There is no more despicable behavior among men of war than the traitor. A great gulf lies between the valiant warrior and the traitor.
Just think of the examples we can take from famous battles of true selfless devotion and sacrifice for the sake of others. Too numerous to count have been the lives that were freely given with the full knowledge that they themselves would die so that others might enjoy some benefit of their ultimate gift. We know this is the most noble sacrifice of all because our Lord offered Himself for us so that we might have eternal life. He respects this selflessness when shown in man, as well. John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” We too, are to display this greatest form of love and honor it highly.
Being a Texan, I always think of the Alamo and its place not just in Texas history but in the greater story of democracy for the entire American Nation. There are examples of battles from wars in ancient history that had even greater importance than those that usually come so easily to our minds. Continue reading » Are Those Who “Sleep On Watch” Traitors to the Cause of Christ?
Controversy exists among God’s people today. This is no different than in times past, and as always is an unfortunate circumstance. Sometimes controversy erupts because men with evil motives seek to foment strife. Sometimes controversy arises out of the inevitable conflict between truth and error. Invariably there is the cry of “foul” when criticism is levied against any teaching. Sometimes the cry is valid, and sometimes it is the feeble attempt of the digressive to obfuscate, and deflect criticism of his campaign against truth. Brother Tom Roberts referred to this ungodly tactic in an article in Watchman that appeared in April of 1998. He wrote: Continue reading » Editorial: Honor in Controversy
A saw is not always a tool with which to cut something. Webster says it is a proverb, or a trite saying. We are being treated to several old saws today. Lets have a look at some of them.
These are perilous times for conservative brethren. Unless some changes in attitude occur, division is inevitable among the conservative churches. It will likely take a while for it to occur, but all the elements of division are now present: misrepresentation, accusation, polarization and separation. This all started with the publication of erroneous views on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. It has moved from that to widespread discussion of what is generally called “fellowship.” Romans 14 is being misused in an effort to foist upon the brethren generally an attitude of tolerance known as “unity in diversity,” You believe it your way and I’ll believe it mine, and we’ll get along just fine. A brother recently described the situation in the congregation where he worships. He said, “We have people here who are institutional, some who are anti-institutional, and some who are liberal on the marriage issue. We have agreed not to do anything that violates anyone’s conscience, and we will not preach on these things or try to convert each other.” I will guarantee you that we could get along with the devil with that philosophy! What ever happened to “earnestly contending for the faith”(Jude 3), and preaching the whole counsel of God? (Acts 20:27). Continue reading » Some Old Saws — Same Old Saws
Concerning current controversies over marriage issues, Romans 14 and fellowship, a brother recently wrote:
“I need your help and suggestions. The question is, how do we alert the sleeping faithful? After talking to some of my brethren and fellow preachers, it seems that most of them have the same attitude, ‘You are just yelling wolf’. It seems that they do not think that the battle is real, nor one that will threaten them or their congregations. I feel that this is a very foolish, “bury your head in the sand” attitude. I believe the sooner we can jump into the thick of the battle and make our stand for the truth, the better.
“I have met with some of the brethren where I labor. They seem to have the attitude that I can do some sermons on the issue, but that will be enough. I feel that we need to attack this false doctrine problem with a focused, multimedia action. That is to use any articles, sermons, studies and any other medium we can get our hands on. I hate the thought of standing by and seeing my brethren fall by the wayside. Continue reading » Queries and Explications: How Do We Alert the Sleeping Faithful?
