IS THE CHURCH SIMILAR OR IDENTICAL?
Most people are familiar with the words
similar and identical. The real is genuine,
but the similar is not and it may be deceiving in its similarity.
Counterfeit money is very deceptive to the untrained eye.
Employees of our banking systems are trained to detect the
counterfeit. Likewise, members of the Lords church need to
be able to discern between that which is similar to the New
Testament church and the church as she is revealed in the
scriptures. Satan has many ways of deceiving multitudes into
believing they are children of God while, at the same time, he
has them firmly within his grip. Its not enough to be
similar to the New Testament church, we must strive to be
identical in our belief, teaching and practice.
MUSIC IN THE CHURCH
A pistol that fires only blanks may scare-off
a would-be thief, but it will not stop him from stealing. When we
become satisfied with being similar to the church in the New
Testament, we begin firing blanks. These blanks will not stop the
liberalism thats running rampant in our brotherhood. We
cannot afford to be satisfied with similarity in doctrinal
Denominational churches have for many years been
satisfied with being similar to the church of the New Testament.
Consider the case of music in the church. If the scriptures had
simply authorized the making of music in the worship of the
church, there would be few problems; since there are many ways we
may make music. In the New Testament, the kind of music to be
made is specified. The command to sing is specific; it specifies
the nature of the music to be offered in worship. The
denominations respond by saying, We sing, but we choose to
sing with musical instruments. Their actions are similar,
but not identical with the practice of the New Testament church.
The problem becomes clear when we realize that the command to
sing specifies the kind of music the Lord wants in his church.
And, the instrument upon which the music is made is the
worshipers heart, and not a mechanical instrument (Eph.
5:19; Col. 3:16). There is absolutely no scriptural authority for
the use of mechanical instruments of music in New Testament
worship, and those who use them are sinning because they have
transgressed the law of Christ (cf. II John 9-11).
THE LORDS SUPPER
The practice of partaking of the Lords supper
is another case-in-point. The New Testament church observed the
Lords death every first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Most
denominations have the supper several times a year, but they do
not follow the pattern set-out in the New Testament. Although
they have the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine, their
purposes for participating in the observance range from the
forgiveness of sins to simply remembering that Christ died for
the sin of the whole world. The denominations are similar in that
they have the proper elements of unleavened bread and the fruit
of the vine (grape juice or wine), but they are not identical
with the practice of the early church. The scriptural purpose for
partaking of the Lords supper is to remember the Lords
death (I Cor. 11:24-26). The forgiveness of our sins can come
only through the shed blood of Christ (Heb. 9:22) and not by
eating the Lords supper.
Several denominations immerse their converts, but
the reason(s) for which they immerse are varied. A major
denomination whose name is derived from the title worn by John
the Baptist, teach that baptism in the New Testament was always
an immersion. This is true, but their purpose for immersing their
converts is not for the remission of sins, as Peter
declared on Pentecost (Acts 2:38). Their purpose for immersing is
to make the convert a member of their church. In fact, this is
the only way one can become a member of the Baptist denomination.
Can we not see the similarity between the practice of this
particular denomination and that of the New Testament church?
They immerse and so do we, but not for the same reason. We
immerse for the remission of sins according to Acts 2:38. The
action involved in immersing their converts is correct, but their
purpose for immersing is incorrect. Similar, yes, but not
identical! Friend, the church to which you belong, is it similar
or identical to the church in the New Testament?
Brethren, the saddest of all things is the
departure of some of our own brethren from the path that is right
and cannot be wrong. Some of our brethren have digressed to the
point that they now are using instruments of music in their
worship. Some of these digressive brethren are now partaking of
the Lords supper on occasions other than the first day of
the week worship assembly. Some are now serving the Lords
supper at weddings and funerals; while others are partaking of
the supper on Thursday evenings. These erring brethren do not
respect the authority of the scriptures; if they did, they would
not engage in such sinful practices.
Brethren, are we not making the same mistake
Israel made long ago when they wanted a king so they could be
like the nations around them? Are we not striving to be appealing
(at the sacrifice of having scriptural authority for all we
believe and practice) to our denominational friends by trying to
be similar to them? It is my judgment, if we must try to be
similar to them, we might as well join them and enjoy their
fellowship in this life, for that will be the only reward
well receive. In the hereafter, it will be a far different
story. think about it.
