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A Quiet Man of God

The following is a tribute I wrote for my father, who passed from this life October 20, 2011.  My friend and brother in Christ, Dennis Craig, read it for me at a memorial service we had for dad on October 24, 2011.  Dad’s name was Larry Cox.  He was not well known in the brotherhood, but he was well loved by the brethren who knew him.  He was not a preacher, just a kind and godly man.  And a wonderful example for me and his family, friends and brethren.  Men like this deserve honor as much as others who are better known.  I pray you are encouraged and edified by learning a bit more about my dad.

The day before my dad died he and I were sitting in his hospital room talking. He mentioned to me that he had for a long while toyed with the idea of writing a short biography of his life that he thought might have meaning for his family. "When you have lived as long as I have," he said, "you gain a couple of insights you can share. Maybe not many, but a few."

This desire was not a surprise to me, because I had found a short outline he had handwritten some time before. I was going through his papers while he was in the ICU, near death, a year ago. I kept it with me for the past year. It is a single page, off of a 5" X 8" pad. I would like to spend a short time "fleshing out" that outline to give you a better idea of the type of man dad was. All of you know him as a kind man and a faithful Christian. There are reasons he lived his life as he did.

Continue reading » A Quiet Man of God

Why the Cross?

Paul tells us that Jesus “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:7-8, emphasis mine, HR). We understand that Jesus came to this world to die for our sins because no one else could accomplish this task. He was our only hope. However, someone might ask, “Why did Jesus have to die on a cross?”

Death by crucifixion was the most painful manner in which a person could be put to death. Suspended from the ground, the weight of the victim’s entire body pulled against metal spikes which were driven through the hands (wrists) and the feet. The victim would writhe in pain as he slowly died of asphyxiation. Continue reading » Why the Cross?

Christian Senses

We should all be familiar with our senses; hear, smell, see, taste, and touch.  In general we can probably take these for granted at times.  We hear a sizzle coming from the kitchen.  We smell the odor of food cooking. We look at what is cooking on the stove top or in the oven.  We taste the food.  We touch the food as we bring it to our mouth.  We use our senses every day in a multitude of ways; to say the least.

As Christians we use these very same senses but in a completely different way.

As Christians these senses are used by those around us as we demonstrate the various attributes that these senses demand.

Taste

Taste is a sense that is truly different for each individual.  While we can all taste bitter, sweet, savory, sour and salty, each one has a different reaction; some crave sweet while others crave sour.  The life of a Christian is a flavoring to the world.  In Matthew 5:13 Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. Jesus points out that those who follow Him will be/are the salt of the earth.  They will give the earth a distinct flavoring just as salt.  Their lives are different from the lives of those in the world.

When we lose our distinctive flavoring we have lost that which separates us from the world.

Sight

Our sight is something that should be very dear and precious to us.  For those of us who have had poor eyesight we understand that this sense should not be taken for granted in any way.  Jesus speaks of this also in Matthew.  In Matthew 5:14-16 He said, 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Again, Jesus uses a sense to describe the life of a Christian.  It is not an experience that the Christian sees but those around see the Christian and his life in contrast to the darkness of the world.  Paul wrote, 8For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14Therefore He says:“Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead,  And Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:8-14).

This is the very life of a Christian.  We are to walk in and with the light of the Lord.  When we do this others will see the Gospel manifested in our lives.  They will also be able to see the darkness of the world by our continual example of the truth of God’s word.

Smell

One of our most sensitive senses is the sense of smell. We can quickly detect those sweet and fragrant odors yet just as quickly, and more reactionary, those odors that offend our sense of smell.  The smell of a flower and the spray of a skunk are opposites of the spectrum for our noses and these can describe the fragrance that a Christian should have in Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 Paul wrote, 14Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.16To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? The life of a Christian is first a fragrance to God and second to those who witness their life.

Our aroma is as distinctive as life and death.  Our life smells of life as we walk in the Gospel and by direct contrast points out the smell of death to those who walk in the way of the world.

