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Weekly Bulletin Article 2015

By Bro Jim Brasseal, Pastor Landmark MBC

2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006


Dec 27, 2015 - Three Appearances
Dec 20, 2015 - Peace on Earth
Dec 13, 2015 - “Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs”
Dec 06, 2015 - “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God”
Nov 29, 2015 - “Was It Not in Thine Own Power?”
Nov 22, 2015 - The Powerful Gospel or the Hidden Gospel
Nov 15, 2015 - “The Simplicity that is in Christ”
Nov 08, 2015 - Divine Providence
Nov 01, 2015 - The Lord is Able
Oct 25, 2015 - “Buy the Truth, and Sell it Not”
Oct 18, 2015 - When the Harvest is Past
Oct 11, 2015 - “The Root and Fatness of the Olive Tree”
Oct 04, 2015 - The Fig Tree That Needed Help
Sep 27, 2015 - Presented as a Chaste Virgin to Christ
Sep 20, 2015 - Jerusalem, Colosse, and Lakewood
Sep 13, 2015 - Plan the Work. Work the Plan.
Sep 06, 2015 - “The LORD is with Us”
Aug 30, 2015 - An Investment That Never Fails
Aug 23, 2015 - “One Pearl of Great Price”
Aug 09, 2015 - “An Enemy Hath Done This”
Aug 02, 2015 - “I Am Ashamed”
Jul 26, 2015 - God’s Conditions for Answered Prayer
Jul 19, 2015 - Creation Lessons at Family Camp
Jul 12, 2015 - In the World but Not of the World
Jul 05, 2015 - Using Your Liberty to Honor the Lord
Jun 28, 2015 - “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, There is Liberty”
Jun 21, 2015 - The Godly Testimony Lives On
Jun 07, 2015 - The Compact and the Communion
May 31, 2015 - The Truth Arouses Anger by Enemies of Truth
May 17, 2015 - “The People which Sat in Darkness”
May 10, 2015 - “The Regions Beyond”
May 03, 2015 - Lessons on Landmarkism
Apr 26, 2015 - Defining Faith
Apr 19, 2015 - The Building, the Meeting, the Members
Apr 12, 2015 - “Look”
Apr 05, 2015 - “Hope and Resurrection”
Mar 29, 2015 - “The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator”
Mar 22, 2015 - Motivation
Mar 15, 2015 - The Value of Sparrows
Mar 08, 2015 - Blindness and Forgetfulness
Mar 01, 2015 - God’s House of Prayer
Feb 15, 2015 - Resistance
Feb 08, 2015 - Old Landmarks and Old Paths
Feb 01, 2015 - Pharaoh’s Proposal to Moses
Jan 25, 2015 - What Does I Corinthians 12:13 Really Mean?
Jan 11, 2015 - “Now Ye are the Body of Christ”
Jan 04, 2015 - Glory to God in His Church


Three Appearances

Hebrews 9:24
Dec 27, 2015

“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24).

Hebrews 9 teaches us that the tabernacle, built in the days of Moses, was a picture lesson to show us the truth about heaven, the place of God's throne, where Christ serves as our mediator. The first room, the holy place, and the room beyond the vail, the holiest of all, along with the instruments named in Hebrews 9:1-5 are lessons about our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Please notice the words of Hebrews 9:11-12, “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

I. “Hath He Appeared,” which is His Past Appearance

“For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). This verse speaks of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem and the purpose of His coming into the world. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

II. “Now to Appear,” which is His Present Appearance

“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24). Jesus Christ is now our great High Priest interceding in heaven for us. In our prayers, we can come to the throne of grace in the name of Jesus. We have these promises: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).

III. “Shall He Appear,” which is His Future Appearance

This lesson shows three appearances, but we see that His future appearance in Hebrews 9:28 says, “shall he appear the second time.” His birth and ministry on this earth was a physical manifestation. His return to this earth will also be a physical manifestation, and thus the “second time” with a physical appearance on this earth. His appearance in heaven as our mediator is not visible to the physical eye. Jesus first came to live as the Son of man, a servant in humility, on this earth, but, in His return to the earth, He will come as King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16).

We are taught that His return is our “blessed hope.” “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). The glory of the Lord was manifested when Jesus was born. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:13-14). The words of I Thessalonians 4:15-18 show the wonderful glory of his return.

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Peace on Earth

Luke 2:13-14
Dec 20, 2015

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:13-14).

The field near Bethlehem, where the shepherds were watching their flock of sheep, was suddenly aglow with heavenly light. The glory of the Lord was shining upon the shepherds, and the angel of the Lord gave this message, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).

The heavenly host delivered a message of peace. In Old Testament times, the prophet Isaiah had written of the Messiah (Christ) as “The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). When Isaiah wrote, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given,” he also wrote a prophecy of how Christ will sit on the throne of David at the end of this age and rule over all the earth. “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:7). The angel, Gabriel, who came as a messenger of God to the virgin Mary, also spoke of the promises given in the book of Isaiah (Luke 1:30-33).

Sin in this world has caused trouble between mankind and God. None are righteous, and all are guilty before God. “And the way of peace have they not known.” (Romans 3:17) “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” ( Isaiah 57:20-21).

Romans 5:1-10 shows that the only way of peace with God is through Jesus Christ. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10). “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2). “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).

Those who are truly saved can sometimes let the cares of this world (Matthew 13:22) and the unfruitful works of wood, hay, and stubble (I Corinthians 3:12) rob them of the joy and peace of serving God. Jesus promised his first disciples that they could experience peace even in this world of tribulation. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Philippians 4:4-7 teaches us about having the “peace of God” in our life.

“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful [full of anxiety] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep [guard] your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7). Two main elements in these verses are “Rejoicing” and “Prayer.”

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“Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs”

Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:19
Dec 13, 2015

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).

Please notice some very important words in these scriptures. The word “spiritual” teaches us that the songs we use are to be in harmony with what Jesus taught about true worship in John 4:23-24, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” If the song is not true to the word of God, it is not a spiritual song.

The word “heart” is used in both of the text verses. This word is used in the scriptures to speak of the inward nature of man. Without Christ, the heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). By God's grace, the sinner can understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and believe with all his heart (Acts 8:37). In the new birth, God purifies the heart by faith (Acts 15:9). With the words, “spiritual” and “heart” used in these verses, we understand that our music in worship must not be worldly and fleshly.

The Lord's New Testament churches are taught in these scriptures to use music to praise the Lord and teach His word. The Old Testament, which gives us examples for today's worship, teaches us to use music in our worship. “It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of musick, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD” (II Chronicles 5:12). This scripture is describing the dedication of the magnificent temple, the house of the LORD, built in Jerusalem under king Solomon's leadership.

Our hymnal is filled with musical lessons to teach us about the birth of our Savior. Consider the song, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (Hymn 70, In Spirit and In Truth).

  • The message delivered to the shepherds, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). “Christ is born in Bethlehem” (see Luke 2:15).
  • “Christ by highest heav'n adored, Christ the everlasting Lord” (see Philippians 2:5-11). Christ, “offspring of a virgin's womb” (see Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:26-35).
  • “Veiled in flesh the God-head see, Hail th'incarnate Deity” (see John 1:14-18). “Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel” (see Matthew 1:23).
  • “Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace! Hail the Son of righteousness!” (see Isaiah 9:6). “Rise, the woman's conquering seed, Bruise in us the serpent's head” (see Genesis 3:15, Galatians 4:4-5).
  • “Adam's likeness now erase. Stamp thine image in its place: Second Adam from above, Reinstate us in thy love” (see I Corinthians 15:45-49).

“O Come All Ye Faithful” and “O Come Let us Adore Him, Christ the Lord” (Hymn 72, In Spirit and In Truth).

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“Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God”

Hebrews 10:9-10
Dec 06, 2015

“Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:9-10).

Long before there was the little town of Bethlehem, years before the angel Gabriel brought his amazing message to Mary, and before the night when the babe was wrapped in swaddling clothes and was laid in a manger, Jesus Christ had fully committed himself to come into this world to do the will of God, the Father.

Hebrews 1:3 also gives us evidence of the reason that Jesus came into this world. “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” The word “brightness” speaks of the fact that Jesus Christ is “the Light” who reveals the Father. The “express image” reminds us that no one has physically seen the Father, but Jesus Christ is such a true image of the Father, so that in Jesus, we can see the grace, the glory, the power, the wisdom, and the righteousness of the Father manifested in the Son.

The verses of Hebrews 10:1-10 have precious lessons for us. The blood sacrifices of bulls and goats could not take away sin. Those sacrifices could only be an incomplete picture (a shadow) of the one true effective sacrifice. The LORD did establish the system of sacrifices which were temporary. That system is called “the first” and was taken away. “The second” is the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The animal sacrifices could not provide the satisfactory redemption payment. Therefore, God had no pleasure and his justice was not satisfied with the blood of bulls and goats, which were only a shadow of the perfect sacrifice. Isaiah 53 gives us a plain picture of the suffering of our Savior. Notice that it “pleased the LORD to bruise him” (Isaiah 53:10), and the LORD “shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11).

When we understand the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem as part of God's amazing plan to bring people into everlasting salvation and fellowship in the work of the LORD, then we see that the lesson of Luke 1and 2 is not only for the children who love the story of the little babe laid in the manger. The message in these chapters is also for the adult who wants to learn more about Jesus Christ and His love.

As Paul wrote by inspiration in Philippians 3:10, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”

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“Was It Not in Thine Own Power?”

Acts 5:4
Nov 29, 2015

“Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God” (Acts 5:4).

Retired Missionary Baptist U.S. Army Chaplain, George Garner, has a very good article in the November 2015 issue of The Baptist Anchor (published in Brandon, Florida). Brother Garner discusses the teaching of “Liberation Theology” and the companion doctrine of “Redistribution of Wealth.” This view of an economic system gained great influence among the Catholic church leaders in Central and South America beginning in 1955. Brother Garner writes, “Several bishops began to enthusiastically support a theology that sought to marry Christian doctrine (their own view) with Marxism.” They called for a redistribution of wealth based on their interpretation of Acts 2:44-45, 4:32 and 5:11.

Brother Garner correctly shows that the action of the Jerusalem church members was a common sharing (voluntary distribution) and not the Marxist view of forced distribution (i.e., the force applied by the civil government or by a religious organization). It is scriptural for Christians to be compassionate and generous in helping those in need based on Christian love. Paul wrote, “remember the poor” (Galatians 2:10), which does not contradict II Thessalonians 3:10, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.”

