Tag Archives: Michael Grooms

Editorial: How Is The Church of Christ Different From Denominations? (May/June, 2018) — Michael Grooms, Guest Editor

“So…how is the church of Christ different from other denominations?” I have been asked that question many times, and I am happy to give an answer. First, let me address the question itself. The term “church of Christ” is a possessive term that demonstrates the church as belonging to Christ. It is not the name of a denomination. Paul told the church in Rome, “…the churches of Christ greet you” (Rom. 16:16b). Second, the question assumes that the Lord’s church is one of the many denominations that we see in the religious landscape today. This is a misnomer. Jesus Christ did not make denominations. He made His church, and He only made one (Matt. 16:18). Men made denominations as a result of leaving the truth of God’s Word.

The church of Christ is made up of Christians who have been added to the church by our Lord as they were baptized into Christ for the remission of sins. (Acts 2:38, 41, 47; Rom. 6:3-6). Jesus alone has the authority to add men to His church (Matt. 28:18) and He only adds those who submit to His instruction that they believe and are baptized (Mark 16:16). Christ’s church is distinctive in nature because its members require authority from Jesus in all matters pertaining to worship, doctrine, and practice. This is the command of God. The Holy Spirit inspired Peter to write: “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11 NKJV). Paul, also inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote to the Christians in Colossae: “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17 NKJV).

Since our Lord has thus instructed, true churches of Christ are determined to “speak where the Bible speaks, and be silent where the Bible is silent. Do Bible things in Bible ways, and call Bible things by Bible names.” In organization, each congregation is autonomous and overseen by a body of elders (Acts 20:28; Tit. 1:5). Deacons aid the elders in carrying out the work of the church (1 Tim. 3:18-13; Acts 6:3-4). Preachers have the charge to preach the word of God (2 Tim. 4:2; Titus 2:15). The elements of worship are only those which we find in scripture. The church sings with the voice and heart, not with instrumental additions (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). The Bible is preached, and the Lord’s Supper is observed each Sunday (Acts 20:7). Prayer is offered (James 5:16). Contribution is taken each Sunday (1 Cor. 16:2). We decry the names of men and call ourselves only “Christians” (Acts 11:26).

Before our Lord left this earth, He gave to His disciples a charge we affectionately refer to as “The Great Commission.” This charge, which is found in Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-16, continues to challenge us through the Word of God to go into the world and bring disciples to Christ. It is our charge to evangelize. It is also our charge to maintain that which has been placed into our stewardship. We are stewards of the grace of God (1 Pet. 4:10). As such, we are stewards of His Word and His church. We must maintain the purity of the church as we preach and practice the unfettered truth of God’s Word. It is up to this generation to pass on to the next generation a church which is true to the Word of God. Let us be ever vigilant to protect and preserve the truth of God’s Word, that we may be faithful stewards.

— Michael

 

Secular History vs. Biblical History — Michael Grooms

In the beginning…

The words that would complete the sentence above would vary depending upon where they are spoken, and who is doing the speaking. If one were hearing these words in a science class, it is likely they would be followed with some reference to a “big bang.” If the speaker were teaching a classroom full of world history students, he might say, “Well…we really don’t know since that was pre-history.” Yet, if one were in a Sunday school classroom the sentence would likely be completed with “God created the heavens and the earth.” Is it any wonder our young people are often confused when they attempt to reconcile what they are taught in school with what they are instructed concerning matters of faith?

Why is there such a disconnect between the study of world history in secular education and the study of biblical history? The Bible is a literal, historical account that covers the time since the creation of the universe through the roughly 4000 years following. If one accepts this fact, then one’s view of history will be in accordance with the revelation of God, the creator of the universe. The secular world today has gone to extremes in efforts to shun any hint of association with all things pertaining to God. As a result of this bias, the Bible is denied its rightful place as a historical document. Writings from such ancient authors as Plato, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, and Homer are accepted as authentic and historical, while the Bible is relegated to a collection of fables in many scholastic circles. The New Testament alone is verified with over 24,000 manuscripts and fragments of manuscripts. Over 5,400 of these manuscripts are in the original Greek language, the earliest of which were written in the second century A.D. No other ancient writing or collection of writings comes even close to that verification of authenticity.

Students of ancient history rely heavily upon the field of archaeology to learn about ancient cultures. Archaeological findings continue to verify biblical accounts of historical events otherwise unknown to historians. A few years ago, archaeology and biblical studies seemed to go hand in hand. It was not unusual at all to hear of some recent “discovery” in the archaeological field that seemed to confirm some biblical claim. As such, it seemed that archaeology was a friend to the biblical account. The two seemed to share an almost intimate relationship.

