Thinking You Are Doing God ServiceMonday, February 27, 2017
Thinking You Are Offering God Service
Jesus warned the eleven: “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me” (Jn. 16:1-3). This is an eye-opening statement to me. Jesus told His apostles that there were some people who were quite zealous and adamant about their beliefs, yet they were wrong! Jesus warned of folks killing the apostles, and in so doing, thinking they were serving God! How wrong can people get?
Execution for preaching Christ was not limited to the apostles. In his younger days, Saul of Tarsus consented to the death of Stephen (Acts 8:1). In later years, he said, “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth…. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities” (Acts 26:9-11). How could someone brought up at the feet of Gamaliel and “educated … according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers”; a man “zealous for God” (Acts 22:3), do these things? I think a key point in Paul’s case was his admission in Acts 26:9. Somewhere in his life he went off-track, and began acting selfishly rather than selflessly following the pure will of God!
How do I know this is what happened? It is because if he had followed the will of God, he would have accepted Christ rather than rejected Him! Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad” (Jn. 8:56)! Moses wrote about Christ also (Jn. 5:46)! Therefore, if he (or any of the Jews who had rejected Christ and Christians in the first century) was following the pure will of God, he would have listened to the words of Abraham and Moses and would have accepted Christ. Those who accepted the truth from the inspired words of Abraham, Moses and other prophets followed Christ! Yet, because folks like Saul and others were following the whims and wishes of men, they were taught to kill Christ and Christians, and in so doing, they would “offer God service.” How tragic!
What can we learn from this? We can learn that just because I think something is “good” or “holy” or “righteous” does not make it so. The inspired word of God equips us for “every good work” (II Tim. 3:16-17). Therefore, if what I am doing does not have authority from the Scriptures, it is not a good work! It is time we examined our lives (II Cor. 13:5) and made sure what we are doing is what has been authorized by God in His Scriptures. If we find we are following the will of man instead of God, then we need to repent or be guilty of the same thing those Jews were guilty of in the first century. Specifically, doing something sinful, and saying it is “offering service to God.”
Woe to people who exchange their “think so’s” for God’s word and then claim they are following the Lord (Isa. 5:20)! If we are guilty of this, beware, for we fool ourselves into thinking we are “doing God service” when in actuality, we are harming the Lord’s cause. We end up working for Satan by default and destroying the very thing we claim to be building. “Test everything, hold fast what is good” (I Thess. 5:21). Follow God’s will only, and forsake man’s will. Let us not be guilty of sinning while claiming we are “doing God service”!
The Old And New TestamentsSaturday, February 25, 2017
The Old And New Testaments
One of the most basic divisions found within the Bible is the division between the Old and New Testaments (Covenants). Yet, this division is something unknown to many. Unfortunately, many do not respect Biblical context, and this has produced many false doctrines. There is a difference between the Old and New Testaments. Today we live under the New Testament, rather than the Old.
Since we are under the New Testament today, some may ask, “What purpose does the Old Testament serve?” The apostle Paul answered this question when he wrote, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).
At times, we in the church of Christ have been accused of not believing in the Old Testament because we teach that we are subject to the New Testament today. To say that we don’t believe in the Old Testament is not true. In fact, when we teach that we are under the New Testament (Covenant) and not the Old, we are teaching what the Old Testament teaches! Please read Jeremiah 31:31-34 and see that Jeremiah prophesied of a day coming when God will “make a new covenant”. Several centuries later, Hebrews 8 records that this prophecy was fulfilled! Thus, we are under a New Testament today, just as the Old Testament said would happen!
When we read the New Testament, the end of the Old is a consistent theme. II Corinthians 3:7-16 speaks of the Old Testament, telling us that it has been “done away.” “Taken away” and “abolished” are other terms used in this text to let us know that we are not subject to the terms and conditions of the Old Testament today.
Galatians chapter 3 states in very clear terms that the Old Testament was a “schoolmaster” (tutor, trainer, guardian, servant) to bring folks in Old Testament days to Christ (Gal. 3:24). This is another purpose the Old Testament served. The term “schoolmaster” paints a word-picture of a servant that faithfully brings a student to his teacher. In this case, the Old Testament was “added” to the promises God made to Abraham “till the seed (Christ) should come” (Gal. 3:16-19, 24)! It led the Jews to Christ. The Old Testament has served its purpose, and we are subject to the New Testament today!
