God's Message To The SHEPHERDS Of His Sheep
The following passages give some of the instructions as
well as some of the responsibilities of God's SHEPHERDS under both
the Old and New Covenants.
His watchmen are blind: they are
all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they
cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to
slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can
never have enough, and they are SHEPHERDS that
cannot understand: they all look to their own
way, every one for his gain, from his quarter
Son of man, prophesy against the
SHEPHERDS of Israel, prophesy, and say unto
them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the
SHEPHERDS; Woe be to the SHEPHERDS of Israel
that do feed themselves! should not the
SHEPHERDS feed the flocks (Ezek. 34:2)?
My people hath been lost sheep:
their SHEPHERDS have caused them to go astray,
they have turned them away on the mountains:
they have gone from mountain to hill, they
have forgotten their restingplace (Jer.
Therefore, ye SHEPHERDS, hear the
word of the LORD; As I live, saith the Lord
GOD, surely because my flock became a prey,
and my flock became meat to every beast of the
field, because there was no SHEPHERD, neither
did my SHEPHERDS search for my flock, but the
SHEPHERDS fed themselves, and fed not my
flock; Therefore, O ye SHEPHERDS, hear the
word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD;
Behold, I am against the SHEPHERDS; and I will
require my flock at their hand, and cause them
to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall
the SHEPHERDS feed themselves any more; for I
will deliver my flock from their mouth, that
they may not be meat for them (Ezek.
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 (Acts
Obey them that have the rule over
you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for
your souls, as they that must give account,
that they may do it with joy, and not with
grief: for that is unprofitable for you
Feed the flock of God which is
among you, taking the oversight thereof, not
by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy
lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being
lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples
to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd
shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of
glory that fadeth not away (1 Peter
The man with the most awesome responsibility is not
the president or any politician, it is the responsibilities of
being an elder (a SHEPHERD, bishop, pastor, overseer) in the Lord's
church. However, to see how some who claim to be SHEPHERDS treat
those responsibilities, you would probably come to the conclusion
that they have little real concern about the duties described in
the Pattern found only in the Bible. Some of these men would appear
to be a board of directors over a social club, rather than
SHEPHERDS over God's church (spiritual Israel).
I have quoted passages from the Old Testament (cf.
Rom 15:4) to show that God has always held His shepherds
responsible for their duties to the flock for which they are given
oversight. I have quoted the inspired writers of the New Testament
to show that the duties of the shepherds under Christ is not so
different from those under the prophets. Further, we learn that God
will not take lightly the neglecting of duties by shepherds under
The better translation (in my opinion,
E.G.) in Ephesians 4:11 of the Greek word poimen would
have been SHEPHERDS, rather than, pastors. The Greek word is found
18 times in the New Testament, and is translated pastors one time,
and shepherd(s) 17 times. Jesus is called both a Shepherd and a
I prefer the term shepherds, because not only are
shepherds to see that the flock is fed, but also that they are
visited regularly to see if any are ill and in need of special
care. This kind of care by shepherds is almost as rare in churches
of Christ as is discipline by these same men. If a sheep is found
to have a disease which is fatal and contagious, it must be
isolated and kept apart from the healthy sheep. Shepherds who
know their sheep, will know when special measures are
needed, and faithful shepherds will care for the sick, the lame,
and will hunt the ones gone astray. Is that the way it is today? It
is, only where men know and appreciate the awesome responsibilities
of being a shepherd. It is only where men realize that not only are
they watching for souls, but that God holds them personally
responsible for souls in their fold.
In many (maybe most) places, a group of men who know
little, if anything, about God's duties for His shepherds assume
the board of directors attitude, which is completely
foreign to the New Testament Pattern. They then attempt to
rule by remote control by holding closed meetings among
themselves periodically. They hire a PR man called, THE Minister,
and who is the designated sub-shepherd. He is to
feed the flock with sermonettes full of catchy, flowery
phrases which will keep everyone happy and feeling good about
themselves. Thus, in the modern church, under the sub-shepherd,
seldom is heard a negative word, and the board continues to play
the game of being SHEPHERDS. If the college trained pulpit
puppet forgets his p's and q's learned under
the distinguished professor, he is called before the ruling
committee and given his options.
The duties of shepherds (elders, bishops, overseers)
is to feed and to lead: not to sit and send. While successful
elders must learn to delegate some responsibilities, they must set
examples for the flock. If elders expects one under their oversight
to win souls, they must lead the way. If elders expect members to
be students of the Bible, they must be examples. If elders expect
members to live right, they must lead an exemplary life before the
sheep. Leaderless sheep are subject to all kinds of problems.
Shepherds who are out of touch with the fold, leave the door of the
sheepfold open to all kinds of dangers. God said, Woe to
the shepherds who have allowed my sheep to go astray.
Yet, many shepherds expect the hired man to keep up with
the sheep, and to tend to their problems. But, that is not God's
plan at all.
Why is the church of Christ in many places today
ignorant, indifferent, and spiritually unemployed? Because a local
church will do no better than they are taught, and most will not do
as well as they are taught. Thus, the key is teaching, both in word
and in deed (Col. 3:17).
In the verses quoted at the beginning of this
article, God said the shepherds were ignorant! That is
also one of the problems in spiritual Israel today (Gal. 6:16). One
of the qualifications for a shepherd is desire (1 Tim. 3:1). Some
congregations have taken a man's desire for the work and his
ability to bare offspring, as the two qualifications necessary to
be a bishop. However, ignorant shepherds will result in an ignorant
Another defect in the shepherds of old was, they
could not bark! What good is a watchdog that cannot bark? No
one would buy a watchdog that could not bark, for that is what they
do when it is needed. Their barking warns the unsuspecting of
danger. Rather than being on guard, and ready to sound a warning,
the shepherds like to sleep and slumber. Like dogs, the shepherds
were greedy, and never have enough. Today, many shepherds, rather
than leading the church in doing the work Jesus came to do (to
seek and save the lost, Luke 19:10), sit and wish for sheep
from other flocks to come and join their sheepfold. Depending on
WHO the preacher is, and the message he speaks, sheep from other
folds will be drawn to them. And, in many areas, this is exactly
what has happened.
In one of the most powerful passages in the book of
Acts, Paul addressed the shepherds of the flock in Ephesus. In Acts
20:17-35, Paul spoke to the elders in a tearful plea as he reminded
them of his association with them, of their responsibilities to the
church at Ephesus, and what would soon happen to the congregation
due to the very men he was addressing. He began by reminding them
of their primary duty to self, and then to the flock. Then he must
have stabbed deeply into their consciences as he told them that
from among them would arise men who would be enemies of Christ and
would destroy the sheep. They would teach perverse things to draw
away disciples after them. Drawing away meant they would
be leaving the safety of faithful membership in the church of God.
The shepherds at Ephesus, like those in the Old Testament, would
scatter the sheep, and would discontinue to feed them
with the proper diet, the word of God!
A group may continue to meet for years under
so-called shepherds and in a building with Church of
Christ carved on the front; but, that does not mean God still
recognizes them. In chapters two and three of Revelation, some of
the seven churches received warnings to repent or have their
candlestick removed by the Lord. That meant they would lose their
light-bearing abilities and would be lost.
Paul had done all he could. He had not
shunned to declare all the counsel of God to them. That
is all any preacher can do, whether inspired or not. There are no
inspired men today, but it does not relieve any preacher from the
duty to preach and teach, to the best of his ability, the word that
will judge all men in the last day.
One of the most serious statements to elders, or any
considering being an elder is: ...for they (elders.
shepherds, bishops, pastors, overseers) watch for your souls,
as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and
not with grief. This statement, and others in the Bible,
should send a chill through the body of any man who is already an
elder, or is considering becoming one. It ought to cause a lot of
soul searching before one assumes the most awesome responsibility
known to man: that of being a shepherd over God's flock.
