LOSS AND BEREAVEMENT
Johnny O. Trail
In February of 2005, my parents were both diagnosed with
terminal illnesses. My father was on the sixth floor of the
Hospital and his mother was on the fourth floor. I was not
prepared to hear what the doctor had to say about their
situation. My father was diagnosed with congestive heart failure
and my mother was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor.
According to the neurologist, her cancer (GBM) was one of the
most aggressive, fastest acting forms of cancer known to man. At
this point, my mother was given six months to live and my father
was given about two years. In reality, my mother lived for ten
months and my father for nine. They died within thirty-seven days
of one another.
In one calendar year, I lost ten close relatives
including two parents, a grandmother, as well as numerous aunts
and uncles. Even though I was a God-fearing Christian who had
developed a sophisticated view of the afterlife and death based
upon the Word of God, I was woefully un-equipped to deal with the
traumatic grief that came upon me.
The grief experienced was accompanied by feelings of
guilt, anxiety, and doubt. I would always wonder if the right
decisions regarding the care of my parents had been made. Sadly,
I had to sign a DNR (do not resuscitate) order for both parents
within a one week period. I have always wondered if he could have
done more for them in making end of life decisions.
Dealing with grief was not the type of material that
was typically discussed in sermon or Bible school settings. In
the preaching profession, death is most often mentioned in
connection with the need for salvation, but very little is
offered in regards to coping with the feelings that emerge from
losing someone who was loved and highly admired. At best, one
might be given instruction about conducting a funeral or the
preparation of a funeral sermon.
As people who are spiritually minded, church members
tend to look to the preacher as a person who will have answers
about lifes problems. The simple fact of the matter was that
I had little understanding of how to cope with the death of so
many immediate family members in a one year period of time. As a
matter of fact, I was so deeply impacted by the loss of my
parents that I wrote a dissertation over grief and loss. When I
was tasked with defending my research I remarked, I did not
just write this material I lived it. Indeed, here are a
few scholarly and personal reflections about grief recovery.
People who have lost a loved one want to talk about
the one who is dead. In our own wisdom, we have sometimes
avoided the topic of a dead relative, because we want to sidestep
hurting the one who is dealing with grief. Just because they are
dead does not mean they are not in our thoughts and in our hearts
regularly. The person who is grieving a dead loved one
wants to remember them and talk about them with others.
People who are coping with the death of a relative
or close friend are still in a relationship with that person.
Their absence does not constitute deleted memories. The love we
feel for the dead is not wasted or overlooked by God. Jesus wept
(John 11:35) after observing the expressions of love and
bereavement that occurred at the death of Lazarus.
People who are experiencing grief need to understand
their grief is an expression of love. It would not be healthy
or normal for one to not feel something for a close relative or
friend who has died. This type of observation was made about
Christ upon the death of Lazarus. John 11:36 says, Then said
the Jews, Behold how he loved him! The magnitude of our
grief is a direct corollary to the depth of love we feel for the
People who are experiencing grief should realize
that grief is not a one size fits all proposition.
That is, people grieve in different ways. This is exemplified by
various passages of Scripture. David refused to eat until after
his son died (2 Samuel 12:22-23). Martha ran out to meet Jesus
while Mary remained in her house (John 11:20). All people
experience grief in different and unique sorts of ways.
Those going through bereavement need to know that
there is no expiration date to their grief. In doing grief
therapy some have asked me, How long will I feel this
way? My answer offers little comfort, but solid truth. There
is no set time limit to your feelings. I know this from personal
experience. My parents shall have been dead for twelve years, and
there are times (not as many now) when the grief and pain are
just as real as the day they died. I can still hear songs that
were played at my parents funerals and break down in tears.
This is, in my estimation, normal. We were not created as cold,
unfeeling beings, but in the image of a loving, compassionate
Those going through bereavement need to know that
God understands death and loss. Jehovah God experienced the
death of His own Son (Heb. 4:15). By virtue of that fact, we can
know that He relates to us in our grief. Jehovah is not a cold,
impersonal God. If the very hairs of our heads are numbered (Luke
12:7), God certainly knows when our hearts are broken.
