Index by Subject

Rationalizing Sinful Behavior

Whatever happened to sin? The belief in sin, and the idea that someone could be referred to as a “sinner,” have all but disappeared from our permissive society. Sinful behavior has been explained away, excused, tolerated, defended, and now accepted by many people. To accommodate this “enlightened” view, the doctrines of sin and Hell have even disappeared from some churches.

The Bible tells us that the proper way for God’s people to deal with their sins and receive forgiveness is to confess these sins, repent, and pray to God for forgiveness (1 John 1:9; Acts 8:22). When confronted with the reality of his sin, king David simply said, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). However, when some Christians are confronted with the sin in their life, they become defensive and seek to excuse the behavior that is under question. In this article we will consider some of the more popular methods that men and brethren use to rationalize their sinful behavior, and we will look at what the Bible says about such efforts. Continue reading » Rationalizing Sinful Behavior

Knowledge Puffs Up

“Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him” (1 Corinthians 8:1-3).

In this text the apostle Paul addressed a conflict that existed in Corinth.  How were the Corinthians to handle the eating of meat offered up to pagan idols?  Though some of the Corinthians were aware that “an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one” (vs. 4), others “until now eat it [meat offered to an idol] as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled” (vs. 7).  Paul recognized that those with superior knowledge could be guilty of acting arrogantly in the matter, and eating meat in the presence of those whose understanding was limited.  He asked, “And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?” (vs. 12).  In considering the responsibility he had toward his brother, Paul proclaimed his love by writing, “Therefore if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (vs. 13).

While Paul did not devalue the importance of knowledge in this passage, he did indicate that knowledge, in and of itself was not only insufficient, but fraught with danger.  Knowing can lead to sinning!  In the context, Paul emphasized that such knowledge must be tempered with love for the brethren.

Continue reading » Knowledge Puffs Up

Woe to Offenses

Many today revel in a perverse victim mentality, perking up their ears and focusing their eyes any time there is a possibility they can claim to have been offended and deserving of pity and apology.

Forget the defense industry–this is the offense industry and it is booming. Moreover, faith in Christ is often occasion for deep offense as well. The saints are offended, sometimes legitimately, sometimes gleefully, and sometimes necessarily, when their convictions or pride are wounded. The Lord warned us about giving offense, but clearly there are times when that risk is necessary and his own ministry is proof enough. Continue reading » Woe to Offenses

Are We Relevant?

Several times in the history of Watchman Magazine I have written articles explaining the present state of the effort, and desires for the future.  As many may know, Watchman Magazine is my personal project, for better or worse, and the ebb and flow regarding its relevance and prolificacy are almost entirely a result of my efforts or lack thereof.  That means that my organizational abilities, mental state, and life circumstances all play a part -both in my writing, and in my publishing of the magazine.

Watchman Magazine began in January of 1998, and continued a regular publication schedule, for the most part, through 2004.  Toward the end of this initial iteration of the magazine, publication became more sporadic, as I personally dealt with a bad case of editor/publisher burnout.  After a hiatus of several years, publication resumed in January of 2010, with several changes.  Primarily, the magazine took on a blog format, rather than maintaining a monthly schedule.  With the advent of social networking, and powerful blogging software platforms, I believe this change to be a positive one.  It has made it possible for the Watchman writers to post articles on their schedule, and my editorial responsibilities have lightened.  It is nice to no longer be responsible for coding HTML, and fighting the compatibility problems of earlier years.

Continue reading » Are We Relevant?

Holier than Thou

Most of us have heard the accusation hurled our way or at someone else.  The accuser says, “You have a holier than thou attitude.”  Could this accusation ever apply to a member of the body of Christ?

Continue reading » Holier than Thou

Timeless Truths in an Ever-Changing World

It seems that our society is always changing for the worse. Immorality is shamelessly promoted and defended by celebrities, educators, and politicians. The law of our nation will allow a mother to kill her unborn baby, but will incarcerate a man for mistreating his pet. We have seen great changes in our nation as a result of the pro-homosexual agenda. What was once considered an abomination, detested and rejected by our society, has become embraced and championed. Laws have been changed, marriage has been re-defined, entire denominations have become split over this issue – and it is only getting worse.

The religious landscape of our nation is also changing. Basic truths of Christianity are constantly challenged and denied by so-called Christians. This change has had an impact upon some of our brethren. In recent years we have heard brethren make arguments for a figurative interpretation of the creation account in Genesis, question the inspiration of 2 Peter and Jude, and deny the eternal nature of Hell.

