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Dec 25, 2016 - Bitter Enemies or Blessed Servants
Dec 18, 2016 - “Behold, Thy King Cometh Unto Thee”
Dec 11, 2016 - “A More Excellent Name”
Dec 04, 2016 - “The Dividing Asunder of Soul and Spirit”
Nov 27, 2016 - A Vapour, A Flower of Grass, and a Shuttle
Nov 20, 2016 - “Come Before His Presence with Singing”
Nov 13, 2016 - “Endure Hardness”
Nov 06, 2016 - The Bible Teaches About the House of God
Oct 02, 2016 - “The Body of Christ, and Members in Particular”
Sep 25, 2016 - Enlistment -- Adding New Members
Sep 18, 2016 - Evangelism and Enlistment
Sep 11, 2016 - “If We Hold Fast”
Sep 04, 2016 - “That We Might Work the Works of God”
Aug 28, 2016 - Understanding the Lord’s Supper
Aug 21, 2016 - Salvation From Sin
Aug 07, 2016 - “This Man Receiveth Sinners”
Jul 31, 2016 - “Great Heaviness and Continual Sorrow”
Jul 24, 2016 - A Week of Blessings at Camp Eden
Jul 17, 2016 - “Sure and Stedfast”
Jul 10, 2016 - “A Contrite and Humble Spirit”
Jul 03, 2016 - Trials Can Be Blessings
Jun 26, 2016 - “Concerning [the] Faith Have Made Shipwreck”
Jun 19, 2016 - “Abba, Father”
Jun 12, 2016 - “I Delight in the Law of God”
Jun 05, 2016 - Purpose and Structure
May 29, 2016 - Times of Remembrance
May 22, 2016 - “The Sin Which Doth So Easily Beset Us”
May 15, 2016 - Wages Put into a Bag with Holes
May 08, 2016 - An Unusual Loan
May 01, 2016 - “Preach the Word”
Apr 24, 2016 - Men and Women of the Way
Apr 10, 2016 - “Maintain Good Works”
Apr 03, 2016 - “Fellowhelpers to the Truth”
Mar 27, 2016 - “Jesus Wept”
Mar 20, 2016 - Love and Sacrifice
Mar 13, 2016 - “The Godhead Bodily”
Mar 06, 2016 - Preeminence of Jesus Christ
Feb 28, 2016 - “He that hath the Bride is the Bridegroom”
Feb 21, 2016 - “Streams in the Desert”
Feb 14, 2016 - “The Greatest of These is Charity”
Feb 07, 2016 - “Remembrance of These Things”
Jan 31, 2016 - When Jesus Preached
Jan 24, 2016 - “Members in Particular”
Jan 17, 2016 - “A Quiet and Peaceable Life”
Jan 10, 2016 - Part II: The Importance of the Seventh Month
Jan 03, 2016 - Part I: Why Do Jewish People Have Two New Year's Days?

Bitter Enemies or Blessed Servants

Matthew 2:13
Dec 25, 2016

“And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him” (Matthew 2:13).

Our lessons and sermons from the first few chapters of Matthew and Luke show many who were expecting that Jesus, who is Emmanuel and the Messiah, would be born into this world, rejoiced and praised God for the good news of his birth. Joseph was submissive to the instructions from God. When Mary received the message, as explained by the angel Gabriel, that she, a virgin, would conceive and bear a Son, Jesus, her response was, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).

The shepherds, watching over their flocks at night, heard the praises of the heavenly host saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). The shepherds went to Bethlehem. “And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:16). “And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them” (Luke 2:20).

Simeon, who had received a promise from God that he would not see death until he had seen the Lord's Christ (Luke 2:25-26), was in the temple in Jerusalem when Mary and Joseph came to fulfill the requirements of the Jewish law. The male child was to be presented to the LORD signifying that the LORD was the rightful owner of the child. For a daughter or a son, an offering of a pair of turtledoves or pigeons was to be given for the atonement of the mother (Leviticus 12:2-8). If they could afford it, a lamb would be offered, but we see from Luke 2:23 that the sacrifice for Mary was the turtledoves or the pigeons. Simeon took the child in his arms and offered his praise to God. Anna, a widow, age eighty four, also in the temple, gave thanks unto the Lord and spake of Jesus to them who looked for redemption in Jerusalem (Luke 2:38).

Sadly, we must also recognize that some were bitter enemies of Jesus Christ. Herod was filled with rage when the wise men from the East, who brought gifts for Jesus to the house in Bethlehem, did not return to Jerusalem to report to Herod. “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men” (Matthew 2:16). Archelaus, Herod's son, also became an enemy of the Lord and his people (Matthew 2:22).

A marvelous testimony that we see from the New Testament and from the history of the Lord's churches is that bitter enemies can be saved and their lives changed. Those who once opposed Jesus Christ and his servants can become faithful witnesses for the Lord. One clear example of this is Paul. He wanted Christians killed, but his conversion so changed his life that he was willing to lay down his life for Jesus Christ (I Timothy 1:12-14).

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“Behold, Thy King Cometh Unto Thee”

Matthew 21:5 and Zechariah 9:9
Dec 18, 2016

“Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass” (Matthew 21:5). “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9).

The fulfillment of these verses is shown in Matthew 21:8-9, “And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”

The word “Hosanna” or “save we pray” is from a Hebrew word which is used in Psalm 118:25-26. The word is used in praise and in prayer. “Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.”

In Revelation 19:11-16, Jesus is described with the name written on his thigh and on his garment, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Jesus rides a white horse, which shows him as a victorious ruler. The scriptures in our text use the words “meek” and “lowly.” His humility is shown in his riding on the ass, the beast of burden that was commonly used by servants. Jesus taught his disciples that they were called to be ministers and servants just as he is a minister and a servant (Matthew 20:25-28, John 13:1-5).

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

The ox yoke was an instrument for getting work done. When you take the yoke of Jesus upon you, you take the position of a humble servant who works in partnership with your Lord. You pull your share of the load, not to receive praise and glory from man, but to give honor to the Lord. The same lesson is taught in Philippians 2:3, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”

Could it be possible that so many who drop out of the Lord's service are not willing to follow the Lord's example and the Lord's lesson to serve in “lowliness of mind”? Are they waiting for other Christians to brag and make a big fuss over them? With such an attitude, the unfaithful persons will not “find rest unto your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

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“A More Excellent Name”

Hebrews 1:3-4
Dec 11, 2016

“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; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they” (Hebrews 1:3-4).

The first chapter of the Book of Hebrews shows that Jesus Christ is far superior to the angels. Angels are created beings who were made to serve the Lord. Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God who is shown in Hebrews 1:8 to be God. “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” This verse teaches the same lesson as John 1:1-2. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.”

Vine’s Bible Dictionary and Unger’s Bible Dictionary both show that the language has a meaning that goes far beyond just a name by which a person is distinguished from another person.

“The ‘Name’ represents ‘the title and dignity’ of the Lord” and stands “for all that a ‘name’ implies, of authority, character, rank, majesty, power, excellence, etc., of everything that the ‘name’ covers” and “of the ‘Name’ of God as expressing His attributes” (Vine, Page 782).

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). When you read, “none other name,” the meaning is “none other person.”

“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). To not believe in the name is to reject and not believe in the person, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God.

In the message that Peter preached on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-40), he told those who repented to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. It is the practice in every Missionary Baptist Church where I have served for the pastor to speak before the new convert is immersed, saying, “In obedience to the command of Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 28:19-20, we baptize you my brother [or sister] “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

There is no confusion between the words of Peter in Acts 2:38 and the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20. The words of Peter mean that the converts were to be baptized in the authority [or in the name] of Jesus. By the authority of Jesus, we use the language, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

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“The Dividing Asunder of Soul and Spirit”

Hebrews 4:12
Dec 04, 2016

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13).

Our Bible study for Wednesday night (11/30/2016) began with III John 2, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” We learn from this verse that John desired that the wellbeloved Gaius “be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” The question was asked, “What does it mean for the soul to prosper?” The answer, shortened for this article, is: “A person's soul is prospering when one is growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:18) as well as walking by faith and following the will and example of Jesus (I Peter 2:21).

Some questions raised in our Bible study were not fully discussed. This article will give more information. In I Thessalonians 5:23, we have important facts. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The three-fold nature of man is shown in this scripture: (1) Spirit, (2) Soul, and (3) Body. The physical part of man is the body. The body of man is affected by sin, but God, in the glorious resurrection, will change this vile body and completely deliver us from corruption, dishonor, weakness, and mortality (I Corinthians 15:42-54).

The soul of man makes man capable of intelligent thought, willful decisions, of having a conscience, and experiencing a wide range of emotions. The word “soul” is often used with the meaning, “a living person.” Please notice in Genesis 2:7 that “man became a living soul.” In Exodus 1:5, we read of seventy souls who were descendants of Jacob. In Ezekiel 18:4, we have the warning, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Because man has sin in his inner being, the child of God has a serious warfare described in Romans 7:14-25 and Galatians 5:16-26. “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:22-23). The child of God, in this life, cannot be perfect, but the child of God with grace and strength from the Lord can be faithful.

The spiritual part is the spirit, which Jesus speaks of in his discussion with Nicodemus in John 3. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:6-7). I John 3:9 only makes sense if we understand that the spirit in man is changed in the new birth and made holy. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

It is hard to understand, but you do have a part of you that wants to love and serve the Lord with your whole heart, but you still have that bad part that keeps pulling you away from God's will. I pray that your soul may prosper and be strengthened in the will of God (Colossians 1:9-11).

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A Vapour, A Flower of Grass, and a Shuttle

James 4:14
Nov 27, 2016

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14).

It seems almost impossible that 2016 will soon be passed. As we get older, the time seems to be moving much more swiftly. Life is compared to the steam coming from a boiling kettle as it rises then disappears so quickly.

James 1:9-10 uses another picture for time moving on. “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.” In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used the picture of the short life of the grass of the field in teaching his disciples, “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).

After using the illustrations of the birds of the air, the lilies of the of the field, and the grass as a picture of God's caring attention, Jesus reminds his disciples that they must not have anxious thought and worry about how their heavenly Father will provide for them. “(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:32-33).

