PUBLIC CONFESSION OF SINS VERSUS
THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE
Victor M. Eskew
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for
another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a
righteous man availeth much (James 5:16). The inspired
writer, James, teaches us the necessity of confessing our sins
one to another. This verse is the authority behind what
is often called a public confession. When the
invitation is extended at the close of a sermon, often a member
of the church will come forward and confess his/her sins. Once
the confession is made, the church as a whole prays for Gods
forgiveness on the sinners behalf.
There are some who have likened this practice to
The Sacrament of Penance as practiced by the Catholic
Church. However, there are some major differences that exist
between the two practices. In the remainder of this article, we
will examine these distinctions.
First, the Catholic Church lists
Penance among the sacraments. A sacrament is a
religious symbol or rite which conveys divine grace,
blessing, or sanctity upon the believer who participates in
it (wikipedia.com, Sacrament).
The Bible, however, nowhere refers to sacraments. The
confession of sins is considered part of the divine process
whereby sins are forgiven by God (I John 1:9).
Second, the Sacrament of Penance
demands that confession be made before an official, duly ordained
priest of the Catholic Church. One who is considered a layman in
the Catholic Church cannot hear the confession of the penitent
In the Lords church, anyone is free to hear the
confession of the penitent. In most cases, the first to hear is
the preacher. He, then, tells the entire church about the sins
being confessed. This writer has seen elders and other members of
the church listen to the confession first. The Bible does not
teach that confession must be taken by a duly ordained priest of
the Catholic Church. James 5:16 teaches that confession is to be
made one to another.
Third, Penance or
Reconciliation as practiced by the Catholics is done in
private. The confession involves the sinner and the priest only.
This is not the case when a public confession is made
by a member of the church. The sin may be revealed to the
preacher first, but it is ultimately made known to the entire
congregation. Since the sin involved the entire church, the
entire congregation offers a prayer on the individuals
behalf. When one offers the prayer, all the church is being led
in the prayer.
Fourth, Penance as taught by the
Romans Catholics involves all the sins one has committed since
ones last confession. These sins are both public and private
transgressions. They can involve behavioral sins and sins one
commits within the heart.
This is not the case when a member of the church comes
forward confessing his sins. He comes only when his sins are of a
public nature. These sins have adversely impacted the members of
the body of which he is a part. Private sins and sins between
brethren can be dealt with in a private setting (Matt. 18:15;
Fifth, the Catholic doctrine of Auricular
Confession gives the priest the ability to absolve or remit
the sins of the penitent. The priest will often make this
statement during the confession: God the Father of mercies,
through the death and resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the
world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the
forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God
give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit (Catechism of the Catholic Church, The
sacrament of forgiveness, 1449, p.404). Note the words:
I absolve you from your sins. The word I
refers to the priest. The Catholics believe that a priest has the
power to forgive sins.
In the Lords church, when prayer is offered for
the penitent, God is addressed. The one praying asks the Father
in heaven to forgive the one who has come confessing his/her
Sixth, the Catholic Confession also involves
what is referred to as satisfaction. In the
Catechism, we read the following: Absolution takes
away sin, it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused.
Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full
spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for sin:
he must make satisfaction for or expiate his
sins. This satisfaction is also called penance (p.407).
Mere confession, therefore, is not enough according to Catholics.
There must be a payment. It can consist of prayer, an
offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary
self-denial, sacrifices, and above all patient acceptance of the
cross we bear (Catechism, p.407).
The public confession in the Lords church
never involves satisfaction or penance. The penitent is
never told that he must do something more after repentance and
confession in order to be right with God.
The six things we have discussed show that a great gulf
exists between our public confession and the Auricular Confession
of the Catholic Church. To make the claim that they are similar
is a false claim. The confession of sins as practiced in the
church of Christ harmonizes with James 5:16. The Sacrament of
Penance contains much that is man-made. May each of us be pleased
to confess your faults one to another, and pray one for
another. We do this because of Gods promise that the
effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Paris, TN 38242
Table of Contents
THE RIGHT HAND AND THE LEFT HAND
Garland M. Robinson
Think of the church (which began in Jerusalem on Pentecost
in Acts 2) as a straight line drawn on a board,
starting at the bottom (33 A.D.) and moving upward (today and
beyond). This line represents the faithful true church of Christ.