Another passage we can study is Colossians 2:14. In this passage, we see that the Old Law was nailed to the cross with Christ! If we wondered about the place of the Old Testament in our lives today, let us not wonder anymore. Its place is at the cross. At the death of Christ, His covenant came into effect (Heb. 9:15-17), and the Old was “done away.” It passed away (Heb. 8:13)! Can there be any question as to what God’s thoughts are concerning the Old Testament? Knowing this is true, who are we to say that the Old Testament is still binding upon men? To say such is to contradict the very Scriptures that were inspired of God (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:20-21).
In light of the passages we have studied, why would someone want to teach that the Old Covenant is still binding? Excluding those who are genuinely ignorant of the differences between the Old and New Covenants, the only reason I can think of is because there are folks trying to justify their “pet” doctrines. When they cannot justify them from the New Testament, they turn to the Old Testament. For example: Instrumental Music in worship, Observance of the Sabbath Day, and justifying divorces and remarriages for reasons other than fornication (Matt. 5:32, 19:9) are just a few reasons why folks try to say the Old Testament is still in force today.
Let us respect the Lord’s will, handle it accurately (II Tim. 2:15), and obey it completely. When we do, we will respect the fact that the Old Testament, while needed at one time, has been done away through the crucifixion of Christ. We now live under the New Testament and need to follow what Christ has said.
Ingredients For A Long LifeFriday, February 24, 2017
Ingredients For A Long Life
The Japanese Journal of Geriatrics polled some 4,152 Japanese people who were 100 years old and older and asked them what they thought contributed to their old age. The following are the results:
- Eat lots of protein
- Keep calories down
- Get enough sleep
- Live in an area with very, very good medical care facilities.
What do you think of these reasons for long life? Personally, I think the fourth contributing factor would go far in offsetting any deficiencies the people may have had in the first three factors!! What do you think?
I remember that one woman was asked what contributed to her long life. Her answer was that she had “a pint of whiskey and cigars every day.” George Burns was asked what contributed to his long life. His answer was, “Not dying, yet.”
People continue to search for the “magic pill” or the magic “anything” to help them live longer lives free from disease and other physical ailments. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this attitude, for God made us with that drive to want to live.
In addition to a man’s drive to live, we also realize that man fears the unknown; and what occurs at that moment of death is something no one has come back to describe for us. Take careful note of the different people in both Old and New Testaments who were resurrected from the dead. Not a one told us what occurred at that moment, did they?
What must be realized is that it does not matter how long one lives. What is most important is whether or not one is a Christian! When we consider our lives, what is most important to us? Is it the days we have lived since our physical birth, or is it that we have had the second birth, that spiritual birth (Jn. 3:3, 5)?
Does it really matter how long I live? No. What matters is that I take care of my body, the temple of the living God (I Cor. 3:16, 6:19-20). What matters is how I live my life (Col. 3:17). What matters is that my soul is prepared for eternity (Matt. 16:26). What matters is that I am a Christian (Acts 2:38). Remember what Peter said: “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil” (I Pet. 3:10-12). Paul said that long life comes from obeying one’s parents (Eph. 6:1-3). This is quite a contrast from the Japanese peoples’ suggestions, isn’t it? Let us take God’s advice and live according to His will. Let us make the most of life by living “self-controlled, upright, and godly in the present age” that we might see Heaven one day (Titus 2:12). If the Lord allows us to tarry until He comes again, then so be it. If the Lord takes us from this earth this very day, so be it. The ingredients for a long life are not important to the Christian, for his joy is found on the other side! A Christian’s joy is found in looking toward his home in Heaven (Col. 3:1-2). His joy is found in desiring “a better country.” Long life can be enjoyable, but it is not the greatest thing! Nor can anyone “bottle” the supposed ingredients. Therefore, let us make the best of this life by becoming a Christian and remaining faithful to God all the days of our lives (Acts 2:38; Rev. 2:10; I Cor. 15:58).
Once You Admit It, Will You Stop It?Thursday, February 23, 2017
Once You Admit It, Will You Stop It?
There was a cartoon several years ago in the Saturday Review of Literature in which little George Washington had cut down the famous cherry tree. He made his admission that he did it -- after all, he “cannot tell a lie.” Also pictured was his exasperated father, who said, “All right, so you admit it! You always admit it! The question is, when are you going to stop doing it?”
The cartoon was amusing, but it makes a good point that deserves our attention. Once we admit that we have committed certain sins, will we stop? Perhaps you know of those who readily admit that they are a sinner and in need of salvation. At the same time, these people will not take that next step, which is to turn from those sins and obey the Gospel (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). Many have said that one of the most difficult aspects of any problem is admitting that you have one. It seems like some people have “conquered” this fear of admitting their sin, but will do nothing beyond this. A friend of mine said when it gets to this point, the person is no longer confessing sin, but bragging! I agree.