1336 Spring Lake Rd.
Fruitland Park, FL 34731
Table of Contents
Divorce, Remarriage and Living in Adultery
One cannot sin, repent of it, and
continue in the sin. Repentance is a change
of heart (attitude, thinking) that leads to a
change of life.
When one divorces their spouse for a cause other than
their spouses fornication and marries another, both
individuals are living in adultery. Jesus made this clear in
Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9. Adulterers and adulteresses do not
go to heaven (I Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Heb. 13:4; James 4:4;
Rom. 13:9). However, those guilty of adultery can be forgiven if
they repent and terminate (dissolve) their adulterous marriage.
Because of this clear and obvious teaching of our
Lord, there are those who say it makes adultery a sin that God
will not forgive. Therefore, they seek to get around the
Lords teaching by saying that adultery is a one
time act of divorcing and remarrying and that the marriage
union itself is not an adulterous union. They conclude that those
guilty of adultery can repent of it and yet remain in the
marriage union. They simply promise to never divorce and remarry
again. But, such is not the case. This belief and practice is
false teaching and will lead multitudes into hell.
The sin of adultery has not been singled out to be
a sin that God will not forgive. The problem is not that God does
not care for adulterers or is not merciful to adulterers or is
not forgiving of adulterers. Second Peter 3:9 says, The
Lord...is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should
perish, but that all should come to repentance.
The Lord will forgive any sin of which one will repent (cf.
I John 1:9). Repentance is the key to forgiveness. On the other
hand, God will not save those who do not repent. (Note: If one is
not a Christian, then one must believe, repent, confess and be
baptized to have forgiveness. If one is a Christian, then
repentance and confession before the church is necessary).
Every sin has its consequences, though some sins
bear more consequences than others. God can and does forgive
every sin of which one repents, but one must also live with the
consequences of their sins. For example, I may commit murder,
repent of it and receive forgiveness. But, my repentance will not
bring the dead person back. My repentance will not wipe away my
memory of committing this terrible deed. I certainly received
forgiveness at my repentance, but the consequences of my actions
will remain with me the rest of my life. Ill be haunted by
such memory in addition to having to pay my debt to society. I
may get drunk and kill someone or maim someone or myself. I can
get forgiveness of drunkenness, but no ones arms or legs
will be put back on or make their wheelchair go away.
Consider this modern day illustration. If you
steal a car, can you repent of it? Certainly. Can you receive
forgiveness of it? Certainly. Can you keep the car after you
repent? Of course not! Not only was it wrong to steal the car, it
is wrong to keep the car. Your relationship with that car is
sinful and the car must be given up to receive and continue in
Gods forgiveness. Lest some doubt this illustration, read II
Samuel 12 where God made a parallel between stealing and
An illustration of homosexuality will help clarify
the issue even more. In todays world, two men or two women
may live together or even get married in some places. Obviously,
they have no authority from God to live in such a perverted
relationship. They sin in so doing. So, can they repent of
marrying (or living with) someone of the same sex? Certainly. Can
they receive forgiveness of marrying someone of the same sex? Of
course. Can they repent of the sin of homosexuality (sodomy) and
yet remain in their marriage and live together? Of course not.
Why not? Because marrying each other was/is a sin and continuing
to live with each other is a sin. They had/have no authority to
be married to each other or live with each other. The
relationship itself is a sinful relationship and must be
terminated (dissolved) to meet Gods approval.
If I divorce my wife and it is not because of her
fornication and I marry someone else, Jesus said in Matthew 19:9
that I have sinned and I am living in the sin of adultery. And,
the person I married has sinned and continues to sin by living in
an adulterous marriage/relationship. Can I repent of marrying
someone I had no right to marry? Certainly. Can I receive
forgiveness of marrying someone I had no right to marry?
Certainly. Can I continue living with the one I had no right to
marry and meet Gods approval? I most certainly cannot! The
sin of adultery is that two people are living with each other
when they have no right to be living with each other. The fact
that they may be married does not change the fact that they are
living in adultery. The relationship itself is sinful. Colossians
3:5-7 makes it clear that one can continuously live in the state
of sin, including sexual sins. Verse 7 says, In the
which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.
