Seek The Old Paths

Vol. 22   No. 5                   May,   2011

This Issue...


Matthew Carver

        Perhaps there is no more critical question relative to the validity of the Christian religion than that of the deity of Jesus Christ. If Jesus of Nazareth was not divine, the “Word made flesh” (John 1:14), then He was an impostor of the vilest rank who perpetuated the cruelest, most deceitful fraud in the annals of human antiquity. If Jesus was not the divine Son of the living God “whose goings forth [have been] from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2), then surely it could not have been He who was “declared [to be] the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4); and, if not so declared by resurrection, then He is not raised at all. “And if Christ be not raised, your faith [is] vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). Consequently, we are left with the dreaded conclusion that “if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19).
        Many today, particularly New Testament scholars so- called, deny the divine nature of Jesus Christ while admitting His place as an historical figure in Jewish history. Others who profess to be followers of the religion of Christ, most notably those styling themselves “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” deny the deity of Christ on scriptural grounds, believing that the teaching of the Bible contradicts such a claim. Hence, in view of the crucial nature of this theme and with an awareness of the many objectors, we shall proceed to set forth the Bible position relative to the doctrine of the deity of Jesus.
        First we note that, although there were to be no other gods before Jehovah according to Exodus 20:3 and Deuteronomy 5:6-7, Jesus is said to receive the same glory and honor as God Himself. We find that “the host of heaven worshippeth thee” (Neh. 9:6) in reference to Jehovah and yet we find in similar fashion that “all the angels of God worship him” (Heb. 1:6) with reference to Christ. Further, we read that God is worthy to receive the glory and the honor and the power (Rev. 4:11), and yet we likewise read that the “Lamb that hath been slain” is worthy to receive the “power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing” (Rev. 5:12). Still further, we find that “blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, [be] unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Rev. 5:13). In addition to these observations, it is interesting to note that Jehovah God speaks through Isaiah that “unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear” (Isa. 45:23) while the apostle Paul ascribes to Christ the same honor: “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth; And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11).
        Finally, we must note that in two separate instances, as found in Isaiah 42:8 and 48:11, God explicitly makes known that “my glory will I not give to another” and yet, in addition to the passages just cited, we recall that Christ our Lord prayed “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5). Most revealing is the original term translated “with”, which means, according to Young, “along side of, with, among” (Young, p.1061). Likewise, the followers of Christ are implored to give equal honor both to the Father and the Son: “that all [men] should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him” (John 5:23). A most important fact to note here is that the word “even” in this passage is defined as “just as, even as, in proportion as, in the degree that” (Thayer, p.314), therefore instructing that Jesus the Son is to be honored “just as, even as, in proportion as, in the degree that” the Father is to be honored.
        Furthermore, consider that under the Old Covenant, the people of God were commanded: “for thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name [is] Jealous, [is] a jealous God” (Exod. 34:14). Additionally, in warding off the temptations of the Adversary, our Lord quoted from Deuteronomy 6:13: “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10). However, we find throughout the earthly ministry of Christ that He permitted and received worship from a leper (Matt. 8:2), a ruler (Matt. 9:18), the disciples (Matt. 14:33), a blind man who had been healed (John 9:38), a Canaanite woman (Matt. 15:25), the mother of the sons of Zebedee (Matt. 20:20), the women who had discovered the empty tomb (Matt. 28:9), and from the remaining eleven apostles (Matt. 28:17).
        Moreover, the Bible plainly sets forth the principle that regardless of the greatness of man or creature, none but God is to be worshipped. Peter corrected Cornelius for attempting to worship him (Acts 10:25-26). Likewise, the angel reprimanded John when he attempted to offer worship to him (Rev. 22:8-9), admonishing John to “Worship God.” However, we see from the previously submitted texts that Christ did receive worship and never offered a correcting word. Further, we find the declaration, “and let all the angels of God worship Him” (Heb. 1:6) directed to Christ. Surely, the angels would not be instructed to worship a “perfect man” or one of their peers, as the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach.
        Although much more could yet be examined, we note briefly that the same names and designations are used both of Jehovah and Christ. The most striking and irrefutable of these examples can be found in Isaiah 9:6, in which we find the Lord Jesus described in these terms: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Here, Jesus is undeniably styled, among other things, “Mighty God, Everlasting Father,” very strange designations indeed if He does not possess the same God-nature as the Father. Further, we find in Jeremiah 23:5-6 a similar revelation: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this [is] his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” This passage undoubtedly refers to the Messiah and pictures Jehovah giving reference to another as “Jehovah our righteousness.”
        We note also that the designation “the first and the last” is applied to Jehovah (Isa. 44:6; 48:12) and likewise to Christ (Rev. 1:17; 2:8). They are both “Alpha and Omega” with Revelation 21:6 referencing God and Revelation 22:13 referencing Jesus. They are both “Lord of Lords” with Deuteronomy 10:17 and Psalms 136:1-3 referencing Jehovah and Revelation 17:14 and 19:16 referencing Jesus Christ. And perhaps most telling of all, we find the great “I AM” statements spoken both of the Father and the Son: “I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exod. 3:14) and “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58).
        These observations combine to lead those who are not already predisposed to an alternate position, to the conclusion that Jesus was/is divine, and that indeed He was and is “Immanuel, which is, being interpreted, God with us” (Matt. 1:23).
                118 Apple Dr.
                Auburn, KY 42206