Those going through bereavement need to understand
that grief, anger, and depression are not indicative of
faithlessness. The godly will suffer and feel all of the
aforementioned emotions. When one reads the entire book of Job it
becomes evident that Job endured the entire gamut of human
emotions in his grief and loss.
Those who are suffering with the death of a loved
one need to understand that it is okay to ask why?
By implication, Christians are asking God why this has happened
to them. Job asked this question. Job 3:11-12 says,
Why died I not from the womb? why did I
not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?
Why did the knees prevent me? or why the breasts
that I should suck? Unlike one who believes in God, the
unbeliever has no one to ask and no way of putting his feelings
Instead of going through stages of grief,
we really go through waves of grief. Elizabeth
Kubler-Ross famously wrote about the stages of grief (denial,
bargaining, acceptance, etc).1 In reality, one can feel
any of those emotions at any point in the grief process, and
Kubler-Ross acknowledged this toward the end of her life.
As Gods people, we need to reach out to those
experiencing grief and loss (Gal. 6:10). The above treatise
merely begins to touch the garment of a whole discipline of study
regarding death and loss. When we share our grief experiences, we
enable others to experience a degree of comfort in mediating
ENDNOTE: 1Kubler-Ross, Elizabeth and Kessler,
David (2005). On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of
Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. New York, Schribner.
2698 Old Clarksville Pike
Ashland City, TN 37015
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IF We Love The Lord
Garland M. Robinson
We are his FRIENDS. In John 15:14 Jesus said,
Ye are my friends, IF ye do whatsoever I command
you. Scores of people claim to be friends of Jesus but
they are not obeying his word at least not all of it. They
pick and choose and only obey the parts they like. You cant
be a friend of the Lord and only do part of what he said. There
are millions and millions of people in the world that we can
confidently say they are no friend of Jesus because it
is evident they do not obey His word. Sadly, theres a lot of
our preachers today about whom we can say they are
not friends of Jesus because they refuse to preach the whole
counsel of God and/or they preach error and/or they fellowship
with denominations. They are compromising the truth of the
We are BRETHREN. Were in the family of God,
united by the common bond of affection. Second Peter 1:1 says we
are brethren of like precious faith. The New Testament
repeatedly speaks of fellow Christians as brethren.
Acts 11:1, And the apostles and brethren that were in
Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of
God. Acts 11:29, Then the disciples, every man
according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the
brethren which dwelt in Judaea. Acts 15:3, And
being brought on their way by the church, they passed through
Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles:
and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. Acts
21:17, And when we were come to Jerusalem, the
brethren received us gladly.
We are SAINTS. Romans 1:7, To all that be
in Rome, beloved of God, called [to be] saints: Grace to
you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus
Christ. Romans 16:15, Salute Philologus, and Julia,
Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints
which are with them. 1 Corinthians 1:2, Unto the church
of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in
Christ Jesus, called [to be] saints.... 1 Corinthians
14:33, For God is not [the author] of confusion, but of
peace, as in all churches of the saints. 2
Corinthians 1:1, Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the
will of God, and Timothy [our] brother, unto the church of God
which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all
Achaia. 2 Corinthians 13:13, All the saints
salute you. Ephesians 1:1, Paul, an apostle of Jesus
Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at
Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus. Ephesians
2:19, Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners,
but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household
of God. Colossians 1:2, To the saints and
faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace [be] unto
you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus
Christ. Men have perverted the Bibles teaching that all
Christians are saints. They seek to venerate only certain
individuals who meet their man-made set of criteria, totally
perverting the standard (word) of the God.
