As For The Lord

Posted: May 29th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.  Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.  It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col 3:22-24).

The master-slave relationship was one of the most common forms of employment in the first century.  Therefore, the employee-boss relationship of today should be governed by many of the same principles taught to slaves and masters in the New Testament.

In any work our hand finds to do we must remember who our true master or boss is, just like Paul instructed these slaves.  But what does working “as for the Lord rather than for men” really involve?

1, “Not with external service, as those who merely please men”

First of all, we must seek to meet God’s standards, not just man’s.  Man’s evaluation of our work is limited to the surface level.  They cannot see how we use every minute of the day.  They cannot always tell the amount of effort we are putting into our work.  But God sees our every action, word, and thought.  He sees every minute of every day.  He knows whether our heart is in our work or not.

And the Lord’s standards may differ at times from the standards of men.  God is not just results oriented.  The means do not always justify the end in His book.  God wants us to maintain a blameless character in the work we do, whether it is beneficial to productivity or not.  We must focus on passing His evaluation and strive to please Him in our work first and foremost.

2. “With sincerity of heart… do your work heartily”

If we are striving to meet God’s standards we must start with our hearts.  The condition of our hearts will determine what type of work springs forth from within (Prov 4:23).  We must be cultivating a genuine desire to do our work well and a positive attitude toward the tasks we have been assigned.  Our work should not just be a “have-to”, but a “want-to”.

Whether we’re flipping burgers or crunching numbers our work is an opportunity for us to glorify God.  Therefore, we must be motivated in our work, not just by the paycheck coming at the end of the week, but by the daily spiritual revenue being rendered to the Lord’s account.  This should help make us excited to come to work each day.

3. “Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance”

We may not always get the recognition for our work that we feel we deserve.  But the praise of men is a short-lived reward.  If we are doing our work simply to be noticed and commended by men, we have our reward in full (Matt 6:1-4).  The praises of men are fickle and quickly pass away.  Commendation from one day can turn into criticism the next.  Trying to please everyone often turns into pleasing no one at all.

The praises of the Lord are not so fleeting and inconsistent.  His standard always remains the same.  He never fails to see the effort we are exerting or the sacrifices we are making.  He is understanding towards our short-comings and forgiving towards our faults.  And being pleasing in His sight comes with eternal rewards.

The Other Woman

Posted: April 13th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

After women entered the work force following World War II, the problem of the “other woman” (or the “other man”) became much more prominent. Men and women began working side by side, eating lunch together, and developing friendships often more intimate than with their mates at home. TV sit-coms and commercials in more recent years have glamorized sex outside marriage and, as a result, acts of adultery and the divorce rate have climbed at a startling and alarming rate. The problem of the “other woman” is not going away any time soon and God’s people are not going to escape the temptation it has created in society.

The most appalling aspect of this problem is that Christians are often deceived by it. Scores of Christians have been beguiled by the “attractiveness” of the “other woman.” The “other woman” is friendly, laughs at your jokes, doesn’t put her mother or children ahead of you, is ignorant of your boorish attitude and disgusting habits at home, isn’t guilty of spending your check before the next one arrives or running your credit cards up to the limt, doesn’t despise your mother or other family members, etc., etc., etc. Satan has not lost an ounce of ability to draw us away from God and God’s ways for a man and a woman.

The difference between the “other woman” and your wife is that you have to live with your wife. The problems mates have to deal with in an ongoing family relationship are trying, demanding, and sometimes agonizing. Disagreements demand communication and resolution; anger demands apologies and forgiveness; neglect yields unloved feelings that precipitate self-esteem problems; hurt feelings create hard feelings and indifference; etc. And often when these are handled one at a time the underlying problem or problems are never resolved and the cycle goes on and on. The time that “issues” in marriage will go away has not and will never come.

None of these things, however, comes between the man and the “other woman”––which makes the adulterous relationship not only attractive but deceptive. And what has been demonstrated again and again is that soon after a man divorces his wife and marries the “other woman” the problems of the first marriage will appear in the new relationship. The “fantasy” of the office romance one day becomes the old “reality” of the marriage one had left behind months before. And the strange phenomenon is that so many are naive enough to start the process all over again.

