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“Take Heed What You Hear.”

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

            I imagine there are few words of advice more needed today than the words of Christ in Mark 4:24. In a world that’s filled with “fake news,” it’s hard to know the truth. Pilate once asked sarcastically, “What is truth?” (Jn. 18:38), but I believe there are folks asking this question sincerely. Do you have an answer for them?

We’re a generation bombarded with information, yet we have so little knowledge! It’s tragic. In a sense, though, people in every generation have endured this problem. Had that not been so, Jesus wouldn’t have said what He did in Mark 4:24.

            We face the problem of being bombarded with information but little knowledge because the father of lies (Jn. 8:44) roams this earth looking for victims (I Pet. 5:8). He wants us to listen to lies, idle tales, or any other thing so long as we don’t listen to the word of the Lord! He tries hard to steal the word when he can (Mk. 4:4, 15). If it takes root, though, then he tries to get us to give up as we face persecutions and hardships from those who do not wish for us to serve God (Mk. 4:5-6, 16-17). If this tactic fails, he uses the “cares of this world,” “the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things” to stop our spiritual growth (Mk. 4:7, 18-19).

            God’s word, the “seed” (Mk. 4:3, 14), does its best work in the “good ground” (Mk. 4:8, 20). Here in this fertile soil, the “seed” can take root, grow, and produce more fruit. How do we get to this point? We get here by taking “heed” (taking care, NAS, NET) to what we hear!

            To what are you listening? What fills your ears? What fills your eyes (remember, our reading affects us, too)? Do you demand that sound words be preached and taught to you (II Tim. 4:2), or do you not care (II Tim. 4:3-4)? As you read, or as someone teaches you, are you listening carefully? Do you compare what you learn to the Scriptures (Acts 17:11)? “Take heed what ye hear” when it comes to the word of God!

            Do we read God’s word through a filter? This is my way of asking do we read God’s word to prove our belief? Do we read God’s with the idea already in mind, and we simply go to God’s word to prove it? Are you upset if the preacher doesn’t say or teach something in the manner you want to hear it? Friend, “take heed what ye hear”!

Furthermore, take heed because “many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I Jn. 4:1; II Pet. 2:1-3)! They bring “damnable heresies” and “bring upon themselves swift destruction.” This is nothing we want to fellowship (II Jn. 9-11)! Therefore, we need to “take heed.” Just because a person is nice or has a friendly face doesn’t mean that he is telling the truth when he speaks. Often, false teachers appear as “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29-31). Thus all the more reason to “take heed” or pay attention!

Following the Lord isn’t for the lazy (II Tim. 2:15). It’s not for the unobservant person, either! Not being observant will get you in trouble. Let’s listen to the words of the Lord more, and men less! I saw a meme recently that said words to the effect that the longer we spend time in God’s word, the more we’ll see how Satan has lied to us. Amen to that! Let’s listen! Let’s take heed to the truth and see the blessings that flow from God’s throne!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Two Are Better Than One."

Thursday, September 10, 2020

                   Ecclesiastes 4:9 reminds us that, “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.” Solomon says that two are better than one because if one falls, the other can pick him up (v. 10). Two together bring (beneficial) heat (v. 11), and two and even three together can withstand enemies when they come (v. 12).

                   This section of Ecclesiastes reminds us that man is a social creature. God made man in such a way that he needs the companionship of others. Companionship is one reason for marriage (Gen. 2:18). Some consider it the main reason for marriage, and I would not disagree. Companionship is why we have friends (Prov. 18:24). Refusing friendships and social interaction with others is not normal to our way of life, and is why it is so odd when someone wishes to be a “hermit.” While it is true that men need to be alone at times, this person cannot live like this for months and years at a time and remain healthy.

                   In his writing, Solomon tells us that there is a need for companionship. We must have those who will support, care, love, and keep us in “check.” Do you have someone like this in your life? If you have more than one person who fills this role, you are truly blessed.

                   Do you fill this role for others? What kind of friend are you? “Two are better than one” is true, so long as both people have the same goals! We need people that are going to help us go to Heaven. This is necessary with our friends, and it is especially needed when we are choosing a mate (Matt. 19:4-6). We need a spouse who will help us go to Heaven so that we can be “heirs together of the grace of life” (I Pet. 3:7).

                   Satan tries his best to tempt us and lure us away from the Lord. Peter describes him as a “roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8). One way the lion devours is by finding the weak, the young, the ones who cannot stay with the “herd” and killing and devouring his prey. It is the same today, spiritually. Thus, a reason we need others is that we might help one another fight Satan’s advances. If one would fall (spiritually), his friend can help lift him up and get him back on the right track (Gal. 6:1; Jas. 5:19-20).