We are FAITHFUL. 1 Corinthians 4:2,
Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found
faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:17, For this cause
have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and
faithful in the Lord.... Ephesians 1:1, Paul, an
apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which
are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 6:21, ...Tychicus, a beloved brother and
faithful minister in the Lord.... Colossians 1:2,
To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which
are at Colosse: Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our
Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 4:9, With
Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is [one] of
you. Third John 1:5, Beloved, thou doest
faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to
strangers. Revelation 2:10, ...Be thou faithful unto
death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
We are EVANGELISTIC. Matthew 28:19-20, Go
ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have
commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the
end of the world. Amen. Mark 16:15-16, And he said unto
them, 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. Luke 14:23,
And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the
highways and hedges, and compel [them] to come in, that my
house may be filled. John 3:5, Jesus answered, Verily,
verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and
[of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of
God. Acts 8:4, Therefore they that were scattered
abroad went every where preaching the word.
We CONTEND FOR THE FAITH. Jude 1:3,
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the
common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and
exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the
faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Philippians 1:7, Even as it is meet for me to think this of
you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my
bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel,
ye all are partakers of my grace. Philippians 1:17, But
the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of
We MARK AND FOLLOW. The word mark
means to observe, look toward, pay attention to, etc. It is used
in both a good and bad context. For example, there are some we
observe and look toward that we might imitate their good example,
while others we look toward that we may avoid them and not follow
their example. The idea to mark and follow is pointing
to the fact that we look at others and seek to imitate them in
regards to their good example. For instance, in Philippians 3:17
we read, Brethren, be followers together of me, and
mark them which walk so as ye have us for an
ensample. Jesus said, For I have given you an
example, that ye should do as I have done to you (John
13:15). First Timothy 4:12, Let no man despise thy youth;
but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in
conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
James 5:10, Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken
in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering
affliction, and of patience. 1 Peter 2:21, For even
hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us,
leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.
We MARK AND AVOID. Romans 16:17-18, Now I
beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and
offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and
avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus
Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches
deceive the hearts of the simple. Matthew 7:15,
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in
sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Luke 17:1, Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible
but that offences will come: but woe [unto him], through whom
they come! Galatians 2:4-5, And that because of
false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to
spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they
might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by
subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel
might continue with you. Colossians 2:8, Beware lest
any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after
the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not
We SUPPORT and UPHOLD the TRUTH, the GOSPEL.
Paul said, Am I therefore become your enemy, because I
tell you the truth (Gal. 4:16)? He also told Timothy,
and by extension all of us, Preach the word; be instant
in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all
longsuffering and doctrine (2 Tim. 4:2). For
this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye
received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not
as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which
effectually worketh also in you that believe (1 Thess.
There are many great examples in the Bible to follow.
People who loved the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and
strength. We would do well to study, learn and imitate the good
characteristics of men and women such as:
There are also so many bad examples whom we must avoid at all
- Noah (found grace in the sight of the Lord, Gen. 6:8)
- Abraham (the father of us all, Rom. 4:16)
- David (a man after Gods own heart, 1 Sam. 13:14; Acts
- Paul (great defender of the faith, Phil. 1:7,17)
- Barnabas (son of consolation, Acts 4:36)
- Dorcas (worker of alms deeds, Acts 9:36-39)
- Onesimus (a faithful and beloved brother, Col. 4:9)
- Pharaoh (refused to obey God, Exodus 5:2)
- Jannes and Jambres (withstood Moses, 2 Tim. 3:8)
- Balaam (taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the
children of Israel, Numbers 22-24; Rev. 2:14).
- Jeroboam (caused Israel to sin, 1 Kings 14:16)
- Judas (betrayed the Lord, Luke 22:48)
- A Rich young ruler (walked away from the Lord, Luke
- Alexander the coppersmith (did much evil, 2 Tim.
- Diotrephes (loved the preeminence, 3 John 9)
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A GLIMPSE OF THE
Roger D. Campbell
In fulfillment of His promise (Matt. 16:18), our Lord
established His church in the city of Jerusalem on the first Day
of Pentecost after He rose from the dead. There had never been a
day like it in human history. On that day about 3,000 people
accepted the Gospel message and were saved from their sins when
they repented and were baptized for the remission of their sins
(Acts 2:38-41). What an exciting start for the kingdom of God!
