Tag Archives: Roger Leonard

A Way That Seems Right About Salvation — Roger Leonard

There is a sense in which our feelings are our friends. Fear can protect us from certain dangers or taking unnecessary chances. Crying can help us deal with loss, pain, and deep grief. Anger can even be a friend if it is righteous indignation. Consider all the wrongs that would go without a response if no one got upset about them. The apostle Paul wrote, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Eph. 4:26). Paul did not say that anger is a sin. He is teaching us how to deal with it properly. Then there is joy, the joy of true love and kindness. Again, the apostle Paul writes: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again will say, rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). The Bible teaches that God gave us emotions — feelings — to help us get through life.

Yet our feelings are not always true; they are not our friends at times.  Have you ever felt that something was true or good, only to learn later the opposite?  Perhaps you didn’t hear correctly, or someone lied.  Either way, what “seemed right” turned out to be wrong.

It has been my observation that people often deal with spiritual matters, from the existence of God to the Bible to the salvation of their souls, by the way they feel.  Others do so by human reasoning alone.  Something seems to be true, so they go with that.  Consider the following:

GodIt seems right to many that there is no God.  The main barrier to atheistic philosophy is origin.  We and the universe are here, but by whom, what, or how?  A fundamental answer is cause and effect.  It is an indisputable scientific fact that any cause is always greater than the effect.  The Bible says the cause is God (Gen. 1:1; Rom. 1:20; Heb. 3:4).  Then there is the life issue.  Life comes from life.  That being so, someone must be eternally alive.  The Bible says it’s God (Deut. 33:27; John 1:1;4; et al).

The Bible.  How does one account for a book written over a period of 1,600 years, by forty different authors in three languages, and without a single contradiction?  It has to be a supernatural production, as it claims to be (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Countless individuals deny the divine origin of the Bible based solely on what others have said.  People view the Bible as just another religious book, full of fairy tales and inconsistencies.  We seem to be living in an age where even known facts are either totally ignored or deemed irrelevant.  How many who hold this view of the Bible have actually read it with an honest and objective approach?  As a candid, committed student of Scripture, I know it is not what people feel about it.  It passes the test of its claims!

The Savior.  The absurd claim by some that Jesus never existed can be cleared up with the Bible.  Jesus fulfilled more than 300 Old Testament prophecies.  The odds of Him fulfilling only eight is 1×1028  or 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.   Yet He is the Son of God, born of a virgin and the only way to the Father (Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:23; John 14:6).

The New Birth.  How does one receive salvation from Jesus?  He told Nicodemus, “Unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” and “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5).  Countless individuals will base their understanding of the new birth — their soul’s salvation — on the words of a preacher because his words seem correct, yet they do so with little to no questions as to whether the words he speaks are actually the words of God in Scripture.  Others will base their salvation on the beliefs of some respected family member.  Others do so based on some supposed “salvation experience.”

This brings up an important question.  Is the Bible truly God’s Word and our only source for truth in the matter of salvation?  The apostle Peter answers this:  “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Pet. 2:22-23).

We see here that salvation is not based on human feelings, but on God’s revealed truth.  Jesus taught that absolute truth is not only knowable but is also liberating (John 8:32).  The Lord also prayed that His disciples would be sanctified by the truth which is God’s Word (John 17:17).

In the Scriptures we see certain steps which bring one to Christ.  Often only one or two of these steps are considered necessary for salvation.  Some are even considered unnecessary for salvation.  We should recognize as necessary every point which Jesus or His apostles included in God’s plan to save us from sin and eternity in hell.

Faith.  Biblical faith “comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).  It is required to please God (Heb. 11:6).  Those in Acts 2 had come to believe Peter’s preaching that Jesus was the Messiah and were convicted in their hearts that they had murdered Him (vs. 36-37).  While faith involves man’s feelings, as these people were “cut to the heart” (v. 37), it is not merely a feeling.  They asked, “What shall we do?” (v. 37)

Repentance and Baptism.  In response to their question Peter said, “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (v. 38).  Jesus and Paul also taught repentance (Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 17:30).  Repentance is a change of mind.  It is not merely feeling bad about sin but demands actions on our part.  Paul wrote, “Sorrow that is according to the will of God produces…repentance” (2 Cor. 7:10).  Notice again the two things Peter said.  Repentance AND baptism are both required to receive the remission of sins.  Many feel that baptism is not necessary for salvation, but God’s Word says that it is.

We Are Not Saved By What Seems Right.  Nothing in this article has come from what “seems right to a man.”  It has come from the Scriptures.  Remember that the end of what seems right to a man “is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12).  What the Lord says in His Word leads to life (John 6:63, 68).  Our feelings are our true friends when they respond to the will of God.

Roger preaches for the church of Christ in Adel, GA.  He also teaches and preaches in foreign countries once or twice a year.

