Tag Archives: obedience

“Jesus Is Lord”, A Controversial Phrase — Caleb Colley

Christians love to say and sing the words “Jesus is Lord,” because the phrase is a summary statement of biblical faith. It affirms not only that there is a God, but that the Person of Christ, has visited Earth as Jesus, the Son of Man, and has sacrificed Himself for the sins of the world (Jn. 3:16-17). “Jesus is Lord” is also a basic affirmation of Christ’s exclusive authority over all things on Earth, as He affirmed: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Mt. 28:18; cf. Ph. 2:9-11). To say that “Jesus is Lord” is to imply that Hindu and Buddhist gods have no authority, that Muhammed has no authority, and that no other supposed gods have authority.

“Jesus is Lord” is a short, simple, beautiful phrase. It contains the basic content of the confession that everyone makes in obeying the gospel (Ro. 1:9; cf. 1 Co. 12:3). And yet, this phrase is becoming more controversial.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the student union of the University of Sydney, in Australia, has threatened to revoke its recognition from one particular religious student group, because the religious group centers around Jesus. Since 1998, the religious group has required its members to sign that they believe “Jesus is Lord.” This policy has offended the student union, which now threatens to deprive the religious group of access to university facilities and membership fees. Ironically, the union is using anti-discrimination policies in order to discriminate against the more than 200 students who require belief in Jesus for membership in their religious group.

In the early Christian centuries, many lost their lives because they were committed to the reality that “Jesus is Lord.” Stephen, the first Christian martyr, accused the murderous Jews of killing “The Righteous One,” Jesus, and they stoned him for it (Ac. 7:52-60). Polycarp, a personal friend and pupil of the apostle John, was martyred after refusing to deny Christ. He famously said, “Eighty-six years have I have served him, and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”1.

As culture becomes more secular, it will be more controversial to sweeten our lips with the name of Christ. Nevertheless, we will never stop confessing our Savior (Mt. 10:32-33).

http://www.calebcolley.com

1Philip Schaff, A History of the Christian Church (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891), 2:52

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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

 

What Eve Has Taught Me – Debbie Kea

Eve. Mother of all living. First woman. First wife. First sinner. I’ve heard women speak negatively about Eve for most of my Christian life. But as I have studied her, I have developed a great sympathy. Let me show you why.

Sin.  We are all well aware that Eve was deceived by Satan (Gen. 3:4-7). She learned that just because something looks good doesn’t mean it is good. She learned that the Devil lies. She learned to listen to God.   We are critical of her; yet who of us has not sinned? The apostle Paul declares that all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). As I review my own sins, I feel pity for the first woman. There is no record of any other sins of Eve, but this one teaches us serious lessons.

Obedience.  God’s first law was a law of obedience to Adam and Eve (Gen. 2:17). They were clearly instructed by God not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Obedience to God’s laws remains for all of us today if we are to be pleasing to our Maker. We must not only obey God’s commands but we are also to teach obedience to our children and our grandchildren. A lack of respect for authority has become one of the worst problems of our society. Lawlessness reigns in our world. Most importantly, this disobedience separates us from God.

Blame.  We have played the blame game since the beginning and we continue it still! When accused, it’s usually the first thing we humans do—point to someone else. It’s a rare individual that takes personal responsibility for his actions. Adam started this habit by blaming “the woman thou gavest to be with me” and Eve continued by pointing at “the serpent” who beguiled her (Gen.3:12-13). They both knew the truth; that’s why they knew they were naked—their guilt. Our task now as humans is to build our character so that we will be strong enough to admit our sins, repent of them and grow! We must be responsible for our own actions—to God and others. We must be willing to say, “Yes, it was me and I’m sorry.”

Power and Influence.  Eve teaches me that women have great power and influence. Adam was created first and had the responsibility to be the spiritual leader of his home; therefore, Adam should have stopped Eve from disobeying God but he didn’t.   We, as women, must recognize our role in the home as God’s plan. Paul tells us man was not created for the woman but the woman for the man (I Cor. 11:9). Submission and subjection are not inferiority. They are the role that God has given us as women. However, our influence and power can only be for good when we allow our husbands to lead our homes. We must use our influence for good there as well as everywhere we go.