[The Gospel Guardian, Vol. 19, No. 38, February 1, 1968]
“And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord…” (I Kings 18:17, 18) Ahab was infamously wicked, (I Kings 16:30) and Elijah refused to let him forget it. Thus, when Ahab saw Elijah he condemned him as a troublemaker, though the genuine cause of strife and confusion then, as now, was a forsaking of God’s commands. Christ rebuked the hypocritical traditions of the Jews and urged a return to his Father’s will. Those undeniably shown to be of their father, the devil, accused the harmless Lamb of God of offending them. (Matt. 15:12) Their rejection of God’s law for the teaching of men left them void of acceptance by the Spirit of God, and when this was manifest they labeled the world’s Truth-teller a troublemaker. Continue reading » Voices from the Past: Trouble Makers or Truth Tellers (Larry Ray Hafley)
The problems facing institutional churches are well chronicled. Some in the institutional churches have awakened to the need for strong and distinctive preaching in the face of “change agents” who have sought to destroy the divine hermeneutic, and replace it with a new “non-patternistic” one. Recently, while reading the April 1998 issue of The Spiritual Sword, I ran across a quote from Alan E. Highers in his editorial “What Is Happening in the Church?” It admits to what non-institutional preachers and writers have claimed for many years about our more liberal brethren. The quote came in the context of previous polemic struggles with the denominations.
“Unfortunately, just as the opposition had strengthened churches of Christ and had caused members to know what they believed and why, so the lack of opposition caused some to grow soft and indifferent. Without the opposition and frontal attacks, their interest in doctrinal preaching waned and so did their knowledge and understanding of the truth. As a result, doctrinal resolve weakened and many were left vulnerable to the influence of false teaching and error. We sowed the wind and today are reaping the whirlwind of thirty-five years of indistinct teaching among churches of Christ” (pg. 2, The Spiritual Sword, April 1998).
Of course, our viewpoint is somewhat different. In the 1940’s and 1950’s institutional issues threatened, and ultimately succeeded in dividing the people of God. The polemic struggle often was not with the denominations, but rather between brethren. As with the struggles with the denominations, truth had the upper hand. So, those who wished to retain their precious human institutions ceased debating (with few exceptions), and instead shifted their tactics to a more subtle attack upon non-institutional brethren. Instead of direct debate there were whispers shared about those “anti’s” and “orphan haters”; churches which were “dying on the vine.” The resultant inability and unwillingness to defend from the pattern of God’s word their man-made inventions led to the indistinct preaching mentioned above. The analogy of sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind is apropos. It is precisely because of such indistinct preaching that liberal churches are having to deal with the “change agents” and the so-called “new hermeneutic.” Continue reading » Editorial: Is Something “Happening” in the Church?
As you may know, last month we reviewed an article by an attorney, H. John Rogers, a New Martinsville, WV Methodist. (If you are a new reader, please click here for the article.) We received two critical responses to our review of Mr. Rogers. Incorporated and included below are the replies made to those who were displeased of our handling of Mr. Rogers and his material. Our critics have done us a favor by expressing themselves. Since they may speak for many today who do not believe it appropriate to”argue the Bible,” especially when sarcasm and sharp rebuke are employed, we thought it good, not to defend intemperate words, but to provide material for consideration.
Frankly, the non-controversial, non-combative, non-confrontational approach to preaching is cause for alarm. Often, though certainly not always, such a spirit resides within those who are liberal minded and who have no respect for “the good fight of faith” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 1 Timothy 6:12; Jude 3). Not being sure that error condemns, and not being convinced that denominationalism is not of God, some have begun to sympathize with false teachers and apologize for those who oppose and expose them. Continue reading » Queries and Explications: How Do We “Fight the Fight”?
Is it scriptural to describe Christians as watchmen? That is, may we apply the principle of being watchmen, as God did to the prophets of Israel, to the work of preaching and teaching the gospel of Christ in these last days? (Rom. 15:4; Heb. 1:1-2) Some maintain it is wrong to apply the term and principle of “watchmen” to brethren today. They conclude that since the term “watchmen” was applied to the OT prophets we do not have the authority to use the concept it conveys when describing the work of preaching the gospel of Christ. Some have assumed that the OT prophets were given a position of national oversight in their prophetic work, and since there is no brotherhood-wide organization of the Lord’s church, we cannot use the term “watchmen” as we discuss and apply NT truth to the work of evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph. 4:11). It is concluded that those who would “contend for the faith” must not be described as watchmen (Jude 3; cf. Ezek. 3:17; 33:7-9). In this article, we will see from the Bible that the concept of the watchmen’s work continues to have legitimate application to evangelists, pastors and teachers in the kingdom of Christ, just as it did when fleshly Israel was the people of God. Continue reading » Watchmen In Zion
Our Attitude and Practice Toward Error
Dennis C. Abernathy
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)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 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 has made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:3-6).
