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


Why Christians Need to Apologize


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

The Church’s Problem Members

Barney Owens
May 1964



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


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.

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

Aaron Battey





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.

The Secret to a Long Life


People everywhere want to know the secret to long life. Solomon was the founder of the long life scheme, God giving him long life as a result of his asking for wisdom. The secret is found in the very thing Solomon asked of God…wisdom.
In Solomon’s book of Proverbs, he writes to his children over and over about the value of instruction, guidance, and wisdom. Proverbs 23:23 says, “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding.” Solomon details the value of wisdom in Proverbs, but he also tells his children how to obtain this valuable blessing. “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you,” (Proverbs 3:1). Here Solomon introduces a foundational truth to those who would be wise: listen to your parents and you will have a long, peaceful life. The idea that long life directly correlates with obeying one’s parents is a natural law. A natural law is nothing more than an observable truth born out in nature. The fact that children obeying their parents will result in a long, peaceful life is evidenced by children who disobey their parents, go out drinking with their friends, followed by driving a car, ending with perishing from a traumatic motor vehicle crash. This may not happen in every single incident a child disobeys their parents, but it is an observable fact that disobedient children have fewer days and a more troublesome way in life.

This precept is repeated by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament scriptures by the hand of Paul. Ephesians 6:1-3 says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” Three key principles are listed here: honor, obedience in the Lord, and a promise. Honor means to value and respect (Strong’s Dictionary). If a child values and respects their parents, they will undoubtedly obey their parent’s commands. However, Paul emphasizes obedience “in the Lord.” In the drunk driving incidence above, if the child had obeyed his parents, he would not have been drinking and driving at the same time. Then again, if he had parents instructing him “in the Lord” (according to the Lord’s instruction) he would not have been drinking in the first place. Finally, Paul repeats the same natural law that Solomon laid out: respect for parents equals long life and peace of days.

If you are a young person reading this, know that your parents are smarter than you give them credit. God knows this to be true as well. That is why God, through the prophets, teaches children everywhere to honor and obey their parents. After all, if you don’t obey your earthly father, how much more your heavenly Father?

Aaron Battey

The Back Page

Carl Johnson has been holding us a meeting at Marietta and he has done some excellent preaching. Carl is a regular contributor to the OldPaths Advocate, writing  a column called, The Back Page. If you are not a subscriber to the Old Paths Advocate this is a sample of what you are missing. Please consider subscribing to the paper. The price is 15.00 per year and you can subscribe at




In the most recent issue of The Christian Chronicle, “an international newspaper for Churches of Christ,” chief correspondent Bobby Ross gives us a glimpse of a movement going on among our “cups and classes” brethren concerning the planting of new congregations (June 2016).

Convinced that a traditional evangelistic approach no longer reaches lost souls, ePIC Church in Torrance, California, will no longer meet for worship in a building with wooden pews, but will be conducting services in a movie theater in one of America’s largest shopping malls beginning in August. After services, church members will head straight from the AMC theater to a food court “ filled with lost souls.” one member implies his multiple tattoos will actually be an asset as he tries to initiate religious conversations with diners.

Lead church planter Matt Raines says they do not intend to “franchise” a traditional Church of Christ. He explains, “our guiding ethic is to do what makes sense in our West Coast context (culture).” associate stan Granberg says, “Churches rooted in and practicing 20th century church models are not doing well in our 21st century culture.” Ted Vogt adds, “every generation must reevaluate what practices may hinder others from turning to God.”

In view of the above logic, churches associated with EPIC Church have decided to continue to observe the practice of baptism and the weekly lord’s Supper, but apparently everything else is up for grabs. They no longer call themselves “Churches of Christ,” they allow women to lead prayer and read scriptures in the public assembly, and 60 percent of the associated congregations use instrumental music in worship services. Vogt argues that the church needs to make even GREATER CHANGES than these if it is going to engage our modern culture successfully.

The willingness of church planters to compromise almost everything Churches of Christ have practiced for centuries reminds me of the spirit of the church in Pergamos (rev. 2: 12-17). Jesus directs some of His harshest words toward the sin of compromise found in the Pergamos church embodied in the doctrines of Balaam and the nicolaitans. Both doctrines were efforts to adjust Christianity to the level of the world rather than lift the world to the level of Christianity. They taught the people to go along in order to get along, in short, to compromise. However, Jesus says he “hates” the doctrine (2:15), and the scriptures warn us repeatedly against it (2 Cor. 6:17; rom. 12:2; 2 Tim. 2:19).

