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Video Script: What Now? (12)

You have heard the precious gospel of the Lord, and have responded in faith, repenting of your sins, confessing Jesus as your Lord, and have been baptized in water for the remission of your sins.

You have risen from that watery grave as a new creature in Christ. Your sins have been washed away, and your faith has been rewarded with the gift of salvation. You are now a child of God.

Now what? Well, the first thing is a natural response to your changed state. You rejoice! The Ethiopian Eunuch was in the same situation, and we are told in Acts 8 that after the evangelist Philip baptized him, they “came up out of the water”, and that the eunuch “went on his way rejoicing” (vs. 39). Continue reading » Video Script: What Now? (12)

12 – What Now?

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 Ten Commandments of Marriage: Introduction

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2).

This is a very familiar passage to most of us, as it is the statement the Lord made immediately before giving Moses the Ten Commandments.  These statutes and judgments were given to the children of Israel so they could “learn them and be careful to observe them” (Deut. 5:1).

Why was it so important for Israel to understand these commandments?  First of all, they were God’s special people. “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (Deut. 14:2).  It was also important for them to keep these commandments because God promised them prolonged days in the land that He had given them (Deut. 4:40).  And as Solomon concluded the book of Ecclesiastes, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Eccl. 12:13).

Continue reading » The Ten Commandments of Marriage: Introduction

Reverence Is Not Legalism

The British have a strange form of government. They have a queen, but she does not exercise any real power. Her authority is only ceremonial and her crown is worth nothing more than the gold and jewels that compose it. The real power was stripped away from her family by the people and one of them, the prime minister, is now the head of English government.

Modern Christianity has done much the same thing to its king, Jesus Christ. While people still recognize his crown, they do not attach much significance to his exercise of authority in all matters of faith. Hence, various denominations proudly boast doctrines and missions growing out of their own interpretation of the Bible, most generally not a literal interpretation at all.

The last will and testament of Jesus Christ contains his decrees for his brethren, the redeemed, and the conditions placed upon them should they wish to attain the inheritance he left for them, a mansion in heaven for all eternity. As the monarch of a great universal kingdom, he and his ministers, the apostles, set down the law for his subjects in the New Testament.

Continue reading » Reverence Is Not Legalism

Jesus and John at the Jordan River

Matthew 3:13-17

Immediately following Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, recorded in Matthew 3, Mark 1 and Luke 3, Luke states, “Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age…” (vs. 23).

The baptism of Jesus signified the end of His time in anonymity. He left Nazareth (the city of His youth) behind (cf. Mark 1:9), and traveled by foot 60-70 miles to be “baptized by John in the Jordan.” With this act of obedience, Jesus began His public ministry and His inevitable trek toward the cross at Calvary.

Of the three baptism accounts recorded in the gospels, only Matthew records the conversation between John and Jesus. When Jesus presented Himself to John to be baptized by him, the text says that “John tried to prevent Him, saying ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’” (vs. 14). Before noting Jesus’ response, it is important to note a few things about John’s reaction to Jesus’ presence at the Jordan.

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Jesus’ First Recorded Words

Luke 2:40-52

The historian Luke, in his gospel, records the only words spoken by Jesus as a child that we are privy to in God’s inspired word. The conversation, between Jesus and his parents, is found in the latter part of the second chapter of the book.

Luke records the devotion of Joseph and Mary, indicating that they went to Jerusalem every year to observe the Passover. When Jesus was twelve years old he was included in the traveling party. When the feast was finished, and Mary and Joseph together with other family members began the trip home, we are told that Jesus, “lingered behind in Jerusalem.”

You can imagine their state of mind as they sought Jesus. It was three days (vs. 46) before they found him. He was in the temple, listening to the teachers there and asking them questions. We are not privy to what Jesus said to these important men, but we are told they “were astonished at His understanding and answers.”

Continue reading » Jesus’ First Recorded Words

The Simple Gospel: What to be in 2005

It’s that time of year again, when millions make New Year’s resolutions — with many breaking them within the first week of the New Year.  Resolutions are not bad. Making goals is a helpful way to achieve the improvements we wish to make in our lives. They need to be realistic and possible. Here are a few suggestions to be in 2005 that are within the reach of every Christian.

Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: What to be in 2005

Law

The concept of obedience to law is rather controversial among the religious today.  Because of the Holy Spirit’s teaching regarding the Law of Moses, as contrasted with salvation by Grace through Faith, some equate the idea of obedience to God’s law with the concept of meriting salvation.  This is not so.

Under the Old Covenant, or Old Law, salvation was not available.  Salvation can not come through Law, it must come through Grace.  As Paul stated in Romans 3:20, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” As “all have sinned” (vs. 23), and as redemption can not come through law, it was necessary that Christ give himself as a ransom for all.  This is grace.  This is why Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9, “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.”

Continue reading » Law

Walking Worthy: Am I Good Enough?

So many Christians are burdened with the fearful question, “Am I good enough for God, good enough to go to heaven, good enough not to embarrass the church and my family? Am I as good as others? Am I as good as I can be?”

While those questions are surely superior to the spiritual indifference that some Christians harbor, they can also become an unbearable burden. Our human imperfections — minor and major, regular and occasional — stare us in the face through God’s revelation and constantly remind us what kind of people we are (James 1:23-24). We are all flawed by our own particular sins and weaknesses and in need of grace, both from our fellow men and more importantly, from God. The questions, though, are not seeking grace; they are seeking human achievement and earned reward. Those questions will invariably lead to painful answers.

Continue reading » Walking Worthy: Am I Good Enough?

Associate Editorial: "I’m On My Own"

It is not unusual these days to hear a teenager say to his parents, "I’m so tired of all these rules and regulations that you lay down for me that I’ll be glad when I’m on my own and can do as I please!" Quite often the "rules and regulations" to which they refer are those which are for their own good, however vexsome. While it is possible that parents can sometimes be unfair and arbitrary in fixing rules, most often parents have the good of their children in mind when they supply the regulations for a family.

Children are often too impatient to attempt to see the wisdom behind rules. They are not looking at events from the mature standpoint that only years of experience can bring; they are viewing events through the impatience and immaturity of youth. Such immaturity seldom seeks to find the wisdom behind a rule, particularly if it interferes with the immediate gratification of a desire. The guiding light of youth is expressed in the sentiment, "I want…" and "I want it now…" Consequently, when any restricting rule is enforced which inhibits or restricts, a young person who has no respect for experience or for the Biblical injunction of obedience will rebel. Whether the rule is a curfew on dating nights, attendance at worship services, homework, housework or personal grooming guidelines, compliance is grudging, if at all.

Continue reading » Associate Editorial: "I’m On My Own"

The Simple Gospel: Obedience – Its Nature and Importance

As Jesus delivered His famous “Sermon on the Mount,” He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23). Truly Jesus taught the importance of obedience when He taught that only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of Heaven.

Obedience is the act of or an instance of obeying. The word, obey, is defined by Webster to mean: 1) to carry out the instructions or orders of, 2) submit to the control of… (another). Jesus said, in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” To obey Jesus is to obey the Father (Ephesians 6:6). Further, obedience to the Father and to Jesus involves obedience to Christ’s apostles as His spokesmen after His ascension into Heaven. Consider Matthew 28:16-20, “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.'” AND 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” The Apostle Paul also wrote, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). Hence, we know that adherence to the writings of the apostles is as acceptable and as necessary today as it was to obey their spoken word in the first century. Thanks be to God we have the writings of the apostles in our New Testament today as they were penned under the direction of the Holy Spirit! (Ephesians 3:1-5). Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: Obedience – Its Nature and Importance

The Extension of God’s Grace

Redemption“But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-26).

The Origin of the Scheme of RedemptionNothing is haphazard with God. He is sovereign in the universe, and the only Being capable of “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure..'” (Isaiah 46:10). Scripture clearly reveals that God understood before the world ever began the consequence of creating man in His own image. Paul stated that man’s redemption was secured by the foreknowledge and power of God before he ever walked the face of this earth. He wrote in Ephesians 1:4-6, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.”God knew before he created man that such a creature would disappoint Him by rebelling against His divine will. This is the nature of free moral agency, which is the greatest gift God gave us in His design of humanity. All God created He pronounced “very good”, and this included man (cf. Genesis 1:31). Some today want to blame God for the evil that is present in our world. Such is wrong, as James clearly explained, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:12-14). Man himself is responsible for his sin, and for the resulting evil that is the consequence of such rebellion against the will of the Almighty. Continue reading » The Extension of God’s Grace