What all of this mean, brothers and sisters, is that the”other woman/man” is not the solution to life’s problems in marriage. The solution is character––love and devotion and care for one’s mate that exalts her/him above oneself and all others; honesty to face, discuss, and correct underlying problems that disrupt the relationship. This is the real world that leads to life. The fantasy world of adultery leads only to judgment and condemnation. As God says and Jesus repeats: “cleave to your wife,” an expression in Greek, and I understand also in Hebrew, that means “stick together like glue” (see Gen 2:24; Matt 19:5).

“It Bites Like a Serpent”

Posted: August 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

Christians who want to social drink occasionally ask: “What’s wrong with just one beer?” The very question by one of God’s servants shows that he either has a poor perception of the evils of drinking or of his responsibility to be seen as a light in the world.

“Even so,” Jesus said, “let your light shine before men; that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Paul penned similar remarks to the Philippian brethren to tell them that they are to be “blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom they are seen as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).

Social drinking, as a beer or two with some friends is called, involves far more than whether it is right to ingest alcohol into one’s body. Alcohol is frequently used in medicines. And the Bible commends this use of it (1 Tim. 5:23). Social drinking, however, is much more complex than this.

Social drinking involves the use of alcoholic beverages in the presence of family, relatives, friends, business associates, and others with whom one may have occasional company. It is practiced for physical pleasure or relaxation, and for various ulterior motives. The ulterior motives may be to attain sexual ends, reach business goals, escape from reality, or any of many other purposes. These motives may be shared by one or more of the participants.

What should concern Christians is participation in a practice that commends or furthers the goals of Satan in particular and sin in general. Such behavior is, as Jesus and Paul teach, inherently sinful. Surely, it is not necessary to enumerate in detail all the evils that grow out of social drinking.

The fact is that just one beer begins the process of releasing inhibitions, which results in speech and behavior with less restraint. One loses some of the faculty to reason and make sound judgments morally, socially, spiritually, even physically and in secular matters. Lack of full control leads to automobile deaths, unethical business deals, poverty, occasional drunkenness, addictive drinking, malicious speech, child and wife abuse, fornication, adultery, murder, robbery, etc.

Commending social drinking because one does not engage in these immoral practices is naive and myopic. Social drinking encourages and supports others who do these things. Furthermore, one runs the risk that he may influence his wife/husband, child, grandchild, or fellow brother in Christ to practice any one or more of these sinful practices.

These evils are too widespread and so often related to drinking to deny a connection between social drinking and sin. The wisest man, other than Jesus, who ever lived wrote in the proverbs about a relationship between drinking and the woes that grow out of it.

Solomon wrote:

“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like and adder” (Prov. 23:29-32).

Note what Solomon says about the results of tarrying long at the wine: it creates sorrow and heartache; it stirs up contention and strife; causes dissatisfaction and complaining about life; results in physical injuries, etc. And anyone of us, even Solomon himself, could have extended this list significantly. Make your own list.

But Solomon also offers a “do not” to this list to warn of the subtle, beguiling, dangerous, and destructive power of wine. “Do not,” he says, “look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder” (Prov. 23:31-32). Elsewhere the wise man said: “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler; and whosoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Prov. 20:1).

  1. He says man must not approach the drinking of alcoholic beverages casually. No one should take it lightly or view it as an innocent practice. Many agree that it tastes good, that it quenches the thirst, and is a delight to the eyes as it sparkles in its attractive container. But…
  2. But all of that, he says, is deceptive. Wine, beer, or the drink of your choice is a mocker! Its sight and taste give no hint of its destructive power. But when it enters the blood stream, reaches the mind, and alters one’s person, it robs its user of clarity of thought, rational control of emotions, firm command of speech, and restraint of behavior.
  3. In the end the drinker will get hurt. Wine and similar drinks will lead men astray. They do not see or they choose to ignore the “bite” its poisoning effects will inflict. Drinkers do not with that first drink think of the deadly “sting” that results in a few hours when an altered state of mind yields perverted behavior.

I marvel that society, including brethren, gets so worked up over heroin, marijuana, cocaine; that our nation has mounted costly campaigns against the “so-called” hard drugs; and then say so little about the deadly evils that alcoholic drinks inflict on our country. A beer here and a beer there, a sip of wine at noon, and a relaxing social drink at night have lead to the most abused drug in modern society––alcohol.

