Pursuing The Interests of Others

Posted: September 12th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Php 2:3-4).

I find that most of my thinking from day to day is often consumed with my own personal interests. It starts out with little things like what I feel like eating for breakfast, what I want to listen to on the radio, and what task I feel like tackling first on my agenda for the day. And as the day goes on, if I don’t force myself to start thinking about the feelings and needs of others, I can end up getting stuck on a self-serving autopilot. My one-track mind can push forward towards the personal goals I have set while carelessly trampling over the interests and desires of those around me.

How do you fight against that selfish impulse? How can we get outside of ourselves and learn to truly put others first in our thinking? As all other things in life, it is something that we are going to have to work at, day by day, moment by moment. We cannot just flip a switch in our brains and automatically free ourselves from all selfish feelings or habits. It is going to require rigorous training. We must battle to bring our minds and bodies into subjection to the selfless character of Christ (1 Cor 9:27). We must take up the cross of self-denial daily and follow in His footsteps (Luke 9:23).

This starts by frequent and honest self-examination. We must keep diligent watch over our hearts (Prov 4:23). We must take time to think about our thinking. It is important that we look daily into the mirror of God’s word and evaluate whether we are reflecting Jesus’ attitude of sacrificial love and service (Jas 1:22-25; Php 2:5).

Yet, this examination is only valuable if we act upon what we see inside our hearts. If we see we have been consumed with personal interests we must force self out of our thinking, if only for a few moments at first, to pursue the interest of others. We can pray about the goals, struggles, and heartaches of those around us as if they were our own. And as we put ourselves in their shoes, we can consider what words or actions they might find most uplifting or beneficial.  We can take time to focus our energy on serving their needs. We make a daily habit of brightening at least one person’s day. We can train ourselves to look for opportunities to build up and encourage.

This is all easier said than done. The easy path is to continue thoughtlessly pursuing our own personal interests. Yet, Jesus calls us to a higher path. He calls us to  shed off the selfish impulses of our old man and take up the cross of self-denial. He calls us to retrain our minds and consider each day how we can serve the feelings and needs of others. Will we wake up and pursue that call today?



Kind, Tender-Hearted, Forgiving

Posted: September 12th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“Be kind to one another , tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph 4:32)

Our passage from Ephesians shows the kind of heart that God wants us to have. These qualities come from the heart that God wants us to have. These qualities come from the heart. They are attitudes and choices that we develop from having spent time in God’s word. The Bible has an affect upon us. It influences us. It leads us to mold our heart and our mind to be more like Jesus.

Paul began this section by telling the Ephesians what they ought to leave and put aside. A person cannot decide to be kind while still holding on to sorry attitudes, sour dispositions and a “me-first” will in life. Paul says to put away all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice. Those things darken our spirit, destroy our influence and drive Christ out of our hearts.

When we put those two verses together we learn some remarkable lessons. On one side there is bitterness, anger, wrath. On the other side is kindness. On one side there is clamor and slander. On the other side there is tenderness. On one side there is malice. On the other side there is forgiveness.

These contrasts are connected. There seems to be a common thread running through those attitudes. They are all responses to how others have treated us. These are relationship words.

Someone has done wrong to us. We can be bitter or kind. We can seek revenge or forgive. God expects us to take the higher road when others have been unkind to us. Those people may be family members. They may be those in the congregation. They may be those in the community.

It seems especially, when Paul uses the expression, ‘Be kind to one another,’ that he is driving at relationships among brethren. We hurt each other sometimes. We can be uppity toward one another. We can avoid. We can stare. We can whisper about others. We gossip. High class people can act very low class sometimes.

These things injure and hurt. Sometimes it is intentional. Other times it is an accident. Either way, hurt feelings, rejection, shunning, stings our souls. We ought to treat each other better. God would expect that. But we often don’t. What then?

Human nature tells us to respond in the way it was given. If someone has ignored you, ignore them back. If someone gossips about you, gossip about them. If they are going to throw mud, get in there and defend yourself and throw some back. Don’t be bullied. Stand up. Pop the guy in the chops if you have to.

Those thoughts and feelings are how many of us were raised. This what we see in the work place and in the neighborhood. Everyman for himself. It’s a dog eat dog world, so dig in and stand for yourself.

WRONG! Not any longer. You are a Christian. God expects differently from you, even when you have been poorly treated.