                   Who are your friends?

                   Is Jesus your friend (Jn. 14:15, 15:14)? Remember, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13). Now, read Romans 5:6-8. Christ had shown Himself to be a friend before we ever loved Him. How are you treating Him now?

                   If Christ is your friend:

  • You will have a “good reward for your labor” (Ecc. 4:9; I Cor. 15:58; II Tim. 4:8).
  • He will lift you up (Ecc. 4:10; Jas. 4:10; I Pet. 5:6).
  • He will benefit us on earth as well as in Heaven (Ecc. 4:11; Matt. 6:25-33; Rev. 22:14).
  • He will help us prevail over Satan (Ecc. 4:12; Jas. 4:7-8; I Cor. 15:57).

                   “Two are better than one.” Who are your friends?

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"You Must Take A Stand"

Monday, August 10, 2020

            In the context of II John 11, we learn that whoever teaches false doctrine does not have fellowship with God (II Jn. 9). At the same time, it is not right for those who hear the false doctrine to accept the person and act as if nothing is wrong (II John 10). If someone bids “Godspeed” (KJV) or “Greets” (ASV, Darby, ESV, NET, RV, etc.) the false teacher, this person is just as guilty in the eyes of God. Other Bible versions use the terms, “participates,” or “sharing” for “partaker” in II John 11. I think this helps us understand what John was teaching. Not only is it wrong to teach false doctrine, but it is also wrong for those hearing false doctrine to stand by and allow it to be taught without opposition (II Jn. 10-11)!

            The apostle Paul showed us the right response when he said that when Judaizers came in to “spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus,” they gave place “no, not for an hour” (Gal. 2:4-5)! Later, Paul would withstand Peter “to the face, because he was to be blamed” for the hypocrisy he perpetuated (Gal. 2:11). Paul would also write (by inspiration) a warning similar to John’s to the Romans. After listing the sins the Gentiles had committed through the years, he ends chapter one by saying, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Rom. 1:32). In other words, not only did the people committing the sins deserve death (Jas. 1:15), but those who approve of what is done (applaud, ISV; consent, ASV; delight, Darby) deserve the same punishment! This sounds like John’s warning in II John 11.

            The stand taken by Paul and John while they lived, and encouraged in their epistles (Rom. 1:32; II Jn. 9-11), serves at least two purposes. One purpose is obvious, and that is to save those who are affected by false doctrine, including myself! Remember, to bid “Godspeed” means I am also partaking (II Jn. 11)! If I do not take a stand, or if I bid “Godspeed” to a deceiver, then many more will be deceived. The second purpose is closely linked to the first. This is that by standing, we are also trying to win the soul of the false teacher. When we stand opposed to someone because of his false teaching, we need to make sure and check our attitude. Is our response motivated by hatred of the person or the doctrine? There is a difference! If I am trying to win an argument, I very well may lose the soul. If I am trying to win someone’s soul, I will win the argument by default. What John shows me is that I not allow what some call “love” to silence my tongue! I must speak! I must warn!

            Sadly, we live in a time when men are afraid of confrontation. We have a society that recoils at the thought of standing for the truth, but ironically is quick to criticize and belittle anyone who does! We are told that retreat is courageous. This is wrong. Christians in our time who claim to wear the armor of Christ (Eph. 6:11-19), tend to forget about the sword. Yet, the sword is a part of our armor! The sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:18) is not a defensive but an offensive weapon. With it, we take the fight to the enemy (II Cor. 10:3-5; I Tim. 6:12)! The sword is not for cleaning your fingernails, or picking your teeth! With the sword of the Spirit, we stand against “the wiles of the devil” and do not give submission, “no, not for an hour”!

When we read II John, we learn that we do not give “Godspeed” (greet, participate, or share) with false teachers as if to “go along and get along.” Remember, souls are at stake, and they are too precious to leave to the “wolves” (Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29-31)! At the same time, standing against the wolves who teach false doctrines may open their eyes to the truth. This is our goal -- to bring lost souls to the Father (Jas. 5:19-20). When we do not partake or share with false teachers, we will cause them to stop and consider what they are doing. No, not everyone repents at this, but folks need to know where we stand. Let them be warned in love and truth (Eph. 4:15, 5:11). Let us stand with a pure conscious, knowing that false teachers will face God in judgment, having at least been warned. Who knows, but you are in the kingdom “for such a time as this,” and your warning might save a soul from death? One thing is certain: silence in the face of false teaching and pretending nothing is wrong will do nothing to remedy the situation, nor will it save a soul. It only makes things worse!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"...Hath Not God"

Saturday, August 08, 2020

            The title of this study is composed of three small words. Yet, these words are significant in meaning and application. When we read II John 9, we learn that if someone (“whosoever”) transgresses, he is not living in the doctrine of Christ, and does not have God! In contrast, living (“abiding”) in the doctrine means he “hath the Father and the Son.”