One cannot sin, repent of it, and continue in the
sin. Repentance is a change of heart (attitude, thinking) that
leads to a change of life. If ones life does not change,
theres no evidence of repentance. If one is guilty of
idolatry and repents of it, he/she must discontinue bowing down
to idols. You cant repent and continue in the sin,
regardless of which sin it is.
All those who are eligible to marry can be grouped
into three classes/categories of people. These and only these
have a right to marry and meet with Gods approval:
1. Those who have never been married.
God created marriage and counts it honorable and wholesome (Heb.
2. Those whose spouse has died (Rom.
3. Those who have divorced their mate because
of their mates fornication (Matt. 19:9; 5:32).
It is obvious that in each of these three
classes/categories that those who have a right to marry must also
marry someone who has a Scriptural right to marry -- that is,
they can only marry someone who fits into one of these three
There is another category of people: those
who have divorced their mate for a cause other than their
mates fornication. According to Matthew 19:9, those in
this category, those who marry without a Scriptural cause, are
committing adultery and those whom they marry are also committing
adultery. The Greek word committeth, indicates
continuous action. As long as they remain married
and/or live together, their continued relationship is adultery.
They are continuing to live in the constant state of adultery.
The conclusion is this, one can most certainly
receive forgiveness of an unscriptural divorce and remarriage.
However, one must repent of their sin of adultery. Repentance
means they discontinue their sin and sinful relationship. A
divorced person can receive forgiveness just like anyone else
that sins. However, they cannot continue in their sin of adultery
any more than someone can continue in their sin of homosexuality
or lying or stealing or idolatry or any other sin.
Those who do not or have not put away (divorced)
their mate because of their mates fornication, do not have a
right to get married or remain married. Marriage is not
mandatory. Marriage is a privilege allowed by God to those who
obey His will. The consequence (alternative), therefore, is for
those who have an unscriptural divorce and/or have repented of
adultery, to remain single. They do not have the right to marry.
First Corinthians 7:11 and Matthew 19:10-12 speaks of those who
must remain unmarried in order to meet Gods approval. Such a
single person can be a faithful child of God and do great work in
the kingdom. Living faithful unto the Lord, they will be able to
go to heaven in the end.
Table of Contents
TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE vs. MODERN IDEAS
Roger D. Campbell
A lot is being said today in American society
about traditional family values, traditional
marriage, and traditional families. Whether one is
for or against the traditional approach to these
matters, there is one problem in these issues which many fail to
notice. Whether or not a concept or activity is acceptable has
nothing to do with its newness or oldness. That is, something is
not wrong just because it is new to us or has never been done
before in our part of the world or nation. At the same time,
neither is something right or better just because it breaks
new ground or parts ways with a former idea or practice. In
this context, to label something as traditional or
non-traditional proves absolutely nothing about whether
it is right or wrong.
As Gods children, Christians must strive
to have their thinking be in harmony with His will. We must
accept the truth that the Bible is Gods inspired word (II
Tim. 3:16,17). We must accept the reality that the word
of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth
(Psalm 33:4). Since the Bible is Gods word, and since
His word is right/truth (John 17:17), then we need to accept its
message about every topic, including what it says about marriage,
the family and sexual activities. In all things we are to have
the mind of the Christ (Phil. 2:5).
God created us. This makes us the
offspring of God (Acts 17:29). Because we have a
Creator-created relationship, it is our obligation to seek out
and follow our Creators will. This certainly applies in the
realm of the family. Jesus once said, Have ye not read,
that he which made them at the beginning made them male and
female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and
mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one
flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What
therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder
(Matt. 19:4-6). Because Jehovah God is the One that
instituted marriage, then He alone is the One that has the right
to determine the rules for marriage. In addition, as
our Maker, He has the authority to dictate to mankind how to use
and not use our physical bodies.
Some time ago, I read a USA Today article
entitled Nordic Family Ties Dont Mean Tying the
Knot, that was both thought-provoking and alarming.
Unless stated otherwise, all quotes below are from this article:
USA Today, 12/16/04, pp.15A,16A. The article deals with current
moral values and approaches to parenthood and marriage in Norway.