But what’s totally incomprehensible is that Christians––our brothers in Christ who are dedicated to the eradication of all evil––ask: “What’s wrong with social drinking?” “What’s wrong with an occasional beer?” What’s wrong? It’s addictive and possesses its user. It alters the mind and distorts man as God created him. It impacts and influences others, including family, who lack control. It gives help to Satan who uses it to destroy others. Whoever errs thereby is exceedingly foolish.

Lucifer and His Fall

Posted: January 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

Lucifer comes from a Latin word that meant “morning star” or “light bringing.” It is also used to denote the planet Venus when it appears as the morning star. Most of us are more familiar with its use as a name for Satan. English dictionaries define it as “a proud religious archangel, identified with Satan, who fell from heaven.”

The “name” has been associated with Satan for two reasons: One, “lucifer” is the translation of the Hebrew word heylel or helel in Jerome’s Latin translation of Isaiah 14:12 early in the fifth century A. D. The “old” King James Version transliterated the word into a proper name in this verse. Two, this translation in Isaiah 14:12 describes one who “has fallen from heaven” and been “cut down to the earth.” Because Jesus refers to Satan falling from heaven (see Luke 10:18), it has been assumed by many commentators that Isaiah is referring to the origin of the devil: a good angel who sinned and was cast out of heaven.

While this may be true about the origin of Satan, it is not what Jesus is discussing and has nothing at all to do with what Isaiah foresees. Isaiah says plainly that his prophecy denotes the downfall of the “king of Babylon” (Isaiah 14:4). The prophet begins this oracle against Babylon in chapter 13 and continues his description of the fall of the nation and its king in chapter 14.

Isaiah employs a number of “stellar” and “heavenly” images in chapter 13 to portray the fall of the nation: “for the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give light; the sun shall be darkened in its going forth, and the moon shall not cause its light to shine.” This, he says, refers to the “day of Jehovah” that comes “cruel, with wrath, and fierce anger” to make the land of Babylon a desolation (Isa 13:9-10).

These portraits foresee the end of the exaltation of this nation used by God as a rod of His indignation against Assyria and His own people––Judah (see Isaiah 10:5 for God’s use of nations). God later explains to Habakkuk that Babylon was guilty of blood-thirsty cruelty in conquering these nations and deserves to fall from its exalted place (Hab 2). God describes this fall in Isaiah 14:12: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O day star [Lucifer, KJV], son of morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, that didst lay low the nations.”

Isaiah follows this verse by highlighting the arrogance of the king of Babylon as a “man” that boasted, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; and I will sit upon the mount of congregation, in the uttermost parts of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isa 14:13-14). All this, as seen in Daniel 4, depicts accurately the pride of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.

The prophet sees the Babylonian king as one who exalted himself as the “morning star” but is humbled and brought low by the wrath and judgment of God. “Lucifer” is an unfortunate translation of the Hebrew word for “day star” as a personal name. But more than that, Satan is nowhere discussed in this prophecy. “Lucifer,” in the original King James Version of the Bible, is the king of Babylon—not Satan.

Has Science Disproved the Bible?

Posted: January 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

Bertrand Russell, British philosopher, logician, and activist of the twentieth century, said, “Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence. It will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.” Humanistic views such as this have gained momentum in recent decades. There are many, especially in the liberal, secular education system, who believe, as Russell, that religions, including Bible-based faith, will simply vanish away as naturalistic knowledge increases. A frequent charge made by atheists and agnostics is that science has disproved the Bible (and even the existence of God). This declaration can and should provoke serious investigation on the part of believers.

Science and Faith

To answer this indictment, it is necessary for the terms “science” and “faith” to be effectively defined. Yet in examining these two words, one must sift through prejudiced assumptions and statements (For example, Robert Ingersoll, an agnostic orator of the nineteenth century, insisted, “Our ignorance is God. What we know is science.” ). “Science” must be defined and understood by three limiting principles:

Principle #1: Science is limited to observable data. The simple definition of “science” is “systemized knowledge derived from observation, study, etc.” (Webster’s New World Dictionary). Geneticist John Klotz explained science as “man’s groping for truth.” He went on to say that “science deals only with the natural, with things that can be apprehended with the sense organs. Science deals with those things that can be measured.” Scientific information is thus confined to what can be observed and studied with the senses.

