Commentators debate whether Jesus’s story about the rich man and Lazarus is a parable or an actual event that crossed the border between this physical world and the invisible next (Luke 16:19-31).
Regardless, the antagonist of the story is a notable example of a wealthy man who treasured up his riches and ignored the plight of the poor all around him. Dives (pr. die-veez) is the Latin word for wealthy and has become attached through the centuries to the miser of the story, clothed in purple and faring sumptuously each day while this second Lazarus, full of sores, begged for scraps at his gate. Continue reading » Whoever shuts his ears to the poor will cry and not be heard
Guilt and shame have their proper work in our lives yet they can be great obstacles to overcome. Guilt is good to experience and a must if repentance is to occur; however, some let it drown them in shame and never move on it (see 2 Corinthians 2:5-7). Continue reading » David, The Meek King of Israel
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
Peer pressure is a subject that is always talked about but is often dismissed as outdated and useless in real world applications.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.
The Bible has much to say about the Christian’s victory in this life. The apostle John writes, “For whatsoever is begotten of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). Through “faith” the Christian will be victorious. The word “victory” (Greek – nike) is defined by Liddell and Scott’s Greek English Lexicon as “victory in battle; in the games… victory over opponents… generally, the upper hand, ascendancy… to keep the fruits of victory… Nike, the goddess of victory” (LS 533).
What generally comes to mind when one hears the Greek word nike is the world’s leading supplier of athletic shoes and apparel. The manufacturer of sports equipment led the industry in 2008 with $ 18.6 billion in sales and employed more than 30,000 people worldwide. The company is named after the Greek goddess of victory; i.e., Nike. Grand words of success and triumph are used to define nike. Paul tell us that such triumph in life belongs to the faithful. The apostle writes, “But thanks be unto God, who always leadeth us in triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest through us the savor of his knowledge in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14) (see also John 16:25-33; 1 Corinthians 15:56-57; Revelation 2:7, 10). Continue reading » Victory in Jesus
There are occasions when in the study of morality and in particular the issue of modest dress, that we will consider definitions and examples in the Old Testament to further clarify our understanding of what God requires. When this is done, there sometimes is an element of backlash and an accusation that we are “binding the Old Testament.” In fact on one occasion a well known gospel preacher made the statement on the issue as he discussed modest dress in a sermon that he was “not one of these popes who takes it upon himself to bind the Old Testament on people in the matter.” While this sentiment seems a bit harsh and over stated, the basic premise should be considered as we “prove all things, [and] hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Are we binding the Old Testament when we define such terms as “nakedness” from its pages? Let us consider the scriptures on the subject.
Continue reading » In Reference to Modest Dress, Are We Binding The Old Testament?
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
No doubt you have heard the following story in one form or another:
The pig and the chicken walked down the street together. Every restaurant they passed had signs in the window advertising, “Ham and Eggs.”
“See,” said the chicken, “We’re famous.”
The pig grunted. “For you,” he said, “a plate of ham and eggs is just a cackle. For me it’s the supreme sacrifice.”
In a more concise form it is observed that when it comes to such a breakfast, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed!
Continue reading » Editorial: Commitment of Biblical Proportions
We come together not only for the purpose of worshiping God, but also for encouraging and building one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 10:25). Acts 28:15 says, “And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.” Paul had just arrived in Italy after his arduous voyage from Caesarea. He had great anxiety and discouragement since it had been so long since Paul had received word about his brethren. Continue reading » “And He Took Courage”
Often, by puberty, young ladies are not as physically powerful as their male counterparts, whose muscles tend to develop larger. Yet every female possesses a physical power in her shape and form that can overwhelm or renew a young man. There is power in dressing to be drooled over, but that is an abuse of God’s gift. Modesty has its own delicate power that brings glory to God and no cause for stumbling to men.