The weavers shuttle is used in the scriptures as a picture of life passing so swiftly. In Job 7, Job has not yet come to the understanding of God's purpose in all the trials and suffering in his life. Job was a godly man, but the friends who came to comfort him concluded that he must be suffering because of God's punishment. In his despair, Job speaks, “My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope. O remember that my life is wind: mine eye shall no more see good. The eye of him that hath seen me shall see me no more: thine eyes are upon me, and I am not. As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more” (Job 7:6-9). Job did have some knowledge of the resurrection and expected to see his Redeemer in his risen body (Job 19:25-27). Job's words in Job 7:9 concern the consequences of death in this physical life.

Life is short.

Life is precious.

Life is a gift from God.

Make use of each day to glorify the LORD.

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“Come Before His Presence with Singing”

Psalm 100:2
Nov 20, 2016

“Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing” (Psalm 100:2).

While studying this Psalm in preparation for a Thanksgiving bulletin, my attention focused on Psalm 101:2. What a wonderful statement! We can be in the presence of the LORD! We know that there are references to the presence of the LORD God in the Old Testament. Consider Genesis 3:8, “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.” They were afraid and did not want to face the LORD because they were fully aware that they had disobeyed His commandment. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). God was speaking of spiritual death, the breaking of the union that had existed before sin came between them and God. The sin condition must be fully settled before the union and fellowship with God can be restored.

Because God is righteous, He cannot just overlook and ignore the sin. Because God is merciful and forgiving, He desires to take care of the sin in a way that provides grace for the guilty sinner. This situation is explained in Romans 3:20-28: (a) “all have sinned” (verse 23), (b) “redemption,” the payment for sin, is by the death of the sinless Son of God (verse. 24), (c) righteousness of God is provided unto all and “upon all them that believe: for there is no difference” (verse 22), (d) God is just (with no violation of His righteous character) and is “the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (verse 26), and (e) there can be no boasting on myself, but there can be thankfulness and praise given to God for His precious gift of eternal life (verses 27-28).

Moses experienced the blessedness of the presence of the LORD in his leadership of the nation of Israel. Please read Exodus 33:7-14: (a) “And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (verse 11), (b) The LORD said to Moses, “I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight” (verse 12), and (c) The LORD promised, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (verse 14).

We have a sure promise in the New Testament upon which we can depend, “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).

When you count your blessings, do not forget to count His presence and help each step of your walk with the Lord. With his presence, you can, “Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:2, 4).

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“Endure Hardness”

II Timothy 2:3-4
Nov 13, 2016

“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

This article is being written on November 11, Veteran's Day, a time for us to show our appreciation for those who are serving now and have served in the past in our nation’s military. Soldiers from different wars who have been honored with medals for their bravery have had the opportunity to tell of their experiences in the Solomon Islands (World War II), in North Korea (Korean War), and in Afghanistan (War on Terror). The humility and willingness to give credit to their fellow soldiers is evident as these men and women speak.

Pastor Neil Morley served in the Solomon Islands during World War II. The LORD used this Marine through his experiences there to open a door of opportunity for him to work as a missionary there, preaching the gospel, organizing churches, and training many men in that country to be strong Bible preaching Baptist pastors. The LORD's work has flourished in the Solomon Islands. Jacob Vousa, a leader in that country who helped the Marines, was captured and tortured. He was awarded the highest honors by our country and by Great Britain. He became a faithful worker with Brother Morley.

Missionary Baptist work in Japan had its beginning in Yokohama with an Army Captain, Brother Eugene Reagan, who served in Japan right after World War II during the rebuilding of that country. He began teaching Bible classes for some of the Americans who desired strong Baptist services. Some of the Japanese people wanted to attend the classes but knew very little English. Brother Reagan enlisted the help of a young Japanese man, educated in English in the University. That man, Sheigeo Kanoya, was converted to the LORD and became a charter member of New Covenant Baptist Church. He answered the call of God to serve as a pastor. He enrolled in the Missionary Baptist Seminary in Little Rock, Arkansas, finished his studies, and returned to Yokohama to pastor the same church for more than 50 years. Brother Kanoya and I were roommates at the Seminary. World War II was a time of terrible suffering and hardship, but God used those events to bring many people to salvation and service for His glory.

We still have a great need for the LORD to call servants (not just pastors) to endure hardness in his work. God supplies the armor for us to use in the battle (Ephesians 6:11-18). We have weapons in the spiritual warfare that are not carnal, with the power of sinful flesh. Our strength is by the power of the Holy Spirit, “mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (II Corinthians 10:3-6).

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The Bible Teaches About the House of God

I Peter 2:5
Nov 06, 2016

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (I Peter 2:5).

The word “also” ties this verse back to I Peter 2:4, “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious.” Jesus Christ is the living stone, the chief corner stone, the precious stone of whom it is written in Psalm 118:22, “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner,” and Isaiah 28:16, “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” Paul writes of the sure foundation in I Corinthians 3:11, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Romans 9:33 and I Peter 2:8 speak of the same foundation stone as a “stumblingstone” or “stone of stumbling” and a “rock of offence.”

Please notice how different words are used of those who receive the one true foundation:

  • “shall not be confounded” (I Peter 2:6) where the “confounded” describes confusion and shame
  • “shall not make haste” (Isaiah 28:16) where “haste” speaks of those who believe and shall not quickly turn away from the precious living stone

The first reference in the Bible to “the house of God” is the place where Jacob dreamed of the ladder that reached from earth up to heaven. He called the place “Beth-el,” which means, “The house of God.”

The tabernacle built in the days of Moses is called God's sanctuary where God would meet and dwell with them (Exodus 25:8).

The temple, built in the days of Solomon, is called, “The house of the LORD” (II Chronicles 7:11).

In the New Testament, we have no instructions nor any reference to a building specifically designed or constructed for the assembling of the Lord's church. The first body of baptized disciples who served under the guidance (Shepherd leadership) of Jesus Christ did meet on the side of a mountain, on the shore of the sea, and in the upper room of a private home. From the information given in Acts 5:11, we conclude that the disciples often met on Solomon's porch of the temple. The church body is the “House of God” wherever the members may meet. The language of I Timothy 3:15, “in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth,” shows this truth.

Church members are commanded to assemble for the work of the church, and we can see how one of the Lord’s churches met in the home of Priscilla and Aquila (Romans 16:5). Paul writes to his beloved fellow labourer, Philemon, “to the church in thy house” (Philemon 1:2).

Property and a building are not essential but can be a blessing and a tool to help the church of the Lord to be a witness, conduct worship services, and teach the disciples “to observe all things whatsoever I [Christ] have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

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“The Body of Christ, and Members in Particular”

I Corinthians 12:27
Oct 02, 2016

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

This statement was written to the congregation at Corinth. The Scripture does not say to that body of disciples, “You are a part of the body of Christ.” The verse does not say, “You are just a branch of the body of Christ.” What is written to Corinth applies also to the congregations in Jerusalem, in Antioch, and in Ephesus. Each of those church bodies belonged to Christ. The language “Now ye are the body of Christ” is a possessive term, and it shows ownership. Joined together, the members constituted the body of Christ. Being a member, “members in particular,” is an individual decision. One commentator uses this language, “Each with his own place and function.”

A true New Testament church is different in origin, in membership, and different in purpose from all other worldly organizations that have ever existed. Ephesians 1:22-23 tells us, “And [God] hath put all things under his [Jesus’s] feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”

This article continues the lesson from last week on church membership. We at Landmark MBC desire to have new members added. As we discussed last week, there are definite qualifications for church membership shown in the Scriptures. First, the person must be saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). Second, the person must have valid baptism (Acts 2:41-42, 8:8, Romans 6:3-5). Third, the person must be willing to work in agreement with other members to support the work and to follow the commission of Christ (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8). The language of Ephesians 4:16 speaks of the local church, “the whole body fitly joined together and compacted.” The Old English word “compact” refers to a covenant or an agreement.

The word “fullness” in Ephesians 1:23 is connected to the words “to fulfill.” Different organizations in this world can fulfill their purpose. The U.S. military has a purpose, but we cannot say that the commission of Christ in Matthew and Acts is fulfilled by the military. Secular Schools have a purpose, but they do not fulfill the commission of Christ. Government bodies have a purpose, but they are stepping into a field where they do not belong when they take control of the Lord's work. When a New Testament church, “his body,” “which he hath purchased with his own blood,” works to be a witness and to fulfill the will of Jesus Christ, then that church body is “his fullness.”

What blessings could be enjoyed if each member of one of the Lord's churches would seek to fulfill the glorious purpose of Christ!

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Enlistment -- Adding New Members

Acts 2:41
Sep 25, 2016

“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).

The small church, the little flock (Luke 12:32), of five members named in John 1 had grown to about 120 members (Acts 1:15) when Jesus ascended back into heaven. Our text in Acts 2 shows the church in Jerusalem growing as about 3,000 new members were added. The book of Acts shows more members added and the Lord's work expanding with congregations established “throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria” (Acts 9:31). When the Lord used the church in Antioch of Syria to send out Paul and Barnabas as missionaries (Acts 13:1-4), many more churches were established. New members were enlisted and added when they were baptized upon their profession of faith in Christ.

Please note that two disciples, Aquila and his wife, Priscilla, are named with three different churches: in Rome (Romans 16:3-5), in Corinth (Acts 18:1-3), and in Ephesus (Acts 18:24-26). Was it possible for a member to leave one area where he was a church member, move to another area, and then become a church member in his new location? To answer this question, we must define “a New Testament Church.” Using the meaning of the word “church” translated from the Greek, “ekklesia,” and examining the usage of the word in the New Testament, our forefathers wrote this definition:

“We believe that a visible church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers (I Cor. 1:1-13; Matthew 18:17; Acts 5:11; 8:1), associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel of Christ (Acts 2:41-42, 47; II Cor. 8:5; I Cor. 5:12-13); observing the ordinances of Christ (I Cor. 11:2, 23; II Thess. 3:6; Rom 16:17-20); governed by his laws (Matt. 28:20; John 14:15, 21; I John 4:21), and exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word (Eph. 4:7; I Cor. 14:12; Phil. 1:27); that its only scriptural officers are bishops, or pastors, and deacons (Phil. 1:1; Acts 14:23; I Tim. 3), whose qualifications, claims, and duties are defined in the Epistles of Timothy and Titus” (New Hampshire Confession of Faith, XIII. Of a Gospel Church).