I would like to share some excerpts from the article, along with
some observations. Though this article refers to attitudes and
action that abound in another nation, the principles involved
would apply regardless of where a person might live.
In Norway, half of all children are now
born to unmarried mothers. ... The numbers are similarly high for
Sweden and Denmark. Can you imagine? Fifty percent
(50%) of all children are being born to women who are not married
to the fathers of those children! Scandinavian countries are not
the only ones struggling with such a dilemma. Consider the
reality of what is taking place in our area, both in the state of
Tennessee and the city of Chattanooga in particular. 㦐.2%
of all births in Tennessee are to single, unmarried mothers. This
is close to the national average, BUT 49.8% of all births in
Chattanooga are to single, unmarried women [Intercessors for
Chattanooga Prayer Letter, Vol. 15, No. 8, p.2]. Nationwide in
the U.S., roughly one out every three children that are born are
not born into a setting where their mom and dad are married to
one another. Thus, by definition, they are illegitimate kids.
What the above means, of course, is that
people are having sexual relations with those that are not their
spouses. Some luck out and dont get pregnant.
However, whether or not a pregnancy results means absolutely zero
in considering the question of the rightness of jumping into bed
with a person that is not ones mate. When two people that
are not married to one another engage in sexual relations with
each other, the Bible calls such action fornication.
Gods word is not vague when it comes to this topic. Hear the
Lords message: Flee fornication (I Cor.
6:18). God said that fornicators shall not inherit the kingdom of
God (I Cor. 6:9,10). We need to believe and teach this unchanging
truth. Our kids and grandkids need to hear it. So does every
One priest of a branch of the
Lutheran denomination in Sweden said, Now days, no one
notices if someone is pregnant without being married. God
does! God notices when people engage in unlawful sexual conduct.
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in
his sight: all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him
with whom we have to do (Heb. 4:13). Get this point:
if people in a society do not give a second thought to someone
being pregnant out of wedlock (i.e., they openly accept the
practice of pre-marital sex), that does not make it right in
In turning away from marriage,
Scandinavians have done little to harm their quality of life.
Norway ranked first and Sweden second in the United Nations
quality-of-life survey for 2004, which rates per capital income,
education levels, health care and life expectancy in measuring a
nations well-being. Is there anything that
strikes you about these declarations? First, when the article
says that Scandinavians are turning away from marriage,
it has reference to the fact that many of them live together,
have children, and then keep living together as a family that has
a dad, a mom, and kids, but the dad and mom never marry. Second,
the article boasts that a man and woman living together (and
sleeping together), as an alternative to getting married, has not
really harmed their quality of life. The meaning? Traditional
marriage is okay, but it is not any better than just living
together. But, the question is, by whose standards? The answer,
of course, is by human standards. Humanism declares that men and
women have the right to determine what is best for them.
Gods will is totally left out of the picture. People may
have a good education, a good job, and a happy family. These
things mean nothing, though, if they do not choose to fear God
and keep His commands, which is the whole duty of man (Eccl.
12:13). Human organizations such as the United Nations use human
measuring sticks to determine a nations well-being. Jehovah
uses something different when He weighs a nation. Hear
Him: Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a
reproach to any people (Prov. 14:34).
One Ms. Hanssen, a twenty-five year old woman
from Norway, said, You choose a father and then you
choose a different husband. It sounds well planned,
does it not? You jump into bed with one person to produce a baby,
but then you get married to someone else. We might not bat an eye
at the thought of providing stud services for horses, but in
human beings it is abominable. The Bible says, Marriage
is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and
adulterers God will judge (Heb. 13:4). Remember, there
is one circumstance alone wherein the Lord approves of sexual
relations between humans. What is that? When a man and a woman
are scripturally married to one another.
Hanssen doesnt believe the
traditional, one-father/one-mother family model is necessarily
best for raising kids. Once again, the question boils
down to this: Whose ideas for the home are we going to
accept and follow, Gods or mans? God has spoken.
