How Am I Regarded?

February 21st, 2020

In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul addresses the tendency we have of elevating religious teachers and leaders to a status more exalted than God intended; as well as the danger of these men & women exalting themselves to a level of pride which can cause division as in Corinth.

Beginning in chapter 4 Paul clarifies the role and accompanying humility we all have as Christians, including himself and his co-workers.

“This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and
stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of
stewards that they be found trustworthy.” 1 Cor. 4:1,2 (ESV)

Beginning in verse 3 Paul addresses the fact that we all tend to examine others and self with flawed vision.

“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you
or any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. I am not
aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted.
It is the Lord who judges me.” 1 Cor. 4:3,4 (ESV)

In these four verses, we are reminded of the fact that we are being examined (watched) by others, and opinions are formed by what is seen in our lives. This examination is three-fold. We are watched by others (v.3); we are observed by God (v. 4,5); and self-examination is also prominent (v. 3c, 4)

Whether we like it or not, the fact is we are being watched constantly and opinions are being formed about us by what others see in our behavior. It is also possible (likely) that our personal introspection is flawed (Jer. 17:9). The only trustworthy exam, the one we should be most concerned about, is the Lord’s. Yes, He is watching us too!

The fact of these exams is not condemned. Rather, it serves as a reminder that we are to first look into the “perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25) being “a doer that worketh” then we will appear before others as Christ-like individuals. We must be intentional in this matter making it our aim daily to behave in a manner bringing glory to God.

Here are some helpful questions we can ask ourselves. Do I have the integrity Paul speaks of in verse 2? Does my heart match what people see (cf v.5)? My conduct; i.e. Am I walking in love, light, and wisdom (Eph. 5)? Am I intentional, seeking opportunities to grow and “let my light shine”? Is my house the Lord’s house (Psalms 112)?

Can we say like Paul, “be ye imitators of me” (1 Cor. 4:16)?

Who is the Master?

July 2nd, 2019

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” 2 Peter 2:1 (ESV)

In 1 Peter 2:1, Peter tells the early church that false prophets and false teachers have come in and will teach people to deny the Master who bought them. What must we do in order to deny the Master who bought us? In order to understand what we must deny, we have to understand exactly who the Master is, the content of the Masters’ instruction, the reasoning behind the instruction, and the example of the Master proving all this.

Creation Account (Humankind)
In the creation account, God reveals two aspects concerning man. The first is that man is made in his image, and likeness (Gen. 1:26a). The second is that man is to have dominion over creatures and earth (Gen. 1:26b). The relationship between the two show that to be made in the image and likeness of God includes duties and responsibilities (Gen. 1:27-31). Understanding the identity of God gives us insight into our own life (Gen 2:15-17).

The creator establishes the order by which we exist. God states that it is not good for man to be alone, hence the purpose for the creation of creatures and earth, the pinnacle being the creation of woman out of man with the duty and responsibility of marriage, which reflects the image and likeness of God (Gen 2:18-22; Gen 2:22-24). This all stems from being created in the “image or likeness” of the LORD.

The creation and early instruction of humanity show us how men, women, children, creatures, earth, and the produce from earth are directly linked to us being in the image and likeness of the LORD. We also clearly see how our duty and responsibility for such directly affects all created things as well as our LORD. The LORD is our Creator and first Instructor. The One who directs our paths. He is the lawgiver and the One who enforces discipline.

Pharaoh thought it an important inquiry when the Egyptian empire is confronted by God via Moses and Arron. While we discern from the evidence that this leader is both idolatrous and blasphemous; we can also see the wisdom in his inquiry, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go?” (Ex. 5:2a). He also states, “I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go” (Ex. 5:2b). The LORD just finished prophesying that Moses and Aaron would not be believed, and that it will take supernatural events in order to prove the statements of Moses and Aaron (Ex. 3:19-21; 4:1-9; 4:10-12; 6:1-13).

From this account we can learn that knowledge of the identity of the LORD is directly related to all aspects of life within Egypt, and in nations surrounding Egypt (Ex. 3:1-10). After this encounter, while Pharaoh is shown to choose to remain in defiance to God; he did in fact come to know exactly who this LORD is and the power of this LORD, so much so that he let Israel go (Ex. 7:14-12:29; Ex. 12:30-32).

Moses and the Levitical priests give instruction concerning how to live (Deut. 27:9). They tell Israel that they have become the people of the LORD their God. As we read further, Israel are exposed to curses for not upholding the standard established by the LORD their God (Deut. 27:15-26). The pronouncements begin with “Cursed be anyone who…dishonors, moves, misleads, perverts, lies, strikes down, takes, or does not confirm the law by doing them.” By doing so, they also pronounce a blessing on “anyone” who honors, does not steal, leads properly, maintains purity, fidelity, and law keeping.