The destructive teaching of forced redistribution is getting very much attention in the current political discussions. The current Catholic pope from Argentina has spoken in favor of the system that was promoted by the bishops in South America. He was very critical of free enterprise private ownership capitalism in a speech before the United Nations in New York. Political leaders who claim to speak for those in poverty believe that the making of wealth takes away from the under privileged. They fail to realize that the development and growth of a good profit making business is good for the owner and those who work in the business.

Our scriptures from Acts 4:32-5:12 show the problem with Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, was that they lied to the Holy Spirit. They were not forced to sell their land, and they were not forced to bring the funds from the sale to the apostles. Please notice that, in many parables of Jesus, he speaks of private ownership of finances and vineyards, and the use of property to make a profit for the owner. See the Parable of the Talents (a talent in these verses is money) in Matthew 25:14-30. The Socialist/Marxist would say that all finances owned by the master should be sold and distributed evenly to each servant.

Our Bible teaches faithful hard work in harmony with the principals of truthfulness and honesty with the Christian giving back into the Lord's work a portion of God's blessings. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7).

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The Powerful Gospel or the Hidden Gospel

II Corinthians 4:3-4
Nov 22, 2015

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Corinthians 4:3-4).

  1. Some people are lost, and their lost condition is because they believe not on the Lord Jesus Christ. The truth of this is also written in John 3:18. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
  2. Satan, the devil, is called the “god of this world,” and he uses his lies and deception to blind the minds of those who believe not. Satan and his ministers (II Corinthians 11:14-15) offer a substitute gospel to confuses and direct lost people away from the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. One substitute gospel teaches that the lost sinner can be saved by good works, but that false gospel contradicts Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Another substitute false gospel teaches that the new birth, purity in the heart, and justification before God require baptism and church membership. However, please notice that the Lord's apostles and elders in the Jerusalem church taught that Jews and Gentiles could have faith that purifies the heart. “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8-9).
  3. Our text verses show that there is great damage done when the glorious gospel of Christ is not made known to all nations and unto the uttermost part of this earth (Acts 1:8). A Biblical New Testament church cannot save one lost soul. The church in obeying the commission of Jesus Christ can deliver the gospel message in its own neighborhood and to all races of mankind. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

The first church was established by Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18). The membership, the pictorial ordinances of baptism and communion, the commission work (Matthew 28:19-20), the pastoral office, and the teaching ministry of each church are building blocks to make each church a lighthouse (Philippians 2:15), and “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15).

The gospel message is proclaimed in its simplicity and purity when the Lord's churches follow the pattern which is given in the inspired Word of God (II Timothy 3:15-17).

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“The Simplicity that is in Christ”

II Corinthians 11:2-3
Nov 15, 2015

“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Corinthians 11:2-3).

These Corinthians who were truly saved could not lose their eternal life in Jesus Christ, but their minds could be corrupted by false doctrine, and their life, as described in the parable of the sower, could be damaged by the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches (Matthew 13:22).

Paul was God's gospel missionary that was used to establish the church in Corinth, and “many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). Paul continued his work with these church members for eighteen months. Paul loved this church (II Corinthians 12:15), and he was very concerned that some false teachers would lead them away from the truth that he had taught. He compared the church to a bride that is engaged and preparing for the sacred union with Jesus Christ, the husband. Remember that John the Baptist speaks of Jesus as the bridegroom (John 3:29-30).

Satan works to appear as an angel of light, but he is the evil leader of “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” (II Corinthians 11:13).

The word “simplicity” is an interesting word in this chapter, being in meaning, the opposite of the word “subtilty,” which means “unscrupulous,” “unprincipled,” “cunning craftiness intended to deceive.”

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, is described with the word “simplicity,” which speaks of his honesty, truthfulness, straight-forwardness, having no intention to deceive anyone or to lead anyone astray. Jesus never speaks with a forked tongue. The basic word in the Greek text is “single,” and is used in Acts 2:46, Ephesians 6:5, and Colossians 3:22 to speak of “singleness of mind.”

Please do not confuse the word “simplicity” in our text (II Corinthians 11:3) with the word “simple” in Proverbs 7:6-7. “For at the window of my house I looked through my casement, And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding.” This lack of understanding causes this young man to walk into a trap full of great sorrow.

You will not be “simple” in the sense of Proverbs 7:6-7 when you have the simplicity, that is, the truthfulness, honesty, and openness of Jesus Christ that you can know by faith and by serious study and meditation of the inspired Word of God.

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Divine Providence

Genesis 45:7-8
Nov 08, 2015

“And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 45:7-8).

These verses express very well the meaning of “Divine Providence,” which involves God's foreknowledge, His planning, His provisions, and His care for the well-being of His people. God used the selling of Joseph by his own brothers and Joseph's advancement in the government of Egypt to provide the means of protection for Jacob and all his family.

In the study of early American history, we will find many references to God's providential care. Some times, the title “Providence” is used as a name for God. Consider the following examples.

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor” (the last sentence of the Declaration of Independence).

Thomas Jefferson said, “...acknowledging and adoring an overruling Providence, which by all its dispensations proves that it delights in the happiness of man here and his greater happiness hereafter -- with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and a prosperous people?” (from Thomas Jefferson's First Inaugural Address, 1803).

Daniel Defoe (1660-1731), English writer, filled his book, Robinson Crusoe, with very good discussions on the subjects of The Value of the Bible, The Purpose of Mankind, Redemption in Jesus Christ, God's Grace Received by Faith, and God's Providence. Defoe wrote, “I had not only been moved myself to look up to Heaven, and to seek to the hand that had brought me there, but was now to be made an instrument under Providence to save the life, and, for aught I knew, the soul of a poor savage, and bring him to the true knowledge of religion, and of the Christian doctrine, that he might know Christ Jesus, in whom is life eternal.” He continued, “Another thing I cannot refrain from observing here also, from experience in this retired part of my life, viz. how infinite and inexpressible a blessing it is that the knowledge of God, and of the doctrine of salvation by Christ Jesus is so plainly laid down in the word of God, so easy to be received and understood.”

The teaching of the LORD GOD's Providence is laid on this solid foundation. God is all wise and all knowing. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18). “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways” (Psalm 139:2-3).

God desires what is good for His people. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11). “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

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The Lord is Able

Hebrews 7:25
Nov 01, 2015

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).

When our church goes through what is ofter called “a dry spell,” that is, we are not seeing the lost sinners come to Christ the way that we love to experience, we need to look to the scriptures that will encourage us to keep sowing the gospel seed.

One Old Testament scripture is Isaiah 59:1, “Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear.” This verse shows that the problem is not with the Lord. From Isaiah 59:2-13, we learn that the sinfulness of mankind (God's people and lost people) is a stumbling block to God's blessings.

Each one of us must take personal responsibility and call out in prayer to the LORD. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee” (Psalm 51:10-13). These words, “sinners shall be converted unto thee,” remind us of the promise that they “that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalm 126:5).

(A short comment on Psalm 51:11) When one experiences the new birth in which the Holy Spirit produces new life, everlasting life, in the inner being of the converted person, the Holy Spirit in the new birth will never be taken away. This spiritual salvation is secured by the promise of Jesus Christ, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). Consider that the Holy Spirit also works in the life of the child of God to guide into fellowship in God's service. The back-sliding disobedient child of God can lose that fellowship when the Holy Spirit's leadership is not followed.

Our Lord has a loving desire that sinners be converted to Him. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9).

The will of God our Savior is given in I Timothy 2:4, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

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“Buy the Truth, and Sell it Not”

Proverbs 23:23
Oct 25, 2015

“Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23).

The teaching of Proverbs 23:23 is that truth is very precious and needs to be kept and guarded. Truth is not to be treated as if it had no value.

The Word of God is Truth

“Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” (Psalm 119:160). God cannot lie. “That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18).

Jesus Christ, the Truth

Jesus Christ described himself and said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Consider these two verses in John 1: “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14) and “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

The Holy Spirit Guides into all Truth

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13-14). The Holy Spirit directed the writers of our Holy Scriptures. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Peter 1:21).

Our Message is to Manifest the Truth

“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God” (II Corinthians 4:2). Satan is a liar (John 8:44), and he wants to deceive and corrupt the true gospel and change it into another, false gospel. Those who pervert the gospel of Christ are to be accursed (Galatians 1:6-9).

Truthfulness and Honesty are Required to Be a Faithful Servant

“Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Romans 12:17). “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another” (Ephesians 4:25).

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When the Harvest is Past

Jeremiah 8:20-22
Oct 18, 2015

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black [sunburned]; astonishment hath taken hold on me. Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” (Jeremiah 8:20-22).

Jeremiah's heart was hurting, and he shed many tears of grief over the spiritual condition of his own people in Jerusalem. He warned of God's judgment. He wrote, “The LORD our God hath put us to silence, and given us water of gall to drink, because we have sinned against the LORD. We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble!” (Jeremiah 8:14-15).

Pentecost was observed in the time of harvest. This feast is also called “the feast of harvest” or “feast of weeks” (Deuteronomy 16:9-14). These verses show us that this was to be a time of rejoicing and thanksgiving. This joyful season also included the feast of tabernacles. This was a time of great joy. The words of Ezra to the people were, “The joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Psalm 126:5-6 can best be understood when we see the rejoicing in harvest time. “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Many New Testament Christians have used these verses to encourage God's people to go forth with a burdened heart for lost souls, sowing the precious seed of the gospel message from God's word. These verses have a sure promise that the sower will have a harvest, a time of rejoicing, and bring his sheaves with him.

In Jeremiah's day, there was no joyful harvest. “Then will I cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride: for the land shall be desolate” (Jeremiah 7:34).

Jesus used the harvest time as a lesson for his disciples in the work of winning people to his salvation and Christian service. “Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38). “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).

For miles and miles in all directions from our church building, there are thousands that need to be harvested (that is, saved and enlisted in the Lord's work). That harvest would be a time of great rejoicing even greater than the joy when Israel celebrated the harvest of the first fruits.

How sad will be the day when lost souls shall say, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20)!

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“The Root and Fatness of the Olive Tree”

Romans 11:17
Oct 11, 2015

“And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree” (Romans 11:17). The olive tree is named along with the fig tree as two of the desirable trees in the land that the LORD promised to give the nation of Israel when they came out of bondage in Egypt (Deuteronomy 8:8).

Olive Oil for the Tabernacle Lamp

“And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always” (Exodus 27:20).

