“When the Tempter Came”

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“When the Tempter Came”
Matthew 4:3-11

This place in scripture reveals to us an amazing encounter. You may recall prior to this writing that John baptized Jesus in water, and the heavens were opened, and the voice of the Father spoke saying, “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Following his baptism, verse 1 of chapter 4 tells us that Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted of the devil. The scripture does not tell us how much time passes between the Lord’s baptism and the encounter we read about in the text. Nonetheless, Matthew records for us the Savior being tempted as the next event in the life of Christ following his baptism. In this lengthy account, Matthew depicts for us a rare occurrence where Jesus faces off with the one who seeks to destroy us all. Yes, the very devil himself would have loved nothing more than to have fooled Jesus into worshiping him instead of the Heavenly Father. He tempted the Savior with 3 things: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life which are noted as things of the world in I John 2:15-17. But isn’t that what Satan tempts us all with? He offers us everything that this world holds if only we will bow to him instead of bringing ourselves into submission with God.
But notice also that the tempter comes to people when they are weak. Matthew tells us that Jesus fasted forty days & forty nights and was afterward a hungered in verse 2 of the chapter listed above. And perhaps the devil believed that Jesus would be in a weak frame of mind as he was famished from his fasting. And so he goes to Jesus and seeks to lead him into sin through temptation! But Jesus would not be deceived. Rather, in his famished state, our Lord was as bold as ever, refuting the tempter’s ventures to destroy him.
Sometimes I wonder why we don’t respond the way Jesus did when the tempter comes our way. It’s safe to say that we have all fallen short when we are tempted. But does this happen because we ill equipped to combat the devil’s weapons? No, we just make up excuses to cover up for our lack of will power to resist temptation. Allow me to briefly note three tactics that a Christian may execute so to dispatch the great deceiver.
First, a Christian must deduce that temptation becomes sin only when acted upon. I have found in my own life that it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between when we are being tempted and when we have sinned. Lumping the two together into a category may cause us to believe that if we’re tempted, we’ve sinned. On the contrary, James writes in his epistle that every man is tempted (James 1:13-15). This servant of God highlights three sizable points in these verses. We just noted the first, but the other two are as follows: God tempts no man (1), and sin is the result of action taken when lust is experienced (2). After all, even the Lord was tempted as seen in the encounter with Satan in the gospels and affirmed by the Hebrew writer (Hebrews 4:15). Christ of course, faced the temptation without acting on it, leaving us the greatest example. We must strive to abstain from all sin, despite the reality that we will be tempted.
Second, a Christian must resist the devil. A resistance constructed on the foundation of God’s Word is crucial to our preparation for facing the prince of darkness. Resisting the devil sounds simple enough, but applying this direct command is another story. Again, James writes, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). The focus here should be on the former section of the verse. There is no better way to resist the devil than to submit to God’s will. James says that doing such will force the devil to flee from us! Imagine the pressure and power of temptation lifted from your conscience because you have wholly submitted yourself to the Father’s will! That is an amazing feat! In the 4th chapter of James’ epistle, he rebukes his reading audience about the lust in their hearts, particularly fleshly lusts. Having already explained that sin is the result of lust being conceived at the beginning of his letter, he writes about the necessity for them to draw nigh unto God, so that the Father would draw nigh unto them (James 4:8). The apostle calls for the purification of their hearts, so that they no longer think with a double mind! How is that accomplished? By submitting your mind and heart completely to God and His Word. When this is done, the devil will flee from us! Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the first letter, expounding on the idea that fleeing from sin would cause Satan to flee (I Corinthians 6:18). A Christian can turn from temptation when the tempter comes by resisting the devil.
Last, a Christian should give a righteous response when the tempter approaches. There is possibly no better example of the righteous response than in the textual scriptures referenced above. With each temptation presented to our Lord, a Biblical answer is given. How many of us calmly speak divine words to turn away the tempter? Most likely, we allow the temptation offered to weigh on us instead of abruptly responding with the inspired words of the Creator! The longer you allow the temptation to exist in your presence, the less likely you will be to send it away with a righteous response. So much there is to learn from the Christ, but too often we enjoy the pleasures of sin that stem from appealing temptations, never recalling how quickly these pleasures fade away. May we all seek to structure a divine foundation to stand on while we prepare for when the tempter comes.

Colby Culbertson

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

“Are You Sleeping?”

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“Are You Sleeping?”

