Tag Archives: Drew Milligan

“You Believe In Water Salvation!” — Drew Milligan

There are many issues on which the churches of Christ are often criticized about. “You think you are the only ones going to Heaven!” “You don’t respect the Old Testament!” and others are often thrown our way. Perhaps the most well known criticism is the one that people give about water baptism. They will say to you, “You believe that you are saved by water!” Peter tells us to always be ready to give an answer to everyone that asks of us concerning the hope that is in us (1 Pet. 3:15). As a Christian, my hope is in Heaven and I want people to go there with me. Therefore, it is very important that we teach people how to be saved. That includes the avenue of baptism. Let’s consider some points that we can share with people concerning baptism for salvation.

We do not believe we are saved by water. Nobody whom I know of in churches of Christ teaches that we are saved by water. However, God has used water on several occasions as a tool for salvation purposes. For example, consider Noah and his family. Noah was told to prepare an ark and to take his family and both clean and unclean animals aboard (Gen. 6). Peter mentions that “eight souls were saved through water” (1 Pet. 3:20). Noah and his family were saved through water because that water separated them from the wicked generation that had grieved the heart of God. Water itself has no saving power for the believer, but it is a vehicle God has chosen on multiple occasions to use in saving people.

It is the blood of Jesus Christ rather than water which saves us. The day Jesus died and His blood was shed is the most important date in all of human history. We have redemption through the blood of Jesus, even the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:4). How does one receive forgiveness of sins? Is it by saying “the sinner’s prayer”? Is it by “asking Jesus into your heart”? The people on the day of Pentecost were told to repent of their sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38). The word “remission” is a word that means a lot to many people. For a cancer patient, the word “remission” brings much happiness and hope for a future full of health. While surgery and medicine can take away cancer or at least slow the progression down, only the blood of Jesus can take away or remit sin. The only way to come into contact with the blood of Jesus is through baptism for the remission of sins.

We do not believe we can save ourselves. Many are opposed to water baptism being required for salvation because they view it as a work of man. They would say we are trying to save ourselves through baptism by being baptized and viewing it as a requirement. Baptism is not a work of man. It is a work of God. I heard Phil Sanders say in a sermon that those who oppose baptism for the remission of sins are interfering with the work of God. Paul talked about how we are “buried with him through baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God(Col. 2:12, ESV, emp. added). No member of the church ought to believe he is entitled to salvation or has earned his salvation. However, there are some, even within the brotherhood, who are so afraid to admit that there are works of obedience which are required to please God. One very prominent minister and author in the churches of Christ was quoted in the early 1990’s as saying that we “do not contribute one whit to our salvation,” that our salvation depends solely on God’s grace. Certainly we are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8), but faith requires us to act upon it through works of obedience. Another prominent minister and author who at one time was associated closely with churches of Christ no longer teaches baptism as being essential to salvation. He has long since adopted a “faith only” stance. Christians do not believe in salvation by meritorious works, but we do believe in salvation by faith in Christ, demonstrated through works of obedience.

We do not believe that only baptism saves. Simply being baptized is not enough to save. If a man does not have faith in Jesus Christ, all he has done by being baptized is get wet. If a man refuses to repent of sin in his life, all he has done is get wet. Baptism is just part of God’s plan of salvation for man. Baptism is the culmination of one hearing the Word of God which produces faith in Christ leading to repentance and confession. Upon one’s baptism, the Lord adds that soul to His church (Acts 2:47). Baptism is not the end, however. It is only the beginning as the one immersed is now a Christian who has vowed to live faithfully to God and Jesus.

We do not believe in “once baptized, always saved.” We rightly speak out against the Calvinistic, denominational idea of “once saved, always saved.” The Bible strongly shows us in many passages that a child of God can go off into apostasy (Heb. 2:1-3; 2 Pet. 2:20-22). However, we must remember that one is not immune from falling from grace just because they have been baptized for the remission of their sins. The church also has an obligation to new converts to make sure they are being nurtured after their baptism, since they are truly a new babe in Christ.

Drew is the preacher at the Corinth Church of Christ in Rock Island, TN. He also teaches History, Government, and Middle & High School Bible at Boyd Christian School in McMinnville, TN.

“What Is Man, That Thou Art Mindful Of Him?” — Drew Milligan

As a classroom teacher and as a minister I enjoy asking and answering questions. Questions often make us study and push ourselves even harder to find the answer. The Bible is full of questions that are worthy of consideration. In Psalm 8, there is a thought provoking question that provokes deep thinking. The Psalmist said in Psalm 8:4, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him?” In this article, we are going to look at that question in detail.

