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
The Apostle John once wrote, "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith." (1 John 5:4)
It is faith that saves our souls. Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:16).
Just about everyone accepts that faith saves, but an important question often remains unasked. What, or who is it I must believe in? Now the simple answer is, you must believe in Jesus. John stated in his gospel, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (3:16).
Continue reading » Video Script: What Must We Believe? (8)
In Ephesians 2:8-9, The apostle Paul wrote, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."
We are saved through faith. That is a wonderful thing to know, and yet it remains that we must determine what Faith is, and further, what our faith will be in!
Fortunately for our soul’s sake, both questions are easy to answer. Faith is simply belief. If we believe something, we are said to have faith in it. So, the second question can be phrased in this way: "What is it that we believe in that brings us that salvation we seek?"
Continue reading » Video Script: The Power of the Gospel (7)
When I was just beginning preaching, I know I benefited greatly by a number of older preachers, including my own father. Though some of these were not aware of it they served as mentors to me by their reputations and examples. One I have admired in so many ways was Robert L. McDonald, Jr. At one time he told a story that bears repeating at this time and I want to use it here as the premise for this article.
The account goes like this. During the process of preaching a gospel meeting in a certain place brother McDonald had just concluded one of his sermons, which no doubt was thorough on insisting on the adherence to Bible authority. As the listeners were filing by, an elderly man approached him and referring to the sermon said, “That was a real cow bell!” This man went on to explain what he meant by this and that his comment was intended to be the highest compliment, which for our purposes now, was along the lines of understanding why milk cows used to wear loud bells around their necks. The owner of the cow could hear where his cow was when the bell sounded as it walked. This told him if his cow was close or far. So, his remark meant that the sermon brother MacDonald had preached had the sound of telling him what he needed to know, the truth.
Continue reading » Preaching the Gospel With the Jerusalem Ring
“What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame” (Romans 9:30-33, ESV)
People stumble over the simplest of things. We stub our toes on the bed frame or the coffee table. We trip in the parking lot over a pebble. We sprain our ankles tripping over a small cavity in the back yard. People stumble.
Continue reading » Associate Editorial: The Simplicity of the Gospel
The Power of the Gospel in Foreign Evangelism
In our last article we considered the power of the gospel in the mission field in its ability to convert the lost and guide them in the ways God would have them to go. In this article we would like to look at that power in the protecting, correcting, and equipping of God’s people. The purpose of both of these articles is to show how the gospel can do today what it did in the first century. Just as the gospel is all-sufficient in converting the lost so does it contain everything necessary to the needs of the growing Christian (2 Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:21). It is especially important to remember this in our day in light of the drift of some towards a subjective approach and others into emphasis on psychological needs of people (this is not to question that people have psychological needs).
It is the will of God that those converted by the gospel be taught to “observe all things, whatsoever [Jesus has] commanded” (Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:20). Let us now study some applications of these requirements. Continue reading » White Unto Harvest: The Seed is the Word of God – 2
The Power of the Gospel in Foreign Evangelism
In the parable of the sower Jesus pictured the seed being sown on all soils (Matthew 13:3-9). In explaining his parable he showed the seed to be the word of God and the soils to be the hearts of men (Luke 8:11-12,15; Matthew 13:19). His words teach us that the word of God must be sown in order for a soul to react to it. Later, in giving the great commission, Jesus told his disciples, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). As the power was in the seed in the parable of the sower so the power is in the gospel to change the hearts of man (Romans 1:16, cp. Psalm 19:7). All of God’s work in making the salvation of man possible depends on his word being spread to mankind, the objects of his love (John 3:16). It is the offensive weapon (as opposed to defensive) in the Christian’s armor, "living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword" (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12). It will bring forth fruit to the glory of God wherever men hear and obey it (Colossians 1:6). In this article we would like to look at the going forth of the word in the first century giving particular attention to the various manifestations of its power.
Continue reading » White Unto Harvest: The Seed is the Word of God
"Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Without hearing the word of God, there can be no faith.
That is why communication is so important. God wants to communicate to us and does so through the Holy Scriptures. But if we don’t study, if we don’t read, God is not able to communicate. If God had chosen to do so, He could have written His will across the sky. But He didn’t. He could have spoken to us in some mysterious way that is "better felt than told." But He didn’t. He could have impressed His will into man as He has with animals (instinct). But He didn’t. He has expressed His will to us through the Holy Scriptures. "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16). Are you aware that God is communicating with us through the Bible?
Continue reading » Associate Editorials: Communication and the Word of God
The books of Matthew, Mark and Luke all record that Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness were followed by His earthly ministry. Each of the books then tell us about the events and work of that ministry. From the beginning to the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, His actions repeatedly and consistently involved the preaching of the gospel.
Matthew said, "Now Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom…" (Matthew 4:23). "And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom…" (Matthew 9:35). The focus Jesus had in teaching the people was to introduce them to the principles of the gospel. That gospel was the means by which people were introduced to the kingdom. Hence, when we find Jesus preaching the kingdom, we know He is declaring the gospel.
