Babylon is first mentioned in the book of Revelation at chapter 14:8. John writes, “And another, a second angel, followed, saying, Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, that hath made all the nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” The Babylonian Empire had already fallen hundreds of years before these words were written. What then is John writing about? Who is Babylon? Why is Babylon falling? A study of the book of Revelation reveals Babylon to be the world of sin and sinners. She is Satan’s realm (see John 12:31; 16:11; 1 John 5:19). Babylon is used, throughout the book of Revelation, as a personification of things opposed to the authoritative will of God. She is powerful, seductive, and terrible (see Daniel 2:31). Knowledge of Revelation’s Babylon will better equip the saints today to identify sin and avoid it rather than participating in it (see Revelation 18:4). Continue reading » Babylon in the book of Revelation
I recently came across an internet article listing the 5 most hated YouTube videos in internet history. This list was based upon the number of “thumbs down” designations given. Fifth on the list is the music video, “Baby”, by teen pop singer Justin Bieber. First on the list is a young lady who videotaped her opinion that the earthquake and resultant tsunami that devastated Japan was an answer to prayer, that God might convince the atheist of His existence. Interestingly, the girl later admitted that her video is a hoax, deliberately outrageous with the intent of provoking the ire of viewers.
Continue reading » The Intolerance of Toleration
There are occasions when in the study of morality and in particular the issue of modest dress, that we will consider definitions and examples in the Old Testament to further clarify our understanding of what God requires. When this is done, there sometimes is an element of backlash and an accusation that we are “binding the Old Testament.” In fact on one occasion a well known gospel preacher made the statement on the issue as he discussed modest dress in a sermon that he was “not one of these popes who takes it upon himself to bind the Old Testament on people in the matter.” While this sentiment seems a bit harsh and over stated, the basic premise should be considered as we “prove all things, [and] hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Are we binding the Old Testament when we define such terms as “nakedness” from its pages? Let us consider the scriptures on the subject.
Continue reading » In Reference to Modest Dress, Are We Binding The Old Testament?
Worldliness poses a great threat to the child of God. There as been an alarming trend in recent years as many in the Lord’s church have shown greater acceptance of worldliness and sin. Many seek to justify their sin with argument, yet they are only arguing against God’s divine word. There are no “loop-holes” in the book of God! The Pharisees sought a “loop-hole” and were condemned for it. Notice Matthew 15: 3-6:
He answered and said to them, “why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and ‘he who curses father and mother, let him be put to death.’ ‘but you say ‘whoever says to his father or mother , whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift of God.’ ‘Then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus, you have made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.”
Continue reading » The Great Danger of Worldliness
The passage begins memorably–“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.”
There is a spiritual danger in being linked to unbelievers, whether they be avowed atheists, practical infidels who claim conviction but live wickedly, or those who believe in God, but reject the authoritative nature of his word. Even as the inspired writer condemns being yoked to unbelievers, he offers a remedy–“Come out from among them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
Continue reading » Come Out and Be Separate
Although the world may acknowledge the power of one’s words, many people in the world think very little about how they actually speak. It seems that there was a time when filthy language was only used by unsavory characters and dirty stories were reserved for private conversations held by “mature” adults. Today, profanity and filthy language can be heard by all kinds of people in all kinds of places. Even people who call themselves “Christians” can be heard using foul language and telling dirty jokes.
The Bible takes a very different approach to the way we use our words. Jesus warned us to take our speech very seriously.
“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).
Jesus says that we will give an account for every idle or careless word that proceeds from our mouth. He goes on to say that such words will determine whether we will stand justified or condemned before Him. Indeed, death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). Continue reading » Corrupt Words and Filthy Speech
The word “teetotaler” means someone who abstains completely from alcoholic beverages. The Bible calls on Christians to be teetotalers. Continue reading » Teetotalers
The following joke appeared in the July 2004 edition of Reader’s Digest:
Reporter interviewing a 104-year-old woman: "What is the best thing about being 104? She replied, "No peer pressure."
While this is humorous as an age joke, it’s not so funny when you’re a teenager facing the very real challenge of peer pressure. This is especially true for Christian teens. Children and adults are either oblivious to such pressure, or are confident and secure enough not to care. Most teens, however, do care about what other people think.
When I was a teenager, lo these 20 years ago, we referred to this phenomenon as being part of the "in crowd." I remember an article in my school newspaper about what was "in" and what was "out." Nike shoes were in, Adidas was out. Walkman radios were in, transistor radios were out. Three-wheelers were in, motorbikes were out. Thinking back on that list, it was really about materialism and excluding kids whose parents didn’t have the money for whatever was "in" at the time.
Continue reading » The Distaff: The "In Crowd" VS In Christ
Should a Christian Be There?