With this definition in mind, we can understand how Aquila and Priscilla could work in fellowship with the church in Rome and later move (forced by a command that all Jews depart from Rome; I Cor. 18:2) to Corinth where they served with the church there and later move again to Ephesus.

People in one of the Lord's churches may move to a different location in this time. If they have a desire to continue in the Lord's work and find a church of the same faith and order, they can become members in their new location. We speak of a person “moving his membership by letter.” This refers to a letter being written to the previous church asking that the member be dismissed in order to join his new church.

Landmark MBC will receive the potential new member for baptism if the candidate for membership does not have valid baptism. We live in a day when some churches using the name “Baptist” have departed from the true teaching of God's word. We desire to receive members by letter from churches that still hold true to God's word. Therefore, we get information from the other church so that we can determine with confidence if that church is in agreement with us in Bible faith and order.

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Evangelism and Enlistment

Ephesians 4:12, 14-15
Sep 18, 2016

“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:14-15).

It is good to consider these verses in Ephesians along with the commission of Christ (Matthew 28:19-20), which he gave to his first church and to each church that follows in the same lineage of “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5).

Many years ago, I heard a wonderful Bible message on the commission of Christ with these words: “Our entire church body should be totally committed to taking the entire Bible message to the entire world for this entire age.”

In today's bulletin, we will consider evangelism and enlistment with education and edification examined in next week's bulletin.

Evangelism is in our Lord's commission. “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). “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). “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (II Corinthians 4:3). We should work faithfully in evangelism so that the gospel is never hidden to any person.

Enlistment is a vital part of our Lord's commission. After a person is saved, that babe in Christ should follow the many examples in the New Testament, which shows how the new converts very quickly became enlisted in membership and fellowship in one of the Lord's churches. Please note the example in Acts 2:41-42, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” Baptism is the first step listed in these verses after they had gladly received the word preached by Peter. The heart of that word was that Jesus is the promised Messiah. He was crucified, but God the Father raised him up from death and the grave.

We also see that soon after Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus, God instructed Ananias to find Paul. Paul was baptized and then began meeting with the Lord's disciples in Damascus, where “he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20).

Another example showing the enlistment in Lord's work of the new converts in Corinth is found in Acts 18:8, “And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.”

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“If We Hold Fast”

Hebrews 3:6
Sep 11, 2016

“But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Hebrews 3:6).

Words that are connected to building a house are often used in the Scriptures to explain the work of the Lord as Jesus said, “upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). Paul speaks of the one foundation, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 3:11). Paul is shown to be “a wise masterbuilder” (I Corinthians 3:10).

Paul also instructed Timothy, “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 3:15).

Please note the small word “if” in our text (Hebrews 3:6). This is the conditional “if,” and it indicates that certain conditions must be met if a congregation of disciples can be identified as “the church of the living God.” One condition shown in I Timothy 3:15 is that the congregation must be built on the foundation [ground] of the truth and support and uphold [pillar] the truth. The words of our text “if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” show another condition. To hold fast is to be fastened securely so that you will not be moved from the teaching of Jesus Christ.

Because of misunderstanding in the religious world, we must make it plain that the conditional “if” in Hebrews 3:6 is not a condition for the new birth by which one receives the gift of eternal life. This condition has to do with our work for the Lord in a Scriptural church. The Scriptures show that there is a real danger that one child of God or a whole church body may become unfaithful to the Lord. This danger is highlighted in Hebrews 3:12-13. “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

Holding fast and being faithful is beyond our human strength, but God has made wonderful promises that He will provide the help that we need.

“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 4:16)

“Let your conversation [manner of life] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5).

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

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“That We Might Work the Works of God”

John 6:27-2
Sep 04, 2016

“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:27-29).

This conversation was between Jesus and people (five thousand men) who had been fed a generous meal that Jesus had provided from the lad who had five barley loaves and two small fish. Shortly after the meal, they were intent on taking Jesus by force and making him their king. It was not because they had faith in Jesus as the Son of God but because physical food had been supplied (John 6:15-26).

In these verses, Jesus is not teaching that they could have everlasting life by their own works. Such an idea would contradict other plain lessons from the Bible, which show us clearly that our salvation is not by any works (Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:4-6).

Jesus is trying to get them to understand that the ordinary food would perish, but he is the true bread of life who came down from heaven. “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:25, see also 6:32-34).

After a person has been saved by grace through faith, the saved person can honor and serve the Lord by good scriptural works. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Paul wrote, “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” (Ephesians 2:8-9). He continued with this truth: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto [for the purpose of] good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

We can connect the truth of Ephesians 2 with Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

I can preach with all confidence that the Lord will provide the power and strength we need to be “workers together with him” (II Corinthians 6:1), and “we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building” (I Corinthians 3:9). The Lord's church gives glory to God as the members labor together to carry out the work of the Lord.

Paul commended Epaphroditus, his “companion in labour, and fellowsoldier” (Philippians 2:25), who, “for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life” (Philippians 2:30). The Lord's churches still needs faithful workers like Paul and Epaphroditus.

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Understanding the Lord’s Supper

Luke 22:19-20
Aug 28, 2016

“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:19-20).

The first four books of the New Testament teach us about the beginning of the Lord's Supper. More information can be learned as we study I Corinthians 5, 10:16-21, and 11:17-34. If you will learn more of the truth shown in this pictorial ordinance, it will help you to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever” (II Peter 3:18). There is a close connection between the Lord's Supper and the Jewish Passover. Both give a picture of the death and the offering of the blood of the Lamb of God. The same night in which Jesus and his disciples observed the Passover, Jesus and his disciples observed the first Lord's Supper.

The Passover had definite commandments regarding rules and qualifications for observing the Passover. “And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: But every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof. In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you” (Exodus 12:43-49).

The New Testament commandments for the Lord's Supper were given to the Lord's church in Corinth in I Corinthians 11. One of the primary rules for the church was that they were not to have the communion service if there were divisions and heresies in the church (I Corinthians 11:18-19). When Paul wrote, “this is not to eat the Lord's supper,” (I Corinthians 11:20), he was saying that, with the divisions, it is not possible for them to eat the Lord's supper.

Another commandment for the church in Corinth was not to eat the Lord's supper with a member living a sinful immoral life. I Corinthians 5:11 shows this commandment. In this day of loose morals and political correctness, I Corinthians 5:13 may seem too strong, but it is the scriptural rule to follow and is the best way for the guilty church member and for the church body. (Please note that in II Corinthians 2, there is the indication that this brother had repented and was to be restored to the church membership.)

Another commandment for the church concerns the purpose of the Lord's supper. The wording in I Corinthians 11:26-29 has caused much concern. What does it mean to “eat and drink unworthily”? Please note the word is “unworthily.” Some have said, “I am not worthy of God's blessings.” When we understand the meaning of God's grace, we know that this is a true statement. However, the last part of I Corinthians 11:29 shows that eating “unworthily” is “not discerning the Lord's body.” Such an attitude goes against the very purpose of the Lord's supper and is shown in Paul’s words, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come” (I Corinthians 11:26).

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Salvation From Sin

Matthew 1:21
Aug 21, 2016

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

The name JESUS is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Joshua,” which has the meaning “Savior” or “Deliverer.” Our text verse shows that the name of Jesus describes his mission and purpose in coming into this sin-cursed world. He will accomplish his purpose. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth” (Philippians 2:8-10). Consider these three aspects of salvation.

I. Salvation from the Eternal Condemnation of Hell

Jesus gave this warning to those who did not believe on him, receive him, and trust in him. “Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come” (John 8:21) and “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). There is no condemnation for those who receive Jesus Christ by faith (John 1:12-13; 3:18).

II. Salvation from the Controlling Influence of Sin

Satan does not give up on you after you have been born again. You have the new nature and the Spirit of God dwells in you, but your old sinful nature, the flesh nature, is still in you. Satan wants to use your sinful flesh to weaken you and destroy your Christian testimony and bring you to the place where sin will reign in your body so that you will obey sinful lusts. “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof” (Romans 6:12). The main lesson of Romans 6 and 7 is that God by his grace provides the help that you need to battle the sinful flesh. Paul, a true Christian who loved the Lord, wrote, “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (Romans 7:21-25).

III. Salvation from the Presence of Sin

The Scriptures remind us that if we want to get away from sinners, we will have to go out of the world (I Corinthians 5:10). The Lord does have a way to deliver us from the presence of sin. In death, the child of God goes on to be with the Lord free from the sinfulness of our own nature and physical body. To be absent from the body is “to be present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:8). John describes the new heaven and the new earth, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

The total deliverance from the condemnation of sin, the influence of sin, and the presence of sin is often described as three-fold salvation by Bible teachers. It is through the grace, love, and mercy of God through Jesus Christ that these blessings can be received.

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“This Man Receiveth Sinners”

Luke 15:1-2
Aug 07, 2016

“Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” (Luke 15:1-2).

On another occasion, Jesus answered the false charges by the Pharisees against John the Baptist with these words, “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!” (Luke 7:33-34).

In response to the charge by the Pharisees in Luke 15, Jesus gave a lesson on three different events that showed how he had compassion and love for the lost: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son. The lost sheep could not, on his own, find his way back to the flock. The shepherd, representing the compassionate, loving Jesus, had to go seeking for the lost sheep. “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). The lost coin was incapable of returning to the owner. The owner had to go looking for the lost coin. The lost son had made a very bad decision that put him into a place of destitution and starvation. The father still loved that lost son and was willing to receive, forgive, and restore him. One of the great lessons we must not overlook is the rejoicing with the return of the lost sheep, lost coin, and lost son. “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:10).

Jesus was not offended at all by the Pharisees calling him “a friend of publicans and sinners.” Jesus loved and died for all mankind including the most vile and wicked sinners.

Jesus uses the same word “friend” (Greek word “philos”) in a different way. “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14). The context of John 15 shows that Jesus is teaching his chosen disciples (that is, those walking with him in faithful service to him, his first church congregation, his little flock). “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32).

Notice some of the statements of Jesus to that company of chosen disciples. “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8). “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10). This word “abide” means to “be at home, settled down” and not just paying a quick, temporary visit. Jesus said, John 15:26 teaches that the disciples of John 15 are in the same body of disciples meeting in one accord on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:2) when the Holy Spirit came to empower the Lord's church for their world wide mission.

