A. 1st Samuel 18:1; 2nd Samuel 1:26
In a world increasingly connected by technology, people are more disconnected than ever. Adults and children alike, men and women alike, long for friendship as David and Jonathan experienced it. While their connection was exceptional and cannot reasonably be expected to be duplicated in all situations, it is worth consideration and, where possible, duplication.
B. John 13:23
Even Jesus had a best friend during his earthly life. There were multitudes, into the thousands, who followed Him. Among those, there were seventy He trusted preaching to. Among them, there were twelve He kept close and commissioned to minister His gospel when He was gone. Out of that twelve, He kept an inner circle of four – Peter, Andrew, James, and John, but usually just three of them – Peter, James, and John. Within that tight group, it was only John who was consistently described as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”
I. THERE IS NO BETTER FRIEND THAN GOD
A. James 2:21-24
When Abraham expressed faith by his obedience, he proved himself God’s own friend.
B. John 15:13-15
Jesus described the difference between friends and servants, saying that servants are not taken into the confidence of their masters, whereas friends are. He said that we proved our friendship with Him when we do as He has said.
C. James 4:4
Let’s be careful because we can make ourselves the enemies of God by taking up friendship with the world.
II. WORTHY FRIENDS CONNECT TO CHRIST
A. 3rd John 14
Fellow Christians ought to be the primary source of our friends group.
B. Mark 2:1-5
No one could find better friends on earth than the kind who will tear the roof of a house to get you to Jesus.
C. Acts 10:24-33
When Cornelius knew he would hear Peter preach the gospel, he invited all his friends over. That’s the kind of people we need to be friends with.
III. SOME FRIENDSHIPS ARE HARMFUL
A. Proverbs 12:26
Whom our friends are, are a choice. Be wise and selective.
B. Proverbs 18:24a (Not KJV or NKJV)
Having too many friends can actually lead to problems. Remember, be selective!
C. Proverbs 22:24-25
We are better off without friends who do not control their tempers. Angry friends might turn us into angry people, too. Even if they don’t, they’ll repel decent company.
D. Proverbs 14:20; 19:4, 6-7
Sometimes, friends only hang around for the material benefit they get from doing so.
E. Proverbs 26:18-19
People who try to excuse their own offensive behavior as a lame joke, or who don’t know when to stop joking don’t make for companions.
F. Proverbs 25:20
We don’t need friends who don’t know how to comfort us in our sorrow, who don’t know how to weep with us when we weep. We don’t need friends who only want to party.
IV. GOOD FRIENDSHIPS ARE TRULY BLESSED
A. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
The benefits of companionship are manifest.
B. Proverbs 18:24b; 27:10
Friendship can be more helpful than family in some circumstances.
C. Proverbs 27:5-6
Friends dispense criticism we know we can trust.
D. Proverbs 27:9
Friends offer advice we can delight in.
E. Proverbs 27:17
Friends put smiles on our faces.
V. FRIENDSHIP REQUIRES EFFORT
A. Proverbs 17:17
The maintenance of a friendship is constant love – 24/7/365.
B. Proverbs 27:14; 25:17
We must be cautious not to become a nuisance to the people whose company we hold dear.
No one needs a Kimmy Gibbler.
CHURCHES CLOSING THEIR DOORS
by James Baker
When churches shut down, that is a very terrible thing for mankind. The ark of safety has now been shut, because the bible teaches man must be in the church to be saved from hell. Acts 2.47. John 10.9. Col 1.13. Eph 5.23. Acts 22.18
If the church goes out of business because of lack of interest, there will be no salvation in that area.
John 8:21. Acts 18.5-6. Matt 10.14-15. Man has failed to understand how the devil is pulling the
wool over his eyes by having him think church is a bad thing. The church is the ark of salvation, it is safety
for those inside, but no one can be saved outside the church.
Mankind needs to wake up and take an interest in the local church. Mankind needs to start loving church
and seeking to be a member of the blood brought body of Christ. Acts 20.28.
Eph 5.25-27. After a person has obeyed the gospel he will be able to help lead others to the church so they can be saved. Jude 22-23.
Jesus built His church. He shed His blood to make the purchase and He did not do all of that, for them to dry up and die in our communities. God wants the churches to be around. We must take interest to make sure that churches do stick around.
If you know of a church of Christ, why don’t you become a member and devote your life to keeping the church alive in that neighborhood.
In cities across America, there are huge church buildings empty. A shell of their former selves. Empty because man has moved from the house of God. We are on the road to hell. We cannot allow the house of God to become an artifact of a museum.
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By Jeff Chowning
One Monday morning recently I received a call from my parents. They called to ask if I would go to Parkview Hospital and visit the family of their next-door neighbor’s sister. The woman’s husband entreated them to contact me so that I could baptize her.