Mark 13:32-37

Some things happen in life that take us by surprise. They happen suddenly, taking place at times when we are caught off guard. But the gospel of Mark records for us in chapter 13 what Matthew recorded in chapter 24 of his gospel. Jesus and his disciples sat on the Mount of Olives one afternoon looking toward a crowded city of unsuspecting people when Jesus predicted the coming of a great and terrible day. That terrible day would arrive some 30 years later and became known as the abomination of desolation. The Lord spent the better part of Mark 13 outlining the details of the destruction that the Roman war lord Titus would wage against the holy city. The generation Christ spoke of that day on the Mount of Olives would be unaware that this destruction was fast approaching, and most did not listen to the Savior’s warnings. And many were surprised in horror as they were destroyed during the great destruction of Jerusalem.

 

But in verse 32 of the chapter, Jesus speaks of another great day that will confound us all. Jude does not describe it as a great day but the great day! The scriptures teach that no man knows the day nor the hour, not even the angels in Heaven nor Christ himself knows when he will be commanded to return in the clouds to declare time no more and the judgment upon us. Only the Father in Heaven knows when that great day will come to pass. But we must all come to realize that Christ’s return will happen in a mere moment. Paul contended to the Thessalonians that the day of the Lord would come like a thief in the night. Peter used the very same words to describe that unsuspecting hour when the eastern sky would split open with a deafening sound and the clouds be rolled back like a tapestry revealing the Son of God and his angels. In other words, it will arrive at the most unsuspecting time. Maybe you’ll be driving down the road in your car, or working away at your job. Perhaps you’ll be sitting at the dinner table with your family, or even be asleep in your bed. No matter what is going on in your life when Jesus comes in the clouds, we shall all be surprised! So with that precedent set, Jesus tells a short parable in verses 34-37 of Mark 13, to further illustrate the idea that He would come again, but the time remains unknown to us. Jesus said, “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.” Are you like me in that your heart races with surprise when you are awakened from sleep unexpectedly? I daresay there would be no greater surprise than to be awakened out of sleep one night because the judgment has arrived. But for many today, spiritual sleep is a constant exercise for them when it comes to the important things of life. They have no real concern for the importance of preparing to meet God. Oh sure, they look to be wide-awake in their physical body, but spiritually they have yet to wake up! But if there is one thing that we cannot afford to sleep on brethren, it’s the Lord’s return! There are a few Bible examples of people that used sleep to ignore the things that were right. And those who sleep spiritually are similar to these examples.

 

There are some who sleep the sleep of Jonah, which was an unrealistic sleep because Jonah had refused to see reality. He decided he would ignore God by refusing a trip to Nineveh, and instead boarded a ship, where he went down into the hold of that ship and went to sleep. He thought that if he ignored God’s wishes, it would take him out of the circumstance he was in, but it did not. We act like Jonah sometimes and sleep on our responsibilities to God hoping he will forget about them, and let us off the hook. There are also those who sleep the sleep of the weary like Peter, James & John did in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night that Jesus was betrayed. They were worn out from the events that occurred during that final week of the Lord’s life, and could not hold up under the stress. So the scriptures teach that these men slept during the time that the Son of God needed them most. I see people today who are worn out from the never ending struggle with Satan and the weariness of always having to live right, and so they sleep on the challenges of Christianity. Then there are some who sleep the sleep of Samson, who dozed off on the knees of Delilah while she called for a Philistine man to shave off his hair, which relinquished his strength. Samson knew the dangers of the situation he was in, yet foolishly thought he could keep shaking himself from the bonds of sleep, until it was too late. I’d go as far to say that there are some here today who know the dangers of neglecting their responsibilities to God (such as seldom prayers, a lack of Bible study, never visiting the sick, or poor focus in the worship), yet they continue to sleep, while the time approaches when it will be too late to awake out of sleep! But then there are some who sleep the sleep of Eutychus, which is the sleep of the injured. This man fell out of a third story window while the apostle Paul was long preaching and presumed dead, but Paul revived the young man saying, “His life is still in him.” Some people have survived near fatal injuries. They’ve flirted with death a time or two in near death experiences only to come out alive once more, yet they continue to sleep on the gospel that they ought to obey! Then there are also those who sleep the sleep of spiritual death like some of the members at Corinth did. This is why Paul wrote in chapter 11 and verse 30: 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. These people had improperly observed the communion of the Lord’s body, and this lead to their spiritual deaths. But others sleep the sleep of discouragement, like Elijah slept over in I Kings 19. In this instance, Elijah was feeling sorry for himself because the wicked queen Jezebel all but guaranteed that she would have him killed in a 24 hour period because he had slain all those false prophets at the brook of Kishon. But later in the chapter, the Father showed his power to Elijah by tearing down mountains and creating earthquakes and fires, proving his omnipotence over any adversary that stood in the prophet’s path. Elijah needed to get up and be about his business for the Lord of hosts, for he was more powerful than the adversaries of Elijah! Many are sleeping the sleep of discouragement or pity. They are mistreated and persecuted just like Paul warned that all Christians would be to Timothy, so they just go to sleep instead of facing the trials of life.