Sexual relations, in and of themselves, are not sinful. Having
children, in and of itself, is not wrong. Gods order,
though, is first to marry, then bear children only with the help
of ones lawful spouse (I Tim. 5:14). The Bible plainly
teaches that the husband is the head of his wife (Eph. 5:23), and
children are to obey their parents (Eph. 6:1,2). Man may not
think this traditional family and submission
arrangement is best for raising kids, but God says otherwise! It
is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. God says so in
Ms. Hanssen also declared, Every
single war, every single conflict, everything has been based on
religion; so it just reaches a point where you say, If God
is that great, hes not doing a very good job, is he?
Eventually you end up choosing not to believe because to me
its just too much of a contradiction. Ive got to hope
theres no God, because if there is, Ive got some issues
This womans words contain falsehood --
it certainly is not true that every single war and conflict
between men has been based on religion. She seriously needs a
Ms. Hanssens words also contain
blasphemy. She boldly asserts that God is not doing a very good
job! The Bible says, The LORD is righteous in all his
ways, and holy in all his works (Psalm 145:17). God
does not deserve to be second-guessed, called in for
interrogation, or fired! He is perfect. It is not His fault that
men fail to follow His instructions about marriage and how to
treat other people. This young woman says that if there really is
a God, she would have some issues with Him. Unless she changes
her ways, what a surprise she will have on the day of judgment.
Indeed, there is a God, and He will judge her and all others in
righteousness (Acts 17:31). On that day, God will be the One to
have some issues with this woman and all like her, not
There are basically two root problems in the
attitudes and actions we observe in this article. First, some
people simply do not know Gods will about sex, marriage, and
the family. Second, there are many others who know well what
Gods Book says about these matters. They simply choose to
disregard what He says. Regardless of the costs involved, may we
always be ready to live according to Gods will.
120 Will Lewis Dr. SE
Cleveland, TN 37323
Table of Contents
GODS GOODNESS IN QUALIFYING BELIEVERS
Marvin L. Weir
The Colossian brethren had been ensnared by
worldliness, lost in sin, and without hope. But now the apostle
Paul describes them as saints in light! When we learn
what the Colossians did to break the bondage of sin and become
partakers of the inheritance, we will also learn what
qualified them as saints in light.
Paul writes, Giving thanks unto the
Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the
inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from
the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of
his dear Son (Col. 1:12-13). The Bible is very clear
in communicating what one must do to be made meet or
qualified. How can one claim to study Gods Word
and then declare that there is nothing for one to do to be saved?
The Bible never hints or teaches that God automatically
qualifies people as saints in light without
any acts of obedience on their part.
First, the Gospel must be heard. It
is true that ...faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by
the word of God (Rom. 10:17). The Colossians were
reminded For the hope which is laid up for you in
heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the
gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and
bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye
heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth (Col.
Second, the sinner must become aware of his
lost condition and open his heart to receive
Gods truth. Many on the day of Pentecost asked, what
must we do (Acts 2:37)? Their hearts had been
pricked (cut) by the spoken Word of God. In Acts 2:41
it is stated, Then they that gladly received his word
were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about
three thousand souls. This process is emphasized again
in the parable of the sower (cf. Matt. 13:18-23).
Third, belief plays a role in qualifying
one for salvation. Jesus answered and said unto them,
This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath
sent (John 6:29). You will notice that
belief (something that most all religious groups teach
that one must do) is here called the work of God
(something these same religious groups teach does not save one).
Friends, this is the difference in mans own meritorious
works and the works that God has commanded! The writer of Hebrews
affirms the necessity of belief in saying, But without
faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God
must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that
diligently seek him (Heb. 11:6).
Fourth, repentance must be forthcoming
before one can be saved. The Bible says, I tell you,
Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish
(Luke 13:3). The Word of God gives an excellent
demonstration of genuine repentance in Matthew 21:28-31:
But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came
to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He
answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and
went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he
answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain
did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus
saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and
the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
Fifth, confession is made unto salvation.
One must acknowledge Christs deity -- that He is the only
begotten of the Father. In Romans 10:10 Paul says, for
with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the
mouth confession is made unto salvation (cf. I Tim.
6:12-13). The Lord promises to confess those before the Father
who are willing to confess Him (Matt. 10:32-33).