When I arrived at the hospital, I found her husband at his wit’s end because of his grief and the intense fear he felt from knowing that his wife was not baptized. Upon entering the room and striving to communicate with the woman, I realized that although I ached for her distraught husband of 50+ years, there was no way I could baptize her. She was near comatose; she could not swallow or talk; she had not eaten for a week; her left shoulder was fractured from a fall a couple of weeks earlier. There was no way she could confess with her mouth unto salvation (Romans 10:10), nor was it very likely that the hospital staff would permit me to immerse her even if she could talk. Sadly, she had at least 60 years of adult life and had not prepared herself for this earth’s one inevitability: death. Her window of opportunity to obey the gospel had apparently been shut.
The temptation to compromise and seek to offer false hope was definitely felt. Intense anguish of the human soul is a horrific sight. According to church historians, the practice of sprinkling and pouring as “baptism” began in the third century under similar circumstances as this one. Somewhere earlier in the stream of time, someone failed to resist this enticing temptation. What a flood of false assurance and hope has come as a result.
The purpose of baptism, though, is not to please others or to reassure their conscience. It is immensely more intimate and personal than that; it is the answer of a good conscience toward God (1st Peter 3:21). Sadly, this woman was in such a state that she could not do this. To baptize her now would be as meaningless and as ineffective as “baptizing” an infant.
The time to face the reality of death and the Judgment is now, not later. “Today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 4:7). If you have not earnestly sought a good conscience toward God by being baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins, do not let today’s window of opportunity close on you. “Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation” (2nd Corinthians 6:2).
Answering the Sabbath Observance
by David Tant
Those who claim that the Sabbath (Saturday) is the day God has ordained from the beginning
certainly believe that their claims are based on Scripture, and vigorously defend their belief and
practice. But a careful examination of the Scriptures shows a problem with the arguments they
make to support the practice of keeping the Sabbath as a holy day in the New Testament era. Let
us consider the arguments that are made to support the claim, and then see what the Bible said.
Proposed Reasons for Observing the Sabbath
(1) The Sabbath is a holy day, for God blessed it and set it aside. “Then God blessed the seventh
day and sanctified it...” (Gen. 2:3). “"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex. 20:8).
Response: The truth is that God also set aside other days as “holy.” “On exactly the tenth day of
this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you” (Lev. 2:27).
It is obvious that the “tenth day” of the month is not a Sabbath. The fact is that there are various
things in the Old Testament that were holy, but which were confined to the Old Testament
period, and were not included in New Testament practices. “These are the appointed times of the
LORD which you shall proclaim as holy convocations, to present offerings by fire to the LORD-
-burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each day's matter on its own
day” (Lev. 23:37). We would agree that burnt offerings are not a part of the New Covenant, even
though God said they were “holy.”
(2) The Sabbath was to be perpetual, everlasting, forever, etc. “So the sons of Israel shall observe
the Sabbath, to celebrate the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a
sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed” (Ex. 31:16-17).
Response: Notice that the passage says the Sabbath was to be perpetual “throughout their
generations.” When the nation of Israel ceased to exist, “their generations” also ceased to exist.
There were also other “forever” and “perpetual” matters that obviously are not to be observed
today. For example, when God brought Israel out of Egypt, the Passover feast was inaugurated,
as the Lord “passed over” the houses with blood on the doorpost. “Now this day will be a
memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your
generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance” (Ex. 12:14). I am not aware that
Sabbath observers observe the Passover feast today. The fact that something was “permanent” is modified by “throughout your generations.” We further note that there were other observances that were “perpetual,” “continual” and “throughout your generations.” "When Aaron trims the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense. There shall be perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations” (Ex. 30:8). “It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the doorway of the tent of meeting before the LORD...” (Ex. 29:42). “Aaron shall make atonement on its horns once a year; he shall make atonement on it with the blood of the sin offering of atonement once a year throughout
your generations. It is most holy to the LORD” (Ex. 30:10). In these passages, we note that the
Passover, the burning of incense, and the offering of atonement carry the same language of
perpetuity that the Sabbath does, yet it is understood that they are not considered a part of God’s
arrangement with us today.
(3) Jesus kept the Sabbath.
Response: Certainly Jesus kept the Sabbath. He lived under the Law of Moses. “But when the
fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law” (Gal.
4:4). As an observant Jew, Jesus was circumcised (Luke 2:21.) He kept the Passover (Luke
22:15). There is no mention of his observing the Sabbath after his resurrection, even though he
remained on the earth for some 40 days. That would include at least five Sabbath days.