Consider the reward! Consider the reward for being
a faithful shepherd, but also consider the reward if one fails to
live up to his responsibilities as a shepherd. No one is forced to
be a shepherd; but, IF that decision is made, the rewards in this
life will be minimal and the heartaches many, and the
responsibilities are surely awesome and almost overwhelming.
Being a shepherd over God's people is one of the most
important and demanding duties a man is called upon to do. It is
entered voluntarily and the burdens are great and yet rewarding if
one continues faithful unto the end.
Let all caring saints pray that the church will raise
up and train men to be elders who will be qualified to shepherd the
flock. It will take much study on their part and a willingness to
serve God at any cost. It will involve marrying the right woman who
is capable of helping rear faithful children.
Though men who are Scripturally qualified to be
shepherds seem to be few today, the need has never been greater.
Will you help someone become a shepherd over the flock of God. If
you are a young man, and have the faith, knowledge, and
determination, why don't you prepare yourself to be a shepherd over
the church of God?
1927 Washington St.
Paducah, KY 42003
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IN THE NEWS...
HIGHLAND CHURCH OF CHRIST,
ABILENE CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY
On April 5, 2004, there was an observance of Palm
Sunday by 300 young people in Abilene, Texas. A report in the
Abilene Reporter News (April 5, 2004) by Loretta Fulton, Staff
Writer, reveals that high schoolers gathered at First
Baptist...from Highland Church of Christ, St. Paul and First United
Methodist churches, First Central Presbyterian Church, First
Christian Church and the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest, as
well as First Baptist to observe Passion or Holy Week. This is
their second year to meet. She reports, the kids loved
The youngsters will meet each evening through
Friday and then will top off their experience with a sunrise
service on Sunday on the east steps of the Biblical Studies
Building at Abilene Christian University.
The youth leaders who planned the weeklong event
said they met no resistance from parents, who sometimes aren't as
open to new ideas as their children. Our people have been
nothing but supportive, said C. V. Blake, youth minister at
First Baptist. Jim Hinkle, youth and family minister at
Highland Church of Christ, also took part in the occasion.
It's easy to be a Christian on Palm Sunday, he told the
youngsters as they waved their palm branches. But it's not
easy to be a Christian on Good Friday. One 15-year-old member
of the Highland Church of Christ said the event was especially
meaningful to her last year.
The mixing of youths from various denominations
in central Abilene proved to be so successful that the organizers
are hoping churches in other parts of town will follow suit.
Trey Gillette, director of youth ministries at St. Paul UMC,
said the response has been inspiring to watch. The youths gather to
worship as a group and leave denominational stereotypes
behind. It's neat to see those walls are breaking,
This report was taken from:
Editor's Note: There are at three things
unscriptural with this.
1) There is no Bible authority to commemorate or
celebrate Palm Sunday, Holy Week or Easter. Such may
appeal to men's carnal appetite and desire to be
spiritually minded, but no one can point to a thus
saith the Lord for such an observance. Ash Wednesday, Lent,
Palm Sunday, Passion Week, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy
Saturday and Easter Sunday all stand with absolutely no Bible
authority. These are all inventions of men that came about in the
apostasy from the Truth -- the faith once delivered (Jude
3). They constitute vain worship (Matt. 15:8-9), no
matter how sincere and well-intentioned its participants may be.
2) It is a violation of Bible doctrine to join hands
with denominations in a religious service. Second John 9-11 reads,
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 practice and observance
of religious holidays is not the doctrine (teaching) of Christ.
Those careful to hold fast to sound words (2 Tim. 1:13),
cannot receive or fellowship those who do not. When we do, we
become a partaker of their evil deeds. We are counted as guilty as
3) How can we expect to convert lost souls when we
participate in the same activities with them. We have lost our
distinction. Instead of joining hands with them, we are to
come out from among them and be separate (2 Cor. 6:17).
We are to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of
darkness, but rather reprove them (Eph. 5:11).
OKLAHOMA CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY
The following letter was sent to Oklahoma Christian
University regarding their February 2004 lectureship.
TO: President Mike O'Neal, And The Board of
Directors, Oklahoma Christian University, P.O. Box 11000, Oklahoma
City, OK 73136
January 16, 2004
Dear brother O'Neal and The Board Of Directors
This communication is meant to represent deep,
profound concern for some vital spiritual issues.
After a careful reading of the 2004 OCU lectureship
program the group of brethren who have signed this letter will not
be attending the lectureship nor encouraging others to do so. In
fact, we will be discouraging anyone from attending.
The reason for this is that there are several
speakers or presenters on the program who are absolutely
unacceptable to us because of their doctrinal positions and
Among them are specifically the men from Quail
Springs church which has become well known for its unscriptural
views and worship activities. The liberal tone represented by
various speakers include a denominational view of the church; a
false view of the essential nature of baptism; the use of
instrumental music in worship; and the expanded role of women in
the work and worship of the church.
This program does not represent the convictions of
past leaders of Oklahoma Christian and it certainly reflects a
change from the views of those who founded the school. It also does
not mirror the stated positions of the new president when he took
Because of events in recent years, OCU can no longer
assume the support of the churches and brethren of Oklahoma and the
surrounding area. Trust must be continually earned. This
lectureship program clearly undermines the confidence many, many
brethren have had in the school. Steps should be taken to
reestablish that faith Christians have had in it.
May God bless the work of His people.
This letter was signed by approximately 150 men.
In response to the above letter, Mike E. O'Neal (from
the office of the President), responded with an Open Letter to
Churches of Christ (1/13/2004), saying...
May I personally encourage you to come and be
a part of the 2004 Lectureship at Oklahoma Christian University.
There are some who are expressing concern about a few of the
speakers we have invited, fearing that it signals a change of
spiritual direction by the University. Some are attempting to
organize a boycott of the Lectureship. I personally assure you that
the selection of speakers and topics for the Lectureship was not
intended to signal any change of direction and that we deeply
regret the extent it may have offended or alienated our friends.
Even though they may disagree with some selections, I pray that our
brethren will acknowledge that the overwhelming majority of the
speakers are from mainstream Churches of Christ.
We have scheduled a meeting on the morning of Friday,
February 13, to allow those who are interested to return to the
campus and share their thoughts and suggestions with us. While we
will not exclude those who cannot attend the Lectureship, I believe
the discussion will be more informed and productive if it includes
principally people who have attended the 2004 Lectureship and
observed for themselves. Therefore, we will provide an opportunity
at the Lectureship for people to sign up for that meeting.
We plan to listen carefully and then to prayerfully
consider how we might shape future programs to strengthen the
church and edify all who come. We will also ask the counsel and
direction of our Board of Trustees on this important matter.
We have planned a portion of the Wednesday morning
Open Forum to share with you the many steps we are taking to
strengthen the spiritual mission of Oklahoma Christian University.
If you can attend that session on January 28, I think you will be
encouraged by hearing what OC is doing to nourish its spiritual
dimension and deepen its faithfulness to the scriptures.
Thank you for your prayers. We hope to see you at the
Lectureship. May God bless you.
Your brother, Mike E. O'Neal
Concerning the above letter, Jerry Brewer of Elk
City, Oklahoma wrote: I suspect that his statement that this
lectureship does not 'signal any change of direction' is true. This
school has been headed in this direction for a number of years.
Notice also that he does not address anything in light of the
scriptures, only that it 'may have offended or alienated our
friends.' Those of us who met with Smith and McMillon at Lawton
were not personally offended. Our concern was, and remains, the
unscriptural things that are promoted by men like Mark Henderson
and OC's fellowship with them and churches like Quail Springs.