            To not have God means this person is not in fellowship with God. The relationship that might be enjoyed with God has been destroyed. Thus, abiding in the “doctrine of Christ” is a serious commitment, and there are real consequences for disobedience. Too, we must remember our study from II John 8. This statement in verse nine is not made to people living outside of the body of Christ. Those who are not Christians don’t have God anyway (Isa. 59:1-2; I Pet. 3:12)! The warning of verse nine is to Christians, just as is verse eight. Yes, Christians can move from “having God” to “not having God” if they ever decide to not abide or live in His doctrine. Thus, we learn once more that salvation is not completed in a moment in time, but salvation is a lifestyle. It is the result of daily decisions. We must “walk in the light as He is in the light” (I Jn. 1:7)! We must do this daily, and in so doing, we “have God.”

            To not have God means our soul is in jeopardy of being lost in Hell. It is not a game or a joke to not have God. It is not a minor infraction or a mere “slip-up.” We must stop making a mockery of God and sin and realize that sin is why Christ came to this earth in the first place (Gen. 3:15; Isa. 53; Jn. 18:37; Jn. 3:16; etc.)! Sin is compared to a disease (Isa. 1:5-6), and we need the Great Physician to heal us!

            Therefore, let us examine our lives. First, if you are not a Christian, then you are not in fellowship with God in the first place. Believe on Christ (Jn. 8:24), repent of your sin (Acts 17:30), confess Christ (Rom. 10:10) and be baptized (I Pet. 3:21)! Then, continue to “walk in the light” (I Jn. 1:7). Abide or live in His word (II Jn. 9), and then enjoy the fellowship of God! If you have walked away, then you do not have God (II Jn. 9), but thankfully, you can repent and return to Him (Acts 8:22; I Jn. 1:9). Examine yourself (II Cor. 13:5). Are you in fellowship with God? If not, then let’s talk and get things corrected today while we have the opportunity (II Cor. 6:2)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Whosoever"

Thursday, August 06, 2020

            In reading II John, I must recognize that while verses like II John 9-11 tend to be used more often by brethren than others in the letter, these verses have a context that must be respected. Once I know I have placed what is said in context, it is then that I can make proper applications to myself.

            The context of II John 9-11 is that John told his readers to obey the Lord’s command and love each other (v. 6). He warned of deceivers and antichrists among them and told them to examine themselves and make sure they don’t lose what they had (v. 7-8). These thoughts then lead to the truth, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

            Notice the unilateral aspect of this statement. In light of the fact that there are deceivers among us and because we all have a responsibility to examine ourselves and be faithful, then “whosoever” transgresses (goes beyond) the doctrine (teaching) of the Lord, does not have God. In contrast, anyone who obeys will have the Father and the Son. If anyone does not (whosoever) bring the doctrine that John has been teaching, then don’t receive or bid Godspeed to this person, because if you bid this person Godspeed, then you are a partaker (in fellowship) of this person’s evil deeds.

            “Whosoever” is a word that includes all people. Whoever chooses not to bring the doctrine of Christ does not have fellowship with God. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your name is, how much money you have, or where you live. It doesn’t matter about your past and how many people you have won to the Lord! If you now choose to deceive people and teach false doctrine, you will not be in fellowship with God (II Jn. 9). Furthermore, those who choose to accept a false teacher for any reason, and will not stand against his teaching, are also wrong and a “partaker of his evil deeds” (II Jn. 11). This teaching is parallel to the inspired teaching written by Ezekiel (Ezek. 18:20-32).

            I emphasize the word “whosoever” because men tend to “favor” family members, friends, and others who have some relation to us. Some will justify family members or friends in their false doctrine while lambasting someone they do not know as well. Sadly, it is evident that though those in the church of Christ do not teach “once-saved-always-saved” or the impossibility of apostasy doctrine, several tend to practice it! Remember, whoever is not teaching what God has said does not have God’s fellowship, and those who justify the error taught are just as guilty!

            “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward” (II Jn. 8), still applies! Take the time to examine yourself and make sure you are in the right relationship with God! This includes opposing the deceivers as well as supporting those who are teaching the truth! This is a tall order and demands daily discipline, but we can do it!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

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