Unfortunately, times have changed. Archaeology and the Bible enjoyed a healthy relationship from about 1920 to 1970. Bible scholars and archaeologists alike approached archaeology from a biblical perspective. From about 1970 till the present, archaeologists have attempted to dissociate theology with archaeology. Some have gone so far as to deny the term “biblical archaeology” in favor of the term “Syro-Palestinian Archaeology”. This stems from a belief that archaeology and biblical studies should be considered independent studies and as such should not influence each other. In spite of the abundance of archaeological evidence that proves the Bible is a historically accurate document, this bias against God has permeated even this area of historical study.

The Greek word from which “archaeology” originates means “a study of ancient things”. Today archaeology is considered a study of the past based upon findings of artifacts relating to past times and cultures. Biblical archaeology deals with the study of biblical events, characters, and teachings by studying findings of sources outside the Bible. It should be noted that archaeology is not meant to “prove” the Bible, nor should it be used in such a manner. Even so, archaeology can and, in many cases, does provide evidence that confirms biblical accounts. For example, one may find evidence in excavation of an area that a city referred to in the Bible actually existed (such as Nineveh), or even that a person existed (such as Sennacherib), but to show that Nineveh was used as an example of God’s wrath, justice, and mercy, is left solely to God’s Word, as found in the book of Jonah. Likewise, it is possible to demonstrate through archaeology that Sennacherib invaded Judah during the reign of Hezekiah, but to know how that God was glorified in His defeat of Sennacherib is again a fact that relies solely on the Word of God (2 Chron. 32). This demonstrates that the Bible is both historical and theological. Because of its theological nature, the historical value of the Bible is often discarded by secular educators. Recently, there have been some attempts to study the Bible as literature in the educational system. The Bible is indeed a masterpiece of literature, but such a view of the Bible falls far short of recognizing it for its historical value. For the Bible believer it is not the literary or historical value of the Bible that is most important, but its theological value. The Bible reveals God to His creation!

Society is inundated with ideas, often encapsulated in familiar terms, which are contrary to the biblical view of world history. An example of this is the term “pre-historic,” which is a misnomer. The term “pre-historic” suggests that some events in the world happened before there were people making records of historic events. The first record of history that is available is found in the Holy Bible in Genesis 1:1. When this well-documented authority is referenced one finds that the very origin of the universe is recorded. Since the beginning of the universe is recorded in history, there could not possibly be a time that could correctly be called “pre-historic.” Parents, Bible class teachers, preachers, and all Christians should avoid the use of such terms which create confusion in the minds of people.

It is easy to blame the secular world for the unmerited distinction between world history and the biblical account, but much of the fault lies within the teaching of the church. When biblical accounts are referred to as “Bible stories” and treated merely as stories, confusion results in the minds of young people. When young people hear “Bible stories” in Sunday school and are faced with that which is presented as “scientific evidence” or “historical events” at school, who can blame them for being confused? The church has failed to properly teach the Bible in its historical and theological context to our young people. The church has a responsibility to teach concerning these matters, but the primary responsibility for such teaching lies within the home. Far too many parents will demand that their children do their homework and make good grades at school, but hardly give their biblical education, in Bible class or at home, a passing thought. Parents must take seriously their commission from God to bring up their children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4b NKJV). God’s commandment concerning the instruction of children to the nation of Israel serves today as an admonition to Christian parents:

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut. 6:6-9).

It remains that God’s Word, although not written for the purpose of a history book, is a record of literal history. The places, events, and characters found in the Bible are real, and have their rightful place in the history books. True science will always corroborate with the Bible. Accurate world history will recognize the Bible’s authenticity. In Romans 3:3-4 Paul asks the question: For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?’ He then confidently answers “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar.”

Like the anvil which has withstood the countless beatings of the hammers spent upon it, God’s Word will remain, as changeless as the God who spoke it. Let us who God has entrusted as stewards of His word be diligent to teach it to those He has given to our charge.

Michael serves on the board of directors for the Carolina Messenger. He preaches for the Boiling Springs Church of Christ in Boiling Springs, SC.

