Category Archives: 2013 – May/June

Christians and Government – Brock Harwigsen

How should Christians interact with government?  The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Christians are to have no interaction at all.  They teach that Christians should not vote, should not participate in national holidays, such as 4th of July and Memorial Day, and that Christians should not even pledge allegiance to the flag.

Others not only condone voting, participating in holidays and pledging the flag, but they also take money out of their church treasuries to directly support political candidates running for office or to support political causes.  Some denominational preachers in the name of Jesus and justice lead protests and demonstrations for or against government and its policies.

Who is right?  Who is wrong?  What should a Christian do when it comes to his involvement with civil government?  As with any other question about what should a Christian do, the answer is to follow Jesus’ example.  After all, to be a Christian means to be a follower of Jesus.  Christians can’t go wrong if they will but follow Jesus’ example.

Two World Sectors

Before we look at Jesus to see how He interacted with civil government, we need to recognize two world sectors ordained by God.  The first and most important sector is the religious or spiritual sector.  This sector is the Kingdom of God, i.e., the church.  Jesus is the head of this sector.  Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36).

The second sector ordained by God is world governments.  The second time Jesus was brought before Pilate, before His crucifixion, Jesus affirmed that civil government gets its authority from God (John 19:10-11).  Paul by inspiration taught the same thin in Romans 13:1-7.  “Let every soul be subject unto the highest powers.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”  In verses 4 and 6 Paul wrote the civil authorities are actually ministers/servants of God.

Sadly, there have been a lot of civil governments down through the ages and holders of authority in these civil governments that did not know or did not care that they were God’s servants.  The same can be said for most if  not all governments today.  There have been and there are many rulers and governments that in no way, manner, shape or form resembled anything Christian or good.  Their actions don’t change the fact that they were and are still God’s servants and God will hold them accountable in the end for not behaving properly as His servants.

Everybody who holds an office in government or is thinking about running to hold an office in government, be it city, county, state or federal needs to understand that they first work for God adn then, here in American at least, they secondly work for the people they represent and last and least for the government.  Civil authorities need to heed the words that King Jehosaphat said to the judges of his day in 2 Chronicles 19:6-7.  “Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment.  Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.”

How Jesus Interacted

Now let’s look at how Jesus interacted with earthly government.  Most people are familiar with what Jesus said about paying taxes (Matt. 22:17-21).  Even though the Roman government used tax funds to build and maintain pagan temples and to support a conquering army that was suppressing the Jewish people, Jesus still said, “Pay your taxes.”  Jesus peacefully submitted to His arrest even though it was unjust and illegal.  Jesus was a radical, but He never led a riot, organized an underground movement nor criticized civil government.  Jesus never took part in the Jewish movement against Rome.  He never offered Himself as an advocate against society on behalf of many innocent victims of social injustice.  Jesus was not a revolutionary in any modern sense of the word.  He respected civil authority.  But, he caused the greatest revolution the world has ever seen.

Peter wrote, “Submit unto every ordinance” (1 Pet. 2:13f).  Paul wrote that civil authorities were “ordained of God” and were “ministers of God” (Rom. 13:1-7).  There is no hint in the New Testament or early church history of Christians ever organizing to change or nullify civil laws.

Some ask, “But what about unjust laws and government treatment?”  Jesus’ arrest and His trial were unjust and illegal, but He did not protest.  We consider slavery unjust and unChristian.  But, in the book of Philemon Paul tells Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway slave and new convert, to return to his slave master.  Christianity put an end to slavery not with civil disobedience, but by conversion.

What should a Christian’s relation to the government be like?  Like Christ we must obey and submit.  We, however, must disobey if we are commanded to disobey God.  “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye” (Acts 4:19-20).

Can Christians speak out against corrupt government officials? Yes, but it must be done in a legal and orderly way.  Can Christians vote?  Yes.  In fact, voting is one way Christians are to be “the salt of the earth” and a “light of the world,” one way Christians can influence society in an orderly and civil manner, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:13-16.  Christians can be a positive influence for good by their votes.  Can Christians run for and hold political office?  Yes.  Who would want only the most despicable among us to seek and hold public office?