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What Must One Understand In Order To
Become A Child Of God? #2

Garland M. Robinson

        One must understand he becomes part of a body of people who are separate and distinct from the world. God has always demanded his people be separate from the world. To Israel God said, “I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people” (Lev. 20:24). In the New Testament, we read, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:17).
        Peter, on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus (the day the church of Christ began), preached the Gospel for the first time. Some desired to know what to do to be forgiven of their sins. The Lord’s answer was, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). “And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. ...And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:40,41,47).
        There is only one body to which the Lord adds the saved (Eph. 4:4; 2:16; Rom. 12:5; 1 Cor. 12:13,20). The one body is His church, not a denomination of men (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). The body of the saved is known as the church of Christ (Rom. 16:16). The Lord’s church is the “called out” — those who have been called out of the world to live a separate life unto God. For the Lord “...hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). This passage also reveals that the body of saved, the church, is also called the “kingdom.” Jesus used the words “kingdom” and “church” interchangeably in Matthew 16:18-19.
        Jesus is the Savior of his body, the church, the kingdom. “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body (Eph. 5:23). Jesus will only save those in His body. Are you in His body, the church? One enters the body by believing (Heb. 11:6; John 8:24), repenting (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30), confessing Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:37) and being baptized into his body which is an immersion in water (1 Cor. 12:13; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16).
        One must understand the Lord, Jesus the Christ, has one church (body). This is plainly stated in Ephesians 4:4, “There is one body.” This does not mean there are two, three or 300. There is one. The one body is the church, the one church is the body. The “body” and the “church” are used interchangeably in Ephesians 1:22-23 and Colossians 1:18 — “and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body....” “And he is the head of the body, the church....”
        Jesus promised to build his church in Matthew 16:18. “...I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” He never promised to build “churches” (plural). He never promised there would be many churches so men could pick and choose the one they wanted. The Lord did not provide people with a smorgasbord religion where you go through the phone book or drive down the road and choose what you want.
        After the first century A.D., hundreds of religious groups and denominations have been started and maintained by men. However, none of them were started by Christ. The Lord’s church began on Pentecost when the apostles preached the Gospel for the first time (Acts 2:1-42). On that first day, about 3,000 people repented of their sins, were immersed in water (baptized) and then added by the Lord to his church (Acts 2:41). The Lord’s church that began that day is the same church that exists now. It is called the “church of Christ” (Rom. 16:16) — the “church of God” (1 Cor. 1:2).
        Men and women everywhere are either members of the Lord’s church or they are not — they are either saved or lost. To be added by the Lord to his church, one must obey the will of Christ. When those in Acts 2 asked what to do to be saved, they were told to Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...” (v.38). Verse 41 says about 3,000 did that and were added by the Lord to his church.
        Those in the Lord’s church will be saved while those not in the Lord’s church will be lost. Jesus is the savior of the body (Eph. 5:23). He will not save those outside his body. Are you in the church/body of Christ?
        One must understand the Lord adds the saved to his church. This point is made very clear in the Bible. When the Gospel was preached for the first time on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two, we read: “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Those who repented and were baptized (v.38) did not “join” the church, they were added to the church. “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women” (Acts 5:14). Who added them? Acts 2:47 tells us, “...the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
        Among denominational churches we find where people “join” a denomination or are “voted on” in order to become a member of a denomination. Such a practice is foreign to the scriptures. There were never any votes taken as to who could be a member of the church and who could not. That places the power of salvation in the hands of men instead of the hands of God. What if you desperately wanted to be saved but men did not vote you in? I want to be with God, not men. The Bible says the Lord does the adding, not men.
        The “body” to which the saved are added by the Lord is his glorious church. The body and the church are one and the same (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23). It is a spiritual body/church. Our conversation (citizenship, commonwealth) is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). Jesus told Pilate His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). The words kingdom, church and body all describe the same thing. They simply identify different aspects of the Lord’s spiritual body the church. It is to this body that the Lord adds those who are obedient to His Word.
        Won’t you accept God’s Word and obey it today? You cannot save yourself following man’s ways. You cannot “join” a denomination and be saved. Salvation is found only in the Lord’s church for he will save it and no other. “...Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body (Eph. 5:23). The Lord will add you to his saved body if you: believe (John 8:24), repent (Luke 13:3), confess him (Matt. 10:32) and are baptized (Mark 16:16). This is the Lord’s way to be saved and added to his body!