Holy Anointing Oil

The sweet smelling spices -- myrrh, cinnamon, calamus, and cassia -- were mixed with olive oil for the anointing of the priests, tabernacle, and all the furnishings of the tabernacle. The anointing signified that these items were holy, that is, set apart and dedicated to the LORD. No other oil was to be made to duplicate this special oil. None of this special olive oil was to be used on a stranger (Exodus 30:22-33).

Olive Trees Picture God's Blessings

“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever” (Psalm 52:8). “Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD” (Psalm 128:3-4).

The Olive Tree in Romans 11

The olive tree in Romans 11 illustrates the special covenant that God made with Israel. In that covenant, there were wonderful blessings for the nation, but there were very serious responsibilities for Israel. They were to be a testimony (a shining lamp) for the one true God in the midst of all the pagan nations. Israel was given the right to build the tabernacle and the temple. The priests came from the tribe of Levi. True prophets were called from their nation. People of other nations could be saved by God's grace, but no other nation had the special place of witness and service like Israel.

Jesus, the Messiah, Began His Earthly Ministry with Israel

He came unto his own people (John 1:11). His attention was mainly “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6). The first church members were Jewish people. Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin.

Breaking Off the Olive Tree Branches

Israel as a nation refused the message of salvation and Christian service that was taught by Jesus and his first church. Even the 3,000 added to his church on the day of Pentecost were a minority. Acts 10 in the home of Cornelius, the Roman soldier, marks the time when the Lord began to advance his kingdom work among the Gentiles.

No Loss of Salvation for the Saved of Israel

Every saved person is saved for ever and can not be removed from the hand of the Lord (John 10:28-29). The removal of the olive branch indicates the removal of the work of the Lord from the nation of Israel (His kingdom work Matthew 23:43).

Each New Testament Church is now Grafted into His Work

We can partake of the “root and fatness” [responsibility and blessings] of our Lord's work. If we are not faithful in the work, then the Lord can take the job away from us (Romans 11:19-21).

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The Fig Tree That Needed Help

Luke 13:6
Oct 04, 2015

“He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none” (Luke 13:6).

Figs were an important food in Bible times and were listed as one of the desirable fruits in the promised land. “For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey” (Deuteronomy 8:7-8). The fig tree was shown as a sign of peace and plenty. “And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon” (I Kings 4:25). Figs were also used as medicine as shown by the placing of a lump of figs on a boil suffered by Hezekiah (II Kings 20:7).

The unproductive fig tree of Luke 13, which had yielded no fruit for three years, is seen by many Bible teachers as a picture of Israel during the three years of the earthly ministry of Jesus. Jesus and his early disciples were of the nation of Israel, and their work was mainly among their own nation. A few did receive the message of Jesus Christ and bear fruit, but the nation as a whole was opposed to the Lord's gospel.

The lesson of bearing fruit for the Lord can also apply to each New Testament church and the individual members in the church. Jesus said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8). Paul prayed that the Colossian church would be “fruitful in every good work” (Colossians 1:10).

Extra Effort is Needed. The owner of the fig tree in Luke 13 was concerned that his fig tree had no fruit. The dresser of his vineyard was also concerned, but that servant was not willing to give up on the tree. He saw that serious changes were needed to bring the tree to fruitfulness. He was willing to give extra effort to help the tree. “I shall dig about it.” Digging would loosen up the soil to allow the roots to grow deeper and better. He was also willing to “dung it,” which was adding manure as fertilizer to the soil. This would add the necessary plant food.

When any one of us is not being fruitful, we need to make an honest examination of the causes that are affecting our life. Are we willing to make the changes that will direct our life into productive service?

When our church is not as productive and not as fruitful as we could be, we need to take an honest inventory of our weakness and be willing to put the effort (dig and supply the plant food) into making the necessary improvements.

When we carefully study the seven churches of Asia (Revelation 2 and 3), we can see that the Lord was concerned about His churches and was calling on them to repent and get on the right path of service.

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Presented as a Chaste Virgin to Christ

II Corinthians 11:2, Ephesians 5:27
Sep 27, 2015

“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (II Corinthians 11:2). “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).

Some very good questions are raised by the words “chaste virgin” and “holy and without blemish” in these verses. The Lord's churches are made up of sinners that have been converted by faith in Christ and have committed their lives to follow the ordinances, commission, and discipleship of Jesus Christ. Each member can say, “I was a lost sinner, and now I am a saved sinner with many weaknesses of the flesh.” Please notice the language of Paul after he had been serving Christ as a missionary sent out by the church in Antioch (Acts 13:1-5). Paul said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not” (Romans 7:18). Romans 7 and Galatians 5 show us that, in this life, we will have a battle between our corrupt flesh nature and our new spiritual nature, that is, the old man and the new man (Colossians 3:9-10). Therefore the words “chaste virgin” and “holy and without blemish” can not refer to any individual who has sinless perfection. No church body can have sinless perfection as we can see from the messages to the Lord's seven churches in Asia (Revelation 2:1-3:22).

  1. A New Testament church can be established on the pure, holy, unblemished foundation of Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18).
  2. The Lords church can be established with the membership qualifications as taught in the Holy Bible. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41) and “many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8).
  3. The Lord's church can be true and faithful in the practice of baptism. Only converted people are to be baptized. Baptism requires a complete burial in water done by the authority of a true church. Baptism does not wash away sin, but it is a requirement for church membership. The Lord's church can observe the Lord's supper in a true scriptural way.
  4. The precious true gospel can be preached and taught by the Lord's church (Galatians 1:6-10).
  5. The true system of Bible doctrines, “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” can be taught (Jude 3).
  6. The members of a true church can work together to do God's work in this world. “Endeavouring [striving earnestly] to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).

A New Testament church made up of saved sinners can follow the teaching of the inspired Word of God and be recognized as “a chaste virgin” and “holy and without blemish” in the eyes of the Lord. The church members who are faithful to Christ will be rewarded with the special position as “The bride of Christ.” Others who are not faithful will be in heaven with the Lord, but will not have that special reward. Remember the teaching of I Corinthians 3:11-15 about our works being tried. Some are rewarded and some of the saved are not rewarded (I Corinthians 3:15).

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Jerusalem, Colosse, and Lakewood

Colossians 1:9
Sep 20, 2015

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9).

This verse and the two verses following show Paul's concern for the needs of the Lord's church in Colosse. Paul prayed:

  1. That they would be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding
  2. That they would walk worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him in all things
  3. That they would be fruitful in every good work, increasing in the knowledge of God
  4. That they would be strengthened with all might according to His glorious power unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.

Nehemiah's prayer in Nehemiah 1:4-11 shows that this servant of God was also concerned about the needs of the LORD's distressed people in Jerusalem. Nehemiah's prayer confesses the sinful failure of his people for not following the “commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses” ( Nehemiah 1:7). He asked for the LORD's help in the work that lay ahead.

In our services at Landmark Missionary Baptist Church in Lakewood, we have also heard prayers offered up to the Lord for our needs. We can find scriptures in our Bible that show us that it is right to be concerned and prayerful about the needs of our church.

Areas of need that have been named are:

  1. That we would be a lighthouse in this community to bring lost sinners to salvation in Christ. “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world”(Philippians 2:15).
  2. That our teaching of the Bible would be fruitful in helping people to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (II Peter 3:18).
  3. That our members would understand the blessings of regular sacrificial giving to support the work of the church in this community and the work of missions in all nations. We have the example of the Macedonian churches (II Corinthians 8:1-5). We have the example of giving by our Lord Jesus Christ. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (II Corinthians 8:9).
  4. That more of our members would seriously accept and obey God's commandment about attendance in God's house. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).

God is able to answer our prayers, but we need to remember the lesson of James 5:16, which uses the words, “the effectual fervent prayer,” which refers to a serious heartfelt prayer with work and action.

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Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Nehemiah 4:6
Sep 13, 2015

“So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6).

Before the people of Jerusalem had reached the point to where the wall and the gates had been built, three important steps had been completed.

  1. Information had been received by Nehemiah, in Persia, that his people in Jerusalem were “in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire” (Nehemiah 1:3).
  2. Nehemiah “sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4). Nehemiah confessed that the sins of his people were the cause of the great affliction and bondage. He asked for God's help based on the covenant that God had made with the nation of Israel in the days of Moses. “If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there” (Nehemiah 1:8-9). Nehemiah also asked that God use the king of Persia to help in the plans that were in the heart of Nehemiah. Read Nehemiah 2:1-8 to see how God answered this prayer so that he could return to Jerusalem to begin the restoration.
  3. The night time ride around Jerusalem helped Nehemiah to understand the scope of the work (Nehemiah 2:11-18). The work was organized so that the priests and different families each took charge and responsibility of different sections of the gates and wall. This organization was necessary to get all the people involved in the work (Nehemiah 3:1-32). Opposition and ridicule by the enemies, Sanballat and Tobiah, could not stop the work. The attitude of the leaders and the workers (with “a mind to work”) motivated the people to continue in spite of the opposition.

New Testament churches can be encouraged by the lesson in the Book of Nehemiah. We also can experience distress and opposition because of the moral and doctrinal corruption that is all around us. The “mind to work” is an essential element in the fulfillment of the commission of Jesus Christ to his churches (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:46-48, John 17:18, and Acts 1:8).

We already have a plan of operation and organization that is given to us in the New Testament Books. We can “plan the work” according to the commands and the examples from God's inspired word.

Knowing what to do is not enough. We must also “work the plan.” God's command is given in James 1:22, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

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“The LORD is with Us”

Numbers 14:8-9, Hebrews 3:7-9
Sep 06, 2015

“If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not” (Numbers 14:8-9). “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years” (Hebrews 3:7-9).

Most of the verses of Hebrews 3 and 4 are based on the Old Testament scriptures from the book of Numbers. Israel had traveled out of Egypt to the border of the land of Canaan, the land of promise. Moses sent twelve spies over the border into the promised land. They found a fertile productive land. The people of that land were very strong and caused great fear in ten of the spies. Joshua and Caleb reminded the people, “The LORD is with us.” These two men of strong faith relied on the promise that the LORD had made. The LORD would give the land to his chosen nation (Numbers 14:8).

The people had to go forth in battle against the Canaanites to conquer and possess the land. Hard work was required to gain the victory over the Canaanites.

We go in the wrong direction in our interpretation of these events if we make the land of Canaan to be a picture of heaven. Having heaven as our heavenly home is a gift of God's grace. We will not enter heaven by victorious warfare. We will not have enemies to fight in heaven as Israel had enemies to fight in Canaan after they entered into the land.