Continue reading » In the Steps of the Savior: The Gospel, Salvation & The Sinner
Authors: Bobby Holmes and Mark Roberts
Continue reading » Doctrine-Gospel Distinction
Materialism is a very dangerous and powerful sin that entangles and entraps people in a downward spiral that quickly leads them away from God. This sin is easily recognized in the world. Unfortunately it has seeped unnoticed into many churches. Unless it is recognized it will grow like leaven, overtake, and eventually destroy the church. Therefore it is important to know the warning signs that pass unnoticed by those ignorant of the devil’s devices. We are told in Ephesians 5:15 to "walk circumspectly", that is, we are to be ever watchful and careful not to let evil come in among us. Following this admonition, we will look at one way in which this sin of materialism is manifest in the church.
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Romans 1:16).
The gospel is said to be the "power of God to salvation" in Romans 1:16. But the gospel’s power is being denied by many in the church, even among those who call themselves gospel preachers. How is it being denied? By men straying away from dependence and trust upon God’s word, instead relying upon human wisdom and human means to teach a lost and dying world. It is easy to see in denominations that entertainment has replaced God’s inspired word as the means to draw souls because of their pageants and fairs and various styles of "preaching". But among those who claim to be preachers there are those who seem to be following a similar path. There are those who say that a sermon should not contain more that one or two passages, or that if the sermon exceeds twenty minutes the interest of the audience will be lost. There is a trend to turn the ministering of God’s word into more stories and humor than the viewing of God’s word. My friend, this attitude is very dangerous and will lead, (if not in this generation, in the next), the church closer to the social gospel. To deny God’s power through the gospel is to deny the divine inspiration and authority of the bible and that is blasphemy!
Continue reading » The Power of God To Salvation
The account of Jesus’ feeding the 5,000 is the only miracle to be recorded in all four of the Gospels. Luke’s account of this miracle reads as follows:
"And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing. And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place. But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes except we should go and buy meat for all this people. For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. And they did so, and made them all sit down. Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude. And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets." (my emphasis, sw)
The apostles saw the multitude and saw their need. Jesus abundantly fulfilled the needs of these people. He gave "meat for all this people." Let us first understand the purpose of this miracle and then we will draw some pertinent lessons on foreign evangelism from the words which make up the title for this article.
Continue reading » White Unto Harvest: Meat For All This People
“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
In our previous article, The Extension of God’s Grace, we discussed the actions God took to secure man’s redemption. At the close of that article we noted that Redemption is not universal. There are some who will not gain an entrance into heaven. This is clearly revealed in many places in scripture. One example is Jesus’ statement to His disciples in Matthew 25. He said, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And he will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left…” (verses 31-33). The Lord stated in verse 46 that “…these (those on the left) will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
As already noted in our refutation of Calvinism, God is not capricious. He does not arbitrarily assign condemnation or reward at a whim. Concerning his eventual coming to earth, Peter said about the Lord, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). If God extended his Grace to all men, as indicated in this text as well as passages such as John 3:16, and not all men are going to taste heaven, it must be understood that salvation is conditional. Continue reading » The Power of the Gospel
1 Corinthians 2:1, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
The apostle Paul supplies us with a very important fact in the above passage of scripture. Simply put, the message is what is important. With all of the glitz and glamour which surrounds our so called “information age”, this is a lesson that is often forgotten.
The television news program that gets the best ratings is not the one which supplies the best information, but rather that which packages itself best. Best looking anchorpersons, best graphics, most sensational promos. The politician who gets elected is not the candidate with the best policies and most integrity, but rather the most telegenic, who can speak in sound bytes, and who often is willing to lie in order to tell the people what they want to hear. Products are not purchased because of their quality, but rather because of the brand name, or the flashy commercials, or the celebrity endorsments. Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: Nothing Except Jesus
Outline of Lesson, December 6, 1998
Forest Hills church of Christ
Intro: “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder” (Gen. 2; Mt. 19). While this has specific reference to marriage, there is an underlying principle that applies to anything God has seen fit to joint together. Man has no right to loose what God has bound (Mt. 16:19).
We can see this principle in the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament. Truth has been revealed through the ages by the same Spirit of God and it is one seamless depository of truth from Genesis to Revelation. Yet God has divided that truth and applied it as it suited His purpose (Heb. 1:1-3). The Jewish nation was bound to the Law of Moses, but all men are now loosed from it (Col. 2:14). We are taught to learn from it (Rom. 15:4) but it has no authority over us as does the law of Christ (Rom. 8:1-3). Continue reading » Understanding Christ and the Church (Gospel and Doctrine)
What would a farmer say is more important, planting the seeds in the spring or watering them during the time they are growing? Obviously one could argue that it is important that you get the crops planted while another could say that sowing was meaningless activity without the important work of watering and nurturing.
What is more important in our work of preaching the Gospel? Converting people to Christ or working with them to put off the old man and put on the new? (Col. 3:5-10) If a person is baptized and then not taught “to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you” (Matt. 28:20), what does it profit him? By contrast, our denominational friends show the uselessness of nurturing unsaved people when they teach error on how one is saved and then work to cause their “converts” to grow. What profit is there in such nurturing if their students never obeyed the true Gospel in the first place? (Matt. 23:23) Indeed, both works are equally important. Continue reading » White Unto Harvest: Planting and Watering