O'Neal speaks from a postmodern perspective, i.e. we may be
'personally offended,' but what they are doing is still truth to
them, although we 'disagree with some selections.' This is the old
tired denominational philosophy that we will all just agree to
disagree. As for speakers 'from mainstream Churches of Christ,' it
would be interesting to know how he defines that term. A church of
Christ is a church of Christ. I didn't know we had some kind of
creed that defines 'mainstream' or otherwise. O'Neal speaks the
language of Ashdod and his speech betrays him.
Notice his statement that the overwhelming
majority of the speakers are from mainstream Churches of
Christ. This implies there were speakers who were not from the
mainstream. Where were they from? Upstream or Downstream? Where
they from another stream? If what OC represents is the
mainstream of the church today (as they define it), then
I guess the Lord's church of the New Testament is not even in the
mainstream. Personally, I'm not concerned with being in
what some might call the mainstream or some off-shoot stream. My
concern is being in the Lord's stream and drinking from the living
water the Lord and savior talked about with the woman at Jacob's
well (John 4). We must not be looking for acceptance with men. Our
desire must be to meet with the acceptance of God, whether or not
that agrees with the mainstream of current opinion or
Another significant point needs to be observed in
O'Neal's statement that is very common today. He appeals for people
to come to the lectureship and observe for themselves. The point is
this, what if we were to attend and heard only the Truth. Must we
conclude that all the speakers were therefore sound and faithful?
That conclusion would not necessarily follow. What must also be
considered is what those same speakers have said and done at other
If a man teaches false doctrine at point A
and not teach false doctrine at point B, shall we support
and fellowship him simply because he did not teach falsely at point
B? If we know he taught error at point A and he
promises not to teach that same doctrine when we comes to preach
for us, shall we ignore his teaching at A? Not if we're
going to be true to the Lord. If he was wrong at A, then
he is wrong at B even if he doesn't teach the same there.
He is in error and must not be fellowshipped.
If a man is a liar when at point A and he
does not lie when at point B, shall we accept him as a
true and faithful brother? If he is steals while at point
A and does not steal when at point B, shall we
accept him as a good and faithful brother? If he fellowships the
denominations while at point A and does not do so at
point B, shall we ignore his practice at point
Some years ago, Jeff Walling was invited into North
Mississippi. His doctrine and practice was examined and exposed in
Seek The Old Paths as it should have been in every
congregation. However, an elder in an area congregation said,
I'm going to go hear him and see for myself. His report
afterwards was that he did not hear any false teaching and that his
presentation was great -- everyone needed to hear it. How naive can
one be? Did this make what was exposed about him false? Even if it
were the case that he did not teach false doctrine while in North
Mississippi, did that wipe away what he taught in other places? Of
How can anyone say they are not concerned with what
some have done at other places -- they're only concerned with what
is done where they live. That contradicts the Scriptures from
beginning to end. It is far too often the case that many are not
able to identify false doctrine even when they do hear it. And, it
is even more sad when elders don't know error when they hear it!
Second John 9-11, Eph. 5:11, and Rom. 16:17-18 still reads the
same. We cannot support, condone or fellowship those who do not
hold to and defend the doctrine of Christ.
CHURCH FUN RAISER
The Lee Summit Church of Christ of Lee Summit, Missouri,
is hosting a fund raiser for their youth. It consists of a
Bluegrass Youth fundraiser to be held on May 15, 2004 at
St. Paul's Episcopal Church. Intermission-food and beverage will be
sold. Tickets are $5 each. The cover letter sent along with their
announcement says, We are more than glad to sponsor such
fund-raisers. We hope that you can attend, enjoy the
music and have a good time at the fund-raiser. Please announce and
place this flyer on your bulletin board. These announcements
were mailed to area churches.
At least a couple of things are unscriptural about
1) The Lord's church does not have any Bible
authority to sponsor fund-raisers. The instruction given
by the Holy Spirit is for Christians to give as they have been
prospered on the first day of the week. Upon the first
day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God
hath prospered him... (1 Cor. 16:2). There is no
command, example or implication in the Bible that the church is the
receive its funds through any means other than the first day of the
week collections from the free-will offerings of its members. For
the church to sponsor a fund-raiser, through whatever means (car
wash, yard sale, other business ventures), is not authorized by the
Lord. To do so, is to add to God's inspired word. Those who add to
the word are accursed (Rev. 22:18-19; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 John 9-11).
2) There is no Bible authority to have any connection
to the denominations of men. To sponsor an event at St. Paul's
Episcopal Church is a blatant violation of Christian fellowship.
Ephesians 5:11 tells us to have no fellowship with the unfruitful
works of darkness. Even if St. Paul's is not involved in this
activity, the appearance of such remains. How can the Lord's church
teach people out of denominationalism, while at the same time, we
make it appear we are in agreement with them? The Episcopal Church
does not hold to the teaching of Christ and therefore are not of
God (2 John 9-11). How can we make it appear that we are in
fellowship with them?
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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Would you please publish the scriptures
where a person having only adopted children
could qualify to be an elder in our Lord's
The qualifications of one to become and remain an
elder are given in two passages: 1 Tim. 3:1-7 & Titus 1:5-9. Three
verses mention children: 1 Tim. 3:4,5 & Titus 1:6. One
that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection
with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house,
how shall he take care of the church of God?) ...Having
faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. His
children must be Christians themselves because of the requirement
that they must be faithful children, i.e. children that
From First Timothy 3:5 we learn the reason he must
have children and that they must be Christians. It is to give the
man experience in ruling those under his care. If he has proven
himself in having charge over (ruling) his children in teaching and
training them to be faithful Christians, then he is equipped to do
the same in the local congregation.
Since the Bible does not specifically address the
question of adopted children, is such a man still qualified? The
Bible answer would have to be yes. The point of this qualification
is not that he is biologically able to bare offspring, but is he
able to control, rule, superintend, shepherd, train those under his
rulership or authority?
The principle involved in one's biological children
or adopted children is the same. Can he rule and rule well? If he
has proven he can rule well, he is qualified on this point. If he
has not proven he can rule well, he is not qualified on this point
and cannot be considered to be an elder.
Table of Contents
WHAT TO DO WHEN AN UNQUALIFIED ELDER(S) REFUSES TO RESIGN
A congregation is richly blessed when it has godly men
who love and uphold the truth. This is especially true when the
eldership of that congregation is made up of such brethren. In
recent years, some local churches of Christ have had those within
their membership who do not respect the Lord's arrangement for
scripturally ordained elders as their overseers. There are two
extreme positions held within the church concerning the authority
of elders. One extreme holds that elders merely serve as
examples for the brethren to pattern themselves after. The
other extreme is for an elder or eldership to domineer
in an autocratic manner. Both of these extremes fail to depict the
true nature of the responsibility enjoined upon those men who serve
Of course, elders of a congregation should be godly
examples. The essential qualifications for one to serve in that
capacity reveal this truth (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). Also, it is
expressly stated that elders, as shepherds of the flock, are to be
ensamples (1 Peter 5:1-4). The term ensamples is
translated from the Greek word tupos which includes the
meaning, an example to be imitated. However, every child
of God is to be an example to others (Matt. 5:16; Phil. 2:15).
Being an example to others is to be in relation to our following
the Son of God. This is emphasized by the Apostle Paul in the
following words, Be ye followers of me, even as I also am
of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).
The overseers of a congregation have specific
authority designated unto them by the Lord through the inspired
Scriptures. There are Greek designations in the New Testament that
depict their areas of responsibility and authority. Those Greek
terms are presbuteros, episkopos and poimein.
Presbuteros is translated as
presbyter or elder and has reference to one
advanced in life, a senior. It places emphasis upon having wisdom
and experience. However, simply being older is not adequate. Those
selected as elders must be older in the faith because
they will need to draw upon their wisdom and experience in living
the Christian life. Since a new convert is a novice in living the
Christian life, he cannot qualify as an elder (1 Tim. 3:6).
