Index by Subject

“A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”

A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense (Digest)

“Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.’ Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,’ and ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.” (1 Peter 2:4-8)

It was God’s desire – therefore, the apostle Peter’s desire – that those “who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (v. 10) would grow. It is the desire of every parent to see their child grow, and such desire is no different with our spiritual Father. To grow, they would first need to lay aside the evils which characterized their former man (v. 1). Then, as does the newborn babe, they would need to “desire the pure milk of the word, that [they] may grow thereby” (v. 2). Continue reading » “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense”

Desperately Seeking Relevance


The following article contains observations and perceptions that I have developed in the last few decades as a Christian and preacher.  The warnings are offered because of my concern and love for the people of God. I have tried to write cautiously, and to avoid inflamed rhetoric.  I pray my comments will be considered, and my intent understood.

Perhaps you have heard of the apocryphal “Chinese” curse, “May you live in interesting times.”  While it might seem to be a blessing, the phrase is most commonly used in an ironic sense.  It seems that times of physical peace and blessing are typically rather boring, but times of conflict and upheaval are, at least historically speaking, much more interesting.

It is our misfortune to live in interesting times!  We have rogue nations with nuclear bombs; a rapidly increasing world population, resulting in significant economic and ecological challenges; a militant faction of Muslims declaring jihad throughout the world; an extremely partisan spirit in Washington D.C. that has made our government ineffectual and unresponsive to the needs of the American people.  We have militant social activists seeking to disrupt and remake the norms of morality and decency.  We have racial unrest. Continue reading » Desperately Seeking Relevance

Deacons – Their Qualifications and Work

Many churches have members appointed to an office or wearing a title called “deacon.” These churches have their own concept of what these individuals are and what they are supposed to be doing. In some churches deacons are the decision makers. In other churches deacons are nothing more than figureheads. The preacher is doing the work of the elders, the elders are doing the work of deacons, and the deacons are doing nothing.

Deacons have an important role to play in the Lord’s church. We know that God has set the church in order. He has put every part in its proper place. To understand what a deacon is, and what he is to do, we must understand what the Bible says about deacons. Continue reading » Deacons – Their Qualifications and Work

Attend the Church of Your Choice

Often times the appeal is made for men to attend the church of their choice. While we certainly appreciate the noble sentiment behind this appeal, we deny that such is in harmony with the Word of God. What does the Bible say about attending the church of your choice? Continue reading » Attend the Church of Your Choice

Legends of the Churches of Christ

Even casual discussions with friends and loved ones who are outside of the churches of Christ can reveal a very strange mythology that has developed around them.

They are sometimes mischaracterized, maligned, and ostracized on the basis of misunderstood or poorly explained practices. Not all the criticisms, of course, are unfair or false, even if the scriptural basis for the differences among us goes unexplored. It is the mythology about churches of Christ that concerns us now, the kind of thing one hears about them from those operating according to ignorance or malice. Continue reading » Legends of the Churches of Christ

“Literally” – A Discussion of Definitions

I recently read an interesting short article on the use of the term “literally” that I want to share with you, then comment upon.

Two Misuses of “Literally”

“He literally knocked his head off.”  No.  If he had, the head would have rolled across the floor, separated from the body.  “Literally,” in that case, is mistakenly used to intensify a figure of speech, but “literally” does not intensify the figure.  It says “knocked his head off” is not a figure of speech but a true description of what he did.

Another misuse of “literally” has to do with word meaning.  Someone says, “proskuneo ‘literally’ means ‘kiss the ground toward.’”  No, proskuneo literally means “worship.”  “Kiss the ground toward” is its etymology, how the word was formed.  It is also an archaic meaning; as ancient Persians did literally fall on their faces and kiss the feet or hem of the robe of their deified kings.  Etymology does not determine meaning; usage does.  The New Testament frequently says, “They fell down and worshipped him”  (Matthew 2:11; e.g.).  “Fell down” is from a different original word, “worshipped” is proskuneo.

“Literally” does not intensify a figure.  A word’s etymological meaning is not its “literal” meaning.

Cecil May
Preacher Talk (Vol. 27, No. 2—April 2012)

The first misuse of the term “literally” is typical in casual conversation.  While irritating to those who are sensitive to the mangling of the English language, it is innocuous.  However, defining biblical terms by their etymology, (or even their assigned dictionary definitions), without considering context, is extremely troubling as we seek to interpret God’s word.

