Support Your Local Preacher

 

Support Your Local Preacher
by Aaron Battey

​There are many thankless jobs awaiting applicants. Medical and non-profit organizations are proper examples of industries that offer irreplaceable services; yet, they receive little praise. Being a preacher is no less a thankless service. I am not a preacher, but having been raised by one, worked with one, and looked up to one, I can testify to the truthfulness of that statement. This being true, please ponder some evidences for this claim, and consider a few ways by which you can support your local preacher.
The apostle Paul sacrificed as a preacher and apostle only to be constantly ridiculed and have his intentions questioned. Paul implied no less when writing 1 Thessalonians. This great preacher was treated spitefully in Philippi for teaching the gospel (1 Thess. 2:2), and even though he had spoken to those in Thessalonica with no deceit (2:3), without flattering words (2:5), and being as gentle as a mother to her children (2:7), there was apparently some criticism of Paul in his absence that warranted the apostle to justify himself in this first letter to the church. Similar circumstances prompted the same preacher to defend himself to the Corinthians in his absence; read 1 Corinthians 4 and 2 Corinthians 10 for proof. These and a host of like experiences are most likely why Paul encouraged his young protégé Timothy to, “Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,” (2 Timothy 2:3). Likewise, after warning the elders at Ephesus that they would have to stop the mouths of wolves (false teachers) who would sneak into the church, Paul gives example of just how much energy this would require: “Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears,” (Acts 20:31). The job of a preacher is physically draining, mentally exhausting, faith challenging, and sometimes soul wrenching. Just because you shake the preacher’s hand on Sunday morning and he says, “I’m doing alright,” doesn’t mean he is calm on the inside. Indeed, dealing with the problems that accompany the job can very well make the preacher sick and require a prescription (1 Timothy 5:23).
With a preacher’s job being what it is, contemplate avenues by which you can lighten his load. There are a host of simple tasks any individual can carry out that will motivate the preacher and make his work for God a little easier. First, do not aimlessly complain about the preacher behind his back. Paul warns against backbiting in 2 Cor. 12:20, not to overshadow bitterness and evil speaking in Ephesians 4:29. The golden rule, “love your neighbor as yourself,” will help guard against this. Ask the question, “Am I any better than the preacher in the thing I am complaining about?” Furthermore, “Will complaining about this detail do any good?” One unknown author distinguished between constructive criticism and complaining similar to this: pointing out flaws in someone or something without offering a solution is complaining. Constructive criticism offers resolution and edification. Second, offer the preacher your time and service. Many times, preachers are burdened with tasks that do not require a preacher. Paul commended Phoebe of the congregation in Rome because, “She has been a helper of many and of myself also.” John Maxwell in his book The 21 Irrefutable Law of Leadership speaks to the importance of leaders empowering followers and delegating to them appropriately. Unfortunately, there is often a shortage of Phoebe’s who are willing to offer their time and pick up delegation. Third, give the preacher a token of appreciation. Paul spoke of Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achaicus in this manner, “What was lacking on your part they supplied. For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men,” (Romans 16:17-18). Many subconsciously believe the preacher is such a confident individual, secure in his faith, so much so that he never grows weary and should never need someone giving him affirmation. Recall the burden that accompanies the work of preaching. A thank you card will suffice. Whatever the case, encourage the preacher in the work of God.
There are many preaching jobs awaiting applicants. There are many congregations starving for an evangelist to establish them. People wonder why there are not more young men chomping at the bit to preach. There are many factors that contribute to this present-day dilemma, but one factor has a simple resolution. Support your local preacher.

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Why Jesus Did Not Come to Judge

  