We must consider the promised land as a picture of the victorious Christian life. We are soldiers in our Christian life. Armor and weapons as described in Ephesians 6:11-18 are needed. After you are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:4-9), you need faith to serve God in the promised land, the land of the fruitful victorious life. Please do not let difficulties harden your heart in rebellion to the Lord (Hebrews 3:8). You will miss so many blessings in your Christian life if you become weak in your faith. Strong faith will cause you to labor faithfully for the Lord. The “rest” of Hebrews 4:11 is the confidence, peace, and satisfaction of faithful service to the Lord. Please consider Hebrews 4:11 from that standpoint, “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”

Labor and rest may seem to be opposed to each other. However, when we examine Hebrews 3 and 4 in light of the faithful Christian life, we understand that labor in the Lord's work and rest in God's promises do fit together very well.

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An Investment That Never Fails

Matthew 6:19-21
Aug 30, 2015

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

These verses are part of the great sermon given by Jesus Christ to his disciples in the early part of his ministry. This lesson closely connects to two other important lessons in the remainder of the same chapter. In Matthew 6:24, the Lord teaches that we cannot serve God and mammon [or riches]. We need material provisions, but we are not to serve riches. That is, we are not to make the riches the master of our lives. In verses 26-34, the Lord teaches that the heavenly Father will provide our needs, so we should put the Lord's kingdom in first place in our lives.

It is not wrong to prosper by diligence and hard work as we learn from III John 2. John prayed for his beloved friend. “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”

In Matthew 25:14-26, Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to the Master who gave one servant five talents of money, gave another two talents, and gave the third one talent. The wise use and investment by the first servant produced an additional five talents. The Master commended that servant by saying, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). He also commended the servant who earned an additional two talents (Matthew 25:23), but he rebuked the servant who did not properly invest the one talent (Matthew 25:26-27).

There is no contradiction between our text verse and the lesson of the wise investments of Matthew 25. The uses of our material blessings are not to be selfish with attention given only to our individual personal needs.

Beginning with Abraham and Jacob in the Old Testament, promises were made by God's servants to give one tenth of their possessions back to the LORD. In the Law of Moses, the law of the tithe was given to each family in the entire nation of Israel. The LORD was very much displeased and accused the nation of robbery when they did not give back as God had commanded. “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8). Please notice that there is more than just tithes in this verse. God also speaks of “offerings,” and we can see that often the people went over and above the ten percent (Exodus 36:3-6).

God's people can make wise investments that never fail by lovingly and sacrificially giving to the Lord's churches to support the work of the church at home and throughout the world.

Precious souls are saved for eternity and lives are blessed in Christian service because you lay up treasures in heaven.

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“One Pearl of Great Price”

Matthew 13:45-46
Aug 23, 2015

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it” (Matthew 13:45-46).

In these verses, our Lord teaches the great value of the kingdom of heaven. We know from the scriptures that the kingdom of God is to be sought by the Lord's disciples. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). Some entered into the kingdom of God in the days of John the Baptist according to the words of Jesus to the Pharisees.

“Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him” (Matthew 21:31-32)

The precious qualities of the kingdom are shown in Romans 14:17-18. “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men.”

It is difficult to give a short definition of “the Kingdom of God” as the term applies to this age. It involves the work that Jesus gave to his churches in the commission of Matthew 28:19-20 and Acts 1:8. Those who were actively involved with Paul in that work are spoken of as “my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me” (Colossians 4:11).

In the work of the Lord's churches as described in the New Testament, we can read of persecutions, sacrifices, trials, and hardships. How can it be that this great work with all the difficulties can be described as “one pearl of great price”? Compare the value of persecution described in I Peter 1:6-7. “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

We can understand the value of the kingdom of God when we see the great multitudes who, through the ages, have been brought to eternal salvation as God's witnesses have gone forth with “gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

The value of that “one pearl of great price,” the work of the Lord, can also be seen in the productive, fulfilled, satisfied lives of those who have followed the invitation of Christ, “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it” (Luke 9:23-24).

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“An Enemy Hath Done This”

Matthew 13:28-30
Aug 09, 2015

“He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matthew 13:28-30).

There are eight different parables in Matthew 13, and each one gives us information about the Lord's kingdom work in this world. The parable of the wheat (sown by the Lord) and the tares (not true grain but sown by the Devil) shows us a true picture of the fact that in this world the Biblical system of faith and practice is in direct confrontation with the false system of worship.

Tares are poisonous weeds (bearded darnel) that look much like real wheat. This parable of the wheat and the tares shows a very clear lesson about religious liberty. It would be so good if all religions were true to the precious message of Jesus Christ. Some corrupted God's message of salvation and Christian service in Paul's day, and some pervert the same message today. Consider Paul's concern for the churches of Galatia who were in danger from false teachers. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7).

What are we taught in the parable of the wheat and the tares to do about this confusing situation? Our first line of defense is to be trained and to be ready to take a positive stand for the truth of God's word. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15). We can not go out into the fields of this world and physically root up and destroy the destructive religious organizations. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (II Corinthians 10:4).

The parable of the wheat and tares teaches us that God's true kingdom work and the work of Satan will both be active in the world till the harvest at the end of the world. God Himself will take charge of the judgment of destructive religious institutions (Matthew 13:30). Please note that the precious doctrine of salvation by grace through faith teaches us that any one individual who is saved but is a part of a false religion will still be saved and secure when that false religion is destroyed.

God’s people need to encourage, assist, and stand with each other. According to II John 9-11, we cannot support or bid God-speed to any false teacher. “For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (II John 11).

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“I Am Ashamed”

Ezra 9:5-6
Aug 02, 2015

“And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God, And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens” (Ezra 9:5-6).

An insight into the character and heart of Ezra, a priest and scribe of God (Ezra 7:11), is shown in these words, “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:10). Ezra had come from Persia with the permission of Darius, the Persian king, to serve with the LORD's true prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, in the rebuilding of the house of the LORD in Jerusalem.

Ezra was dedicated to the work of the LORD and, when he said, “I am ashamed,” he was praying on behalf of his nation. The people of Jerusalem were joining in the abominations and transgressions of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians, and Amorites, their pagan neighbors (Ezra 9:1). Ezra's heart was broken, and he expresses his sorrow for his people with the words, “I am ashamed.”

Being ashamed can be the result of personal sinfulness. “For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death” (Romans 6:20-21). These Roman Christians had lived very sinful lives, and they were ashamed when they remembered their wicked ways. It is good that they did not glory in their sin but were ashamed.

Consider these verses that speak of “not being ashamed.”

  • Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ...”
  • Romans 5:5, “And hope maketh not ashamed...”
  • II Timothy 1:12, “I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed.”
  • II Timothy 1:16, “For he [Onesiphorus] ...was not ashamed of my chain.”
  • Hebrews 2:11, “For which cause he [Jesus] is not ashamed to call them [his disciples] brethren.”

We have a good lesson in I John 2:28 to live in fellowship with our Savior so that we not be ashamed at His return. “And now little children, abide in him: that when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed at his coming.”

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God’s Conditions for Answered Prayer

James 1:6-8
Jul 26, 2015

“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8).

The word “wavereth” means “to doubt,” which is the opposite of the faith specified in verse 6.

John 9:31 can be misunderstood if we do not consider the basic rules of interpretation. The words spoken in this verse were from the man that Jesus had healed of his blindness. This man said, “Now we know that God heareth not sinners.” This man also said, “Whether he [Jesus] be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see” (John 9:25). We learn also that the man had not come to saving faith. His statement means that Jesus could not be a sinner. Jesus led him to saving faith, and we read his confession, “Lord, I believe” (John 9:38). Then the man worshipped our Lord.

The experience of Manasseh shows an Old Testament example of God answering a sinner's prayer. “And when he was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God” (II Chronicles 33:12-13).

God will hear the lost sinner's prayer as we know from Luke 18:13. The publican (government official) prayed, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” This sinner's prayer had two necessary conditions. He came to God in humility and simple faith. Jesus said of him, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other [the proud pharisee]: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:14).

Some of the conditions for the saved person to receive answered prayers are given in James 4:1-6. Consider this conditions: “Ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:2-3).

This precious promise for God's own children is given in I John 3:22-23, “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.”

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Creation Lessons at Family Camp

Colossians 1:16-17
Jul 19, 2015

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17).

Four of our six classes (Junior, Junior High, Senior High, and Adult) at Family Camp had the following three lessons on Creation.

Tuesday: The Lord God Created All Things for His Glory

  1. The inspired Holy Scriptures teach the true origin of all things. “For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth” (Psalm 33:4).
  2. All human theories (e.g., atheistic evolution or theistic evolution) must be rejected because they contradict the inspired word of God.
  3. The name “JEHOVAH,” usually written as “LORD” in our Bible, teaches us that God is eternal and self-existing and “he is before all things.” “God” in Genesis 1:1 teaches us of His almighty power.
  4. “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11).

Wednesday: Mankind was a Special Creation in the Image of God

  1. Adam and Eve were created to worship and to serve the LORD.
  2. Adam's physical body was formed of the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). The LORD God used a rib from Adam to create the woman, Eve (Genesis 2:21-23).
  3. Adam was created as an intelligent man so that he could understand his position in God's creation and make decisions concerning God's will and God's commandments.
  4. Adam was created as a spiritual man so that he could love the Creator, worship the Creator, and fellowship with the Creator.
  5. Mankind was created with an eternal soul and would never cease to exist.
  6. Satan tempted the first man and woman, they disobeyed God's law, sin entered God's creation, and death came upon all the human race (Romans 5:12).
  7. Eternal life is offered by grace through faith, purchased by the precious blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ (John 3:16). This new life is described as “the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).
  8. Those who reject God's free gift will have eternal existence in everlasting torment (Revelation 20:15).

Thursday: Resurrection of the Body, an Eternal Home, and the New Heaven and the New Earth

  1. The sinners heart is purified and changed by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 15:9, 16:31).
  2. Our sinful physical body will be changed in the resurrection. “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power” (I Corinthians 15:42-43).
  3. God will create a new heaven and a new earth for the eternal home of His redeemed people (II Peter 3:12-13, Revelation 21:1-5).

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In the World but Not of the World

John 17:15-16
Jul 12, 2015

“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:15-16).