The term episkopos is translated as
overseer or bishop. Thayer's Greek-English
Lexicon of the New Testament defines that word as a man
charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others
are done rightly, any curator, guardian, or superintendent.
The Greek word poimein is translated as
pastor and shepherd. Thayer defines it as a
herdsman, especially a shepherd. As a metaphor, it has reference to
a presiding officer, manager, director, of any assembly: so of
Christ the Head of the church. Elders are under shepherds
to protect and to feed the spiritual flock of God (local
congregation, Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4). Those three Greek
references depict the responsibility and authority of elders.
The limitations of the authority of elders include
1) In matters of faith, they have no authority to
either make laws or to set aside a thus saith the
Lord (2 John 9). Whether or not Diotrephes was an elder
in a congregation, he did exercise power over one. He would not
even allow the brethren of that church to receive an apostle (3
John 9-11). There are some unqualified elders that refuse to adhere
to the inspired Word of God.
2) The oversight of elders is limited to the
congregation that appointed them (Acts 20:28; Phil. 1:1).
3) If they would gain and retain the respect of the
congregation, then elders must not lord it over
the flock (1 Peter 5:3). That is, they are not to rule over
the church highhandedly and autocratically. Just as the apostle
John instructed a church not to follow the evil example of
Diotrephes, brethren are not to follow ungodly elders into error (3
A local church is to submit unto faithful elders as
rulers over them (Heb. 13:7,17). Many unfaithful members of some
congregations refuse to submit unto their bishops. This causes
dissension, unauthorized innovations into the church, and often
division. The inspired Word exhorts, Obey them that have
the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your
souls, as they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is
unprofitable for you (Heb. 13:17). There will be those
on the Day of judgment that will be held eternally accountable for
failing to submit unto godly elders. That is, elders who will not
be swayed one way or the other from the truth that was once and for
all delivered unto the saints (Jude 3).
However, we are not to allow ungodly shepherds to
lead us into error. There are many unqualified men who have been
appointed as elders (or have failed to maintain the
qualifications). Often, congregations ignore the essential
qualifications for elders in selecting men to serve in that
capacity. Their criteria falls short of the inspired standard given
by the Holy Spirit. Only men who meet the qualifications given by
inspiration are Holy Spirit ordained elders. In stating the
qualifications for one to become an elder, the apostle Paul writes,
A bishop then must be... as he lists those
things mandatory in becoming an elder (1 Tim. 3:2). Congregations
open themselves up to severe problems by selecting men (or
continuing to support men) as their leaders who do not meet the
What is a congregation to do when one or more of its
elders are not qualified to serve as overseers? Often those who
serve in any type of leadership capacity are criticized. This is
especially true of elders. What should we do when there are
accusations brought against one of the elders of a congregation of
which we are members? The apostle Paul gives instruction concerning
this matter as follows: Against an elder receive not an
accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke
before all, that others also may fear (1 Tim. 5:19-20).
To bring grave accusations against anyone is a serious matter. This
is especially true concerning elders in that they often receive
unjust criticism. Therefore, the apostle Paul commands,
against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or
three witnesses. If an accuser will not bring serious
accusations against an elder before two or three witnesses, then
their criticism of an elder is to be rejected. However, if they are
willing to present serious charges against an elder, along with two
or three witnesses, then what they have to say may have credence.
If the accusations prove to be true, then further action must be
taken. Paul declares, Them that sin rebuke before all,
that others also may fear. Specific details are not
given in this passage about what steps are to be taken when a
rebellious elder will not repent and therefore will not resign from
the eldership. However, the brethren who selected him when they
believed he met the qualifications, have the responsibility to
reject him as an elder when he ceases to retain those
Some rebellious elders will split the church rather
than resign when just accusations have been brought against them.
Among the seven things that God hates is ...he that
soweth discord among brethren (Prov. 6:16-19).
Prayer and a love for the Lord's church will motivate
us in striving to uphold God's Word in dealing with such a serious
matter. We are taught by inspiration, With all lowliness
and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of
peace (Eph. 4:2-3).
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WHY CHRIST DIED
The cross and the death of Jesus Christ is central in
the theme of man's redemption, in Christian worship, and also in
living the Christian life. In the death of Christ on the cross of
calvary once sees the just dying for the unjust; the righteous
sacrificed for the unrighteous; the innocent paying the price for
the guilty. John, the beloved apostle of love, stated,
Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the
world (John 1:29). Isaiah prophesied of the sufferings
the suffering Saviour would take upon himself for the sinners of
the world (Isa. 53).
Let us notice some reasons why the Son of God, Jesus
Christ, died upon the cross of calvary.
Christ died in order to become King. Jesus
the Christ came not as a conquering military great, riding on a
prancing stallion, but he came riding on a lowly colt of an ass
(Zech. 9:9). He came not to subdue nations, cities, and lands, but
to win the hearts of those who would obey him. He did not come as
a statesman, yet he delivered many great sermons and was the Master
Teacher. He came to minister and to give his life a ransom for many
(Matt. 20:28). By the cross, he became King of kings, Lord of lords
and Saviour of souls (Heb. 2:9-10). He died to become King over our
Christ died in order to prove his Messiahship.
By the cross, Christ demonstrated himself to be the Anointed
One. The Hebrew writer spoke of Christ's purging our sins and
reigning on the right hand of the throne of God (Heb. 1:2-4).
Christ had victory over death by his resurrection on the third day
(1 Cor. 15:1-19). Christ proved his Messiahship by his death on the
Christ died to manifest God's love for man.
God's love is evidenced by Paul as he wrote, But
God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). John spoke of
the degree of God's love as he stated, 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). God's tremendous love for man caused his Son to
die on the cross.
Christ died for our sins. Christ's blood
was shed in his death as the atonement for our sins (Rom. 5:9-11).
His blood went backward and forward in redeeming man. His blood
covers our past sins and future sins as one meets his requirements
for pardon. He is our propitiation (1 John 2:2). He is our mediator
(1 Tim. 2:5). He brings sinful man back into friendly relations
with God the Father after our separation from him because of our
sins (Isa. 59:1-2). Our sins put the Son of God on the cross.
In his death, Jesus the Christ sustained the majesty
of divine law which sinful man had trampled under foot. Christ paid
the penalty of its violation. Because of his death, sinful man can
live forever in the bliss of heaven by obedience to heaven's terms
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A DANGEROUS SITUATION COULD ARISE
Roger D. Campbell
Well over a year ago I cut out and saved an article that
appeared in the 29 January 2003 issue of The Star, a Malaysian
newspaper. The large, bold title of the article reads:
Religious department to quiz preacher. The article's
opening paragraph stated, A Malaysian preacher...will be
questioned by the Sabah Islamic Religious Council (Muis), when
Indonesia deports him back here.
The article went on to quote from a government
minister named Ghapur, who said that Islamic religious officers
would have to question the preacher involved to determine his
background. Why the need for questioning? Because, as Mr.
Ghapur stated, those wanting to preach at mosques must first get
approval. Note his explanation: We cannot simply allow anyone
to preach because a dangerous situation could arise.
The scenario described above involves followers of
Islam. Because Islam does not adhere to the teaching of the New
Testament, it is a false religion. It is noteworthy, however, that
Islamic officials take great care in determining who will, and who
will not, be allowed to teach in the their mosques. Per the
reasoning of the official quoted above, they must be cautious
because a dangerous situation could arise.
God forbid that the followers of a false religion
would be careful in selecting their public speakers, but
congregations of the Lord's church would just open their pulpits or
classrooms to any professed brother that comes along! Jesus said
that the children of this world are in their generation
wiser than the children of light (Luke 16:8). Shepherds
of local churches must see to it that the flock of God is fed only
sound or healthy doctrine (Acts 20:28; Titus 2:1). Not every
want-to-be speaker should be allowed to teach a class or preach.