The Bible is filled with beautiful women who are acknowledged to possess a gift from God in their physical appearance that we would be foolish to deny. Both her husband and her Egyptian suitors recognized that Sarah was a beautiful woman (see Genesis 12:11-14). Her daughter-in-law, Rebekah, was likewise a beautiful virgin when Isaac first laid eyes on her–it was love at first sight, as they say (see Genesis 24:16, 26:7). Sadly, Leah was not so attractive, but her sister, Rachel was “beautiful of form and appearance” and Jacob was naturally drawn to her (see Genesis 29:17). Abigail was not only of beautiful appearance, but she was also of great understanding (see First Samuel 25:3); unfortunately like too many such women, she had chosen poorly for a husband, Nabal the fool. King Ahasuerus of Persia was too proud of his beautiful wife, Queen Vashti, but eventually replaced her with the stunning Esther of the Israelites. While all these women and others possessed great beauty, we remember them more for their character, and most of them had great character.
Continue reading » Delicate Power
My parents gave us a great old Electrolux vacuum cleaner as one of our wedding gifts long ago. Even though it does not see much use these days we still have it and I marvel at its design. The chrome and stainless steel Electrolux nearly screams Buck Rogers in its science fiction spaceship design which hails back to the middle of the last century.
One of the most peculiar things I have noticed about the old Electrolux is if one holds the nozzle close to ones mouth when speaking, it seems to suck a great deal of the sound of the words right down that long hose! It is a strange observation and I have amused a lot of kids with that little trick over the years. Sound waves are dependant on air to be carried and like shouting into the wind voices are carried away with the air.
Maybe we have felt this way in another way, too. Have you ever said to yourself, with a degree of resignation, “Oh, what’s the use? No matter what I say or do, my spiritual efforts for the Lord will always be misunderstood and unappreciated by others. It seems just like shouting into an old vacuum cleaner!” That while others do relatively little, and you at least labor on, you are not respected nor recognized by them. We must realize that it will always be like that. Though it is gladly received when it rarely happens, we must not ever become dependant upon others to be spiritually buoyed. What we must rely upon and must fully realize is that the Lord is always there and we can access Him in prayer and He not only listens to us but gives us the help and encouragement we so often desperately need.
At such times we should remember what scripture has to say in wonderfully encouraging ways: Isaiah 41:14, “I will help thee, saith the Lord.” 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
There is even more: Psalms 8:1-4, “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. 2 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger. 3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” Just think of the wonderful and encouraging passage in Isaiah 40:31, “But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”
Our personal efforts may seem to go nowhere and often no one seems to care, but there are much larger issues at hand. Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
How many members were there in the church at Corinth? The churches of Rome or Galatia? Any one of the seven churches of the Revelation? We don’t know.
Why don’t we know? The Bible doesn’t tell us.
Now, the Bible does tell us “…all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). So, the more important question is: Why would we ask?
Satan moved David to number the people. God had said not to number the people. He didn’t want Israel to trust in himself and his own strength. (1 Chronicles 21:1; Exodus 30:12)
Gideon learned that his 30,000 mustered troops were too strong. God whittled it down to 300. That way they could fell an army of over 100,000 and know for sure that God had delivered them rather than their own military might. (Judges 7:2; 8:10)
The disciples asked Jesus whether it was few who would be saved. He replied, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” He also taught, “The gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Luke 13:24; Matthew 7:14)
How many are “a few?” Peter said “a few” were saved in the days of Noah. That means eight. And Noah had preached the gospel for a hundred years by that time. (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5; Genesis 5:32; 7:6)
Jonathan son of Saul understood that “…nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few,” as he and his shield-bearer overthrew a Philistine garrison (1 Samuel 14:6).
One great concern that Paul shared with all of us who undertake some difficult and personally emotional objective is that the work might turn out to be in vain.
An account executive might work for months in an attempt to woo a client only to have another firm swoop in and steal him away. A doctor can labor in an operating room for hours only to have his patient die on the way to recovery. A Christian can study with an unbeliever for months, see him converted and then watch as he shrinks back into perdition. All are filled with a sense that their work was in vain as Solomon put it first (Ecclesiastes 2:11).