The prayer of Jesus in this chapter was especially for the disciples who had been working with and learning from Jesus Christ. Please note the words of John 17:9, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” The time of this prayer was just before Jesus went into the Garden of Gethsemane (John 18:1) for the time of agonizing prayer to the Father.

“The world” is used sixteen times in this chapter, and we need to understand the meaning of this language to have a clear picture of our Lord's intercessory prayer. When Jesus was facing Pilate in the Judgment Hall, he used the same words. Jeses said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

Please see how the same words are used in I John 2:15-16, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” We can agree with the definition given in Vine's Bible Dictionary, “The present condition of human affairs, in alienation from and opposition to God.” Yes, the same word is used in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world.” Even in John 3:16, there is no problem with Vine's definition. God does love the world that is in opposition to His love and will.

This world is in a mess, a confused disorder in all human affairs. The world will not get better. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (II Timothy 3:1-4).

The great Bible principal for God's people in this wicked world is the principal of separation. Live in the world and be a shining light in this corrupt world, but do not condone, do not fellowship, do not join in the ungodly activities of this world in its opposition to God. In the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, ye are to shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15).

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Using Your Liberty to Honor the Lord

Galatians 5:1, 13
Jul 05, 2015

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

When Paul, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote to the churches of Galatia, he revealed two serious problems those churches were facing. From Galatians 1:6 through 1:24, Paul reaffirms that the gospel message he had preached to the Galatians was not from men but was by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12). False teachers were coming to the churches and preaching “another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7). We conclude from the rest of the book that these were the same heretics who troubled the Antioch church and were the same ones who taught the disciples in Jerusalem, “Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1). The conference in Jerusalem showed those deceitful workers that God purifies the heart “by faith” (Acts 15:9).

The “yoke of bondage” of Galatians 5:1 is the law of Moses, which had been the rule of practice for the nation of Israel in Old Testament times. The New Testament Christians, both Jew and Gentile, were free from using that law as the guide for Christian service in the Lord's churches. During his personal ministry, Jesus Christ had set in operation a new guide, the New Testament order.

The New Testament Christians would be using their liberty for fleshly purposes if they left the New Testament teaching of Christ and went back under the Old Testament form of worship and service as their guide for church work.

The second serious problem is shown in the fact that Paul had to rebuke Peter because Peter was making a difference between the Gentile and Jewish church members. In a New Testament church, the Jews and Gentiles were to be equally in fellowship, working together to obey the commands of Christ, “but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Peter promoted a divisive atmosphere by first eating with Gentiles but withdrawing from them when Jewish brethren came into town.

The Galatian churches would use their liberty to honor the Lord if they followed the Bible command, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Corinthians 1:10).

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“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, There is Liberty”

II Corinthians 3:17-18
Jun 28, 2015

“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (II Corinthians 3:17-18).

The hymn “Faith Of Our Fathers” (In Spirit and In Truth, Hymn 173) has these words in the second stanza, “Our fathers chained in prisons dark, were still in heart and conscience free.” Let us consider three aspects of liberty to help in understanding the words of the hymn and the words of our scripture text.

  1. Physical liberty is the freedom to live and travel according to our own desire. This freedom was denied to Paul and Silas in the prison in Philippi (Acts 16:23). This physical freedom was denied in about 1650 to Pastor John Clarke and brethren Crandall and Holmes of the Baptist church of Newport, Rhode Island when they were arrested and jailed in Massachusetts for visiting and preaching in the home of an aged brother, William Witter. Clarke's preaching of the Word of God was contrary to the official Congregational Church law in Massachusetts.
  2. The freedom from condemnation is received as God's free gift when you trust Christ as Savior. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). No physical prison or persecution can deny the liberty of the heart when the Holy Spirit and the love of God is in your heart. “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).
  3. The joyful liberty of understanding and participation in God's kingdom work. According to I Timothy 2:3-4, the good and acceptable will of God is for “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” A saved person who does not grow in grace and God's truth can be blinded and imprisoned in spiritual ignorance and confusion. Please notice the warning for God's own children about becoming blind, barren, and unfruitful if they do not add to their faith the spiritual qualities of II Peter 1:5-9. Also, please see the promises of Ephesians 4:11-15, which show us that the Lord's church is structured with evangelists, pastors and teachers to provide “perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry.” The word “perfecting” speaks of (a) training and preparing for the Lord's work, (b) edifying, encouraging, the body of Christ, (c) to bring unity and maturity in the faith so we will be more like Christ, and (d) to strengthen the church so that we be not as children tossed to and fro by the slight of men.

II Corinthians 3 is drawing a contrast between (1) Israel serving God under the Old Testament law of Moses, a glorious law which was to be done away (II Corinthians 3:7-11), and (2) the church at Corinth serving God under the “new testament” (II Corinthians 3:6). It is, therefore, my opinion that the liberty of II Corinthians 3:17 refers to that joyful liberty of understanding and participating in God's kingdom work fulfilled through true New Testament churches. The glory of the Lord's work under the New Testament order far exceeds the glory of Israel's Old Testament service. You can experience that glorious liberty by faithful service.

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The Godly Testimony Lives On

II Chronicles 33:12-13
Jun 21, 2015

“And when he [Manasseh] was in affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD he was God” (II Chronicles 33:12-13).

Hezekiah, the father of Manasseh, began his reign as king of Judah when he was twenty five years old and reigned as king for twenty nine years. II Chronicles chapters 29 through 32 show us the life, the trials, and victories of this godly king. Some of Hezekiah's notable accomplishments are:

  1. He opened up the doors of the house of God, which had been closed.
  2. He led in the cleansing and restoration of the temple which King Ahaz had polluted.
  3. He restored the Levites as priests, who offered the sacrifices as taught in God's law.
  4. He restored the musicians who played the instruments and led the singing in worship.
  5. He taught the entire nation to turn from their stiffnecked attitude and to turn back to God.
  6. He helped the nation in a military victory over Assyria. The victory belonged to the LORD.

Manasseh's early years were the exact opposite from his father's reign. “So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel” (II Chronicles 33:9).

When we study the entire history of Hezekiah and Manessah in II Chronicles and in II Kings, we can conclude that the testimony of Hezekiah bore fruit in the life of Manessah long after Hezekiah had gone from this life to be with the Lord. The same truth is taught in Revelation 14:13, which speaks of those who “die in the Lord” and “their works do follow them.” Your works, which are done for the glory of the LORD, will continue to bear fruit long after you have passed from this life.

A grandfather that I have known for fifty years suffered many heartaches because of his rebellious son. This grandfather and grandmother have been faithful to the LORD through all these years. This son's children have never known a stable home with their mother and father. The grandparents have been a godly testimony for these children who are now grown and are faithfully serving in the LORD's churches. The oldest grandson is a well-respected successful pastor in a Missionary Baptist Church. This pastor says, “Thank God for the good Christian example that I saw in grandma and grandpa.”

Your testimony for Jesus Christ can last much longer than your own life.

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The Compact and the Communion

Ephesians 4:16
Jun 07, 2015

“From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16).

There is no doubt this scripture is very complicated, and understanding it does require more than just a casual reading. First, we must consider the context. Paul is writing to the Lord's church in Ephesus. There were unusual circumstances involved in the establishment of that church. The first disciples there had been immersed, but Paul (directed by the leadership of the Lord) considered that the ordinance had not been practiced with proper authority. These twelve disciples were then baptized by Paul (Acts 18:24-19:7). Paul was sent by the church in Antioch, and he baptized by the authority of the Antioch church.

In Ephesians 4:3, Paul calls on the congregation in Ephesus to endeavor (strive eagerly and earnestly) for unity as that unity is accomplished by the Spirit of God. This degree of unity and fellowship is far beyond human agreement. This unity of the Spirit binds the church together in oneness, as described in Ephesians 4:3-6: (1) One body, their local church, (2) One Spirit, The Holy Spirit that works to empower and guide them, (3) One hope, their confidence that God will keep his promises, (4) One Lord, Jesus Christ, the one head of their church, (5) One faith, the harmonious system of Bible teaching (I Corinthians 1:10), (6) One baptism, the ordinance as practiced by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, the Jerusalem church, the Antioch church, and their own congregation in Ephesus, and (7) One God and Father, the true God, the Architect and Creator of the universe, who loved us and sent his own Son for us.

Some Bible teachers have compared these seven items of oneness to seven strong cords that bind this congregation, that is, “the whole body fitly joined together.” The word “compacted” means the same thing as “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love” (Colossians 2:2).

This unity of the Spirit supplies strength to each individual member (every joint of the body). This unity, this compact, is essential to the church body's growth and edification.

How does this wonderful unity connect with the meaning of the word “communion” in I Corinthians 10:16-17? “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”

The basic meaning of the word “communion” is “a partnership that ties individuals together.” The communion service teaches that we as a church body are tied together with Jesus Christ and our fellow church members.

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The Truth Arouses Anger by Enemies of Truth

Acts 7:54-55
May 31, 2015

“When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:54-55).

Stephen was one of the seven chosen by the church in Jerusalem to help the Apostles in the care of needy widows. Men in the synagogue of the Libertines disputed with Stephen but could not resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke. He was winning the argument, so these enemies of the truth became very angry and hired false witnesses who accused Stephen of blasphemy (Acts 7:10-15).

In Stephen's message to these Libertines, he said to them, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51). The language of our text (Acts 7:54) shows that they attacked Stephen like a pack of wild dogs. Stephen had done nothing to harm his attackers. They stoned Stephen to death, but his last recorded words were, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge” (Acts 7:60).

In researching material to help understand how atheist evolutionists explain the origin and purpose of life, the writings of one man, Clinton Richard Dawkins, were found to show anger against the Christian faith. Professor Dawkins of Oxford University, born in 1941, published The Root of All Evil in 2006. The title was changed to The God Delusion. He says that one man with a delusion is “insane,” and, when a large group has delusions, we call it “religion.” He writes very despairingly of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. The root of all evil in his opinion is the Christian religion. He makes no distinction between false Christianity and those true Christians who live in obedience to the Bible. Dawkins's gnashing is with insulting language instead of his teeth.

Some who claim to be Christians have been as vicious against the Lord's true church as the mob that gnashed on Stephen and stoned him to death. Information on the persecution of true Christians by the wolves in sheep's clothing is found in an old history of our Baptist forefathers. The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians by Thieleman J. van Braght written in Dort, Holland in 1659, gives a clear picture of the hatred and torture experienced by the Lord's people.

Hebrews 11:36-37 describes the suffering of the Lord's people. “And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented.”