Hearing

We have all probably taken a hearing test at one time in our life.  As with our other senses, our hearing is a sense that is often taken for granted; we can play music too loudly or subject our ears to damaging industrial noises.  These degrade our ability to hear.

Hearing the Gospel is something the world thinks it does but in truth they only hear a perversion of the truth.  In 2 Timothy 4:3-4 Paul wrote,3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. The implication to the denominational world is clear to those who want hear.  In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote, 1And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling (1 Corinthians 2:1-3).  We must be as Paul teaching only Jesus Christ.  Paul’s command to young Timothy was simple, Preach the word! (2 Tim. 4:2).  How can we expect anyone to believe if they have not heard; remember, So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).

Touch

Our sense of touch is the one that might be the most versatile.  Our skin is by far the largest of our sense organs and we use it intensively every day.  We can feel a rock and the sensation of heat.  We can feel the softness of a feather and the cold, wetness of ice.

Under the Old Law the Israelites were not allowed to touch that which was unclean (Leviticus 5:2-3).  While we are not under the Old Law the principle still holds, that which is unclean defiles us.  What we touch is a sign of who we are and what is important in our lives.  If we touch the things of the world are we not like the world?  In 2 Corinthians 6:17-7:1 Paul quoted Isaiah then added a reminder, 17 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” 18“I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty.”7:1Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

This cleansing is from the ways of the world.  If we participate in the world, as the world, we show no different picture to those around us.  When we touch the world, as the world does, then all of our other influence is lost.

While we are careful not to submit to the traditions of men, 20 Therefore if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations 21“Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh (Colossians 2:20-23), we realize that just because the world justifies a thing doesn’t make that thing acceptable to God.  In all things we must go to God’s word to establish authority and then obey.

Our physical senses are important to us.  Take one away and you begin to realize the importance of that sense and the others gain value.  If our physical senses are important how much more important is it to exhibit Christian senses to the world so that that image of Christ and His word is portrayed in our lives daily.

These Christian senses keep us continually examining and testing ourselves against the standard, the Gospel, but are also experienced by those around us as our lives have an affect upon them.

The Simple Gospel: Approved Example

In our previous article, entitled Expressed Command, I wrote:

To properly understand how authority is established in religion, it is necessary to understand the nature of communication. God created man with the ability to communicate his will or desire to others. He chose to reveal Himself to man by the same methods. The divine hermeneutic (way of interpreting the Bible) is in accord with the logical rules of communication using written or spoken language.

One of these "logical rules of communication" can be identified as an approved example. The premise is simple. If in the New Testament we find Christians participating in an activity, and the example we find is spoken of as approved of God, we can rightly surmise that this practice is divinely authorized.

It is important to note that the example must be spoken of by inspiration as approved. There are certainly examples of unauthorized activity by Christians in the New Testament. We do not mean that we can engage in any activity found in the New Testament. Rather, only those which are shown to meet God’s approval.

Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: Approved Example

The Simple Gospel: Telling the Story

“I Love To Tell The Story”. So goes the song we sing in worship. Preachers urge us in sermon after sermon to tell others of Christ. Our Bible class teachers emphasize the need to tell others of Christ. To one another, Christians emphasize the need to teach Christ and His sacrifice. For the most part we heed this teaching. We invite others to worship with us where they can hear the Gospel. We discuss Bible topics with our neighbors, friends, and family. We talk with our children about Jesus and God. We help spread the Word through TV, radio, even the Internet. Yet, are we demonstrating this same need in our daily actions? Are we living in such a way that we “tell the story” of Jesus in our attitudes and actions? Or do those around us see the same things in us that are present in their own lives? Are we living as part of the world or as one passing through the world? Paul urges, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” 2 Corinthians 6:17. Can we please God when we make ourselves a part of the world? The Scriptures teach otherwise. We as children of God are to be separate from the world even in our daily life. Peter tells us we are to be as “strangers and pilgrims.” Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: Telling the Story