All this change going on in the world is enough to make one’s head swim. However, we must remember that we are not the first ones to have lived in a time of great moral decline. Things generally happen in cycles (consider the book of Judges), which should indicate to us that we are not living in the “worst of times.” Continue reading » Timeless Truths in an Ever-Changing World

“Blessed Are the Meek”

In His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord provides a description of those who will be citizens in His kingdom. The sermon begins with a short section referred to as the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12). There are eight Beatitudes, each consisting of a desired characteristic and a promised blessing. Each Beatitude begins with the word “blessed,” which literally means “happy.” True happiness is found in acquiring and manifesting these qualities in our life.

The subject of this study is the third Beatitude, which reads, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). Continue reading » “Blessed Are the Meek”

The Sin of Complaining

James said that the tongue is “a world of iniquity” (James 3:6). Indeed, there are numerous sins that can be committed by or aided with the misuse of the tongue. When one thinks of the sins that are committed with the tongue, he often thinks of things such as lying, speaking blasphemies, using profanity, and gossip. However, we rarely consider complaining to be a sin.

Americans are granted the freedom of speech, and many of us exercise this right with pride and passion. We think very little of voicing a criticism or complaint about another’s driving on the highway or service at a restaurant. We see it as our civic duty to complain about our elected officials. We feel that the price we paid for admission to a sporting event gives us the right to let the players, coaches, and umpires know if they are doing a lousy job. We even have careers that are based upon the practice of criticism (restaurant critic, movie critic, etc.). Our society abounds with criticism. For this reason, some Christians have a difficult time viewing complaining and criticizing as a sin.

Continue reading » The Sin of Complaining

A.O.P.P.S.

Peer pressure is a subject that is always talked about but is often dismissed as outdated and useless in real world applications.  Whenever we talk about peer pressure we inevitably bring up alcohol, pre-marital sex, or drugs.  These are the top three in no particular order.  Additionally we tend to only make an application of peer pressure to those who are younger.  Teenagers seem to be our prime target of peer pressure lessons.  Well guess what, peer pressure doesn’t end at twenty but will only increase as we continue to age.
Continue reading » A.O.P.P.S.

Paul’s Concern For the Souls of Men

One of the greatest tragedies of the church today is our apparent apathy toward the souls of men. We can become so caught up in the material aspects of our daily lives that we all too often lose sight of the spiritual condition of those around us. As Jesus Himself lamented, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).  

The apostle Paul was a man who saw the need to respond to the Lord’s appeal for laborers. The extent of Paul’s concern for lost souls can be seen in all of his efforts and writings, but this article will focus upon the first few verses of his address to the elders of the church in Ephesus recorded in Acts 20:17-21. Continue reading » Paul’s Concern For the Souls of Men

I Grew up Church of Christ

Have you heard this said?  I have.  From time to time you have probably heard this statement.  When the person who says this realizes that you are a member of the Lord’s church they tell you this.  Why is that?  Is it an attempt at making some kind of connection of mutual attitude?  Is it an attempt by them to let you know they “know where you are coming from”?  If you “grew up” church of Christ what happened?  What event took place that caused you to out-grow the Lord’s church?  Where are they now?  What are their religious beliefs and practices?  Are there any at all?

Unfortunately, this is happening all of the time as people who were once a part of the Lord’s church, the church of Christ, leave for other pastures when they grew into adulthood.  Somewhere along the path of their life they either are lured away from Christ by the doctrines of man or they simply fall away, lured by the world and its lusts.
Continue reading » I Grew up Church of Christ

Lessons to Learn from Elijah and Obadiah

1 Kings 18 records a conversation between the great prophet Elijah, and Obadiah, the steward over the house of King Ahab.  Despite his close association with the evil king, scripture describes Obadiah as a man who “feared the Lord greatly” (18:3).

Elijah gave Obadiah instructions to set up a meeting between him and the king.  The two were mortal enemies, and Ahab had been searching for him ever since Elijah had instigated a drought in the land in response to Ahab’s evil practices.  As Obadiah told him, “As the Lord your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to hunt for you; and when they said, ‘He is not here,”’ he took an oath from the kingdom or nation that they could not find you” (18:10).  Elijah was now ready to reveal himself to the king, and recruited Obadiah to set up the meeting.

A number of lessons can be learned by becoming familiar with these two men, and examining the conversation they had on that eventful day.

Continue reading » Lessons to Learn from Elijah and Obadiah

The World’s Bible

Introduction

The Bible reveals the Lord’s concern of the world’s view of His church and saints. When the church and individual saint walks contrary to God’s revealed standards they pave the way for the world’s blasphemy against the Lord and His doctrine. The Christian ought to be concerned about what people of the world think. God’s people can do one of three things in the public’s eye. First, they may make manifest the true church and individual Christian’s identity in all areas of life as they are guided by nothing but the truth. Secondly, they may make manifest a hypocritical approach to Christianity through unauthorized works. Thirdly, the saint of God may show the world a spirit of indifference due to their fear of appearing different. The church and individual saint will have much to do with where those of the world spend their eternity. Continue reading » The World’s Bible

Corrupt Words and Filthy Speech

Although the world may acknowledge the power of one’s words, many people in the world think very little about how they actually speak. It seems that there was a time when filthy language was only used by unsavory characters and dirty stories were reserved for private conversations held by “mature” adults. Today, profanity and filthy language can be heard by all kinds of people in all kinds of places. Even people who call themselves “Christians” can be heard using foul language and telling dirty jokes.