 

But probably the most common sleep is the sleep of the sluggard. They put off salvation until tomorrow. They thought about obeying the gospel and would like to do what God teaches us to do, but they foolishly think that they can shake themselves from this sluggish state when the convenient season arrives and somehow become exactly what the Lord expects. This was certainly the case with Felix the governor when Paul defended himself against the accusation of heresy before the Roman council in Acts 24. Felix trembled at the thought of salvation from God passing him by, yet he allowed the spiritual sleep lingering in his eyes to put it off until a convenient season had arrived. We run across a lot of Felix-minded folks in our communities. Salvation sounds like a neat little deal to them, but they lack the sense of urgency needed to obey the gospel. They sleep on their separation from God by sin, waiting for a time that better suits them and their busy schedule.

 

The fact is that this life comes with countless distractions that coerce us all into slumbering on the eternal necessities of life. But friends, life is far too short and eternity is much to certain for us to sleep on Jesus who gave his life to save us! So be honest with yourself…are you sleeping?

 

Colby Culbertson

 

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

What Does it Mean to Be a Slave to Christ?

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What Does It Mean To Be A Slave To Christ?

If a person were to promote slavery today, that person would be relegated to a class of social outcasts. I do not uphold segregation or advocate for 19th century American slavery. In fact, I do not advocate for any type of physical, human slavery for that matter, but I do vie for the slavery that James proudly proclaimed in his epistle. James 1:1 says, “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The following discourse explains why Christians need to bring spiritual slavery back in style.
The word “bondservant” in James 1:1 comes from the Greek word “doulos.” This word carries with it the connotation of a slave. Yes, James is saying he is a slave to the “Lord Jesus.” There is no question why James calls Jesus “Lord.” Lord means master. Although submitting to the status of a slave before the Master will inevitably alter a Christian’s physical life, the change in spiritual submission to the Master is the driving force. Only when the individual spiritually cries out, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled,” (Ps. 6:2-3) can the Christian please the Master. Psalm 6:2-3 does not endorse a sinner’s prayer. Too many misled individuals have uttered such a meaningless prayer only to return to their self-serving life of sin as a dog returns to wallowing in his own vomit (Proverbs 26:11). No, such an ineffectual prayer will not suffice. Psalm 6:2-3, and many other Bible authors who speak of God as Lord of their life, embody the mindset and willingness to sell all and follow Christ and His orders no matter the cost. After all, a slave has no rights, owns no property, and deserves no wage. The slave is the life and property of the master. Being such, the Lord requires honesty, obedience, diligence, trustworthiness, loyalty, and self-denial.
Jesus asks no less than utter submission, because He is God (John 10:30) and God is greatly to be feared (Ps. 89:7 & Eccl. 12:13). His own words demand a slave’s heart and mind. “Then He (Jesus) said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me,’” (Luke 9:23). The key phrase here is, “Let him deny himself.” The question is not, “What do I want?” The question is this, “What does Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior want?”
Unlike earthly masters, the Lord Jesus does not force submission. Yes, we owe a life of slavery to Christ because He purchased our lives with His own blood (Acts 20:28 & Hebrews 9:14-15). Christians are allowed by God to live anemic lives of selfishness and vanity. They are welcome to trample through His blood as they speak idly of His holy name or substitute complacency for promiscuity. Because God is loving, He will force no one to submit to Him. Nonetheless, because He is righteous and just, He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. On the day of judgment, Christ will not be your friend and companion. He will be the Judge. Is Christ the Lord of your life? If not, bring spiritual slavery to Christ back in style.

Aaron Battey

 

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

Why A “Personal Relationship With Jesus” Is a Lie

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Why A “Personal Relationship With Jesus” Is a Lie

The popular plea from evangelical ministers, “You need to have a personal relationship with Jesus,” has been around for years. This mantra tickles people’s ears, makes the eyes sparkle, and leaves the heart feeling peaceful and delighted. That’s all very nice, but…so what? Perhaps discovering where this phrase came from would provide an even more soul stirring enlightenment.
In 1913, Billy Sunday invented the phrase “A personal relationship with God.” This became the motto behind what became known as the Third Great Awakening. That would be a fine and dandy motto if the Bible was written in 1913, but it wasn’t. For Bible believers who value the Word of God to direct their lives (Colossians 3:17), this phrase does not make the cut. Phrases and doctrines that originated centuries after God’s word was fully and finally revealed (Jude 3) should rather stimulate indigestion before peace and delight are to be had. Keith Mathison speaks to this reality very pointedly in his book Dispensationalism: Rightly Diving the People of God?