Why? Because a dangerous situation could arise.
Allowing a false teacher to address the flock could
cause permanent damage. The poisoning of people's minds on just one
occasion could possibly ruin them for life -- or even for eternity!
A perverted gospel is not the saving Gospel. The person that
changes the Gospel message stands accursed before the Lord (Gal.
Brethren, it just makes sense, does it not? Before
we open our classrooms and pulpits (as much as possible), we need
to know the teaching, as well as the character, of any prospective
speaker. I have heard of instances where a total stranger showed up
for services and was asked to preach. Not one person in the
congregation had ever heard of him before or knew anything about
him, yet he was asked to preach. Brethren, how can it be? What is
going on? This is not a backyard volleyball game where anyone is
welcome to just walk in and have a part. Souls are at stake.
Those who lead congregations of God's people need to
take seriously their duty to screen prospective speakers.
The same goes for their dealings with those that seek financial
support. If we bid Godspeed to those that do not abide in the
doctrine of the Christ, then we become partakers of their evil
deeds. The Bible says so (2 John 9-11). It is not ugly and it is
not unkind to ask some pointed questions of anyone we are
considering as a speaker or someone that is seeking our financial
support. Such a practice of asking questions is a needed one. What
is the old adage that many of us learned from our parents?
Better safe than sorry.
Those that lead local flocks of God's people need to
take seriously the statement of 1 Peter 5:8 when it comes to
prospective preachers and teachers: Be sober, be
vigilant, for your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh
about seeking whom he may devour.
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WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR ONE TO RISE AND STAND IN THE GAP?
Marvin L. Weir
If elders, preachers, and all who consider themselves to
be Christians so desired, they could learn from faithful Old
Testament prophets. Ezekiel is such a prophet, and God on one
occasion said to him:
Son of man, say unto her, Thou art a land that is not
cleansed, nor rained upon in the day of indignation.
There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst
thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey: they have
devoured souls; they take treasure and precious things;
they have made her widows many in the midst thereof. Her
priests have done violence to my law, and have profaned
my holy things: they have made no distinction between the
holy and the common, neither have they caused men to
discern between the unclean and the clean, and have hid
their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among
them. Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves
ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls,
that they may get dishonest gain. And her prophets have
daubed for them with untempered mortar, seeing false
visions, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith
the Lord Jehovah, when Jehovah hath not spoken. The
people of the land have used oppression, and exercised
robbery; yea, they have vexed the poor and needy, and
have oppressed the sojourner wrongfully (Ezek. 22:24-29).
Notice what God said was happening among His people.
First, they were a land not cleansed (v.24). Second, they devoured
souls (v.25). Third, the priests did violence to the law of God
(v.26). Fourth, the priests profaned holy things and made no
distinction between the holy and common (v.26). Fifth, people were
not made to discern between the clean and the unclean (v.26).
Sixth, the princes in their midst were like wolves ravening their
prey (v.27). Seventh, the prophets were seeing false visions and
telling lies to the people (v.28).
As we contemplate history repeating itself, let us
take note of what is occurring far too often today in congregations
calling themselves churches of Christ.
First, many congregations willingly tolerate and
fellowship fellow members who are not clean from sin. What is
referred to are those who live in open sin and refuse to repent.
The sin of adultery is a case in point. So many today are living in
adulterous marriages while elders, preachers, and other members
extend the right hand of fellowship. Such a situation should never
be tolerated among God's people!
Second, souls are devoured today by those who teach
what the Bible does not teach and refuse to teach what the Bible
teaches. The majority of those who call themselves elders today
have abandoned their charge to feed the church (Acts
20:28). What is allowed to take place in many congregations today
is an absolute disgrace. Denominational programs and gimmicks are
in great demand, and serious Bible study is in short supply. Souls
are being devoured while those who are supposed to be shepherds
cater to what the flock desires.
Third, so-called preachers are allowed to do untold
violence to the Word of God. Why, brethren, why? Never have so many
uncertain sounds been allowed to spew forth from those who should
be setting forth the Word of life! Do people not study the Bible
for themselves anymore? Why are so many so content to allow false
teaching to go unchallenged? Is it lack of backbone or do they just
Why give the time of day to one who says that he
feels that God has laid it on his heart to tell you something? God
has told us what He would have us to know in His inspired Word (2
Tim. 3:16-17). Where does the Bible teach that when one comes
forward confessing sin and seeking restoration that a crowd of
friends are to accompany him? Where does the Bible teach that one
should come forward and confess his joys, successes, etc.?
Fourth, that which is sacred and holy is being
profaned today and no distinction is made between the holy and the
common. God is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth (John 4:24)
and not according to the feelings of man. Man-made innovations are
common and a dime a dozen. Where is the respect for a
thus saith the Lord?
Fifth, brethren are not being challenged with what
is right and what is wrong. The all-grace, all-love concept many
have adopted does not justify wrongdoing.
Sixth, why are false teachers (ravening wolves)
allowed to teach or preach to God's people? God's truth is always
undermined when a false teacher is allowed to unleash his false
teaching. Never invite wolves to the sheep pen!
Seventh, false visions, and lies abound today. This
is what occurs when people fail to demand chapter and verse
preaching. Drama tickles feelings; however, the Bible builds faith!
God sought for a man to stand in the gap so the
people might not be destroyed but there was none (Ezek. 22:30).
Are you willing to rise and stand on God's truth?
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SIX REASONS WHY DENOMINATIONAL BAPTISM SHOULD BE REJECTED
Religious men have a peculiar knack of taking something
the Bible teaches and revamping it to fit the doctrines of men;
then passing it off upon an unsuspecting public as the genuine,
scriptural thing. This has been done with baptism, the Lord's
supper and the church itself. Hence, it should be
kept in mind that a counterfeit article may resemble the genuine
article in many ways, but the points of resemblance do not prove
the counterfeit to be genuine! The Roman mass may
resemble the Lord's supper, but it is not the Lord's supper. Some
denomination may resemble the Lord's church, but it is not the
Lord's church. Neither is denominational baptism pleasing to God
just because it resembles the commanded of the Lord.
Denominational baptism is not scriptural baptism for
the following six reasons:
1) WRONG AUTHORITY. The various denominations do not
permit men to baptize unless they are duly ordained by them. Hence,
what ever may be done by such preachers in the matter of baptism is
done by the authority of that denomination, not on the authority of
Jesus Christ. Hence, the authority of Christ is not counted
sufficient. The preacher must be ordained and authorized to baptize
by the particular denomination. Again, these ordained preachers are
only permitted to baptize such persons as meet the unanimous
approval of the church which ordained them.
Persons desiring baptism are called
candidates (indicating they are subject to a vote of the
church) and are baptized only after the church has expressed
approval by casting a vote in favor of it. Hence, such
candidates are baptized on the authority of the
denomination; not on the authority of Jesus Christ. This is the
wrong authority. (Sometimes preachers in the church of Christ use
the term candidate concerning a person to be baptized
into Christ without thinking what they are saying. Brethren,
these things ought not so to be.)
The denomination puts itself in the place of the Lord
in presumptuously authorizing sprinkling or pouring for baptism
when the Lord has never even hinted at such a thing. Hence, the
administration of such is done on the authority of the
denominational church; not on the authority of Christ.
Denominational churches often authorize the
sprinkling of infants and call it infant baptism. Jesus
Christ said people who are baptized should be first taught (Matt.
28:18-20; John 6:44-45) and should be believers (Mark 16:16). Since
no infant can be taught the Gospel or believe it, Jesus never
authorized infant baptism. Hence, infant sprinkling is performed
solely upon the authority of the church which authorizes and
practices it. Finally, denominational churches almost with one
accord, deny the necessity of baptism to salvation. They say that
God does not require sinners to be baptized in order to be saved.
