Why We Are Still Divided in the 21st Century
The apostle Paul wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the saints in the first century as recorded in 1 Corinthians 1:10, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” We know this was in accordance with the desire of Jesus because of Christ’s prayer that we have recorded in John 17. We read in verses 20-21 of that chapter these words of prayer offered to the heavenly Father by our Lord: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
The ancient psalmist, David, wrote of the pleasantness of unity when he penned the 133rd Psalm, which reads: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Running down on the beard, The beard of Aaron, Running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, Descending upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing — Life forevermore” (vss. 1-3)
Continue reading » Division: The Institutional Issue
As Jesus delivered His famous “Sermon on the Mount,” He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23). Truly Jesus taught the importance of obedience when He taught that only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of Heaven.
Obedience is the act of or an instance of obeying. The word, obey, is defined by Webster to mean: 1) to carry out the instructions or orders of, 2) submit to the control of… (another). Jesus said, in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” To obey Jesus is to obey the Father (Ephesians 6:6). Further, obedience to the Father and to Jesus involves obedience to Christ’s apostles as His spokesmen after His ascension into Heaven. Consider Matthew 28:16-20, “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'” AND 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” The Apostle Paul also wrote, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). Hence, we know that adherence to the writings of the apostles is as acceptable and as necessary today as it was to obey their spoken word in the first century. Thanks be to God we have the writings of the apostles in our New Testament today as they were penned under the direction of the Holy Spirit! (Ephesians 3:1-5). Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: Obedience – Its Nature and Importance
Editor’s note: You may or may not agree with the conclusions of this article. In either case, please respond to it, if you are of such a mind. Respond to the author by postal mail at Ralph E. Price; P. O. Box 3174; Beckley, WV 25801. For the record, I believe that it is not a congregation’s expectation that matters, but, rather, it is God who demands of all of His children that we serve Him to the very best of our ability, and that ability includes choices that each one has the capacity to make.
Larry H. Fain
Consider the following text in Matthew 9:9-13, “And as Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man, called Matthew, sitting in the tax office; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he rose, and followed Him. And it happened that as He was reclining at the table in the house, behold many tax-gatherers and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?’ But when He heard this, He said, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means, “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,” for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'” (NASB)
These five verses reveal for us an important truth about what God expects from men and women, and it is clear that Jesus wanted all to understand this truth. He commanded the Pharisees, “But go and learn what this means…” (Matthew 9:13). Then He quoted a passage from Hosea 6:6, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: God Desires Mercy Rather Than Sacrifice
Each Spring we are privileged to witness the rejuvenation of those trees, flowers, and plants God created and made suitable for our particular region of His world. As the earth warms again, the thoughts of many return to the art of gardening. The first we read of gardening in the Bible is Genesis 2:8-10, “The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads.” What a magnificent garden that must have been. Even this brief description paints for us a scene of bounty and conveys a sense of lush tranquillity. In addition to all of the trees which were pleasant to the eye and good for food, the tree of life, itself, was growing in God’s garden. While we recognize the place described in Revelation 2:7 is not Eden, we can, perhaps, better appreciate Eden by this description… “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” The place where the tree of life is found is described as paradise, so Eden must have been great. Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: God’s Marvelous Gardening