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Lloyd Gale

        Words of this nature often express the desire of someone to make their mark in life — to accomplish something worthwhile. There is nothing wrong with this thought and intent as long as we understand the meaning of an accomplishment.
        Cain, king Saul and Judas made their mark as well as many others both past and present have left their mark. But there was also Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Jesus and the apostles who amounted to something more than noteworthy.
        It is a shame to hear today what so many young people have in mind when they say they want to be somebody. They believe that being a rock star, a movie star, a center fold in Playboy, a star athlete and such like would make them somebody.
        Let me tell you about some people I know and have known throughout the years who have truly become “somebody”.
        “Somebody” was willing to leave home, family, friends and a comfortable life to go to far away places to carry the Gospel to those eager to learn about God.
        “Somebody” has lived a life in preparation to becoming an elder, deacon, teacher, or preacher of the Gospel.
        “Somebody” is concerned about friends, family and others who are lost and invites and brings someone to church.
        “Somebody” sowed the garments for those who come to be baptized into Christ and takes the wet garments home and washes, dries and folds them for the next person to use.
        “Somebody” assists those who are being prepared to be baptized into Christ.
        “Somebody” prepares the Lord’s supper each week and makes sure the supplies are always ready.
        “Somebody” prepares the bulletin each week with church news and a thoughtful lesson.
        “Somebody” is responsible for providing the supplies for the care and maintenance of the church.
        “Somebody” keeps the church building clean and fresh for worship.
        “Somebody” takes care of the property outside of the church building.
        “Somebody” leads the song service for worship.
        “Somebody” takes care of the contribution, deposits it in the bank, keeps records and pays the bills.
        “Somebody” serves the Lord’s supper, takes up the collection and obtains the names of the visitors.
        “Somebody” writes a letter, makes a phone call to those who have visited and invites them back.
        “Somebody” prepares lessons for our Bible classes.
        “Somebody” brings flowers each week to brighten the church building.
        “Somebody” prays for the delinquent, the sick and the lost each day.
        “Somebody” brings others to church who often obey the Gospel.
        “Somebody” gives cheerfully and liberally to support the work of the church.
        “Somebody” prepares tapes and discs of the sermons as a means of spreading the Gospel to others.
        “Somebody” prepares and delivers the sermons, teaches classes, preforms the marriages, consults with the troubled, writes articles for brotherhood publications, appears on lectureships, holds Gospel meetings and preaches funerals.
        So you see, every person has the opportunity to be “somebody” if they so desire. When we stand before our Lord in judgment, may we all do so as “somebody” who served the Lord.
                1186 Martha Leeville Rd.
                Lebanon, TN 37090