Hence, any baptism they may authorize is required by them merely as
a condition of membership in their particular denomination of which
the Lord never authorized anybody to become a member. Therefore,
denominational baptism is performed upon a wrong authority.
(2) WRONG ACTION, SOMETIMES. In the case of
sprinkling and pouring for baptism, denominations authorize the
wrong action. The Bible describes baptism as a burial and a
resurrection in water (Rom. 6:3,4; Col. 2:12; 3:1; Acts 8:35-39).
Hence, the action in sprinkling and pouring is wrong.
(3) WRONG SUBJECT. First, infants are not subjects
of baptism because they are incapable of faith and repentance (Mark
16:16; Acts 2:38). They are not lost; hence do not need to be
saved, and if they did baptize them, baptism alone could not save
Second, denominations claim that people are saved
before baptism. This has given rise to the expression
Christian baptism, implying that baptism is for
Christians only. All Christian duties are repetitive (must be done
repeatedly); therefore, if baptism is a Christian duty every
Christian should be baptized repeatedly. But no saved person needs
baptism, for baptism is for the remission of sins
(Acts 2:38), or in order to be saved (Mark 16:16). There is
no such thing as Christian baptism. Baptism is a command
of the Lord, not an ordinance of the church. Baptism is an alien
(4) WRONG CONFESSION. Denominational churches require
the candidate to tell an experience of grace
and/or to confess that he believes that God for Christ's sake
has pardoned his sins. The Lord does not promise such pardon
before baptism, hence those who so confess make a false claim
whether they know it or not. The right confession is recorded in
(5) WRONG PURPOSE. Denominational baptism is not
for the remission of sins, but for the purpose of
admitting one into the membership of a man-made church. The Bible
nowhere instructs anybody to become a member of a denominational
church; therefore, such baptism has the wrong purpose.
(6) WRONG RESULT. Denominational baptism accomplishes
its purpose and puts the person baptized into a sectarian
fellowship, brands him with an unscriptural name and binds him to
an unscriptural creed. It puts him into a body which claims to
contain only part of the saved; not into the body of Christ to
which the Lord adds all of the saved (Acts 2:47; Eph. 5:23), and
fosters division which the Lord condemns (John 10:16; 17:20-23; 1
For these six reasons, denominational baptism should
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ONLY THROUGH THE WORD
James W. Boyd
Every false teacher, in order to save his cause, must
repudiate the Bible as the guide in religion. He must do this
either by contradicting the Word, ignoring it, taking from it,
equating other authorities alongside the Word as claimed latter-day
revelation, emotional experiences which he attributes to the direct
operation of the Holy Spirit, receiving special communications and
revelations from God, warm feelings, small voices, visions, dreams,
creeds, manuals, catechisms, confessionals, edicts of councils,
conferences, synods, popes, or some other human ecclesiastical body
or source. There are all sorts of religious authorities to which
men look today rather than, or alongside, the Bible. Without them
the false teacher is silenced.
Currently, there is an emphasis on the alleged activity
of the Holy Spirit separate and apart from the Word, the
Bible, the Scriptures. The doctrine is the Bible plus.
Some have even gone to such extremes as to claim the Holy Spirit
leads them regarding where to work, parking their car, which
airplane to ride, what clothes to wear, which school to attend,
etc. The Holy Spirit makes all their decisions for them. Still
others claim their preaching is directly guided by the Holy Spirit
in a special and miraculous way, entering the preacher and speaking
through him, illuminating the Word for the reader and hearer by
special operation. Such claim has been also the basis for the
tongue speakers and other so-called miracle workers.
Those of this doctrinal persuasion have developed a
distinctive vocabulary among themselves. You can hear them talking
about the Holy Spirit laying a burden on their heart, witnessing
for Christ, giving personal testimonies, claiming the Lord spoke to
them, being illuminated by the Holy Spirit, personal indwelling of
the Holy Spirit. (Some teach a personal indwelling of the Holy
Spirit but deny any special miraculous power.) Their language is
not sound speech (Titus 2:8) nor do they speak as the
oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11).
THE CLAIMS ARE FALSE
We must realize that claiming activity by the Holy Spirit
separate and apart from the Word has historically given rise to
occults, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science,
Romanism, Pentecostalism, the electronic church (PTL Club, 700
Club), teachers like Oral Roberts who saw a giant Jesus, Pat
Roberson, Jim Bakker, etc. It is a basic stone in the foundation of
Calvinism. Nearly every denomination looks to something other than
the Bible or in addition to the Bible, as their source of religious
authority, and claim it is the work of the Holy Spirit.
A very fair and sobering question we ask of those who make
such claims and cite such authorities is, If the Holy Spirit
is guide of all such things, why all the contradictions, confusion
and division? Is Deity that confused to give different messages and
doctrines and attribute them to God?
We can know these claims are false, not only because they
contradict the Biblical teaching, but because of the fruit being
borne. The position of the false teachers is that if you cannot
prove something from the Bible, then prove it by your
feelings, your claims of God speaking directly to you, the
extra something to which he is privileged that nobody
else ever receives.
RESPECT OF PERSONS
God has revealed His mind to man concerning man's duty to
God, how man must serve and worship God, and the kind of life God
expects man to live. God has spoken to man (Heb. 1:1,2). There are
only two ways for a mind to communicate with another mind. There is
either a direct and miraculous communication
or there is the use of a means, such as agents, symbols,
words, through which one acts to produce effects in the mind of
another -- to convey thoughts. On Pentecost, God miraculously
guided the minds of the apostles and what they spoke. First
Corinthians 2:12,13 teaches miraculous guidance, as does 2 Peter
1:20,21. Christ had promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit
would guide them into all truth (John 16:13). Paul warned against
any doctrine other than what he had preached. Peter said they
received all things that pertain to life and godliness (John
14,15,16; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Peter 1:3). Unless God still miraculously
guides us, He must guide us the only other way, namely, through
some medium, means or agency.
If God guides some miraculously and not everyone, then He is
a respecter of persons in spite of Paul's and Peter's denial of
that. If God miraculously guides even certain ones, why does He not
guide them alike, for they differ tremendously? Why do they not all
have the same knowledge and teach the same doctrine? Why is their
message at such variance from what the apostles taught in spite of
the warnings against teaching such things? Where are the genuine
signs, wonders, and miracles to confirm their claim as was done by
the apostles, the ones to whom the promise of miraculous guidance
was made as they went about revealing the whole counsel of God?
Where goes the claim, must go the demonstration of that claim. Just
to simply claim the Holy Spirit, proves nothing.
To claim the direct and miraculous guidance of the Holy
Spirit today is to speak disparagingly of the all sufficiency of
the Scriptures even though the Scripture claims that for itself (2
Tim. 3:16,17). We hear those who claim the Bible plus
contend that the Bible is not adequate and sufficient, that we
cannot understand it. The truth is that God either could not give
us revelation we could grasp, lacking the power to do so, or He
would not provide such revelation we could grasp, but still holds
us responsible to obey it. Which horn of the dilemma would you like
to take? Either He could not or would not. But we contend that He
did reveal His will, sufficiently, within the grasp of man to read
and know (Eph. 3:1-5; 5:17), and allows for no other guide than
what He has provided (2 John 9; Gal. 1:6-9; Rev. 22:18,19).
DWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The claim of Scripture for Scripture is that it is
verbally inspired, inerrant, infallible, authoritative, and all
sufficient (2 Tim. 3:16,17). It either is or it is not. If it is,
then all else is eliminated. If it is not, then why should we have
confidence in anything else that Scripture tells us? Faithful
Gospel preachers who rely on and preach the Word are sometimes
accused of being obsessed with the Bible as the sole authority.
