Don’t Believe Your Eyes!
Magicians’ sleight of hand fools most people when it is done correctly. When watching them, we are wise when we heed the warning, “Don’t believe your eyes.” In entertainment, many a short man has been made taller on television and in the movies by filming him next to his “leading lady” while he stands on a box! Many a computer has generated scenes and events for movies that could never happen otherwise. Our senses can be fooled in many ways. I remember when Isaac was fooled when his sense of “touch” told him one thing, while his sense of “hearing” told him something else (Gen. 27:22). Since our senses, especially our sense of sight, can be misled, does it not then make sense that through our senses, specifically our sight, Satan will tempt us to do evil? This is what he does!
In the beginning, Satan tempted Eve by what the apostle John described as “the lust of the eyes” (I Jn. 2:16). Satan encouraged Eve to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in contradiction to God’s command (Gen. 3:4-5). When, among other things, Eve “saw” the fruit was “pleasant to the eyes” she ate of that fruit (Gen. 3:6). This was not the only means Satan used to tempt her, but the lust of the eyes, the appeal to what her eyes saw, was a key element in her temptation, her sin, and ultimately her spiritual death (Gen. 2:15-17; Jas. 1:14-15).
In like manner, we must be careful with our sense of sight and what we look at from day to day. We can commit sin if we are not cautious and careful in our observation. We need to appreciate the warnings God has given to us in reference to our sense of sight.
For example, long ago, Job said, “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1). He was wise and saw the dangers associated with using his eyes and mind to lust after a woman. Christ also said that our sense of sight could lead us into sin. He said, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:28). Let us pay close attention to these words! Both God and Satan know that the lust of the eyes can lead us into sin. Therefore, we must be on our guard to make sure we do not sin by lusting after others!
Another sin we can commit with our eyes is to have a “proud look” (Prov. 6:17-19). God hates the proud look; it is an abomination to Him. This is made clear as we read in the Bible of God’s hatred for pride and the proud look as well as God’s commendation for humility (I Pet. 5:5-6; Jas. 4:10).
At times, our little children sing the song, “O, Be Careful Little Eyes What You See.” After reading of God’s warnings concerning our eyes, perhaps it would be good for the adults to learn this song as well!
The Scepter Of The Lord
A scepter is an object unknown to most of us in the United States. A scepter is an object used by the monarch of a country. The Holman Bible Dictionary defines “scepter” as: “The official staff or baton of a king, symbolic of his authority .... ” The term “scepter” is used several times in the Bible. We will use this article to focus on how the term “scepter” applies to the Lord.
In the Old Testament, we see the term “scepter” used for the first time in Genesis 49:10. In preparation for his death, Jacob assembles his twelve sons together and conveys blessings upon them. As he comes to Judah, he says: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and to him shall the gathering of the peoples be.” Here, we find the promise of Christ’s coming (Shiloh) through the physical lineage of Judah (Matt. 1:2-3; Lk. 3:33; Heb. 7:14). Looking further, we read, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness” (Ps. 45:6). In other words, this ruling One is righteous in His judgments, and not a wicked king by any means.
One passage that ought to jump out at us after reading Psalm 45:6 is Hebrews 1:8. “But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is a scepter of your kingdom.’” Therefore, the statement of David had reference to Christ and His righteous rule!
Paul wrote to Timothy and said that Christ is, “... the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (I Tim. 6:14-15). When writing the book of Revelation, John said, “These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings ...” (Rev. 17:14, 19:16). Yes, Christ rules today, and will do so “till he has put all enemies under his feet...” (I Cor. 15:25, 28).
The Lord reigns over us right now, ruling with a scepter of righteousness or uprightness. Therefore, our responsibility is to submit willingly to the Lord, our King. What Christ tells us to do, we must do (Col. 3:17)!
Our King tells us to believe on Him or die in our sins (Jn. 8:24). Christ tells us to repent or perish (Lk. 13:3). Our King commands men to confess Him or be denied in the presence of the Father (Matt. 10:32-33). Jesus also has decreed that one must be baptized in order to be saved or we will be lost (Mk. 16:16). Our responsibility is to submit to His plan, not fight against it!
Similarly, all of the New Testament stands as our instructions for living in this life (II Tim. 3:16-17). We are expected to do all things according to the authority of our King (Col. 3:17). Will we rebel, or will we gladly obey? That is the question! Christ is our King; are we living for Him (Lk. 6:46)? Think about it!!
Did Alexander Campbell Start A Church?
When discussing the subject of the church of Christ, we sometimes hear the comment made that the church of Christ was started by Alexander Campbell. Mr. Campbell was a well-known preacher in America in the 1800’s; but did he start the church of Christ or any other church for that matter? The answer is no. Yet, the teaching that Mr. Campbell established a church is made because people do not know the simple teaching of the New Testament concerning the church.
To begin, Alexander Campbell could not have started the church of Christ. This is because folks like Mary, Peter, James, John, Phoebe, and Paul were among the members of it (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:47; I Cor. 12:28; Rom. 16:1, 16; Heb. 12:28; Rev. 1:9). Saved people were added to the Lord’s church beginning in Acts 2:47, and continue to be added to it to this day. Alexander Campbell did not live in the first century. Nor did he die to purchase a church (Acts 20:28). Mr. Campbell lived from 1788 to 1866. In other words, he was born almost 1800 years after the Lord’s church was established in Acts 2.
Have you ever been to Paris, Kentucky and visited the Cane Ridge meeting house? If not, you need to go there and look at one of the grave markers in the cemetery. In the cemetery, you will find the grave marker of William Rogers. Mr. Rogers’ headstone looks like many others of that era except for the inscription found upon it. William Rogers’ headstone reads as follows: “Born in Campbell Co., Va., July 7, 1784, removed with his father to Cane Ridge, Bourbon Co., April 1793. United with the Church of Christ at Cane Ridge in 1807.”