Peter tells us that Christ left us an example of suffering. He uttered no threats. No deceit was in His mouth. He committed no sin. He did not revile in return (1 Pet 2:21-23). God expects better from us, even when we have endured the worst in human behavior.

Among each other God expects kindness, tenderness and forgiveness. Does this mean I allow another Christian to abuse me, take advantage of me or bully me? No. When a Christian sins against you, go to him and discuss this. He may repent right there. If he doesn’t, God tells us to take two or three with us. If he repents, all is well. If he doesn’t then take it to the church. These are the words of Jesus in Matthew 18.

What God doesn’t want is for you to become mean, bitter, ugly, hurtful because someone has been that way to you. There is a way to handle things. There is a way NOT to handle things.

Forgiveness or bitterness is a choice. Kindness or wrath is a choice. They are responses to ugly things to have happened to us. God expects us to choose the nobler qualities.

This isn’t easy. It’s a piece of cake to be kind to someone who is first kind to you. Anyone can do that. Only a nut would be mean to someone who is kind. However, being kind to someone who is unkind, now that’s a different story. That’s what God is expecting.

It helps to pray about the situation. It helps to invite God to help you do right, think right and be right. It helps to ask God to open the door of the heart of the person who is hurting you. There is never a right time to do wrong. Never! There is never a right time when hurting someone else is the right choice. Never!

The beatitudes, the fruit of the Spirit, the virtues of a Christian all illustrate the type of heart that God expects in His people. Patience, kindness, self-control must be at the helm of our heart. Those will guide us to right choices, right words, and right attitudes.

In a perfect world, everyone treats everyone with love and kindness. Heaven is a perfect world. Down here, it is not. Down here we have folks with chips on the shoulders.

There are those who are not trying very hard. There are those who haven’t figured out if they are with Jesus or not. There are those who are some days selfish and inconsiderate. There are days that I’m like that. Shouldn’t be, but it happens. There are days that others are that way to me. Shouldn’t be, but it happens. The choice is up to us as to how we are going to respond.

Roger Shouse


Stewardship of the Emotions

Posted: September 5th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it spring the issues of life” (Prov 4:23)

God has given us many good gifts that need to be handled carefully, and the one that perhaps needs the greatest care is the mind. We know that the mind, or heart, is made up of three basic faculties: the intellect, the emotions, and the will. Ideally, all three of these should work together to promote the good things for which we were created. The roles of the intellect and the will are commonly acknowledged, and they are a bit more easily understood. But the role of the emotions is another matter. Exactly how our feelings are to work is a subject of great debate. And in this confusion, it’s unfortunate that we lose the help that our emotions should give us in life’s most important undertaking.

It is always a risky thing to try to serve God with only part of our minds. We are warned, for example, about the danger of zeal without knowledge (Rom 10:2), obedience without love (1 Cor 13), and love without obedience (John 14:15). We are encouraged to carry out with our will the things our intellect tells us we ought to do (Jas 4:17). On virtually every page of the Scriptures, we are encouraged to give God our “whole heart,” and to do less than this is not only unwise; it is deadly.

But even in the short run, we are the losers when we leave out of our godliness something as important as our feelings. The practical truth of the matter is simply this: we are fighting a losing battle when we try to do what is right without the help of our emotions. Our affections are meant to aid us in our relationship to God, and without their help, it is unlikely that we shall get very far. But to help us as they should, our emotions need to be managed wisely. If the “issues of life” spring from the heart, then the heart, including the emotions, must be “kept” with all diligence. Faithful discipleship often comes down to good stewardship of such things as our feelings. Discipline does not mean denying our emotions. It means training them—to help us live for God’s glory!

“For God has given affections to man for the same purpose that He has given all the faculties of the human soul, namely that they might serve ‘man’s chief end,’ which is the great business for which God created him… If the Creator has wisely made human nature in this manner, why then misuse our affections? (Jonathan Edwards).

-Gary Henry


“I Came to Bring Peace”

Posted: September 5th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“Peace,” to many, like motherhood and apple pie, must and cannot be condemned. The very word suggests tranquility: the absence of anxiety, of conflict, of strife, of war. What can be more inviting, more pleasant, more desirable. It is the ultimate, the supreme goal, the greatest good—the summum bonum! Man must forsake all to climb to its heights and bask in the still calmness of its rarefied air; so we are told.