The reason we find no further observance of the Sabbath is seen in the fact that the Sabbath and
other Old Testament observances were abolished at the death of Christ. “When you were dead in
your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him,
having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of
decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to
the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them,
having triumphed over them through Him. Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to
food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day—things which are a
mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col. 2:13-17).
The Scripture says Christ took the decrees out of the way, having nailed them to the cross.
Therefore, we are not to be judged any more concerning food or drink (dietary laws), or the
observance of special days (including Sabbath days) or seasons. One commentary states: “The
word judge here is used in the sense of pronouncing a sentence. The meaning is, ‘since you have
thus been delivered by Christ from the evils which surrounded you; since you have been freed
from the observances of the law, let no one sit in judgment on you, or claim the right to decide
for you in those matters’” (Albert Barnes). The apostle Paul, by inspiration declares that the
Sabbath day has no more significance to us any more than the feast days, etc. We do not live
under the Old Testament system at this time.
(4) Sabbath is mentioned 59 times in the New Testament, and therefore must be binding.
Response: As a matter of fact, the Temple is mentioned 115 times, yet we are not obligated to go
to the temple for worship today, while there was such a command in the Old Testament. “The
people of the land shall also worship at the doorway of that gate before the LORD on the
Sabbaths and on the new moons” (Ezek. 46:3). Circumcision is mentioned 55 times in the New Testament, yet is not bound. In Acts 15, the Jerusalem conference dealt with the problem of Jewish converts seeking to bind circumcision on the Gentile converts. Peter, who was the first of the apostles to go to the Gentiles (cf. Cornelius in Acts 10), stood up and testified, “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” (Acts 15:10). The “yoke” referred to the Law of Moses in general, and circumcision in particular. Yet we know that in the Old Testament circumcision was God’s law for the Jews. “He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant” (Gen. 17:13). Note that circumcision was a “must,” and that it was an “everlasting covenant.” But we note that this “everlasting covenant” was with Israel, and as noted before, was to continue “throughout their generations,” so long as the nation existed. If the necessity of circumcision, which was an everlasting covenant, is no longer bound, then the
Sabbath, which was an everlasting covenant was also subject to coming to an end. If not, why
not? In addition, Passover is mentioned 28 times in the New Testament, yet we are not told to observe the Passover Feast. In fact, we have a new Passover—Christ. “Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed” (I Cor. 5:7).
(5) The women rested the day after the crucifixion, therefore they observed the Sabbath.
Response: All the truth had not yet been revealed. Shortly before his death, Christ told the
disciples, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He,
the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own
initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come”
(John 16:12-13). The full teaching of the New Covenant did not begin to be revealed until the
Day of Pentecost—50 days after the resurrection. In fact, the church had not even been
established until that day.
(6) Jewish Christians observed the Sabbath in the Book of Acts.
Response: In a period of transition, many of the Jews did not free themselves immediately from
the Law. It was mentioned earlier that the conference in Acts 15 dealt with this very matter.
Some Jewish converts were insisting that the Gentile converts had to submit to certain provisions
of the Law, such as circumcision. But the apostles quickly showed that God had released men
from the Law. “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the
disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?” (Acts 15:10).
(7) Paul kept the Sabbath 84 times in the book of Acts. Acts 13:14-15—two Sabbaths;
16:13—one Sabbath; 17:1-2—three more Sabbaths; 18:1-4, 11—a year-and-a-half—78
Response: Acts 18:6-7 removes about 75 of those Sabbaths. “But when they resisted and
blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I
am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’ Then he left there and went to the house of a
man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God, whose house was next to the synagogue.” When
the Jews refused to listen to him, he ceased meeting with them and turned his attention to the
Gentiles, who obviously did not observe the Sabbath. But did Paul go to the synagogues while he was a Christian? “To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law” (I Cor. 9:20). He had Timothy circumcised, not because of the Law, but in order to make him able to go in among the Jews, as his mother was Jewish. “Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. And a disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek, and he was well spoken of by the brethren who were in Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted this man to go with
him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they
all knew that his father was a Greek” (Acts 16:1-3). But Paul refused to have Titus circumcised. “But not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised” (Gal. 2:3). Neither of Titus’ parents were Jewish, so there was no reason to accommodate the Jews in this situation. When Paul went into a city, and sought out a place where he could testify to Jews about Christ, where would he go? “And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ’” (Acts 17:2-3). “And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks” (Acts 18:4). In Acts 17:22, Paul was in the city of Athens preaching to a group of people assembled. “So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, ‘Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects.’” Just what is the Areopagus (Mars Hill—KJV)? “From Ares (the name of the Greek deity of war) and a derivative of 4078; rock of Ares, a place in Athens:--Areopagus, Mars' Hill.” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary). The fact that Paul went to a place that honored a false god certainly does not mean that he worshipped that God. And the fact that Paul went into a synagogue of the Jews does not mean that he went there to worship. He went to both places in order to teach the people gathered there.
