Index by Subject

Signs Given for Faith and Salvation

God told Ezekiel that he would “take away from you the desire of your eyes with a stroke” (Ezekiel 24:16).  The “desire” of the prophet’s eyes was his wife.  The Lord further instructed his prophet not to cry or mourn the death of her.  God stroked Ezekiel’s wife the next evening and she died.  Ezekiel did not cry and neither did he mourn her death.  Ezekiel writes, “And I did in the morning as I was commanded” (Ezekiel 24:18).  The captives of Judah, who were now living in Mesopotamia, ask “Tell us what this means to us.”  Ezekiel tells them that as his wife died without his tears so will their sons and daughters die in the siege of Jerusalem and they will not cry nor mourn their deaths.  Rather than cry they would “pine away in your iniquities and moan one toward another” (Ezekiel 24:23).  The Lord then tells the people, “Thus shall Ezekiel be unto you a sign; according to all that he has done shall you do: when this comes, then shall you know that I am the Lord God” (Ezekiel 24:24). Continue reading » Signs Given for Faith and Salvation

Knowledge Puffs Up

“Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him” (1 Corinthians 8:1-3).

In this text the apostle Paul addressed a conflict that existed in Corinth.  How were the Corinthians to handle the eating of meat offered up to pagan idols?  Though some of the Corinthians were aware that “an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one” (vs. 4), others “until now eat it [meat offered to an idol] as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled” (vs. 7).  Paul recognized that those with superior knowledge could be guilty of acting arrogantly in the matter, and eating meat in the presence of those whose understanding was limited.  He asked, “And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?” (vs. 12).  In considering the responsibility he had toward his brother, Paul proclaimed his love by writing, “Therefore if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (vs. 13).

While Paul did not devalue the importance of knowledge in this passage, he did indicate that knowledge, in and of itself was not only insufficient, but fraught with danger.  Knowing can lead to sinning!  In the context, Paul emphasized that such knowledge must be tempered with love for the brethren.

Continue reading » Knowledge Puffs Up

Are We Relevant?

Several times in the history of Watchman Magazine I have written articles explaining the present state of the effort, and desires for the future.  As many may know, Watchman Magazine is my personal project, for better or worse, and the ebb and flow regarding its relevance and prolificacy are almost entirely a result of my efforts or lack thereof.  That means that my organizational abilities, mental state, and life circumstances all play a part -both in my writing, and in my publishing of the magazine.

Watchman Magazine began in January of 1998, and continued a regular publication schedule, for the most part, through 2004.  Toward the end of this initial iteration of the magazine, publication became more sporadic, as I personally dealt with a bad case of editor/publisher burnout.  After a hiatus of several years, publication resumed in January of 2010, with several changes.  Primarily, the magazine took on a blog format, rather than maintaining a monthly schedule.  With the advent of social networking, and powerful blogging software platforms, I believe this change to be a positive one.  It has made it possible for the Watchman writers to post articles on their schedule, and my editorial responsibilities have lightened.  It is nice to no longer be responsible for coding HTML, and fighting the compatibility problems of earlier years.

Continue reading » Are We Relevant?

Editorial: Commitment of Biblical Proportions

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

Doing the First Works: Right Pew, Wrong Church?

I knew a wonderful Christian once upon a time who had a saying I have never forgotten. He would say it pensively and reflectively when referring to good, decent people he knew, some of them relatives, who were not Christians and who attended some denominational church. Quite sadly, he would declare: “They are in the right pew, but the wrong church!” Continue reading » Doing the First Works: Right Pew, Wrong Church?

Not To Be Taken

Searching through a box of old bottles in an antique shop one day, my wife and I came upon some bottles which not only looked old, but were cast in different shapes and sizes with embossed messages and raised ribbing on the sides.  Some of the bottles were hexagon; others were octagon, while others were flat or triangular.

The sales lady told us poison bottles by law were altered in appearance to safe guard the public in both England and in the United States from 1870 to 1930.  These bottles were made with labels such as, “not to be taken internally” or simply “not to be taken.”