Most large cities have a section with a reputation for the lewd and ribald conduct frequently present after dark. In Paris, it is the Bois de Boulogne section of the city. In New Orleans, it is the Bourbon Street area. By day, these places may have good restaurants, museums or parks to visit, but decent people should know to stay clear from those areas by night. The phenomena is not peculiar to those cities. Most people around the country can tell you what neighborhood or section is of the same nature in their community. When our children are allowed to drive on their own, godly parents lay down the law that driving to those areas is absolutely forbidden.
Continue reading » "What is Written … How Readest Thou?": Ybor City Night-Life
Editor’s Note: Joe Wright, of Las Cruces, NM, sent in the following article when Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, was first being played in movie theaters.
About that same time, I wrote an article for the local paper where I normally pen a weekly sports report on the local high school. The editor (with whom I have a good relationship), refused to run the article. I had taken issue (mildly) with aspects of the film, and as she felt it was a good evangelistic tool, she was unwilling to print my criticism.
This is an example of the dangerous attitudes which brother Wright mentions in his short article. I commend it to you.
It is easily arguable that popular culture has designed the attitudes within our nation concerning a myriad of issues from eating habits to races for the highest offices in the land. We live in a time where an endorsement from a shoe company will get you stardom, and having your name or image associated with a soft drink can propel you to a position of status and wealth only very few will ever know. You know, I know, and “they” know all such is meaningless and empty on the whole, but it is “good for business.” Regardless, we have a habit of allowing ourselves to slip into the fantasies prescribed for us by the money and fame motivated forms of media in our nation almost without question. Now, as it has gotten closer to the heart, we must stop, meditate, and pray that we are not led into an empty popular culture.
Continue reading » The Passion in "Pop" Culture
In a recent issue of Sports Illustrated, the above title was used for an article written by the back page feature writer, Rick Reilly. I normally enjoy Reilly’s writing, as it is incisive as well as humorous. This particular article was no exception.
Reilly mentioned that more and more youth leagues are beginning to have their athletic activities on Sunday. It is a time when coaches and parents are off of work, and as the emphasis on organized youth sports increases, time becomes more precious. A time period which was once off limits (Sunday morning) is now routinely filled with regularly scheduled softball, baseball and soccer games.
And, as Reilly put it, we can’t really expect the officials and coaches to take the lead in changing the trend. It happens more and more often because of the parents! After all, if the parents did not allow their children to play on Sunday, there would be no games, no matter what the league or coach wanted.
Continue reading » Editorial: "Let Us Pr….Play"
What is wrong with the church of Christ?
If you say, “Nothing, it is the Lord’s church, and I am satisfied with what the Bible reveals about it,” you might be in a minority position. Many are ready to change the work, worship and structure of the church of Christ, including its identity as the “church of Christ.” Are you aware of what is happening?
We have been through decades in which many have sought to change the Lord’s church into something more tolerant and imitative of denominational theology. The exclusiveness of truth and those characteristics that identify God’s people from those of the denominational world are being eroded in many places. We see the evidence of it in the Tampa Bay area and around the nation. Consider some of the issues that the Lord’s people are facing:
Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Decades of Discontent
A few weeks ago, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled "that barring an individual from the protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex violates the Massachusetts Constitution." On a 4-3 decision, four judges have taken it upon themselves to require the recognition of homosexual marriage as equally valid and deserving the same benefits as a marriage between a man and a woman. Their opinion is available to the public as a 75-page document. It is a textbook study of sophistry and the effects of institutionalized amorality. When one reads the whole ruling, it becomes clear how the pieces of our moral decline all fit together. Thanks to four judges overruling the origin of marriage, its legal definition for hundreds of years in English common law and common sense, we now face the very real possibility that "same sex marriages" may soon have the force of law to validate their acceptability. With this decision, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has arrived at the end many have warned was coming — an attempt to form a fully amoral basis for law and ethics.
Continue reading » "What is Written … How Readest Thou?": An Amoral Basis for Law – It Won’t Work!
Where do you draw the line?
That is the question that confronts many people as they think themselves wandering somewhere in between righteousness and iniquity. How much is too much? When do we go too far?
So many believe that the answers to those questions will always be a matter of personal conviction and that each person’s answer is as valid as the next. Yet in many cases, God has drawn lines for us and inching closer and closer to iniquity is like the moth flitting nearer to the flame. While it is imperative that we resist any urge to draw our own artificial, arbitrary lines and impose them on others, it is equally vital that we learn to respect the lines that God has drawn in his word.
When God Has Drawn A Line
In creation, God enacted certain lines, limits and boundaries for this planet on which we live, and in all the years since, it has not added an ocean or a continent (Proverbs 8:25-31). In Proverbs 8, personified wisdom respects the authority of the Lord to set limits and draw boundaries, and when those limits are pressed, as they are in storms and floods and droughts, there is great conflict and injury that follows.
Continue reading » Walking Worthy: Drawing Lines
“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?
"Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God" (James 4:4)
Recently, while reading through the Dallas Morning News, I ran across the review capsules of all movies now playing in the metroplex. Out of the 34 movies reviewed over two pages, I found three movies (one an unrated documentary, and two movies designated as kids’ movies) which did not indicate a presence of strongly objectionable content. Among the other movies, 13 R’s, 12 PG-13’s, and several others not rated, but with strong sexual content, I found the following snippets: (These are representative, not exhaustive)
Continue reading » Editorial: Friendship with the World is "Emnity With God"
Columnist Mona Charen revealed in a recent column that more than 90 percent of Americans believe in God, 43 percent say they attend religious services at least once a week, and 58 percent report that religion is very important in their lives (Jewish World Review, 29 March 2000). The one thing they do not believe in is sin.
That old-time religion of frontier days, which emphasized themes like sin, redemption and judgment, has been gradually replaced by a self-esteem, self-help program of moral relativism and secular therapy.
Charen cites a few examples. Well-known preacher and head of Focus on the Family, James Dobson, still counsels young people against fornication, but his first line of deterrence is the risk of venereal disease, not displeasing a vigilant God. Dobson also advises teens that their formative years should be consumed with the pursuit of healthy self-esteem. A preacher years ago advised, "Remember now your creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come And the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’" (Ecclesiastes 12:1). The shift is subtle, but pervasive and fatal. There is a purity about the pursuit of God that is lost when spirituality is more defined by that loose phrase, "self-esteem."
Sin, of course, is viewed by American society as the greatest enemy of self-esteem, for failure makes people feel bad. Hence, the megachurch movement eschews it as a theme and focuses on what they call edification instead. Through the Old Testament prophets and New Testament writers, however, God made plain that true spiritual edification must be preceded by the demolition of wrong ideas. Jeremiah was sent with a divine mandate "To root out and to pull down, To destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant" (1:10). Paul wrote to three different churches about the burial of the old man of sin and the regeneration of the new man of faith (Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:22, Colossians 3:9). The lot of the human heart is condemned and some clearing must occur before new construction may begin. Sin is the debris that penitence and conviction will remove.
Continue reading » Walking Worthy: Believing In Sin
Someone said, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Naturally, we are inclined to think that our times are worse than any others that have ever been and while such isn’t so, these times are our times so we are the ones who are being tried today.
Without a doubt, souls are being tried and tested.
Young people are experiencing tremendous temptations on every hand. Sex is pictured as being the most desired part of life and few are remaining virtuous. There is a constant stream of influence through TV shows that portray boys and girls, men and women living together, in bed together, having babies without wedlock, dancing, scantily dressed, and with few morals. The norm in our day is to view sex without the sanctity of marriage as acceptable. Movies also are an influence toward evil as every conceivable moral code is violated. Some movies have been advertised that portray incest, child abuse, sadism, homosexuality, adultery and every form of illicit sex.
Continue reading » Associate Editorial: Times That Try Men’s Souls
When my daughter was 8 or 9 years old, she had her first “conflict” between worldly and spiritual activities. Her softball team was in a tournament, and had an important game scheduled on Sunday morning. My daughter dearly wanted to be at that game. When we got to services, she saw one of her favorite “grandmas” at the front of the building. She ran up to her and said, “I’m having to miss my softball game this morning because of church!” I will never forget and will always appreciate this wise sister’s answer to her. She hugged her, and said, “That’s wonderful! I’m so proud of you!” My daughter walked away from her happy and proud that her sacrifice was appreciated, rather than sad at her “loss.”
In the years that have followed, all of my children have suffered similarly, as gospel meetings, Wednesday night classes, and even Sunday morning assemblies have conflicted with their secular schedules. These are rather mild cases, but are nevertheless characteristic examples of how those who follow Christ suffer in the face of an uncaring world. Paul said that such would be the lot of all Christians, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). Anyone who names the name of Christ will suffer as a result of his profession.
I am proud to say that my children have suffered these persecutions stoically, but it breaks my heart that they have had to give up even this little bit for their faith. Having said that, I believe these “losses” to be among the most powerful and important lessons they have learned in their short lives as Christians. Continue reading » Editorial: Are We Protecting Our Children?
Prologue: My desire in this article is to note the societal trends that would not only allow a man such as Bill Clinton to occupy the office of President, but also would allow him to stay, with an astounding measure of personal popularity, despite his rather public shortcomings. Such societal attitudes are expressed very clearly by H. John Rogers, in an article he wrote, titled , Starr’s Church of Christ. Two short phrases from his article sum it up well. He writes, “Unfortunately for President Clinton, his sexual peccadillos were committed during the reign of a spiritual descendant of Oliver Cromwell.” In another place in the article, Rogers’ writes, “It is the President’s great misfortune that his inquisitor is a man who considers a little hanky-panky and its natural by-product (the covering lie), the equivalent of treason and bribery.” Such words are, to say the least, a great concern to those who advocate an adherence to God’s moral standard as revealed in scripture. How can we as a society continue when our attitudes and actions rise as a continual insult before the Almighty God? Continue reading » Reversing the “Spin-Doctors”: One Nation Under God?