Historical arguments are not the final test for the truthfulness of any doctrine. Scripture is our sole authority for both doctrine and practice. Yet the history of a doctrine can be highly relevant. We have much more reason to be confident of a doctrine such as the Trinity, which has been taught since the first centuries of the church age, than of a doctrine first taught 150 years ago. As a rule, Christians should be cautious about accepting any doctrine that has never been taught in the history of the church. (1995, R&R Publishing p. 12)

The reasoning expressed by Mathison is supported by nothing short of the Bible itself. In Acts 15 the Jerusalem church elders and apostles wrote a letter to the church at Antioch in order to address Jews who were binding circumcision on Christians. Speaking to this point, the church leaders said the following: “We have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised and keep the law’ to whom we gave no such commandment,” (Acts 15:24). The last phrase in the quotation stands out. The fact of the matter was this: nowhere in the church’s history or in the Law of Christ (Galatians 6:2) was circumcision ever commanded or even hinted at as a practice to be followed. This example reinforces to importance of looking back to the original teachings of the early church, specifically the official delegates of Jesus being the apostles and prophets (1 John 4:6).
The phrase, “Have a personal relationship with Jesus,” is not found in the Bible. It is not a truthful reality. Rather, this mantra is a cunning lie, fit to attract and idolize man’s selfish construct of God; making God what man would like Him to be instead of what He is in reality. God is our not our “daddy” or extravagant lover. Jesus has not left the right hand of God in order to pet and coddle the Christian in his sin. God is greatly to be feared (Hebrews 10:31). Jesus’ mandates for salvation include leaving all to follow Him (Matthew 19:21-22) rather than Jesus leaving all to follow the Christian.

Aaron Battey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

Why Demonic Faith Does Not Save

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Why Demonic Faith Does Not Save

The denominational world has produced much confusion over the Bible subject of faith. So weakened by various false doctrines is the subject of faith that many might burst a carotid vessel as they passionately advocate for belief in Christ, yet they know nothing more about faith than what they are misled into by charismatic evangelists. Open the Bible to follow along with this study on faith to discover if you have the same faith as demons.
First impressions can be deceiving. This is a common and sage piece of advice most people are familiar with. With this advice in mind, consider the fan favorite method of studying the Bible. That method goes as follows: a person opens their Bible at random, he reads a single verse, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31),” he closes his Bible, and he determines he does not like the God of the Bible. Another person opens their Bible at random and reads, “For God so loved that world that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16),” he closes his Bible and determines he likes this gracious God of the Bible who requires nothing more than a stated belief in Jesus. This method of Bible study is at the root of misunderstanding the Bible truth on the subject of faith. Faith is more than a feeling. Faith is more than a confession. Faith is more than a demonic acknowledgment that Jesus is the Christ. The faith of demons is the same faith enlisted by so many religious leaders the world wide.
James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble.” Demons are rational beings, and being rational they could logically deduce that Jesus was the Christ (see Mark 5:6). Demons indeed have faith, but that is not the same as saying that demons have saving faith. With this being said, no proclaimed Christian wants to share the faith of demons. There are at least four key components to a saving faith, and demons only have two of those components.
The four components of a saving faith are here listed. First, saving faith requires knowledge. Knowledge is “what” a person believes in. The Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip to baptize him. Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may,” (Acts 8:37). The Ethiopian eunuch went on to confess the knowledge he was just taught by Philip, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” (Acts 8:37). Even demons have knowledge of the Christ. Thus, making this confession did not save the eunuch. Second, saving faith requires mental assent or mental agreement with the knowledge under consideration. The eunuch obviously agreed with the knowledge of the Christ and so do demons (Mark 5:6 and James 2:19). Third, saving faith includes trust or conviction in the stated knowledge. Hebrews 3:18-19 illustrates the idea of trust that is expressed in saving faith. The writer is in the middle of retelling Israel’s disobedience in the wilderness as they journeyed to the rest awaiting them in Canaan when he says the following: “And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Notice two key words: obey and unbelief. When the game is on the line, so to speak, people act on what they truly trust or believe. This brings up the last component of faith. Fourth, saving faith is contingent on obedience. Demons do not obey Christ, and this is why they cannot be saved. Hebrews 3:18-19 should be more than enough to illustrate the point. For volume sake, read also James 2:17-18, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” This does not contradict other passages of the Bible such as Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 4:1-8; rather, it provides clarification on a subject made murky by centuries of false doctrine.
Much, much more could and needs to be said on this subject, but permit these proofs on the subject of faith to be enough for now. Consider one last instructive thought: what is the proper name for someone who says they believe something but act as if they do not? The answer is a liar and a hypocrite. 1 John 2:4 says, “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Interestingly enough, Satan (a demon) is the father of lies (John 8:44). Consider why you believe what you believe and do not share the same faith as demons.