Principle #2: Science is limited to reproducible data. This means that tests and experiments must produce results that can be duplicated under different conditions, viz. different operators, apparatus, laboratories, and/or after different intervals of time (IUPAC Compendium of Chemical Terminology). The scientific method is not applicable to single, unique events.

Principle #3: Science is limited to naturalistic explanations. Since scientific research is restricted to that which is observed and measured with the senses, it cannot explain anything outside of natural law.

Just as the definition of “science” must be cleared of conjecture and presumption so must “faith” (Friedrich Nietzsche unfairly alleged that “faith” is “not wanting to know what is true,” and even the American Heritage Dictionary defines the word as “belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.”).

The Bible, which claims to be the word of God and the source of faith (cf. 1 Cor. 2:10-13; 2 Tim. 3:16; Rom. 10:17), testifies to a very different meaning of “faith”: Faith is the foundation of hope and the proof of the invisible (cf. Heb. 11:1). It can be these, because it is grounded in truth and confirmed by evidence (cf. Jn. 17:17; 1 Jn. 1:1-3). Jesus Himself did not expect anyone to believe without proof (cf. Jn. 10:37-38), yet John added that faith is possible even for those who have not viewed the evidence first-hand (cf. Jn. 20:30-31; 20:25-29; 1 Pet. 1:7-8). Faith is not “blind,” as Nietzsche and the American Heritage Dictionary malign it. It is based on the valid, historical evidence of eye-witness testimony and confirmed by substantial evidence (cf. Jn. 21:24; 2 Pet. 1:16; 1 Jn. 1:1-3).

Science Cannot Disprove the Bible

Due to the limitations of science, it will never be capable of refuting the inspiration and validity of the Bible:

The events recorded in the Bible cannot be observed or reproduced (Principle #1 and #2). They are historical events and are, therefore, non-scientific. This fact is even recognized by scientists: “Scientific study is limited to organisms and processes that we are able to observe and measure. Supernatural and religious phenomena are beyond the realm of scientific analysis because they cannot be scientifically studied, analyzed, or explained. Supernatural explanations can be used to explain any result, and cannot be disproven by experiment or observation” (The Living World, George B. Johnson). This does not mean that historical facts are any less true. For instance, the existence of Abraham Lincoln and his presidency cannot be proven through science, but the historical evidence–eyewitness testimony, written documents, structures, and archeological findings–confirms that he lived and served as president. Thus, science itself will never disprove the Bible, because the Scriptures’ account is non-observable, non-measurable, and non-reproducible.

The Bible testifies to supernaturalism (that which is above and beyond the natural realm). Unique, supernatural activities and persons (creation, miracles, God, Jesus, etc.) cannot be disproved by science, because they are outside of natural law (Principle #3). Any evidence against such must come from non-scientific sources.

Science Supports the Biblical Account

While scientific data can neither prove nor disprove the Bible, it can provide evidence for or against it. Many atheists and agnostics claim science overwhelmingly invalidates the Bible, but open-minded investigation shows the Scriptures to be completely accurate when it comes to matters both non-scientific and scientific. In fact, the Scriptures even mention things that have only recently been discovered by modern scientists. This is often called the “scientific foreknowledge” of the Bible. Consider the following examples:

- Five components of the universe: time, force, energy, space, and matter. Bible: Gen. 1:1. Science: Nineteenth century.

- Creation finished. Bible: Gen. 2:1. Science: Nineteenth century (First Law of Thermodynamics).

- Mankind of one blood. Bible: Acts 17:26. Science: Twentieth century.

- Earth wearing down. Bible: Isa. 51:6; Ps. 102:26; Heb. 1:11. Science: Nineteenth century (Second Law of Thermodynamics).

- Ocean springs. Bible: Gen. 7:11; Prov. 8:28; Job 38:16. Science: First century.

- Ocean currents. Bible: Ps. 8:8. Science: Nineteenth century.

- Ocean trenches or canyons. Bible: Job 38:16; 2 Sam. 22:16. Science: Nineteenth century.

- Water cycle. Bible: Ecc. 1:7; Amos 9:6. Science: Sixteenth century.