 

A Good Husband — Michael Grooms

It is not sufficient to simply be married. To be is to exist, and nothing more. For a marriage to be the kind of marriage God wants us to have, we must do more than simply exist in a married state. A godly marriage is the result of dedication to being the very best husband or the very best wife one can be. The Christian husband should have a desire to be the very best husband he can be for his wife. This pleases God. There are several terms that could be employed to describe how a man can be a good husband, such as love, faithfulness, godliness, and caring. These and others are certainly good descriptors of factors that help make a good marriage. There is one word that underlies all of these. When this concept becomes the desire and intent of a husband, he will usually find that his relationship with his wife becomes enriched as the love they share flourishes. What is this powerful word? It is “understanding.”

In 1 Peter 3:7 the Holy Spirit inspired Peter to write, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel…” This scripture demands of the reader to understand “understanding” as it applies to marriage and the will of God. There are several ways that understanding will help a man be the husband that God would have him to be, and to have the fulfillment of a happy marriage. In the scope of this article we will look at three things that a husband needs to understand in order to promote a healthier relationship with his wife. First, he must understand God’s purpose for marriage. Second, he must understand his role in the marriage. Third, he must understand his wife.

Understanding God’s Purpose For Marriage

The Christian husband must understand God’s purpose for marriage. Too often, marriages are simply a union of lives based on the attraction of the man and woman to each other. God has designed marriage to be so much more! The horrific divorce rate in our country demonstrates what happens when a marriage is simply based on attraction. Over time, the attraction becomes diminished and the desire to nurture the marriage fails. A marriage based on attraction is a self-seeking marriage. A marriage based on godly love and understanding will be able to withstand the challenging times. While physical attraction is important within a marriage, it is only one factor among many. A godly marriage is a marriage that begins with a love for God, and is built upon that love. When our love for God is as it should be, that love will culminate in a healthy love for our spouse.

One purpose that God has for the institution of marriage is companionship. God created the first woman (Eve) to be the companion for the first man (Adam). When God created man, He said It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Ge. 2:18, NKJV). Thus, God established the first marriage with the stated purpose of companionship. Husbands, are you a companion for your wife? Do you encourage companionship by spending time with her and giving her your full attention? Do you put her in a place where she feels like she must compete with your job, hobbies, friends, or other things for your attention? There is a reason women tend to be more affectionate than men, and part of that reason goes to the very purpose of their creation. The wise husband will value the companionship of his wife and seek to nurture that companionship. It is hard to “find time” to devote to these things, thus it is necessary to make time. Nurturing your relationship with your spouse must be a priority. It is essential to a healthy marriage.

Another reason that God created marriage is for physical fulfillment (1 Co. 7:1-4; 8-9; He. 13:4). 1 Corinthians 7:2 teaches that a man or a woman is to be married “because of sexual immorality.” The idea behind this is that God created men and women to have sexual desires, but intended that those desires only be fulfilled within the marriage relationship. It is, therefore, the responsibility of each spouse to be sure that they are attending to the physical needs of their spouse. The husband is to “render to his wife the affection due her” (1 Co. 7:3). The Christian husband who understands God’s will for him will attend to his wife’s need for affection and physical fulfillment (1 Co. 7:5). It may not be in your nature as a man to show affection, but if your wife desires your affection it is your duty as her husband. Your job is not to be sure you get what you want out of marriage. It is to be sure you are giving your wife what she needs! Far too often, marriages are destroyed because one or both of the spouses failed to meet the physical and emotional needs of the other. When someone else comes along who is willing to meet that need, the result is often disastrous. A garden needs to be nurtured. It needs weeds pulled and the vegetables or flowers fertilized. A marriage is like a garden in that respect. It needs to be tended. It needs nurturing. Sometimes the weeds must be pulled. Those things that harm or threaten the marriage relationship need to be removed. The love needs to be fertilized with selfless attention. It takes diligence and work, but the results are a beautiful garden of love!

Understanding the Role of the Husband

It is essential that the Christian husband has understanding concerning his role in the marriage. God has instituted within the family, roles which work according to His plan. When these roles are understood and honored, the family can function as God intended. Just as God has placed within the church certain roles of leadership and function that meet His design, He has done the same within the family. Neither in the church nor in the family do these roles indicate that one person is more important than the other. God has placed the man in the role as the head of his wife (1 Co. 11:3).