Why Jesus Did Not Come to Judge

​Directly after one of the most famous passages in all the Bible (John 3:16), Jesus makes a statement that really tickles the ears. In John 3:17, Jesus says the following, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” In another statement within the gospel of John, Jesus further clarifies, “If anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world,” (John 12:47). The word of God is a funny thing sometimes. Things are not always what they first appear. Jesus would elsewhere speak in seemingly contradictory contrast, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind,” (John 9:39). What is the rhyme and reason for these sayings of Jesus? Did Jesus contradict Himself?
​Jesus does not contradict Himself as sure as God does not lie (Hebrews 6:18). There must be a reason for the seeming contradiction of Jesus’ words on these three separate occasions in John 3, 9 & 12. In John 3, Jesus speaks to Nicodemus about the new birth that takes place at baptism. In John 9, Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for denying His miracle- healing the blind man at the pool of Siloam. In John 12, Jesus again lectures a host of Pharisees who deny His power and message. These short summaries are the first steps in defining context; but even then, the conflict is not resolved in Jesus’ words. There must be something more…and there is.
​The subject of judgement is most awfully abused. There is much that could be said about judgment and the Bible. For this particular debacle, understand there are two different broad categories of judgment at the very least. There is corrective judgment, the type that Jesus claims He came to administer in John 9:39. An individual can repent after corrective judgment has been administered (i.e. it would appear Jesus’ brother repented when comparing Matt. 12:46-50 with Galatians 1:19). Then, there is final judgment, also called eschatological judgment. For ease of understanding, the former title -final judgment- will be utilized. Final judgment is what Jesus speaks of in John 3:17 and 12:47. In these latter verses, Jesus is explaining why He came into the world the first time. When Jesus was born in a manger, He was sent by the Father to become the sin sacrifice that would offer salvation to all of humanity. When Jesus hung from the cross, He had not come to reign fire down from heaven, consuming the earth as in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah. Nonetheless, Jesus will come back one day (Matthew 24:36-44) and His coming will be for final judgment from which there is no opportunity to repent. Directly after His statement in John 12:47, “I do not come to judge…” Jesus says, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him- the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day,” (12:48). Do not be mistaken: Jesus did administer corrective judgment when He was on the earth. For this reason He was crucified. But next time…He comes wearing a robe dipped in blood, wielding a two-edged sword, and making war (Revelation 19:13-15).
​There is a reason that Jacob called Yahweh “the Fear of Isaac”, for God is greatly to be feared by all (Psalm 89:7). A healthy dose of fear is good for treating a severe case of unholiness. Word on the street is that unholiness is more rampant than Flu A this year. Do not be confused, Jesus did not come for judgment in 30 A.D., but He is coming for final judgment one day. Open up the Bible this year and take a daily dose of fear from the almighty God of mercy and judgment.

The Most Important Old Testament Prophecies

The Most Important Old Testament Prophecies

In the New Testament, the Holy Spirit relied heavily on the Old Testament. In his book According to the Scriptures, C. H. Dodd gives a list of 15 especially important Old Testament prophecies at the foundation of the New Testament.

Genesis 12:2; Deuteronomy 18:15,19; Psalm 2:7; 8:4-6; 110:1; 118:22-23; Isaiah 6:9-10; 28:16; 40:3-5; 53:1; 61:1-2; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Joel 2:28-32; Habakkuk 2:4; Zechariah 9:9

It could be easily argued that other prophecies deserve to be on this list (i.e. Genesis 3:15; 2 Samuel 7:12-16), but Dodd’s list is altogether concise and fulfilling just the same. Being familiar with these Old Testament scriptures will greatly improve your study and understanding of the New Testament as these prophecies find themselves making redundant appearances, both pronounced and subtle. You may have read the New Testament before, but have you listened to the New Testament? If you listen closely, you will hear Moses, David the King, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and many other Old Testament prophets. You don’t need to know music, but you do need to know your Old Testament.

Homework- Using Psalm 2:7 for a starting point, do some homework on the following passages, noticing how each one either quotes, makes allusion to, or echoes this Messianic psalm: Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:21-23; 9:35; 22:69; John 1:49; Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:2,5; 5:5; Revelation 19:15.
Aaron Battey
http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

 

 

 

Causing Your Brother to Sin

 

Causing Your Brother to Sin

Jesus humbled himself to the state of a slave (Philippians 2:7) when he washed His disciple’s feet (John 13:5), died the death of a slave on the cross, and was initially to be buried with slaves (Isaiah 53:9). It goes without saying that Jesus went out of His way to make salvation available to a people that time and again refused to humble themselves and wash each other’s feet as He did. The key phrases here are “to make salvation available” and “to wash each other’s feet.” These principles are central to this discussion, because salvation is not guaranteed: salvation depends partly on washing each other’s feet (John 13:12-17).
​Let us cut the poetry and get to the point. America’s ME driven culture has leached on to some in the church and sucked them dry of life and mission. This leach was fed by the members of the church in Corinth (read 1 Corinthians), and it is currently being fed hand-over-fist by overtly selfish wretches who refuse to deny themselves even the smallest freedoms for the sake of their brothers and sisters. “Selfish wretch” is a strong term, and prototypically, such a person looks no more the role than Jesus looked a king when He was on earth. No, these selfish wretches are exteriorly clean and the poster boy for benevolence at first glance, but inwardly they have rigid limits to their benevolence.
What does a selfish wretch look like more objectively? This is the acclaimed Christian who doesn’t cheat on his wife, goes to church every Sunday morning, and takes food to his neighbors when they are sick. After all this is done, he takes great pleasure in relaxing to a game of cards. There is nothing wrong with a game of cards, so no harm done. Right? However, another brother comes to join the evening relaxation one evening, and that brother is highly offended by card playing. He was raised back in a day when playing cards of any kind was associated with gambling and sin. Jesus or Paul would have humbled themselves and put the cards away for the sake of offending their brother, but not the selfish wretch. No, there is nothing wrong with playing cards, and no one is going to take away this solitary moment of relaxation to do the thing that pleasures him more than anything else. This is a prototype, but this prototype becomes reality too many times for members of the church. The selfish pleasure may not be cards, but frequently a brother is caused to sin, and the culprit is a selfish wretch.
​Regarding matters of Christian liberties, Paul devoted five chapters in his epistles (1 Corinthians 8-10 & Romans 14-15). A liberty by definition, is anything a Christian is free to do. A liberty is neither required nor prohibited by Christ’s law, yet all Christian liberties can be identified in the New Testament either implicitly or explicitly, that is, indirectly stated or directly stated. Identifying items of Christian liberty in the New Testament is a greatly abused practice. People often label anything a liberty that they wish to take part in. Such is not the case. Nonetheless, for those things that do apply, the Christian is no better for refraining from those liberties; neither is he the worse for taking part (Romans 14:5). Paul makes these principles clear in his letters to the Corinthians and Romans.
​There is a problem still. The problem lies in Christians who become selfish wretches. These individuals will not deny themselves of their Christian liberties for the sake of their brother who is “weak in the faith” (Rom. 14:1) or who “doubts” (14:23) as Paul defines such a one. Instead of being selfish, Paul instructs, “It is evil for the man who eats with offense,” (14:20). Again, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification,” (15:1-2). The application is simple. There may be nothing by nature wrong with what you choose to take part in, but if it causes your brother to sin, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea,” (Mark 9:42). Whether it is the clothes you wear, the place you go, the activities you take part in, or the things you would ordinarily not observe, deny yourself, take up your cross, follow Christ, and wash your brother’s feet. Don’t be a selfish wretch. Be a loving brother.