A significant date mentioned on the headstone is 1807. This is because 1807 was two years before Alexander Campbell came to America from Ireland and three years before he preached his first sermon in America. How could Alexander Campbell have started the church of Christ if William Rogers was already in it in 1807?
Further, in Celina, TN, there is a church of Christ who can trace the congregation’s beginning back to 1805. How could this be possible since Mr. Campbell wasn’t even in America at the time? The answer, of course, is that it is possible because Mr. Campbell didn’t start the church of Christ (Rom. 16:16). The church of Christ began in this country when Christians came here simply preaching and teaching about the church found in the Bible! As was noted above, such things happened long before Alexander Campbell was in this land.
Mr. Campbell did much in his life to spread the gospel, but there is nothing the church of Christ does or practices that had its beginning with Mr. Campbell, or any other man (Gal. 1:6-9). The church of Christ follows what Christ has revealed in the New Testament (Jn. 12:48). If you’re interested in knowing more, contact me.
Keep It Simple …
The above statement is the “motto” of a friend of mine. When it comes to the preaching and teaching of God’s word, he tells me often, “Keep it simple.” This sentiment was impressed upon my mind even further when a lady said she had learned that the main problem that high school students have today is not which church to go to, but whether or not to believe in God in the first place. Think about it: We live in a society that has so pushed God aside that the lady who talked with me said she knows high school students who need to be convinced about the very existence of God!
This sister’s observation told me that, yes, it is necessary to “keep it simple” as I preach. It also tells me that I need to be preaching and teaching these “simple” sermons not only to the teenagers but also to the PARENTS of those teenagers! After all, children are the students of their parents. Therefore, if parents are not doing their job and exposing their children to God, the Bible, to truth, etc., then how can we expect them to know these things? God has placed the responsibility of teaching primarily with parents (Gen. 18:19; Deut. 6:6-9, 11:18-21; Eph. 6:4; II Tim. 1:5; etc.).
Furthermore, when I think about the statement, “Keep it simple,” I find that this does not mean make things simplistic, or speak down to people. Rather, it places responsibility on the teacher to make sure things are said in such a way that folks can understand. One does not need to be a “Greek scholar” to go to Heaven. We do not need to have Ph.D. degrees in order to understand the Bible! The apostle Paul said, “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4). Jesus encouraged the reading and searching (studying) of Scriptures, for He knew that in so doing, mankind can understand the truth and can follow it (Jn. 5:39, 17:17; Rev. 1:3). Not only did He state this truth, but He lived it (Acts 1:1)! Bear in mind, that when Jesus spoke, “the common people heard him gladly” (Mk. 12:37). Those who listened to Jesus were often the “unknowns,” the “rejected,” and “the general population.” In contrast, the social “elites,” and their ilk like the Pharisees and Sadducees, did not like Jesus. In fact, they conspired against Him to keep Him from preaching (Jn. 11:47-53). After Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, the apostles continued preaching His simple message (Acts 2, etc.). When they preached that simple message, the “elites,” and “educated” people marveled, at their words, noting, “...they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
Therefore, to “keep it simple” means to do as Jesus and the apostles did. Can we think of any better examples to follow than Christ and His apostles when one today wants to communicate God’s will in the best way? I can’t! Generally speaking, men have a tendency to complicate the things they are involved in, whether it be a physical or spiritual endeavor. Yet, our Lord knows how to “keep it simple.” Let us follow that example!
What A Day May Bring …
Solomon wrote, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Prov. 27:1). I remember a time in my life where I saw three people pass from this world in one month alone. Have you ever had a month like that? These deaths affected me, and each death caused me to “lay to heart” (Ecc. 7:2) what happened. In fact, each time one dies, it testifies that we have no lease on life.
God has never promised us a long life; nor has He promised us freedom from worry or problems. In reality, there are very few things we can count on in this life. We are not promised a safe drive home. We are not guaranteed that a home appliance will never fail. We are not promised that we will never get sick. We are not sheltered or immune from tragedy striking our homes in one form or another. When we recognize this, we will begin to appreciate the truth spoken by Solomon in Proverbs 27:1!
In a world of uncertainty, God has given us some promises which are sure and steadfast. For instance, God has promised never to leave or forsake His children (Heb. 13:5). God has also promised a Judgment Day in which the righteous will be rewarded, while the wicked will be punished (Rom. 2:7-11; Matt. 25:46; etc.). Not only is God and His judgment unchanging, but we can also take comfort in the fact that His word is unchanging. Man’s word changes often, and the things men say today may not be the same thing he says tomorrow. Yet, God’s word does not change!
David knew this and stated, “Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens” (Ps. 119:89) While on earth, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). God has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” and His word “thoroughly furnishes” men for “every good work” (I Pet. 1:4; II Tim. 3:16-17). Since this is true, does it not give us hope and comfort when we know that His word is unchanging?
In a world that changes often, we find that the only settled and sure thing is God and those things related to Him! We do not know all the things that could happen in a day. Men can lie to us. Disease can ravage a family. Sometimes, people make selfish decisions which end up having an effect on us. No, we do not know what will happen in a day. No one can predict this.
Yet, for all of this, God is constant and consistent. He loves us and wants the best for us. He sent Christ to die (Rom. 5:9). He has given us His word to follow (Jn. 12:48). It leads us to Heaven. Seeing that this is the case, may this week be the week that we stop trusting in ourselves and trust in the Lord (Prov. 3:5). In the course of a day or a week, our lives can change in profound ways. Let us therefore, trust in God and hold to His unchanging hand while the storms of life rage!