The members of EPIC Church may think their approach is new, exciting, and relevant, but in reality it is more of the same old, same old. in 1993 John McAuthur wrote a scathing expose of a similar philosophy within the “evangelical” churches. He says, “Church growth experts have concluded that the priorities of the early church-the apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers (Acts 2:42)-do not seem to work any more … Preaching is being discarded or downplayed in favor of newer means, such as drama, dance, comedy, variety, side-show histrionics, pop psychology, and other entertainment forms. The new methods are supposedly more effective-that is, they draw a bigger crowd. Since for many the chief criterion for gauging the success of a church has become attendance gures, whatever pulls in the most people is accepted without critical analysis as good” (Ashamed of the Gospel xiii).

If you buy into EPIC Church’s philosophy you will be forced, as Ted Vogt says, to reevaluate your church with the arrival of each new generation and eliminate any practice you decide is no longer relevant. That conclusion is necessary because what appears to be relevant to our culture today will be out-of-date tomorrow. That is one of the problems with culture-it is transitory. Christ, however, is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8), and the church is an eternal kingdom (Dan. 2:44). Therefore, God never intended the church to be reinvented and conformed to the cultural demands of each succeeding generation. The Apostle Paul says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (rom. 12:2). God never intended for us to adapt the church to re ect the culture, but rather He intends for people of the culture to be adapted into the image of His dear son (Rom. 8:29).

The word translated “church” in the new Testament is ekklesia, and it means “a called out body.” Christians are called-out from the world and separated as the body of Christ. While we are not isolated from the world, we are separated from its attitudes, its sinful behavior, and its God-defying lifestyle (1 in. 21 :5). Therefore, the last thing we need in order to make the church more relevant today is to put back into it more of the world out of which we have been called.

By Carl M. Johnson

Should I Follow My Heart?


There are few phrases that society has embraced like the phrase “follow your heart”. It is a statement that is found in numerous stories, movies, songs, and often used as the answer to some of life’s toughest question. In truth, those who stand by this phrase believe that the heart is a compass that will guide you to your own true north and true happiness if only you would have the courage to follow it, as it is believed “your heart will never lead you astray”. How beautiful and liberating this is, the problem, none of these quips are biblically supportable.

In fact, instead of trusting our hearts, we are to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5–6). Instead of following our hearts we are to give our trust to the Lord with the promise of guidance to those who choose to follow Him. When we search for direction in life our compass must be based on The Truth and the Light (John 17:17; Psalms 119:105). But if man still chooses to reject this truth God says “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool. . .” (Prov. 28:26) because, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:19)? God makes clear two reasons why no one should bind himself to following his heart, it is deceitful and it is wicked.

It doesn’t take much to see that the heart is not leadership material. But the heart has an opportunity to be good and wise, if it is willing to “receive commands” (Prov. 10:8). A person’s life is a reflection of his heart. Proverbs 4:23 states it like this: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” therefore, we must guard our hearts and watch over them so that our heart follows hard after the things of God. If we first humble ourselves before God, if we can put our ego to the side, our heart can become of great benefit. In the sight of God a heart that is humble and pure is a blessing (Matthew 5:8), and it is this same heart that when humbled before God is where we keep His word (Prov. 7:3). The heart has endless possibility of good, but only when humbled before God will the Church and the Christian flourish.

The heart, like any coin, has two sides but unlike a coin the outcome of which side our heart is on is not left up to chance. We have to make the decision whether to serve God, or to place ourselves as idols above God, a decision we get wrong every day. Man continues to try and keep God out of the picture but they fail to realize that pretending to be independent from God leads people down a path of their own ideas of happiness, success, and fulfillment. But King Solomon who went down this road further than most said at the end of it all “I hated life” (Eccl. 2:17). Be careful who you choose to follow, your eternal happiness and salvation depends upon the choice you now make.