 

Aaron Battey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

 

MADE IN… MAN’S IMAGE?

 

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MADE IN… MAN’S IMAGE?
Derek Thompson

Is your self-image important to you? Do you take pride in the way that you dress and present yourself before the public? Most would say yes. Why?
The ever-changing world in which we live in today has created a society and a mindset (especially in teenagers and young adults) that the way we view ourselves can never be enough. It has presented for us unrealistic standards of perfection and beauty. No one can be beautiful unless they are thin, have no blemishes, and their hair is made of gold.
Unfortunately, these standards have impacted all of us. None of us are ever truly happy with ourselves. Instead of living up to the standards of God, we instead live up to the standards of men. Let’s examine what God has to say about our self-image and our self-esteem.
It is ignorant to assume that we are to pay no attention to how we view ourselves. Jesus taught that we should love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). How can we truly show love to our constituents if we have no love for ourselves?
Now, I am not suggesting that we should consider ourselves perfect. Paul cautions us in this matter in Romans 12:3. He tells us to, “…not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…” (NKJV). We must not attempt to be, “high-minded,” or, “wise in [our] own conceits,” (Romans 11:20; 12:16).
Having too much self-esteem can be prideful and arrogant. Both of which we know are sins (James 4:6, Proverbs 16:5).
But consider the image that our Father has of us, as His creation. He does not look outwardly at our physical appearance, “but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, NKJV)
Jesus Himself tells us that, “you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7, NKJV)
So what is the cure? How can we learn to look at ourselves in a newer and better light? To look at ourselves as others see us and as our Father sees us, rather than how society views us? Consider Peter’s admonition in 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NKJV):
“Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel — 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”
Or the psalmist’s in Psalm 139:13-14 (NKJV):
“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”
God created us in His image (Genesis 1:27). We are to view ourselves according to His image of us, not man’s image.
The following is from my own mind and is my opinion. Take it with a grain of salt.
I feel that women more than often struggle with this more than us men do. Society has placed more image barriers on females than males, and that is not fair to them nor to us. Men, may I encourage us to find our love languages? Women want to feel important and loved. It is our job to do so.
Women, don’t adhere to society’s image of you. Love yourself and who you are, for you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Derek Thompson

www. oldpathsadvocate.org

Why Christians Need to Apologize

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Why Christians Need to Apologize

Apology is a lost art. Christians have forgotten this art as much or more than anyone else in the world. For years Christians have made bold proclamations without backing them up. Christians have been quick to say, “I don’t take part in that,” or, “You shouldn’t do that,” without giving a logical reason why. People get offended at such statements and rightfully so. For this reason, Christians needs to apologize to atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Mormons, and other Christians.
A proper apology cannot be made without a clear definition of terms. Today, the word “apology” means to express regret, but no later than the 1500’s the phrase meant to give a defense or an account. It was during the two centuries leading up to the 1500’s that the New Testament was translated from Greek and Latin into the common languages of Europe. For the first time, people could read the Bible for themselves rather than rely on a priest to read to them in the incomprehensible but scholarly Latin. Because of this transpiring of events, people began to understand the Bible for the first time and awaken to the false teachings and corruption of the Roman Catholic church. Men such as Martin Luther, Heinrich Zwingli, John Calvin, and others (whether right or wrong) began to apologize or defend the truths they found in the newly translated Bible. Because of their defenses, backed by proofs, arguments, and logic, men such as these enlisted the Reformation Movement, a movement impressed upon the religions of America and Europe even to this day. The point of all this is not to praise or elevate the teachings of the aforementioned men, as they heralded much false doctrine in their lifetimes. The point is to outline the lost practice of Christian defense.
Christians should apologize like Jesus and the apostles did so abundantly within the annals of the Gospels and Acts. Whenever Jesus would counter His opponents with the phrase, “Have you not read,” followed by quotation of the prophets, Jesus was giving a defense of His teaching. In Mark 11:28 the chief priests and scribes asked Jesus, “By what authority do you do these things?” Jesus’ response was a logical argument which gave His opponents no other option than to admit the truth. More times than not, Jesus’ performance of miracles was proof enough to answer that question. John 20:30 says, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe in Jesus Christ…” Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 was a defense of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection: a defense that converted 3,000 souls. That is quite an apology.
Beyond all the examples that could be given to prove that Jesus and the apostles did indeed give reasons, logic, and sound arguments for backing their claims and doctrines, the apostle Peter mandates the same from all Christians. In writing to Christian churches dispersed throughout the known world of the 1st century, Peter charges in 1 Peter 3:15, “Be ready to give a defense (apologian) to everyone who asks you a reason (logos) for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” The Greek word “apologia” is the origin of the English word “apology” also meaning defense as discussed early on. Peter charges that a Christian apology (defense) should be based on “logos.” This is the Greek word used to mean evidence or argument. When Christians state, “You should not that!” they must give logical evidence from the Scriptures for such a claim. The Bible contains the evidence for all things practiced in life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) but it requires diligence and honesty to discover.
When young or old Christians leave the church, parents and church leaders need often to look no further than their failure to provide logical Bible based reasons for proving their faith and practice. Satan’s favorite response is, “You just need to have faith!” Jesus’ favorite response is, “It is written…” May all Christians learn how to apologize like Jesus.