The Kind of Preaching Needed Today — Roger Leonard

In this article we will consider the kind of preaching needed today. A follow-up article will examine the definition of sound preaching in the next issue.

What kind of preaching is needed today?

Preaching that pleases God. When God sent Moses to deliver His people from Egyptian bondage, He sent him first to the Israelites with these authoritative words: “I AM has sent me to you” (Ex. 3:14, NASB). God’s message through Moses to “the elders of Israel” was, “The God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, ‘I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt, and I have said I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt… to a land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex. 3:16-17.) Moses then asked God what he should do in the event they would not listen to his voice and deny that God had sent him (Ex. 4:1). God subsequently demonstrated to Moses that the rod which was in his hand would become a serpent to convince them that God had appeared to him, thus giving credence to his message that he spoke for God (vs. 2-5).

But Moses began to make excuses that he was not an eloquent speaker and that he was “slow of speech and slow of tongue” (v. 10.) So God asked him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (v. 11) God went on to tell Moses He would be with his mouth and teach him what to say (v. 12). Yet Moses begged the Lord to use someone else (v. 13). God became angry with Moses and, although Moses would still be God’s messenger and representative, He let him know that Aaron would be his “mouth” (vs. 14-16) while Moses would maintain the staff and “perform the signs” (v. 17).

God’s plainly stated message: “Then the Lord said to Moses, Go to Pharaoh and speak to him, Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, Let My people go, that they may serve Me” (Ex. 9:1). This Moses did at least ten times and the message never changed.

God later instructed the prophet Jonah: “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and proclaim to it the proclamation which I am going to tell you.” The message: “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown” (Jon. 3:2, 4).

Every prophet in the Old Testament was to speak the specific messages which God had given them. No more and no less! The phrase “the word of the Lord” (found some 241 times) was the common theme of God’s prophets. While Peter plainly declared the “the prophet” (Deut. 18:15-19)to be “Jesus, the Christ” (Acts 3:18-23), verses 20-22 of Deuteronomy 18 apply to any prophet. God’s men must speak God’s words!

Under the new Covenant of Christ, we see from the Lord’s command that if we change the gospel we’ll be “accursed” (Gal. 1:6-9). Paul makes it clear here that the goal in preaching must be to please God and not men (v. 10).

Preaching that is proven. Looking back at God with Moses, miraculous proof was presented that he spoke for God. Jonah’s message was supported by the fact that he survived being in the belly of a fish for three days. Jesus corroborates this “sign” by comparing it to His time in the tomb and His own resurrection (Matt. 12:40). We also know the Lord’s apostles and prophets of the first century A.D. “confirmed the word (that they preached) by signs that followed” (Mark 16:20).

Today we have “all things that pertain to life and godliness” and “we have the prophetic word made more sure…” (2 Pet. 1:3, 19) in complete, written form. This is what we are to preach! While some balk at book, chapter and verse preaching, the New Testament is filled with references from the Old Testament. Why? Proof! We “preach the word” as proof that our message is from God!

Preaching that is pertinent. Consider the differences in the Lord’s discussion with Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, Peter’s preaching on Pentecost, and Paul’s message on Mars Hill. In these evangelistic lessons each messenger dealt with the people where they were spiritually, in knowledge, and in understanding. Consider the letters to the seven churches in Asia in Revelation 2 and 3. Every church had different issues to be addressed.

When preparing lessons from week to week for local work, we typically preach to the same people. Yet there are so many different needs. In my classes under Tom Holland, I was taught to know the needs of the church, then to preach to the needs. We learn this by listening during conversations, noting comments made in class, etc. It may be comments about struggling with health issues, personal faith and struggles, or doctrinal confusion. We must prayerfully study for and address these pertinent needs.

Preaching that persuades. When John the Immerser, Jesus, Peter, Stephen and Paul preached, they sought to persuade people to repent and turn to the Lord’s ways (cf. Matt. 3:12; 4:17; John 3:3, 5; Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 3:19; 7:51-53; 2 Cor. 5:11). The first word Paul uses in the charge to Timothy in preaching the Word is “reprove” or “convince” (2 Tim. 4:2). The word means “to put to proof, to test; to convict., lay bare, expose” (Mounce). While not all sermons are designed to persuade, if our preaching does not often seek to change the hearers’ hearts then we are falling short of a main goal. People will stay where they are (at best) or fall away (at worst). Preaching must seek to persuade people to change.

Preaching that provides promises. A friend and brother in Christ once sated that “our preaching must offer people hope.” Forgiveness is real (Jer. 31:34; Rom. 11:27)! Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all sin when we walk in the light (1 John 1:7)! Resurrection is a proven reality (John 20:19-29)! Heaven is promised by Jesus (John 14:1-3), and He is there now (Luke 24:50-53)! While we struggle daily and face opposition, the Lord Jesus said, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life(Rev. 2:10, emp. added). That is hope!