 

Aaron Battey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

Are Christians Under the Law Today?

 

Are Christians Under Law Today?

​People do not like rules, except their own. This mindset is the reason for the ongoing debate over, “What is truth?” If truth is relative to each individual, then there are no rules. Thankfully, governments operate under rules, good or bad. God’s government operates under rules as well. In the days of Judges, “There was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes,” (21:25). This succinct summary of a dark age in Israel’s history stands in stark contrast to the next phase of history narrated in Samuel. In Samuel, for the first time ever, a physical king reigns over the kingdom of Israel. There were laws in the kingdom, and there were harsh penalties for breaking those laws (i.e. 2 Samuel 12). A kingdom without law is an anarchy. Judges describes anarchy. The Kingdom of God is not an anarchy; consequently, Christians have law they must obey.
​That last statement is not something you hear every day. Most denominations proclaim that Christians are not under law today, just grace. In fact, that’s what Paul said in Romans 6:14, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” But, did Paul mean what most denominations today mean? The short answer is, “No.”
​Unfortunately, most denominations are inbred with what is known as Calvinism. Calvinism is a doctrine that purports many things, among which is the very popular anthem, “You are saved by the grace of God without any works whatsoever.” The combination of Romans 6:14 and Ephesians 2:8-9 make for a formidable one-two Calvinistic punch. Most people innocently fall prey to this deception, because most people have never read their Bible, studied the book of Romans, and prefer to live with no moral code. Paul was absolutely spot on in Romans 6:15 and Ephesians 2:8-9. Just the same, James was spot on in James 2:14-26, and so was Paul in Romans 3:31.
​What is the purpose of law then? Law in its most generic and simple sense is a regulation. The Law of Moses (Romans 2:17) was a corpus of over 600 regulations for the kingdom of Israel. The moral law (Romans 2:14-15) was a corpus of regulations for those who were outside the kingdom of Israel. Both of these systems of regulations were given for good reason. 1 Timothy 1:8-11 says that the Law of Moses was good, and it was given to regulate ungodly people. Galatians 3:23 says the Law of Moses guarded man from sin, and pointed him to Christ (v. 24). In the first three chapters of Romans, Paul is explaining that all men of every age, whether Gentiles who had the moral law, or Jews who had the Law of Moses, all of them are guilty of the law they lived under. These former systems of law accomplished what they were made to accomplish- make man realize that he has no hope of being saved apart Jesus Christ. The moral law and the Law of Moses were perfect, and each time someone broke the law, that person then realized they had no hope unless a perfect redeemer were to come and pay their ransom (synonym for “redeemer”).
​Consider an allegory. There was a person named Man. Man got caught driving 100 mph in a 50 mph zone. Man got thrown in jail. The next day he appeared before his judge named Law. Law was a just judge. He was just, because he gave people exactly what they deserved, allowing for no grace whatsoever. Man was condemned to death for disobeying Law. Man was very penitent, crying that he would do anything to save his life. All the sudden, someone came to the front of the court room. It was Ransom. Ransom said He would die in the place of penitent Man. Law didn’t care who died as long as justice was met. Ransom died on behalf of Man, and Man went free. Man still had to obey Law, but he now realized that he could not be saved without Ransom.
​Christians do have law they have to obey today. In contrast to the Law of Moses, the Christian law is called by many different names in the New Testament- the law of God (Rom. 7:25), the law of the Spirit of life (Rom. 8:2), the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2), and the perfect law of liberty (James 2:25). This law is found beginning in Matthew 5-7, and extends throughout the rest of the New Testament scriptures. The law of Christ is perfect, making the Christian aware of what God calls good and reminding him when he breaks the law that there is no hope without Ransom (Jesus Christ). Ransom from sin is conditional for the alien sinner (Acts 2:38) and the Christian (2 Cor. 7:8-10). Christians are “not under law” (Rom. 6:14) in this sense: they are not depending on the law to save them. God’s grace is ultimately what saves, but without obedience to the law of Christ and a humble attitude (Luke 17:7-10), one cannot attain that grace. Do not be mistaken, the Kingdom of God is not an anarchy, and Christians must obey the law of Christ to be ransomed by Christ.