Aaron Battey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

The Church’s Problem Members

THE CHURCH’S PROBLEM MEMBERS
Barney Owens
May 1964

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THE CHURCH’S PROBLEM MEMBERS

The church, or body of Christ, Is composed of many members as stated by Paul in I  Cor. 12:27, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” We are all members of this spiritual body; just as our physical body has many members, so does the church. With each member doing his part, the church can grow. See Eph. 4:16.  But, as we all know some do not do their part, leaving a problem for the church. I should like to notice some of these problems. I do not expect to notice them all; however, I shall endeavor to consider some of the more prominent ones.

 

The Problem of Unconverted Members.

We read in John 6:66: “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” We can see that this was a problem from the first. The Master taught us in Lk. 13:3, “I tell you, nay: but,  except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” One then must repent or turn from the world and live for the Lord, lest he perish. This kind of member was also a problem in the life of Paul, as we read in I1 Tim.  4:16, “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.” Here, he is speaking of being on trial and those whom he had held as his friends had forsaken him at a time when he needed them most. This should encourage us today; as friends of the Lord, when life becomes difficult for us, let us not do as Paul’s friends, but stay by the Lord. A good motto is: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

The Worldly Member-

We read in James 4:4, ‘Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James refers to them as “adulterers and adulteresses,” including spiritual adultery, by having excessive attachment to the things of the world. As Christianity is a sacrificing religion, this would be that state of worldly mindedness which will make no sacrifice for religion. It is true that most would profess to be children of God if this were not true. “The friendship of the world is enmity with God;” enmity means hatred, or whatever .is opposite to love. As the world is arrayed against God and refuses to submit to Him, those who love the world are against Him. “Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God;” enemy is an adversary, one opposed to the Most High, as those who become friends of the world are opposed to God, and His word. This, of course, is done of ourselves when we disobey His commands and yoke ourselves with the world. Notice the example of Demas, 1 Tim. 4:10, “For Demas hath forsaken me having loved this present world . . .” We read in Ex. 32:9, “And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people.” So, we can see this problem is not a new one, as these were stubborn, unyielding, or “stiffnecked.” Let us return to our Maker and cling only to Him. “. . . Ye cannot serve God and Mammon” (Matt. 6 24).

 

The Compromising Member –

Read II John 9-11. Those who do not abide in this “Doctrine of Christ,” we are not to receive into our house. I understand the church to be the House of God. We are not to receive them as a brother. Of course,  this does not mean that we are to bolt the door to keep them out; we are not to  allow them to teach their doctrine. Neither are we to bid them God’s speed, as he who would encourage or support anyone in this false doctrine would be just as guilty as the one actually in error. Paul warns us that false brethren unawares will come in to spy out our liberty. Read Gal. 2:4. Let us be ever alert!

 

The Lazy Member-

We are to study God‘s word, I1 Tim. 2:15. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God . . .” By studying, we are able to give an answer to every man that asketh us a reason of the hope that is in us. Read I Pet. 3:15. I do not believe this means that we will be able to answer any and all Bible questions, but that we all should be ready to answer every man concerning the hope which we all have. This is to be done in the right spirit “with meekness and fear.” Jesus taught us the works that one must do. Read Matt. 25:34-40. We should all strive to do all of these as often as they are needed. Notice, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me.” James 1:22 reads: “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves”-not a hearer only, but a doer.