Moses and the Levitical priesthood go on to instruct them on the consequence of their obedience (Deut. 28:1-14). They are set above all nations, overtaken with fortune, the womb shall bear fruit, the ground and creatures which they rule over shall produce great fruit as well. Their enemies (no matter the size, power, or support) shall be defeated before their very eyes. They shall prosper in all they undertake. The nations surrounding Israel are woefully disadvantaged.

Their material fortunes and the level of power in the world are unparalleled. Their obedience renders them unmolested by warring and poor economic situations amongst the nations outside Israel. They would never experience the conditions of drought, no children being born, no ruined crops, etc. Likewise, their disobedience would bring upon them the exact opposite (Deut. 28:15-68).

Who is the LORD then? The LORD is the One who can overpower and subdue nations, the One who can cause the ground to give produce even though the ground is cursed due to the sin of our first parents (Gen 3:1-19). The One who makes a covenant with those whom He created and enforces this covenant. We see the reversal of curses in a cursed world by the interceding authority and power of God who performs his will at his own good pleasure.

Jesus, the Master as LORD
In the opening chapter of John, the Apostle informs us of multiple truths concerning the identity of Jesus and the identity of God (John 1:1-4; 9-18). The identity of Jesus and God are given a special relationship (v.1). Jesus is shown to be with God prior to the beginning and taking part in the creation of all things (v.2-3). John tells us that life is within the composition of Jesus (v.4). John affirms that the world was made through him and those who receive him are given the right to become children of God (v.10-13). John affirms that Jesus, who is also the LORD was physically birthed and lived among them.

In another letter penned by John, he tells us that knowing him, and keeping his commandments are synonymous (1 John 2:3-6). Jesus is also the LORD. The LORD sent his son into this world. Jesus and the LORD are responsible for creation as well as the giving of the covenants. The purpose of Jesus is to save the world by being the sacrifice (John 3:13-21).

Another purpose of Jesus entering into this world is to establish the church/kingdom of God (Matt. 16:13-20). We also see the content of Jesus’ teaching concerning anger (v.21-26), lust (v.27-30) divorce (v.31-32), oaths (v.32-37), entrance into his church/kingdom which correctly defines what belief, repentance, baptism, and how to follow is (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38;1 Pet. 3:18-22). The subjects continue throughout the inspired writings.

While we can point to a greater number of passages, these chosen contribute to affirm who our Master is. The Master, who is also the LORD is creator, law giver, covenant giver, and the one who holds unrivaled power and authority. The Master, who is also the LORD is communicative to his creation. The Master, who is also the LORD disciplines the nations, and even though the adversary remains defiant, the adversary is always in subjection to the Master. He causes the nations to rise and fall according to his will.

The Master gives his creation choice, and even if the person chooses to defy the Master, his will is not thwarted or subdued. The Master reveals himself to humans in the form of Jesus the Son of the LORD, who went to the cross and died for our sins and was resurrected and ascended back to rule and sent the Comforter, who is also the LORD, in order to establish the church/kingdom of God. We learn exactly what the Master taught, and how He taught it.

When the Apostle Peter tells us about false prophets and teachers who come in and teach people to deny the Master, we can clearly see what this entails. The instruction of God teaches us that to deny the Master is to deny the Christ, the HS and the Father. If we deny the Master we condemn ourselves. It involves both acknowledgement and obeying/disobeying.


May 23rd, 2019

Conditions as they are found now are confusing to people. To what conditions am I referring?The state of Christendom, as it is commonly called. Here’s what I mean. Look around and you will find, under one Christ, and one Bible (mentioning but one church); factions, parties, sects, denominations galore! As though you can go through a buffet line and simply choose which brand of discipleship you prefer. It has become THE church v. A church. And we ask each other, “which church are you in?”

Godly, thoughtful people must consider this issue as all others, by the standard of God’s word; accepting or rejecting according as it corresponds therewith.

With all this in mind, the question before us is this. Is there, in fact, only one church mentioned in scripture; does it exist today; how can you know?

The apostle Paul spoke of the singularity of the church. “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, being himself the savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:23-27). And again, in Col. 1:18 Paul declares, “And he is the head of the body, the church;…”.