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“The People which Sat in Darkness”

Matthew 4:16
May 17, 2015

“The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up” (Matthew 4:16).

This scripture describes the spiritual death and darkness that covered the land of Judea when Jesus began preaching. “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Some were lost and needed to repent and be saved. Some had already understood the message of salvation from the Old Testament, believed on the Lord, but were confused and out of true worship and service. Jesus delivered the true message of salvation and Christian service. He called out a body of saved baptized disciples to work with him in his earthly ministry. The call of the fishermen, Peter and Andrew, is a good example. “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Jesus then called James, John, Philip, and Nathanael. This little flock of disciples was the first New Testament church. The work continued until the number increased to about 120 by the time Jesus gave the command of Acts 1:8. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” The Lord's churches still have a world full of people who sit in darkness and in the region of death. The population is growing much faster than new disciples for Christ are being reached.

The four churches in Mongolia are each having growth in their membership. As of this date [May 15, 2015], I have been with the congregations in Ulanbaatar, Chingletai, and Chore. It is amazing to see the Lord’s work expanding, especially with young adults in each area. For example, in Ulanbaatar, Sister Carolyn Cooper’s Sunday School class of young women (High School and College), many already church members, numbered 18 on May 10. As you can see in the latest report by Brother Cooper, Chore is growing each month. The report shows one new disciple with an Islamic background. I spent May 13 and 14 with the church in Chore. I got off the train there on the return trip from China. The translator, Tsomba, and I will make the trip to Uginoor to be with them for services on May 16 and 17.

The brethren here are still getting information and praying about establishing a new church in the Mongolian-China border town of Zaamean-Ood. After our trip into China, we all noticed the cloud of gloom, weariness, and lack of joy in the markets, hotel, and restaurants. The words of Romans 2:9 describe the Chinese town of Erline. “Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.” Communism controls the number of children, the business and labor, and even where the people live. We can also say that the same spiritual darkness that settled over the land where Jesus preached is now covering our own nation, even Lakewood. The answer is still to follow the example of Jesus, preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 4:23).

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“The Regions Beyond”

II Corinthians 10:16-17
May 10, 2015

“To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand. But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (II Corinthians 10:16-17).

Paul's field of labor had covered a very large area, including Judea, Syria, Galatia, Aisa Minor, Macedonia, and Greece. He would later go to Rome. As a man with a calling from God and a compassionate heart, Paul was thinking of other regions that had never had the truth of salvation and kingdom service taught to them.

As we are planning to go Southeast by train down into the Inner Mongolia region for a few days, there is discussion of prayer that God will open up that region. Brother Dennis Carrell has considered the towns on both sides of the border where the railway crosses into China. A good Mongolian pastor could establish a church on the Mongolian side and have access to hundreds of people who are Mongolians living in China.

Inner Mongolia has been part of China for hundreds of years. The minority Mongolian [five million] people speak the Mongolian language but write and read the ancient script that begins on the right side of the page and is written from top to bottom in narrow lines. The square miles of land area is five times that of Colorado. The total population is five times that of Colorado [twenty-five million].

My time here has been filled with exciting activities. On Friday, May 1, my birthday, Brother Dennis and I started gathering the things from the market to make the rice and sausage/chicken gumbo that Brother Dennis remembers from his pastorate in Louisiana. Sister Carrell made good Southern cornbread. Tushiin, the leather craftsman, fixed the rice. On Saturday morning early, we started cooking for 30 people attending the Men's Fellowship, and, by lunch time, we had a huge pot filled with the meat, eight different vegetables, spices from Colorado, and the roux in which the gumbo simmered for three hours. There were no leftovers.

I preached the message for the men after lunch and preached again for Rich Heart Baptist Church on Sunday morning. Three young men who have been attending a class on baptism were accepted for membership and will be baptized at the end of services on May 10. Brother Egi asked me to preach the message for the baptismal service. One of the young men, a teen, attends the Blind School where Sister Amazia [the blind member] is a teacher. She is amazing in her service here, and she helps in all that goes on. Brother and Sister Cooper and I attended the Wednesday services at Chingletai where I had been asked to bring the message. As in years past, the Lord's people here show real Christian love and dedication, even though they face difficult times. They do need our prayers.

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Lessons on Landmarkism

Proverbs 22:28
May 03, 2015

“Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set” (Proverbs 22:28).

On Saturday, May 9, all the Bible School classes in Mongolia will meet together for a class on The Principles of Landmarkism. I will have two periods of 45 minutes each. Part of the material will cover this outline.

  1. The Literal Use of the Word “Landmark” in the Old Testament.
    1. When the land was divided to different families in ancient Israel, the family possessions were marked with the borders and corners identified with stone pillars. It was a crime for anyone to move the landmarks (Deuteronomy 19:14, 27:17, Proverbs 22:28, 23:10).
  2. Our Baptist Forefathers Used the Word as an Illustration of Identifying the Lord's True Churches.
    1. Christ Himself established His first church during His earthly ministry (Matthew 16:18).
    2. Only those who were saved by grace were qualified to be members (Acts 2:41).
    3. Baptism as practiced by Jesus and His first disciples was placed in the commission of Christ and was needed for membership ( Acts 18:8). They never taught that baptism was needed for the new birth.
    4. The Lord's work to expand His kingdom was committed to His churches (Matthew 16:19).
    5. The Lord's church in Antioch obeyed the Lord's commission (Acts 13:1-4).
    6. Jesus promised that His churches would continue to work to the end of the age (Ephesians 3:21).
    7. Those religious organizations who teach a different gospel, who practice different ordinances, who have different qualifications for pastors, and who have changed the form of church government are not to be recognized or to have fellowship with true churches.
  3. The Early Nineteenth Century Brought Many Errors and Compromises in the Lord's Work.
    1. Some who called themselves “Baptists” changed their teaching on the ordinance of baptism and taught that the water of baptism did literally wash away sin. Alexander Campbell established a new denomination on this false doctrine in 1823. Daniel Parker led Baptist churches into an anti-missionary movement in 1820. Some Baptists became so weak in doctrinal teaching that they would have preachers in the Parker and Campbell divisions to preach in their churches.
    2. Strong Baptist leaders preached that such compromises were causing the churches to lose their special position and identity as the Lord's heritage, His covenant people. They compared the damaging doctrines to removing the ancient landmarks.
    3. After the publication an article by J. M. Pendleton, “An Old Landmark Reset,” in J.R. Graves's newspaper, The Tennessee Baptist, those churches who desired to stay with the old teaching of the Bible (the same teaching of their persecuted forefathers) were called “The Old Landmarkers.” Churches often added the word “Landmark” to their church name. The name “Missionary” was already being used to show support for missions. So scattered throughout our nation, we had many churches named Landmark Missionary Baptist Church.

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Defining Faith

Psalm 9:9-10
Apr 26, 2015

“The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee” (Psalm 9:9-10).

The most common words to describe faith are “trust” and “believe.”

  • “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
  • “And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37).

The words “confidence” and “receive” are also used with the same meaning as “trust.”

  • “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us” (I John 5:14).
  • “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).

Like Abraham, we can be strong in faith.

  • “He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Romans 4:20-21).

The foundation of true faith is the Word of God.

  • “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

Jeremiah, the LORD'S true prophet, warned his nation against receiving and trusting the lies of the false prophet, Hananiah. Paul also warned of false deceiving, preachers (II Corinthians 11:13-15).

  • “Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie” (Jeremiah 28:15).

The Lord's disciples were rebuked for having little faith.

  • “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30).

The Lord's disciples needed stronger faith.

  • “And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).

Paul was concerned about the increase in the faith of the Corinthian church.

  • “Not boasting of things without our measure, that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly” (II Corinthians 10:15).

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The Building, the Meeting, the Members

I Timothy 3:14-15
Apr 19, 2015

“These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Timothy 3:14-15).

The word “church” in our English Bible is translated from a Greek word “ekklesia.” The meaning is “called out.” “Ek” is “out,” and “klesia” is “to summon” or “to call.” The word was used in the common language referring to those citizens who had been summoned and assembled to conduct business in their own city. The word is translated “assembly” in Acts 19:32, that is, “...the assembly was confused.” This was a civil ekklesia and not the Lord's church.

The Church Building

It was common for the early churches to meet in private homes (I Corinthians 16:19), and there is no scripture that speaks of “a church building or a church house.”

The Church Meeting Together

  • After the resurrection of Jesus, before Pentecost, the Lord's church of about 120 members assembled in an upper room in Jerusalem (Acts 1:14-15).
  • On the day of Pentecost, this same congregation was in one place, in one accord (Acts 2:1).
  • Barnabas brought Saul (Paul) to Antioch, and “it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).
  • Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch after their first missionary work. “And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27).

These verses show that the regular order for the Lord's churches was for the members to meet together for prayer, study, and the work of the commission (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8).

The Church Members

The first church was constituted when Jesus (1) called out (summoned) the disciples who had been baptized by John the Baptist, (2) brought them under his leadership, and (3) began to teach them to follow him in their service to God.

The additions on the day of Pentecost followed this order: (1) Those added gladly received the word as it was preached, and that word proclaimed that Jesus was the true Messiah, crucified and risen from the dead. (2) They were told to repent. (3) They were baptized by the authority of Jesus Christ, that is, in his name. With the command to baptize the disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) and the example in Acts 18:8, “many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.”

We conclude that a true New Testament church is a body of saved, baptized disciples, united in the doctrines of the Bible, who assemble to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24) and to follow the instructions of God's word.

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“Look”

Isaiah 45:22
Apr 12, 2015

“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22).

Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) was an influential Baptist pastor and author of London, England, and he wrote of the way God. By the conviction of the Holy Spirit, he used this scripture to bring him to saving faith in Jesus Christ. On the Lord's day, as he walked to the services that he usually attended, he was caught in a severe thunderstorm. He heard singing coming from a doorway. He entered the room where a small congregation had gathered. An elderly man (no pastor was present) began to read and teach from Isaiah 45. The older gentleman looked right at the young man in his late teens. “You cannot find salvation for your eternal soul by looking to your family heritage. You cannot find eternal life by looking to your church membership. You can have no assurance of heaven if you look and trust your own works. I urge you to look to Calvary where the LORD God gave his Son for your salvation. Look to Jesus Christ, receive Him, and, in the words of our text, ‘be ye saved.’” Spurgeon wrote that the message went right to his heart and soon he did come to true faith in Christ. Spurgeon wrote hundreds of books of sermons and commentaries that are still being published and used today.