Psalm 8 is a psalm that deals with the greatness of God. David began by proclaiming in verse one that God’s name is excellent in all the earth. He reminds us that God’s glory is above the heavens. We sometimes need reminding about how marvelous our Father is, especially when the world makes it a habit to try to deny his existence or to tear his name down.

“What is man, that you are mindful of him?” Who am I compared to God? Compared to God, I am a nobody and insignificant. While this might sound like I am putting myself down, it is true. God is the creator of everything and is omnipotent. I do not have such power. God is all knowing, yet my knowledge is limited. I heard James Watkins say one time that he was limited by ignorance. What he meant was that he did not know everything even at his age. God is all present, but I cannot be everywhere at once. There are qualities that God has that I do not have and I am fine with that. However, while we are frail and weak compared to God we are still have been given significance by God.

How has God been mindful of man? Even though mankind is insignificant compared to our Creator, God has been mindful of man by giving man a great amount of significance. God made us lower than the angels and has crowned us with glory and honor. God has made us to have dominion over all other things that God has created. We are superior to the animals, to the trees and plants and all of the beautiful things God has created. Much could be said about how the world tries to put plants and animals on the same level of humans, yet God has clearly set mankind above all others in the realm of creation. Jesus mentioned that God has fed the sparrows, yet aren’t we much more than they are? (Matt 6:26) God has clothed the fields even more beautiful than Solomon in his finest garments (Matt 6:28-30). God has always viewed his people as being significant. The human race is so valuable to God, so much so that it has caused him much sorrow to see the wickedness that mankind has gotten into over the ages. Genesis tells us that God repented (regretted) that he had even made man at one point because of how wicked the people had become (Gen. 6).

Throughout the Old Testament, we read about God becoming disheartened with his people to the point that he would have them delivered into the hands of various enemies and principalities. Why would God do such a thing? Why would God allow his children to be punished and enslaved by heathen nations? He did so because he loved his children enough that he wanted them to come to their senses and repent! He viewed his people as significant enough to bring them to their knees to drive home the importance of repentance.

The greatest way in which God has been mindful of man is that he loved man enough to bring forth a savior to redeem all of humanity from its iniquities. One of my favorite lessons to teach my students in my Bible classes at school are the numerous prophecies about Jesus that were prophesied in the Old Testament and then fulfilled in the New Testament. As one student put it, “ God sure wanted people to know about his Son”. When the Devil convinced Eve who then convinced Adam to partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, sin entered the world and since that time we all have struggled and wrestled with the stain of sin (Gen. 3:1-6). Yet in that very same chapter, God promised Satan that from the seed of woman would come One who would be stronger than him and his evil ways (3:15). When the time was right, as the KJV says the “fulness of time was come.” God sent his Son to fulfill his eternal purpose (Gal. 4:4).

In Hebrews 2:6-9, we see wording that is similar to that which is mentioned back in Psalm 8. Notice verse 9: “But we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour: that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” Jesus came to earth, was made a little lower than the angels (cf. Ps. 8:5), lived and ministered, and then suffered and tasted death for every man. God allowed his Son to visit the earth and face the ultimate sacrifice because God views us as significant. We do not deserve salvation, but God through his grace wants us to be saved.

I am a child of God. How excellent is his name in all the earth! Thanks be to God for the victory we have in Jesus!

Drew is the preacher at the Corinth Church of Christ in Rock Island, TN.  He also teaches History, Government, and Middle & High School Bible at Boyd Christian School in McMinnville, TN.

 

The Peacemakers And The Persecuted — Drew Milligan

Jesus began his great Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5. He began this great discourse by giving a list of blessings that would come as a result of having some wonderful characteristics. These characteristics and subsequent blessings are referred to as the Beatitudes. Two of those beatitudes deal with being peacemakers and being persecuted for righteousness sake. I find it fascinating that Jesus would put these two right next to each other. The reason I say that is because oftentimes those who are peacemakers are the ones who are persecuted. I believe Jesus in His infinite wisdom understood that peacemakers would often be persecuted. Let us look at some things concerning these two great beatitudes from our Lord.

“Blessed Are The Peacemakers, For They Shall Be Called The Children Of God”

What exactly is a peacemaker? According to Webster’s dictionary, a peacemaker is “one who makes peace, especially by reconciling parties at variance.”  We live in a world where there seems to be more agitators and less peacemakers. By looking at verse 9 in Matthew chapter 5, we see that God desires his people to be peacemakers. It says peacemakers shall be called the children of God. All people are children of God as we are all made in his image (Gen. 1:26) even if they reject him as father. When Jesus says in verse 9 that peacemakers shall be called the children of God, there is a strong implication that if a child of God desires to be faithful then he will strive to be a peacemaker. How exactly should a Christian go about being a peacemaker? I submit three ways:

  1. Seek peace with others. The apostle Paul said, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18).  There are times when it is not possible to get along with others. It is quite difficult to get along with people who do not desire peace. Paul’s point in Romans 12:18 is that if you can live at peace with people, you need to do so. The peacemaker desires to reconcile with others if at all possible. The peacemaker understands the importance of leaving his gift at the altar and being reconciled with his brother before he proceeds to worship (Matt. 5:24). The peacemaker as Jesus defines them understands the importance of having a merciful and forgiving heart. Jesus taught Peter and the other apostles the importance of being a peacemaker by teaching them about how often one should forgive (Matt. 18:21-22).
  2. Seek peace with self. Isn’t it sad that many people do not have peace with themselves?  How many times in the news have we heard of someone taking their own life?  Many times, those people were not at peace with themselves.  There are those who are not content with their own lives.  They want more and more, bigger and better.  Jesus taught a parable dealing with that (Lk. 12:13-21).  The man in that parable was not content or at peace with what he had and desired more and more.  God called that man a fool and said his soul would be required that very night.  May we always remember to thank God for what He has given us.  God has been very good to each of us.  Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Tim. 6:6)!
  3. Be at peace with God. More important than being at peace with others and with self is to be at peace with God.  If one is at peace with God, the other two will fall into place.  If I desire to spend eternity with God in heaven, I must be at peace with Him.  How many times have we heard, “Rest in peace,” when someone dies and we know that person did not live for the Lord?  How can someone rest in peace who died not being at peace with God?  One must be a faithful Christian to be at peace with God.  “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).  To be at peace with God, I must be willing to die for His cause and be willing to remain faithful to Him all of my days.

“Blessed Are They Who Are Persecuted For Righteousness’ Sake, For Theirs Is The Kingdom Of Heaven.”

What does it mean to be persecuted?  A definition I often use when teaching my students at Boyd Christian School about the subject is “being harmed or even killed for what you believe in.”  If one is persecuted for righteousness’ sake, he is persecuted because he is striving to do the will of God and be a faithful member of the church.  How are Christians persecuted today?  In our country, we don’t face the problems faced by first century Christians, but we still face persecution today.

  1. We are persecuted by those in the world. Jesus warned His disciples that the world would hate them because it hated Him first (John 15:18).  There are many people in the world who hate Christians.  There are those in other faiths, such as Islam, who despise Christianity and want it wiped from existence.  Then there are the atheists such as Stephen Hawking who famously said, “Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe.  But now science offers a more convincing explanation.  What I meant by ‘We would know the mind of God’ is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn’t.  I’m an atheist.”  People follow him and trust his every word and turn their hatred towards those of the faith.  There is also the LGBTQ movement which is anti-God and blasphemous with their use of the rainbow which God Himself created (Gen. 9:13).  How many times have ministers been tested by those who want a gay marriage performed?  How many times have we heard of florists or bakers who are sued because they will not compromise biblical values?  You can’t forget the pro-choice, pro-abortion movement.  One of our liberal senators recently said that being “pro-life” is code for being against women.  Christians are expected to change their ways to conform with the world’s way of thinking but conform we must not.
  2. We are even persecuted by some in the church. This statement may be one which is hard to swallow.  Christians should not go to the left nor to the right, instead focusing  completely on the cross and doing the will of God (Prov. 4:25-27).  Naturally, when we focus on doing only what God has said, not adding to or taking away, there will be pushback.  Consider that there are many who are in the “progressive” or “liberal” wing of the church of Christ who would call us legalists or patternists because we desire to follow the old paths.  This same bunch will spew sarcasm and disdain when we refuse to accept women preachers or institute mechanical instruments in worship.  Yet on the other side, there are those who try to make up laws for God.  My father worked with a man who said that he might as well worship with a Baptist than to worship where I preach because we have Bible classes.  There are even those who will try to police the brotherhood, marking anyone who speaks on a lectureship with someone who has ties to someone who has ties to a false teacher.  These folks will get on social media and drag good brethren through the mud.  That is no better than Diotrophes (3 John 9-10).

    What Shall We Do?

    First, be thankful.  When we are persecuted, we should count it all joy (Jas. 1:1-4).  To some, that may sound odd.  James is saying that we should be thankful when we are persecuted because it will strengthen our faith and our patience.  Remember that Christ said if the world hates us, it hated Him first (John 15:18).  We should be thankful to endure like our Savior did!

    Let’s not forget to pray for those who mistreat us.  Our Lord said, “But I say to you, love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).  There is a great blessing which comes from praying to God.  One of those blessings is that God will help us deal righteously with those who are unrighteous to us.  When was the last time you prayed for brethren who mock you?  When was the last time you prayed for Muslims or LGBTQ people to come to the truth?  Praying for our persecutors will help bring peace to our lives.