For example, Paul writes the Thessalonians: “For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain” (1 Thessalonians 3:5). Learning from Christ’s parable, Paul understood that tribulation and persecution had the power to uproot faith in the sapling stage and destroy it (Matthew 13:21). Yet the Thessalonians were standing firm and Paul’s work was not in vain (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12). They continued to be examples of perseverance to others (1 Thessalonians 1:6-2:1). Continue reading » Conduct Worthy of The Gospel
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
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
The word “teetotaler” means someone who abstains completely from alcoholic beverages. The Bible calls on Christians to be teetotalers. Continue reading » Teetotalers
One of the eternal struggles of the Lord’s disciples is to learn and practice a proper balance between the affairs of this life and the affairs of the kingdom of heaven. What we often feel we need is many times just something we want and the kingdom of heaven is left lacking of our time and talents while we spend these in carnal pursuits. One of the crying needs of our day is to learn to put the Lord’s work first (Matthew 6:33). We must be busy, of course, but we must learn the difference between working for “food that perisheth” and “food that abideth unto eternal life” (John 6:27). As I say, there is a balance in these matters and we must learn it or be found wanting.
The Bible does not condemn Christians engaging in business enterprises. In fact, examples abound which show disciples of the Lord practicing different forms of business. Matthew was a tax collector, Lydia a seller of purple, some of the apostles fishermen, and Jesus Himself certainly knew the carpentry business. The “worthy woman” of Proverbs 31 made and sold fine linen garments to the merchants. In addition to these examples of industry by faithful people, we may add the scriptures that censure those who would not “provide for his own” (1 Timothy 5:8) or who refuse to “labor with his hands” (Ephesians 4:28).
Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Busy-ness
We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.
The writer of this passage in Hebrews 13:10-14 is addressing an audience of Hebrew Christians, under great pressure to forsake Jesus and renounce his discipline. He begged them not to cast away their confidence and draw back from faith to perdition, though their goods were plundered, their companions abused and themselves made a spectacle by reproach and tribulation (10:32-39).
The writer calls upon Hebrew history as examples of enduring faith in chapter eleven, hoping to inspire similar perseverance in these troubled saints. Finally, he cites the Lord Jesus himself, who "endured the cross, despising the shame" (12:2). "For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin" (12:3-4).
Continue reading » Solid Food: Joining Jesus Outside the Camp
The world has a surfeit of wicked people. One does not have to look far to find a drunkard, a liar, a cheat, etc. Not only do they surround us on every hand, but the effects of their drinking, lying and cheating invade our privacy and affect our lives. It is well nigh impossible for anyone to escape the effects of wickedness in this world. As Paul said, "We must needs go out of the world" (1 Corinthians 5:9) to escape its pollution. Since we cannot leave this world, we must learn to live with sin and sinners as best we can, trying to convert them to Christ.
But my point is not that we have so much wickedness around us. Rather, I would like to emphasize the need for good people in the face of such wickedness. This need is so often overlooked and good people are so often discounted that we fail to appreciate their value. They are often taken for granted or simply tolerated as uninteresting. Perhaps those of us who are Christians do not appreciate the value of being good.
Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: Needed – Good People
With this June 2001 issue on the “Fruit of the Spirit” we finish our two part series on Paul’s lists of virtues and vices in Galatians 5:19-23. The May 2001 issue of Watchman contains articles discussing every “lust of the flesh”. It is our prayer and hope that these two issues will be helpful to Christians for years to come, as they seek to study God’s will in this area.
This issue constitutes an extensive word study of the list of “fruit of the Spirit” that is found in Galatians 5. I want to express my appreciation to all of the men who have contributed to the study. You will find the writing to be uniformly excellent. Continue reading » Theme Editorial: Fruit of the Spirit