Lord willing, we will continue this study in the next issue by examining the sound doctrine which makes up the kind of preaching needed today.

Roger and his wife Alisa live in Valdosta, GA. He preaches for the Adel Church of Christ in Adel, GA.


Mounce, William D. Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Wm. Mounce Ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Helping Our Children Develop Their Own Faith — Roger L. Leonard

Our first child was born in August of 1988. Alisa and I had been married for just over three years and were excited about our baby girl whom we had already named Amanda Carol. I chose Amanda from Don Williams’ song by that title, and Alisa chose Carol after her mother’s middle name. Amanda had colic for about five months and almost no one could console her except her mom. Being a new daddy and inexperienced, that sort of hurt my feelings but I got over it.

Then Glenn Clay, our second child, was born in December of 1990. He got two family names, Glenn after Alisa’s dad’s first name and my daddy’s middle name. “Clay” was after my granddaddy, Henry Clay Leonard. He was an easy baby and almost anyone could hold him.

In September of 1996, we lost a baby at 4.5 months in the womb. Caleb Austin was stillborn. That was very hard on Alisa, and an experience a man cannot understand. It was hard on me because he was a “surprise” and I really did not want more than two children. Yet when he died I felt guilty for not wanting him, even though I had prayed about it and had come to accept his birth. However, it was much harder on Alisa and she wanted another child after that loss. So Ellie Marie was born in July of 1997. Alisa named her Ellie because she liked the name, and Marie was after Alisa’s maternal Grandmother, Marie Brockman. She was a breath of fresh air after losing Caleb.

Our last, William Roger Leonard, was born in March of 1999. Alisa chose both names. William because she liked the name, and you can figure where his middle name came from. He was a calm and easy baby to care for.

Concerning Christian parenting and our children’s faith, there is no guarantee, not even from God, that our children will become faithful adults. God is the best Father and not all of His children are faithful. Yet there is hope and there is a Manual for rearing faithful children. The Bible always has been and always will be the best guide for rearing children, and especially for faithful ones. Among the qualifications of an elder is “having children who believe” (Tit. 1:6, NASB). The verb “having” is echō, a present, active, participle (Mounce 2006). So they must continue to believe. If this is possible for an elder and his wife, then it is possible for other Christian parents. Yet it takes planning and work.

Around the time Amanda was born, I was challenged by a dear sister in the church where I was preaching in Kentucky. She asked me something to the effect, “Do you have a spiritual plan for raising that child in the Lord? If not, you’re already behind!” She was a converted Catholic and dead set on doing God’s will and helping others to do so. Presently all four of ours are faithful to the Lord. Additionally, two are married to faithful Christians. I know the reason for our children being faithful is not simply due to that sister’s bold challenge, for we had thought about it, but the sentiment she expressed played a major role in us rearing our children to be faithful.

The #1 Consideration For Raising Faithful Children:  Have A Plan

The foremost key in the plan is that the parents be faithful to the Lord. (Ideally, both parents would be Christians, but we know that is not always the case.) We cannot rear children to be what we are not. As Christian parents we must be cross-bearers if we follow Jesus (Lk. 9:23).

The second key is set forth in Ephesians 6:4: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” The principle here is the same as Deuteronomy 6:4-9. If young people would grow to be faithful under the Mosaic economy, they had to be instructed regularly in the Law. If youth today would grow to be faithful adults under the Law of Christ, they must regularly be taught New Covenant doctrine. This must begin when they are babies: “Train up a child…” (Prov. 22:6). Read God’s word aloud to them. Get a reliable children’s Bible. Have a family devotional time. We did this most nights except for Sunday and Wednesday. Talk to them on their level. Feed them “milk” and later something they can “chew on.” Ask questions from previous discussions. Teach them to reason from the Scriptures.

A third key in the plan is discipline. The Bible must be the foundation, and a part of discipline is teaching God’s rules and parents’ rules. Children need to know what behavior is expected of them. And, just as God chastens those whom He loves (Heb.12:6a), there must be penalties: “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Prov. 13:24). Whether it’s by spanking, “time out,” or taking away privileges, children need to expect penalties for disobedience. This is for both their spiritual and physical benefit (Eph. 6:1-2). I told all our children that disobedience to their mother or me was disobedience to God because God has commanded us to teach them to obey us. The fruit of having little or no plan is foolish and rotten children! Solomon wrote, “The rod and rebuke give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Prov. 29:15, emphasis added). Follow God’s plan.

#2: Be Consistent

 While there are no perfect parents, we should always seek to live and act like Christians. There is no place for compromise in the Christian faith. I once said something to our younger son about listening to a song about drinking beer. He brought up the old song “Mountain Dew” that I played and sang with my guitar! What could I do? I apologized and quit playing it! Consider the principle of Romans 2:1-2. Children do pay attention to what we say, but perhaps even more to what we do! Consider Paul’s concern in 1 Corinthians 9:27. It may be the way we dress (1 Tim. 2:9), what we eat or drink (Rom. 14:21), or who and what we associate with (1 Cor. 15:33). Jesus accused the Pharisees of saying but not doing! (Matt. 23:1-3.)