Our Lord promised to build His church in Matt. 16:18. If you had been there when He said this unto you—how would you have understood? What did He mean? It wasn’t what we see about us today; buildings with steeples, etc., or many religious groups, denominations, traveling concerts & fundraising lollapaloozas! The Greek word is clear; Jesus was speaking of an assembly of people who would obey His gospel.

Here is a good way to understand. View the church by seeing the Lord and His Apostles preaching the proclamation of the creation of a special gathering together of all who truly love God and seek to serve Him and acknowledge their submission to Christ as Savior and King. During the lifetime of the Apostles and for a few centuries after, there was in fact, an institution known as the church of Christ. He was the head of it, the Holy Spirit was the life of it, and God’s love was the governing power it possessed.

N. B. Hardeman expressed these sentiments. “Is the church a reality today? Does it exist only in the mind, or is it reality? As real as U.S.A.? The republic of France? Does it have a within and without? Can one be conscious of the transition and have definite knowledge that he has passed from the outside, into it? If it does exist today, we must find it! Not something close, but not quite the same. Not a church, but the church. This is important because God created us. He revealed the church to us, His method of salvation and His method of worship.”

How can we know it exists today? Using the identifying characteristics found in the New Testament we can test the message proclaimed—Gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4). We can learn how one enters—obedience to the gospel (cf. 2 Thess 1:7-9; Rom. 10:16). Its practice: in the lives of its members and their worship. Its divinely appointed work—to convict & save sinners. And its creed—Christ, and His New Testament as their only rule of faith and practice.

There is no authority in Scripture to join any church. No joining process! One is born into the church (family of God) through the new birth, consisting of both water and the Spirit (John 3).
Being led by the Spirit’s direction in the word (vocal or read) one is immersed in water for the remission of sins. As done, Christ adds you to His church (Acts 2:38,47; 18:8).

Are you a Christian? If so, which Christ do you follow? …Huh? Only one Christ mentioned in N.T.! Just so! Likewise, to which church do you belong? Just one mentioned!

Hardeman’s Tabernacle Sermons; Vol. 2; The church—its identity; Freed Hardeman University

How Do You Measure Life?

June 17th, 2016

How do you measure life? Like you measure a string, by its length? Methuselah lived more than 900 years, and that is all we know of him. Some of our best were taken by war before they were 25. Some of the greatest died young. Life is more than length.

Do you measure life by breadth or sphere of influence? Alexander conquered the whole world and cursed his childhood because he never learned self-control. Hitler controlled more of the modern world than any other single man. Who wants to emulate Hitler? Life is more than breadth.

Do you measure life by its height — popularity, wealth, or fame? Many have reached the top and discovered emptiness. They made it, but were never sure of what “it” was. Life is more than height.

Real greatness is measured in depth. Everything else about a tree depends on its roots. Everything else about a building depends on its foundation. Depth is the measure of a person!

Shallow people can’t take pressure–they’re only good for fair weather and scatter like buckshot in a crisis.

One with depth is like the sea–winds of circumstances may ruffle the surface, but underneath are great, quiet, untroubled depths. With depth, one stands in the critical hour. Such persons meet the real emergencies. They’re clear headed when great thinking, strong leadership, and decisiveness are necessary.

The deep life, the mature soul, is no accident. It is the product of time for relationships with God, Scripture, prayer, spouse, children. To be too busy for God–or others–is to be too busy!

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their
strength; they shall mount up as eagles; they
shall run, and not be weary, they shall walk, and
not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Richard C. Halverson, chaplain of the
U.S. Senate 1981-1994

Proverbs and the Christian

May 17th, 2016

The book of Proverbs has much to say that can benefit the Christian. One of the principal themes of the book is our relationship to God. True wisdom is stressed as fellowship with God, and Solomon declares that the basis of this communion is the fear of the Lord.

Two questions arise. Why is there a need for the fear of the Lord? And, what is the value of the fear of the Lord?

To begin with, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom itself (Prov. 1:7). Again and again, we are reminded that unless a person has a proper respect(fear) of the Lord, he will not be receptive to the word of God. “Fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7b). Jesus warns us whom to fear in Luke 12:4-8; and it is not our fellow man, rather we are to fear God. A proper respect for God will cause us to carefully consider our ways.

Solomon gives us many reasons why this fear of the Lord is of great value. It prolongs life (10:27). His thesis is that by keeping us away from evil (16:6), thereby keeping us untouched by the evil (19:23), our lives can be prolonged. People often shorten their lives by their wickedness. There are several illnesses caused directly by wicked behavior. Often, emotional stress is brought on as a result of sin and guilt taking a toll on the body. But the one who heeds the word of God is spared from all this!