Continue reading » “Literally” – A Discussion of Definitions

“Paul, An Apostle of Jesus Christ”

Paul began his epistles in a manner that was common in his day. The typical introduction to first century letters consisted of three parts: the name of the writer, the identity of the recipients, and a greeting.

In most of his letters, the first thing Paul would do would be to identify himself as an apostle and state the source of his apostleship. In this article, we will consider exactly what Paul was saying about himself when he claimed to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, why he had the right to make this claim, and what the claim says about the letters that he wrote. Continue reading » “Paul, An Apostle of Jesus Christ”

Responsibilities of Parents

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.

4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.

5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127:3-5


If God has given us children, then we must realize that He has given us a great blessing. In the above passage alone, we are told that children are a gift, a reward, and a source of strength and happiness.

Children are a great blessing, but with great blessings comes great responsibilities. It has been said that children are like lumps of clay to be molded. Taking that lump of clay and molding it into a godly young man or woman is the task that God has given parents. This responsibility does not belong to the grandparents, extended family, friends, teachers, elders, preacher, etc. While these individuals can be expected to provide a good influence upon children, God has singled out fathers and mothers and given them instructions concerning their responsibilities towards the “heritage” that they have received “from the Lord.” Continue reading » Responsibilities of Parents

Doing the First Works: The Mission of Christ and His Church

What Exactly IS the Mission of Christ and His Church? This seems like such an obvious question, yet there is so much confusion about such a simple and straight forward question. Is it possible to quickly walk through the clear steps listed in scripture, the book, chapter and verse, so to speak, to make easy understanding of this subject? I believe it is easy to do, if we give it even a few minutes of thought. Remember, every Christian is supposed to be able to describe this (1 Peter 3:15). Have you felt guilty because you never gave this even a little time to work this out? Continue reading » Doing the First Works: The Mission of Christ and His Church

Technology and the Church

When I first became a full-time preacher, I had the privilege of getting to know an older preacher who was coming our way to hold a gospel meeting.

I called him to talk over his plans, settle on accommodations and find out if there was anything specific that he would need.

“Will you be using the overhead projector,” I innocently asked?

“No,” he retorted. “I won’t be putting on any picture show to entertain the brethren!”

Continue reading » Technology and the Church

Shall We Have Elders?

This question should not be difficult to answer but unfortunately due to the will and whim of man some have a hard time in answering this.

Let me say clearly from the beginning that there is biblical example for elders.  In Paul’s letter to Titus Paul wrote, For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you (Titus 1:5).  The indication here is that one of the things that was lacking was the absence of elders.  This is also an indication that a church can function without elders; it is just lacking.  In Titus 1:6-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7 Paul gives the young preachers the qualifications for elders.

Why would Jesus gives us these qualifications if we do not need or cannot have elders today?

Continue reading » Shall We Have Elders?

The World’s Bible


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

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

Scripture Studies: The Purpose of the Church

Those who believe the Bible accept the fact that the church is part of God’s eternal purpose (Eph. 3:9-11).  It was not an accident or aberration from His will.  The church was planned and purposed before time began, because it is integral to the plan of salvation (Gen. 3:15; Eph. 5:25).  It consists of those who are redeemed by the blood of Christ and is destined for heaven (Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:20; 15:24).  Yet, few men respect the church.  They view it as an institution established and governed by the whims of man.  It even serves their basest desires.

The purpose of the church is to save souls.  It is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).  As such, it supports the gospel in the world, spreading the faith to the lost (1 Thes. 1:7-9).  By teaching this truth, it provides men the opportunity to be set free from sin and death (Jn. 8:32).  In other words, the church teaches the gospel which is God’s power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16).  When men obey it, they turn from being slaves of Satan to servants of God (Rom. 6:16-18).  However, some do not honor the purpose of the church.

Continue reading » Scripture Studies: The Purpose of the Church

Associate Editorial: Decades of Discontent

What is wrong with the church of Christ?

If you say, “Nothing, it is the Lord’s church, and I am satisfied with what the Bible reveals about it,” you might be in a minority position. Many are ready to change the work, worship and structure of the church of Christ, including its identity as the “church of Christ.” Are you aware of what is happening?