The condition of doing “whatsoever I [Jesus] command you” to enjoy the friendship with Jesus seems to contradict the teaching that he was called a “friend of sinners.” You must consider the context. Jesus did not expect the publicans and sinners to do whatsoever he commanded. He wanted them to repent and trust him as Savior. The life of obedience in serving him would follow their salvation faith.

Walking, serving, and bearing much fruit in that special friend relationship required that the disciple do whatsoever he commanded.

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“Great Heaviness and Continual Sorrow”

Romans 9:1-3
Jul 31, 2016

“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:1-3).

There was absolutely no possibility that Paul would be accursed from Christ and thus be eternally condemned. Paul had truly believed on Jesus Christ and had the promise found 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.”

Romans 9:1-3 shows the extreme compassion that Paul had for his lost kinsman. Paul wrote by inspiration of God but still expressed the true convictions of his heart. “For we [Paul is included in this description] ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared” (Titus 3:3-4).

One reason for Paul's love for lost sinners was that he had been changed from the awful condition described in Titus 3. He knew that the grace, the mercy, the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost (the new birth) had been “shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Titus 3:6).

This first reason can be illustrated by the words of a Country Gospel song, “It is no secret what God can do. What He has done for others, He can do for you.”

Another reason for Paul's love is found in Romans 5:5, “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.” Another scripture to consider is Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

With Christ living in us, and the love of God spread out generously in our hearts, we can love as Christ loved and reach out with compassion to those who need to be saved and to those who need to find a place of service in the Lord's work.

Because some have mistakenly taught that strong doctrinal lessons, especially on the Lord's church and the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper, can be a hindrance to winning lost people, please remember that Paul had a balanced ministry. His strong doctrinal preaching was a help in his evangelistic work. Teaching the truth from a heart of love will never be a stumbling block. As Paul wrote in a very strong doctrinal chapter (Ephesians 4), “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

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A Week of Blessings at Camp Eden

Ephesians 6:10-20
Jul 24, 2016

Campers from Landmark MBC in Lakewood, Bradley Road MBC in Colorado Springs, Greeley MBC, Loveland BC in Loveland, and Victory MBC in Cheyenne, Wyoming enjoyed many blessings from the Lord this past week (July 18-22) at Camp Eden (located about thirty miles northwest of Golden, CO).

Classes for all ages had lessons on the Christian Soldier from Ephesians 6:10-20. The lesson for Tuesday showed how we can stand against the wiles [methods] of the devil, and that we can withstand in the evil day and can stand “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58).

The lesson for Wednesday taught us about having the proper armor: Loins girt [wrapped] about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness, our feet being ready and prepared to carry the gospel of peace, taking the shield of faith to quench the fiery darts of the wicked, taking the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.

The lesson for Thursday showed that we must be regular and faithful in prayer as we go forth in this spiritual warfare. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:18-19) We can be sure that God wants to hear and answer our prayers. “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9).

Pastor Joe Looney III from Cheyenne brought the message on Monday night using Psalm 32:1-5, “Acknowledge Our Sin.” The message on Tuesday was brought by Pastor Tim Sumpter of Greeley. His text was Acts 26:28-29, “Almost Persuaded To Be a Christian.” Pastor Jim Brasseal of Lakewood used I John 5:11-13, “Assurance Of Salvation,” for the Wednesday night message. Pastor Joe Looney III preached again on Thursday night and used II Timothy 4:1-7, “Finish The Course, Keep The Faith,” and II Chronicles 14 -16 to show that King Asa started very strong in the Lord's work but ended as a very weak king in his service to the Lord.

The week at camp was a wonderful time of fellowship with the Lord's people. We enjoyed the music, the lessons, the recreation, the food at each meal, and the beautiful mountain scenery. One of the most blessed parts of the Lord's work at camp was the work of the Holy Spirit in conviction of the lost. Several young people gave testimonies of salvation by trusting Jesus Christ.

These new born children of God and the other young people who are already serving the Lord need our prayers and encouragement that they will follow Christ faithfully and “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).

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“Sure and Stedfast”

Hebrews 6:19
Jul 17, 2016

“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil” (Hebrews 6:19).

In the plan and purpose of God, He has kept some information from our understanding. (1) “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). We cannot look one day into the future. (2) “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). The time when the promise of I Thessalonians 4:16 will be fulfilled is not known. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.”

We do have the assurance and certainty that we can depend on the inspired Scriptures. The language of II Peter 1:19 is very important regarding this assurance. “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” The Bible shows how some heard the audible voice of God. That was a “sure word.” The “more sure word” is the written word of God which the “holy men of God” spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. The word “moved” in Bible times indicated the guiding of a ship so that it went just as the captain desired. God so guided the writing of the “holy men of God” so that they wrote just the words as desired by the Lord.

We do have promises from God that are “sure and steadfast.” The “which hope” in our text verse is an explanation of “the hope set before us” in Hebrews 6:18. The veil in these verses refers to the dividing curtain that separated the two rooms of the tabernacle. The second room, “the Holiest of all,” is used as a picture of heaven. “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).

God's promise to Abraham was confirmed by God's own oath. The promise was certain because it is “impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). Christ has gone to heaven, and He is the forerunner, the one who has gone on ahead to prepare a place for us. Hope in these verses speaks of the assurance and confidence that Christ will keep his promise to us. “In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3).

The word “hope” in Hebrews 6:19 does not speak of any doubt. It speaks of confidence in God's “sure and steadfast” promises.

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“A Contrite and Humble Spirit”

Isaiah 57:15
Jul 10, 2016

“For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15).

Consider an examination of Psalm 51:16-17 to help in understanding our text verse. “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” In this psalm, David confesses his terrible sin and pleads with God for forgiveness. David was brought to the place of humble repentance, and there he found the purging, cleansing, and washing that he prays for in Psalm 51:7.

The word “brokenhearted” was used by our Lord in Luke 4:18 when He was reading from Isaiah 61:1 in the synagogue in Nazareth. In modern usage, the word has come to mean “overcome with grief or despair” without consideration of the cause of the grief. A study of the verses in Isaiah and Psalms show that the words “contrite” and “brokenhearted” are connected to the burden of the heart, the conviction of sin, when the Holy Spirit does His work of conviction. John 16:8 uses the word “reprove” to describe this work of the Holy Spirit.

This conviction, burden, and reproving of the Holy Spirit that brings a person to a contrite, brokenhearted attitude is described in Acts 2:37 when Peter preached the message of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

The Holy Spirit works to bring the lost person to the humble, contrite experience of faith in Jesus Christ. Also, as we see with David in Psalm 51, the Holy Spirit works to bring the wandering child of God to contrite repentance so that fellowship with the heavenly Father can be restored.

Sin is a serious matter and is not for mocking and joking. “Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favour” (Proverbs 14:9). We should never think that we can hide our sin but “be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

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Trials Can Be Blessings

I Peter 1:7
Jul 03, 2016

“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” (I Peter 1:7).

The Lord's faithful servants have always faced persecution as Jesus shows in Matthew 5:11-12. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

In the early colonial days of our nation, only two of the thirteen colonies had religious liberty. These two were Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The pastor of the Baptist church in Newport, Dr. John Clarke, was also a practicing medical doctor. He was influential in the politics of the colony and helped to write the Charter, which guaranteed religious liberty for all people in Rhode Island. The church founded by Pastor Clarke began with fifteen members and held their meetings in an old house. Historians have found it difficult to place an exact date for the beginning of the church. Some place the date at 1638 and others placing the date at 1639, but either date makes this church the oldest Baptist church in our nation.

Dr. Clarke, Obadiah Holmes, and Benjamin Crandall were arrested because they had gone North over the State line to conduct a service in the home of William Witter, an aged disciple. They were arrested for not having the permission of the state approved church and ordered to pay a fine or to be whipped. Friends paid the fines for Crandall and Pastor Clarke, but Holmes refused to allow his fine to be paid. He was whipped so brutally that he could not sleep on his back for many weeks.

The government approved church in Virginia was the Episcopal Church, so many of our Baptist forefathers were severely persecuted in that colony. Baptist people were not in favor of the initial attempts to adopt our Constitution. Most of the colonies wanted a state-approved church. Many Baptist churches showed their support only after assurances were given by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson that an amendment to the Constitution (the First Amendment) would soon be offered.

When we consider our text verse (I Peter 1:7), we might ask, “How can trials and persecutions ever be considered as precious as purified gold?” Here is one way to consider the answer. When a body of the Lord's disciples face persecution, only those who have a true love and faith in the Lord will be willing to identify with those Bible-loving churches. Insincere, worldly, unconcerned church members are a hindrance and dead weight in the Lord's work. Persecutions and trials will show the true colors of the false disciples and will give backbone and courage to those who love the Lord more than they love earthly comfort. Recall how Moses chose to take his stand with God's suffering people rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (Hebrews 11:23-26).

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“Concerning [the] Faith Have Made Shipwreck”

I Timothy 1:19
Jun 26, 2016

“Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck” (I Timothy 1:19).

In previous lessons, we have discussed the fact that the word “faith” is often used as the equivalent of the word “believe.” In Acts 16:31, the word “believe” means to trust and receive Jesus Christ as Savior. The word “faith” can be used to refer to the trusting and depending on the Lord in our daily walk. “(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)” (II Corinthians 5:7). In our text, Paul writes to Timothy about “the faith” or the true doctrines of God's word. The same language is used in I Timothy 1:2, “Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith...” Also in II Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” Using Berry's Received Greek text, we notice that our text verse has the same words, that is, “concerning [the] faith.” Jude, 3 explains “that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Delivered once when the Holy inspired Bible was finished and made available to God's people.

Paul describes an actual literal shipwrecks in II Corinthians 11:25 where he said, “Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep.” Our text verse is using the word in the figurative sense to speak of those who break up, fight against, and oppose the true doctrines of God's word. “Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (I Timothy 4:1). Others have “denied the faith” (I Timothy 5:8).

In the meeting that I attended in Tulsa, Oklahoma (June 20-23, 2016), there were many opportunities to visit, fellowship, and discuss the Lord's work with many that I have known since 1958. Most of the older pastors and I are concerned about some disturbing trends.