Consider some of the problems when parents are inconsistent about rules and punishment. Children hear one thing from one parent and something different from the other. They are confused, and at times will play one parent against the other. This creates arguments, tension and frustration in the home. Parents must discuss and decide on the rules before the children are born. If there is disagreement, both parents must seek to do what God says and be firmly united. This will establish clear expectations, consistency, and produce harmony.

#3: Be Persistent 

Just as children need physical food, they also need spiritual food regularly. We often had Bible discussions in the car and on family trips. We talked about God, creation, evolutionary errors, the Bible as God’s word, moral matters, the Lord’s church, etc. We went to VBS, gospel meetings, and singings. We helped smaller churches with their VBS’s and door knocking, and made several foreign mission trips.

If we expect our children to be faithful in the activities of the church, we must teach them by “always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58.). We never skipped services of the church nor allowed any secular events to take precedence. Be persistent.

#4: Help Them Have Their Own Faith

The aim of evangelism is to “make disciples” (Matt. 28:19). When our children desired to be baptized, we studied with them as we would with any one else. The decision was ultimately theirs and not ours as parents.

When Christian children are faced with tough issues, teach them from God’s Word how to address them. This is also part of the teaching in Matthew 28:20 and Ephesians 6:4. If they learn early to use the Bible for life’s decisions, they will be better prepared to do so as adults. I once gave our older son a copy of the debate book between Alan Highers and Given O. Blakey on instrumental music. After he read it I asked what he thought. He said Mr. Blakey could not answer brother Highers’ arguments. We often asked our children what they might do in this or that situation if it were their decision alone to make. We would ask what God would want them to do. It helped them to study and process serious matters on their own. We believe this has been effective for their faith today.

Can we rear faithful children? Yes, we can.

Roger and his wife Alisa live in Valdosta, GA. He preaches for the Adel Church of Christ in Adel, GA.


Mounce, William D. Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Wm. Mounce Ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.


Christianity and Conflict Resolution — Roger L. Leonard

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!  It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes.  It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever” (Ps. 133, NASB).

I will sadly add the words, “Behold, how ugly and how unpleasant it is for brothers to be divided due to conflict!”

People do have conflict. Christians have conflict. It is a part of life. Sometimes it is due to mere misunderstandings and easily settled, so life goes on. At times is it can be healthy and good because matters can be clarified and sins can be forgiven.  Sometimes, however, it is unresolved and continues in cycles of verbal and physical abuse. Unresolved conflict can cause divorce. Christians can have conflict and never settle their differences. Christians and churches can separate from one another. It can cause unbelievers to avoid the church and weaker saints to forsake the Lord.  Conflict can even end with murder. Worst of all, people can be lost in eternity over it. Are there no answers? No resolutions?  Yes, there are.

The Old Testament records examples of conflict.  Cain killed his brother, Abel (Gen. 4:8-10).  Sarai had conflict with Hagar (Gen. 16).  Jacob and Esau had conflict (Gen. 27).  Joseph and his brothers had conflict (Gen. 37).  In a mere two chapters — 1 Samuel 18 and 18 — Saul tried to kill David at least twelve times!

The New Testament also records examples of conflict.  Jesus had conflict with the Pharisees over several issues.  The Lord’s disciples had conflict over a power position in the kingdom (Lk. 22:24ff).  Stephen faced conflict for being truthful and direct in his message (Acts 7).  The Christians in Corinth had conflict over spiritual leaders, the Lord’s Supper, spiritual gifts, and more.  Euodia and Syntyche had conflict (Phil. 4:2).  Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark had conflict (Acts 15:37-40).  Diotrophes caused conflict by seeking to be first, making unjust accusations, and turning good men away (3 John).

The Scriptures also give us examples of resolutions.  Jacob and Esau finally made up after Jacob’s deception.  They wept, Jacob offered gifts, and they peacefully went separate ways (Gen. 33).  Joseph forgave his brothers for selling him as a slave, fed them during a famine, and eased the heart of his grieving father, Israel (Gen. 42-50).  Eventually the Lord’s disputing disciples became apostles and served Him until their deaths.  Although we don’t know how, Paul and John Mark worked out their differences and Paul found him useful (2 Tim. 4:11).

What Is The Lord’s Plan For Unity In The Church?  How About Conflict Prevention?

Consider the Lord’s prayer in John 17.  He prayed that His disciples would be one and at peace in several ways.

“Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one as We are” (v. 11).  The Lord repeats this plea for oneness in verse 23, with a special emphasis on their behavior so positively affecting the world that it would believe the Father had sent Him.

He prayed, “…that they may have My joy made full in themselves” (v. 13).  He wants His people to be spiritually joyful!