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Elders Column

Roger D. Campbell

        It is the Lord’s will that there be brothers in the Lord that serve as shepherds of a local congregation (Acts 20:28). In view of this, the Bible records that Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in every church during the course of their first preaching journey (Acts 14:23). These men, who collectively compose the presbytery or eldership (1 Tim. 4:14), are charged with the task of overseeing the spiritual affairs of a local flock of God’s people (1 Peter 5:1-3).
        In addition to the above-noted passages, there are two more lengthy sections of Scripture that touch on the role and qualifications of those who serve as bishops or pastors: Titus 1:5-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7. The text of 1 Timothy 3:1,2,7 reads, “This [is] a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless. ... Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without....”
        It is not our intent in this article to examine this passage in detail. Instead, we want to point out four significant matters pertaining to elders that are easily seen in the text of 1 Timothy 3. Should a brother in the Christ be contemplating serving his Lord and his Lord’s people as an overseer, then let him be aware of some things that will be required of him. For such a brother, —
        Let him understand what his ROLE would be “the office/position of a bishop” (1 Tim. 3:1). Actually, this English expression comes from only one Greek word (episkope). Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says, “In 1 Tim. 3:1, the word ‘office,’ in the phrase ‘the office of a bishop,’ has nothing to represent it in the original; the R.V. marg. gives ‘overseer’ for ‘bishop,’ and the phrase lit. is ‘overseership’.” In a similar fashion, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament says the word episkope refers to “overseership, office, charge ... spec. the office of a bishop (the overseer or presiding officer of a Christian church)” [pp. 242,243; word no. 1984]. The long and the short of it is this: one that serves as a bishop is an overseer (one of the overseers) of a local congregation. He, coupled with his fellow shepherds, is responsible for seeing to it that the Lord’s work is carried out, and that it is carried out properly. This is an awesome duty, one whose importance far exceeds the significance of the role played by a chancellor of a university, a chief of police, the President of the United States, or anything else that any human being might do in the secular realm. Make no mistake about it, this matter of overseership is serious business. It is not for little boys, it is not for non-leaders, it is not for those whose first love is anything but the Lord’s Cause, and it certainly is not for the faint of heart.
        Let him have a proper DESIRE“If a man desire the office of a bishop...” (1 Tim. 3:1). In this text, the word “desire” comes from the Greek word orego, which means “to stretch one’s self out in order to touch or to grasp something, to reach after or desire something” [Thayer’s, p.452; word no. 3713]. This same Greek word is used in only two other New Testament verses. In Hebrews 11:16 we read that the patriarchs desired a better country, that is, heaven. The other reference is 1 Timothy 6:10, where mention is made of those that “coveted after” money. If we can understand what it means to long for heaven or to have a craving for money, then we can appreciate what it means to have a desire to serve as an overseer. Two quick thoughts: 1) A brother must not be appointed to serve as an elder against his will, that is, he should serve “not by constraint, but willingly” (1 Peter 5:2); 2) A brother’s motive for wanting to serve as a shepherd over God’s flock must be a proper one. It ought to be out of love for God’s church and his conviction that he is confident that he could serve his Lord well in the capacity of a pastor/shepherd. No man is fit to serve as an elder as long as his motive for doing so is to boss people around, to receive the praises of men, or simply to carry on a family tradition (every brother in his family from his great-grandpa on down has been either an elder or deacon).
        Let him be prepared to WORK“...He desireth a good work” (1 Tim. 3:1). Brothers whom a local church chooses to serve as its elders must have a readiness to work. Theirs is a demanding task. It requires diligent, never-ending effort on their part. They are to work as caretakers of God’s house (1 Tim. 3:5), overseers/superintendents of every aspect of a congregation’s work (Acts 20:28), and shepherds of the flock (1 Peter 5:1-3). Throughout its history, the Lord’s church has been blessed with a great number of outstanding elders and elderships. It is also true that many churches have suffered because those men whom they have appointed to serve as pastors have either been unwilling or unable to do their work properly. Is a brother up to the potential emotional, physical, and family stress that this work might involve? If not, then let him wisely “pass” on serving as an overseer. A faithful, sound elder’s work may at times go unappreciated by those whom he serves.
        This is unfortunate, but let him keep working and not grow weary in well-doing (Gal. 6:9). There is “a crown of glory that fadeth not away” awaiting every faithful shepherd (1 Peter 5:4).
        Let him be QUALIFIED“A bishop must then be...Moreover he must have...” (1 Tim. 3:2,7). Those qualifications or character traits that the Holy Spirit sets forth in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 are not optional matters. They are not suggestions, nor are they simply desirable items. They are absolute essentials in the life of each man that serves as a church’s overseer and “the steward of God” (Titus 1:7). The Bible clearly states that a brother “must” possess the character traits that are enumerated (1 Tim. 3:1; Titus 1:7). Just as a person “must” believe in God in order to please Him (Heb. 11:6), just as one “must” be born again in order to enter the kingdom (John 3:3,5,7), and just as we “must” all appear before the judgment seat of the Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), so an elder “must” be the type of person described in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. God has spoken in this matter. Let us accept His guidelines.
        Brother, have you considered the possibility of one day serving as an elder in God’s church? Are you already serving in that capacity? Church, are you contemplating the appointment of overseers? Whatever your particular situation might be, remember: for each brother that serves as a shepherd over God’s flock, let him understand his role, let him have a proper desire, let him be prepared to work, and let him be qualified. Thank God for those men of God that faithfully serve as elders.
                120 Will Lewis Dr. SE
                Cleveland, TN 37323