If we wanted to address a gathering of Muslims in order to teach them about Jesus Christ, where
would be a likely place? How about a mosque, where they gather on Fridays? But that certainly
would not mean that I went to worship the Muslim god Allah. So the fact that Paul went into the
synagogues on the Sabbath in no way proves that he was “observing” the Sabbath as a good Jew
observing the Law.
(8) The Law of Moses (ceremonial) was taken away, but the Law of God (the 10
Commandments) remains in force.
Response: This argument is often made, that the fourth commandment (remember the Sabbath),
is a part of the Law of God, and the Ten Commandments are still in force, but the other Old
Testament commandments are part of the “ceremonial” law, and that is what was removed or
taken away. On one occasion when the Jews were seeking to kill Jesus, he asked them: “Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?" (John 7:19). The 6 commandment forbade killing, yet Jesus said this was a part of Moses’ Law. In Mark 7:10, Christ attributes the 5 command to Moses: “For Moses said, 'HONOR YOUR
FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER.’” In Luke 2:22-23, a “ceremonial” practice is called the “Law of the Lord.” “And when the days for their purification according to the Law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "EVERY firstborn MALE THAT OPENS THE WOMB SHALL BE CALLED HOLY TO THE LORD")”. The truth is, nowhere in the Bible is there a distinction between the Law of Moses and the Law of God. That difference exists only in the minds of men. If there is a distinction, it should be made plain in a statement of Scripture somewhere. To date, such a Scripture has not been produced.
(9) Some object with this reasoning: “If the Ten commandments have been done away, then is it OK to murder, commit adultery, and the other things that are mentioned?”
Response. An examination of the New Testament reveals that nine of the ten are mentioned in the New Testament, but one is not mentioned—Sabbath keeping. In the State of Georgia, a new constitution was enacted several years ago. It is against the law in Georgia to commit murder—not because the former law forbids it, but because the present law forbids it. In like manner, murder is against God’s law, not because the Ten Commandments forbid it, but because the Law of Christ, the New Testament does.
By James Baker
As I write this article, the world is experiencing more heat than usual. In Europe there are triple digits and the US has many 98 -100 degrees days. Heat warnings have been given all week telling people to watch out for pets, neighbors and above all, leave no child or animal in a parked car.
Yes, it is indeed hot and I’m amazed to learn that Europe for the most part, has no air conditioning in homes and businesses. Regardless, everyone agrees that the ending of the heat wave will be a welcome relief.
Every year the world experiences hot weather and everybody complains. But after a few days or weeks, it disappears the weather becomes favorable again. And if the world keeps standing, that will happen this time as well. Gen 8.22.
But let me tell you something that most people never think about. If you think it's hot now.
I would like you to turn your attention from the hot weather we're having on earth and think about Hell fire. I heard a man make a joke the other day. He made a comment about a warm house he entered. Once inside he told the occupants. “Wow!” What do you have the thermostat set on?
The reply was, no; there is no such thermostat that can set a temperature call “Hell.”
Just a joke, but a powerful thought to think about. The bible teaches dangerous information about Hell. We need to heed its warning. It is a place of terrible darkness where there will be weeping wailing and gnashing the teeth. It is a place that the worm or activity does not cease and the fire does not go out. It is a place where the devil and his demons will be tortured in the fires of hell for eternity. It is a place where the ungodly who have chosen to follow the devil will spend eternity in the flames of Hell.
It will not be like our heat waves that come for a week and disappear. This will be eternal with intense heat where the souls of those who are lost will experience that torment forever and ever. I’m listing some of the scriptures which you can read as they teach the horro of Hell. Matt 3.12. Matt 5.22:29-30. Matt 10.28. Matt 13.38-42. Matt 25.41-46. Mk 9.43-48. Rev 20.10-15.
Hell must be avoided at all costs. Men cannot afford to go there; but many will find themselves there. Matt 7.13-14. Spending eternity and being punished with evil people, pain, darkness, cries of despair and no hope will be for all who in up in Hell.
Yes’, we are experiencing weather related heat waves and they are very tough. We get burnt by the sun and the humidity, we sweat, but all of this is temporal. Hell is worse for it is eternity
By James Baker
Deplorable! A crying shame! Unbelievable! I say all of this because jail is for the evildoer.
No one should be in jail if they aren’t an evildoer. Luke 23.40-41. Matt 27.19-23.