The look of saving faith is also taught in John 3:10-21. Jesus taught Nicodemus, “Ye must be born again.” Jesus referred to Israel's journey through the wilderness (Numbers 21:5-9). The people spoke against the LORD, and the LORD sent fiery serpents who bit the people so that many died. The people requested that Moses pray for them that the LORD would take away the serpents. God left the serpents (an illustration that God has not removed the work of Satan and sin from this world, but He has given a remedy). The remedy for Israel was to look to the serpent of brass and be healed. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

The look for the Lord's help is taught in Psalm 121:1-2. “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” This same promise of help from the LORD is found in the New Testament. “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

The look on the fields that are white to harvest is taught by Jesus in John 4:35. Jesus traveled through Samaria where he asked the woman who came to draw water for a drink from the well. Jesus knew all about the woman, and said to her, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” The message of Jesus to his disciples is found in John 4:35, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”

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“Hope and Resurrection”

Acts 23:6
Apr 05, 2015

“But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question” (Acts 23:6).

This verse is in Paul's defense in his trial before the Jewish council in Jerusalem. In his defense, he testified of his experience with Jesus Christ on his way to Damascus. He was on his way to destroy the Christians in Damascus, but Jesus Christ changed his heart and purpose in life. This council knew that Jesus had been crucified and buried, but now Paul tells of his encounter with the resurrected Christ.

“For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both” (Acts 23:8). Paul's statement caused a severe argument to break out in the council.

And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

When we examine the sermons preached by Paul, we see these truths taught time after time.

  1. The Old Testament promises that God would send the Messiah (Christ) through the lineage of David (Acts 13:22-23).
  2. Jesus of Nazareth is the true Messiah and Savior who suffered according to the scriptures. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3). “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ” (Acts 17:2-3).
  3. His messages affirmed that God raised Jesus from the dead. “And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee” (Acts 13:28-33).
  4. Jesus is “declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4)

There is good reason that the words “hope” and “resurrection” are used together in Acts 23:6. The word “hope” is closely connected to “faith.” Hope is the blessed assurance and confidence that what is promised by God will surely be fulfilled. Paul knew that God had promised the victory over death for Jesus Christ and also victory for us through Jesus Christ. His resurrection is our hope.

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“The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator”

Isaiah 40:28
Mar 29, 2015

“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding”

We are commanded to remember
our Creator (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

Our LORD is the one true God,
and there is no other (Isaiah 45:5).

He alone has the name
JEHOVAH (Psalm 83:18).

We did not make ourselves.
He made us (Psalm 100:3).

“Thou art worthy, O Lord,
to receive glory and honour and power:
for thou hast created all things,
and for thy pleasure they are and were created”
(Revelation 4:11).

“And God said,
Let us make man in our image,
after our likeness:
and let them have dominion
over the fish of the sea,
and over the fowl of the air,
and over the cattle, and over all the
earth, and over every creeping thing
that creepeth upon the earth”
(Genesis 1:26).

The LORD God is known to us as
God the Father,
God the Son, and
God the Holy Spirit
(Matthew 28:19, II Corinthians 13:14).

“For there are three that bear record in heaven,
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost:
and these three are one”
(I John 5:7),

Jesus the Son was with the
Father before the world was created
(John 17:5).

The Father loved us and
gave His Son so that we could have everlasting life
(John 3:16).

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Motivation

II Corinthians 5:14-15
Mar 22, 2015

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (II Corinthians 5:14-15).

The word, “compel” is used with the same meaning as “constrain,” and both words mean “to draw close,” “to press,” or “to hold.”

One of the great problems in the Lord's churches is: “How do we motivate our members to be faithful in the Lord's work?”

Jesus Christ calls us to a life of service in his kingdom and said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

To follow the call of the Lord requires strong motivation. The way [roadway] of the world is very broad with many enticements. Moses was constrained and motivated by faith when he made the choice between having all the treasures of Egypt or taking his stand with God's suffering people.

“Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence [or return on investment] of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him [The LORD] who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:26-27).

The word “constrain” is used in Acts 16:15 and speaks of Lydia who heard the gospel message from Paul and Silas in Philippi. She received the message and was baptized (Acts 16:14-15). Her faith in God and her love for God's messengers motivated her to strongly plead and constrain them to come to her house and abide with her.

Paul knew by personal experience the constraining love of Jesus Christ. Paul had a prominent place in the leadership of the Pharisees, but, after he surrendered his life to Jesus Christ, he counted what he had as a Pharisee as manure. “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).

A study of the subject of motivation shows that strong love and strong faith brings forth strong motivation to take up your cross and follow Jesus Christ.

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The Value of Sparrows

Luke 12:6-7
Mar 15, 2015

“Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore; ye are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7).

The lesson of our Lord about the sparrows is also found in Matthew 10:29-31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows” (one of my Bible Dictionaries gives the value of a farthing at 21 cents).

Consider the lesson of Matthew 6:26, “Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better [in value] than they?”

Jesus saw the value of sparrows as an object lesson on trusting God. The context of Matthew 6 shows that the disciples were very concerned about the hardships they faced in their service to the Lord. For example in Matthew 6:25, we read, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought [anxious worry] for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body more than raiment?”

The lesson here is: Trust your Heavenly Father, He will take care of you.

Another object lesson from the sparrows is that your Heavenly Father is always watching over you. Not one sparrow falls to the ground without the knowledge of the Father. If God pays that much attention to the small sparrow, we can be confident that He knows every need of our life.

The lesson here is summed up in Matthew 6:33. Since Jesus has been speaking of food and clothing (the physical needs of his disciples), we therefore conclude that “all these things” of Matthew 6:33 is speaking of the food and clothing. His promise will not be broken. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

My view is that the kingdom of God for the church age is the work of the Lord in the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8). To seek the kingdom of God is to seek his will in your life in the work of his churches. Be a “fellowworker” in getting his message of salvation and Christian service into all the world (Colossians 4:7-11).

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Blindness and Forgetfulness

II Peter 1:8-9
Mar 08, 2015

“For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (II Peter 1:8-9).

This first chapter of II Peter speaks of wonderful blessings from the Lord Jesus Christ, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises...” (Verse 4). We are instructed in this chapter to grow in grace by adding to our faith these qualities:

  • Virtue
  • Knowledge
  • Temperance
  • Patience
  • Godliness
  • Brotherly Kindness
  • Charity

In verse nine, there is a warning of the damaging results if we do not grow stronger in the Lord. The blindness of verse nine is not physical but a spiritual deficiency of understanding. The words “And cannot see far off” show that this is not total blindness but a severe case of being short-sighted (see A. T. Robertson's commentary on this verse).

Please notice that the words “to see” in the Scriptures are often used to refer to spiritual insight. For example, in John 3:3, we read, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” To see in this verse means to understand. In Revelation 3:18, Jesus rebukes the lukewarm church of the Laodiceans and instructs them to “anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”

The lack of spiritual understanding can be a factor in the loss of the assurance of salvation. That sad condition is indicated in the words, “And hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” The book of I John shows how one can have certainty and assurance once he has received Christ as Savior. There is no need to doubt and worry about your salvation if you have true faith in Jesus Christ and then have spiritual growth.

The food for spiritual understanding is available in personal Bible study, in the fellowship and participation in the church services, and in being a witness for Christ in your daily walk. “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

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God’s House of Prayer

Matthew 21:12-13
Mar 01, 2015

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:12-13).

Jesus was quoting from Isaiah where God offers a special blessing to those who “taketh hold of my covenant; Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people” (Isaiah 56:6-7).

Other scriptures that teach that the Old Testament temple was to be a house of prayer are shown when the temple was dedicated to the LORD by Solomon. “Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. For now have I chosen and sanctified this house, that my name may be there for ever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually” (II Chronicles 7:15-16). No doubt there is importance connected to the prayer made at that special place. This does not mean that God would not pay attention to prayer from other places. Remember, the LORD heard Nehemiah who was far from his homeland and serving as a bond slave in Persia (Nehemiah 1:4).

In the New Testament, we find no reference that describes a physical place as a “church building, the house of God.” We do find many examples of the Lord's churches assembled and praying together.

  1. Before Pentecost, the Jerusalem church gathered in the upper room. “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication...” (Acts 1:14).
  2. After the service on Pentecost, “they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).
  3. When Peter and John were threatened and commanded not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, they returned to their own congregation where that assembly “lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is” (Acts 4:24).
  4. When Paul and Barnabas were sent out by the church at Antioch, “they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:3).
  5. When Paul wrote to the church of the Thessalonians, he made this prayer request: “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you” (II Thessalonians 3:1).

The Lord's churches still need to be faithful in prayer.

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Resistance

I Peter 5:8-9
Feb 15, 2015

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (I Peter 5:8-9).

These verses describe our enemy, the devil, who is compared to a vicious, destructive lion. Jesus warned Simon Peter about Satan's desire. “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31-32). Peter did curse and deny the Lord, but God was not through with him because of that failure. Peter truly repented and was changed (converted) from that weak fleshly self reliance to be a bold witness for Jesus Christ. Peter was used to preach that great sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-47).

The devil is still at work in the world today blinding those who are not believers in Jesus Christ. “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Corinthians 4:3-4). These verses explain why there is such strong opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

From the entire chapter (II Corinthians 4), we understand that our work in witnessing for Christ requires more than human strength and understanding. That work requires the convicting power of the Holy Spirit to take the gospel message and cut into the heart of rebellious sinners. The cutting into the heart is explained in the language of Acts 2:37, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart...”

Stephen knew that his message and the conviction of the Holy Spirit was being resisted. “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51). The word “resist” in this verse is translated from antipipto, which means “to fight or strive against.” It is wrong to resist the Holy Ghost. However, it is right to resist the devil. We see the word “resist” in I Peter 5:8-9 translated from antihistemi, which means “to set against, to withstand, and to oppose.”

Please note that the words “stedfast in the faith” (I Peter 5:9) are connected to “resist.” I believe it is written this way, referring to the faith, the true doctrinal teaching of God's Word, which we need to understand in our battle against the devil. James writes by inspiration, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). The words, “Submit yourselves...to God” are just as important in our battle against the devil as the resistance. A Christian who understands God's Word, who submits to God, and resists the devil can send the devil fleeing. He will be back to do his evil work, but you have the tools to defeat him. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).

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Old Landmarks and Old Paths

Proverbs 22:28, Jeremiah 6:16
Feb 08, 2015

“Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set” (Proverbs 22:28). “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein” (Jeremiah 6:16).