The Bible takes a very different approach to the way we use our words. Jesus warned us to take our speech very seriously.

“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).

Jesus says that we will give an account for every idle or careless word that proceeds from our mouth. He goes on to say that such words will determine whether we will stand justified or condemned before Him. Indeed, death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Continue reading » Corrupt Words and Filthy Speech

A Very Lovely Song

In spite of this article’s title – “A Very Lovely Song” – it has nothing to do with music whatsoever.

In fact, this is one way in which God made reference to his prophet, Ezekiel, but it was not quite the compliment it sounds like.

Consider Ezekiel chapter 33, verses 30-33:

“As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, “Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.’ So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. And when this comes to pass–surely it will come–then they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

Prophets like Ezekiel, you see, were not merely fortune tellers or providers of divine insight into the future; they were instructors of morality in light of God’s future plans (2 Peter 3:10-12). Because Ezekiel had proven himself a skillful prophet, the people greatly desired to come into his presence and hear what he had to say. They talked about Ezekiel like he was a celebrity preacher; he was the hottest topic in the land. Continue reading » A Very Lovely Song

Teetotalers

Introduction

The word “teetotaler” means someone who abstains completely from alcoholic beverages.  The Bible calls on Christians to be teetotalers. Continue reading » Teetotalers

White Unto Harvest: Saving Money Until Jesus Comes

(Article written by Bobby L. Graham, Guardian of Truth, May 4, 1989)

About thirty years ago at the Holt-Wallace Debate in Florence, Alabama, brother G.A. Dunn remarked to this writer’s father that most problems that had come about among the Lord’s people related to money.  Whether his judgment was precisely correct or not, experience indicates his remark apropos. The variety of problems involving money in local churches and among different local churches has included disdain for the very idea of a local-church treasury, reluctance to use the money collected, and looseness in the use of church funds.

A Local Church Treasury

The first congregation in Jerusalem had a treasury under the control of the apostles. Acts 4:32-5:10 demonstrates that generous saints funded the physical assistance of their brethren’s daily needs. The funds likely never made it to the bank, but a fund was initiated and maintained for an indefinite period of time for the expeditious meeting of needs.

Continue reading » White Unto Harvest: Saving Money Until Jesus Comes

Scripture Studies: Letters from Asthenes (A Satire)

To Paul from Asthenes

Dear Paul,

Peace and grace to you from our God and Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.  I want to commend you for your wonderful work of preaching Christ and Him crucified.  Your compassion and concern for the jailer at Philippi was inspiring.  I also appreciate your comment, "I have been crucified with Christ…who loved me and gave Himself for me."  What wonderful words of comfort.  Thank you.

I have a concern though; a concern that you may not have noticed, but others have.  I know this to be so because I have discussed it with them and they feel the same way I do.  I want you to be aware of it so your service to Christ may be even more effective, more fruitful.  My concern is this, your poor attitude and actions toward others on some occasions — not all — but some.  It seems to be driving people away from Christ instead of drawing them near.  This cannot be good under any circumstances, can it?  Let me give you specific cases.

Continue reading » Scripture Studies: Letters from Asthenes (A Satire)

Scripture Studies – Preemptive Action

Many are aware of the debate over preemptive action in relation to Iraq. The president made the case for it and won many supporters. Still some protested and tried to stop any real action. Now, on this side of the war, level-headed people can see the president was and is right. Acting before a dangerous enemy can do harm is the intelligent way to go.

A similar debate over preemptive action exists among brethren. One idea is that whatever goes on elsewhere is none of our concern. It matters not what is happening on the west coast or east coast, in Florida or Kentucky, or even across town. Just mind the local work and leave everything else alone. (Of course, in giving this advice they violate their own precept by telling others what to do). The other idea is that what happens elsewhere will eventually affect the local brethren in one way or another. Therefore, addressing it is the wise course of action. The former is wrong, the latter right.

Continue reading » Scripture Studies – Preemptive Action

Reply to Anonymous “Young Christian”

Editor’s Note: The following article has been featured at the Truth Magazine website for a while now.  It has engendered much discussion, and brother Hafley sent it for inclusion in Watchman as well.  Though we are a bit “behind the times” reprinting it, for those Watchman readers who may not have read it on the Truth Magazine site, here it is.  We appreciate brother Hafley’s kindness and candor in dealing with this young person. Continue reading » Reply to Anonymous “Young Christian”