet deep. The landscape became a uniform colorless gray with melting snow in the spring that was so dirty it looked sort of like molten lead. The one bright spot to us was the church, which had about 200 souls then and among them some of the finest I have ever known. Continue reading
As long as days come and go, breezes will refresh the ancient places along the shores of fertile Galilee and the ruins of old Capernaum, the city Jesus knew so well. Matthew 4:13, And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali. In the Bible this deep, freshwater, pear shaped lake was known by several other names as well: Lake Kinneret, Lake Gennesaret, and the Sea of Tiberias. A very unusual feature of Galilee is that it is 686 feet below the level of the Mediterranean Sea. Though not huge it is of respectable size in that it measures 13 miles from north to south and 7 miles from east to west with a total of 64 square miles of surface area. The Jordan River flows into Galilee from Syria and continues south from Galilee and is the main source of fresh water for the entire region. Bountiful farming and fishing have been the main reward for living in this very uncharacteristic area of the Middle East. Jesus Himself left Nazareth and settled in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13-17). Capernaum was even claimed by the Lord as His own city in Matthew 9:1. Continue reading
If you are my friend, if you are concerned about my soul, give the Truth. Do not flatter me. Do not praise virtues while remaining silent about my vices. Do not fear the Truth will offend me. Do not treasure our friendship, our friendly relations, above my salvation. Do not think by ignoring my sins, you can help me. Do not think that being blind to my sins will make you charitable. However I may react to it, whatever may be my attitude toward after you have done it, GIVE ME THE TRUTH! For the Truth, and only the truth, can make me free from the shackles of sin, strengthen me in the pathway of righteousness and lead me into the joys of Heaven. If I am wavering, weak, lukewarm, indifferent, neglectful; if I have been overtaken in a trespass; if I have been drawn into the pleasures of the world; if I have left my first love; if I have been led astray by error, or if I have done none of these things, but simply need to grow in knowledge and then be edified, GIVE ME THE TRUTH!
I would rather have thousands say to me on judgment day, We heard you preach and you hurt our feelings, than to have even one lost soul say, I heard you preach but, you did not tell me the WHOLE TRUTH.
It can be argued that “The Restoration Movement” began nearly 500 years before Alexander Campbell’s time in England and not America. In the 1380s, a Catholic clergyman and very popular professor at Oxford University in England by the name of John Wycliffe (Wyclif), for the first time translated the Catholic Bible from the Latin into English. There were others that took part in this important first effort but the translation gained Wycliffe’s name because of his prominence. It seems, no one had ever dared to make the Bible available in a common tongue before. Along with this valuable first production of the Bible in English, Wycliffe influenced many other professors and had a huge following. He denied the authority of Rome and believed in congregational autonomy. He also taught that the Catholic church needed to turn back to the people all material wealth and property (A Short History of England, pages 251-254). The failed Peasant’s Insurrection of 1381 reflects the nationwide unrest caused by this and a new poll tax enacted mainly for Catholic benefit. This revolt ended miserably when the leader of the people, Wat Tyler at Smithfield, was dragged off his horse while honorably talking terms with the king and stabbed to death. However, this did not put to rest the growing tide of sentiment in the minds of the common folk that the Catholic Church was corrupt and the monarchy its willing ally. For John Wycliffe’s part he was eventually denounced by the authorities and forced to retire to a small church where he ended his days continuing to write many publications on these same matters. A quote about Wycliffe that shows the disdain of those in authority was made by Thomas Hobbes who sourly said, “After the Bible was translated into English (by Wycliffe) every man, nay, every boy and wench that could read English, thought they spoke with God Almighty and understood what he said.” (The History of English, page 110). Continue reading
Most Christians today do not realize that at one time it was apparently a common practice to refer to members of the Lord’s church as Puritans. In fact, most of us have the understanding that the Puritans of our early history who immigrated to the New England colonies were Calvinists in their beliefs. These had been “Dissenters” in England. This meant that these had opposed the Anglican Church or Church of England and suffered persecution and death at the hands of the authorities there. This persecution was the impetus for their coming here. Now while this is true for a significant number of these people called Puritans, it was not true that all those known as Puritans were of this Calvinist group. A more accurate term that is historically correct is to call them Dissenters. Continue reading
Having been assured by some of my own relatives that our family has been members of the church of Christ in Texas for 8 generations, I undertake to tell a brief history of how this came about. Many other Christians can tell similar accounts. I will attempt to rustle up some sources and will relate some history regarding this; which is almost 200 years old. Continue reading
There is no more despicable behavior among men of war than the traitor. A great gulf lies between the valiant warrior and the traitor.