Certainly, they are. Indeed, they must be, if they be true to the
To deny a special and miraculous operation by the Holy
Spirit does not make one anti-Holy Spirit, nor negate the power of
the Holy Spirit, nor challenge the providence of God, nor deny
Deity answering prayer. We confess the reality of the Holy Spirit
as one of the Godhead. What all Deity may do we would not profess
to know fully. But as for the way Deity has and does communicate
the message of salvation through Christ to mankind we can be
certain because Deity has revealed in the Word how Deity has done
But someone asks, Does not the Holy Spirit dwell in
us? The answer is, Yes. There are many passages that
so teach, such as Romans 8:11. That is not the question here. It is
not argued about the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. He does. But
understand that Christ dwells in us also (Eph. 3:17), and so does
the Father (1 Cor. 3:16). But none of these passages that teach the
Holy Spirit dwelling in us teach that they dwell in us literally,
personally, actually, as if our bodies are occupied by any spirit
other than our own. Yes, the Lord lives in us, but HOW does He live
in us (Gal. 2:20)? The Bible teaches that the Word dwells in us
also (Col. 3:16).
HERE IS HOW
I have had it said to me, and considered it a compliment,
by some who knew my father, I can see your daddy in you.
How do they see my father in me? Is it because my father's literal
spirit has come to occupy my body? Indeed not! At this writing my
father is physically dead and his spirit is in the hands of God,
not in my body. They see my father in me as I partake of the ways,
attitudes, and manners of my father. As I follow him, he is seen in
me. So it is with Deity dwelling in humanity.
John 15:1-10 teaches us how Deity dwells in humanity. Read
the lengthy passage and consider these comments. Notice the verses
speak of man abiding (living, dwelling) in Christ, Christ abideth
in man, God and Christ abiding one with the other. This is
accomplished, if ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide
in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide
in his love. The concept of the indwelling of
Deity in humanity is nothing more or less than the doctrine of
fellowship between Deity and humanity (1 John 1:3,7). Deity no more
operates and possesses people apart from their will than does
Satan. Satan uses a means to influence man such as words,
false doctrines, temptations, false teachers, deceptions, and other
various Satanic servants. But God also uses a means also.
Man is a free moral agent with the power of choice to decide his
own will, whether he will serve God or Satan. To suggest some
direct operation of either is to surrender man's power of choice
and he becomes but a pawn and robot. What a degrading doctrine!
As far as the Holy Spirit leading, guiding, and
influencing us, nothing is taught in the Bible of Him that is not
also taught of the Word. The Holy Spirit is not the same as the
Word, but the truth is that the Holy Spirit operates by and through
the Word. They do not act independently (some use the word
conjointly, which is at best confusing) one from another, but the
Holy Spirit uses His sword which is the Word (Eph. 6:17) to
accomplish His operation. The Word is the medium of Deity. God's
Word once was embodied in inspired men, but now is in the inspired
We urge each reader to consider such passages as James
1:18,21,22 to learn we are begotten with the Word, saved by the
Word (cf. 1 Cor. 4:15). We must be born again, but we are begotten
by the Word (1 Peter 1:23). Ephesians 5:26 teaches Christ cleanses
by the Word. The parallel passages, Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16, show
the Spirit dwells as the Word dwells. Psalm 119:105, we are led by
the Word. Our hearts are enlightened by the Word (Psalm 110:104,
130). By the Word we get understanding, We shall be judged by the
Word (John 12:48). We are called to God by the Gospel (2 Thess.
2:14). Faith comes by the Word (Rom. 10:17). Christ came to give
the water of life (John 4:14). But what is the water He gave? He
gave the Word. God draws man, but through learning, teaching (John
6:44,45). To resist the preaching of the prophets was to resist the
Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51). God testified against Israel by the
preaching of the Word done by the prophets (Neh. 9:30).
Let us hear the conclusion of the matter. Every effect,
emotion, and direction the Holy Spirit produces is engineered by
the use of the Word. Only through the Word does Deity lead us. If
it is not found in God's Word, then it is not God's will. For this
reason we should try the spirits whether they be of God (1 John
4:1). The standard of measure is the Word (Acts 17:11; Psalm
Beware of those who claim something special, some
revelation and guidance that nobody else ever receives. Isaiah
8:20, To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not
according to this word, it is because there is no light in
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AM I THEREFORE BECOME YOUR ENEMY
BECAUSE I TELL YOU THE TRUTH?
The book of Galatians was written to the churches of
Galatia (Gal. 1:2). This epistle opens immediately by dealing with
an error that was plaguing the churches. Many brethren were going
back to the law of Moses and forsaking the law of Christ which had
freed them from the bondage of sin. Paul challenges his readers to
put away the perversions of God's Word and to reject the teachers
of these perversions (Gal. 1:6-9). It seems rather strange these
people would allow the law of Moses (which contained no forgiveness
of sins) to influence their lives once again. One might read these
passages and this situation and shake his head in disbelief. One
might say, I cannot understand that or I would never
have done that. And yet there are people who are constantly
going back to their former way of life or who are allowing former
circumstances or people to influence their spiritual lives. There
is no difference between these people who rejected their salvation
by returning to the law of Moses than men and women today who
reject their salvation by returning to religious indifference,
sentimentality or denominationalism. The times and people may have
changed, but man's desire to please other men has not changed! So
Paul exhorts these churches to hold to the certified gospel of
Christ for which there is no substitution!
TELLING THE TRUTH REQUIRES...
In Galatians 4:16, Paul asked this question:
Am I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the
truth? Though this question is rhetorical, let us
examine the truths that are implied in its asking.
1) The responsibility of a true friend. A sincere friend
will tell you the truth. When the apostle Peter showed partiality
and prejudice, Paul withstood him to the face, because he
was to be blamed (Gal. 2:11-14). Paul did not shirk his
responsibility to help a brother in Christ (and a fellow apostle)
to overcome a weakness. A friend will take a genuine interest in
his friend's welfare and seek to promote it. Jonathan proved to be
a true friend to David (1 Samuel 18:1). A friend will recognize
that liberty is realized in telling the truth (John 8:32). How can
one profess to be a true friend if he is unwilling to express
Biblical truth concerning salvation from sins?
REGARDING A FRIEND AS AN ENEMY
2) The character of a true friend. A friend will be
a person of clear and fair judgment (John 7:24). He is interested
in what is right. He shows no partiality. He will be observant,
even of his own errors, so that he will have the basis to be honest
with the errors of others (Matt. 7:1-5; 2 Cor. 13:5). His prayers
will be that his friends be delivered from temptations, weaknesses
and evils (Luke 22:31-32). He finds no joy in the sins of others
Why do men regard a friend as an enemy because he tells
1) Because of the nature of truth. Truth must say
many things that are often displeasing (John 8:44). But rather than
dealing with the message, many people choose to deal with the
messenger. Ahab hated Micaiah the prophet of God because
he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil
(1 Kings 22:8). Truth shows no respect of persons whether
princes or peasants, rich or poor (Rom. 2:8-11). Truth sometimes
must hurt in order to heal (Heb. 4:12). Though one never wants to
hurt the feelings of another person, sometimes truth does hurt. But
the hurt of truth is far better than the hurt of a sinful life.
2) Because of the nature of humans. Human nature
lacks the earnest desire to be set right in all things (Rom.
3:10-11; 5:12). Human nature is filled with pride and envy which
often hinders one in admitting and overcoming wrongs (1 Tim. 3:6;
Mark 15:10). Human beings many times have unfavorable opinions or
surmise as to the motives of the teller of truth (1 Tim. 6:3-4; 1
Thess. 2:4). It is not unusual for people to assume the reproving
brother is self-righteous, rather than expressing concern for the
wayward and lost. Human nature does not always recognize the truth
(John 1:4; 14:6). Fear, doubt, disbelief and pessimism will often
persuade one to point an accusing finger toward another when the
error lies within self. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent
(Gen. 3:10-13). Both should have looked inwardly, not outwardly.