- Circumcision on the eighth day–the highest levels of Vitamin K in the body are present (without modern medicine) on the eighth day following birth. This vitamin produces prothombin which prevents hemorrhaging, making day eight the best day for surgical procedures. Bible: Lev. 12:3. Science: Twentieth century.

Not only do the accusations of critics that the Bible is proven false by science not hold up, they are demolished by the scientific foreknowledge of the Scriptures. The only explanation for this is inspiration. God alone knew and revealed thousands of years beforehand what man has only recently discovered.

“Has science disproved the Bible?” By no means. The Scriptures have not only held their ground, they have been reinforced by modern scientific findings. The word of God is living, active, and sharper than ever (cf. Heb. 4:12; 2 Cor. 10:3-6), and as Christians, we must be prepared to contend for and defend the faith and our hope (cf. Jude 3; 1 Pet. 3:15)

Unbelievers Shall Be Damned

Posted: November 1st, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

He that believeth not shall be damned is as forthright and clear as the first part of the gospel message in Mark 16:16 which says: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. Yet, oddly enough, some have argued that baptism is not essential to salvation because Jesus did not say “he that is not baptized shall be damned.”

That faith in Jesus as the Christ and as the Son of God is the foundation of salvation is too plain in Scripture to need proof (see John 8:24; John 20:30-31; Romans 1:16; Romans 5:1; etc). So the gospel unmistakably announces condemnation to those who believe not. Damned (katrino, Thayer 332) means to pass “judgment against” or “condemn” and states that unbelievers stand before God in judgment as guilty.

The meaning of “justification,” which is by faith (Romans 5:1), is essentially “not guilty,” so that those who refuse to believe on Christ and, as a result, fail to come to the blood of Christ by baptism through faith will be judged guilty and suffer eternal damnation or condemnation (see Romans 3:24-25; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; Romans 6:3-4).

This raise the issue: but what of one who “believes” and is not baptized? Bible students must but remember that even the “demons” believe and recognize Jesus as the “Holy One of God” and as the “Son of God” (Mark 1:24; Mark 3:11; see James 2:19).

Faith that refuses to “obey” is as dead and lifeless as the body apart from the spirit (James 2:26). “Faith alone” is reformation theology, not biblical teaching. “Faith alone” would have left Abraham in Chaldea, Noah in the flood waters of destruction, and Moses in the king’s palace of Egypt––meaning there would have been no human race today, no nation of Israel through whom the Messiah would come, and no covenant people from which redemption would have been typified to bring men to faith (see Hebrews 11:7, 8, 24-25)

C. E. W. Dorris illustrates simply how little there is to misunderstand about this last phrase of the gospel in Mark 16:16. “He that pledges himself to be honest and will restore what he has stolen shall be pardoned, but he that will not make this pledge shall serve out his time in prison.” Dorris then comments: “None but a crazy thief could think that because restitution is not mentioned in the latter instance he would be pardoned without making restitution” (A Commentary on the Gospel by Mark, p. 388). So it is with baptism.

Please re-read and re-think the last phrase of Mark 16:16: He that believeth not shall be damned (The above taken and adapted from Truth Commentaries Mark, L. A. Stauffer)

Mark 16:16

Posted: October 2nd, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved is a simple straightforward message that every creature can understand. Only hardened hearts rendered insensitive by theological concepts can be blind or deaf to this command. A lesson from the hardness of the Jews against Jesus because of “Jewish theology” should be a warning to modern man not to allow theological systems to harden them against truth. Many today “see” but do not perceive and “hear” but do not understand what is said in this verse.

The apostles were to preach that those who “believe” and are “baptized” will be saved, meaning clearly that both faith and baptism are essential to salvation in Christ. Only the parsing of words and twisting of meanings can escape this simple fact. Few have problems with the idea that “believers” shall be saved, but to many of the same folks baptism is not essential.

R. C. H. Lenski, a Lutheran commentator, captures the thought of the commission message: “Faith and baptism are combined here as the means of obtaining salvation. For one thing, faith and baptism always go together; the moment a man believes he will want and will have baptism. By believing he clings to the gospel, and part of that is gospel is baptism. But believing is subjective, the act of baptism is objective. They go together in this way. Baptism cannot, therefore, be a mere sign or symbol that bestows nothing. If it were no more, it could not be so vitally connected with salvation. Baptism bestows, and the believing baptized person accepts and receives this great soteria [salvation] from the Savior. For anyone who comes to faith baptism is the great means of grace, that is, the channel by which forgiveness, life, and salvation are bestowed upon him. As he believes the word, so he will demand all that the Word promises in baptism and thus the baptism act itself. He who claims to believe but refuses and rejects baptism most surely deceives himself about believing; his could be only a highly pathological faith” (The Interpretation of St. Mark’s Gospel, pp. 766, 767).