It is always moving upward in a straight line. As the years and
centuries come and go, there are some (and/or many) who depart
from the line, some to the left and some to the
THE LEFT HAND
The New Testament speaks plainly of a great apostasy
from the faith. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that
in the latter times some shall depart from the faith,
giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a
hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from
meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of
them which believe and know the truth (I Tim. 4:1-3).
Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica concerning the
Lords second coming and said, Let no man deceive you
by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a
falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son
of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is
called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in
the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye
not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these
things (II Thess. 2:3-5). In verse 7, Paul tells them
the apostasy had already begun. Paul met with the elders of the
church at Ephesus and said, Take heed therefore unto
yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost
hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath
purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my
departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing
the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise,
speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after
them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of
three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with
tears (Acts 20:28-31). This text says that even some
elders will be leading the way into apostasy. Sad, sad indeed!
Not much has changed since then.
God has always warned his people to not stray from the
strait and narrow. We are always to walk in His Path
and follow His Way. This was made clear to Moses and the children
of Israel. In Deuteronomy chapter five we read, And Moses
called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the
statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that
ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. ... Ye shall observe to
do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall
not turn aside to the RIGHT HAND or to the LEFT
(vs.1,32). This same admonition is seen throughout the
Scriptures. The people were warned time and time again, dont
deviate from Gods law. Dont depart from it to the left
hand or to the right hand.
The left hand is often referred to as
liberal. Liberalism is defined as the quality or
state of being liberal. Advocating the freedom of the individual
to assure unrestricted development in all spheres of human
endeavors and guarantees of individual rights.
THE RIGHT HAND
The left hand is also being referred to as
progressive. Were hearing more and more of some
indidivuals and/or congregations being progressive. You would
think that being progressive would be a good thing. What could
possibly be wrong with favoring or advocating progress and/or
using new ideas and methods? But this is not how the term is
being used. When liberals use the word progressive, they have in
mind change or reform as opposed to
maintaining things as they are (as God has legislated). They
desire to employ or advocate more enlightened or liberal ideas.
They do not intend to be bound or limited by the Scriptures. They
want to progress beyond the limits of the Scriptures. However,
maintaining things as they are, as they have always been
(tradition), is a good thing if it came from the apostles (cf. II
Thess. 3:6). The traditions of men are condemned in the
Scriptures (cf. Mark 7:1-13). But the traditions established by
the apostles and inspired penmen of the New Testament are
authorized. They are what we are to maintain (II Tim. 1:13). They
are the words from which we will be judged (John 12:48).
The left hand (liberals, progressives) takes
liberties with Gods law. This position does not respect
Gods law and refuse to be bound by it. It says, I know
some say God forbids this or that, but I believe it will be
alright to do it anyway. God is a loving God and he wont
condemn me for vilolating his will. Such an idea does not
respect Gods laws and therefore does not recognize his
authority. The left hand allows what God forbids.
Individuals who wander off the strait and narrow path
to the left hand, dont believe God means what he says. They
do not believe the Bible is a rule book, a guide, a model, a
pattern that is to be respected and followed. They look at, with
disdain (disgust, outrage), anyone who believes in doing exactly
what God says, nothing more and nothing less. However, those who
espouse this position think they are right and do not recognize
they could even possibily be wrong. They dont see they are
going beyond the boundaries God has given.
Liberals use all manner of terms and expressions in an
effort to cast down those who love the Lord enough to honor and
obey his will terms such as legalists, pharisees(ism),
right wingers, narrow minded (while they are broad minded), bible
thumpers. Their attempt is to poison the well in the
minds of those whom they seek to influence so they will not be
receptive to the truth or those who uphold the truth.
The left hand believes in going beyond
Gods word allowing more than God allows. Those on the
left act without authority from God. Authority is not
important to them. They think the principle of authority is silly
and foolish and they laugh at those who follow it. To them, it is
sinful to see the Bible as the pattern, the blueprint. However,
Colossians 3:17 demands authority for all we say and do.