What happened after those initial baptisms? What did
the new converts do? In the last six verses of Acts 2, we get a
glimpse of some of the things that were going on in the early
church. Here is what is recorded in Acts 2:42-47.
And they continued stedfastly in the
apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in
breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear
came upon every soul: and many wonders and
signs were done by the apostles. And all that
believed were together, and had all things
common; And sold their possessions and goods,
and parted them to all [men], as every man
had need. And they, continuing daily with one
accord in the temple, and breaking bread from
house to house, did eat their meat with
gladness and singleness of heart, Praising
God, and having favour with all the people.
And the Lord added to the church daily such
as should be saved.
1) The early disciples continued. They continued
steadfastly (Acts 2:42). They were constantly diligent. They were
persevering. Being baptized into the Christ brings an end to the
old life outside of Christ, but it is only the beginning of the
new life in and with Him. Every member of the church should be
ready to continue steadfastly in the way of the Lord. In what did
the early saints continue in a steadfast manner? In the
apostles teaching, in fellowship, in the breaking of the
bread (the Lords Supper, 1 Cor. 10:16; 11:20), and in
prayers. It is obvious the early disciples did not simply have
their names on a membership role. They were personally involved
in the Lords Cause and work.
2) The church (disciples) was reverent. Fear
came on every soul (2:43) in the early days of the church. They
served God acceptably with reverence and godly
fear (Heb. 12:29). That is what God expects of each of
3) The brethren (church) were united, as the
members were together, and had all things in common (2:44). We
later read that they were of one heart and one
soul (Acts 4:32). Such unity is both powerful and
4) The early church was blessed with generous
members. How did they demonstrate their generosity? They sold
their possessions and shared them with those that needed them
(2:45). Many continued to display a spirit of generosity, selling
their possessions and turning over the proceeds to the apostles
so that those who were lacking physical necessities might be
5) First-century members of the church spent time
with other Christians in public assemblies, but they also
gathered in social settings outside of those worship assemblies.
They ate meals together and were glad to be able to associate
with one another (2:46). Congregations in which members do not
enjoy being together and rarely spend time together in more
relaxed, social meetings, often struggle to have and maintain an
atmosphere that feels like a real family. A careful
reading reveals that those early saints were spending time
together on a daily basis (2:46). What a blessing!
6) The saints were happy people in the early
days of the church in Jerusalem. They ate food with gladness and
simplicity of heart (2:46). Why shouldnt members of the
Lords body be happy?! We have a Savior in which to rejoice.
We are forgiven of past transgressions, blessed immensely in the
present, and have a matchless hope of great things to come in the
7) We also see those new-in-the-faith disciples
praising God (2:47). Praising the Creator never becomes
boring or gets old for those that are in love with the
Christ and appreciate all that He has done for mankind.
Therefore by him let us continually offer the sacrifice
of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks
to his name (Heb. 13:15).
8) It is obvious that the early church was a
teaching church. On a daily basis the Lord was adding saved
people to his church (2:47). People are saved when they believe
and obey the Gospel. That can only happen after people have been
taught the good news (Rom. 10:13-17). So, since conversions were
taking place every day, we conclude that the early church was
actively spreading the word. Do we match their zeal today?
When we read those last few verses of Acts 2, we may
find ourselves silently nodding in approval of all the good
things that were going on. It is not enough, though, just to make
a list of what the early church did. Let us learn from the early
saints and strive to put into practice what they did so well.
120 Fawn Dr.
Chattanooga, TN 37412
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Jesus was very clear about Love, Commandments and
Obedience. John 14:15,21,23 If ye love me, keep my
commandments. ... He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them,
he it is that loveth me. ... If a man love me, he will keep my
words... He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings. John
8:31-32, Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on
him, IF ye continue in my word, THEN are ye my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you
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SHALL WE PUT CHRIST BACK IN CHRISTMAS?