In the Bible, we learn that God not only demands that men admit they are sinners but also demands that men act! In Old Testament days, Solomon said, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Prov. 28:13). Notice please that God expects men to confess AND forsake the sin in order to have mercy. It is not enough to merely confess (admit?) the sin and then go on living in sin! In New Testament days, Christ said, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3). What does “repentance” mean? It means turning away from the way you used to live, and living in accordance with Christ’s will! An example of repentance is found in the book of Matthew. Christ spoke a parable concerning two sons who were told by their father to go work in the vineyard. One son said he would go but did not. The other refused, but later “repented and went” (Matt. 21:29). Read Luke 15:11-21, and see another son who was in the same position. In repentance, we see one not only recognizing the guilt of his sin and confessing sin but also stopping sinful behavior!
When the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he told them that he knew what he wrote in the first letter would make them sorry, but he rejoiced because that godly sorrow led them to repentance (II Cor. 7:9-10). Notice that when we sorrow over an act that we know is wrong, we still have not done what is right! Godly sorrow leads us to repentance, but we must still repent!
When one learns that he has sinned in the sight of God, he must not only admit/confess the sin, not only be sorry about the sin but also turn from sin and do what is right! Only then can one be in a right relationship with God.
Dear friend, examine your life. Are there things you are doing which contradict the will of God? In what areas of life are you guilty of sin? In those cases, not only must you face up to the fact that you are guilty, but then also take the necessary steps to get out of that sin. If you’re outside of Christ, then waste no time in repenting of your sins, confessing Christ as the Son of God and being baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:36-38, 8:36-38; Mk. 16:16). If you’ve done those things already, but have been caught up in various sins, then turn from your error in repentance, confess those things and pray for God’s forgiveness (Acts 8:22; I Jn. 1:9). It is not enough to admit you have a problem. You must stop the sin and do what is right (Isa. 1:16-17)! God is longsuffering. Therefore, let us repent and live for Him (II Pet. 3:9; II Cor. 5:14-15).
The Silence Of The ScriptureWednesday, February 22, 2017
The Silence Of The Scripture
Many today think that God’s silence within the Scripture is in fact, permission to act. In contrast, there are others today who say that if God is silent on a subject, this means we cannot do it! Which viewpoint is the Scriptural viewpoint? Are they both wrong? What does the Scripture say? Let us see what the truth is concerning the silence of the Scripture.
When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, it was not long until they reached the Red Sea. Knowing that the Red Sea prohibited their travel, and the Egyptians were quickly catching up, what were they to do? Exodus 14:10-14 records the people’s frustration and Moses’ response. He said, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today…. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
Seeing that God had not spoken yet about what they were to do upon arriving at the Red Sea, Moses commanded the people to “stand firm.” They were not to act until God spoke to them! We know that God parted the water, and they crossed on dry ground (v. 15-16), but until God spoke to Moses, they “stood firm” and did not move!
Consider Numbers 9:2-11. After God had given the command to keep the Passover, two came and said they had missed it because they were defiled. Therefore, they asked Moses what to do. What did Moses say? Take note of his answer: “Wait, that I may hear what the LORD will command concerning you” (Num. 9:8). Moses did nothing until God spoke, and required those men do nothing until God spoke! Once he inquired of the Lord, then the matter was resolved. Let us learn and learn well that when God is silent, we cannot act!
In the New Testament, when the Jews disputed over whether or not uncircumcised Gentiles could be saved, it was God’s silence that settled matters (Acts 15:7-15, 24). When we read Acts 15, Peter recalled his experience with the Gentiles (Acts 10-11), and the fact that God had said nothing about the Gentiles being physically circumcised was evidence to them that it was not necessary anymore.
This is not the only time that men in the Bible reasoned based upon God’s silence. For example, in Hebrews 7:12-14 we learn that without a change of the law, Christ could not be a priest. Why? It is because God, through Moses, had allowed the Levites to serve as priests, and had been silent about Judah’s descendants serving as priests (Num. 1:50-54, 3:12, 45, 18:1-7)! God had not given a list of all the tribes not allowed to serve as priests. Rather, by only allowing the Levites to serve, it was understood that all other tribes were forbidden in the Old Covenant. Therefore, there has come a change of the law, and we today are subject to the New Testament, the New Covenant, and not the Old.
In Old Testament days, it was stated, “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29). God has revealed all necessary to live a pleasing, acceptable, and enjoyable life (II Pet. 1:3; II Tim. 3:16-17). Why would we want to act when God has been silent? The truth is that most people have not yet come to terms with what God has said! Let us learn and learn well that God’s silence never permits, it only prohibits!