 

The Contented Member-

The gospel, being the power of God unto salvation, Rom. 19:6, and being given to all men, Tit. 2:21, it is our duty to make it known to all the world. Mk. 16:15: “GO ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Matt. 28:19: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations . . .” Those who have supported the work in Africa and other fields are to be commended; it would be impossible for everyone to go, so by sending those who can go, we are just as much a part of the work.

 

The Problem of “Too Many Chiefs and Not Enough Indians.”

Many troubles arise in the local church today because we do not have the proper leadership. The church is to have elders to watch over the flock. Read I Pet. 5:1-4. They are not as lords but overseers, to take charge and to keep out the bitter foes. More of the men, especially the younger, should prepare for the office of a bishop, I Tim. 3:l-7. The question arises, what congregations which have no elders, such as those just starting, etc.? Often we make the mistake of helping a church get started, and then fail to provide the leadership needed. They struggle along never growing, with no interest, except for a few days a year during a gospel meeting or something of that nature. Is the Lord pleased with this? Paul wrote to Titus in Tit. 1:5: “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting and ordain elders in every city, as I have appointed thee:”-someone to care for and protect until the elders are appointed. This would take more time and more effort, but in the long run, would it not be better? May all of us be less, of a problem?

 

 

intellectual Leadership in the 21st Century Kingdom

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Intellectual Leadership in the 21st Century Kingdom

Leadership is influence. The people that have the most influence in the church are thus the leaders. Perhaps someone sits in the church pew and is very quiet at church, but that person is very active behind the scenes, having a dynamic influence on the congregation. Such an unsung Christian is a leader. Unfortunately, influence can be of an evil nature. One primary reason that evil influence takes hold in the church is due to apathetic souls, unwilling to crave and fill the intellect with wisdom and knowledge.
J. P. Moreland speaks to the lack of intellectual endeavors among modern Christians in his book Love Your God With All Your Mind. Therein he states, “Whoever controls the thinking leadership of the church, in a culture, will eventually control the church itself,” (Moreland 24). Consider this in light of those who were leading the parties in Corinth. The Corinthian leadership elevated human wisdom over the wisdom of God. A corrupt church was the result, the fruit of a corrupt intellect. In response to this Moreland would respond, “If we are going to be a wise, spiritual people prepared to meet the crises of our age, we must be a studying, learning community that values the life of the mind,” (40).
The leadership of the church must have the same mission as Jesus Chris: seek, save the lost, and increase the disciple’s faith (Luke 17:5, 19:10). Jesus gave a Great Commission to do just that. He told his disciples to baptize and teach said disciples to observe all things He commanded (Mt. 28). However, just because a man stands in a pulpit offering emotional rhetoric, even advocating virtue, does not mean the church is being intellectually stimulated, and their faith (grounded in evidence) being built.
Knowledge is power, and leaders should have this power. “We give surgeons and not carpenters the right to cut us open precisely because surgeons have the relevant knowledge not possessed by carpenters,” (Moreland 28). Knowledge makes one bold and strengthens them in their conviction. And while that boldness can be wielded inappropriately to produce pride and condescension, society has relegated humans to the idea that any claim to spiritual knowledge whatsoever, is an automatic vice and show of pride.
Contrary to modern views of knowledge, “The spiritually mature person is a wise person. And a wise person has the savvy, and skill necessary to lead an exemplary life and to address the issues of the day in a responsible, attractive way that brings honor to God,” (Moreland 40). If our spiritual leaders sought the intellectual knowledge of God, while utilizing it with the wisdom of Solomon in Proverbs, this end could be reasonably achieved amidst those who would regardless doubt. Knowledge is valuable, knowledge in God’s will is the highest value, and to reason towards that knowledge should be the foundation for those who would be the church’s leaders.
In concluding these thoughts on intellectual leadership, consider one last quip from J. P. Moreland. “God is certainly not a cultural elitist, and He does not love intellectuals more than anyone else. But it needs to be said in the same breath that ignorance is not a Christian virtue if those virtues mirror the perfection of God’s own character,” (46). Realizing this truth makes it clear why Israel was destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). So will the leaders and constituents of the 21st century church be laid to destruction if the apathetic intellect of American culture persists within this blood bought institution.

Reference:
Moreland, J. P. Love Your God With All Your Mind, 2nd ed., NAVPRESS, 2012, pp. 24, 28, 40, 46.