Every year about this time we hear the slogan, Put
Christ back in Christmas. This same slogan will appear on
various advertisements. Even some uninformed members of the
church will echo the same sentiment. Well, the truth is, it is
impossible to Put Christ back in Christmas, since He
has never been in Christmas! One will search the Scriptures in
vain in an attempt to find December 25 as the birth date of
Christ or any other date as far as that is concerned! Scriptures
no where assigns the exact date of our Lords birth. The
Encyclopedia Britannica (Vol.5, p.641) states: Christmas was
not among the earliest festivals of the church, and before the
5th century there was no general consensus of opinion as to when
it should come in the calendar, whether on January 6, March 25,
or December 25.
Observe also that the Bible gives no instructions as to
HOW to celebrate Christs birth, even if the date were known!
Now, if someone says, The three wise men conferred gifts on
His birthday and this is our example to follow. First, it cannot
be proved that there were three wise men. Yes, three gifts (gold,
frankincense, myrrh), but the number of men is not mentioned. As
far as that goes, one man could have brought more than one gift.
Second, one must prove that the wise men came the day of
Christs birth. It is purely fictional that the wise men came
to the manger as most Christmas scenes are presented.
Jesus was born in a stable (Luke 2:1-7), but Mary, Joseph and
Jesus were in a house when the wise men visited them (Matt.
It is often stated, even by some brethren, Well,
what you say is true, but what is wrong with setting aside
December 25 as the birth date of Christ? The wrong is in
establishing a religious observance without divine approval! Take
note of the following passage of Scripture: And
whatsoever ye do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the
Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him
(Col. 3:17). Question: Where is the biblical authority for
setting aside any date to observe the birth date of Christ?
Furthermore, the Bible condemns the setting aside of
special days in the following passage: Ye observe days,
and months, and times, I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed
upon you labor in vain (Gal. 4:10-11). The only day
Christians are to observe with Gods approval is the first
day of the week. At which time we remember the Lords death
(1 Cor. 11:23-30; Acts 20.7).
While we are discussing the subject of: Putting
Christ back in Christmas, it is really amazing the number of
people (including brethren) who will make their annual
pilgrimage to the meeting house on so-called Christmas
Sunday and yes, Easter Sunday, but any other time
seldom assemble with the saints! Not only that, many will spend
more on gifts during this season than they give to God all year!
Could it be that many will allow Santa to rob God of
their obligation to give as they have been prospered?! The Lord
did not say to give as one has prospered (1 Cor.16:1-2) only on
Christmas and/or Easter!
How then, if at all, should Christians celebrate
December 25? The same as they do Labor Day or Memorial Day
as just another holiday without any religious attachment! To
observe this time of the year as purely social is left to the
discretion of the individual. Let us always remember it is
through Christs death, burial and resurrection that true
blessings have come!
Shall we Put Christ back in Christmas? How
can this be done, since Christ was never in Christmas!
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West Plains, MO 65775
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THE LORDS SUPPER
Jesus our Savior suffered and died on the cross of Calvary
for the sins of the whole world (2 Cor. 5:14,15; Rom. 5:6-8; Luke
23:33; 19:10; 1 Tim. 2:15). To remember this great event Jesus
gave us the Lords Supper (Matt. 26:26-29). Christians would
begin to eat the Lords Supper when the kingdom/church came
(Matt. 26:29; Luke 22:18). This great event occurred on the day
of Pentecost in Jerusalem when the church began (Acts 2:1-47).
They began to eat the Lords Supper that day and continued to
do so in the future (Acts 2:42; 20:7).
What does the bread and fruit of the
vine mean to Christians (Luke 22:18,19)? The unleavened
bread was to bring to their memory the crucified body of Christ
(Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24). The fruit of the vine was to
memorialize his blood shed on the cross (Luke 2:20; 1 Cor.