Aaron Boone

Why Mega-churches Are Wrong


Why Mega-Churches Are Wrong
The bigger the number the better. This is the unsung motto of the denominations today. Churches today would leave the impression with their gargantuan assemblies that Jesus said, “Broad is the gate and easy is the way that leads to life, and there are many who go in by it!” But wait, Jesus said, “Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it,” (Matt. 7:14). Jesus would further proclaim, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword,” (Matt. 10:34) indicating that the way is indeed rigorous. This type of teaching would lead to many of his disciples forsaking Him in John 6:66. This is not the portrayal in the modern mega-church era.
Mega-churches are by definition, churches with more than 2,000 people in attendance on an average weekly basis (Bird, 2012). Warren Bird cites the earliest known church to have more than 2,000 members and sustain that number through the 21st century as the Moody Church of Chicago (2012). Subsequently modern community churches like Life Church may not equal 2,000 in weekly attendance (or maybe they do) but when a police officer is required to safely direct the traffic into and out of the church…the church is too big. This truth can be understood from reading 1 Thessalonians 2.
1 Thessalonians is a very intimate epistle by Paul to a young church. Perhaps no other epistle by Paul is more positive and uplifting besides the book of Philippians. The church had not been established long, as can be logically deduced from reading the epistle in conjunction with the history of the Thessalonian conversion in Acts 17. Although Paul was only with these brethren and sisters for a short time before being driven out of town by the unbelieving Jews, he says this,
“We (Paul, Silas, and Timothy) were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us…as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children,” (1 Thess. 2:7-11).
Paul, Silas, and Timothy’s relationship with these brethren was as personal and intimate as a mother’s care for her children and a father’s love for his children. No greater bond of love can be found than the two used in illustration by Paul. This is how well Paul knew these brethren on an individual basis. Certainly he could not have said these words had the church been 2,000 in attendance every week, even if he had stayed in Thessalonica for years on end. These verses exemplify the Christian unity and closeness required of every congregation.
This bond of unity is impossible when there are so many people in attendance that one cannot remember the names of people, let alone actually know the people. Bigger numbers do not equate to a better church. This is only one of many reasons that mega-churches fail to meet the New Testament church example.

Bird, Warren. (2012). World’s first megachurch? Leadership Network. Retrieved from

Aaron Battey

“Some Having Swerved”


“Some Having Swerved”
I Timothy 1:5-8

Both of Paul’s epistles to young Timothy teach a great deal about basic truths that Timothy needed to learn in order to become a successful servant for Jesus Christ. These truths are plainly seen in the first chapter of the first letter to Timothy. The apostle wastes no time in telling Timothy why he left him at Ephesus. This journey refers to one of Paul’s missionary journeys in Acts where Paul went to Ephesus, accompanied by Timothy, but departed to Macedonia shortly after arriving at Ephesus. Verses 3-4 point out the reason for their separation. Paul instructed Timothy to ensure the teaching of the gospel was for the use of edifying because several law lovers had deceived some of the new congregational teachers at Ephesus by binding fables and “endless” genealogies as New Testament truths. These were not for the use of edifying, but rather to promote pointless question asking that caused many to veer from the truth! Timothy had to stop the spread of this false doctrine, or the church at Ephesus would fall into apostasy! Listen to Paul’s words on how such error is combated. He says, “the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned;” For the Christian, that is the basics of Christian living. Thayer even says that the word “commandment” mentioned in verse 5 refers to right living! How do you refute false doctrine? How do you destroy scorners of church members? How do you combat evil? Your actions must bespeak your name—Christian. We have to live righteously. This is done through charity (love) out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned. But then Paul says, “from which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling.” It is apparent that some of the members at Ephesus had erred from the truth that edifies and turned unto “vain jangling” which is defined as “empty chatter.” It is interesting that the Greek word astocheo is translated “swerved” in this verse. In the English, this word means “to deviate from; miss the mark.” Yet this same Greek word is found in two other passages, both in the epistles to Timothy. But in the other two verses, the English word translated is “erred.” They all mean the same thing, but this is noteworthy because the verb “swerved” is a good way to describe some Christians today. They believe the truth and obey it, but somewhere along the way, an abrupt right turn is taken, and they have veered far from the straight and narrow.
Over the years, many have deviated from the divine Word in an effort to justify their own personal beliefs and life styles! That’s what these law lovers were doing. They muddied the waters surrounding what had to be obeyed, and what had been fulfilled; the result was the swerving of members from the truth because the law lovers were clinging to their Jewish heritage out of pride. Today, it’s the same thing! Some have swerved because of their pride. Yet God does not justify swerving. He gives us three principles to practice in verse 5 to prevent swerving and pride. Time will not permit discussion of those three principles, but charity out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned is God’s solution to swerving. May we all seek after these things, so we do not miss the mark.

Colby Culbertson