The Bible does not say that all governments will be Christians, that all laws will be just, that all laws will be fair, there will be no prejudicial laws.  But the Bible does say we are to follow Jesus’ example and Jesus never spoke out against or disobeyed civil laws.  Jesus did not rebel, protest, or fight against and outside of the law.  We need to remember Paul’s warning: “Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation” (Rom. 13:2).  Christians need to be law abiding citizens who work inside the law to make their country a better place.                                                 stantonchurchofchrist@mindspring.com

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Heaven, the Better Place – David R. Pharr

Philippians was written from prison where Paul waited to see whether he would be executed or released.  The Philippians were praying for his release and Paul expected that this would be answered and that he could continue his work.  But he also knew that in death he would go to be with the Lord.  This put him in what he called “a strait betwixt two” (pulled between two choices, hard to decide).  One the one hand he wanted to be able to continue to help the church, but he also had a deep desire to go on to heaven.  Verse 21 shows his profound confidence of hope.  If he lived it would be in the service of Christ, but to die would be gain.  We want to look especially at these words in verse 23:  “to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better.”  Heaven is the “far better” place.  Another writer expressed it:  “knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance” (Heb. 10:34).

A Heavenly Country

Heaven is a better place because it is a heavenly country.  Abraham lived in this present world for 175 years.  He participated in and enjoyed many of the good things of this present world, but was looking for a better place.  Hebrews 11:26 says he and others of faith were seeking “a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”  Verse 10 says, Abraham “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

This present world will wear out and be destroyed, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13).  What will that heavenly country and city be like?  Many wonderful metaphors are used to describe it, including streets and walls of gold, and precious stones and pearls.  The description is the best that can be stated in human words, but when we have visualized it as best we can, just know that it is far better.  It’s the Father’s house with many mansions.  It’s paradise, with a river of pure water of life (Rev. 221), and in the middle is the tree of life.  “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev. 1:7).

Better Bodies

There is an interesting and significant statement in the story of Job.  In the midst of his great suffering he was aware that the time would come when his earthly physical body was going to die and decay.  But in Job 19:26 he declared his hope for a new body.  “And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”

In the New Testament we are told that we will have a “spiritual body.”  A “spiritual body” means a body not limited by the shortcomings of flesh.  Philippians 3:21 tells us that Christ will “change our vile body [lowly, earthly, physical body] that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).  John writes of the same thing.  “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

The saved in heaven will have bodies, spiritual bodies.  Our finite minds cannot visualize how that is possible, that somehow the dead will be raised and given bodies that are fit for Heaven.  That this is something beyond our ability to imagine is discussed in 1 Corinthians 15:25ff.  This is a text worthy of much contemplation.

First, the apostle uses the illustration of a seed (36-38).  A seed appears lifeless and insignificant, yet it dies in the earth to germinate into a marvelous plant.  Let us suppose we had never seen the process in nature.  Someone shows us a little brown seed and tells how it will grow into a large plant with green leaves and striking colors.  If we had never seen this, if we had never seen a pretty flower develop from a seed, would it not seem impossible to imagine?  The apostle’s point is that when we recognize God’s power in the transformation of seed into grain we can believe he can change our bodies from corruptible into incorruptible.

Then the text calls our attention to the great variety in the universe, the different forms of life, the planets and the stars.  The point is that if God could make all that we can see, why would we doubt that he can do things we can’t yet see.  We don’t know everything and there is much we have never seen.  The Creator who made our natural bodies can also make our spiritual bodies.  This is Paul’s confidence of faith and hope.  “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.  For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. 4:18-5:1).

It is sufficient to know that God has promised a new body, a spiritual body.  It will be a body that is relieved of all weariness and stress.  The Bible says, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13).  “There the weary be at rest” (Job 3:17).  It will also be a body without the sadness, suffering, affliction, and death of this present world.  Heaven will be better because we will have bodies which can never be touched by afflictions and death.  “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

Better Companions

Heaven is better because of the companions with whom we will share it.

First, we need to know that there will be no bad people there.  Job said that there “the wicked cease from troubling” (Job 3:17).  No evil person or evil thing can be found there.  “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27).

Consider also that in heaven we will be in the company of the saints of the ages.  “And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 8:11).

The righteous living and the resurrected “dead in Christ” will be reunited and together forever.  “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17).

Some have reasoned that because we will be changed that we will not know one another.  Others have argued that if we should know one another we might also be saddened by knowing of loved ones who are not there.  This way of thinking seems to count the possibility of that sadness as of greater concern than the possibility of joy in a heavenly reunion.  Paul anticipated that his brethren would be his “hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing” when they were in the presence of Christ (1 Thess. 2:19).  Arguments that limit our hope are like the reasoning of the Sadducees, whom Jesus said “err because they don’t know the scriptures nor the power of God.”

Out On The Fringes – Roy Knight

(Brother Knight submitted the following in two parts.  We have combined them into one article so that readers can follow all his points.)