Sixth, baptism finally places one
into Christ (Gal. 3:27). Baptism is a burial
(Rom. 6:4), and God has stipulated that baptism is the act that
washes away ones sins (Acts 22:16). Salvation is
never promised in the New Testament to any unbaptized person
after Pentecost! The Great Commission declares, Go ye
into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He
that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that
believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:15-16). Can one
not easily see that this passage does not say what most religious
groups teach he that believeth and is not baptized shall be
When a person fully obeys through faith the
commands of Gods will, that person is then qualified to be
saved. Thank God for His goodness and the gospel!
815 42nd St. SW
Paris, TX 75460
Table of Contents
I USED TO BE A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH
Christians are glad to see visitors in Bible classes
and worship services. We want them to feel welcome so hopefully
they will come again. Being the friendly people we are, it is
natural to ask visitors about themselves. We inquire if they are
just passing through or if they live in the area. We usually ask
if they are members of the church or if they have visited the
church of Christ before. If they are not members, we try to
answer any questions they have about the Lords church.
Sometimes a visitor will say that at one time he
worshiped with the church of Christ but has not done so for quite
a while. When the person admits he was baptized into Christ he
usually feels a bit uncomfortable and tries to justify himself.
At that point it is common to hear something like, Well, I
used to be a member of the church of Christ. The person
believes he is no longer a member and thus under no obligation to
While this thinking is common, it reveals a lack
of understanding that needs to be addressed. It is good that the
person has resumed attending. However, this persons concept
about membership in the Lords church is faulty. Does a
Christian cease being a member when he decides to quit attending?
Is it as if he let a club membership expire? Let us consider what
the scriptures say about this (cf. John 5:39).
Being saved is likened to a new birth (John
3:3-5). A person is born of water and the Spirit when he is
baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). When one obeys
the Gospel, the Lord adds him to the church (Acts 2:47). The
Lords church is also called His body (Eph. 1:22-23). Paul
taught that the body is composed of many members (Rom. 12:4-5; I
Cor. 12:12-28). Therefore, when one is saved, he is born into the
family of God which is equivalent to saying he is a member of the
church Jesus built (Matt. 16:18). He then has brothers and
sisters in Christ.
In the physical realm, a child is part of a
family. His relationship with his parents and siblings cannot be
erased. Even if a teen moves out of the house and wants nothing
to do with his parents he is still a member of that family. When
a daughter gets married and takes the name of her husbands
family she is still a member of her fathers family. Once the
Lord adds someone to the church, he remains a member of Gods
family. If this is not true, then why did God use the family
In this life, God does not kick unfaithful
children out of the church. Otherwise, to be saved, the erring
member would need to be born again and again! A backslider may
not feel or act like he is part of the local church but this
feeling does not mean he stopped being a member of Gods
On Judgment Day the Lord will exclude unfaithful
members of the church from heaven. At one time these brothers and
sisters were joint heirs with us (Rom. 8:17). The Bible promises
that he who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I
will be his God and he shall be my son (Rev. 21:7).
However, church members who practice the works of the flesh shall
NOT inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21). God will cast out
(i.e., disinherit) His unfaithful children (Matt. 8:12; John
15:6). Casting them out does not mean they cease being family.
Sarah told Abraham to cast out Ishmael for he would not inherit
with Isaac (Gen. 21:10). Hell will be worse for members of
Gods family because they once enjoyed the Fathers grace
and could have been in heaven (II Peter 2:20-22).
When a members love for Christ grows weak, it
often shows in sporadic attendance at worship services.
Eventually, the weak soul quits coming altogether. Some say he
quit the church. In one sense this is correct since he
no longer assembles with the local congregation. To avoid losing
his soul the erring child of God must repent and come back to the
Lord just like the prodigal son did (Luke 15:11-32). He was still
a son though, living in sin far removed from the Fathers
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For the LORD Commanded a Blessing
Roderick L. Ross
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
for brethren to dwell together in unity! ... for there the LORD
commanded the blessing, even life for evermore (Psalm
WHAT IS UNITY?
The goodness and pleasantness
of unity portrayed by the psalmist is a prophecy of the
oneness of those who are saved in Jesus Christ, those who make up
the church; for, the place of unity is the place of
obtaining eternal life. The blessedness found in unity
is an acknowledged universal truth. The peace and
love found in unity are sought by all. Realizing that unity
is desired, and the blessing of God is within it, the dilemma
becomes: How do we achieve unity?