And WHATSOEVER ye do in WORD OR DEED, DO ALL IN THE NAME
OF THE LORD Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by
Those who have gone off course on the left
hand stand condemned in 2 John 9-11. Whosoever
transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of
Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ,
he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you,
and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into [your] house,
neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is
partaker of his evil deeds. The same point is made in
First Corinthians 4:6. We are not to think above or beyond that
which is written. Those on the left hand and the
liberties they take with Gods Word, cause division. Romans
16:17-18 tells us what to do with those who cause division.
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause
divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have
learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our
Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and
fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
The right hand is the opposite of the left
hand. Whereas the left hand ignores the laws of
God and acts in open violation to them, the right hand
stops short of Gods laws. This approach to the Bible will
not allow the liberties God permits. The right hand forbids
what God allows. It is to make laws God did not make and bind
them upon themselves and others. The right hand looks
at scriptures which authorize an action and will not allow it.
They forbid (prohibit, refuse, outlaw) anyone to observe what God
allows (authorizes, grants). It binds where God has not
There is no one word that would particularily identify
this position. In the sense that one may oppose what God allows,
such could be called anti against. Some of the
Pharisees made laws based upon their traditions and bound them
upon others (Mark 7:1-13). The Lord condemned them for their
hypocrisy and elevating tradtion above law. (As there is a sense
in which the word liberal is good, such as being
liberal givers (II Cor. 9:6-7); there is a sense in which the
word anti is good. That is, we are to be against
everything God forbids. But these definitions are not what is
under consideration in this article.)
Sometimes the word conservative is used to
apply to those who make laws God did not make. However, the
definition of the word conservative does not show this
to be the case. The word conservative according to
Random House Dictionary is: disposed to preserve existing
conditions, institutions, etc. Traditional in style or manner. A
person who is conservative in principles, actions, habits,
etc. Webster says the same. Dictionary.com says,
disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc.
or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change. This
being the case, it appears that one who believes in following the
New Testament and using it as a pattern is a conservative. That
is, such a person is doing exactly what the New Testament
authorizes not deviating to the right hand or to the left.
This is one who does not make laws that God did not make, nor
does he loose (ignore, disregard) the laws that God did make.
The truth of the matter is that Gods Word is
...true from the beginning: and every one of thy
righteous judgments endureth for ever (Psa. 119:160).
Gods word is strait and narrow (Matt. 7:14). That
means it is close, hemmed in, to crowd. It is the way
that leads to eternal life and few are those who follow it. The
Truth is the strait and narrow path between the extremes of the
right hand and the left hand. If you are driving down the road
and run off into the ditch, it doesnt make any difference if
its the ditch on the left or the right, youre still in
the ditch! One is just as bad as the other.
All the ways to the left and all the ways to the right,
constitute the broad and wide way (Matt. 7:13). Imagine a clock
on the wall. 12 oclock is the way that leads to God and
heaven. Anything and everything to the left of 12 ignores some or
many of the laws God made. Consequently, it is the wrong way.
Anything and everything to the right of 12 makes laws God did not
make. Consequently, it is the wrong way. 12 oclock is
single, narrow, strait. It includes all the ways and laws of God.
It is the New Testament (when rightly divided, 2 Tim.
2:15). It does not include man-made ways whether they
loose laws God made or bind laws God did not
make. Everything from 12:01 to 11:59 is the wrong way. This way
is wide and broad and easily contrasted with the strait and
narrow (cf. Matt. 7:13-14).
It is easy to choose to go the way that is broad and
wide. That is the way the world is rushing along. The Lords
way is exclusive and narrow. Jesus said, I am the way,
the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by
me (John 14:6). That does not allow any other religion.
That does not allow any other so-called savior. That
does not allow any other way. We must choose the way of truth
(Psa. 119:30) or be lost!
Which way are you traveling? Are you on the left or on
the right? Or, are you on the strait and narrow? Dont
aplogize for loving the truth and holding to the old
paths which is the good way, the right way (cf. Jer. 6:16).