The Redemption of Man in Two Parts

RedemptionGod’s plan for redeeming man runs like a scarlet thread throughout scripture. Beginning with the promises God made to man in the Genesis account, and man’s subsequent fall from God’s favor, until the closing of the New Testament canon, where the Apostle John recorded the beautiful invitation, “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17), God’s scheme is the primary theme of scripture. It is both simple and sublime. God’s requirements for man, that he may be redeemed, can be understood even by children. At the same time, the enormity of His Son’s sacrifice and what it means for us dwarfs our comprehension. The following material in this month’s Watchman Magazine is intended to give an overview of that sublime plan. It is our intention to both document the great expression of God’s grace in sending His Son to die in our stead, and the divine requirements mandated by God that we might receive the benefits of such a gift. No study of Redemption is sufficient that does not explain both God’s part, and man’s part in securing that safety. Continue reading » The Redemption of Man in Two Parts

Are God’s Laws Too Hard?

The Law of the Lord is Good!

It is important for us to note closely the question of this study. The question is not “Are God’s laws hard?” but rather it is “Are God’s Laws too hard?” Are God’s laws beyond our ability and do God’s laws demand more than man can give? God’s laws can be hard because life is hard and because of the constant temptations of the devil. Our task in this study is to consider the idea of whether God’s laws are too hard.

A. Life Is Hard. “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground…”(Gen.3:19). Life on this earth was, at one time, truly to live in a “garden” (Genesis 2). Then, sin entered the picture. Man was punished with work becoming toil and labor and the woman with “sorrow” and travail (Genesis 3:16-19). Life on earth became hard for saint and sinner! How often do we hear some brother in his prayer mention the “uneven pathways of life” or that this life is a “vale of tears”? Life is not easy. We may not all face the same problems or carry the same burdens, but no one escapes the toils, heartaches, and trouble of life. The writer said in Proverbs 13:15: “The way of transgressors is hard.” But, David also said in Ps.34:19 that, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous.” Is there a life on this earth that’s not hard and difficult? No. Continue reading » Are God’s Laws Too Hard?

The Simple Gospel: God Desires Mercy Rather Than Sacrifice

Editor’s note: You may or may not agree with the conclusions of this article. In either case, please respond to it, if you are of such a mind. Respond to the author by postal mail at Ralph E. Price; P. O. Box 3174; Beckley, WV 25801. For the record, I believe that it is not a congregation’s expectation that matters, but, rather, it is God who demands of all of His children that we serve Him to the very best of our ability, and that ability includes choices that each one has the capacity to make.

Larry H. Fain

 

Consider the following text in Matthew 9:9-13, “And as Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man, called Matthew, sitting in the tax office; and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ And he rose, and followed Him. And it happened that as He was reclining at the table in the house, behold many tax-gatherers and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, ‘Why is your Teacher eating with the tax-gatherers and sinners?’ But when He heard this, He said, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means, “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,” for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'” (NASB)

These five verses reveal for us an important truth about what God expects from men and women, and it is clear that Jesus wanted all to understand this truth. He commanded the Pharisees, “But go and learn what this means…” (Matthew 9:13). Then He quoted a passage from Hosea 6:6, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: God Desires Mercy Rather Than Sacrifice

Solid Food: Faithful Obedience or Sinful Practice? (Genesis 22:1-19)

Why do you read the Bible?

Some actually read the Bible looking for problems with God. For example, atheists and some religious persons read the Bible looking for what they conceive to be contradictory actions of God or contradictory scriptures. They hope to prove that the Bible is not the inspired word of God because it contains contradictions. We should not read the Bible to find problems with God or contradictory scriptures. The problem is not with God, but with mankind. It is mankind that has sinned. It is mankind that has acted contradictory. It is mankind that has made mistakes. The Bible is the perfect story of how mankind, with his problems, can be saved from sin through obedience to Jesus Christ. The Bible contains no contradictions! Continue reading » Solid Food: Faithful Obedience or Sinful Practice? (Genesis 22:1-19)