The poison bottles came in different colors such as green, cobalt, black or amber.  When someone in the 1800’s went to a medicine cabinet and looked for a bottle of medicine by candle light they were apt to innocently pick up a poison bottle, sincerely mistaking it for a bottle of medicine.

Continue reading » Not To Be Taken

No Other Name: Christian Exclusivism in an Pluralistic World

In 2008, Reuters disseminated photographs of a previously undiscovered tribe of Amazon Indians that had been pushed deeper into the jungle by encroaching civilizations.

Here was a tiny throng of human beings of which the world was mostly unaware and which was itself unaware of the world at large.

While their case is an extreme one, there was a time in the not-so-distant past that many people lived their entire lives with little personal awareness of the other side of the globe – and sometimes of the other side of the country. Airplanes, television and the internet have conspired to change that – mostly for the good – and that sort of provincialism has faded into the ether for all but the heartiest of tribes.

Continue reading » No Other Name: Christian Exclusivism in an Pluralistic World

Associate Editorial: Unwilling to Communicate?

“Remove me from your mailing list”

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea…” (Matthew 3:1). John had a message and he proclaimed it widely and publicly — “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (v. 2).  Not everyone liked what John had to say, but he was communicating the will of God. Luke tells us that “the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him” (7:30). Experience and history tells us that communication is sometimes a one-way proposition, though it is intended to be an exchange of ideas.

It is said of Jesus: He “went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom…” Matthew 9:35. But He knew that “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priest and scribes” (Luke 9:22). The Master Teacher was unable to reach many of His day and they turned a deaf ear to the proclamation of the Good News. They crucified Him even while He was willing to communicate God’s will.

Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Unwilling to Communicate?

"What Is Written…How Readest Thou?": Source of True Encouragement

Paul’s letters to the church at Thessalonica were written in the midst of great concern among the brethren regarding death, the coming of Christ and the hope of those in Christ. When we read 1 Thessalonians 4, it is evident that some among their number had died while awaiting the promised hope at the Lord’s coming. Some wondered if the death of those saints separated them from that hope in Christ. No doubt, the thought of faithful brethren having been robbed of their hope by untimely death was discouraging and depressing to the saints.

When viewed in terms of the present reality of their severe persecution, the obvious concern existed as to the ability of evil men to take away their hope by killing them (1 Thessalonians 1:6). After all, martyrdom was a present fact in the first century (Acts 7:59-60; 12:1-2; et. al.). In the midst of affliction, the saints in Thessalonica needed strength and comfort to help them live with joy and hope. Where could they find the real, lasting and substantive encouragement they needed? What could be the source for such?

Continue reading » "What Is Written…How Readest Thou?": Source of True Encouragement

Contending for the Faith

We live in a peculiar time. The United States is among the most tolerant and permissive of societies. Yet it is a society that is extremely intolerant of a very few things. One example of intolerance is with regard to “political correctness.” There are certain attitudes and ideas, which if expressed, lead to the ruin of public reputations and careers. Often those who rush to condemn these attitudes, (what they call “hate speech”), are the same ones who clamor over the right to freedom of expression. This is incongruous, but is nevertheless a rather prominent feature of our day.

Another area of intolerance is found in the religious realm. These permissive influences claim that all religions have worth and that religious criticism is a form of that “hate speech” mentioned previously. Such pleas for toleration have led many to the irrational claim that the recent terrorist attacks by Muslim fundamentalists had “nothing to do with religion.” This, despite the fact that the extremists have declared a “jihad” (holy war) against all non-muslims.

Continue reading » Contending for the Faith

Rebuttal to Jesse Jenkins’ Response

I will address points of brother Jenkins response to my article appearing in Watchman Magazine.

In paragraph one Jesse states I had charged him with believing “…one must have a flawed character like is described in 2 Peter 2:1-3 before he can be labeled as such,” i.e. …, a false teacher.” Jesse says that I know that is not so unless I have a “good forgetter.” It seems that Jesse is forgetting what he himself has stated on the subject. I spent almost three hours discussing this very point with Jesse in December of 1998 and that was his position then.