He prayed that the Father would not “take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one” (v. 15).

Finally, Jesus said, “…I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (v. 26).

We should carefully examine the key points Jesus made and understand how this oneness can prevent conflict.  Note especially verse 26 and the love that exists between the Heavenly Father and the Son!  These petitions do not mean that Christians will never have conflict, and Jesus knew that.  They do mean that our first and foremost desire should be the same as His: seek the oneness that He and the Father had for which He fervently prayed.

How Are Conflicts Supposed To Be Resolved?

Conflict, disunity, and divisions arise from two approaches:

  1. I want my way. It is all about me and what I want.
  2. Not seeking God’s will to promote unity or prevent strife and division.

When unity is broken, the only way to repair it is by using the Scriptures.

Consider Matthew 18:15.  Break down the verse and you’ll see a pattern emerge:

If — Situation.  There must be certainty.

Your brother— Connection.  Someone in Christ.

Sins— Infraction.  A violation of God’s will (cf. 1 John 3:4).

Go and tell him his fault — Confrontation.  The charge needs to be made clear and explained.  Clarify.  Get everything out in the open.

Between you and him alone— Condition.  This is to be dealt with privately.  (Unfortunately, this is not the usual pattern.  Brothers will tell everyone except the one with whom they had the problem.  That is a sin!  Neither does it resolve the conflict.)

If he hears you— Contrition and confession.

You have gained him— Communion.

Jesus illustrated the contrite heart in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Lk. 18:10-14).  The humble repentance which God desires is contrasted with self-righteousness.  The eloquent prayer of the proud Pharisee did not reach the heart of God, but the humble cry of the repentant sinner did and brought about his forgiveness.  They both needed mercy, but only the contrite heart was in a position to receive it.

Now consider Matthew 5:21-24.  As used in this passage, Mounce’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines “angry” as a sustained anger.  “Raca” means “good for nothing; empty-headed; stupid” and “fool” means “moron; one without reason; morally worthless.”  One of the reasons conflicts are often unresolved is because people do not have a Christ-like attitude toward others.  Like the Pharisee, they look down on them and speak evil words, even calling them names.

There are those in the kingdom who are always in conflict with others and love to fuss!  In Luke 22:24, “dispute” is a compound Greek word, “philoneikia,” which accourding to Mounce means “a love of contention; rivalry, contention.”  How are conflicts often handled?  Quite often they are not dealt with at all.  If they are dealt with, oftentimes they are not done so biblically.

In an article titled “Animal Instincts” published in Leadership, authors Norman Shawchuck and Robert Moeller identified “a variety of conflict management styles” and shared what “psychologists…labeled” as “responses with animal names: sharks (“I win; you lose”), foxes (“Everyone wins a little and loses a little”), turtles (“I withdraw”), teddy bears (“I’ll lose so you can win”), and owls (“Let’s find a way for everyone to win.”).

The personality types and approaches were described as follows:

The Sharks.  “Sharks tend to be domineering, aggressive, and open to any solution as long as it’s the one they want.  Sharks use whatever it takes to prevail: persuasion, intimidation, power plays.  Sharks don’t always appear menacing and may even possess a quiet demeanor, but make no mistake — they play to win, even if others lose.”

This attitude is diametrically opposed to seeking God’s way and a fellow saint’s good.  The “shark” needs to look at the humility of Jesus, who had all power and yet submitted to the will of God (Phil. 2:6-11).

The Fox.  The “wily fox” represents someone who makes an “attempt to help everyone win-a-little, lose-a-little.”  The desire is for compromise to keep everyone from “breaking apart.”  And while “their primary interest is the common good, if people don’t immediately respond to their bargain they aren’t above arm-twisting and manipulation to impose an agreement” to resolve the conflict.  The fox seeks ways and means to get conflicting “parties to accept” their “solution.”  The problem with this is that “the problem will emerge again later in a different form.”  Compromise does not “address the underlying issues” which will “eventually re-emerge.”

Furthermore, no solution should compromise God’s truth nor leave sinful issues unsettled.  It is wrong to manipulate people (2 Cor. 4:2).

The Turtles.  “The turtles are so frightened by conflict that they pull into their shell.”  This reaction could be the result of abuse or a home where children were not allowed to voice their feelings in conflicting situations.

That said, the turtle reaction could also be the result of pent up anger or repressed feelings.  So the withdrawal approach can be counterproductive to remedying the conflict, because people can and do hold on to bitterness or anger for years.  Paul instructed to not “let the sun go down on your wrath” (Eph. 4:26); that is, deal with it quickly.  There are times when people need to speak up, even when it is uncomfortable or fearful to do so.  Often people are afraid to do what Jesus said in Matthew 18:15.  That’s fine if the offended can let it go.  Stephen did so (Acts 7:60).  Yet if one cannot let it go, fear has to be overcome and a meeting or confrontation must occur.