Aaron Battey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

Abortion

 

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ABORTION

Ronny F. Wade

(Proverbs 6:16-17) “There are six things which Jehovah hateth; yea, seven which are an abomination unto him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood…”

Each day in America over 3500 unborn babies are put to death. In a one year period, 115,000 cases of abortion were registered in New York City alone. This number is higher than the total number of Americans killed in the Viet Nam war. New York City officials predicted that the following year more than 600,000 abortions would be performed, with over 10 million nationally.

World-wide an estimated 40-55 million will die annually.

The victims will die without the benefit of trial or counsel. They are not convicted criminals, but innocent unborn human babies.

Such make Pharoah’s extermination of Hebrew boys appear as only a ripple on the ocean of time. The slaughter of babies in Bethlehem by Herod would not equal one abortion clinic’s daily quota.

Question That Demands an Answer

Is the fetus a human life? Is that which is growing in the mother’s body alive? The answer to this question will help us in determining the truth on this subject. What the Bible Says…
Some basic facts:

1. Life is a gift from God. (Acts 17:25) “He giveth life and breath to all things.
God alone has the right to take man’s life. (Genesis 50:15-19) Only human life is made “in the image of God.” (Genesis 1:26)

Because of this, human life is elevated to a plane above all other forms of earthly life.

2. Christ taught the value of human life. (John 3:16; Mark 16:15-16) Little children were precious to Him. (Matthew 19:14)

3. No distinction in the Scriptures between babes in the womb and those born.

The word Brephos used to describe the baby in Elisabeth’s womb is used interchangeably for both prenatal and postnatal babies. (Luke 1:41) It means “an unborn child, embryo, fetus, a newborn child, an infant, a babe.” (Thayer p. 105)

Anyone who questions this should ask themselves, “Was it the Christ-child in Mary’s womb or a lifeless blob of fetal tissue.

The following scriptures teach that the unborn child is a human being:

(Jeremiah 1:5) “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou comest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee.”

If Jeremiah’s mother had chosen to have an abortion, she would have killed Jeremiah.

(Isaiah 49:1, 5) “Listen, O isles, unto me, and hearken ye peoples, from far; Jehovah hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name… and now, saith Jehovah that formed me from the womb to be his servant.”

This indicates that Isaiah was a person before birth.

(Job 3:11) “Why did I not die from the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost when my mother bore me?”

If the fetus had died in the womb, it would have been a person. – Job

4. The scriptures teach “Thou shalt not kill”, i.e. “thou shalt do not murder.”

The deliberate taking of human life without provocation or just cause is murder. Abortion intentionally kills a human life. The abortion victim is totally innocent, having done no wrong towards the mother, doctor or society.

What abortionist doctor would want a corrosive poured over his body and forced into his lungs and stomach and then be left to convulse for hours ‘til death? This is the baby’s fate in the salt- poisoning abortion. What nurse who attends in abortions would want to be ripped apart by a powerful suction machine? By the time early abortions are performed (8 -12 weeks) the baby has his entire organ system in place and has sense of pain.

(Psalms 139:13-16) “Thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

Obviously testifies to the fact that the fetus is a person at the time of conception.

(Luke 1:15) An angel promised Zacharias that his soon to be born son would be “filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother’s womb.” If a fetus can have the Holy Spirit, it surely must be a person.

(Luke 1:41-44) “the babe (John the Baptist) leaped in her womb for joy.” The unborn child is a person.

Just Suppose: Joseph and Mary discover she is with child. Joseph thought she was guilty of fornication, and sought to put her away privately, lest he embarrass her publickly.

Suppose Joseph and Mary had listened to the advice given many today. Mary could have had an abortion to get out of this humiliating situation. In doing so, she would have killed our saviour. (Matthew 1:21).

Murderers Will Be Punished

(Exodus 20:13) “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”
(Deuteronomy 27:25) “Cursed be he that taketh a bribe to slay an innocent person.” (Proverbs 6:16-17) God hates “those who shed innocent blood.” God hates abortion.

What does God think of the premeditated taking of a child’s life? We cannot take the sin of abortion lightly; “Lo children are a heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” (Psalms 127:3)

Everyone should give serious thought to what God says about abortion. He will not let this grevious sin go unpunished. If God will not permit us to kill a child already born and get by with it, neither will he let us get by with killing an unborn child. Abortion is a sin, murder in the first degree.

The psychological effects upon the woman who has an abortion are often devastating and far- reaching. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to forget the unborn child that has been murdered. In years yet to come, this woman will be haunted by such questions as, “Was it a boy or girl?” “Would she be like me or he like his father?’ “Today would he be going to school?” etc., etc.