He refused to accept the definition offered as to the phrase “false teacher” from Liddell and Scott; Oxford. They tell us, “…the verb pseudo can (and does — they quote it from ancient texts)! mean” mistaken in or about a thing,” “mistaken in opinion”,” “deceived in notion or estimation. “An alternate form of the verb was used this way in another text: “..which I do not speak falsely about him.” (Note 1 John 2:21 in connection with this.)

Continue reading » Rebuttal to Jesse Jenkins’ Response

Response to: "Guarding the Guardian"

A Response to the Last Paragraph of Bobby Holmes’ Article

Bobby wrote that according to Jesse Jenkins “…one must have a flawed character like is described in 2 Peter 2:1-3 before he can be labeled as such,” i.e.., a false teacher. Bobby knows that is not so unless he has a very good forgetter. I am a stickler for using words or phrases like I believe the Bible uses them. This is the reason I do not use the word “Christian” as an adjective. However, I have never said one sins if he uses the word as an adjective, such as speaking of a family where all are Christians, as a “Christian family.”

Just so, I told Bobby that I will not call one a false teacher unless I am convinced that he has both a character problem and a doctrine problem. But I also told Bobby that I do not think one sins if he calls one a false teacher simply on the basis that he teaches false doctrine if he lets it be known that he is only taking about the error taught and not the man’s character.

Continue reading » Response to: "Guarding the Guardian"

Suspicious Source Material

Editor’s Note: You may be surprised to know that the following article was written by brother Roberts July 31, 1977, and first appeared in the West Side Weekly, a local bulletin he edited for the West Side congregation in Ft. Worth, TX. The more things change, the more they remain the same!

I suppose that every preacher of the gospel (as well as most Bible teachers) has a number of shelves full of commentaries, reference books and other material that originated within denominationalism. Such study helps are used to read, compare, study from and, within limits of revealed truth, shed light on difficult matters. The use of this material should not, and does not, suggest approbation of all that is contained in each volume. In fact, denominational material may be used simply to learn what a certain sect teaches on a doctrinal matter. This is a proper and profitable use of such material.

However, there is another use which changes complexion altogether. This involves the use of books, commentaries, articles and bulletins in such a manner that endorses false teaching. Of this, we must beware.

Continue reading » Suspicious Source Material

Voices from the Past: Narrow-Mindedness (Luther Blackmon)

The Gospel Guardian, December 8, 1949

Do not feel insulted when someone tells you that your religion is narrow. Maybe he is right. If he is right, you should feel complimented. Your critic may be confusing narrowness with bigotry, in which case he is the one out of step, not you. Bigotry the Lord condemned; narrowness (in the scriptural use of the term) he commended: "…narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be which find it."

The Narrowness of Truth

Truth is always narrow. Five plus five equals ten; this is true from kindergarten to college and everywhere else in the world. It isn’t ten because the arithmetic book says so, but it is ten because it cannot be anything else. If in a class of 100 students, only one gave ten as the answer to five plus five and all the other 99 agreed on a different answer, the one would be right and all the others wrong.

Historical truth is narrow. The Battle of San Jacinto was fought in Texas; Valley Forge was in Pennsylvania. These are facts which are understood alike by all students of history. If a student in a ‘history class gave any other answer concerning the location of these spots, he would be incorrect. No one would think the teacher was "narrow" in telling him so.

Continue reading » Voices from the Past: Narrow-Mindedness (Luther Blackmon)

Voices from the Past: Students and Today’s Issues (C.G. "Colly Caldwell, III)

Gospel Guardian — June 1, 1975

I suppose students have always had a bit of what our Tennessee grannies used to call "devilment" in them. During the last twenty-five years of his teaching life at the College of the Bible in Lexington, Kentucky, J.W. McGarvey became increasingly deaf and therefore was compelled to use a rather awkward ear-trumpet to hear his students. The ear-trumpet was a kind of goosenecked horn approximately the size of a small teacup attached to a rubber tube about three feet long. Brother McGarvey put the tube into his ear and the students recited their memory work for the day into the ear-trumpet at the teacher’s desk. That, of course, suggests all kinds of possibilities for fun-making and nearly all of them were apparently tried by brother McGarvey’s students who nonetheless loved him dearly.