Was not “peace” the objective of Jesus? Was He not born, as the angels sang in praising God, to bring to “earth peace among men” (Luke 2:14)? Yes, this was the goal of the incarnation of Christ and, ideally, that is still God’s desire. But what about reality? Is peace a realistic hope for men on earth?

Jesus addressed Himself to this question when He warned the apostles, who went throughout Judea and into all the world to announce the messianic kingdom: “Think not that I came to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matt 10:34).

The Lord’s warning speaks to the reality of persecution the apostles would face in a hostile world. In a prayer on their behalf He notes that the world hates them “because they are not of the world” (John 17:14). The summum bonum, the greatest good, to Jesus was—truth! He Himself was full of grace and truth and only those who abide in truth can be His disciples (see John 1:17; John 8:31-32). It is the truth of the gospel that Jesus embodied, that sets disciples against the world, and that brings sanctification, salvation, and peace (John 14:6; John 17:17; Eph 1:13-14).

The truth, where ever it has been preached, has destroyed peace and created division. It is as a sword that sets Christians at war against the devil, the wiles of the devil, the spiritual hosts of wickedness, the ministers of Satan, and all who neither love nor believe the truth (Eph 6:10-17; 2 Cor 11:13-15; 2 Thess 2:10-12).

Jesus divided households. “For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law: and a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Matt 10:35-36). Even Jesus experienced opposition and unbelief from His own family (Mark 6:1-6; John 7:5). Peace is wonderful, but cannot come by compromise at the expense of truth—a price far too high.

Jesus divided the Jewish nation. Soon after His public ministry began, conflict arose and His disciples were the butt of accusations and criticism. They through the direction of Jesus refused to bow to the traditions of the elders—traditions based on the commandments of men that make void God’s word and render worship vain (Matt 15:1-9).

The conflict and warfare continued after the death of Christ, when the apostles proclaimed the kingdom message in fullness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8). They suffered imprisonment, scourging, stoning, and death—even in the likeness of their master. There could be no compromise and, as a result, no peace. Division came between Christianity and Judaism (see Galatians and Hebrews) and between Christianity and the heathenistic philosophy of Gentiles (see Colossians).

The apostles constantly warned about preaching another gospel and that those who did would be accursed—that  they would be cut off from fellowship with God (Gal 1:8-9; 2 John 9). Genuine peace comes only as a product of the “unity of the Spirit”—a oneness based on the revelation of God’s Spirit in the scriptures (John 14:25-26; John 16:13; Eph 3:3-5; Eph 4:1-6; 2 Tim 3:16-17). When that oneness is not accepted a sword is sent between those who preach the gospel and those who pervert the gospel. And there is no promise that conflict will ever cease in time (1 Tim 4:1-3; 2 Thess 2:1ff; 2 Tim 3:15; 2 Pet 2:1-3).

-L. A.


Discouraged of Men

Posted: August 29th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

We recently read a very fine article by J.D. Jeffcoat entitled “Discourager of Men.” Indeed, churches everywhere are troubled by those who are constantly discouraging others. But something needs to be said also concerning those who allow themselves to be discouraged.

Some are discouraged by criticism. Every person who has tried to do God’s will has been criticized. Jesus was constantly criticized. So was Moses. Paul once said, “All those in Asia have turned away from me” (2 Tim 1:15), and apparently he was afraid that Timothy might be affected by this adverse criticism against Paul (2 Tim 1:8). Do you listen to others when they criticize you? Do you listen when they criticize the local church of which you are a part or some good person within the congregation? Do you allow their negative comments to affect your feelings? Or do you cast aside their discouraging remarks that you might maintain a positive attitude toward the Lord, His church, and His work?

Criticism may be just. But, on the other hand, it may be an outgrowth of envy toward others; or it may be a dishonest effort to destroy another; or it may just be the product of ignorance as to what is right and wrong, consequently ignorance of what deserves criticism and what deserves praise. One must not be discouraged in the Lord’s work by unjust criticism.

Others are discouraged by the chronic pessimist. This is the man who is always reminding the church that “it won’t do any good,” and that “this is just a hard area and we’re never going to convert people here.” He can in one business meeting totally demoralize a whole church, and can destroy in one sitting that which took a year to build up. He is the true “discourager of men.” But if he is wrong in discouraging, others are wrong in allowing themselves to be discouraged by his pessimistic remarks.

The apostles serve as a perfect example of men who refused to be discouraged. They were constantly faced with setbacks; their teaching was attacked; they suffered from those within and from those without. It was said of them: “To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now”  (1 Cor 4:11-13). But they kept on preaching!