Aaron Battey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

“Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”

“Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
Matthew 16:13-20

​Open up the New Testament to Matthew 16:13-20 and read what follows. This passage of scripture has been the flame of many heated arguments between denominations throughout the years. Catholics adamantly ascribe the “rock” of v. 18 to Peter, claiming this passage is the scriptural pointer to Peter as the first archbishop (pope) of the church. Protestants and Churches of Christ consistently teach the “rock” of v. 18 is none other than Christ Jesus. In this study, lean in and listen to the whispering voice of the Christ, speaking through the pen of Matthew, as He dispels all doubt with His artful allusions to the Old Testament.
​From the very first verse (13), notice the conversation is entirely about, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” The question is not, “Who do men say that you, the Son of Jonah, are?” The “Son of Man” title is a direct allusion to prophecy from Daniel 7. There in Daniel 7:13-14, the Son of Man comes in the clouds, sits by the Ancient of Days, and is given dominion, glory, and an everlasting kingdom. Peter himself recognizes Jesus to be the fulfillment of the Messianic king in Acts 2:34-36. In the gospel of Matthew, the “Son of Man” title is Jesus’ favorite title for Himself, as He no doubt hints with each use of this title that Jesus is the Son of Man that Daniel prophesied about. “Son of Man” appears 82 times across all four gospels and 30 times in Matthew alone (Quarles, Charles. A Theology of Matthew. P & R Publishing, 2013, pp. 89). During a later conversation in Matthew 16, Jesus makes a second allusion to Daniel 7, as He makes reference to His coming for judgment (Mt. 16:27-28). Daniel’s picture of the Son of Man is undoubtedly a heavy influence in Matthew 16, and the backdrop for Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 16:13-20.
​Now, keep Daniel’s book of prophecy close to the mind’s eye while the “rock” of Matthew 16:18 is examined. If the traditional Catholic distinction that Peter is the rock of v. 18 is true, then this is what happens in the conversation of Matthew 16:13-20. Jesus asks, “Who is the Son of Man,” proceeds to answer a completely different question as He discusses the fact that Peter is the foundation of the church, and when it is all said and done, He has not answered the question, “Who is the Son of Man?” This is illogical. This absent-mindedness sounds like something an average Joe might do, but not the antics of the Son of Man-Jesus Christ. Instead, this more orderly flow of thought proceeds from the mind of Jesus and rhymes with logic. Jesus asks, “Who is the Son of Man?” The Son of Man naturally reminds a faithful Jew like Peter of Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 7. Jesus then proceeds to answer His question by identifying the Son of Man in Daniel 7 with the stone in Daniel 2. If one is a careful reader, he will notice the theme of Daniel is the Kingdom of Heaven. He will also take note that Daniel 2 and Daniel 7 are two separate visions that compliment each other, telling the same story from a different perspective. In Daniel 2, there is a stone that strikes a great image representing the kingdoms of the earth (Daniel 2:44-45). The stone grows into a great mountain (2:35), and this represents the beginning of the kingdom of God (2:44-45). The rock in Daniel 2:34, 36, and 45 represents Jesus Christ, the Son of Man. Just as Daniel says, “You (Nebuchadnezzar) are this head of gold,” in v.38, so Jesus is the stone. To speak of the head of a kingdom is to speak of the kingdom itself. This is illustrated by Paul in Eph. 1:22-23, where Jesus is called the head of the church. The same thing said of the stone in Daniel 2:44-45 is a parallel to what is said of the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13-14, and these are the prophecies directly alluded to by Jesus in Matthew 16:18.
​Perhaps the allusion to Daniel goes over the head of most people. Consider a simpler question. Is Jesus God? Yes, even Catholics believe Jesus is deity. If Jesus is talking to a group of Jewish disciples who have listened to the Old Testament in the synagogue their whole life, and Jesus says His kingdom will be built on a “rock”, what Biblical reference would come to Peter’s mind? Here is the answer. Peter would, without doubt, think of the oh-so-many references to God and the future Messiah as the Rock of Israel. There are a host of Old Testament prophets that ascribe this everlasting, solid and immovable “Rock” status to God and Messiah (i.e. Gen. 49:24; Deut. 32:15; 2 Sam. 23:3; Ps. 62:7; 78:35; Isaiah 8:14; 28:16; 44:8). Furthermore, Jesus had, on a previous occasion, compared His teachings to the foundation of a house built on a “rock” (Matt. 7:24-25). Jesus is the Rock, “the stone the builders rejected” (Ps. 188:22; Acts 4:11): the foundation of the church (Eph. 2:19-21).
​There seems to be little room for doubt. If the disciples do not immediately think of Daniel’s Son of Man prophecy, certainly Daniel’s prophecy of the stone in Daniel 2, coupled with the plethora of references to God and Messiah as the “Rock” of Israel, would reveal the answer to the question of Matthew 16:13, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” The question was answered decisively for these Jews; thus, they are instructed not to reveal this new knowledge of the Christ until the time is ripe (Matthew 16:20). Read the Old and New Testaments together, and do not let faith rest on the traditions of men.