Its the ONLY way that leads to life everlasting.
Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith
(II Cor. 13:5).
Table of Contents
LAW and GRACE
Franklin Camp, deceased
A major problem in religion today is a misconception of law
and grace. This has been a stumbling block from the time sin
entered the world.
A failure to grasp the subject is fatal to the soul.
Grace is the foundation of redemption. The one who errs here will
miss heaven (Eph. 2:8-10).
A cardinal fallacy is the doctrine that law excludes
grace. This position creates paramount issues. If grace excludes
law, it excludes obedience. Law is essential to obedience. One
must have something to obey. One cannot obey nothing.
The religious world generally denies the necessity of
obedience in becoming a Christian. Some equate obedience with
works that do not save. But James 2:14-26, along with other
passages, cannot be harmonized with the doctrine of faith
Others know obedience is essential, yet struggle in
trying to exclude law, but not obedience. If grace excludes all
law, no door is open for obedience.
If law excludes grace, one of two things must follow:
either there is no room for obedience, or if obedience is
essential, one must explain what must be obeyed. One may say
commandments must be obeyed, but this will not resolve
the issue. A difference in command and law
cannot be explained by those who reject law but want to retain
commands. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk
in the law of the Lord. ... Then shall I not be ashamed, when I
have respect to all thy commandments (Psalm 119:1,6).
Law and commandments are synonymous terms throughout the Bible.
Does grace exclude obedience to the commands of the
Gospel? The Gospel has commands (1 Cor. 14:37). God would not
provide salvation by grace and give commands that conflict with
Some say grace and commands harmonize. If grace and
commands harmonize, grace and law also harmonize. The exclusion
of law excludes commands. There is no way one can exclude law and
Denominational preachers try to avoid the problem by
teaching obedience is not essential in becoming a Christian, but
is necessary for the Christian. When pressed, they will deny that
ones obedience as anything to do with salvation, but they
refuse to teach their members obedience is not important. Thus,
they find themselves in a strange situation obedience is
important, but not required.
Some say, But a Christian will want to obey.
Why obey something that has no relationship to going to heaven?
Let me raise some questions for those teaching that
grace excludes law. Is grace no longer essential after
becoming a Christian? When one is saved by grace, does he then
live the Christian life by law without grace? Surely not. Does it
not follow that one obeys after becoming a Christian and that
obedience does not conflict with grace? When the Christian obeys,
what is obeyed? If commands, it is law.
One not only becomes a Christian by faith, but the
Christian lives by faith (Gal. 2:11,20). One cannot live the
Christian life by faith alone that is, faith minus
obedience. Then why think one may become a Christian by faith
No one denies a Christian must be obedient (Heb.
5:8,9). What does the Christian obey? Is it law? If not, what
does he obey? If law, then law does not exclude grace. Christians
are not sinlessly perfect. That kind of imperfection requires
There is the second law of pardon for the Christian. I
do not hesitate to refer to it as the law of pardon for a
Christian. When a Christian sins, he must repent (Acts 8:22). He
must confess his sin and pray (1 John 1:7-9; Acts 8:22).
Would one deny that a Christian must obey these
commands? When one obeys them, is it submission to law? Does
ones obedience cancel out grace?
When one is forgiven, it must be in one of two ways:
merit or grace. Forgiveness by merit is an impossibility. Pardon
is extended only through grace. When a Christian sins, repents,
confesses it, and prays, he has submitted to law and receives
pardon. Obedience is necessary, but it does not earn pardon.
If the second law of pardon does not conflict with
grace, why would the first law of pardon, the one for the alien?
Grace does not exclude law if correctly interpreted.
Table of Contents
GODS WILL and MANS
John D. Cotham
1 Timothy 2:3-4, For this is good and acceptable in
the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved,
and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
Some teach that Gods will is IRRESISTIBLE and that
all will be saved. There is the argument that whatever God wills
cannot be resisted by man and will invariably come to pass. This
writer would in no wise suggest that all of Gods will can be
resisted by man. Many things that God has willed cannot be
stopped. The establishment of the kingdom of Christ could not be
stopped by the Jews as some suggest. The end of time and the
judgment day will not be stopped by man. On the other hand, there
are some parts of Gods will that men resist every day. If
this were not so, then irreversible damage is done to the
entirety of Gods word and especially to the statements of
Paul in the verses above.
