Tag Archives: Spencer Strickland

“You Are Unloving When You Teach Bible Truths!” — Spencer Strickland

Facts don’t care about your feelings.”1 That is the title of an article in the winter issue of Libertas magazine. The title is actually a quote attributed to an individual by the name of Ben Shapiro who is evidently known to say this phrase during various political discussions. One might easily see how this phrase could be used to argue in favor of certain political stances, but this article is not about politics. In fact, if this author might be indulged a little, I would like to add to this quote by saying, “‘Facts don’t care about your feelings’ . . . but Christians should.”

It is true that sometimes folks are “turned off” by the truth of God’s word. Those folks may try to distract us by using an emotional argument like, “If you love me you won’t judge me.” At the same time, Christians need to recognize that we can be unloving when we teach Bible truths. If we show people the error of their ways “and have not love, it profits me nothing” (NKJV) . . . to borrow a principle from the inspired apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13. Paul told the church at Ephesus that growth in the body of Christ comes from “speaking the truth in love,” among other things (Eph. 4:15). Just as worshipping God in “truth” to the exclusion of “spirit” (a proper attitude) is vain (John 4:24), so too is speaking the truth to our neighbors without the motivation of love. There must be balance in what we say and speak.

Nevertheless, truth is truth no matter how one feels about it. It simply will not do for those who are in error to suggest that a Christian is unloving for having the courage to share the truth. Jesus is the most loving individual to have ever walked among humankind (John 1:14). If he shared the truth with people in error, so must those who follow him.

Jesus was not afraid to look someone in the eye and tell the truth, but his motivation was clearly guided by love. When Jesus looked the Samaritan woman in the eye in John 4 and told her the truth, it was not a comfortable conversation for her. While the record begins with Jesus asking her for water (John 4:1-9), she ends up asking him for water—living water (John 4:10-15). This request leads to Jesus telling her, “Go, call your husband, and come here” (John 4:16). The woman may have thought she had an easy “out” when she responded, “I have no husband” (John 4:17). Imagine her surprise when Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly” (John 4:18).

If a similar conversation were to occur today, no doubt some people would stop and say, “Who are you to judge me? If I’m living with a man then that is none of your business! If I divorce and remarry as much as I want, then who are you to say that I’m wrong! God wants me to be happy!” Even though Jesus approached this woman out of love and concern for her soul, a Christian trying to help someone in a similar sinful state today might well be deemed “unloving.”

There is, however, a very important line of questions that must be considered in the case of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. What if Jesus had never addressed her sinful situation? What if he had never confronted this woman’s history of divorce, and remarriage? How different would her life be (as well as the other Samaritans in the city of Sychar) if Jesus had not had a difficult but necessary conversation with her? Furthermore, how would he have addressed her misunderstandings about worship had he not confronted her with the truth (John 4:19-24)? The text tells us, The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, ‘Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?’ Then they went out of the city and came to Him…And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that I ever did’” (John 4:27-30, 39).

The fact is that a woman and an entire city had the opportunity to be saved from their sins due to an uncomfortable conversation. How could anyone sensibly argue that teaching this woman the truth in John 4 was an exercise in being “unloving”? The New Testament is filled with conversations that might well be considered “unloving” by the culture of today. One amazing example of this type of thing is when Peter confronted sin by telling his audience: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). That “uncomfortable” statement led to 3,000 souls being saved (Acts 2:41).

The evidence in Scripture is stacked against the false notion that teaching Bible truths is unloving. When a Christian has the courage to help someone out of error, they should be commended instead of condemned. In addition to fornication and unscriptural divorce and remarriage, society now has plenty of opportunities for Christians to have “uncomfortable” conversations which may cause them to be labeled “unloving.” So, as the song asks, “Who will follow Jesus, standing for the right, holding up His banner in the thickest fight, listening for His orders, ready to obey? Who will follow Jesus, serving Him today? Who will follow Jesus? Who will make reply, ‘I am on the Lord’s side. Master, here am I’?”

Spencer has served as the associate editor for the Carolina Messenger for four years. He has been preaching for 21 years. He currently preaches part-time in West Columbia, SC.



  1. Jensen, Jessic, ed. “Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings: An Interview with Ben Shapiro.” Libertas. Winter 2019: 22-25.

What The Church Needs To Think About Concerning Mission Work — Spencer Strickland, Associate Editor (Editorial: March/April, 2016)

Sharing the gospel of Christ with the lost of all the world should be the interest of every Christian. After all, Jesus communicated to his disciples the need to preach the gospel throughout the world in some form at the end of each of the gospel accounts (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 21:15-17). The church has the responsibility to take the gospel to the lost in its surrounding community, but there is also the obvious responsibility to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). This issue of the Carolina Messenger serves to highlight some of the matters that congregations of the Lord’s church need to think about when it comes to mission work.