  1. Turning away from Biblical messages and spiritual music which can be used by the Holy Spirit to bring conviction of sin. Worldly, fleshly services make the lost sinner comfortable. This style of service is described in II Timothy 4:3-4 , “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
  2. Many young preachers see the congregations grow in number when the ear-tickling methods are used. Pride causes them to desire to “do something big” even if they must go outside of Bible examples. They must not forget that Jesus was successful in his ministry. We can have true success if we follow the example of Jesus even though some may turn away and refuse to follow Christ. Some wanted more bread, and, when they heard the true message about the Bread of Life, they were upset and no longer followed Jesus.

We do not follow Christ for some little trinket or toy. We follow him for this reason: “And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:69).

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“Abba, Father”

Mark 14:36
Jun 19, 2016

“And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mark 14:36).

In his prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus uses the words, “Abba, Father.” Vine's Bible Dictionary has a good explanation of the meaning of these words.

“Abba” is “an Aramaic word, found in Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6 . In the Gemara (a Rabbinical commentary on the Mishna, the traditional teaching of the Jews) it is stated that slaves were forbidden to address the head of the family by this title. It approximates to a personal name, in contrast to ‘Father,’ with which it is always joined in the NT. This is probably due to the fact that, abba having practically become a proper name, Greek-speaking Jews added the Greek word pater, ‘father,’ from the language they used. Abba is the word framed by the lips of infants, and betokens unreasoning trust; ‘father’ expresses an intelligent apprehension of the relationship. The two together express the love and intelligent confidence of the child.”

Consider Romans 8:14-15, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”

The language in Galatians 4:6-7 is similar. “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

John 15:9-11, 15 shows us how the relationship between Christ and his disciples grew deeper as they were taught and received his lessons. “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:9-11). “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15).

These disciples experienced the meaning of II Peter 3:18, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”

In human relationships, one can be a child of his father because of the biological connection, but that connection does not guarantee a loving, trusting partnership. The “Abba, Father” relationship shown in the scriptures is indicated by some of the key words of the three passages shown in this lesson: (1) “continue ye in my love,” (2) “keep my commandments,” (3) “your joy might be full,” (4) “ye are my friends,” and (5) “I call you not servants, but I have called you friends; for all things I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” It is good to be a born-again child of God. It is a greater blessing to also be a friend and partner in the work of the Lord.

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“I Delight in the Law of God”

Romans 7:12, 22
Jun 12, 2016

“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12). “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7:22).

God's holy law helps us to understand the righteous character of God and our own failure and sinfulness in the sight of God. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). When Isaiah had a vision of the LORD on his throne, he cried out, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5).

One of the great mistakes of the Jewish people was thinking that having God's law taught to them gave them the opportunity to establish their own righteousness. “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” (Romans 10:1-3).

God is not pleased when the sinner comes to him in pride and arrogance. The attitude of the man in Luke 18:13-14 is commended by Jesus Christ. “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

In Galatians 2:21 we read, “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” If you could keep God's law and thus achieve a right standing before God by your own works and obedience, then there would have been no need for Christ to die on the cross and provide eternal salvation through his precious blood.

Romans 8:2-3 shows that the lost sinner is condemned under God's “law of sin and death.” We learn from these verses that there is another greater, more powerful law. God's “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

When a person receives Jesus Christ by faith, a wonderful change takes place. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).

God's law is more than a set of rules to follow. God's law also includes those principles of love, grace, mercy, peace, joy, sacrifice, and faithfulness in all His will (Romans 14:17-19).

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Purpose and Structure

Ephesians 3:10-11
Jun 05, 2016

“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:10-11).

God works throughout all the ages according to an amazing plan. This will of God, this plan and purpose of God, is always in harmony with the wisdom, love, and grace of God. Ephesians 1:7 tells of “redemption through his blood” and the “forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Ephesians 1:9 tells us of “the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself.” God's will for mankind and the rest of creation was planned before creation. God did not consult with any of his creation to determine his purpose. Within his own infinite wisdom and personality, the LORD God had designed his eternal purpose, “which he had purposed in himself.”

We see God's plan unfold in his work to provide everlasting salvation to “whosoever believeth in him” (John 3:15-18). We also see God's plan revealed in the work of New Testament churches. A careful study of each word in Ephesians 3:10 shows that God desires to make known his manifold wisdom. Another passage of Scripture in harmony with Ephesians 3:10 is I Timothy 2:3-4, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

The LORD God is the Architect for the structural design for each true church. Some of the important features in His design are: only people who are saved by grace through faith have a place in church membership (Ephesians 2:8).

Baptism and the Lord's Supper, the two ordinances of the New Testament, were part of God's design. John the Baptist was sent by God to baptize (John 1:33). Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John. Jesus called out his first disciples from those who were disciples of John (John 1:35-51). Jesus placed baptism in his commission to his first church (Matthew 28:18-20). The basic structure for the witness of the Lord's churches in this world is shown in the book of Acts. Please notice the pattern in Paul's ministry in Corinth. The word of God was preached in Corinth, and “many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8).

In each town, we learn that the Lord's disciples assembled together for fellowship, instruction, and service. Their Christian conduct and the unity of the local church body is shown in Ephesians 4:4-6. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all”

A lifetime of study in God's precious word teaches us more and more of how God receives glory and honor through His church, which he designed and established. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).

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Times of Remembrance

Exodus 12:14, 26-27
May 29, 2016

“And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever” (Exodus 12:14). “And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped” (Exodus 12:26-27).

The LORD set the time for the passover in the first month of the year, the tenth day. This was a momentous event in the life of the nation, but there was danger that the people would forget the purpose of the passover. Their children would need to be taught the meaning of the ordinance in each succeeding generation.

The way the LORD gave the instructions for the passover is a reminder that the LORD'S people are prone to forget even the most wonderful blessings from the LORD as we see in Psalm 103:1-4. “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.”

Jeremiah uses the word “backsliding” five different times in Jeremiah 3 to describe how the LORD's people were going back on their promises and moving backward away from fellowship with God. One of the fruits of backsliding is described in Jeremiah 2:32, “Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number.”

The Lord's Supper, which Jesus instituted for his churches on the night of his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, is a memorial of his death. “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me” (I Corinthians 11:24-25). (Please note that our church will observe the Lord's Supper on June 5).

On Monday, May 30, our nation will observe Memorial Day, in which we remember the sacrifices of our men and women in our Military Services. It would be shameful ingratitude if we forgot their sacrifices and cared nothing for their service.

The spirit of ingratitude for the love and sacrifice of our Savior is described in Hebrews 10 24-29. Notice the strong language describing those who “sin willfully,” “despise Moses' law,” and have “trodden under foot the Son of God.”

Any one who has forgotten God's benefits, who has become backslidden, and has grown cold and unconcerned about God’s house and work needs to humbly confess their sin to God, ask for his help, and make a fresh commitment to the LORD.

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“The Sin Which Doth So Easily Beset Us”

Hebrews 12:1
May 22, 2016

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

This verse must be considered in connection with all of Hebrews ll, which shows us how the Lord's people had victory in the Lord's work by their faith and trust in the Lord. Consider the witness of Enoch who walked with God by faith; Noah who obeyed God and built the ark by faith; Abraham who followed the command of the Lord to go to a land he had never seen by faith; and Moses who forsook all the treasures of Egypt to take his stand with the Lord's people by faith. The great cloud of witnesses are those people who prove that it is best to serve the Lord by faith.

Romans 14:23 tells us, “for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” The particular sin which besets may very well be the lack of faith by the Lord's people. We are told to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.” The reference to laying aside the weight is a picture of the way runners prepared for the races in ancient Olympic games by training with extra weight attached to their legs, but removing the weights for the races.

Christians who desire to “run with patience the race [the Christian life] that is set before us” do not need to be encumbered with worldly weights and influences. The word “beset” is an old English word that speaks of sin which prevails and gains the victory in our lives. This besetting sin is shown in Demas who had been a fellow worker with Paul who said, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (II Timothy 4:10). The Lord knows that with the weakness of the flesh, we can be drawn away from our love for our Savior becoming self-centered and selfish. We can find plenty of time for worldly amusements but no time for service in God's house.

The besetting sin is also shown in the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. Some good seed that were planted in good rich soil had the potential for a bountiful harvest but were beset, damaged, and hindered by the thorns that choked the crop. It never yielded its potential. Many young people have had a promising future of fruitful service to God but have let the flesh, the world, and Satan take control. Their eternal life cannot be destroyed, but their witness and life of Christian service in this world can be lost.

We have the warning of James 1:21-22. “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” The word “souls” in verse 21 is the Greek word “psuchae” from which we get the word “psychology” with reference to the life. Your life can be saved and delivered from the damaging, besetting thorns if you will truly receive the word of God and live by its teaching.

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Wages Put into a Bag with Holes

Haggai 1:5-6
May 15, 2016

“Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” (Haggai 1:5-6).

We can find at least three kinds of labor described in the Scriptures.

I. Labor that is enjoyable because of the purpose of the labor.

“And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her” (Genesis 29:20). Jacob had left the land of Canaan to travel back to the land of Haran, where many of his kinfolks lived, to find a wife. The LORD God had confirmed His covenant with Jacob at Bethel, the house of God (Genesis 28:12-15). This covenant had first been made with Abraham and then with Isaac (Genesis 12:1-4, 26:2-4). When we read the whole story of Jacob's agreement with his father-in-law, Laban, we find a complicated lesson, but please keep in mind the main lesson of Genesis 29:20. Jacob loved Rachel so much that the labor was not a burden to him.

II. Labor that produces no satisfaction.

“Ye looked for much, and, lo it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house” (Haggai 1:9).

The laborers around Jerusalem in the time of Haggai were working against the will of God. The people had neglected to finish the temple of God and were giving their efforts and time to their own houses. It is not wrong to build a house for yourself. It is wrong when a person offers to God the leftovers: labor, time, or material gifts. The book of Malachi shows how God withheld His blessings because the people were not giving God their best (Malachi 1:13-14).

III. The work of and for the Lord is never in vain.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (I Corinthians 15:58).

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them” (Revelation 14:13). The blessings and benefits of your work for the Lord can last far beyond your earthly life.

“For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God” (II Corinthians 4:15). The word “redound” speaks of God's grace multiplying and increasing in influence through the dedication of God's people. Please notice the words of II Corinthians 4:17. “For our light [or not heavy] affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” To illustrate, one pound of service for the glory of God produces a ton of blessings.