Fear of the Lord will increase the quality of life (22:4). It will give one a strong confidence (14:26a). Knowing you are led by the Lord leads to a life of poise and assurance, not despair. It gives one refuge in life’s turmoil (14:26b). It will make life an overflowing experience (14:27). Every day we can start afresh, knowing that in God we have forgiveness, joy, and peace. It will also help us to avoid the pitfalls that destroy so many (14:27b). Not only will we have “quantity of days” but “quality of life” as well.

Although contained in the book of Proverbs, all these principles were recognized by Christ and His apostles (Mt. 10:28; Acts 10:34,35; Phil. 2:12). We should recognize them as well.

Am I Diligent in Self-control?

December 3rd, 2015

“Know ye not that they that run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? Even so; run that ye may attain. And every man that striveth in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”
1 Corinthians 9:24,25 ASV

In writing to the christians in Corinth Paul alludes to the Corinthian Games, and encourages them to practice self-control in all things. Paul also tells the Galatian brethren that self-control is a manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit (5:23). Peter tells us that we are to diligently add self-control to our faith (2 Pet. 2:16).

Certainly, all disciples must diligently cultivate self-control, and it is to be exercised in ALL things. Ad-
mitedly this is a difficult task. Even the Apostle Paul had to buffet his body (1 Cor. 9:27).

The Greek term means holding self within-keeping all appetites and desires under complete control. It is “controlling reason, emotions, and will through the knowledge of the word and will of God” Lenski-2 Peter 1:6.

Guy N. Woods, commenting on the same verse states, “The word denotes self-government, discipline, the ability to control his own life. It is acquired through the exercise of discernment, the knowledge by which one differentiates between right and wrong, and thus develops from it.”

It is directly opposed to the self-willed individual. One who is dominated by self-interest, and is inconsiderate of others. Many today arrogantly practice “lifestyles” regardless of what others may think, and certainly not concerned about God’s will regarding such matters.

As followers of Christ, we must be careful to maintain self-control in even the “smallest” of matters, and maintain a lifestyle that brings glory to God and His word.

Walking by Faith

August 27th, 2015

Christianity is a religion of faith (Rom 3:27;10:8;Gal 1:23). It is referred to as ‘the faith’ in Jude 3 and elsewhere. We are told that we walk by faith and not by sight. We have never seen God, or the Holy Spirit. We did not witness the resurrection, nor have we seen the risen Christ. Nevertheless, we believe! Infidels reject Christianity because of this, yet they will accept other things by faith with less evidence than we have for Christianity.

We must be careful to maintain the distinction between faith and opinion. Faith requires evidence (Rom 10:17; John 20:31). Faith presupposes testimony. No testimony-no faith! Opinion is what we think, or believe, without any evidence. Here are some examples. In Genesis 2:9 we are told that the tree of knowledge was in the garden-faith. What was the tree?-opinion. Samson caught 300 foxes in Judges 15:4-faith. How?-opinion. Nicodemus came to Jesus by night-faith. Why at night?-opinion. We can only go so far as God has instructed us in faithfully serving Him, no further.

To obey the Gospel of Christ is to walk by faith. Every step in our obedience is a step of faith. We are to believe (Luke 13:3,5). We are to repent (Acts 17:30). We must confess Christ before men (Rom 10:9,10). We are to be baptized for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). We do not see how baptism remits our sins, but we are told by Jesus and His Apostles it does (Acts 22:16;1 Pet 3:21;Col 2:12; Rom 6:3-5)

To come together to worship God upon the first day of the week is an act of faith (Acts 20:7;Heb 10:25;1 Cor 16:2). What we are to do in our worship is also a matter of faith (John 4:24) whether it be praying, singing, communion, or proclaiming God’s word. We must never insert our opinion as to what God would like, or would appeal to the masses and claim that we are living by faith.

Doing what God says in His word makes men and women of faith (Heb 11). The faith that leads us to obey God today will justify us just as it did those who are listed in Hebrews 11. Men and women are justified by faith when they obey what GOD HAS SAID, not other men’s opinions.

Our Warfare

August 15th, 2015

“So then, my beloved, even as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Philippians 2:12 ASV

Paul begins this verse with “so then”(ASV) or “wherefore” (KJV) thus drawing a conclusion from the preceding verses; wherein he writes of Jesus Christ giving up His glory to be fashioned as a man and dying on the cross for the salvation of our souls. The conclusion is that we must be about our own salvation with fear and trembling. The phrase indicates the seriousness of the task at hand.