Before the question can be answered, the question
must first be understood. In seeking unity, what do we
THE SCRIPTURES ON UNITY
Webster defines unity: ֿa: the
quality or state of not being multiple: ONENESS... 2a: a
condition of harmony: ACCORD b: continuity without deviation or
change (as in purpose or action) 3a: the quality or state of
being made one: UNIFICATION 4: a totality of related parts: an
entity that is a complex or systematic whole ... UNITY implies
oneness esp of what is varied and diverse in its elements or
parts ... UNION implies a thorough integration and harmonious
cooperation of the parts.
In defining the Hebrew word for unity
Robert Young says, at one, together.
Strong says, properly a unity, i.e.
Brown, Driver and Briggs in the Hebrew
lexicon say, in union, together ... of community in action,
place or time.
In defining the Greek word for
unity, Zondervan press says, oneness, unity.
Thayer says, unity,...; i.q. unanimity,
The idea of the word in Hebrew, Greek and
English is of being one in purpose and action, of being together
in what is said and done.
Jesus, in one of his last acts upon the face of
the earth, prayed for the unity of the saved, the church:
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which
shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one;
as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be
one in us: that the world may believe that thou has sent me. And
the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may
be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they
may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou
hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me
The apostle Paul more than once pleaded with
the early church to have unity.
To the Corinthians he wrote under inspiration
of the Holy Spirit: Now I beseech you, brethren, by the
name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing,
and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be
perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same
judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren,
by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are
contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you
saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of
Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye
baptized in the name of Paul (I Cor. 1:10-13)? The
unity that Paul pleaded for was for all in the church to speak
the same thing, to be of the same mind, to
be of the same judgment, to be called by the name
of the One who was crucified for them and in whose name
(Jesus the Christ) they were baptized and to have no
divisions. They were to be one.
To the church at Ephesus, the beloved apostle
Paul under the direction of God wrote: I therefore, the
prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the
vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and
meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one
hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God
and Father of all, who is above all and through all, and in you
all (Eph. 4:1-6).
Within the calling of the Christian, the
apostle pleads for saints, with all humility, patience and love,
to seek after the unity belonging to the Holy Spirit in peace.
The brethren were to be one: as there is one body or
church (Eph. 1:22,23; Col. 1:18), as there is one Lord,
Jesus Christ (John 13:13; Acts 4:12; I Cor. 8:5,6), as
there is one faith, one system of commandments to
follow, the doctrine of Christ, the New Testament (II John 9;
Gal. 1:6-9), as there is one baptism, immersion in
order to obtain the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Col.
2:12) and, as there is but one God and Father of all,
the Almighty Creator (I Cor. 8:5,6; Gen. 1 & 2).
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WHEN I HAVE TIME...
A very common phrase we hear is, When I have
time I will... The statement is completed in any number of
ways. God in his mercy and grace has afforded us time or
opportunity to plan and use our time wisely. One of the most
important decisions is to whether or not we will be obedient and
serve God. Felix, the governor of Caesarea, was given plenty of
time to repent and obey God but he never took advantage of the
opportunity (Acts 24:22-27).
Felix was a sinful person. He had stolen his
wife (Drusilla, the daughter of Herod Agrippa I) from her first
husband. He was corrupt and greedy. He would take bribes and give
his permission for Roman troops to kill and ransack wealthy
Jewish homes. The emperor would have executed Felix if his
brother had not interceded. For two years Felix had the
opportunity to study with the apostle Paul. Paul reasoned with
Felix concerning righteousness, temperance, and judgement to
come; but Felix would not obey God. He never found time because
he never made time. He simply responded, When I find time.
When I have a convenient season.
Many will submit to the will of God when they
have time. They know they are living in sin, but allow the world
to tug at their heartstrings. There is a danger of waiting too
long. The devil can steal the word away from our heart. Jesus
warned: When any one heareth the word of the kingdom,
and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and
catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which
received seed by the way side (Matt. 13:19). Our
hearts can become so hardened that we will not hear and obey. We
could die before we have time to obey. It happens every day:
It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the
judgment (Heb. 9:27). Paul taught, Behold,
now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of
salvation (II Cor. 6:2).