Yet it is heartbreaking to see police officers make mistakes during the heat of battle resulting in the death
of a person. From what I have seen about good police officers, they attempt to save their lives as well as the life of the offender. Officers can train at the academy, but no amount of training will be like the real thing when it happens. Many things don’t always work out as the officer might hope; because of the offender resistance, many officers are pushed into a fight with the criminal and in the heat of battle; who can say that everything will go as training at the academy taught?
I agree that police officers, because of who they are should be held to a higher standard than the normal citizen. But let us not forget that police officers are human beings and though we look to them as our savior against the bad guys, they are human and capable of making mistakes which may cause injury or death. Mark 10.18.
A mistake is an unfortunate action which occurs because something is lacking. That something could exist because of the rapid pace of the moment or some other unforeseen condition. Despite that, we must remember that the final action was not intended; it was a mistake. 2 Kings 6.4-6.
I haven’t met a person who is incapable of making mistakes. And yes, mistakes can be big and they can be small, but they are still mistakes, it wasn’t intended.
Things got out of hand while a police officer is trying to stop a criminal and in the whirlwind of action something goes wrong. Someone gets hurt, someone dies. The officer's intention was to stop the evil which the offender created along with the atmosphere which resulted in actions not going the right way.
No police officer can control the havoc which criminals cause, no police officer should go to jail trying to do what is right. If anyone goes to jail, it should be the criminal.
The bad guy has the remote control in every crime which he commits. If the criminal would comply with the officers commands a lot of this stuff, we saw on tv in the past few years would been
But many of our courts have decided to punish the officers in attempts to pacify the vengeance many people call for. If an officer goes to jail over a mistake, we pray that God will give that officer favor within the system and hopefully God will get that officer out of prison at some point. Gen 39.20-23.
But Seek First the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness
Keith Sharp | Mountain Home, Arkansas, USA
True Story. Billy was 6 years old. It was springtime close to summer vacation. When school was out, he and his mom, a widow who was remarrying, were moving. He came home from school and informed his mom he wouldn’t be going back to baseball. When she asked why, he replied, “The rest of our games are on Wednesday night, and we’ll be in church.” She hadn’t said a word to him about it. She didn’t have to. How would that compare to our family practices?
In Matthew 6:19-34 Jesus contrasts the righteousness of the kingdom with the materialism of the Gentiles. Matthew 6:33 summarizes this contrast. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” What should be our chief goal in life?
The kingdom of God of Old Testament promise and prophecy is the rule of God in the hearts of His people.
“Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He
answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will
they say, “See here!” or “See there!” For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you’”
The kingdom of Christ is the church of Christ in that the people in whose hearts the Lord rules are those who compose His church. The terms “kingdom” and “church” are used interchangeably at least twice in the New Testament (Matthew 16:18-19; Hebrews 12:22-23, 28).
If we “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” we put kingdom blessings and kingdom relationships at the absolute top of our priorities.
The context of this summary statement contrasts concern over material wealth with the spiritual blessings and relationships of the kingdom (Matthew 6:19-34). If I have a job which involves sinful activities or prevents me from serving the Lord, including assembling to worship with his people, I need to find a different job.
This also applies to family and friends. The Lord and His kingdom even come ahead of family (Matthew 10:34-38). If family comes to visit, and it’s time for worship, invite them to come with you. If they won’t come, ask them to stay until you return.
It certainly applies to recreation. Are we “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”? (2 Timothy 3:4) If we miss worship or Bible classes for sports, what does that tell us? Do we have time to go fishing but can’t find time to talk to a neighbor about the Bible? If we put kids’ sports ahead of the gospel meeting, what are we teaching our children? (Ephesians 6:4)
Brother J.D. Tant was a famous preacher of three or four generations ago. He used to close his articles in “Gospel Advocate” magazine by warning, “Brethren, we’re drifting.” It didn’t make him popular, but he was right. Are we drifting?
by Bryan Matthews Dockens, Las Vegas NV church of Christ
Knowing what content to trust from the mainstream media is a challenging task, but the Russian invasion of Ukraine has certainly occupied a great deal of attention recently. If all that has been reported is accurate and reliable, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is worthy of tremendous respect in that he is literally standing with his troops in the front lines of the war. Whether the reports are truthful or not, the lesson is being taught that heads of State ought to face the risks of war together with their people.
It has been disconcerting for generations to observe so-called commanders in chief of the armed forces of major world powers sit in their “war rooms,” giving orders to soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen to kill and be killed without putting themselves in harm’s way. It was 1814 the last time a President of the United States commanded troops in the field when James Madison led American forces against the British at the Battle of Bladensburg. Despite Congress declaring war eleven times since the Constitution was ratified, the War of 1812, when Madison presided over the Republic, is the only occasion when the Commander in Chief ever fulfilled his role so directly. Numerous other military operations that were never officially declared as wars by Congress certainly did not garner as much personal attention by the Presidents who oversaw them.