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An Unusual Loan

I Samuel 1:27-28
May 08, 2016

“For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him; Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshiped the LORD there” (I Samuel 1:27-28).

Hannah and her husband lived approximately twelve hundred years before the birth of Christ. The worship in Israel centered around the tabernacle in Shiloh. Eli was the high priest in charge of the other priests. He directed the proper offerings and sacrifices. His sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were also priests but were very wicked men. “Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial (a worthless lawless person) they knew not the LORD” (I Samuel 2:12).

These highlights in the life of Hannah are shown in the first four chapters of I Samuel.

  1. Hannah was in bitterness of soul (I Samuel 1:10). Hannah trusted the Lord and was a woman of prayer. Her faith did not deliver her from painful experiences in life. God's people in Old Testament times had to face hardship and trials.
  2. Hannah was provoked, fretful, and misunderstood (I Samuel 1:6). The word “fret” is a very expressive word, with the meaning, “to worry, fear, and tremble”. The same word is found in Psalm 37:1, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity.” When Hannah went to the house of the LORD in Shiloh, she prayed in her heart to the LORD (I Samuel 1:13). Eli the high priest saw Hanna's lips move, heard no sound, and drew a false conclusion. He accused Hannah of being drunk with wine (I Samuel 1:14-15).
  3. Hannah made a serious vow to the LORD. “And she vowed a vow and said, O LORD of hosts, If thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head” (I Samuel 1:11). See Numbers 6:1-8 where the vow to live a separated dedicated life of a Nazarite is explained.
  4. Hannah returned home from the house of the LORD fully confident that God would answer her prayer. “And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad” (I Samuel 1:18).
  5. The full measure of God's blessings for Hannah are shown in the life of her son, Samuel. When Samuel first went to Shiloh to serve with Eli, he did not personally know the LORD. “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him” (I Samuel 2:7). Later in the same chapter when the LORD calls Samuel, his answer to the LORD is, “Speak for thy servant heareth” (I Samuel 2:10). Samuel's faithful life was a blessing to the people of Israel. Through Samuel, God ended the age of the judges and brought in the time of the kings.

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“Preach the Word”

II Timothy 4:2
May 01, 2016

This article originally appeared in the bulletin published on May 1, 2005.

“Don't preach to me.” This statement has been made to me a number of times, especially during discussions of moral standards that are taught in the Holy Scriptures.

“Please preach to me.” This statement would be the request of one who truly understands the teaching of God’s word and the importance that His word gives to scriptural preaching.

Paul wrote to Timothy, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Timothy 4:2).

To the Corinthian church, Paul wrote, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1:21-23).

Paul also wrote, “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)

It is interesting to note that the two most common Greek words that are translated “preach” in our Bible is the word euaggelizo, which means to proclaim the good news, the gospel, and the word kerusso, which means to proclaim as a herald with an official announcement. Both of these words are used in Luke 4:18 in reference to the preaching of our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel [euaggelizo] to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach [kerusso] deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach [kerusso] the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19).

As I look back over the many years of preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and think of the lives that have been changed by God's word, I am thankful that God called me in 1958 to preach His precious word.

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Men and Women of the Way

Acts 9:1-2, 22:4
Apr 24, 2016

“And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2). “And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women” (Acts 22:4).

Sinful man often chooses the way that looks right in his own eyes but is not based on the word of the LORD. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12). Because sinful man is easily deceived, we have this warning in the word of God: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

The New Testament also shows how we can go astray if we depend on our own wisdom. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21). Jesus Christ is our “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (I Corinthians 1:30).

God's way is described as

  1. the “way of the righteous” (Psalm 1:6),
  2. the “way of truth” (Psalm 119:30),
  3. the “way of thy statutes” (Psalm 119:33),
  4. the “way of peace” (Isaiah 59:8), and
  5. a “right way for us” (Ezra 8:21).

These five scriptures show us the qualities of God's way. Our two text verses are different in that they describe the disciples in the Lord's churches as the people “of this way.” The disciples followed Christ and his teaching so closely that they were called “Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).

Their way of life, their message of the gospel, and their way of sacrifice and self-denial set them apart from the religion of the Jews and the religion of the pagans. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). It is no marvel that these disciples were called the people of this way.

Does your family, your friends, and your neighbors see in you a “Person of the way, the way of Jesus Christ?”

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“Maintain Good Works”

Titus 3:14
Apr 10, 2016

“And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful” (Titus 3:14).

The “good works” in Titus 3:14 are also found in Titus 2:7, “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity.” We see the same “good works” in Titus 3:8, “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.”

In Titus 1:15-16, we have almost the same words. Instead of the plural “good works,” we see the singular “good work” used in a warning about the defiled and unbelieving. “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” It is interesting to learn that the word “reprobate” comes from the process of testing metals and finding that the metals do not stand the test of being genuine. Another word to describe these false professors is “hypocrites.”

Titus 3:4-7 shows us very clearly that God saves lost sinners by his mercy and grace, and there is “renewing” by the Holy Spirit, which refers to “being born again.” The “washing of regeneration” also speaks of new life in the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit.

Please notice the words, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done” (Titus 3:5). This verse is in perfect agreement with Romans 4:4-5, “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

The “good works” described in the book of Titus have a very important purpose in our Christian life. James 2:18 teaches, “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” Jesus taught us to be a witness with our good works in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

The word “maintain” is found two times in connection with the good works in Titus 3 and conveys this idea: “to keep in good order,” “to continue,” and “to persevere.” This goes so good with I Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

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“Fellowhelpers to the Truth”

III John 4-5, 8
Apr 03, 2016

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers” (III John 4-5). “We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth” (III John 8).

The word fellow is often used in compound words as in our text: fellowhelpers, fellowcitizen, fellowheir, fellowlaborer, fellowprisoner, fellowservant, fellowsoldier, fellowworker, and fellowship. These words indicate agreement in a partnership.

“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (I John 1:3). This verse shows agreement on two levels. What a blessing it is to have fellowship with God and with other Christians. In the New Testament church of my membership, I can be a partner, a fellowhelper, with other members in fulfilling the mission of the Lord's church. To summarize the mission, we are to assemble to worship God together (Hebrews 10:25), be a witness for Christ at home and in all nations (Acts 1:8), make disciples, baptize them, and teach them all things that Jesus Christ taught (Matthew 28:19-20), and we are to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). Paul wrote, “I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7), and he is speaking of the harmonious body of true Bible doctrine, the truth.

To understand “the faith” of Jude 3, let us consider Ephesians 4:3-6, “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” When the church in Ephesus was established on a scriptural foundation, there were twelve disciples baptized, and, on the day of Pentecost, there were three thousand disciples baptized. In the context of the “unity of the Spirit,” we can say that all these disciples knew the “same Lord,” believed the “same body of Bible doctrine” and received the “same baptism.”

The local church must have agreement in doctrine and practice to have the unity of the Spirit, that is, the unity produced by the Spirit. I Corinthians 1:10 teaches this same unity, “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.”

The true Bible doctrine of “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” and the true Bible practice of the Lord's people being “fellowhelpers to the truth” can not be followed and can not co-exist with the false doctrines of “the universal church” and the false practice of “inter-denominationalism.”

In a church that follows these false teachings, some may teach salvation by grace while others teach that works have a part in salvation. Some may teach that infants can be baptized while others teach that only converted people can be baptized. Some may teach that baptism can be by immersion or by sprinkling of water, or some may teach that baptism is not an outward ordinance but an inward action by the Spirit of God and unseen by the physical eye. These false doctrines produce the fruit of confusion.

Thank the Lord that He gave us plain teaching in His Holy Bible and sent His Holy Spirit to guide His churches into all truth (John 6:13) so that His disciples can have the blessing of true unity and fellowship in the local churches and true unity and fellowship in the cooperative work of the churches.

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“Jesus Wept”

John 11:35
Mar 27, 2016

The words of Jesus in John 11 along with other precious truths in the scriptures will help us to understand the reason “Jesus wept.”

“Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled” (John 11:32-33).

The tears of Jesus were not because he felt hopeless in this situation. He was not considering that he would not see his friend, Lazarus, again in this life. I have personally wept at a funeral for these two reasons.

Jesus knew that God, the Father, had a purpose in the death of Lazarus. “When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4). Jesus purposely delayed going to the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary until the burial of Lazarus. After the delay Jesus, said to his disciples, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him” (John 11:14-15).

[The same word “believe,” which is used in reference to the personal faith necessary to receive the new birth (John 3:15-18), is also used in John 11:15 to show confidence and trust (John 2:11) by one who is already a disciple of the Lord.]

“Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17). “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” (Hebrews 4:15).

Because Jesus is merciful and full of compassion, the weeping of Mary and her friends touched his heart with sympathy. This sympathy is indicated in the words, “touched with the feelings of our infirmities.” The words of Romans 12:15 can be considered in the situation with the family of Lazarus. “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”

It is not wrong to experience sorrow and tears at the death of a loved one. The words, “that ye sorrow not” in I Thessalonians 4:13 must be understood in connection with the rest of the verse, which tells us not to have sorrow as those “which have no hope.” Even with the sorrow, the words of Jesus offered hope to the family of Lazarus.

The most sorrowful situation at a funeral is when the one who has passed away has no testimony or evidence in their life that they had experienced God's salvation. The preacher must never judge the eternal condition of the soul, but little comfort can be offered without the testimony or evidence.

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Love and Sacrifice

Galatians 2:20
Mar 20, 2016

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Paul wrote, “the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me,” to show us the personal love and the personal sacrifice that Jesus made for each individual. Yes, Jesus Christ died for all, even those who refuse his grace so freely given. “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead” (II Corinthians 5:14). “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24). You and I can say, “Jesus died for me.”

Romans 5:15 shows us clearly that our salvation is a free gift from the Lord. “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” The principal of grace teaches us that salvation is not earned by works. “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:4-5).

We can not and we must not even try to pay God for his gift of everlasting life. We can show our thankfulness by our willing love and sacrifice in his service. Each child of God has the Spirit of God dwelling in the heart and has the love of God “shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).

After salvation, we still have the old sinful nature that battles against our life of spiritual worship and service to God. We have no reason to doubt Paul's true conversion and commitment to the Lord, but he wrote, “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:21-23).