We have been through decades in which many have sought to change the Lord’s church into something more tolerant and imitative of denominational theology. The exclusiveness of truth and those characteristics that identify God’s people from those of the denominational world are being eroded in many places. We see the evidence of it in the Tampa Bay area and around the nation. Consider some of the issues that the Lord’s people are facing:

Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Decades of Discontent

Withdrawing from the Disorderly


The subject of withdrawing from the disorderly is not a popular one among brethren.  I personally have been a member of congregations where withdrawing from erring brethren was practiced sporadically, if at all.  However, if any congregation of the Lord’s people expects to be accepted of God, we must diligently know and practice God’s Word.  When Paul wrote God’s instructions: “…withdraw yourselves from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the traditions that you received from us…” (2 Thessalonians 3:6), this was not an advisement or suggestion, but a commandment; the same apostle wrote: “…if any man thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the fact that the things that I write to you, they are the commandment of the Lord…” (1 Corinthians 14:37).  If individual Christians or the church (the body of Christ) fail to keep the commandments of God, we do not know God (1 John 2:3) and “…will be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…” (2 Thessalonians 1:8).  However, even among brethren who do understand what God expects on this instruction from His word, there seems to be profound disagreement about how to actually carry out these instructions. While God does allow some judgment to be exercised, most of this subject and its application is quite clear, when we allow the Word of God to define itself.  It is the purpose of this article to examine, from the scriptures, and from the scriptures only, what God has to say about how we are to withdraw from the disorderly.

Continue reading » Withdrawing from the Disorderly

Contending for the Faith: Answering a Baptist Preacher’s ‘Unanswerable Questions’


By Pastor David Martin
Solid Rock Baptist Church

David Martin is pastor of the Solid Rock Baptist Church, 5893 Old Brownsville Rd. E, Bartlett, TN 38135 USA; phone: 901-634-1622. He is a 1984 graduate of Pensacola Bible Institute of Florida, and was ordained to the gospel ministry in 1986. He has been in his current pastorate for eight years. His article on the Church of Christ cult is the result of in-depth personal conversation with a Church of Christ elder that led to a 3-day public debate with a Church of Christ evangelist in 1997. The debate was attended by 250 people nightly from within a 300-mile radius of Memphis, Tennessee.This is one of the most controversial articles on the church of Christ you will find anywhere. No church of Christ preacher can satisfactorily answer any of the questions posed by Pastor Martin.

Continue reading » Contending for the Faith: Answering a Baptist Preacher’s ‘Unanswerable Questions’

God Understands Language

"For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words." (1 Corinthians 2:10-13, NASB)

From this passage we learn that God has revealed Himself through the work of the Holy Spirit to the chosen apostles of Christ. The apostles are said to teach in words, “…not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit.” It is only reasonable to assume that the revelation of the mind of God in words are words that man can understand, and understand these words in the same way that God understands them. The issue of understandable language gets to the very heart of the issue of faith. Do we believe the Bible? Is it God’s word? Is the Bible God’s complete and final revelation of God to man? Does Hebrews 1:1-2 mean what it says about God’s speaking to man in these last times? "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world" (NASB). When you break down this statement without all the modifiers it says that God has spoken, that God has spoken to man, and that God has spoken to man through His Son. What do we believe?

Continue reading » God Understands Language

Associate Editorial: Sermon Charts on the Church of Christ

The Church Of Christ

The Church And Salvation
What The Church Is Not
What The Church Is
The Work Of The Church
The Lord’s One Church

The Church Of Christ

One Cannot Be Saved
Outside The Church

Ephesians 5:23
Acts 2:47
Ephesians 1:22-23
2 Timothy 2:10

Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Sermon Charts on the Church of Christ

Editorial: The Parameters of Church Autonomy

In Matthew 16 the inspired historian revealed a promise made by Jesus to Peter and his other disciples. The promise concerned a significant aspect of God’s plan of redemption for mankind. In verse 18 Jesus said, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” The church of Christ is a divine institution, formed by Christ, and governed by principles established by Him and His ambassadors, “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19).

Unfortunately men have continually shown themselves unwilling to acquiesce to Christ’s will regarding His church, and have altered the divine plan. Departures have been seen with regard to the worship of the church. Men have promoted innovations such as instruments of music to accompany the singing which is commanded in scripture, and have altered acts of worship such as the Lord’s Supper to the point where they are almost unrecognizable distortions of the divine plan. Men have distorted the work of the church as well, a common example of this is the present emphasis on the church as an agent of social change. This social emphasis is a far cry from the work of evangelism and edification indicated by Paul when he declared the church to be “the pillar and ground of the truth” (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15). Men have changed at their whim the organization of the church. There has been the activation of the “universal” church, the centralization and consolidation of authority; and the alliance of the church with human institutions, councils and societies. Among the distortions of God’s blueprint for the church, and the focus of this article, is an assault on the concept of church autonomy as revealed in scripture. Continue reading » Editorial: The Parameters of Church Autonomy