In 1 Timothy 2:3-4, Paul says that God will have
all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the
truth. If all of Gods will invariably comes to pass,
this statement of Paul presents two problems.
First, Paul says it is Gods will for everyone to
be saved. If it is the case that Gods will is irresistible,
then all men will be saved regardless of who they are or whatever
they do. If it is the case that Gods will cannot be
resisted, then there will be universal salvation.
Second, if all are automatically saved by Gods
will, what would be the purpose of coming to the knowledge
of the truth? If God wills man to be saved, and man has
nothing to do with his own salvation; then knowledge of truth is
of no consequence.
Any good student of the Bible knows that anything
willed by God which depends only upon His action will invariably
come to pass such as: And God said, Let there be light:
and there was light (Gen. 1:3); or And God said,
Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...
(Gen. 1:26). These all depended upon Gods action alone, and
they came to pass just as they were willed.
However, God has determined (willed) that many things
are dependent upon mans will and action. Anything dependent
upon mans will does not invariably come to pass. God willed
that man offer a specific sacrifice (Gen. 4:3-5; Heb. 11:4). Abel
followed Gods will, Cain did not. Noah and his family
carried out Gods will and were saved; the rest rejected
Gods will and were lost (Genesis chapters 6 and 7). In
another case, God willed the destruction of Nineveh, but the
citizens of Nineveh repented. The destruction did not come to
pass because, in this case, mans will to repent prompted God
to change His will.
It is truly Gods will that ALL men be saved:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only
begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life (John 3:16). The Hebrew writer
said, But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than
the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and
honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every
man (Heb. 2:9). It is Gods will that ALL men come
to the knowledge of the truth (I Tim. 2:4). Man can know the
truth for Jesus said, And ye shall know the truth, and
the truth shall make you free (John 8:32). Yet the fact
is, God has left it to the will of man to seek that knowledge and
the salvation that is offered through Jesus. Man must still obey
Gods will in order to have salvation. And being made
perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them
that obey him (Heb. 5:9).
Not only must man obey Gods conditions for the
forgiveness of sins, but man must continue to obey. Notice 1 John
1:7-9, if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we
have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ
his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin,
we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess
our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to
cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Those who are saved
are told, Fear none of those things which thou shalt
suffer:...be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a
crown of life (Rev. 2:10).
It is Gods will that you be saved. He has done all
He is going to do in order for you to have salvation (see John
3:16 above). You must make the decision to come to the
knowledge of the truth concerning what you must do. You must
believe, repent, confess your belief in Christ, and be baptized
for the remission of your sins. Wont you make that decision
today? If you are a child of God, wont you make a greater
commitment to follow His will each day?
23466 Highway 49
Saucier, MS 39574
Table of Contents
The word church in our English Bibles is
translated from the Greek word ekklesia. This word is also
translated as assembly in Acts 19:32,39,41, Acts 7:38,
R.V.; and as congregation in Hebrews 2:12, R.V., as
well as an alternate reading in Matthew 18:17, R.V.
In relation to Christians, the word church is
given two different applications in the New Testament. 1) The
totality of all the saved (redeemed, saints, etc.) of the whole
world. Such usage is found in Matthew 16:18, Ephesians 1:22,
Colossians 1:18. We generally speak of this usage as the
universal church. 2) A group of Christians who have
united together to work and worship as a single unit. Such usage
is found in Acts 20:28, 1 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:13, 1
Thessalonians 1:1. We usually speak of this as the local
In Acts 14:23 and Philippians 1:1, we find that the
local church is given a plurality of elders whose task
is: 1) to oversee (Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:2); literally,
to look over or after a flock. 2) To
feed (or tend) the flock (Acts 20:28; I Peter 5:2). 3)
Teaching (I Tim. 3:2). 4) Protect (Titus 1:9). 5) Rule
(I Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:17); literally, To stand before
or To be at the head as leader. 6) To be an example or
pattern (I Peter 5:3). 7) To watch after and give an account to
God for souls in their charge (Heb. 13:17).