Some scholars appeal to this verse as a “spurious” passage to avoid the truth about baptism. However the textual problem may be resolved, it is clear elsewhere in Scripture that “baptism” is for “the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38); that baptism is necessary to “wash away thy sins” (Acts 22:16); that baptism “doth now save us” (1 Peter 3:21); that out of baptism one arises to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4) in the experience that Jesus called the birth “of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5); that baptism puts one into Christ Jesus where he becomes a new creature (Galatians 3:26-27; 2 Corinthians 5:17); and that baptism is into the Christ’s death (Rom 6:3), where his blood was shed “for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).

That baptism is into the death of Christ shows that it, as Lenski says above, “is the great means of grace, that is, the channel by which forgiveness, life, and salvation are bestowed upon him” (Truth Commentaries Mark, L. A. Stauffer, pp 412-413)

The Lord’s Supper: Every First Day of the Week

Posted: November 6th, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

The only verse in the New Testament that tells disciples when to observe the Lord’s Supper is Acts 20:7 where Luke, who was present that day in the city of Troas, says: “And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread.” He explains that brethren assembled for the purpose of breaking bread.

Historians report that theologians, bishops, and other church leaders of the second century tell us that the disciples of the first century met every first day of the week to eat the Lord’s Supper. Neander, a Lutheran historian, notes: “The celebration of the Lord’s supper was still held to constitute an essential part of the divine worship on every Sunday, as appears from Justin Martyr in the year 150.”

Modern theologians and Bible commentators, however, have decided that it is enough to observe the Lord’s Supper monthly, quarterly, or annually. One wonders where in the Bible they found authority for these practices. Did they decide this because it is more convenient and less trouble, because weekly is too boring or too routine, or because it is not as important as singing or praying or giving?

We don’t have to imagine how the Lord feels about those who find ways to get around what he has clearly taught his people to do. The Old Testament, which was written for our learning and admonition (1 Corinthians 10:11; Romans 15:4), tells us about a man who violated the sabbath law which forbade work on that day. The man who was found in the fields gathering sticks on the sabbath was taken to Moses and God told the leader of Israel to have him stoned to death (Numbers 15:32-36).

This man could have offered the same defense that modern denominationalists offer for not observing the Lord’s Supper on a particular first day of the week. “God, you said ‘remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy,’ but you didn’t say every sabbath.” So, people say today: “Luke didn’t say ‘every first day of the week.’”

If Acts 20:7 does not authorize the observance of the Lord’s Supper weekly, then it authorizes no frequency at all. One could observe it once a month, once a year, or once a lifetime. If God had said “the first day of the month,” we would understand he intended it to be monthly. If he had said “the first day of the year,” we would conclude he meant annually. But he said: “first day of the week.” Is it not clear that He meant weekly?

What we know about the “first day of the week” is that it is the day the Jesus was raised from the dead, the day He met with his disciples, the day when the church was established (Pentecost), and the day disciples gave as they were prospered (John 20:1, 19, 26; Acts 2:1; Leviticus 23:15-16; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

It is amazing that believers in Jesus meet on the Lord’s day, the first day of the week, and do everything – sing, pray, give, study – except the one thing they are told to do to remember Jesus. The Lord’s Supper is a memorial feast of unleaven bread and fruit of the vine that disciples eat to remember the death of Christ (Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Does anyone want to meet Jesus in judgment and have to explain that he assembled on the first day of the week in honor of his resurrection but didn’t remember his death by taking of the Lord’s Supper?

Justification by Faith

Posted: October 23rd, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

We live at a time when fewer and fewer people are in tune with and versed in Bible terminology. Words like “sanctification,” “redemption,” “righteousness,” “reconciliation,” and “salvation” in their biblical uses have become a foreign language to many folks. So it is with the words “justify” or “justification.”