Paul speaks not of terror, but of wholesome, serious caution. The caution that keeps one from ever doing that which would bring dishonor to God. It is recognition of the fact that our soul’s salvation is the most important and all-consuming concern we should have. It cost our Savior His very life on the cross and as soldiers of the cross we must be in earnest!

“Fools make a mock at sin;…”(Prov. 14:9) Men often talk lightly and idly about the devil and his wiles. Holy Scripture teaches us a very different lesson. We are engaged in a lifelong struggle against him. The conflict is deadly, awful. Its issues are most momentous–life or death, heaven or hell. The soldiers of the cross must be in earnest, for they “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness”(Eph. 6:12). To talk lightly of the enemy, to jest about such matters so tremendous, is not only unseemly; it is dangerous. It puts men off their guard, and exposes them to the insidious assaults of the tempter.

We dare not take lightly the mortal struggle in which we are engaged. In the New Testament we find terms like “warfare”,”armor of God”,”the good fight of faith”,etc., used to express the Christian’s life. As we consider the society around us and the direction the world is headed, we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent.

Let us commit to labor more earnestly in this conflict-within & without!

Telling God How to do His Business

April 23rd, 2015

A Bible teacher was once asked the question, “Why was man God’s last creation?” The response was that if God had created man earlier, he would have probably tried to tell God how to create everything else! As far-fetched as this may seem, the Old Testament is brimming over with instances of men and women trying to help God run His business. Remember Sarah? How about king Saul? Whatever happened to Nadab and Abihu? If I remember correctly, even Moses failed to enter the promised land!

Is it any different today? Remember the words of David (By the way, what happened when he tried to move the ark?) “Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins.” (Psalms 19:13) are as relevant today as ever.

The New Testament teaches that man must obey the gospel to be saved. This includes even baptism, yet…! James reminds us that faith without works is dead, and that man is justified by works and not faith only (Jas. 2:24). But you will still hear many pulpiteers and radio-ranters proclaim that faith is all you need.

Paul warned the Galatians that if they attempted to follow the law of Moses as well as the gospel, that they would be severed from Christ and fallen from grace (Gal. 5:4). But apparently, man has improved upon that because we are told by many that it is impossible to fall from grace.

Our Lord built but one church, but thankfully, over the years man has improved upon His mistake by instituting hundreds of others. After all, Jesus is just too narrow-minded!

We are told plainly the type of worship God desires from us. Praying, partaking of the Lord’s supper in reverence, lifting our voices together in song without musical accompaniment, and exhorting one another through the word. But worship is now much better with the lights off, and the distant sound of stomping feet and hand-clapping & waving in the air, etc. Thankfully, too, we have musical groups that come and worship with us–for a fee! Can you imagine singing groups traveling with Paul from town to town, performing for the local church, then selling cd’s and tee-shirts in the front lobby?

Isn’t it great that God has us to tell Him how to run things?

Where Do You Stand?

February 7th, 2015

The Scriptures present a problem!
All of humanity (every person that has reached an accountable age) is guilty of sin and in danger of being eternally lost.
It presents but ONE solution! It is Jesus’ death on the cross on our behalf and our complete submission to Him, in order that God may declare us righteous (Rom. 3:23-25).
Here is where ‘the plot thickens’! Our society esteems broad-mindedness as one of its greatest values. Accordingly, one cannot afford to be judgmental of others. On every hand we behold the “”I have no right to condemn or oppose” attitude.
This is nowhere more apparent than in the realm of religion. All world religions are considered viable. But the fact is the gospel of Jesus Christ calls ALL PEOPLE to respond to Him or be lost (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).
This broad-minded attitude has gradually crept into the minds of those who claim to follow the Lord as well. One denomination is as good as another–we’re all on different paths to the same goal. But, division among God’s people is always condemned (Amos 3:3; 1 Cor. 1:10-13).
In John 17:20,21 our Lord prayed for the unity of His followers. We can read that He would build His church, and that there is but one (Mt. 16:18; Eph. 4:4; Col. 1:18). That being the case, the whole system of denominationalism and all sectarianism stand opposed to our Savior’s will! Who would want to stand in opposition to Jesus?
The Lord’s church is the only blood-bought and God ordained institution designed to accommo-
date His redemptive plan for humanity (Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:3-14; 22,23; 3:10-12). It is not a denomina-
tion. Neither is it only one among equally viable alternatives for those interested in ‘spiritual’ values.
The early Christians were bold in their affirmation of the uniqueness of the church of Christ, and were persecuted for their stance. Do we really think that it should be any different for us today?