Blessed is that man who is not easily discouraged by others; who can see through unworthy criticism for what it really is; who takes his stand for truth and right and does not let others move him from that stand. Let us avoid being either a “discourager of men” or “discouraged of men.” Rather, let us be found working for the Lord, encouraging and finding encouragement in the hope we have in Christ.

-Bill Hall


The Gall of Bitterness

Posted: August 29th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears” (Heb 12:15-17).

Bitterness is a problem of the heart. It essentially comes from telling ourselves a story about how badly we have been treated, how much we have been hurt, and how unfair others are toward us. It works together with a heart of hatred, anger, and malice, often wishing ill will on those we think have offended us. Think about what bitterness does:

1. Bitterness causes us to come short of God’s grace. A heart of bitterness is not a heart for grace. If we are seeking after the grace of God, we must cut away bitterness, for it cannot coexist with grace.

2. The root of bitterness will spring up and cause trouble. It is a poison that infects and kills, and through which many become defiled. All it takes is one bitter, angry person to wreak so much havoc that many will be destroyed. One bitter person can turn away many souls from Christ, leaving in its wake division and heartache, wherein is found “disorder and every evil thing” (Jas 3:16).

3. Bitterness stands contrary to repentance. While bitterness resides in the heart, there will be anger, excuses, complaining, and failure to repent. Shortly after Simon was baptized, he jealously desired the ability of the apostles to lay hands on others to bestow the Spirit. Peter told him that his heart was not right with God, that he needed to repent and pray for forgiveness, “for I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity” (Acts 8:21-23). Bitterness puts us in the bondage of sin; it is a horrible master that only pays the wages of death (cf. Rom 6:23).

4. Bitterness stands between people. Grudges cause division. Where there is bitterness, there can be no forgiving one another. When unwarranted divisions occur among churches and Christians, mark it down: bitterness will almost certainly be a factor! It is a wedge that destroys peace and unity.

5. Bitterness goes hand in hand with jealousy and selfish ambition. “But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth” (Jas 3:14). Bitterness coupled with pride makes for liars who will invariably speak against truth. It destroys good, sound thinking and warps our perspective.

Recall that when Jacob stole Esau’s blessing, Esau became bitter and bore a grudge (Gen 27:41). This consumed Esau so much that he wanted to kill Jacob. He found no place for repentance in his anger and bitterness. How much quality of life and happiness did he give up in order to remain angry and hateful toward his brother? Bitterness will rip out our hearts and cause us to hate one another. There can be no place for this in the heart of a child of God. “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Eph 4:26)…

Hatred, anger, bitterness are all cut from the same cloth. These are works of the flesh that will keep people out of God’s kingdom. Therefore: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender- hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph 4:31-32). It matters not how much we think another has wronged us. There is no place for bitterness…

-Doy Moyer


They First Gave Themselves

Posted: August 29th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

When Jerusalem saints were in dire circumstances and could not provide the necessities of life for themselves, the apostle Paul ordered other churches to assist them. The Corinthian church was one of the churches who agreed to help these needy brethren. They were slow, however, about getting their contribution together, so Paul wrote them a year after their decision to help and urged them to complete this work (see 1 Cor 16:1-2; 2 Cor 8:1-15).

To provoke them to immediate action, the apostle told them about the brethren in Macedonia. These brethren were in “deep poverty” and were not even commanded or asked to give. And yet, they determined to help. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the devoted Macedonians—how “their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality”’; he also said of the Macedonians that “beyond their power, they gave of their own accord” (2 Cor 8:2-3).

And why, one might ask himself, would these brethren give when they really did not have it to give and when they were not really expected to give? The answer is clear and basic: “but first they gave their own selves to the Lord” (2 Cor 8:5). People who love God with all their hearts, souls, and minds; people who commit themselves to serving God; people who give their lives and selves to God go beyond the call of duty and often do the unexpected.

This example is a real insight to both preachers and brethren. Preachers must understand this truth in attempting to motivate brethren to greater service. And brethren, if they can learn this truth, will find the key to presenting their bodies as living sacrifices to God (Rom 12:1).

It is important that evangelists and elders inform brethren of specific responsibilities that God has commanded them to fulfill. But it is first necessary that Christians understand that God is their Master, they are His bondservants, and their allegiance is to Him. This means that God’s kingdom and His righteousness come first and that brethren must set their minds on thing from above. To do this they must deny themselves and renounce everything that hinders them (see Matt 6:34,33; Col 3:12; Luke 9:23; Luke 14:33).