When a Christian man understands his role as the head of his wife (and thus his family), he will be better able to fulfill God’s purpose and will have a more fulfilling marriage. Too many men abdicate their role as the head of their family. When this happens, the burden of filling this role falls upon the wife or goes neglected. The man who understands his role as the head of his wife will not seek to lord over his wife, but rather cherish and honor her (1 Pe. 3:7). As the head of the family it is incumbent upon the man to be the provider for his family (1 Ti. 5:8). While this responsibility may be shared by both spouses, the burden lies upon the man. God has designed the role of the wife as the keeper of the home (Ti. 2:5; 1 Ti. 5:14).  In order for her to fulfill her God given role, he must fulfill his role as a provider. The marital relationship suffers when these roles are not fulfilled. Honoring these roles provides an environment that encourages the marriage to flourish.

Understanding His Wife

Lastly, the husband needs to understand his wife. The differences between men and women are manifested physically, emotionally, and psychologically. While these differences can contribute to misunderstanding and strife within a marriage, such does not need to be the case. God made men and women different for a reason, and that reason is seen in the roles in which God has placed them in the family. Women are physically and emotionally equipped to fulfill the role of the care giver in the home. Men are likewise equipped to provide for and protect the home. These differences should complement each other and when in harmony create a strong union around which the family prospers.

The Christian man should seek to understand how his wife thinks, what triggers her emotions, what her vulnerabilities are, and what she seeks from him in their marriage. Wives likewise need to understand their husbands. The key to such understanding is communication. With this key, a couple can unlock the mysteries that center around their differences, and learn to meet the needs and challenges that stem from these differences. Remember, she is your partner, your lover, your helper, your life companion. Seek to understand her mysteries. Seek to fulfill her needs. Talk to her. Provide for her. Protect her. Hold her. Cherish her. Reassure her. Affirm her. Love her. Lead her to Heaven. You are her man, but more importantly you are God’s man. God has blessed you with your wife and has given you a charge to be her head, and treasure her heart. Remember, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD” (Pr. 18:22).

Men of God, may God bless you with an understanding of His will for you as the husband of your wife and the father of your children.  May that understanding enable and empower you to be the man God would have you to be, and the man your wife needs you to be.

gospelpreacher@charter.net

Michael serves the Boiling Springs Church of Christ in Boiling Springs, SC.  He is on the board of directors for the Carolina Messenger.

 

What Abraham Has Taught Me – Michael Grooms

Editor’s Note:  Brother Grooms recently made a sermon in which he expounded upon the points made in this article.  He preached it at the Boiling Springs Church of Christ in Boiling Springs, SC, on February 21, 2016.  We encourage you to listen to his lesson here.

By faith, Abraham obeyed…” (Heb. 11:8a). Thus begins the entry into the “Hall of Faith” found in Hebrews 11 concerning this great patriarch. To be eulogized in such manner would be a great honor; for such a eulogy would indicate a life of faithfulness to God. If one is to hope to be remembered in such a fashion as was Abraham, it would behoove one to heed the lessons learned from Abraham’s life. The scope of these lessons would far surpass the limited space available in this article, so it will suffice to reflect upon four events which tested the faith of Abraham and apply the lessons taught in his example.

Abraham stood the test of separation. He was called by God to leave home and go to an unknown place. Hebrews 11:8 tells us that “he went out, not knowing where he was going.” Though his destination was uncertain, his trust in the One who would guide him was not. He left that which was dear to him. He traded comfort for hardship, to an end that was unknown to him. He left home, and many of the relationships that went with it (Gen. 12:1). The child of God must also face the test of separation. For some, to obey God means to be cut off from family. For others, it may mean the loss of a job. For many, it will mean separation from friends. For all, it means separation from the sinfulness of the word. Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than the passing pleasures of sin (Heb. 11:25). God has commanded His people, “Come out from among them, and be separate” (2 Cor. 6:17). Separation is often difficult. It requires self-denial. It may require of one a loss of things or relationships that are cherished. Abraham left home with an end in mind. He did not know where that end was, but He knew that God had promised, and God is faithful. God has promised that He will never leave nor forsake the faithful. He has promised to take us home.