The room was painted.  The crib was put into place close enough to the window where there would be enough light but not enough to be directly on the new born.  The rocker was placed in the corner with a small stand to the right that would hold the mother’s drink and any other needed supplies during the long nights.  The changing table was decked out with enough diapers to last the first six months.  No detail had been overlooked.  The “nest” had been prepared to perfection.  Excitement could be felt throughout the house during the final week.  Then came the big day!  The baby, the pictures, the visits, what a wonderful experience!  After three days in the hospital, proud dad, glowing mom and precious baby come home.

After a week and a half of recovery, she returns to church, sits down on her pew and gets ready for worship.  People look at her puzzled and one finally asks, “Where is the baby?”  “Oh, I put him in the room we prepared for him a week and a half ago, closed the door and we haven’t heard from him since.”

Understandably, this story makes no sense.  Yet, this may be what we do in the church sometimes with our new converts.  We prepare programs, arrange door knocking campaigns and send out flyers.  We spend lots of money and time spreading the word and then one day there is one who says, “I too want to be a Christian.  What hinders me from being baptized?”  We are all excited.  The preacher rushed to put on his waders.  The congregation begins to sing “Oh, Happy Day.”  The confession is made and before long the baptism is finished.  There are smiles and some tears.  There are hugs and handshakes.  There are words of encouragement and promised support.  Then we all get in our cars and go home.

The next service there is an announcement or PowerPoint slide that says that Mr. or Mrs. Blank has been added to the body of Christ and some words of how glad we are to have them.  Then after six months, folks begin to look around and ask one another, “I wonder where they are?”  “You know I haven’t seen them for several months.”  “If they don’t come back soon we’ll have to withdraw fellowship from them.”

This doesn’t make any more sense than the first story, but in many ways they are the same.  We need to realize that whether physical or spiritual babies, we need to take care of them.  Too often we allow them to sit out on the fringes, that mysterious space that exists between being a non-member and a member in full standing.  There they feel like a bug under a glass, stared at to see what they will do.  Some lend a few kind but uncommitted words while others speculate how long it will be before they fall away.  How sad!

In order to keep a new convert the whole congregation must do its utmost to reach out to that new babe in Christ, not just the preacher or the one who studied with them but the whole congregation.  Studies have shown that unless the new convert makes three to four good friendships in the first year there is almost a one hundred percent chance they will leave the fold.  Who wants to stay where they are not wanted or loved?  Then we have the audacity to say, “I just knew they were not going to stay long.”  “I had doubts about them from the beginning.”  Yet, did we do anything to help them stay?

If we are going to pull those fringe Christians into the “inner circle,” we must give a little of our precious time to get to know them, to understand who they are, their stories, their aspiration and their needs.  We must befriend them, not look at them and smile as if they were a sack of potatoes.  We need to take them out for lunch and let them know that they are special and of a great value to us and to the Lord.  We need to spend time on their couch and they on ours talking and getting to know one another.  Not just one person but many strong Christians must work together as a safety net trying to keep the new convert from falling back out into the world.

How many of our “Oh, Happy Days” will fall flat because they did not finish the race?  How many of them could have made it through the Pearly Gate had we stuck with them, befriended them, encouraged them and bore their burdens?  I would speculate that there are several new babes sitting on the fringe right now crying for attention in our congregations.  What are we going to do about it?

Roy’s Happy Story

I was never a “fringe member.”

A fringe member is one who sits in the space between being lost and truly being incorporated into the Body of Christ.  O, yes, they have made the good confession; they have been baptized; they have had their sins washed away and there they sit asking themselves, “What next?”  They look at people passing them by, some nodding, and some stopping to make small talk about weather.

They come into the congregation and see things working like a well oiled machine: The preacher getting ready for his class, Bible teachers getting things ready for their classes and children and adults going to their classes.  Everyone seems to have a part to play and a place to be, except for them.  They sit down by themselves and smile at others around them and they smile back but very few words are spoken.

When the class is over, the machine begins to work again and people move with purpose:  Elders to their tasks; the preacher to his; the song leader to his and Christians to their spots to sin and to listen to God’s word.  Yet this person sits, looks around, participates but never feels like he or she is truly a part of the congregation.  Over time they mysteriously vanish, yet the machine keeps running as it always had except for an occasional question, “I wonder what ever happened to Brother or Sister ___________.”