This calls for disciples to crucify themselves: put to death their lusts, their purposes, their wills, their plans, their hopes. Beyond this it demands that they let Jesus live in them—so that His desires, His purposes, His will, His plans, His hopes become their passion. The result is: “it is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).

Think of the differences this commitment will make in the lives of everyone of us. When Jesus and His attitude toward God’s will lives in us, we will no longer argue about whether we must attend every service, study our Bibles and fill out question sheets, pray daily for the Lord’s help and for those who have need, reach out to those who have never obeyed the gospel, seek to strengthen weak brethren, welcome newcomers and fringe members into our homes, contribute liberally on the first day of the week, use our bounty to help those who are struggling financially, etc., etc., etc.

Brethren who first give themselves to the Lord will serve beyond their power and, because it is in their heart to do so, will serve of their own accord. If we wonder why the church is not prospering spiritually in the 21st century, the answer is not hard to find. One look at brethren like the Macedonians who first gave themselves to the Lord and, as a result, out of deep poverty gave liberally to the needs of their brethren brings to view all we need see to stir our hearts to unselfish and unlimited devotion to the God who gave us life and hope in Christ.

-L. A.


Trusting Our Father’s Love

Posted: August 22nd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matt 7:9-11).

How much confidence do you have in God’s love for you? Do you believe Him when He says He will never leave you nor forsake you? (Heb 13:5-6) Do you really believe that  He causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him? (Rom 8:28) Do you trust Him enough to lay down all your anxieties and fears at His feet? (1 Pet 5:6-7) Do you find the comfort He has promised you in prayer? (Php 4:6-7)

Many times we know intellectually that we are children of God and that He is a perfectly loving and compassionate Father, but this information gets lost somewhere between our head and our heart. We fear that despite our fervent petitions God will see fit to give us a stone or snake. Knowing that God is not a vending machine to indulge our every whim, we go to the other extreme of seeing Him as an aloof emperor who pushes forward His personal agenda without any consideration for our cares and concerns.

If we properly view the Lord as a tenderhearted and sympathetic Father, we can submit to His will with full confidence that whatever He decides will ultimately be in our best interest. As His children, He will not allow us to face any hardship without good reason. He will only say “no” to the trusting, fervent prayers of His children if some higher purpose demands it. If we think we have received a stone or a serpent in response to our prayers, we need to renew our trust in His love and pray that He might open our eyes to the greater good in our situation.

God’s providence is many times far beyond our comprehension. There may be times that we feel like Job, endlessly frustrated and disappointed by God without reason.  But God wants us to learn to trust in Him at times without answer or explanation. He wants us to develop a genuine confidence in His love and sovereignty. Even at the darkest times, God wants us to remember that He is a compassionate Father, and we can cast all our cares on Him.



The Amen

Posted: August 22nd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the ‘Amen’ at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying?” (1 Cor 14:16)

The word “amen” is a fascinating word. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who is unfamiliar with it. But what does “amen” mean? Is it a ritualistic way to end or validate our prayers? Or is it merely a way of signing off and telling God, “That’s it. My prayer is over now”? I suggest to you the meaning behind this word is far richer than we might realize.

The word “amen” was transliterated directly from the Hebrew into the Greek New Testament. In other words, the original was copied phonetically, as opposed to translation where a new word is provided that best fits the original’s meaning. “Amen” continued to be transliterated into Latin and straight into English and many other languages. This means that the word “amen,” virtually unmolested through the ages, is practically a universal word. It has been called the best known word in human speech.

The word is directly related, in fact, almost identical, to the Hebrew word for “believe” (amam), or faithful. Thus, it came to mean “sure” or “truly,” an expression of absolute trust and confidence. Therefore, when “amen” is used before a discourse it is testifying to the truthfulness of what is about to be said. For example, when Jesus said, “For truly (amen) I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished,” (Matt 5:18) He was testifying to the absolute truth and trustworthiness of His declaration.

When the word is used at the end of a discourse, after a statement has been made, the “amen” is voiced as an affirmation of what has been said. In this case “amen” means “so it is,” “so be it,” or “may it be fulfilled.” It was a custom in the synagogues to voice the word “amen” after a prayer or reading of Scripture that passed on to Christian assemblies (1 Cor 14:16). When the “amen” is voiced after a solemn prayer, reading, lesson, or prophecy, the offerors made the substance of what was uttered their own. By way of affirmation, they were joining themselves to what was just said.