    Drew is the preacher at the Corinth Church of Christ in Rock Island, TN.  He also teaches History, Government, and Middle & High School Bible at Boyd Christian School in McMinnville, TN.

     

 

Adding Virtue To Faith — Drew Milligan

In his second epistle, the apostle Peter said that we are to be “giving all diligence, adding to our faith virtue” (2 Pe. 1:5).  I find it significant that Peter first mentions virtue as being a vital addition to our faith before talking of such things as knowledge, temperance, and patience.  Adding virtue to our faith is important as we strive to do the will of our Father in heaven.

To add virtue to one’s faith, one must understand what a virtue is.  As a kid, I like so many other children sometimes lacked patience. I heard many times that “patience is a virtue.” At that time, I had no clue what a virtue was!  When we look at the idea of virtue, we are looking at the idea of moral excellence.  Patience is a virtue because it is a characteristic that is seen as being morally good and adds to one’s character. A person having high moral standards and striving to live up to those standards is a virtuous person. For example, Proverbs 31 gives us a glimpse at a woman who is virtuous. It mentions among many other virtues such qualities as being hard working, submissive and loyal to her husband.

Being virtuous is not perfection. We strive for moral excellence. Do we always succeed?  An honest man knows that the answer to that question is no (Ro. 3:23).  So how does one go about adding virtue to their faith?

First, one must desire to do good to other people.  We are commanded to avoid rendering evil for evil; instead, we must always follow what is good among ourselves and all others (1 Th. 5:15).  The Christian should strive to do good and avoid retaliation against other people.  God understands that there are people with whom we will not get along, but it is not our place to take vengeance on them.  He inspired Paul to tell us to “avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay saith the Lord” (Ro. 12:19).

That virtuous woman mentioned in Proverbs 31 did her husband good rather than evil all the days of her life (v. 12).  Can that be said of us in our marriages?  Do we desire to be a virtuous husband or a virtuous wife?  Husbands, do we love our wives as Christ loves his church?  Are we willing to give ourselves up for her as He was for the church (Ep. 5:25)?  Wives, do you submit to your husbands?  Do you desire to do that (Ep. 5:22-24)?  One who adds virtue to his or her faith must desire to do good to all people, including their family members.

Second, one must lead by example.  We hear that phrase “lead by example” often, don’t we?  We hear it in the political arena, academia, and we hear it (or should hear it) in the church.  A person who adds virtue to their faith will not just be one who tells what to do, but he is one who shows how to do it.

As a private school teacher and as a preacher, I must lead by example.  If I tell my students they should love God, they need to see that in me as well.  If I preach that we should avoid every form of evil (1 Th. 5:22) but am then seen doing something I shouldn’t, my credibility is lost and I am guilty of hypocrisy, the sin which is condemned in Scripture on multiple occasions (Mt. 6:5; 7:1-5; 1 Jn. 2:4).

God expects those men who serve as elders in the church to be virtuous men, men who are willing to lead by example (1 Pe. 5:3).  1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9 give us qualifications a man must meet if he wishes to be appointed an elder in the Lord’s church.  These characteristics are virtues because they are morally good and they add to a person’s character.  The same is true for those men who desire to hold the office of a deacon (1 Ti. 3:8-13).  Leaders in the church must always be adding virtue to their faith by leading by example, using the Word of God as their guide.

Third, one must love the Word of God and keep it in his heart.  I love the Psalmist’s attitude in Psalm 119:97:  “O how I love thy law!  It is my meditation all the day.”  God’s people must love God’s law and also keep his law.  Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15).  There are those who say keeping the commandments and following book, chapter, and verse is legalism.  It is not legalism, it is love!

The Psalmist also said that the law of God was his “meditation all the day.”  He kept the Word of God in his mind all day long.  That is how we add virtue to our faith.  God’s Word instills in us virtues that the world in general does not care for.  For example, the Bible shows us the importance of hard work, a virtue that has long been abandoned by many in our land.  Paul said it best:  “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Co. 3:23).

Do we have the love for God’s Word that we should?  When was the last time we sat down and read and studied the Bible in our homes with our families?  We cannot expect our children to have the respect and love for the Bible if they don’t see that attitude in us.  Is gospel preaching something you enjoy hearing, or do you consider it to be dull and boring?  Preachers, let us always make sure that the congregations we serve are hearing balanced preaching and that they are getting into the meat of the Word!

These are not all of the ways a Christians adds virtue to his faith.  There are plenty more that I could list that could perhaps fill dozens of pages.  I am sure you can think of some too.  May we as God’s servants always strive to add virtue to our faith and strive for that moral excellence!

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Drew is the preacher at the Corinth Church of Christ in Rock Island, TN.  He also teaches History, Government, and Middle & High School Bible at Boyd Christian School in McMinnville, TN.