These words all have basic meanings, but they also have specialized uses in the context of God’s plan of human redemption. “Justify,” for example, is a legal or judicial term that means “not guilty.” It is an acquittal – a verdict of innocence declared by the court to one who has been indicted for a crime.

In the Bible it has this same sense but is used in the context of men who have sinned against God. And that includes all of us. The Bible says we all have sinned; that none of us is righteous (Rom 3:9-10, 23). It also tells us that this sin has separated us from God and fellowship with God forever – unless we are justified (see Isaiah 59:1-2; 1 John 1:5-7; Ephesians 2:1-3)

Justified, in this setting, retains its essential meaning of “not guilty.” To be restored to fellowship with God man must be acquitted of his transgressions of God’s law. God is light, in him is no darkness, and to be reconciled to him the darkness of sin must be removed from man’s soul.

Justification is one of the major themes of Paul’s letter to the Romans. There the apostle says sinners are “freely justified by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). He adds later that man is “justified by faith,” which he defines at the beginning of the letter as “the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5; 5:1; 16:26).

This is the point James makes in his epistle when he uses the word “works” to denote the “obedience of faith.” He says: “Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith.” The context of these “works” is the obedience of Abraham to God’s commandment to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. As Abraham obeyed God so must we to be counted righteous by justification (James 2:21-24).

The importance of obedience is stressed by Paul’s point that justification comes by “grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Sinners enter Christ Jesus when by faith they are baptized into him (Galatians 3:26-27). Those who are baptized into Christ are baptized into his death, where his blood was shed. They then arise from that baptism a new creature who walks in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4; see 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Only by justification through the obedience of faith can men have peace with God (Romans 5:1). Have you by faith been baptized into Christ?

Back to the Bible

Posted: October 23rd, 2005 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

Hardly anyone would deny that religious beliefs and practices of the twenty-first century are radically different from those of the days of Jesus and the apostles. Few people find a problem with this. Most would likely say it is a good thing – that man, society, and religion must change with the times.

What is assumed in all of this is that as the material surroundings of man change through scientific discoveries and inventions by man there is also a change in man and his needs. The fact is that both the body and soul of man need what they have always needed. We know about the body’s need for food, shelter, clothing, and safety; that’s as it has always been. But what is not as well known are the needs of the soul. Here things get complicated. Only God who created man knows the soul and can determine its needs. He himself tells us: “I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23).

For this reason God has left man a revelation of his mind in the Bible to direct him in ways he calls “righteousness.” One of Jesus’ apostles said of man’s attitude toward God: “He that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34). “Righteousness” is simply doing what is “right,” and it is God who determines that. What is good for the soul, according to God, is what’s right. That’s why God has given his word in the Bible. There man can learn what is right. The parents of John the Baptist were said to be “righteous before God” because they walked “in all his commandments and ordinances” (Luke 1:6).

This is why it is the goal of the Kirkwood Church of Christ to go back to the Bible for all our beliefs and practices. We seek to learn what the Bible says about how to be saved and then teach it and follow it. From the Bible we learn how the first-century church worshipped; we can then imitate that in our assemblies each first day of the week. We study the Bible to find out how the church Jesus built was organized on a local level, what kind of work they did as a body, and what name they carried and honored.

What we have found is that to be saved sinners believed in Jesus as God’s Son, reject and repudiated sin by repentance, confessed their faith, and were baptized into Christ and his death (John 20:30-31; Acts 2:38; Romans 10:9-10; Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 6:3-4). When they assembled to worship on the first day of the week they observed the Lord’s Supper, sang hymns and made melody in their hearts without the accompaniment of mechanical instruments of music, prayed, studied and edified one another, and gave as they were prospered (Acts 20:7; Acts 2:42; Ephesians 5:19; 1 Corinthians 14; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

To oversee this work they appointed elders in every church who were known as bishops and pastors (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-3). Their oversight was limited to that local church and they led the church in the works of evangelism, edification, benevolence, and discipline of its members (Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 4:11-16; Acts 6:1-6; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). In all of this they wore and bore the name of Christ (Acts 11:26; Romans 16:16).

In this way we can restore and duplicate today the church Jesus built in the first century. Yes, it is simple and uncomplicated, but it meets the demands of the soul that God created in his own image (see Genesis 1:26-27).