Fallen Christians sometimes say they will
return to the Lord when they have time. The pleasures of sin have
such a hold on them they just dont want to submit to the
great I AM. Peter warned that a person who had become a
Christian and went back into the world is in dangerous territory:
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the
world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,
they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is
worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for
them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they
have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto
them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb,
The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was
washed to her wallowing in the mire (II Peter
2:20-22). It is hard for them to return. They believe it is so
difficult to say, Im sorry, I have sinned, please
Legion are those who will serve God when they
have time. People think they are just too busy to serve God.
There are too many things to do; to many interests vying for
their time. But, people will find time for what they really want
to do. But God, oh, that is another story: God can wait.
Parents will spend time with their children
when they have time. Lo, children are an heritage of
the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are
in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy
is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be
ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate
(Psalm 127:3-5). Parents have been given the responsibility
to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph.
6:4). How many parents will use their children as an excuse for
not being faithful to God? How many parents neglect their
children for other interests? Time is swiftly passing, and our
children will grow into adulthood and start the same cycle.
Children usually mirror what they see at home. The family was/is
Gods creation and it is to receive top priority.
When I have time, I will savor life. Many are
so busy with making a living or enslaved in some other activity,
that their life is out of balance and they cannot really enjoy
life. The apostle Peter encouraged: For he that will
love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from
evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil,
and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of
the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their
prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do
evil (I Peter 3:10-12).
Jesus came into the world and died that we
might have an abundant life. He said, The thief cometh
not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come
that they might have life, and that they might have it more
abundantly (John 10:10).
We CAN faithfully serve God, spend time with
our family, and enjoy life. Take time to make time.
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Just a note to thank you for your STOP publication. We
always look forward to receiving the next issue. Keep up the good
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and stand for the truth ...Randy Kea, Forest Park, GA.
I have just moved back to Texas from Oklahoma. I had
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in the gap! ...Jess Whitlock, Evant, TX. Would
you please send me the periodical you publish? It comes highly
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334, Hodgen, OK 74939. PLEASE, whomever gets this, will
you ask Garland Robinson to STOP his ranting and raving about the
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deeply hurt and offended by him. He published an article a few
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extremely hurtful to my family (the ones who are here and the
ones who are in HEAVEN (many of THEM). The front page of that
told a story that was ridiculous! The back page was not any
better. I NEVER want to get another of his publications nor even
hear of his name and if it gets any worse I will simply worship
at HOME with my family. I wont even darken the door of a church.
I was wondering if he is with the Restored Church of God since
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ones what? If he wants to continue bullying, I know a few media
people who know how a lot more, believe me! I will ask God to
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CRITICISM, how awful! ...Ann Bruce, Bedford, TX.
In reference to the May issue of STOP, I was very pleased
how you replied to the letter of Mr. Clayton King who wanted his
name removed because of his perception of the truth that many of
our brethren have submitted as you explained to him that the
apostle Paul did in Philippians 1:15-18. Even at times, our Lord
had to use harsh words sometimes to get the attention of the
people. But the well being of mankind was his motive. So even
though some gospel preachers words may seem harsh, the point
one has to understand, if its the truth, one has to be as
Gamaliel did in Acts 5:36-39, he told the council that if the
council or that work be of men, it will come to naught but if it
be of God, you cannot overthrow it lest one be found fighting
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...John Jenkins, Montgomery, AL. I would like to be
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brethrens names to your STOP mailing list. The May issue was
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STOP publication and what a wonderful way to reach so many souls
with the truth of Gods way. Would you please send us six (6)
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well written, powerful, according to knowledge, not superficial
in teaching, admonishing us to be different as
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was intended and as it used to be. Im almost 87 years old,
and grew up with this powerful preaching, telling the
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done. People have changed. Not many want to hear the strong
points that point to todays apathy, lack of spiritual
thinking, lack of the loving and service minded attitudes that
used to exist. It grieves me to see the falling away.
Keep up your great God-given work, and my His blessings abound
through your efforts ...Murriel Windham, Las Vegas, NV.
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