Even the most casual of Bible students is able to determine that the “us” of Ephesians 1, which as a group has been chosen “in Him before the foundation of the world”, has reference to the church of God which Christ “purchased with His own blood” (cf. Acts 20:28). Most Christians are able to give a concise definition of the term “church”, derived from the greek term “ekklesia”, and referring to the “called out” which are the people of God. Fundamental lessons we learn as babes in Christ allow us to identify the church built by Christ (Matthew 16:18), and to respect its grand design which had its origin in the mind of God “before the foundation of the world.” Continue reading » Editorial: Thinking About the Church
Tabernacle Sermons, Volume 3, ca. 1928
In looking over this great audience assembled, I am reminded of days gone by. There is genuine appreciation in the heart of every one who loves the truth, because of the wonderful opportunities that are to us granted. I want to join Bro. Cullom in expressing appreciation of the presence of so many delegations from the various parts of our land. I want to thank, especially, our colored brethren for coming in a body this afternoon. To all of these services, you are most cordially invited. Unto God be all the praise and to us the encouragement. I think you ought to know that any man, appearing before an audience of this kind, is deeply impressed with the great responsibility resting upon him. I know that impressions are going to be made. God forbid that anything shall be said or done other than that which is in harmony with His will. I beg of you to study carefully and to consider thoughtfully all that may be said at this service. Continue reading » Voices from the Past: The Spirit of Christ (N.B. Hardeman)
The Need for Children to be Taught
There is a great need today for our young people to be taught the word of God. As I write this, I believe it goes without saying that this is true. The need for gospel teaching is seen in the words of Christ as He commanded His disciples to, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:15-16). It is seen in Paul’s words, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2). Peter’s words also show us how important it is to be taught God’s word. This is because we must, “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,” and “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 2:11, 4:11). There is no way a Christian (regardless of age) may live, speak, or teach others in a way that pleases God unless he/she is taught what pleases God.
The Need for Teaching Our Young PeopleIn considering our subject, why is it necessary to teach our young people? First of all, it is necessary because teaching our youth is commanded by God, as we have already shown. Teaching our young people also shows that we are following the apostolic example (1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:16). Paul took time to impart his experience and knowledge to young men like Timothy and Titus. (Not unlike what Christ did for His disciples!). Paul knew he wasn’t going to live forever, and that men like Timothy and Titus were going to have to rise up and fill Paul’s place as a teacher and exhorter of brethren when he was gone. Continue reading » We Need Watchmen Because of Our Children
The Negative Side of All Positive Preaching
The PreliminariesIn recent years, I have attended many gospel meetings in which a verse was read at the beginning of the lesson … followed by 20 minutes of after dinner stories, and one final verse at the invitation. Now, they may not have preached any error,… but brethren is it enough to just not preach error? Sometimes my children are disappointed when they are told they cannot watch a TV show. They ask “what’s wrong with it?” We tell them that is not the question. Iinstead we should ask, what is right about it? Is it wholesome enough to watch? John said “If anyone comes to you and does NOT BRING this doctrine…” (1 John 10). John did not say if they don’t preach error … but rather if they fail to preach the truth! There can be a difference in preaching truth, and preaching THE truth. So many sermons offered today contain truth … but they also contain nothing that a good denominational fellow would disagree with. Some churches have asked preachers to work with them who held unscriptural positions, after being assured, “But I won’t preach it!” First of all, no preacher has the right to refuse to teach any Bible subject. Second, no church has the right to tell a preacher he cannot preach what he believes. He should be allowed to preach it, and if it is error, then it must be exposed and dealt with. Third, and this is where so many seem to misunderstand, it is not enough that he does not preach error, he must preach truth … all of it. Certainly no one can preach all the truth in a meeting, but over a course of time one must. Paul said he did not fail to teach all that was needed to the Ephesian church, Acts 20:20, nor did he fail to declare the whole counsel of God, vs 27. Continue reading » We Need Watchmen Because of the PMA Approach to Preaching
Watching Silently as the Wolves Devour the Sheep
I have had the very painful experience of reading fellowship withdrawal announcements concerning people whom I had baptized just a year or so before. While nothing compares to the exultation of watching a precious soul being washed in the blood of his Savior, few things are more agonizing than witnessing him return to the mire and slavery of sin (2 Peter 2:22; Rom. 6:16).