Aaron Battey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

Why Paul Would Be Unpopular Today

WHY PAUL WOULD BE UNPOPULAR TODAY

BJERRY DICKINSON

There is a preacher who preaches for a megachurch in Houston, Texas who has been described as “the most popular preacher in America.” The church he preaches for televises their worship services and he is seen all over the country. The church takes in 70 million dollars a year in contributions. He has written several best selling books and for one of his latest books he was paid an advance of 13 million dollars. Based on all the foregoing I can see why he is considered to be the most popular preacher in America. If the criteria for popularity is money and the number of people who follow you he certainly qualifies as popular preacher. But, I wonder, if the Apostle Paul were alive today would he be popular? Would he even be allowed into the pulpits of most churches today? I believe Paul would be unpopular today for the following reasons.

Style. The aforementioned most popular preacher in America begins every sermon with a joke. Sometimes his listeners send him jokes and he uses them to start off his sermons. He uses very little scripture and really his sermons are just feel good talks about how to be successful and get ahead in business and life. It’s the power of positive thinking wrapped up in a fluffy feel good package. Can you imagine the Apostle Paul beginning one of his sermons with a joke? In I Corinthians 2: 1-5 Paul described his style of preaching. “I came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” In Romans 1:16 Paul declared that the gospel he preached was the power of God unto salvation and in Acts 20:20-27 Paul reminded the Ephesians that he had kept back nothing that was profitable for them. “I am pure from the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God.” That kind of preaching would not make Paul popular today! It is the kind of preaching still needed in the world and in the church today.

Sin. The Houston preacher described above never preaches on sin. In fact, in one interview he was asked why he never mentions the words sin, judgment, or hell. He answered that he has not been called to judge people but to encourage and inspire them therefore he never uses those words. When I heard that answer I knew why he is considered the most popular preacher in America! The way to build and maintain a megachurch is to never preach about sin. Paul used the words sin, judgment, and hell in his preaching, however. In II Timothy 3 Paul wrote that perilous times were coming when men would be covetous, boasters, blasphemers, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, traitors, despisers of those who are good, and lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. By the way, if those times are not here already, may the Lord have mercy on us when they arrive! I think it obvious, however, that we are living in a time when it is perilous and dangerous to be a Christian and to take a stand against sin. In Galatians 5 Paul declares the works of the flesh are adultery, fornication, uncleanness, murder, drunkenness, etc. Are these still sins today? If so, it is the “calling” of every preacher to preach against them just like Paul did. If Paul were here today he would preach against sin and that would not make him the most popular preacher in America!

Pattern. If Paul were here today he would still preach that there is a pattern for the work and worship of the church. That would make him unpopular not only with outsiders, but with many people in churches of Christ today. The popular notion that it does not matter how we worship as long as we are zealous and sincere would be contradicted by Paul. In fact, it is contradicted by Paul in the epistles he left us. In I Corinthians 11:2 he praised the brethren for “remembering him in all things and keeping the ordinances as delivered.” When Paul praised them for remembering him, he meant they remembered and recognized his apostolic office and authority. Paul, as an inspired apostle, set down the pattern for the observance of the Lord’s Supper and he declared it should be kept as delivered. After giving a pattern for the assembly in I Corinthians 14, Paul says in verse 38, “If a man does not recognize this he is not to be recognized.” In II Thessalonians 2:15 Paul admonishes us to stand fast and hold on to the traditions we have received by the word of God. He is speaking, of course, of inspired traditions. If he were here today Paul would preach that the traditions, ordinances, and patterns revealed in the New Testament must be kept today if we are going to serve and worship the Lord acceptably. That kind of preaching would make Paul unpopular even in churches of Christ!

Baptism. If Paul were here today he would preach the same thing he preached about baptism as he preached 2000 years ago He would not be popular and in fact many would accuse him of preaching “water salvation.” In recounting his own conversion Paul declared that he was told, “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” He immediately arose and was baptized, and it was after his baptism that he stopped praying and rejoiced knowing his sins  were forgiven. Paul preached that baptism puts us into Christ where all spiritual blessings reside. (Romans 6:3- 5 & Galatians 3:27) Baptism is so essential to salvation that Paul commanded 12 men he met in Ephesus to be baptized a second time because their first baptism was invalid. I wonder what would happen if Paul told all those who have been baptized thinking they were saved before baptism that their baptisms are invalid and they need to be baptized again for the right reason? I do not think that would make him the most popular preacher in America!