If elders adequately perform their God-given tasks, and
discharge their responsibilities to the flock, they must know who
are members of the local flock church, which they
oversee. This necessitates what is generally called being
identified or placing membership. By this process
the elders know that you are not just a visitor but
that you intend to work and worship as a member of that
congregation and to be under their oversight.
The scriptures indicate that Christians should be not
only a part of the universal church, but also a part of
a local church. When Paul arrived at Jerusalem, he
endeavored to join himself to the disciples there (Acts
9:26). Paul and Barnabas later became identified with
the church at Antioch (Acts 11:26; 13:1).
Though it is conceivable that conditions may exist,
where for a time one is a member only of the universal
church (Acts 8:35-39), he should, as soon as possible,
become identified with a local church, as did
Paul and Barnabas (Phil. 4:9). If there is not a faithful
congregation of the Lords people meeting in that area, he
should begin one. Thus, the idea that one can be a member of a
local church where he has not worshipped for weeks,
months, and sometimes years, is denominational in origin and
unscriptural in concept.
Some, to avoid responsibilities and discipline, will
become floating members just visiting around from
place to place, never identifying with any one
congregation. If these people become needful of discipline and
are approached by the elders of any of the congregations where
they attend, their immediate reply is; but, were not
members of your congregation! Therefore, to eliminate this,
when we move to another town or permanently sever our connection
with a congregation, we should find another faithful congregation
of the Lords people and join ourselves to them
settle down and go to work.
Also, we should not lightly sever our connection with
one congregation and place membership with another.
Naturally, if we move from one town to another, it becomes
essential that we do so at once. Sometime we may deem it
necessary to become part of another local church within
the same general area where we have previously worked and
worshipped because: 1) We feel it necessary for our own spiritual
growth. 2) We feel that such will enable us to be more effective
and useful for the Lord. 3) There are unscriptural doctrines
and/or practices in the former congregation which we are unable
to correct. However, let us be sure that we can substantiate our
claim of such. 4) There is such a strong difference of opinion as
to the advisability not scripturalness of a
particular work or activity that we feel it is better for peace
and harmony that we work and worship elsewhere (Acts 15:36-41).
If this is the reason, when at all possible, we should
forbear with one another (Eph. 4:2). 5) We have been
unscripturally and unjustifiable withdrawn from and are
unable to get the mistake corrected. This sometimes happens. But
lets be positive it is they who are wrong and not us! Also,
that we have done ALL in our power to rectify the error!
When we leave one congregation and become
joined to another, we should be ENTIRELY POSITIVE that
our motives are honest and justifiable. It should never be done:
1) To put pressure on the former congregation to honor our
particular whim. 2) Because the truth has been preached and our
toes thereby stepped on. 3) To escape discipline or
responsibilities. 4) Through jealousy and envy because we have
been passed over for some particular work. If it be for such
reasons as these, we will soon be dissatisfied with the new
When one identifies himself with a
congregation, he should be admitted into the fellowship of that
local church. If there seems any reason to doubt or
question his previous faithfulness, the elders should exert every
effort possible to satisfy themselves that this person is
faithful and not in need of restoration. If it is found that he
has not been faithful, or transferred membership to escape needed
discipline, then the church should institute disciplinary action
against this new member just as they would against any other.
Likewise, if we seek to sever our connection with one
congregation that we may be joined to a religious body
in error, the elders have no course open but to begin
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THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT,
THE WORD OF GOD!
Marvin L. Weir
The apostle Paul vividly describes the Christians
armor: Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God,
that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done
all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with
truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your
feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all,
taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench
all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of
salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of
God (Eph. 6:13-17). It is Gods inspired,
infallible, inerrant Word that we want to consider in this study.
The Word of God is not only important, it is essential
to one who desires to go to Heaven. Without a complete and
sufficient guide, man is doomed to find his way to Heaven.