The Teddy Bear.  Described as “cuddly and accommodating,” the teddy bear “is typical of the most lovable creature in the conflict management menagerie.”  “In a threatening situation, teddy bears readily surrender their own interests to accommodate the disagreeing party” and “will maintain peace at almost any price.”  The article concluded that while there is value in surrendering selfish goals in pursuit of peace (Phil. 2:3ff), the downside is that relationships should not override the settling of legitimate issues.

The loving thing to do is solve problems God’s way.  Paul urged Euodia and Syntyche “to live in harmony in the Lord(Phil. 4:2, emp. added).  He obviously realized that the conflict was known by and affecting the church.  He expected the dispute to be resolved, and not to just have them give one another a hug and move on.

The Owl.  The “Collaborative Owl” will “‘co-labor’ with all parties until they arrive at a mutually satisfying solution.”  They “see disputes as opportunities to strengthen…not destroy.”  This fits the “spiritual” ones described in Galatians 6:1-2.  These Christians seek to help others who are overtaken in any sin.  The owls could also be the ones who would go with an offended brother (Matt. 18:16) with a goal to help resolve the conflict.  The wise owls will seek God’s wisdom and not take sides with anyone but the Lord!

Brethren Must Settle Their Differences God’s Way…But Often They Do Not

Jesus made it clear that further actions must take place if brothers cannot reconcile alone (Matt. 18:16ff).  Ultimately, a withdrawal by the church is commanded by the Lord if there is no repentance by the sinning offender.

Some brethren see this as optional — at least in practice — because they will not do it.  Yet the same Lord who commanded Mark 16:16 commanded this.


Those “who cause divisions (are) worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit” (Jude 19).  Solomon wrote, “Through insolence comes nothing but strife, but wisdom is with those who receive counsel” (Prov. 13:10).  Some brethren need to receive counsel and repent.  Some are able to give it.  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

Roger and his wife Alisa live in Valdosta, GA.  He preaches for the Adel Church of Christ in Adel, GA.


Norman Shawchuck and Robert Moeller. “Animal Instincts: Five ways church members will react in a fight.” Leadership, Vol. XIV. Number 1 (Winter 1993): Pp. 43-44.

William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.


Job’s Miserable Comforters — Roger L. Leonard

The book of Job addresses perhaps the most difficult of life’s questions: “Why does God allow human suffering?” This article deals with Job’s three friends who tried to answer this question. Some things they said were wrong and some right…but mostly they were wrong. We must also bear in mind that God allowed Satan to bring this suffering on Job.   (Note: Only chapter and verse citations are used for Job references.)

Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, “made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him” (2:11). When they saw him “they did not recognize him” and “they raised their voices and wept” (2:12). They sat with Job for seven days in silence (v. 13), which they eventually broke by launching into an oratory on Job’s problems. Becoming weary of their unhelpful counseling, Job eventually said, “You are miserable comforters, all of you!” (16:2) In the end they were condemned by God (Job 42:7-9).

But did they get everything wrong? They got a few things right.  Job’s friends were helpful in at least three ways (2:11-13): 1) They came to him when he was suffering. 2) They had empathy; “they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads” (v. 12). 3) They were with him in silence for seven days (v. 13).

However, they finally broke their silence.  In chapters 4 through 25, we read a series of speeches with many false notions, primarily concerning why God allows suffering.  To them, Job’s suffering was because he had sinned.  So they insisted that he confess and repent so that God would bless him again.


Eliphaz the Temanite is introduced in the first verse of chapter 2.  He is one of Job’s would-be comforters.  However, all three failed in their attempt to comfort their suffering friend.  Their sympathy shown in verses 12-13 of chapter 2 was replaced by accusations, false theology, and challenging Job’s character.

After Job’s complaints (3), Eliphaz speaks first (4-5) with a thesis of the innocent prospering.  In other words, Job was obviously not prospering because he must have done something wrong.

In response, Job declared his innocence. Then in a second speech Eliphaz asserts that Job does not fear God (15).. If Job feared God, he reasons, he would not face such suffering. Job responds that his friends are “miserable comforters” (16:2).

Eliphaz’s third speech is recorded in chapter 22. This time, he says, “Is not your wickedness great, and your iniquities without end?” (22:5). He enumerates Job’s supposed sins (vs. 6–9). From his perspective, God would only allow great evil to befall someone who had done something very bad. Job replies by asking for God to intervene on his behalf (23).

God intervenes and rebukes Job’s friends: “My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has” (42:7). These men are required to offer burnt offerings, and Job prays on their behalf. In the end, Job’s fortunes are restored (doubled), and he is blessed with new children in place of those whom the devil had taken.

Eliphaz exemplifies the world’s wisdom to suffering. To him that suffering was the consequence of sin and worthy of punishment by God.  He was wrong. Job’s life is a clear example of how the innocent sometimes suffer. God can allow suffering to strengthen a believer’s spirit and to change the lives of others for His glory.