The point to this whole article is, of course, that Paul would be unpopular today. The reason is not because Paul’s preaching would change – it would not – it is because people have not changed. Paul was not popular in his own day because people did not want the truth, and that has not changed. Paul, undoubtedly, was not concerned about popularity but preaching the truth and so should we. I do need to say, in closing, that Paul was popular with those who loved the truth, and if I may say it this way, he was popular with the Lord. That is all that mattered to Paul, and may it be what most matters to us! 

 

What You Didn’t Know About Jesus’ Miracles

 

What You Didn’t Know About Jesus’ Miracles

There is more and more interest in supernatural phenomena, perhaps now more than ever due to premiere TV shows that capitalize on the vampire and superhero extravaganza. This new wave of monotony has added one more reason for devout souls to gorge their minds with emptiness. Nonetheless, if you like the supernatural, consider reading the Bible instead. And upon reading the Bible, consider the purpose of Jesus’ miracles wrought so frequently throughout the New Testament narratives.
What was the purpose of Jesus’ miracles? Popular opinion is this: the miracles of Jesus were recorded to testify to Jesus’ power and His deity. However, popular opinion stops there, stating this is the only purpose of Jesus’ miracles. Certainly, this was a hierarchal, if not, the primary role of the miracles recorded. No other gospel shows this truth more evidently than John’s gospel packed with jaw dropping miracles from cover to cover. The back cover of His gospel even states the details therein were recorded in order that his audience might believe in Jesus’ deity (John 20:30-31). With this being said, consider that there is another purpose to these miracles revealed by the Holy Spirit Himself: an intent that will cause you to rethink how your life looks in the eyes of God.
The Holy Spirit, writing through the hand of Matthew, records a robust series of miracles in Matthew 8 & 9. In Matthew 8, Jesus heals a leper (v. 3), a Centurion’s paralyzed servant (v. 5-13), Peter’s mother’s fever (14-15), many demon-possessed persons (v. 16), and, “All who were sick,” (v. 16). Every type of healing fathomable is either listed by name or included in the statement, “All who were sick.” What does this have to do with showing a secondary purpose of Jesus’ miracles? Read Matthew 9:6. Just before healing a lame man let down through the roof where He was preaching, Jesus proclaims this purpose to working the miracle of healing, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins.” The miracles evidence Jesus’ power to forgive sins when we realize what is happening spiritually at the time of forgiveness. Just as the psalmist cried out to God and was healed spiritually (Ps. 30:2), so the physical, miraculous illustration invoked by Jesus’ words, “Be cleansed,” (Matt. 8:3) gives our finite human minds a glimpse into the spiritual realm of activity that transpires upon Jesus washing away our sins. In sin, we are, “paralyzed and dreadfully tormented,” like the centurion’s servant in Matt. 8:6 graphically portrays. But again, after stating He had power to forgive sins on earth in Matt. 9:6, Jesus proclaimed to the lame man, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Consider your spiritual state at this time, now aware of how God views the sin in your life.
For further evidence that the Holy Spirit wants the Bible reader to grasp this secondary purpose to Jesus’ miracles, answer the following questions. 1) Why does Matthew quote Isaiah 53:4 in Matt. 8:17, this just after he details all the different types of healings performed by Jesus, and that without a mention to forgiveness of sins? Isaiah was referring to Messiah taking away spiritual infirmities and sicknesses in context, but the Holy Spirit applies the passage to the miraculous display of Matthew 8. The answer- Jesus healing people of physical infirmities illustrated His power to heal them of spiritual sicknesses. 2) Does Jesus’ resurrecting of Lazarus after three days in the grave (John 11) have any illustrative purpose to what Jesus was about to accomplish in John 20? 3) Does Peter and John’s healing of the lame man in Acts 3:1-10 having any illustrative purpose for the subsequent sermon about the spiritual “restoration” of Israel (i.e. Acts 3:19, 21)? More examples could be given, but these will suffice. May this study build your faith in the divine composition of God’s Holy Word given for your nourishment (Matt. 4:4).