Gods faithful prophet Jeremiah said, O LORD, I know
that the way of man [is] not in himself: [it is] not in man that
walketh to direct his steps (Jer. 10:23). The Holy
Scriptures are such a guide or road map. The apostle Paul says,
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 perfect,
throughly furnished unto all good works (2 Tim.
Jesus Christ is our example (1 Peter 2:21). He
effectively used the sword of the Spirit when tempted
by the devil. Satan wanted Christ to demonstrate His power by
turning stones into bread, but the Lord rightly answered,
...Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word
that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Matt. 4:4).
Keep in mind that the Lords answer is a long established
principle! Long ago Moses stated, And he humbled thee,
and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou
knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make
thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every
[word] that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man
live (Deut. 8:3). Mark it down well, the sword of the
Spirit will not fail one today!
While it is true that man must have bread in order to
survive, it is equally true that bread alone indicates
that one is dead while he lives! Jesus was extremely popular with
the masses after feeding the five thousand (Matt. 14), but when
He refused to be a mere bread Messiah, the number of
followers dwindled considerably. Those today who refuse to supply
man with his felt needs while feeding him spiritual
bread will also grow smaller in number. The faithful, however,
will stand where Jesus stood and say, For the bread of
God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the
world (John 6:33).
It is not that the Lord is not conscious of our
physical needs. He is! But He also knows that mans greatest
problem is not physical starvation or poverty, mans greatest
problem is sin. In fact, the more material things some folks
have, the greater the probability they will forsake following the
Word of God. The Lords statement in Matthew 16:26 must not
be forgotten: For what is a man profited, if he shall
gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man
give in exchange for his soul? There is something far
more important and precious than the bread of the world
which is here today and gone tomorrow.
Let us reflect again on the statement Jesus made in
Matt. 4:4: ...Man shall not live by bread alone, but by
every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of
God (emph. MLW). Many people in this world believe some
of what Jesus teaches in the Holy Scriptures. Most people readily
admit, however, that they do not necessarily believe all the
Bible teaches. Please make special note of every word
as recorded in Matthew 4:4. Jesus did not teach that man will
live by some words, most words, or a few words, but by every
word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
The Bible is not a pick and choose book
whereby one can accept one verse of Scripture and reject another
verse of Scripture. Listen to the Lord as He says, He
that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my word, hath one that
judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge
him in the last day (John 12:48). Again, Christ
declares, And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the
things that I say (Luke 6:46)? Christ is not the ruler
of the one who adamantly refuses to do what the Lord says one
must do to be His follower.
It will not be a tomahawk, a colt 45, a cruise missile,
or a nuclear warhead that gets us to Heaven. If Heaven is to be
the home of our soul, it will be because we were familiar with
and effectively used the sword of the Spirit every day
of our journey through this foreign land.
May we hunger after spiritual bread and
remember that the only citizenship that matters is located in
Heaven (Phil. 3:21).
815 42nd St. SW
Paris, TX 75460
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WHAT MEN PREFER
- Men prefer their own authority rather than the
Lords. Jesus has ALL authority (Matt. 28:18). It is
by HIS WORD that we will be judged (John 12:48).
Men prefer denominations rather the Lords
church. Jesus built only ONE church (Matt. 16:18). He is
the saviour of the body, the church (Eph. 5:23; 1:22-23).
Men prefer human names rather than the Lords
name. There is no other name than Jesus by which we can
be saved (Acts 4:12). There is no shame in being a Christian
(I Peter 4:16). The churches of Christ salute you
Men prefer their own way of salvation rather than the
Lords way. He that believeth and is baptized
shall be saved (Mark 16:16). Repent and be
baptized...for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
Men prefer their own way of worship rather than the
Lords. Mans way of worship is vain (Matt.
15:8-9). The Lords worship is in spirt and in truth
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fall, Lord willing. Thanks ...Sherry Morris, Bucyrus,
OH. We are now ministering to a congregation in Laredo.