But “amen” is not a magic mantra that ensures God’s acceptance of a message. Instead, it is a reminder to us who utter the “amen” that the message must be brought into conformity with God’s will, not our own. “Amen” is a direct reference to Jesus who taught us to pray, “Your will be done” (Matt 6:10). Jesus modeled His life after this concept of submitting to the will of the Father. His prayer in Gethsemane ended with, “yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matt 26:39). Thus Jesus Himself is the ultimate “Amen” whose life was perfectly in accord with God’s will. Indeed this is how He refers to Himself to the church at Laodicea, “The Amen, the faithful and true Witness” (Rev 3:14; cf. 2 Cor 1:20).

We are expected to follow the example of “The Amen” in our prayers and in our lives. Those who “boast in their arrogance” were warned to pray instead, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that” (James 4:15). We should have confidence that God will hear and answer our prayers when “we ask anything according to His will” (1 John 5:14).

So the next time you voice the word “amen” understand that it is not a mere formality to be observed but an affirmation of your agreement and the truthfulness of a statement. The “amen” is a reminder of our Savior, “The Amen, the faithful and true Witness,” and how every aspect of our lives must come under His Lordship.

-Jerome Sasanecki


The Canon – Which Books?

Posted: August 22nd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

One of many false claims the Catholic Church makes is that they gave to the world the Bible. They believe that God’s authority after the death of the apostles was invested in the pope and the bishops of the Catholic Church. They allege that they are successors of Peter and the apostles and that when they meet in council they determine God’s truth for His church. They, accordingly, determined which books belong in the Bible at the Council of Carthage in A. D. 397. So they claim.

First, Jesus and the apostles refer to the Old Testament scriptures as a complete book in the first century. As the “oracles of God” of God entrusted to the Jews, the only books Israel ever received as inspired of God are the 39 books of the Old Testament (see Rom 3:2; 2 Tim 3:15-16). Second, we are assured that what the apostles wrote was inspired by the Holy Spirit and is also included as scripture (2 Pet 3:15-16; 1 Thess 5:17-18; Luke 10:7). By the beginning of the second century (A.D 100) preachers and teachers of the word appealed to the books in our New Testament as authoritative. And to this day both Catholics and Protestants agree that in addition to the Old Testament books the 27 books of the New Testament are inspired of God.

But the question of many brethren is how do we know that these books are the right ones and the only ones that God recognizes? Maybe some of these are not inspired and maybe others we don’t have came from God. How can we know? Who determines the “canon”—the books that belong in the Bible?

“Canon” comes from a Greek word that means “rule” or “measure” and by its meaning asks what books “measure up” to the standard of scripture—inspired of God. The answer is simpler than men often make it. It is at base a question of whether Christianity is true and is a “religion” that has come from God. It is a matter of “evidence” and “faith.” God established by the resurrection of Jesus and other confirming signs that Jesus is the Son of God, that the apostles are the messengers of God, and that the gospel is a revelation of the mind of God. The question, then, is as simple as believing that God is and that He said: I will reveal “all truth”; I will reveal it “once for all”; and “my word shall not pass away”—it “abides forever” (see John 16:13; Jude 3; Matt 24:35; 1 Pet 1:25).

This is the way God answered Israel when they called on Him for help—whether for the blessing of food or deliverance from their enemies. God again and again appealed to the signs of Egypt and His deliverance of the nation from bondage and His acceptance of them as His chosen people. If you believe what happened in Egypt, then I am your God and will fulfill my promise to bless you. It is that simple. I said I will provide for you. Trust me (see Deut 4:32-40; Judg 6:8; 10:1).

God never bothered to give His saints an official list of inspired gospels, epistles, or any other books. He confirmed the truthfulness of Jesus’ claims by the resurrection, the truthfulness of the gospel revealed and preached by the apostles with signs that followed—and then promised His church the fullness of truth and the preservation of that truth forever.

If we do not have the exact truth in the scriptures today, then God failed and is not worthy of our faith. Who can believe God failed and still believe in the resurrection of Jesus? Count me out! Up from the grave He arose. That I believe, brethren. And that’s the evidence that He has given to His people all truth and has preserved it through the centuries.

-L. A.