I was never this person and I tell you why.  I had people walking me and some times dragging me every step of the way.  As a student at the College of Charleston, my roommate Ivan Adams invited and invited me to go to worship.  He patiently studied the Bible with me.  He put me in contact with Frank Shepard at the student ministry building.  We studied for months.  Every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night the van was there to pick us up for worship and Bible study at the North Charleston congregation.  There folks (strangers) came up to me, talked with me, gave me hugs (I thought that was strange since I did not know them and they didn’t really know me but I got used to it).  They invited me to stay for fellowship meals and many times I went with them to their homes.  To make a long story short, after a period of months and hard fought spiritual battles I became a Christian.

It did not stop there.  The van kept coming, my roommate kept encouraging me and the congregation kept spoiling me.  I’d go over to Ivan’s house on the weekends.  Other weekends, I’d be invited to Richard and Karen McWilliams’ for lunch.  The young adults would often get together at Frank and Jane’s house.  One time, the whole youth group went up to Palmetto bible Camp for a weekend.  Other times we practiced together for the Bible Bowl.  The list goes on and on.  That eventually led me to Freed-Hardeman University and to the East Tennessee School of Preaching.  Today, I am a full-time preacher and have been at it for 16 years.  During that time I have shared the gospel with many folks and a few of them I have baptized and still see their faces every Sunday morning.

I share this story with you to let you know that we cannot afford to have fringe people walking about in our midst.  We must reach out to them and pull them in.  We must give them every opportunity to see what the family of Christ is all about and to help them find their place in the church where they can feel a part and be a blessing to others.

rknight@homesc.com

An Encouraging Note

We appreciate the many encouraging notes we receive from our readers.  Most simply thank us for the articles and express their support for the paper’s stand for Bible truth.  Here is one that especially touched our hearts.

“Thank you for your articles of truth.  My husband and I look forward to every issue.  He is blind in his left eye and losing vision in his right eye, but he takes off his glasses and holds the articles about 4” away from his eyes.  It takes him some time to read everything, but every article gets read.”

Keeping New Life In Christ Alive And Growing – Burl Curtis

It is firmly established that there is new life in Christ.  Jesus told Nicodemus, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).  Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).  But whether it is plant or animal just beginning a new life is not the goal.  A farmer may plant a field of wheat; he will be glad when it comes up a good stand; but he will be very disappointed if it stands there and doesn’t grow and instead withers and dies.  He will have no grain to make bread.  The same is true of a dairy calf.  If it doesn’t stay alive and grow he will have no cow to produce milk.

The one who has new life in Christ must keep it alive and growing.  In fact Peter said, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.  For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Pet. 2:20-21).

Need to have a good start.  Are you truly sorry for the sins you have committed?  Do you strongly determine to never sin again and stay true to the new life you have received?  Whether you stay alive and grow will depend largely on how much you want to.  When people do not remain faithful, “they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Heb. 6:6b).  If you have a great love for Jesus you certainly would not want to crucify Him again and put Him to open shame.

To keep the new life alive and growing we must keep the lines of communication open and in use.  We might have the latest communication device but if we don’t use it, we can’t stay in touch with our friends.  God keeps in touch with us through the Bible and we stay in touch with Him through prayer.  To keep the new life in Christ alive and growing we need to read the Bible and pray.  Paul told Timothy, “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:13).  He also told the Thessalonians, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).

Choose a congregation that teaches the truth and become a member of it.  Attend faithfully and get involved in the work.  We need the encouragement of our brethren.  Barnabas was a great example of this.  When “Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5), stayed in Jerusalem longer than they had intended to, Joses (Barnabas) sold land and laid the money at the apostles’ feet to take care of them and the widows (Acts 4:36-37; 6:1).  After his shipwreck on his way to Rome, Paul received encouragement when he saw the brethren coming out to meet him and his companions “as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns.  When Paul saw them he thanked God and took courage” (Acts 28:15).  This is a strong reason we should not “forsake the assembling of ourselves together” for it is in the assembly that we “stir up love and good works” (Heb. 10:24-25).

Pick companions who will help you stay alive and grow.  Paul said, “Do not be deceived, ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’” (1 Cor. 15:33).  If you start running with a crowd who spends all their time playing video games, watching TV, talking on and watching smart phones, you will find you have no time to remember God or keep your new life in Christ alive.

Choose a husband or wife who will help you remain a faithful worker for the Lord.  Sometimes family members will not support your new life; this makes it much harder but you must love the Lord more.  Jesus commanded “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.  And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:37).

Know your gifts.  God has given everyone gifts that may be used in service to Him.  Knowing your gifts is not enough.  You must use those gifts and become more skilled in using them (Matt. 25:14-30).