11:25). This great memorial is to be taken on the first day of
the week (Acts 2:42; 20:7). We are told in Colossians 3:17,
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name
of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by
him. Since Jesus has directed us through his word to eat
the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine to remember him on
the first day of the week, it would be a sin to eat anything else
or to observe it on another day.
When we do something that is not authorized by Jesus,
we sin (2 John 9; Rev. 22:18). When we teach something more or
different than we find in the New Testament, we stand condemned.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other
gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let
him be accursed (Gal. 1:8,9). We should ask by
whose authority some congregations eat the Lords Supper
on a day not authorized by God or eat it only monthly, quarterly
It is a sin to worship according to doctrines of men
(Matt. 15:9; Mark 7:7-9).
Earl B. Claud
836 Center Point Rd.
Dover, TN 37058
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RELIGION WITHOUT RULES?
My wife and I were flying out of Forth Worth, TX to a
lectureship in Lubbock. While the plane was boarding, we
overheard an interesting conversation from two passengers seated
behind. One of the men was a business man traveling to Lubbock
for a few days of business. The other was a traveling guest
speaker for a denominational church in Lubbock who was to speak
the following day. These two men were having a conversation about
God and religion. The business man continually voiced his disdain
with organized religion, and the preacher agreed. The
thrust of their discourse centered on the idea that Christianity
is about religion instead of rules. The idea presented was that
the Bible is a book of good principles, but it is not to be
understood as a book of rules to be followed. As long as a person
is sincere, honest, and seeking a relationship with God, they
will be saved. God wants man to have a relationship with Him, and
the details really do not matter.
This conversation disturbed me. The sentiments I
overheard are not new. In fact, man has always looked upon the
commandments of God with disdain, desiring to be free from divine
law. In Psalm 2, the inspired writer spoke of some who despised
Gods law and said, let us break their bands asunder,
and cast away their cords from us (Psalm 2:3). They did
not want to be bound by the mandates of God. Instead, they wanted
to be free to direct their own course and be their own ruler.
Many today have the same attitude towards the laws of God. They
want to have a relationship without rules. Sure, it seems
appealing to think of being right with God without having to
submit to God. It seems appealing to think a person can have a
relationship with God purely on the basis of sincerity without
having to live by a certain code of conduct, but the Scriptures
know of no such religion.
True, Christianity is not to be viewed as a list of
Dos and Donts. Far too many in the
pew view serving the Lord as a burden. While they yield to the
commands of God, they do it solely out of duty instead of
devotion. Their obedience is robotic and mechanical, and it is
void of a heart of love. Christianity is to originate from the
heart. Jesus even said the greatest commandment in the Law of
Moses was to love God supremely (Matt. 22:37-40; cf. Deut. 6:5).
Love is deemed the first and greatest commandment
because it is the very motive from which mature service to God
should flow. Our obedience to the laws and commandments of God
should stem from our deep devotion to Him and desire to please
Him as children. Christianity should not be a mere checklist of
duties to dispatch and be done with. Such an attitude is neither
true obedience nor a healthy relationship with God.
While Christianity is not a checklist religion, it is
also not a religion free from divine law and commandment keeping.
Sincerity alone will not enable one to intimately know the
Creator of Heaven and Earth. A relationship to God necessitates
submitting to His revealed will. The Scriptures are replete with
references showing the undeniable connection between obedience
and mans relationship with God. Using the terms
rules and relationship as used by the men on
the plane, notice some passages of Scripture:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord,
Lord [RELATIONSHIP], shall enter into the kingdom of
heaven; but he that doeth the will [RULES] of my Father
which is in heaven (Matt. 7:21).
Who is my mother, or my brethren
[RELATIONSHIP]? And he looked round about on them which sat
about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren
[RELATIONSHIP]! For whosoever shall do the will of God
[RULES], the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother
[RELATIONSHIP] (Mark 3:33-35).
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord
[RELATIONSHIP], and do not the things which I say
[RULES] (Luke 6:46)?
If ye keep my commandments [RULES], ye
shall abide in my love [RELATIONSHIP]; even as I have kept
my Fathers commandments [RULES], and abide in his
love [RELATIONSHIP] (John 15:10).