George McGovern once said, “I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.” Regardless of the Senator’s politics, that one statement deserves universal agreement.
One often overlooked factor in David’s adulterous affair with Bathsheba is the timing: “It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem” (2nd Samuel 11:1). The king of Israel took an immoral interest in another man’s wife when he was home but should have been on the battlefield. In this easily ignored fact, astute readers should infer that heads of State belong with the forces they command, not idling comfortably at home. From Joshua to the judges to the kings of Israel and Judah, Scripture consistently depicted national leaders shoulder to shoulder with their troops at the front. This was not unique to inspired history either; it was the ways things had always been throughout the world until recent generations. Zelenskyy’s example is so refreshing and encouraging not because it is unprecedented, but because it follows precedents long ago abandoned by weak leaders the world over.
Instead of merely ordering air strikes, artillery attacks, and infantry to march on the enemy, heads of State should assume a more direct approach to armed conflict. Let the commander in chief be the first to spill blood. Let those who agitate for war accept personal risk before ordering other personnel into harm's way.
Observe the example of Ehud:
“So the children of Israel served Eglon king of Moab eighteen years.
But when the children of Israel cried out to Jehovah, Jehovah raised up a deliverer for them: Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. By him the children of Israel sent tribute to Eglon king of Moab. Now Ehud made himself a dagger (it was double-edged and a cubit in length) and fastened it under his clothes on his right thigh. So he brought the tribute to Eglon king of Moab. (Now Eglon was a very fat man.) And when he had finished presenting the tribute, he sent away the people who had carried the tribute. But he himself turned back from the stone images that were at Gilgal, and said, ‘I have a secret message for you, O king.’
He said, ‘Keep silence!’ And all who attended him went out from him.
So Ehud came to him (now he was sitting upstairs in his cool private chamber). Then Ehud said, ‘I have a message from God for you.’ So he arose from his seat. Then Ehud reached with his left hand, took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. Even the hilt went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the dagger out of his belly; and his entrails came out. Then Ehud went out through the porch and shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.
When he had gone out, Eglon’s servants came to look, and to their surprise, the doors of the upper room were locked. So they said, ‘He is probably attending to his needs in the cool chamber.’ So they waited till they were embarrassed, and still he had not opened the doors of the upper room. Therefore they took the key and opened them. And there was their master, fallen dead on the floor.
But Ehud had escaped while they delayed, and passed beyond the stone images and escaped to Seirah. And it happened, when he arrived, that he blew the trumpet in the mountains of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mountains; and he led them. Then he said to them, ‘Follow me, for Jehovah has delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand.’ So they went down after him, seized the fords of the Jordan leading to Moab, and did not allow anyone to cross over. And at that time they killed about ten thousand men of Moab, all stout men of valor; not a man escaped. So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest for eighty years” (Judges 3:14-30).
Ehud led by example. He led from the front, not behind. He dared. He risked. He put himself in mortal jeopardy, assassinating the enemy king, before rallying the fighting men of Israel to the cause.
“Governing authorities” continue, under the present covenant, to “bear the sword” as “God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil” (Romans 13:1-7). May they do so with honor and integrity, accepting for themselves the dangers they order others into.
The Lord Jesus abhors hypocrisy. He called out the Pharisees of His time, telling the people, “Do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers” (Matthew 23:3-4).
If more leaders would personally bear the risks of military engagements, there might just be fewer wars to fight.
"Grace and peace be with you. Amen."
Bryan Matthew Dockens, evangelist
by Tom Edwards
The actual above phrase, "Beam me up, Scotty," was never used in any of the Star Trek episodes that aired from September 8, 1966 to June 3, 1969, nor was it said in any of the Star Trek movies.
But the show and movies did have a fictional transporter that would convert matter to an energy pattern that could then be sent to a specific location where it would then be converted back into matter. And all of that was portrayed as happening rather quickly. For the energy pattern was "beamed" to its destination.
That, of course, is all science fiction; but have you ever wondered how angels have "traveled" to earth? What is the distance from earth to the heaven in which God and angels dwell? Can it be measured? Is it even a part of our physical universe?
I would think of that realm in which God dwells to be separate and apart from our physical universe — like some type of parallel universe that is undetectable from our own; is independent of; does not clash with; is far superior to; and will blissfully, perfectly, and eternally remain even after our physical universe ceases to be (cf. 2 Pet. 3:10-12).
But God entered into our physical universe. For "the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us" -- and that Word was God's Son Jesus (John 1:14,1-3).
Jesus, of course, was born of the virgin Mary (Isa. 7:14). But what about heavenly angels that God had sent to earth on various occasions? Would their "journey" have been faster than the speed of light? Instantaneous?