One day McGarvey asked Hiram Brown to recite. Brown was in the back of the room and noticing that McGarvey did not have his ear-piece in place stood up and said, "Good morning, John." All laughed loudly but were quickly quieted when John McGarvey said in return, "Good morning, Hiram." The students were amazed to realize that their wise old professor had somewhere along the way become quite adept at reading lips. Thereafter they were more careful to cover up their pranks.

Continue reading » Voices from the Past: Students and Today’s Issues (C.G. "Colly Caldwell, III)

The Simple Gospel: The Narrowness of Truth

"And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not" (John 8:45). "Am I therefore your enemy because I tell you the truth?" (Galatians 4:16).

In the first of the quoted passages, Jesus pinpointed the cause for the unbelief of some Jews – unbelief of the truth. These physical descendants of Abraham were the spiritual children of the devil; they believed not Christ because they did not believe the truth which He taught. In the second passage referred to, Paul’s preaching of the truth is suggested as the reason for possible enmity between him and the Galatians.

The Narrowness of Truth

In both of the passages there is evident the underlying quality of truth which often alienates men from men and men from God – its narrowness. The nature of truth is such that all views, ideas, and positions can never be included in it. Truth encompasses only those ideas, principles, views, and positions which are consistent with other parts of it. Truth is very narrow in this respect: it excludes any conflicting point of view or position.

Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: The Narrowness of Truth

Associate Editorial: “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (NKJ).

As a youngster, I heard 2 Timothy 2:15 discussed widely in class and used often in gospel preaching. In most instances, the passage was relied upon to urge Christians to “study” (KJV) their Bibles and to “rightly divide” (make a distinction) between the Old and New Testaments. While there is no doubt that “being diligent to present yourself to God” will include studying the scriptures, and “rightly dividing the word of truth” will include distinguishing between the covenants, it is also true that this passage carries a deeper meaning than then allowed. The instruction to Timothy in verse 15 is embedded in a wider context of preaching the gospel that lends weight to the work of evangelism. We must learn this lest we “need to be ashamed.” Continue reading » Associate Editorial: “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)

The Simple Gospel: The Word of Christ

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:16-17)

Here in the Colossian epistle, Paul gives several exhortations which are rather closely tied together. Simply, they are:

  1. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly with all wisdom.
  2. Teach each other by singing spiritual songs with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
  3. Do all things by the authority of Jesus Christ.

Underlying each of these is an emphasis on the importance of doctrine in the life of those who name the name of Christ. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Interestingly, a search in the New King James version of the New Testament reveals three other times where the phrase “know the truth” is used. The way in which the phrase is used is significant. Continue reading » The Simple Gospel: The Word of Christ

Is Doctrinal Unity Possible?

Unity of the Spirit VS Unity in Diversity

Outline of Lesson, December 6, 1998
Forest Hills church of Christ

Intro: What saith the scriptures? For generations, we have approached our denominational neighbors with the intent of sharing New Testament Christianity with them. As we have surveyed the division that is characteristic both philosophically and practically of sectarianism, we have told them of a better way. We refer to the unity that is in Christ, manifest by the Spirit, and guided by the inspired message (Eph. 4:1-6). We are not the first to believe and work for doctrinal unity based upon faith in Jesus Christ and the finality of scripture as the supreme court of our faith and practice. Continue reading » Is Doctrinal Unity Possible?

Voices from the Past: Our Attitude and Practice Toward Error (Dennis C. Abernathy)

Our Attitude and Practice Toward Error

(Acts 17:16-34)

Dennis C. Abernathy
ca. 1975

We all are aware, I am sure, that error is all around us. A very important question is: “What shall be my attitude and practice toward such?” Let us in this article use the example of the apostle Paul. We find him in the city of Athens waiting for his companions to join him. He had come there to escape opposition (Acts 17:13-15). Upon his arrival Paul found the city wholly given to idolatry (v. 16). In other words, Athens was full of idolatry. It is said that Athens had more idols and images than all the rest of Greece. That it was easier to find a god than a man in Athens. Continue reading » Voices from the Past: Our Attitude and Practice Toward Error (Dennis C. Abernathy)