Ye are my friends [RELATIONSHIP], if ye
do whatsoever I command you [RULES] (John 15:14).
And hereby we do know that we know him
[RELATIONSHIP], if we keep his commandments [RULES]. He
that saith, I know him [RELATIONSHIP], and keepeth not his
commandments [RULES], is a liar, and the truth is not in
him. But whoso keepeth his word [RULES], in him verily is
the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him
[RELATIONSHIP]. He that saith he abideth in him
[RELATIONSHIP] ought himself also so to walk [RULES],
even as he walked (1 John 2:3-6).
These passages constitute a mere sampling of texts
which give us insight into the relationship between following the
commandments of God and having an intimate connection to Him.
Christianity is not a cold checklist of rules, but it is also not
an empty relationship without submission to the voice of God. If
we want to obtain and maintain a blessed relationship with God,
we must lovingly and wholly yield our will to His. Religion
without rules is simply paganism.
May our obedience to God be true, our love for God be
deep, and our relationship with Him be unbroken.
418 Marker Ave.
Glencoe, AL 35905
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CHANGE IS THE BATTLECRY
Change is the battle cry of those who are determined to
restructure the Lords church into just one more religious
group in a sea of confusion and diversity. To be sure, not all
change is bad. But the kind of change we address here is change
that will diametrically altar the Lords church as we know
it. Compromise is not the answer, nor is a radical restructuring
the panacea to our problems.
Some years ago I came across this interesting piece
from Dr. Wayne Dehoney, former president of the Southern Baptist
Convention: A closer look at the churches of Christ would
hardly reveal that their brand of religion is on the downgrade!
This fast-growing group is one of the most potent missionary and
evangelistic forces in the country. Their congregations are
flourishing, and new churches are continually being established.
A profile of faith and practice contradicts practically every
solid conclusion by the authorities of the main-line
denominational establishments about the renewal the church must
experience to survive. The churches of Christ are
anti-ecumenical in their relationships; conservative in their
theology; autonomous and democratic in their congregational
structure; they make rigid moral and ethical demands on their
members in such matters as social drinking; they are not
social action oriented; they have a messianic
complex of being the true people of God and the true church!
All of these factors combine to give them a high motivation, an
unquenchable zeal, and an inescapable compulsion to win the world
to an acceptance of their convictions and beliefs. And they are
What I find curious about the cries for change is the
fact that the kind of change some are demanding will destroy our
distinctiveness, the very characteristic that has brought growth
to the Lords church through the years. Why is it that some
of our learned brethren want to compromise the truth,
soften our positions on doctrinal matters, and apologize for our
exclusiveness? Paul told us that he was not ashamed of
the Gospel; for it is the power unto salvation (Rom.
Is it possible that some of our brethren are ashamed of
that Gospel, and who now want to change the face of the church so
as not to offend others? To ask is to answer.
PO Box 8733
Ft. Worth, TX 76124
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LEAN NOT TO YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING
Do not trust mans knowledge to guide you, whether your
own or the collective knowledge of man. Philosophy and the
sciences of man cannot provide the direction you need. Allow God
and His word to guide your ways. His word will always guide you
in the right direction. Trust in God with everything that is
within you. Right and wrong is determined by God, and is revealed
in His word. Will you allow God to direct you through His word,
or will you listen to the ways of the world?
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and
lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways
acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Prov.
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Baltimore, OH 43105
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SINGING: Eph. 5:19, psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody in your heart.
PRAYING: Acts 12:5, Prayer was made without ceasing of the
LORDS SUPPER: Acts 20:7, The first [day] of the
week...the disciples came together to break bread."
PREACHING: I Cor. 1:18,21, Preaching of the cross...It
pleased God by...preaching to save them that believe.
GIVING: I Cor. 16:2, Upon the first [day] of the week let
every one of you lay by him in store, as [God] hath prospered
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