Keep good reading materials, DVDs, and tapes in your home.  These items are good if they teach the truth.  To keep the new life in Christ alive and growing you must have your “senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14).  All sermons, Bible teaching materials, religious articles and TV programs must be checked by the Scriptures.  Gospel publications try to teach the truth, but the articles are written by men and are subject to error.  So check everything by the Holy Scriptures.

Keep your heart humble.  Over and over God’s people in the O.T. forgot God and were lifted up with pride.  They sinned and aroused God’s anger and suffered defeat.  Like Jesus, we must remain “meek (gentle) and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29).

burlcurtis@yahoo.com

Worth Remembering – Franklin Camp

Crowds followed Christ.  He could have used the crowds that followed Him to have thrown Jerusalem and Palestine into a turmoil.  But Christ would not sacrifice truth and righteousness for a crowd.  When Christ saw that the crowds were following Him for what they could get, that their motives were wrong, and that they were not seeing the truth that he was preaching, He challenged them with a question that shook them up and thinned the crowd.  He said, “Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.”  He then urged them, “To work not for the meat that perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you” (John 6:26, 27).  He then gave His discourse on the “bread of life” and many of the crowd lost interest.  Even some of those who had committed themselves as His disciples were numbered among the crowd which “went back and walked no more with him.”  When Christ began to sound the real depth of His message and the meaning of discipleship, He lost the crowd.  Let us not deceive ourselves in thinking that we can succeed where the Lord could not.  Christ would not sacrifice truth for a crowd and neither will we if we love the Lord and the souls of men. – Franklin Camp (deceased), Old Truths in New Robes, Vol. III. as reprinted in Good News, White Oak Church of Christ, Chattanooga, TN.

Editor’s Page, May/June 2013 Issue – David R. Pharr

Since death comes to all men, regardless of nationality, color, education or rank, every thoughtful person knows that, even at best, he cannot stay here very long…With the exceptions of Enoch and Elijah, the mortality rate has been the same the world over – one death per person.

Gus Nichols, 1973

 

What stand does your congregation take in regard to various moral issues that are at the forefront of American society?  Yes, I am confident that those who read this – preachers, elders, strong members – know and believe what the Bible teaches relative to abortion, homosexual conduct, gay marriage, drugs and alcohol, racism, divorce, living together outside of marriage, etc.  But the question is how firmly and how specifically is the truth being taught on such matters?  And, how confident are we that attendees and the community around us know we hold an unwavering position?

The world (and maybe some in the church) does not consider it “politically correct” to be dogmatically against things that have become acceptable to society.  The pernicious bullying tactics of the gay rights movement, for an example, seek to label any who oppose their perversions as being backward, bigoted, and hateful.  The front cover of the April 8 issue of Time magazine says:  “Gay Marriage Already Won.  The Supreme Court hasn’t made up its mind – but America has.”  Though we are persuaded that the majority of Americans do not favor gay marriage, it appears media and political bullies are being successful in suppressing opposition.  Schools teach toleration in respect to the feelings of gays, but are intolerant toward those who want to uphold their Christian convictions.  Some religious leaders have openly endorsed sodomy (though they would be offended by the frank use of the term).  The AARP website features a link favorable to gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, and transgenders (LGBT).  Situation comedies on TV portray everything turning out well for those who pursue the homosexual lifestyle.  Major retail corporations give financial support to so-called gay rights organizations.

We expect that older and mature Christians have their minds settled on this and other moral issues.  We have to be concerned, however, with what philosophies have been impressed into the minds of rising generations.  Public schools will not uphold righteousness.  It seems obvious that movies, TV, music, and the internet are the dominant forces for shaping American concepts of right and wrong.  In a culture of ever loosening standards we cannot expect children and youth to learn godly conviction by associations with their peers.  It must begin with parents.  And the church as a God-given mandate to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering [great patience] and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2).

As the above text continues, some “will not endure sound doctrine.”  When the church takes a bold stand there will be people offended.  Some visitors will not come back.  There might be members who decide to leave.  The church may get a reputation of backwardness and bigotry.  There may be charges of “hate speech” and lawsuits.  We can even imagine protesters marching in front of our buildings.  Eventually the tax free status of churches may be taken away from those who insist on biblical morality.

Certainly our opposition should not be hateful, but it must be frank.  It is one thing to say in general that we agree with Bible teaching.  It is more to the point to present actual texts, to give the sense of what they say, and to declare that is wherein we stand.