Abraham withstood the temptation of power. In the fourteenth chapter of Genesis, the account is given of a great battle which ensued at the Valley of Siddim. Four kings with their armies defeated five kings, which included the armies of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot, who dwelled in the area of Sodom and Gomorrah, was taken captive. When Abraham learned of Lot’s capture, he gathered his 318 trained servants and pursued the five kings. He defeated the kings, delivered Lot and the other captives, and recovered the goods that had been stolen from Sodom and Gomorrah. Upon his return, he was met by Melchizedek, who was king of Salem and a priest of God. In his blessing, Melchizedek pronounced two great truths: God is the possessor of Heaven and Earth, and it was God who had delivered Abraham’s enemies into his hand (Gen. 14:18-20). Was it mere coincidence that Abraham would be reminded of these two truths just before he would be offered wealth and power from the King of a wicked people? The king of Sodom asked of Abraham that he only give him back the people who had been taken captive, and offered Abraham all the spoils that had been taken. Gen. 14:11 states that this was all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions. This must have been an immense amount of wealth! Abraham refused, repeating in his reply that which Melchizedek had stated, that God is the possessor of Heaven and earth. Abraham had vowed to God that he would not take anything from the king of Sodom. He refused on the basis that the King of Sodom would have no claim to Abraham’s power or wealth. Abraham resisted receiving wealth and power from an evil king, because he belonged to God. From this event, the child of God is reminded that we belong to God. The world may allure and offer wealth and power, but God alone can give eternal life. When tempted by the allurement of the world, the child of God must remember who he or she is. We belong to God. Paul warns of the dangers of such allurement in 1 Timothy 6:6-12. He warns that such greed brings destruction, and eternal damnation (perdition). The child of God is warned to flee these things and lay hold on eternal life. There will be many times that the world will offer that which is appealing. At such times, look to Abraham’s example and choose rather to serve God and trust in His power.

Abraham proved faithful in the test of delay. In an age of instant gratification, the Christian would do well to learn a lesson from Abraham’s faith in delayed fulfillment. Abraham’s wife, Sarah, could not bear children. This meant that Abraham had no heir. This within itself was considered a calamity in the ancient world. To not have an heir meant that the generational inheritance pattern was broken, and there was no son to care for the couple in their older years. This is why Abraham was so intent on having an heir that he considered making his servant Eliezer his heir (Gen. 15:2). After God told him that Eliezer would not be his heir, but one who would come from his own body, Abraham took Sarah’s maid, Hagar, as his wife and bore Ishmael through her (Gen. 16:3). He was eighty-six years old at this time. For thirteen years Abraham believed that Ishmael would be his heir, but God appeared to him when he was ninety-nine years old and once more told him that he would have an heir, but it would be a child born to him through Sarah. Sarah later laughed at the idea that she could bear a child in her old age (Gen. 18:12). These events show just how real the struggle was for Abraham and Sarah. Abraham believed God, but he could not understand how God would fulfill His promise. This was a major challenge to his faith. How many people would have given up on God because He does not work according to human time limits? Many people do. Dear reader, trust God. His answer to your prayers may not come as soon as you would like. The answer may not be that which your heart desires. His answer is always the best, and it comes at the very best time…His. Abraham had to wait for twenty-five years from the time God first promised he would have descendants until the time that God gave him Isaac, his true heir through Sarah. He was one hundred years old when Isaac was born. Through it all, he trusted God. Yes, he struggled. Yes, he tried to help God along. Yes, his humanity showed in his mistakes. Through it all, he never lost faith.

All of the previous tests of Abraham’s faith pale in comparison with the test found in Genesis 22. The son of his old age, Isaac, was the hope that Abraham had longed for all of his life. He was the fulfillment of God’s promise that he would have an heir. Through Isaac, God had promised to make of Abraham a great nation. Now, after all of this, God told Abraham to do something that would make the strongest man break down into a mass of quivering flesh. He commands Abraham to take Isaac to the land of Moriah and offer him as a burnt offering. As they ascended the mountain to make the sacrifice, Isaac bore upon his back the wood which, unbeknownst to him, is marked for his death. Abraham carried the fire for the sacrifice, and the knife with which he intended to kill his son. How every step must have been a burden for this father! How that blade must have burned into his flesh! How his heart must have groaned in despair as he watched his son by his side! He loved his son, but he loved God more. When Isaac asked of him, “Where is a lamb for a burnt offering?” he replied in faith, “God will provide.” Hebrews 11:19 reveals that Abraham believed that God was able to raise Isaac from the dead. He was willing to offer his son, but his faith in God’s promise was so strong that he counted on God to raise him from the dead. In the end, God delivered Abraham from offering his son. It was not God’s intention for Abraham to kill his son. It was His intention to test his faith and prove that he was worthy. After all, this was the man who would father a nation, through which God would one day send His own Son to be a sacrifice for the sins of the world (John 3:16). Sometimes God’s will conflicts with ours. Sometimes it requires sacrifice of us. When all is said and done, will you be faithful?

gospelpreacher@charter.net