We cannot pray enough, we cannot learn enough, and we cannot surrender enough to eliminate the old sinful nature from our experience. We can grow in faith, grace, and understanding of God's will to help us war against the sinful nature. We must always be aware of the weakness of the flesh and the danger that we face.

In the book of Hebrews, there are warnings about these dangers. “Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness” (Hebrews 3:8). “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12).

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“The Godhead Bodily”

Colossians 2:9
Mar 13, 2016

“For in him [Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).

In our Wednesday Prayer Meeting, we examined Romans 1:20, Acts 17:29, and Colossians 2:9 where the word “Godhead” is used. The Greek Received Text in these three verses uses three different closely related Greek words: Theion, Theiotes, and Theotes (all based on the word Theos, the most common word for “God” in the New Testament). Questions raised during the lesson have prompted more research. Some of the information in this article is from Easton’s Bible Dictionary and the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

In very old Scottish and Middle English, we find the words “hede”, “hod”, and “hood,” and these words were used with the same meaning as the suffix “head” in “Godhead.” The “hood” suffix remains in our present day English in words such as “childhood,” “manhood,” “statehood,” and “neighborhood.” The King James Version translators were Puritan and Episcopal scholars and were familiar with the word “Godhead,” which was used in The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England (1571).

Consider how the word “neighbor” is related to the word “neighborhood.” By the use of the suffix “hood,” we expand the meaning of the primary word. Even so, in the use of “Godhood” or “Godhead,” we are including in the use of the word all those manifold qualities and attributes of God. A few of God's attributes are:

  1. Eternity, God is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2).
  2. Sovereignty, God is the Potter, He has power over all creation (Romans 9:14-20).
  3. Immutability, The attributes and character of God do not change (Hebrews 6:17).
  4. Holiness, Righteousness, and Truthfulness (Psalm 119:137-142).
  5. Wisdom and Knowledge (Romans 11:33).
  6. Grace, Mercy, Kindness, and Love (Ephesians 2:4-8).

When Jesus Christ was born as the Son of Man, He had a sinless human body. “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). We know from Colossians 2:9 that all the fullness (completeness) of the Divine nature and all of the Divine attributes were in him.

One of my oldest books was written by a persecuted English pastor, John Flavel, who served as pastor in Dartmouth, England for thirty five years until his death on June 26, 1691 at age 61. His book, The Fountain of Life, is a series of forty-two sermons on the life and ministry of our Savior. His sermon on John 1:14 has states, “Jesus Christ did really assume the true and perfect nature of man into a personal union with his divine nature, and still remains true God and true man, in one person, for ever.”

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (I Timothy 3:16).

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Preeminence of Jesus Christ

Colossians 1:16-18
Mar 06, 2016

“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. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:17-18).

The word “preeminence” is used two times in the New Testament. In III John 9, Diotrephes is described as a self-promoter who wants to set himself above other Christians. This word shows his selfish sinful pride. When the word is applied to Jesus Christ, it shows his exalted position as the one who is Lord above all. “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:8-9).

A. The LORD God's plan and purpose for creation is in Jesus Christ. “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1:9-10).

Look into the heavens that show the glory of God (Psalm 19:1) and consider this earth with its mountains, oceans, deserts, and fertile plains teeming with plant and life that demonstrate God's “eternal power and Godhead” [i.e., His divine nature and attributes] (Romans 1:20). Study the history of mankind with the present nations and races dwelling on this earth. The big question is: Why did God create all this? It pleased the Father that through His Son all things were made “by him, and for him” and that in the Son “should all fulness [the fulfillment and completion of God's purpose] dwell” (Colossians 1:19).

B. Jesus Christ has preeminence in the new birth, redemption, and salvation for each lost sinner. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

C. As the head of each New Testament church, Jesus Christ has first place in His church. He is the one who called out and established the first church (Matthew 16:18). He is the one who gave the keys of kingdom work, the commission, to his churches (Matthew 16:19, 28:18-20). The ordinances of baptism and the Lord's Supper in the Lord's churches direct our attention to Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-5, Matthew 26:26-30). Each New Testament church works to bring glory to God through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:21), enlists disciples into the Lord's work, educates the disciples in the teachings of the Bible, and edifies [builds up] the disciples in the cross-bearing, witnessing, dedicated life (Luke 9:23, Romans 12:1-2).

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“He that hath the Bride is the Bridegroom”

John 3:29-30
Feb 28, 2016

“He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:29-30).

These words are from John the Baptist, and he spoke of himself as “the friend of the bridegroom.” The language in our day is “the best man” and is common in marriage ceremonies. Please notice the humble attitude of John who desired that Jesus Christ would increase. John said, “He that cometh from above is above all” (John 3:31), and John's is explaining that his purpose was to exalt and bring glory to Jesus Christ.

We can learn more about the bride from other New Testament scriptures.


II Corinthians 11:2, “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.” These inspired words delivered by Paul were to the Lord's church in Corinth, which was engaged to Christ. The wedding has not yet taken place, but this relationship between Christ and his church obligates the church to be true and faithful to Christ. Paul was concerned that some flirtatious deceiver would corrupt the church in Corinth and lead them away from their purpose. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).


Ephesians 5:25-27, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 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.” Quoting from Genesis 2:24, Paul writes, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32).

No doubt the relationship of Jesus Christ and his church is indicated in the words “bridegroom” and “bride.”


Revelation 19:7, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.”

The means by which “his wife hath made herself ready” will require the study of many more verses in God's word. The sanctification and cleansing of Ephesians 5:26 is essential to the preparation. If a church has the spots and wrinkles of Ephesians 5:27, then it cannot be described as a “glorious church” or “holy and without blemish.” It is very interesting to note that the “cleansing by the word” is also taught to the Lord's disciples in John 15:3, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” If a congregation does not faithfully follow the word of God, then they have ugly spots and blemishes.

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“Streams in the Desert”

Isaiah 11:9, 35:5-6
Feb 21, 2016

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert” (Isaiah 35:5-6).

These glorious conditions foretold by Isaiah will come to pass during the 1000 year kingdom reign of Christ as He rules from His throne as promised by the angel who was sent to Mary (Luke 1:26-33).

Our Adult Sunday School class has given attention to Matthew 24 with some parallel passages, which will help us to have some understanding of the time line of these events.

  • II Timothy 3:1-7, Perilous times in the last days. We are now in these last days.
  • II Peter 2:1-3, Some in the Lord's churches will listen to and follow false teachers. This sad situation was present in the days of the Apostles but has grown much worse in the present day.
  • II Thessalonians 2:1-12, The Antichrist who deceives with the power of Satan may even now be laying the foundation for his wicked deception, which will come to fullness during the tribulation.
  • I Thessalonians 4:13-18, We do not know the date of our Lord's return. We are to be ready at any time (Matthew 24:44). The first phase of the return of Christ with the resurrection and the rapture of those in Christ is described in Titus 2:13. “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”
  • Romans 14:12, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” II Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” I Corinthians 3:13-15, The fire of God's righteous judgment will reveal every man's work of what sort it is. Some works done for the glory of God in accordance with God's will are described as gold, silver and precious stones. Some works by God's own people are just wood, hay, and stubble, and those works will be burned. An amazing fact of God's grace is found in I Corinthians 3:15, “If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
  • Revelation 19:11-21 and Zechariah 14:1-9, At the end of the tribulation, Christ will return to stand on the Mount of Olives and will set up His 1000 year reign. The white throne judgment for the lost condemned sinners occurs after the 1000 year reign (Revelation 20:11-15).
  • Revelation 19:7, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” (More info on this verse will be in a later lesson.)

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“The Greatest of These is Charity”

I Corinthians 13:13
Feb 14, 2016

“And now abideth faith, hope, charity [agape], these three; but the greatest of these is charity [agape]” (I Corinthians 13:13).

The word “charity” in our text has the meaning “love” and is translated from the Greek word “agape,” which is used so many times in the scriptures. Please notice how many times this word is used in I John 4. In addition to the word “agape,” we have the Greek word “phileo,” which speaks of brotherly love.

  1. God loves sinners. “But God commendeth his love [agape] toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
  2. God loves and protects his own people. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love [agape] of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
  3. Christ loves his church. “Husbands, love [agapao] your wives, even as Christ also loved [agapao] the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).
  4. Husband and wife are to love each other. “Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love [agapao] his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ephesians 5:33)
  5. Christians are to love one another. “Beloved [agapetos], if God so loved [agapao] us, we ought also to love [agapao] one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love [agapao] one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love [agape] is perfected in us” (I John 4:11-12).
  6. Christians are to love God's commandments. “And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved [Hebrew: 'ahab]. My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved [Hebrew: 'ahab]; and I will meditate in thy statutes” (Psalm 119:47-48).

Love can be seen but not as a tangible object. Love can be seen in actions and results. God showed his love by giving his Son for us (John 3:16). Paul taught the Corinthian church to show the proof of their love by their generous help to others (II Corinthians 8:24).

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“Remembrance of These Things”

II Peter 1:12-13
Feb 07, 2016

“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance” (II Peter 1:12-13).

II Peter 1 begins with a lesson on growing in grace and knowledge, and the last verse of the book has this message: “But 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). If you do not grow in grace and add to your faith, you will have this sad experience of forgetfulness. “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 1:9). When one “is blind and cannot see far off,” it indicates that this spiritual blindness is not total.

Through the many years of my ministry, I have used these scriptures and I John 5:13, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

Eternal salvation is the gift of God and is received by grace through faith, and this gift can never be taken away from the child of God. The promise of eternal security is very plain in John 10:27-28. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

I remember a powerful sermon preached by an old pastor, G. E. Jones, of Morrilton, Arkansas in 1958. He preached, “I will believe and preach the security of the believer as long as ‘everlasting life’ is in John 3:16, as long as ‘shall not come into condemnation’ is in John 5:24, as long as ‘they shall never perish’ is in John 10:28, and as long as we have the promise of Romans 8:38-39, ‘For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’”

The assurance and joy of salvation can be lost. We learn this truth from the experience of David who committed a terrible sin against God. In his prayer of repentance and confession (Psalm 51), he asked the LORD, “Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:9-10), and “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation” (Psalm 51:12).