Many congregations of the Lord’s church are privileged and blessed to be able to support missionaries that have dedicated their lives to preaching and teaching the gospel in foreign lands. These efforts should not be diminished in any way, but, at the same time, it should always be every congregation’s desire to improve its efforts in serving the Lord no matter what area is being discussed. Who better to ask how to improve mission work than missionaries? Men who are actively laboring in the field must certainly know best how churches in the United States can better and more effectively support missionaries and mission work. Therefore, each of the subjects covered in this issue will focus on making the church in the United States more aware of what missionaries face and how churches might better serve mission efforts.

The reader might be interested to know that the original intent of this issue was to begin each title with the phrase: “What I Wish the Church Knew About . . .” and then finish that phrase off with the titles that appear currently in this issue. For instance, the first article was intended to read: “What I Wish the Church Knew about the Blessings of Mission Work.” However, since including this phrase would have made the titles too lengthy to include in the current format of the Carolina Messenger, the titles had to be shortened. Nevertheless, each article is intended to better inform the reader of some matters that missionaries face in view of the commission that Jesus gave to go into all the world and preach the gospel. There are blessings in mission work. There are challenges in mission work. There are benefits to local congregations in the United States that are derived from mission work. There are some approaches to supporting mission work that are better than other approaches. There are some wiser ways of training those converted in the mission field than other ways. These are some of the concepts that are brought to light in this issue of the Carolina Messenger. No doubt, practical “nuggets” of information may be mined from the articles that these missionaries have contributed.

In addition to better informing Christians about matters relating to mission work, this writer also thought it beneficial to add a personal touch to the issue. Therefore, each of the missionaries that contributed an article were asked to write a few paragraphs describing his most memorable moment as a missionary. Mission work is about people just as any effort to reach the lost is about people. Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus spent time with people in order to reach them. The reader will find that the events these missionaries describe as their most memorable moments are touching, encouraging, and thought-provoking.

Finally, this writer would like to thank his wife for putting the idea into his head to have an issue of the Carolina Messenger dedicated to missionaries and mission work. As far as he knows, there has not been an issue dedicated solely to highlighting foreign mission works. The challenge to put together something different as well as informative in each issue of the Carolina Messenger is real. This paper strives to always be both biblically sound and practical for those who read it. This issue is offered to the reader in hopes that it will bless his or her daily walk with Christ.





The Theme of Grace — Spencer Strickland, Associate Editor (Editorial: October, 2015)

To say that appreciation describes this writer’s sentiment in being afforded the opportunity to edit this month’s issue of the Carolina Messenger would be inadequate. Many good brethren have written for this paper over the years and have contributed greatly to its success. The former editor and the current one have set a standard in this paper that makes it a challenge for anyone to try to emulate. Therefore, this writer considers it a great privilege to have the opportunity to edit the Messenger for the month of October. This issue is offered to the reader in hopes that it will both encourage and challenge as is, no doubt, always the hope.

The theme of this particular month’s paper is grace. A few years ago, this writer heard a preacher address the charge, that some in the brotherhood make, that the church of Christ has “rediscovered” grace. The preacher rightly disagreed with the notion that the Lord’s church had “forgotten” about grace, and, thus, needed to “rediscover” it. In truth, faithful congregations of the body of Christ have sought to denounce the denominational concept of “grace.” “Grace” is sometimes used in denominations as a license to permit just about any practice that is contrary to the pattern found in the New Testament. Furthermore, “grace” is also sometimes used by denominationally-minded brethren to add something to worship that God never authorized. This year, a congregation in Tennessee decided to add another worship service to their line-up where instrumental music would accompany their singing. The other two worship services, offered to their members, would remain acapella. When the announcement was made to the congregation to add this instrumental service, the congregation was reminded that it had always been a “grace-filled” church. Needless to say, there is much misunderstanding among folks regarding grace as the Bible defines it.

Discussing grace with other Christians often begins with defining it using the well-known definition of “unmerited favor.” In other words, God showed favor or kindness towards man by sending His Son to die on the cross for the sins of the world. At the same time, this favor or kindness was undeserved or unmerited by the objects of that favor or kindness—namely, humankind. While it is true that humankind did nothing to deserve that favor or kindness, that fact is only one side of the coin. What about the fact that humankind’s merits had deserved something? What about the point that man had been diligently working towards earning something from God and deserved God to pay out those wages? Paul indicated what man had been working for and the rightful wages that man deserved, “For the wages of sin is death . . .” (Rom. 6:23a). The rest of that verse, however, speaks to God’s grace, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:23b). This year, at Polishing the Pulpit, Kirk Brothers pointed to a definition of grace given by Jack Cottrell that might be helpful in succinctly defining grace while being consistent with the Bible. Cottrell was said to define grace as, “Favor bestowed when wrath is owed.” As Kirk Brothers went on to explain, “The word grace . . . means more than . . . I got something I didn’t deserve. . . .  The word grace, as defined by God, actually means I got the opposite of what I deserved. It’s not that I got a gift I didn’t work for; it’s that I deserved to die and I got to live.” These words do not sound like a new discovery in the life of this brother in Christ. If one can understand the concept presented by Paul in Romans 6:23 then one can understand the Bible’s definition of grace.