1) Knowledge is required (2 Tim. 2:15; Col. 4:6; 1 Peter
3:15). Though a person may have good intentions, he needs to
possess knowledge of the Scriptures which is the standard of right
and wrong, and, he must have accurate knowledge of wrongs and
circumstances. It is a mistake to assume a wrong on the part of an
individual without investigating the truth. Many times
miscommunication or a misunderstanding leaves a person with a wrong
assumption or a faulty accusation. Once truth has been established
concerning a person by talking with him and those involved, then
God's truth of correction must be applied.
2) The instructor should present the truth to show
that its authority lies within the truth itself and not in the
instructor (John 8:26; Gal. 1:11-12). It is a weak and inaccurate
position to place the authority of correction in the rebuker and
not the source of the truth -- God. Man does not speak of himself,
but he is a messenger of the Lord. His words are true and right
only when they agree with the Will of God. God's power to save is
found in the Gospel (Rom. 1:16).
3) There is a proper time and place for truth to be
exercised (Eccl. 3:1; Prov. 6:20). Circumstances, situations, and
people should be considered before reproving wrong. Though
well-intentioned, some brethren fail to use common sense. Private
sins may not need to be rebuked publicly (Matt. 18:15-20). Public
gatherings, such as, funerals, weddings, hospitals, etc., are not
the proper environment for a religious debate. A little tact and
diplomacy may be the difference between gaining a brother and
losing him to the world.
4) There is a proper manner in which truth is to be
spoken (Eph. 4:15; Gal. 6:1; Matt. 10:16). There is never any
reason to be unkind to another person. Though men and women may
stand poles apart on an issue or concerning a problem,
anger and hatred are always out of place.
1) By cultivating a disposition of mind which earnestly
desires the truth in whatever manner it may come to him (Acts
2) Sometimes one is silent when he should have spoken
the truth, afterwards finds that he is the object of rebuke (Prov.
3) By being receptive to the proper kind of rebuke,
now will be able to give it properly (Prov. 15:5,12; 17:10).
Friends, regardless of the motive or manner in which
one tells us the truth, we should be objective enough to listen to
TRUTH. But may we always tell the truth even though it may cause
friends to become enemies.
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Indianapolis, IN 46203
Table of Contents
DISCOURAGEMENTS IN THE CHURCH
David B. Jones
Discouragement is one of the tools employed by Satan to
try and undermine the work of the Lord. Frequently, discouragement
comes from the outside, but all too often it comes from within the
body of Christ also. Soldiers of Christ expect those outside the
body to attack their work. We are reminded of the apostle Paul and
how he had to be taken out of cities by night because of the Jewish
persecution: But Saul increased the more in strength, and
confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is
very Christ. And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took
counsel to kill him. But their laying await was known of Saul. And
they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the
disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a
basket (Acts 9:22-25). We also read in Acts seventeen of
various times he had to be moved by night because of outside
persecution. This type of persecution can discourage the soldier of
Christ. The soldier must remind himself of the example of His Lord
and how He overcame.
Persecution also comes from within. Paul was a victim
of this type persecution also. We read in Second Corinthians:
In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of
robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the
heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in
perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren (2 Cor
11:26). Notice he had perils among false brethren. No doubt this
was a source of some discouragement, but again He trusted God and
relied upon His strength.
Today, soldiers of Christ face persecution from
without and from within the body of Christ. Atheists outside the
body attack the very existence of God and liberals inside the body
attack the very existence of the authority of God's Word. We have
grown to expect this discouragement so we handle it and keep going.
However, there are other discouragements we face from within and
these will more easily defeat us if they are not corrected.
Let us notice some of the discouragements we may face
There is a place for what we call constructive
criticism. Parents use this in the home. They show their
children how they could have done something more efficiently. The
children often do not like this type of teaching, but good parents
know it is needed.
In the church we need to be able to take constructive
criticism when it is given from good and honest hearts. Those
giving this advice should first search their own hearts and make
sure they are pure and sincere. Second, the listeners should take
the advice and apply it to their actions. We truly have to be
careful in this area.
However, there is criticism which is not
constructive, but rather, destructive. This criticism comes from
hearts which have no care of compassion, they simply want to point
out the faults of someone else at the other person's expense. Sad,
but true, are the cases where young and well-meaning Christians
have been severely criticized by others to the point of
discouragement. Perhaps they were doing something and the other
person disagreed with the way it was being done. Instead of
tactfully approaching the party and making a suggestion as to how
it could be done better or differently, the criticizer attacked the
person with no concern for his/her feelings. Vindicated, the
attacker went his/her way never realizing the harm done. Not only
did the attacker discourage the worker, but also any witnesses to
the attack. If the accuser were questioned, he would not even
realize he had done wrong. We can discourage some innocent people
and never even know it! This is why we should watch our criticism
very closely. Let us be sure someone is WRONG before we accuse. If
we disagree with a matter of opinion, we had better be careful how
we criticize. Everyone has the right to his opinion. Of course,
there are matters of doctrine which are not left up to our
opinions. In these cases, we had better stand up for what is right
no matter the cost or the foe!
We mean by this term a casual attitude when it comes to
worshiping God. Jesus said: God is a Spirit: and they
that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth
(John 4:24). God has always demanded His people worship Him in this
manner: Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in
sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers
served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt, serve ye the
LORD (Josh. 24:14). God is a jealous God and His nature
demands His people put Him first or no place. Only those of the
correct tribe could come before Him and offer sacrifices during Old
Testament times and then He decreed it must be with the proper
attitude and actions.
COMPETITION AMONG BRETHREN
Today, Christians are the ones who can offer
spiritual sacrifices to Him: Ye also, as lively stones,
are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up
spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ
(1 Peter 2:5). Our actions and attitudes must be correct if we want
this worship accepted. God only approved and saved those who
worshiped Him correctly in the Old Testament and the same is true
today. Far too many members of the Lord's church take this
privilege too casually. Many believe if they come and sit in the
pew, they have worshiped God. If we approach God casually and not
with conviction and consecration, He despises our sacrifices.
Many are too casual in the ATTENTION they give to
worship. Grown-ups are guilty of not paying attention to the
singing and sermons as they should. They often play with babies and
dose off because of the casual attention they pay to worship. Young
people are also guilty of passing notes and amusing themselves with
other things during worship. Parents ought to watch this and put a
stop to it. However, if something is said to the young people, the
parents too often get upset with the one who brings it to their
attention. Many wonder why young people quit attending worship
services after they leave home. In many cases, it is because they
were not taught in the home the joy and responsibility of truly
worshiping as they should have and they too often do not see this
attention in their parents' worship.
The singing may not be the best, but God expects us
to sing from our hearts and our worship does not depend upon every
note being hit perfectly!
The preacher may not be the best speaker who ever
preached, but if he is speaking the truth in love, we are to give
the study of God's Word our undivided attention. It is discouraging
for the preacher to see the lack of attention during the sermon,
especially when it involves the parents or the parents have no
concern for their children's attitude. It is also discouraging for
those sitting beside those not paying attention.
Another discouragement is the competition which exists in the
church. Jealousy is an avenue Satan uses to discourage brethren.
Just as James and John wanted to sit next to Jesus in authority,
many brethren desire to have all the attention of certain brethren.
Preachers are often the battleground for these confrontations.
Members will despise other brethren if the preacher shows them too
much attention. Work is halted because brethren are not willing to
work together due to competition. Some members have to have the
limelight or they are not happy. Some members must be the only ones
involved in something or else they want no part. As Satan sees
these attitudes expressed, he sits back with an attitude of success
because he has discouraged the work in the church. Brethren, let us
guard against these and other discouragements we could notice.
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