Please send our copy to our new address. We arrived Dec. 30th and
by the grace of God, have had four baptisms this month. This
congregation is sound. At the end of last August, I was fired by
a congregation west of San Antonio because we want to hear a
gospel with no negatives. But God is good! There we had
25-35 seat warming do-nothings. Here we have 85 plus who have
fallen in love with Jesus Christ. There, we lived in a 100 year
old dump with many defects. Here we have a beautiful and spacious
new home. There we had a tiny community very prejudiced against
the church because of a hypocrite in a leadership position. Here
we have 250,000 unsaved people and no internal opposition. How
good can it get? ...Al Sowins, Loredo, TX. I
would like to thank you for sending STOP to our home. We truly
enjoy every article. I have told many others of this excellent
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help in the mailings. Not much I know, but with the economy as it
is at the present time, this is the best we can do. Many thanks
for your great work. May God continue to bless your efforts
...E. Russell Billings, Brighton, IL. We love the
paper ...Bob & Neoma Haskin, Denison, TX.
Im glad your work is doing ok. We sure do need lots
more of Gods truth. Im sending a little more of the
Lords help. How does a person handle this problem? Someone
dies and you know their life. They claimed to be a Christian but
you know they were not. Their life was the way of the world.
Everyone speaks of them going to heaven. Their life was really
quite different from being a Christian. How should we deal with
this? ...name withheld by request, OH. [EDITORS
NOTE: Its comforting to those who are not Christians to
think of those who have died as going to heaven. Generally always
such an individual is preached into heaven. But, those
who know the Bible know otherwise. Salvation is only reserved for
those who OBEY the Lord (Heb. 5:9; Matt. 7:21). We simply have to
stand firm in what the Bible says. We cannot presume to pass
judgment of our own when that privilege is reserved to God (cf.
Rom. 12:19). Its too late to help the deceased. Their
destiny is sealed. Nothing we can say will change that one way or
the other. We can (and should) try to help those who remain to
learn and know the truth while they have opportunity. Emotions
run high during the loss of a loved one. As we have opportunity,
we should keep on showing the truth. But at the same time, be
sympathetic and compassionate to family members of the deceased.
At this critical time, doors may be opened with those who remain.
We should weigh our words and try to be careful to not slam the
door of opportunity. Stay the course and never give up the faith.
-gmr] Please remove my name from your mailing list. I have
enjoyed your publication over the past years. I hope this will
help you save money on postage. Please withhold my name. Your
brother in Christ ...Cookeville, TN. I seen a
copy of your monthly publication, Seek The Old Paths. I
enjoyed it very much and wonder if you would send me a copy of
your publication? Thank you ...Marjorie King, Clinton
Township, MI. Im writing to ask if it would be
possible for me to get the back issue of STOP for Nov/09? I
discovered I didnt have it when I put my December issue
away. Im sending a small contribution to be put toward the
magazine or any where its needed. Thank you so much for the
good sound articles. Theyre getting more scarce of late
...Geneva Stark, Eufaula, OK. [EDITORS NOTE: We
always keep a supply of back issues on hand. The Truth is always
relevant and never grows old. What was spoken or written many
years ago is just as appropriate today as it was when first
taught. Were glad to be able to help through the avenue of
the printed word. Back issues are also available on the internet
at seektheoldpaths.com. The entire web site is searchable if you
cant remember which issue youre looking for. You can
print out anything you like.
Evidence from Genetics: Mutations (chance errors in
genes) are the only proposed mechanism whereby new genetic
information for evolution can emerge. It is common knowledge that
rarely, if ever, does a mutation improve an organism in its
natural environment. Almost all observable mutations are harmful;
some are meaningless; many are lethal. No known mutation has ever
produced a form of life having greater complexity and viability
than its ancestors. There is no reason to believe that
mutations or any natural process could ever produce any new
those as complex as our eye, ear, or brain. For example, an adult
human brain contains over a hundred thousand billion electrical
connections, more than all the electrical connections in all the
electrical appliances in the entire world. Just the human heart,
a ten-ounce pump that will operate without maintenance or
lubrication for over 75 years, is an engineering marvel. To this
day the heart is unparalleled by any man-made pump. How
could random mistakes to the genetic code produce improvements?
How could random changes have produced these marvels in the first
place? Closer Look at the Evidence by Richard &
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