God answered David's prayer and forgave him, but we learn from the events in David's life that forgiveness did not remove the chastisement and sorrow that were the fruit of David's sinful actions.

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When Jesus Preached

Matthew 7:28-29
Jan 31, 2016

“And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29).

Jesus Preached with Gracious Words

“And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth...” (Luke 4:22). This astonishment came after Jesus went into the synagogue in Nazareth and read from the Isaiah 61. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). The use of the word “bruised,” which describes those smitten, scattered, shattered, and broken, shows the love and compassion of Jesus for those crushed by the weight of sin.

Jesus also had compassion for those who had religion but did not have true salvation. Consider his plain message to the Pharisee, Nicodemus. “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). Jesus then explained the way of salvation. “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” (John 3:14-15).

Jesus Preached the Message of Judgment

In Matthew 23, Jesus warned of outward religion with no true change of heart on the inside. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:27-28). “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matthew 23:33).

Jesus Preached the Message of Discipleship and Faithfulness

In his great sermon in Matthew 5, 6, and 7, Jesus speaks of hearing what he teaches and then obeying his message (Matthew 7:24). Jesus calls his disciples to follow him. He was not only interested in the salvation of a soul, but he also cared about the salvation of a life. “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).

The Earthly Ministry of Jesus Trained His Disciples

We learn from the commission in Matthew 28:18-20 given to our Lord's first church that his message was to be taught to all nations. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” The word “teach” in this verse speaks of bringing people by the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16) to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Those brought to saving faith are to be baptized. The “all things whatsoever I have commanded you” in verse 20 speak of the teaching and training received by that body of disciples directly from Jesus himself. He prepared his first church by teaching and training to continue his message to the end of this age.

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“Members in Particular”

I Corinthians 12:27
Jan 24, 2016

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

“The body of Christ” in this text verse is possessive and teaches that the church body in Corinth belongs to Jesus Christ. The same truth of ownership is shown in Romans 16:16, “The churches of Christ salute you,” and it shows the ownership of Christ for each of his churches. Paul spoke to the shepherds of the Ephesian church, “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). Ownership by purchase is shown in the letter to the Ephesian church, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).

The Human Body as an Illustration

Paul uses different members of the human body such as the eye, the ear, the hand, and the feet to show that different members in the local church body do not have the same talents and responsibilities but each member individually has a work to do. “For as the body is one, and hath many members...” ( I Corinthians 12:12) and “For the body is not one member, but many” (I Corinthians 12:14). The word “particular” in our text is used as an adverb (“particularly”) in Acts 21:19 and, in Vine's Bible Dictionary, it has the meaning “one by one.” This gives emphasis to individual responsibility with unity in the church body. “Endeavouring [striving] to keep the unity of the Spirit [the Spirit is the source of true unity] in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). The binding together in peace of different members with Christ and each other is by the power of the Spirit of God.

The Construction Team as a Picture

The building of the tabernacle with Moses leading the work, the building of the temple when Solomon was the king, and the restoration of Jerusalem in the days of Nehemiah were not one-man enterprises. The LORD God told Moses that a man, Bezaleel, was filled with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship. The LORD also promised, “And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee” (Exodus 31:6). The women were also involved in the work. “And all the women that were wise hearted did spin with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine linen. And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun goats' hair” (Exodus 35:25-26).

II Chronicles 2:1-2 gives some idea of the thousands of workmen involved in building the Temple. “And Solomon determined to build an house for the name of the LORD, and an house for his kingdom. And Solomon told out threescore and ten thousand men to bear burdens, and fourscore thousand to hew in the mountain, and three thousand and six hundred to oversee them.”

Nehemiah 2, 3, and 4 show how Nehemiah planned the work in Jerusalem and then organized teams of workers with each team having a section of the wall. “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).

Today the individual members in the LORD's churches need the wise hearted, willing, sacrificial attitude to unite in the common cause of fulfilling the commission of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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“A Quiet and Peaceable Life”

I Timothy 2:2
Jan 17, 2016

“For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (I Timothy 2:2).

We have recently had two Bible studies from I Timothy 2. On Sunday evening (1/10/2016), we discussed the first part of verse 4, “Who [God] will have all men to be saved...” The Bible teaches us that God loves all the people of the world (John 3:16) and the death of Christ on the cross was for all mankind (Hebrews 2:9). Many will not be saved because they reject the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

On Wednesday evening (1/13/2016), we focused on the second part of verse 4, “...and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” You need some understanding of the truth to come to personal saving faith in Jesus. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). God desires that you begin growing as a Christian from the day of your salvation. “But 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). You need serious Bible study and commitment to obey the Lord in order to grow. Regular fellowship and attendance with the Lord's church will strengthen you in your Christian life.

We need to be in prayer for our civil government authorities with this purpose in mind: we desire to have “a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” Good government is one way to promote this ideal. We see a shortage of peace between nations, within the different nations, in communities and families, and even within the heart and soul of many people.

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). This peace in salvation is just one aspect of peace.

“Be careful for nothing [not anxious about anything]; 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 4:6-7).

Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. Paul adds in Philippians 4:9, “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

These scriptures in I Timothy and Philippians paint a picture in my mind of God's people enjoying the blessings of the Lord, working in the kingdom of God with scriptural understanding and faithfulness, assurance of God's grace, fellowship with fellow Christians, and a definite purpose in their Christian walk. See Paul's prayer in Colossians 1:9-14, which names many blessings in the Lord's work.

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Part II: The Importance of the Seventh Month

Numbers 29:1
Jan 10, 2016

“And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you” (Numbers 29:1).

We see from Exodus 12 that the LORD set the beginning of the year at the first month (Hebrew Nisan), which is in the spring of the year. The appearance of the new moon closest to the Spring equinox sets the exact day.

The calendar on my desk shows October 3, 2016, beginning at sundown, as Rosh Hashanah. This Hebrew word means “the head, the beginning.” Jews all over the world celebrate this as “New Years Day.” They explain the conflict involving the two different days with this explanation: (1) The new year that begins fourteen days before the Passover (April 23, 2016) is the religious new year, and (2) Rosh Hashanah in the Fall is the civil new year.

Support for the observance of Rosh Hashanah on the first day of the seventh month (Hebrew Tishrei) is found in Exodus 34:22, “And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end.” This verse speaks of the feast of weeks, which is Pentecost (Leviticus 23:5-6, 15-16). This verse also speaks of the feast of ingathering.

We must not connect the words “at the year's end” with the day of Pentecost, but we can connect those words with the feast of ingathering, which does support the Jewish view of having the civil new year (Rosh Hashanah) in the seventh month in the fall harvest time of the year.

All of the heathen nations from Egypt to Babylon marked the fall harvest for the beginning of their new year. Jewish historians teach that Israel had only one new year in the seventh month before the LORD delivered them from bondage and set Nisan (also called Rosh Hadashim or “first of the months”) as the new first month for Israel. This fits with the LORD's plan for Israel to be different from all the heathen nations. Israel's God was different, their worship was different, and the law given by the LORD was different. They were given different rules for marriage to keep them separate from other nations.

Information on this subject is in the web site article, “Why are there are two Jewish new years?” This site is maintained by Jewish people who believe that Jesus is the Messiah. However, they have a serious error in their doctrine by believing that the Law of Moses is still the rule of faith and order for Jewish Christians since Jesus the Christ lived according to the Law of Moses

The separation of Israel from the heathen nations is a good example for the Lord's churches to have no fellowship with those who pervert the gospel of our Lord (Galatians 1:6-9). Any false doctrine is hurtful to the Lord's work, and we are commanded to have no fellowship with unrighteousness (II Corinthians 6:14). We can love wicked sinners, witness to them, pray for them, and show kindness and helpfulness to them, but we cannot become partners in their sinfulness.

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Part I: Why Do Jewish People Have Two New Year's Days?

Exodus 12:2, Leviticus 23:5
Jan 03, 2016

“This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Exodus 12:2). “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover” (Leviticus 23:5).

No doubt, this marks the beginning of the months for Israel. The Jewish calendar also shows that, on the first day of the seventh month, Israel observes “Rosh Hashanah,” which means, “The New Year.” An internet search shows a large amount of information on the two new year's days. Great care is taken by the Jewish leaders to get the first day of Nisan correctly set because the correct observance of all holy days and festivals is dependent on getting the first day of the year before Passover exactly right. It is also very important that the first day of the seventh month (Rosh Hashanah) be correct because the Sabbath year (every seventh year) and the Jubilee year (every fiftieth Year) must be exactly right.

The Jewish Passover is always in the month of Nisan. On the tenth day of Nisan, an unblemished first-born male lamb was selected by each family. The lamb was kept penned up until the evening of the fourteenth of the month and then sacrificed to prepare the Passover meal (the Jewish day begins in the evening). At the first Passover in Egypt, the blood of the lamb was applied to the two side posts and the upper post of the houses where the Passover meal was eaten (Exodus 12:7). God promised that the life of the firstborn in the home would be spared if the blood was applied.

The lamb of the Passover was roasted with fire and never eaten raw or boiled with water. It was eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. All leaven, a picture of sin, was to removed from the home, and the bread was baked without leaven. The bitter herbs were a reminder of the bitter years of slavery and suffering in Egypt. Any leftovers were to be burned with fire (Exodus 12:8-10). The New Testament shows that Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb without spot or blemish and that His blood is the purchase price of our eternal redemption (I Corinthians 5:7, 1 Peter 1:18-19). “When I See The Blood” (In Spirit And In Truth, Hymn 189) is based on the Passover Lamb.

The seventh month had three very important events.

  1. On the first day, a Sabbath day was proclaimed with the blowing of trumpets, and burnt offerings, flour mingled with oil for an offering, and the sin offering were made.
  2. The tenth day of the seventh month was the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29-34). In the New Testament, Hebrews 9:7-14 and 24-26 shows that Jesus Christ fulfilled the Day of Atonement when He by His own blood entered into “heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”
  3. On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, the Feast of Tabernacles began. This special occasion began with a Sabbath day and ended with another Sabbath on the eighth day. During this time, the people cut branches of trees and constructed booths to remind them of the journey out of Egypt when they were pilgrims on the move with no permanent homes. According to Leviticus 23:39-43 and Nehemiah 8:9-18, this time was a time of feasting, sharing food, and rejoicing.

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