Israel could not roll back the years and return to the days of old. They could return to true worship and service to the LORD. They could hear the message of Jeremiah who reminded them of the LORD's goodness in past years. “Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD. Hear ye the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel” (Jeremiah 2:2-4). The “ancient landmark” of Proverbs 22:28 and the “old landmark” of Proverbs 23:10 refer to the marks (usually very heavy stones) which defined the property lines in Israel. The “old paths” of Jeremiah 6:16 refers to the well-defined roads which had been marked out by use over many years.

After the American Revolution, Baptist churches began to multiply very rapidly. Serious doctrinal issues began to trouble the fellowship of the churches. For example, the false doctrine that Christ did not die for all sinners was promoted by Daniel Parker who led the Anti-mission Hardshell Baptist movement. The false doctrine that the water of baptism washed away sin was preached by Alexander Campbell who, at first, claimed to be a Baptist. Bible doctrines that were essential to the identity of true churches were compromised, especially by having Protestant pastors to preach in some Baptist churches. This hurtful practice is called “pulpit affiliation.”

Strong and dedicated Baptist churches and their pastors stood firm against any compromise. Two of the influential pastors were James Madison Pendleton D.D. of Kentucky and James Robinson Graves L.L.D. who published a newspaper in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1854, Graves published An Old Landmark Reset by Pendleton in his newspaper The Tennessee Baptist. This clear stand for the Bible doctrines and the need to follow the old ways and old paths of our forefathers was read and received by thousands of Baptist people. The name “Landmark” began to be used by many of the Lord's churches.

In Jeremiah 2:3, Israel is called “holiness unto the LORD” and the “firstfruits of his increase.” In God's plan, they were a special people set apart for his service. They had a responsibility to “ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein” (Jeremiah 6:16). Jesus warned us, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). Paul wrote, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (I Timothy 4:1). The old paths where we should walk and the old landmarks that show the way are in God's inspired Bible.

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Pharaoh’s Proposal to Moses

Exodus 8:28
Feb 01, 2015

“And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to the LORD your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: intreat for me” (Exodus 8:28).

I. “Ye Shall Not Go Very Far Away”

Moses brought the request “Let my people go” to Pharaoh from the LORD. After the waters in Egypt were turned to blood, the frogs filled the land, the lice came upon man and beast, and flies swarmed over the Egyptians, Pharaoh was ready to make a bargain. We know from our study in I Corinthians 10 that the events in the Book of Exodus serve as an example for this day. The lesson of Pharaoh and the nation of Egypt show the bondage and controlling influence of this wicked world and Satan. This world wants the Christian to stay close, join in, and participate in the sinful ways of the world. God calls us to be different and separate from this wicked culture. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (I Peter 2:9). “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15). The word “world” in this verse refers to the system of life that opposes the will of God.

II. “Go Now Ye That are Men” (Exodus 10:11)

Moses refused this proposal and said to Pharaoh, “We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds” (Exodus 10:9). God cares about the entire family. Remember that the family structure is by God's design. Our work for the LORD today must give consideration to all the family. Timothy learned the word of God while very young (II Timothy 3:15). Parents are to bring up their children in the nurture [training] and admonition [discipline] of the Lord (Ephesians 6:3). A great mission field, ready for harvest, is all around us, which includes the multitudes of young people in our church area. Many young people are being lured into immoral lifestyles and false doctrines by the world The perilous times that Paul wrote about to the young man, Timothy, are now affecting young people. “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35)

III. “Let Your Flocks and Your Herds be Stayed” (Exodus 10:24)

Pharaoh began to backtrack and offered a compromise. Moses stood firm and did not surrender his stand for the LORD. “Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not an hoof be left behind” (Exodus 10:26). This teaches us that all our possessions are to be under God's control. One should never think, “I'll give a tithe to God, but what I do with the remaining 90 percent is my own business.” The right attitude is to follow I Corinthians 6:19, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

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What Does I Corinthians 12:13 Really Mean?

I Corinthians 12:13
Jan 25, 2015

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” (I Corinthians 12:13).

There are serious differences of interpretation in the many different organizations that claim to follow Jesus Christ. We will examine the views of four different groups.

  1. The Catholic Church claims to be the oldest church or the “Mother Church.” The word “Catholic” in the Latin language means “universal.” According to Archbishop John Francis Noll, D.D., L.L.D., in his book of instruction for new Catholics, the Holy Church is one visible body, governed by the Pope, the successor of Peter, and those Bishops who are in union with that successor. Archbishop Noll quotes many official documents which teach that baptism is a “sanctifying grace” necessary for the remission of sins. He teaches that I Corinthians 12:13 refers to the “sanctifying grace” of visible physical baptism, which along with all other sacraments, was placed in “The Holy Catholic Church, The Mystical Body of Christ” [Father Smith Instructs Jackson, 1981; Publisher, Our Sunday Visitor, Pages 178-192].
  2. The Protestant Denominations trace their history back to the Catholics. The five oldest are: Lutherans, established in 1530 by Martin Luther; Church of England, established in 1531 by King Henry VIII; Presbyterian, established in 1541 by John Calvin; The Congregationalist, who came out of the Church of England in 1602; and The Methodist who came out of the Church of England, led by John and Charles Wesley in 1785. Protestants kept many of the doctrines of their Catholic forefathers. Most teach baptism of infants by sprinkling and that baptism “is the sacrament of incorporation into the community of faith.” “It means that those baptized are in a true sense in Christ” [Major United Methodist Beliefs, 1971, Mack B. Stokes, Pages 118-119]. Protestants developed the doctrine of the Universal Invisible Church to express their disagreement with the Catholic doctrine of the Universal Visible Church. Using I Corinthians 12:13, they teach that when a person is “in the faith of Jesus Christ,” that person receives Holy Spirit baptism into the one true church, the invisible body of Christ.
  3. Liberal Modernist Baptists claim to be Protestants. They reject the Baptist history in such books as A Concise History of Baptists; The Trail of Blood by J. M. Carroll; and The History of Baptists by John T. Christian. One liberal Baptist author, James T. Draper, a leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, describes Baptists as Protestants who separated from the Catholic church in England and established the first Baptist church in Amsterdam in 1609. All the present day Liberal Baptist commentaries on I Corinthians 12:13 do make the difference from the Protestants in that one must come to personal faith in Christ to have Holy Spirit baptism and be in the universal invisible church.
  4. Bible Believing Baptists believe in local visible churches, and our view of I Corinthians 12:13 is in harmony with that doctrine. New Testament churches had a membership of converted, baptized people who were to be united in faith and practice to obey the commission of Christ (I Corinthians 1:10 and Ephesians 4:1-6).

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“Now Ye are the Body of Christ”

I Corinthians 12:27
Jan 11, 2015

“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (I Corinthians 12:27).

Two recent messages in our church services have considered Ephesians 3:21 and I Timothy 3:15, which show that the purpose of each of the Lord's churches is to give glory to God, and that the church is described as “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

The text of this article shows that the church at Corinth is described as the “body of Christ.” The language of this verse is possessive and shows that the local church established in Corinth belonged to Jesus Christ. What is true of the church in Corinth is also true of the churches in Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, and Philippi. Each assembly belonged to Christ, and each local church is the body of Christ.

At one time, I owned three vehicles. Each one was a complete automobile and did not combine in any manner to become one vehicle. There are many true Bible teaching churches throughout this world that belong to Jesus Christ, and each one can say, “We are His body.” Paul spoke to the elders of the Ephesian church about the purchase price. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).

Jesus gave his blood in death on the cross for every one (Hebrews 2:9). His blood was also given to purchase his church, which has a special covenant relationship with Jesus as the bridegroom (John 3:28-31) and his church as the espoused bride (II Corinthians 11:1-2). “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). This verse is an excellent example of the institutional use of the words “the church.” The same chapter speaks of “the wife” and “the husband.” There is not one wife made of all wives combined, nor is there one husband or one worldwide, big, big, husband. “The wife” speaks of any particular wife, local and visible, which has real physical existence.

We know the beginning of that particular body in Corinth from the Scriptures in Acts 18:1-11. Their pattern of church establishment is shown in Acts 18:8, that is, “many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.”

Paul and Silas, sent out by the church in Antioch (Acts 15:30-41), were on their second missionary journey. They traveled through Syria and Cilicia confirming (or strengthening) the churches.

Please pay careful attention to the word “churches,” which indicates that they had contact with several assemblies. In Revelation 1:4, John addresses the seven churches of Asia. The use of the plural “churches” is strong proof that the word “church” does not refer to all of God's family, which consists of all his children. Some of God's family are already in heaven and some are still on this earth.

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Glory to God in His Church

Ephesians 3:21
Jan 04, 2015

“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).

This article begins a series of articles on the subject of The Lord's Church. This article is about the purpose of the church, which is stated in our text. Please also consider this verse: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31). With the words “whatsoever ye do,” we can say that this verse covers every area of our lives. “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's” (I Corinthians 6:20).

If you take these inspired Scriptures seriously and have a desire in your heart to be obedient to the will of God, you must consider the work and purpose of a true New Testament Church. If we were to take away all the Scriptures that speak of the earthly ministry of Jesus as He enlisted, organized, trained, and commissioned His first church, we would lose a large portion of the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. If we went further and took away all the instructions in the other New Testament books that were written specifically to direct the churches and the pastors in their service to God, we would lose so much more of our precious Bible.

I remember the words of a beloved pastor and seminary president, Dr. L. D. Foreman. He said, “There are two great themes that flow through the entire Bible. First: How the holy righteous God made provision through Jesus Christ to redeem and save poor lost sinners. Second: How the saved sinner can bring glory to God in scriptural service, which, in our age, is in a true New Testament church.”

Please notice how the purpose of the Lord's church is stated in this verse: “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10). Ephesians 3 needs to be studied carefully to see these truths.

  1. 1. Paul speaks of a mystery, which God had made known to him by revelation.
  2. 2. That mystery had not been known in other ages as it was now revealed in New Testament times.
  3. 3. The Gentiles receive special attention in the building of New Testament churches, and Paul and Barnabas said, “Lo, we turn to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:46).
  4. 4. Paul had a special calling to “preach among the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8).

The word “by” in Ephesians 3:10 has the meaning “by means of” or “through.” As the Lord's church fulfills the commission of Christ, the manifold wisdom of God is made known. Ephesians 3:11 shows that this purpose is “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

What a blessing to work with the Lord in his church to fulfill his eternal purpose!

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