Suffering.  Women have endured suffering since Eve sinned. She was banished from the garden. She suffered in childbirth. Most of us who are mothers understand this well. She suffered over her children. One of her sons was a murderer, and one of her sons was killed. She suffered great loss with both of them. We learn that children who grow up in the same household may very well take different paths in life.   Eve suffered watching her husband work by the sweat of his brow for over 900 years! Sin brings suffering.   Eve learned this.

Desire.  God told Eve that she would have desire only for her husband. This seems an odd thing to say at a time when Adam was the only man there! But as I think about this, I am reminded of many women whose desire is not for their husband but for other things, such as money, career, popularity or a variety of other cares of the world. Unfortunately, today we Christian women are considered peculiar if we care about what our husband wants instead of what we want. This is one of the contributing factors to the destruction of the home in our world now. The world sees nothing wrong with a woman satisfying a man in her career or job; yet Christian women are ridiculed for wanting to satisfy or help their husbands to be happy in their marriage!

Wisdom.  Satan tried to convince Eve that she could be as wise as God. We must not let Satan fool us in this. Instead of trying to be as wise as God, we need to recognize His power and greatness and our dependence upon Him! “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7). If we would truly be wise and happy, we would come to the One Who gives wisdom, knowledge and understanding (Prov. 2:6; 3:13).

Salvation.  Like me, Eve needed salvation. God, through His lovingkindness, provided from the beginning a way for Eve to be saved, to be brought back into a right relationship with Him. Jesus would come and bruise the head of the serpent, Satan (Gen. 3:15). And my obedience through faith would find access to the Lord’s saving blood (Rom. 5:1-2; 6:1-4). God did not leave Eve without hope. Jesus’ blood reaches back to her (Heb. 9:15). Neither does He leave us hopeless, for Christ is the Savior of the world if we would hear His voice (John 10:27; 3:17; Heb. 2:9).

Eve, mother of all living, continues to teach us lessons today. Though I am empathetic, it is still clear that Eve sinned and was punished for it. She remains, not a myth, but a real woman, made to be a helpmeet for man, a position that no other creature could fill. God help us to learn by studying Eve to be obedient children so that we can fulfill our role as women in His kingdom.

keadebbie1955@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Leave The Church, Leave The Lord – David R. Pharr

They went out from us, but they were not of us: for if they had been of us, they would not doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.  (1 John 2:19)

The words of John are blunt.  There were certain ones who had once participated in the fellowship of the saints who had left the church.  The apostle’s explanation was that “they were not of us.”  He does not mean that they were not physically and personally associated with the brethren, but rather that they were of a different mind set, of different convictions.  This had become “manifest” (evident) in their actions as “they went out.”  There had been a time when they appeared they were “of us,” but their apostasy had demonstrated otherwise.

Comparable observations can be made in regard to modern departures.  The Holy Spirit warned that “some shall depart from the faith” (1 Tim. 4:1).  Some leave the church to pursue a worldly lifestyle.  Some leave seeking acceptance by the world.  Some leave to affiliate with denominations.  Some abandon faith altogether.  Some leave because they want a broader, more liberal and more compromising fellowship.  And some leave because they have drawn their circle of approval so small that they have no room for most of the brotherhood.

We will borrow John’s language to name some reasons why some “went out from us.”

They went out from us because they had doubts about the verbal inspiration and inerrancy of the Holy Bible.  This means that the Scriptures cannot be trusted 100%.  Such is the thinking in worldly theological circles and some who have their degrees from denominational schools show that they have swallowed this kind of infidelity.  One who does not have full confidence in the reliability of God’s Word will never be comfortable where there is sound Bible preaching.

They went out from us because they were not of us with respect for the pattern authority of Scripture.  We believe the New Testament provides a pattern for our faith and practice and that it is by compliance with the pattern that the church of Christ is identified.  Those who pride themselves in their rejection of “pattern authority” logically must embrace an unscriptural paradigm.  The only alternative, according to 2 John 9, is either to abide in the doctrine of Christ or to leave the Lord by leaving the doctrine.