Bildad the Shuhite is first seen as one of three friends who come to comfort Job (2:11). He, Eliphaz and Zophar visit Job after hearing of the calamities that had befallen him. Bildad cannot believe Job’s horrific condition. He mourns silently with him for seven days (2:12-13).

Bildad is the second of Job’s friends to speak. In chapter 8, he suggests that Job’s children got what they deserved (v. 3). And of Job he said: “If you would seek and implore the compassion of the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, Surely now He would rouse himself for you and restore your righteous place” (8:5-6). The implication is that Job is not pure and upright and that material prosperity is directly linked to righteous behavior. Job responds in chapter 9, desiring to plead his case before God and lamenting the fact that there is no one to intervene for him.

Bildad’s second speech focuses on the theme that God punishes the wicked (18). His logic is that Job must have done something wrong since he is being punished.   In chapter 19 Job responds by saying: “How long will you torment me and crush me with words?” (v. 2). He also asks for his friends’ pity (v. 21) and declares that his God is alive and knows all things. God would be the one to judge him fairly, and Job trusts in Him (vs. 25–27).

Bildad‘s third speech focuses on the idea that a person cannot be righteous before God (25).  He says, “How then can man be just with God?  Or how can he be clean who is born of woman?” (v. 4)   Job answers in chapter 26, sarcastically arguing that God alone knows all things and fully understands the situation.

As noted above (42:7), Bildad and his two friends are rebuked by the Lord.  Job’s three friends then obey the Lord’s command to offer burnt offerings (42:8-9), “and the Lord accepted them.”

Job’s friends’ speeches exemplify how people often view suffering from a human perspective, assuming that suffering is always the result of personal sin.  In the end, these friends learn that God had allowed Job to suffer as part of His divine plan and that Job was not at fault for his trials.


Zophar the Naamathite is first mentioned as the third friend who came to comfort Job (2:11).  The verses following show their response to his distress:  “When they lifted up their eyes at a distance and did not recognize him, they raised their voices and wept.  And each of them tore his robe and they threw dust over their heads toward the sky.  Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great” (vs. 12-13).

Zophar’s speech begins in chapter 11. Giving the strongest of the three initial speeches, he stated, “Know then that God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves” (v. 6). Job responds in chapter 12 that the Lord brought this suffering upon him, and in chapter 13 maintains his innocence: “…I know I will be vindicated” (v. 18).

Zophar’s second speech states, “The increase of his house will depart; his possessions will flow away in the day of His anger.  This is the wicked man’s portion from God, even the heritage decreed to him by God” (20:28-29).  In chapter 21, Job says of the wicked:  “They spend their days in prosperity, and suddenly they go down to Sheol” (v. 13).  Job was suffering and yet had done no wrong, while others who did evil lived “…safe from fear, and the rod of God is not on them” (v. 9).  This was why Zophar’s assessment of Job’s condition was in error.

Following Job’s long defense after Bildad’s third speech, a fourth man, Elihu, speaks up.  His two concerns are expressed thus:  “But the anger of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of Ram burned against Job; his anger burned because he justified himself before God.  And his anger burned against his three friends because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job” (32:2-3).

In the end, God rebuked all three.  “My anger burns against you…for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has” (42:7).  Yet all three repented and offered sacrifices to God (42:9).

Zophar and his friends exemplify how suffering is often viewed from a human perspective.  While it is true that those who do wrong often suffer, God also allows suffering for reasons often unknown to us.  Instead of assuming all suffering is due to our wrongdoing, we should joyfully endure trials, pray in faith for wisdom, and consider God’s compassion (Ja. 1:2-8; 5:11).

Job erred in professing his righteousness (42:1-6), yet his trials and suffering were not caused by his behavior.  God used them as a lesson on His sovereignty in the end, blessing Job with twice as much as he had before (42:10).

What can we learn from the errors of Job’s friends?  We should not assume that troubles are due to personal sin (cf. John 9:1-3).  Instead of telling a hurting person to confess wrong and repent (especially when we do not know why they are hurting), we can encourage them to faithfully endure.  God always knows their pain and He has a purpose in allowing it.

What good might we learn from Job’s friends?  When a friend is hurting, go to them and cry with them, spending time together.  Our presence is powerful, even if we don’t know the words to say.

People do not need our surmising as much as they need our sympathy.  The apostle Paul wrote:  “Mourn with those who mourn” (Rom. 12:15).  Let us do our best not to be “miserable comforters.”

Roger and his wife Alisa live in Valdosta, GA.  He graduated from Lipscomb University in 1988 and the Nashville School of Preaching in 1992.  He preaches for the Adel Church of Christ in Adel, GA.