Just think of the examples we can take from famous battles of true selfless devotion and sacrifice for the sake of others. Too numerous to count have been the lives that were freely given with the full knowledge that they themselves would die so that others might enjoy some benefit of their ultimate gift. We know this is the noblest sacrifice of all because our Lord offered Himself for us so that we might have eternal life. He respects this selflessness when shown in man, as well. John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (NKJ) We too, are to display this greatest form of love and honor it highly. Continue reading
Recently, I read of a discovery made in the nation of Greece, not too long ago, that stunned quite a number of anthropologists digging below the ancient city of Thessalonica. They unearthed a vast system of overly large tunnels and chambers which had only been hinted at in various ancient texts, some texts well over 2,000 years old. It seems that this city’s subterranean realm was very well known in its own time throughout the Roman Empire. It was devoted to the commercial exploitation of prostitution and all other kinds of sexual wickedness. In fact the complex is so large that it must have employed thousands of people and so was of major social and economic significance. The walls of these tunnels and chambers are richly and graphically embellished with murals, caricatures, and other artistic but very obscene etchings and paintings of a pornographic nature. These pictures tell the story that this place was intended to impress the reveler in Roman times with the idea that when one had descended into this place they had entered the underworld in which every sexual deviancy imaginable could be experienced. This place was in its heyday and at full swing during the life of the apostle Paul. Continue reading
This Latin phrase is a very ancient and highly honored principle. It is supposed to be the ideal of every medical doctor. “Primum non nocere,” means “first, do no harm.” This is a wise and non-intrusive attitude for doctors and especially surgeons to have whose main goal is for the patient to get better. Given that many times their only two options are putting the patient “under the knife” or doing nothing shows that the better option is caution. Overeager surgeons have been known to make the patient worse or perhaps even to kill them. Fortunate is the patient whose doctor knows when to cut and when not to!
Likewise, it seems that the duty of the elders of the church and any other Christians engaged in the performance of church discipline is that the first consideration should always be “primum non nocere” – “first do no harm.” Continue reading
There is an enduring lesson that was indelibly imprinted upon my memory by an object lesson my father taught me when I was no less than three years old.
We had stopped at a small rural grocery store, the type that has nearly completely disappeared in this day and time. To me then, it was almost a magical place in the items it offered. It was the type of country store with the horizontal soft drink case outside under the overhanging porch filled with half melted ice and glass bottles of Coca Cola, Orangette and Grapette. The front door had about three wooden steps leading to a screen door through which, once inside, you were able to take in all the wonderful odors that such places had to offer. The combined smells of fresh ground coffee, apples, bananas, oranges, fresh bread and of course, to a three year old, the intoxicating smell of candy. There is a great variety of scents we can think of when it comes to candy but one of the most clear is the fragrant smell of bubble gum. An irresistible treasure, a box full of these individually wrapped pieces of gum were probably placed at eye level and within reach of small hands for temptation sake. Continue reading
Some forty-five years ago, our brethren became embroiled in the greatest battle of the 20th Century over Institutionalism and Centralized Control of Churches. The same basic arguments that had been used to justify the establishment of the Christian Missionary Society which began in 1849 were brought back into use to defend unscriptural cooperation of local churches to support human institutions, such as the Herald of Truth Radio and Television program and various benevolent organizations. Such institutions had become “sacred cows” to many of our brethren and they were willing to go so far as to divide the body of Christ in order to have them. And they did! Continue reading
A troubling experience that is becoming very common for preachers is the charge that we are too judgmental. I have been literally amazed when after I have preached a lesson on a first principles subject like baptism, for instance, when specifics are completely necessary for one to be saved, to hear later from a critic that I was maybe a little too negative. Then, when I ask my critic what was so negative about my tone, attitude or lesson I have been told more than a couple of times that I was just too judgmental. Such individuals might go on to say, Can’t you preach on baptism without necessarily condemning other’s Without perverting Gods word here, there is simply no way to do that since any reasoning human being knows that Mark 16:16 says, He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. Let me quickly go over this so all will be together on how this charge of judgmentalism comes about. Continue reading
When I was just beginning preaching, I know I benefited greatly by a number of older preachers, including my own father. Though some of these were not aware of it they served as mentors to me by their reputations and examples. One I have admired in so many ways was Robert L. McDonald, Jr. At one time he told a story that bears repeating at this time and I want to use it here as the premise for this article. Continue reading