They went out from us because they were not with us as regards the hermeneutic of command, example, and necessary inference.  This has sometimes been incompletely described “as the ONLY way the Bible teaches.”  Obviously there is much more in the Bible (history, facts, poetry, etc.)  The point about command, example, and necessary inference is that this is the only basis by which to establish religious authority.  The place of commandments is obvious (Matt. 28:19ff).  The examples in view are those which are demonstrations of how commands are to be obeyed (1 Cor. 11:2; Phil. 3:17).  Necessary inferences are conclusions so logically necessary as that two plus two equals four.  Those who leave the church over contempt for this hermeneutic have nothing to offer in its place.

They went out from us because they found the simplicity of New Testament worship to be dull and meaningless.  Religious entertainment has a greater appeal.  After all, how can bread and grape juice compare to dramatic performances?  And how can singing scriptural hymns compare to “Christian rock”?  Such measure church by how it makes them feel, not by what is authorized in God’s Word.  We make no defense for worship assemblies that are half-hearted.  “In spirit” is as essential as “in truth” (John 4:24).  But those who go out from us in order to have a more satisfying church experience either never knew or have forgotten that worship is to praise God, not to satisfy fleshly emotions.

They went out from us because they resented preaching that upholds truth and exposes error.  With some audiences there is no longer room for sermons showing biblical proof for our distinctive positions regarding worship, the oneness of the church, scriptural baptism, the sinfulness of divorce, etc.  It’s the same story as described by Isaiah, people who do not want to hear “the law of the Lord” are demanding “smooth” preaching that pleases the multitudes (Is. 8:19ff).

They went out from us because of an inordinate emphasis on grace and faith to the exclusion of obedience.  We know and preach that salvation is by grace, unearned and never merited, and that God’s offer of pardon must be accepted by faith (Eph. 2:8-9).  However, any preaching of grace and faith which minimizes or excludes the necessity of obedience is unacceptable (Heb. 2:1-3; 5:8-9; 1 Pet. 1:22).

They went out from us trusting an inflated view of grace.  Our only hope is in the grace of God and his grace is sufficient to cover all our sins.  It is an invention of men, however, to assume that there is (as some have called it) “an umbrella of grace” that makes the rejection of God’s instructions acceptable.  Yet it is more comfortable for some to ignore the demands of truth and to justify continuance of sin and error by saying “grace will take care of it.”  Some who have gone out from us realize they have affiliated with unscriptural organizations, which teach unscriptural doctrines, and which worship unscripturally, but feel satisfied because they think grace will make it right.

They were not with us with regard to the restrictions implied by the silence of the Scriptures.  We have long endured the mockery of those who ridicule our convictions regarding instrumental music in worship.  Our position has been explicit – such is not the music for worship authorized in the New Testament – and this position has never been refuted.  In many places there has not been sufficient teaching on the principles involved, but whatever the fault, some are going “out from us” because they don’t realize that what is NOT authorized is NOT authorized!

They were not with us in recognizing the principle of GENERIC and SPECIFIC authority.  Some biblical instructions are generic, leaving the specifics of how to follow the instructions to our judgment as to what is expedient.  For example, the instructions for our meeting together on the Lord’s Day are generic as regards to time of day and the place.  Any practice which fits within the framework of that generic command is acceptable.  But there are also commands that are specific, which can only be obeyed in the specific way authorized.  The elements for the Lord’s Supper are specified and to omit these elements, or to substitute other elements, or to add to these elements is in violation of specific authority.  Liberalism tries to make the specific generic, to allow more than is authorized.  Radicals try to make the generics specific, binding what God has not bound (Matt. 18:18).

They went out from us because they lacked love and loyalty for the church, which is the body of Christ.  It is easy enough to point out the failures in the human side of the church.  But such does not justify contempt for the church.  Some of the meanest, most unfair, and false things that are said against Christ’s church are said by those who were once among us.  We suspect that this is their psychological compensation for their own sense of guilt that they have deserted the cause they once loved and served.

It is not a new thing that some are deserting the church.  John saw it happening and placed the blame on the ones who were leaving, not on the faithful.  Paul was saddened by the defection of Demas, but he knew the fault was in Demas (2 Tim. 4:10).  When someone leaves the church it is in order for us to examine how we might have better helped and encouraged them.  We realize our human side of the church has many shortcomings and we want to do our best in helping all who are weak and struggling.  But the faithful must also realize that some are going to depart because “they were not of us.”