To answer that would be speculation. But notice some unusual things the Bible shows of how some people were apparently "transported."
In Acts 8, after Philip had met the Ethiopian eunuch, preached to him about Jesus and then baptized him, verse 39 says, "When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord SNATCHED Philip AWAY; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing" (NASB, emphasis mine).
Both "snatched" and "away" are from the same Greek word (harpazo), which Thayer defines thirdly as "to snatch out or away." It is also the same Greek word that is used in 2 Corinthians 12:2 where Paul speaks of having been "CAUGHT UP to the third heaven" and "CAUGHT UP into Paradise" (v 4, NASB, emphasis mine). And it is also the same Greek word when Paul comforted and assured the Thessalonians of their loved ones who had died in the Lord, by saying, "Then we who are alive and remain shall be CAUGHT UPtogether with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:17, NASB, emphasis mine).
Would we think of our being "caught up" to meet the Lord to be something that would take several seconds or more? Or would it be instantaneous? For much miraculous change will occur at that time with not only those who are Christians and still living, but also with those saints who are deceased.
For as Paul declares in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52: "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, IN A MOMENT, IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and WE WILL BE CHANGED" (NASB, emphasis mine).
Do you know what the Greek word for the phrase "in a moment" is? It is atomos. Thayer defines it as "1. that cannot be cut in two, or divided, indivisible. a. of a moment of time."
I wonder if even the first part of that definition might literally apply to 1 Corinthians 15:52. For if "in a moment" meant 4 seconds, then that could be divided. But what about a "time" that cannot be divided? A time that is indivisible. Would it not be something that is literally instantaneous!
Mounce’s Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament defines it as 'indivisible, and by impl[ication] exceedingly minute; . . . in an indivisible point of time, in an instant or moment, 1 Co 15:52."
James Strong shows it to mean "uncut, that is (by implication) indivisible (an atom of time)."
The primary definition that Webster gives for "moment" is "an indefinitely short period of time; instant." And one of his definitions for "instant" is "succeeding without any interval of time; immediate."
For another example, the Sea of Galilee is said to be about 13 miles (21 km) long and 8 miles (13 km) wide, and with a circumference of about 33 miles (53 km).
In the following account of Jesus walking on that sea, John 6:19 says, "Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were frightened" (NASB).
We also learn of how the weather conditions were for them at that time. The boat was being "battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary" (Matt. 14:24, NASB). And it was not just a wind that was against them, but it was also a "strong wind" (John 6:18, NASB).
Concerning this sea, H. Leo Boles writes: "The storms on the Sea of Galilee often were sudden and frightful . . . They had rowed far enough to be just in the center of the sea, where the current of the Jordan caused the greatest commotion in a storm. The sea, where they were crossing, was about six miles wide" (New Testament Restoration Commentary on Matthew 14:22-23).
But consider now what the apostle John brings out about that event. He writes: "The sea began to be stirred up because a strong wind was blowing. Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened. But He said to them, 'It is I; do not be afraid.' So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and IMMEDIATELY the boat was at the land to which they were going (John 6:18-21, NASB, emphasis mine).
Commenting on John 6:21, Marvin R. Vincent speaks of the boat being "immediately" at the shore, to which they had been heading, as being a "miraculous arrival" and "simultaneous" with "their entertaining the wish to receive Him, or with His actually coming on board" (Word Studies in the New Testament).
The word "immediately" is often used in connection with miracles Jesus performed (cf. Matt. 8:3; Matt. 20:34; Mark 5:29; Mark 5:42; Mark 10:52). And does that not also manifest even more the miraculous nature of it -- rather than gradually happening or healing over a period of a few days or weeks!
In getting back to Philip, we left off with him having been "snatched...away" by the Spirit of the Lord, after having baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, and the eunuch then going "on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:39). But notice now where Philip had been "snatched...away" to, according to verse 40: "But PHILIP FOUND HIMSELF AT AZOTUS, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea" (NASB, emphasis mine). That was definitely a miraculous transporting — and not science fiction! And I wonder, if Philip would have had a stop watch to time how long that transporting would take, would he have arrived before he could even pressed the starting button!
And what about Enoch? It is said about him in Genesis 5:24 that "Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him" (NASB). The Hebrew writer adds a little more to that, by saying, "By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God" (Heb. 11:5, NASB).
Would that not have also been instantaneous?
Of course, we do read of two being miraculously taken up, which, at least for part of the way, was not instantaneous. But they were both very special cases.