Religious fellowship is a condition of life that the sectarian world has co-opted and redefined. To them, it now means fun, food and frolic. But to the child of God, fellowship is spiritual and has an unrivaled sweetness to it that can not be so cheapened. It allows brethren to walk together in unity of blessing and purpose (Psalm 133:1, Gal. 2:9). It encourages the support of evangelism (Phil. 4:15) and the sharing of both joy and pain (Gal. 6:1-2 and 1 Cor. 12:26). Fellowship is not confined to a single room or event but transcends space and time to connect those of like faith wherever they are and at all times (2 Peter 1:1 and 1 Thess. 4:9-10).
Clearly, the extension of fellowship is joyous, while the severance or impossibility of fellowship is filled with sorrow. Dissatisfaction with this separation in the sectarian world has given rise to the ecumenical movement that ignores a mountain of doctrinal differences in the pursuit of a supposed peace. Continue reading » We Need Watchmen Because of Unity in Diversity
The Constant Battle Against Immorality
The world in which we live, late 20th Century America, is quickly deteriorating. By deteriorating, we mean morally. Technologically, physically, and economically society seems to be advancing, but spiritually we are declining. Immorality abounds. Deviant behavior and actions that once were rarely mentioned in public, except to condemn, are now openly discussed, joked about, and promoted. Filthy language (cursing, sexually explicit, etc.) is frequently used by both men and women. Satan is working non-stop to encourage all these evils and he especially works to bring these evils into the lives of Christians.
In this article we want to notice various forms of immorality that are present in the world, how Satan works to bring these evil acts into our lives, and what we must do to combat this error.
Various Forms of ImmoralityMany forms of immorality are socially acceptable and to oppose them is to be narrow-minded, unloving, or worse yet, an extremist. The term “extremist” is used to prejudice the minds of the general population. It is a term similar to the term “anti” used by liberals in the church to paint those of us who demand Scriptural authority for all practices as hate-mongers and orphan-haters. Let us notice some of these socially acceptable forms of immorality. Continue reading » We Need Watchmen Because of Immorality
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me.”
“Ezekiel … was appointed a watcher over the exiled nation of Israel, and was in this capacity to continue the work of the earlier prophets, especially that of Jeremiah, with whom he in several ways associates himself in his prophecies; to preach to his contemporaries the judgment and salvation of God, in order to convert them to the Lord their God.”
Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 9 (Ezekiel & Daniel), page 2
Ezekiel, as a prophet of God and preacher of righteousness, lived and served his God in the darkest of days of the kingdom of Israel. The people were in exile, chafing under Babylonian rule, and looking for relief. There were false prophets in the land who were willing to tickle the ears of a desperate people. Jeremiah recorded the people’s unwillingness to listen to the message of God’s prophets in Jeremiah 29:19, “because they have not heeded My words, says the LORD, which I sent to them by My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; neither would you heed, says the LORD.” He then pronounced God’s judgment against the false prophets in verses 20-23, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD, all you of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, who prophesy a lie to you in My name: Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall slay them before your eyes. And because of them a curse shall be taken up by all the captivity of Judah who are in Babylon, saying, ‘The LORD make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire’; because they have done disgraceful things in Israel, have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and have spoken lying words in My name, which I have not commanded them. Indeed I know, and am a witness, says the LORD.” Continue reading » Theme Editorial: The Present Need for Watchmen