Adding Godliness To Steadfastness — Roger L. Leonard

The second epistle of the apostle Peter was written to strengthen God’s saints in view of two challenges: persecution and false teachers. Dunn stated that the theme of 2 Peter is “Spiritual growth, as seen in each chapter: Chapter 1 – The Ingredients of spiritual growth (vs. 5-11). Chapter 2 – Opponents of spiritual growth – false doctrine, false attitudes, false promises, and false living. Chapter 3 – Motivation for spiritual growth – the coming of Christ.” (605)

Peter begins his letter by saying of God that “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (1:3).  Notice how “godliness” is seen up front as a critical aspect of the believer’s life.  The ultimate goal of the letter is for the child of God to take on the “divine nature” (1:4) and “abundantly enter the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (1:11).

Beginning with verse 5, Peter wrote, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue (moral excellence, NASB), to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.  For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pe. 1:5-8, NKJV).

Lenski states:  “In v. 8 ‘barren and unfruitful’ imply that Peter thinks of the seven as fruits of faith.”  With regard to adding these fruits together, Lenski further states that “all of them are to be traced to faith.” (266)  It should be further noted that these “fruits” are accomplished in an order, and that one cannot move forward without having added the previous steps.

The Meaning of Godliness

So we come to our assigned word in this growth process: “godliness” (v. 6).  It comes from the Greek word Eusebia, which can have several meanings depending on use and context.  In a broad, secular sense, Bauer says it means “piety, reverence, loyalty [exhibited towards parents or deities],” and in a stricter, biblical sense, “fear of God…and in the LXX [Greek translation of the Old Testament] only of awesome respect accorded to God, devoutness, piety, godliness (412).

First, consider the word eusebia as “godly.”  It is found in the New Testament as an adverb two times.  The first is in Paul’s warning to Timothy:  “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Ti. 3:12).  The second is in Paul’s letter to Titus, where he wrote that God’s grace teaches us that “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Ti. 2:12).  Note how both passages are in reference as to how to “live godly.”  Peter uses it again as a noun to refer to “the godly” (2 Pe. 2:9).

Second, eusebia is found in the Greek New Testament as “godliness” in its various forms some fifteen times, four of which are in 2 Peter (1:3, 6, 7; 3:11).  We will examine some of these later in this article.

Wayne Jackson states that godliness “does not mean God-likeness,” as we often often say, but “God-towardness” (unpublished).  It is then that quality of life which honors, respects, reveres, worships, and obeys God.

The Location of Godliness in the Christian’s Growth

It is critical again to notice that in this growth process, before one can possess the qualities of “brotherly kindness” and “love” (agapeo) which follow “godliness” in Peter’s list, they must first possess godliness.  Duane Warden wrote concerning our text:  “Persevering in faith, the Christian pursues the goal of godliness.  The word is oriented more toward disposition than it is toward action.  It signifies a presence of mind where God is always near.  It is a pious frame of mind that draws Him into every realm of life.” (333)

Consider the order of spiritual progress in the words of the Lord Jesus:  “…‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the great and foremost commandment.  The second is like it.  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Mt. 22:37-40, NASB).

Before one can love others, they must first love God with all their being.  At this point one attains godliness as a fruit in their life.

The Practice of Godliness

Considering other references for eusebia, note the following:

  1. It is a quality of life for which to pray (1 Ti. 2:2).
  2. It is the opposite of giving heed to fables (1 Ti. 2:10).
  3. In contrast with “bodily discipline,” godliness “is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Ti. 4:8, NASB).
  4. In contrast with “men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain,” Paul says “godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment” (1 Ti. 6:5, NASB).
  5. Pursuing godliness can prevent one from stumbling (2 Pe. 1:11) and departing from the faith (1 Ti. 6:10-11).


Now for application.  We may often refer to someone as “godly.”  What is it about that person that makes us say that?  They are humble.  They are kind.  They are generous and sacrificial.  They know the Bible and repeat its teaching.  They respect both God and their fellow man.  They care for the lost.  They edify the saved.  They are reverent in worship and are sober-minded.  They are prayerful in all matters.  They do not compromise their character.  They walk and talk as a person who knows the Lord Jesus and God the Father.  It is obvious that they live to make their “calling and election sure” (2 Pe. 1:10).


Roger and his wife Alisa live in Valdosta, GA.  He graduated from Lipscomb University in 1988 and the Nashville School of Preaching in 1992.  He preaches for the Adel Church of Christ in Adel, GA.


Dunn, Frank J. 1996.  Know Your Bible. Houston: Firm Foundation Publishing House.

Lenski, R.C.H. 1966.  The Interpretation of The Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude. Augsburg Publishing House.

Bauer, Walter, et al. 2000. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. University of Chicago: Chicago, IL.

Jackson, Wayne. Unpublished audio recording.

Warden, Duane. 2009. Truth For Today Commentary—1 & 2 Peter and Jude. Resource Publications: Searcy, AR.