Aaron Battey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

Obey Your Parents

“Obey Your Parents”
Proverbs 1:8

Solomon was one of the wisest men to ever walk the surface of the earth. He was blessed by God with spiritual wisdom; this same wisdom is on display in the book of Proverbs, which he authored. In the very first chapter, Solomon seeks to impart some of that God-given wisdom to his son. How interesting it is that of all the wisdom the great Solomon could have taught his son, one of the first things he mentions is the importance of heeding his parent’s instruction. For the focus of this article, a few other verses will be examined from Proverbs and elsewhere to show that God intended for children to be taught Biblical principles by their parents from the time they were old enough to understand. Believe it or not, the Creator saw to it that righteous men throughout the eras of time write down the truths that mankind should pattern their lives after. Almighty God even wrote in such detail to regard how children were to behave and carry themselves throughout the days of youth. When a man and woman are joined together in holy matrimony, the husband & wife form the foundation of the family—the man and woman leave their fathers and mothers and cleave to each other as one flesh according to Genesis 2:24. From this union, God purposed children to be raised in the loving care of righteous parents. Some children are blessed with good parents. Some children unfortunately lose a parent, or both, to death and become orphans. Some children have parents who don’t have the proper affection for their children like they ought. But in God’s natural order, children typically have two parents who love them and want the best for them.
​As far as the home is concerned, God gave commands that regarded each member of the home with certain duties and responsibilities. Paul expressly discussed the obligation of children in the home. Ephesians 6:1-3: 1Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; 3That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. The apostle addresses both sons and daughters to teach them something divine that the Father would have them understand in order for the home and the children’s role in the home to exist correctly in His sight. From those verses, I believe there are at least three reasons why children should obey their parents.
First, a child’s obedience is necessary because it is right. This important Biblical principle and commandment has been repeated throughout the course of the scriptures and because it is steadily repeated, we can conclude that this command was part of God’s framework for life. We have proof of this because it was first mentioned in Exodus 20:12 as a portion of the 10 commandments. It’s mentioned several times in the book of Proverbs such as the first verse alluded to in this article, Proverbs 1:8; also in Proverbs 6:20, and in Proverbs 23:22. When we look at verses like verse 1 of Ephesians 6, most people disregard this because we live in a world that believes it has outsmarted God. By that, I mean people believe they are so educated that they don’t have to take direct orders from anyone or anything, for they are too intuitive to live this way! There must be a logical, scientific reason that lines up with the way society thinks at that moment in time for anyone to deem it necessary! Isn’t that the drumbeat of today’s culture? Well Christians who utilize such a thought process are walking on thin ice. Anytime God gives a direct command, as He does in Ephesians 6:1, it is to be OBEYED! And if somebody refuses to swallow their pride and do something because God said so, Solomon says such an attitude is foolish. Anytime God tells us to do something, we can be certain it is right! God does not owe anyone an explanation for any instruction he gives (Isaiah 55:8-9). “For this is right” is all the explaining needed for a child to understand that they must obey their parents.
Second, children should obey their parents because procreators are a source of wisdom! Our parents’ wisdom can help us in all aspects of life and that is why we are told to keep their teachings ever on our hearts and never depart from them (Proverbs 6:20-22). One of the biggest reasons parents are usually wise is because they have “been there and done that.” Too often, teenagers and young adults believe that our parents are dinosaurs and they really don’t know anything! In reality, they were once young adults and faced many of the same situations young folks find themselves in now. It doesn’t matter how advanced technology may become or how much we think times are changing, these things cannot deter the prevailing wisdom in experience!
​Finally, a child’s obedience to his parents is warranted so that it may be well with him (Ephesians 6:3). A rampant fad in today’s advancing society is this obsession with eating the right foods, glutton-free and exercise so that we can be well physically. We try to learn proper manners and communicate with people in a socially acceptable behavior so that it may be well with us publicly. So, we should obey our parents so that it may be well with us spiritually! Thus far, it has been suggested that our parents should be obeyed because they are a source of wisdom. When children don’t heed their parents’ wisdom, it is like a spit in the face to them. Guardians spend all the time that we live worrying about us, trying to do everything possible to give us all they can, and make sacrifices for us. When we don’t obey them, it causes tension and discord. But here in this passage, Paul wants us to see that things will be more in sync and harmonious in our lives if we will only obey God’s commands. Now in the second part of the verse, Paul says “that thou mayest live long on the earth.” Solomon stated something very similar in Proverbs 3:1-2: 1My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: 2For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. In all of the King Solomon’s wisdom, he realized the importance of obeying your parents for several different reasons. He especially knew the importance of obeying them so that we might live long on the earth and that it would be well with us! We need to understand though that this does not mean that every child that disappoints and sows discord with his/her parents won’t live a long life. This also doesn’t mean that every good, obedient child will live a long life. The point is that we all can have God’s blessing if we do obey because that is what He has promised. Therefore, we must follow it.
​It is this writer’s hope and prayer that every Christian will understand the necessity of this teaching throughout God’s Word and instruct the generations to come about the pressing responsibility of obedience to parents, and for that matter, authority. The Lord will be pleased if we are successful.