At the same time, understanding the Bible’s definition of grace is not sufficient if an individual wishes to benefit from God’s grace. This issue of the Messenger speaks to that point as one especially considers the articles written by Bolen and Knight. The Bible communicates to the reader that grace involves a great many things pertaining to the life of the Christian. A Christian that understands and appreciates the grace of God realizes that it does something for the Christian. For instance, the grace of God is involved in a Christian’s death to sin. Paul, in writing to the Romans, says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:1-2). These words are especially timely in light of the aforementioned “grace-filled” congregations guilty of committing sin by adding things to their worship that God never authorized. Grace does not excuse sin. Grace involves death to sin.

Additionally, as Paul indicates to Titus, grace plays an active role in the everyday life of the Christian. After receiving salvation through grace (Titus 2:11), grace instructs the Christian in the matter of his or her lifestyle. First of all, grace is involved in teaching a fundamental requirement of one that claims to follow Christ—that requirement being self-denial. Paul writes that grace is involved in “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts . . .” (Titus 2:12a). “Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts” is, no doubt, tied to the requirement that Jesus presented to his disciples, “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Selfishness produces the pursuit of “ungodliness” and “worldly lusts.” Self-denial, which the Bible ties to God’s grace, abandons those things.

Second, according to Titus 2:12, grace is involved in teaching one how to live in a deliberate and positive way before the world. Grace teaches one to live “soberly” or in a self-controlled manner. Grace teaches one to live “righteously,” which is a description of one who desires to do what is right, as defined by God’s word, regardless of what everyone else does. Grace teaches one to live “godly,” or in such a way as to be pleasing to God (cf. John 8:29). Furthermore, grace teaches one to live this way—in the only place one can live—“in this present world.” Obviously, if Christians choose to live this way, they will not be popular with worldly-minded people or denominationally-minded brethren. This way—the biblical way—of understanding grace is quite different than the load of goods that the “church of Christ has rediscovered grace” crowd is trying to sell folks. Sadly, those folks appear to be more interested in catering to the wants and desires of certain people rather than the wants and desires of God.

Third, according to Titus 2:13, grace produces hope in the life of the Christian. Due to God’s saving grace, the Christian is said to be “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” In this life, the Christian is given the hope of eternal life in prospect. After the judgment day, eternal life will be realized for every faithful Christian. As a matter of fact, Paul began his letter to Titus by speaking of that hope when he says, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Titus 1:2).

Paul’s words to Titus indicate that God’s grace saves (Titus 2:11), instructs (Titus 2:12), and brings hope (Titus 2:13). Those facts would seem to communicate a great deal more than the generic sense in which “grace” is often presented by denominations and unfaithful congregations of the Lord’s church. Somehow, grace to them is more undefinable and difficult to grasp. This position conveniently opens up a door of opportunity to help them misapply “grace” and use it to supposedly justify introducing unscriptural practices into worship. If anyone questions this justification and misapplication, they can simply say, “We have rediscovered grace” or “we are a grace-filled church.” If an opportunity to help those individuals that are misunderstanding God’s biblical concept of grace happens to arise, then such opportunity should be utilized for the sake of their souls and the souls of those they are influencing. Any departure in the Lord’s church from the “doctrine of Christ” (2 John 9) should cause the hearts of brethren to weep. Jesus loves his church and desires for her to be spotless, wrinkleless, blemish-less, and holy if he is going to acknowledge her as his bride (Eph. 5:27).

In addition to all of these matters relating to the grace of God, as well as the ones discussed in the articles by Bolen, Knight, and Richey, the reader is encouraged to take note of Bill Young’s article concerning “The Grace of Giving.” Special attention is given in that article to the way that God’s grace affects and should affect every Christian’s attitude towards giving. When an individual sits down with the word of God and really wants to learn about God’s grace, it is truly amazing to think about how God’s grace affects every aspect of the Christian life.

Finally, this writer would like to encourage the reader to think about how God’s grace works together with faith, law, and works. Knight’s article gives some excellent illustrations and communicates some important truths about how each of these biblical concepts must be present to accomplish God’s will in the life of the Christian. Grace cannot be discussed in isolation any more than the other three concepts. That truth is an important point to show folks that need to be reached with the saving message of the Gospel of Christ. May it be every Christian’s desire to share the message of God’s amazing grace with the lost in the way that God intended.