One of them pertains to Elijah. For what happened to him was to be a special sign to Elisha, Elijah's successor, which he needed to see, as recorded in 2 Kings 2. It reads: "...Elijah said to Elisha, 'Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.' And Elisha said, 'Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.' He said, 'You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.' As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. Elisha saw it and cried out, 'My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!' And he saw Elijah no more..." (NASB). So, apparently, God wanted Elisha to see that!
The other example is that of Jesus when He ascended back to heaven. But, again, that was definitely a special sight for His apostles who were there to witness it. Luke records that event, by saying: "And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven'" (Act 1:9-11, NASB). The apostles were the Lord's witnesses. They walked and talked with Him. They saw Him perform miracles, and they saw Him risen from the dead. And now they saw Him even ascend into a cloud when leaving this earth.
Of course, we would think that somewhere along the way in that ascension, after Jesus was out of sight, that His physical body would need to be exchanged with a heavenly body. For as Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 15:49-50, 53: "Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. Now I say this, brethren, that FLESH AND BLOOD CANNOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed" -- "For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this moral must put on immorality" (NASB, emphasis mine). What glorious bodies the saved will have in heaven!
And again, let us not forget that the Bible shows in both the Old and New Testaments of God sending His angel or angels to earth. They did not come by spaceship. Nor would I think they rode on a light beam or any other means of transportation than simply the will and power of God to send them. For God merely has to say it, such as "Let there be light" (Gen. 1:3) -- and it is done!
For one last example, which appears to indicate that God's "transporting" can even be through solid objects, consider the Lord's apostles immediately after His crucifixion. They must have been greatly discouraged and were fearful for their lives at that time and appear to have gone into hiding.
Just hours prior to the Lord's crucifixion, Peter, apparently out of fear, had denied Jesus 3 times -- rather than acknowledge that he was one of the Lord's apostles.
And concerning the day of the Lord's resurrection, John 20:19 says, "So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you’” (NASB).
In about 60 different Bible translations I looked this up in, 34 of them refer to those "doors" of John 20:19 as not merely be "shut"; but, rather, as being "locked." Yet that was no hindrance to Jesus!
So when it comes to being caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, we do not first need to be outside for that. For no walls, nor bars, nor even being confined in the most inescapable prison will be able to hinder that from happening!
Though we are not told specifically how God has sent angels to earth, yet we know that He did send them; and if that sending happened instantaneously, we should then have no trouble in believing it. For with God, “all things are possible” (Mark 19:26), and “Nothing is too difficult” for Him (Jer. 32:17). And God is certainly not hindered by distance, nor by time, nor by matter. For He is the Master over all things! For all has been made possible through Him!
God can truly do exceedingly more than all the amazing things we can even imagine!
So let us each be ready for that time when God’s people “will be caught up together...to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17, NASB).
By James Baker
Preachers cannot force baptisms. If that were the case, Satan would have no one in his ranks because the preacher would have taken all prospects away. 1 Peter 3.9. There have been times when supporting churches have demanded more from the preachers they support, than what they are doing themselves. Matt 23.4. Just because a preacher gets a check from a church, that is no reason for them to demand baptisms from that preacher. For example, how many people are the supporting churches baptizing? Acts 8.5-6. Many churches have a large supply of males while the supported preacher might only have two or three males working with him and those churches expect that preacher and his little group to jump over the moon. Just cannot be done. It is not easy to convert people and anyone who says otherwise, should show a list of all the converts he has made.
It takes lots of work and many disappointments to convert people and it could take weeks, months or years. I’m not saying it is impossible, because I believe there are two reasons why the world is still standing. Reason 1. The righteous who are currently doing the Lord s will. Reason 2. The righteous who will obey the gospel in the future. 2 Peter 3.9. So not impossible, but its not easy either. We can only teach where we are permitted and hope that the students will be receptive to the message. Acts 2.41
So, I ask again. To all supporting churches with your large membership and elders, radio and tv programs. How many people are you baptizing? I’m not speaking of some members child. I’m speaking about people who have no contact with the church there. People of the neighborhoods, people on the members jobs. etc. How many baptisms have you had?
Faithful preachers go out every week looking for opportunities to share the gospel and hopefully get someone to give their life to Christ. 1 Cor 1. 13-17. As well intention as the man of God might be; that is no guarantee that someone will be immersed in water for the forgiveness of sins. Acts 18.6 The consent to baptism comes from the student, not the preacher. Acts 16.30. Acts 18.7-11.
I encourage all, preacher or not, supported by a local church or not. Just go out and do the work you know that you should do. Be ready for opportunities to speak or do some action to teach someone. Yes, you want to and expect to; get the water warm for a baptism. But in the meanwhile, just keep working. If a preacher is working, he doesn’t deserve to have his support cut. If he is watching tv all day that would be a different thought on the matter. 1 Cor 9.9-16. Think on these things.