Colby Culbertson

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

“God Gave Them Up”

 

“God Gave Them Up”

​Romans 1:22-26 says: “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:”
​There is a degrading morality in the gentiles life style mentioned in Romans1:22-26. God gave them up to three things: uncleanness, vile affections and reprobate minds.
​First God gave them up to “uncleanness”. This means God gave them up to the flesh. He let the flesh gain control over them. When one is set on a course to do as they please God will give them over to what they desire, but there are consequences for doing such. Just as when Israel cried saying, “we shall have a king.” God warned them of their decision stating: You will have a king and he will be a wreck. You taxes will go up. He will take your young men and women as servants, and he will take your young men for war. When you cry out in the day of you affliction I will not deliver you. Because these gentiles wanted to live in a flesh fulfilling life style, God gave them up, and let their desires gain control.

​Second, God gave them up to vile affections. “Vile affections” are acts that dishonor. The acts Paul mentions are connected and described as homosexual acts. The point is that when one has allowed themselves to be under control of the flesh they will do what they need to fulfill their desires no matter how low they have to stoop.
​Third, God gave them up to a reprobate mind. “Reprobate mind” is a mind that is not able to discern what is good. With their downward spiral of carnal immorality complete, they finally have made it to a place where they can`t discern what is actually good from what is actually bad. All they understand is what they want and what they don’t want. There is no restriction and no bounds on what these things could be.

​These gentiles, as Paul describes, started with a simple yet fatal mistake, letting a little uncleanness take hold in their lives. We look at murders and rapists and wonder how anyone could stoop so low? We look at the crime rates in the US and the drug distribution throughout the world and wonder, how could an innocent child turn into such a horrible adult? We look around in our world at the prostitution, pornography, and child exploitation and try to see where all of these horrible and disgusting acts have come from?

​It doesn`t take us looking too long in our bible to understand all of this has resulted from man letting a little uncleanness in their lives. This is why it is imperative we discuss this topic. A little uncleanness has resulted in the world we live in today. What happens if we continue to let uncleanness in?
​God spoke of a world whose, “every imagination of their heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). This all resulted from a little uncleanness being let in.
​I want to ask two questions that will deal with uncleanness in our lives.

1 – As Christians what do we allow ourselves to get away with? How often do we take ourselves to task over the sin we commit? How often do we hold our selves accountable for what we do wrong? Too many times do we try to shift the blame on to some circumstance in our lives or shift is onto someone else?
When God saw that Adam had eaten of the tree and He questions Adam. Adam shifted the blame on two individuals, God and Eve. He says, “The woman who thou gavest me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat.” When God turned his attention to Eve she stated “The serpent beguiled me and I did eat.” (Gen. 3:12, 13)​
Shifting the blame is an old tool to help take some of the heat of guilt away. If I can blame my circumstance on my family or a stranger, then I may not feel quite as guilty. The problem with mankind is no one likes to take themselves to task. It is time that we begin to take the mirror of God`s word and hold ourselves up in it. We need to begin to hold ourselves accountable for our mistakes. It is easy to get in a rut of allowing ourselves to get away with some things. But here in lies a problem. Just as Jesus said, in Luke 16:10; “He that is faithful in little is faithful in much.” If we are unfaithful in little how long until, we become as the gentiles and sink to being unfaithful in much? How long will it be before we too are unable to discern what is good?​
2 – Parents what are you allowing in your homes?
​Parents have the utmost responsibility when it comes to children because is their job to raise their children in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord”, (Eph. 6:4) Parents what are you allowing your children to watch on TV? What movies are you allowing you children to go see with friends? I read an article about the ratings of movies, and one that really concerns me is the PG-13 rating. This article stated – “I would not argue exactly that ratings across-the-board have gotten more lenient over time, but it seems to me that the “rules” of what goes into a PG-13 rating have crystallized, and that filmmakers now know exactly what to do to get around the rules. This has led to PG-13 ratings on films that feature brutal killings, breasts, and of course, foul language.”
​So, what are we as Christians to think about the movies we watch, and more importantly, what are we allowing the children to watch. When you watch a movie with crude images and simply tell you child “just turn you head for moment” what message are you sending that child? In the child`s mind, because I remember this myself, the child is thinking “one day I will be able to see what is not permitted for me to see today.
​Also, what social media do you give your children access to? I read an article by Brother Aaron Battey titled, “Why I Deleted My Instagram?” In this article the emphasis is placed on crude images that can be seen, and are being sent to both men and women. Now Facebook is getting requests like this. To think that these things will not have an effect on the children growing up is foolish. If what we are doing could cause problem later on for the children isn’t it better and wise to stop now, before a minor problem becomes a serious problem?

​God wants us to look at own spiritual wellness. We read in Judges 2:10 “there arose a generation that knew not God.” All it takes is a little uncleanness to result in the church to bring about a people that “know not God.” All it took for these gentiles to end up in a state of reprobate minds is to let the uncleanness in their lives unchecked.
​We should want children to cultivate a love for the truth in their hearts; a heart that loves the truth and pattern of the Lord. If we don’t teach and show how one “earnestly contends for the faith once delivered” (Jude 3); if we don’t show the example of standing for the Lord those following won’t stand. If an individual or a congregation does not stand for the truth, they are destined for destruction.

Sean Smith



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