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Marvin L. Weir

        The prophet Jeremiah lived during a period of time in which God’s law had been ignored. A failure to study, teach and practice the law of Jehovah resulted in the Israelites sinking into the depths of apostasy. The people did not desire to listen to law that condemned their sinful lifestyles. Neither did folks desire to be condemned for rejecting God and worshipping idols. The kings had no intention of insisting that God’s law be read or followed. It is said that history repeats itself, and who can argue that we are not walking in Israel’s footsteps today? What lessons are ours to learn?
        First, Josiah’s parents failed to teach him the Word of God! The last good king before Josiah was Hezekiah. Manasseh, Hezekiah’s son, introduced idols in the temple, allowed human sacrifices, encouraged wizards and soothsayers, and shed innocent blood. Manasseh’s son, Amon, followed in the steps of his father and “trespassed more and more” until finally killed (2 Chron. 33:23). Josiah was the son of Amon. This explains Josiah’s ignorance of the law; he had not been taught to respect God’s Word! Moses made clear the responsibility of parents in teaching their children in saying: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Deut. 6:6-9).
        Josiah’s parents will give an account to God for their failure to correctly teach their son, but Josiah shows that one can overcome a lack of teaching and bad influence if he so desires. When he was sixteen years old, Josiah makes a choice to follow the God of David (2 Chron. 34:3). The young boy king was tempted in every way to follow the path of evil but instead rejected sin’s beckoning call. Every person today of the age of accountability and of sound mind is responsible for his actions and decisions!
        Second, there is always the opportunity to do what is godly and right. God allows this world to stand and life to continue. Each day is another opportunity for one to choose to learn, obey and follow the Creator of all that is good (Gen. 1:31; James 1:17). Josiah could not have been reared in more unfavorable conditions. He could have used the excuse that he was a product of his environment and that because of such he was due understanding, special considerations, and an exemption from God’s laws. But Josiah did not harden his sense of right and wrong; instead, he chose to follow the true and living God who has made Himself known to all (Rom. 1:19-20).
        Third, Josiah is proof that one does not inherit the sins of his parents and can choose to have either a humble or haughty heart! One could have no more wicked parents and grandparents than did Josiah! Neither could one live in a more wicked environment! But Josiah refused to be corrupted by evil people and worldly things. His ego was not overly inflated, and neither did he have an arrogant and haughty heart. The Scripture says, “Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard [thee], saith the LORD” (2 Kings 22:19). A hardened heart opposed to the will of God will always lead to the loss of the soul. Josiah knew that two ways stood before him — the way of the world and the way of God! Millions today are faced with the same choice. Our prayer is for tender hearts that will respond to the Lord’s will.
        Fourth, the determination of one devoted to doing God’s will is a powerful force. Josiah knew that all things pertaining to spiritual matters had to be done with the proper spirit and in the right way (cf. John 4:24)! He gathered all the people at Jerusalem, publicly read from the book of the law, and demanded that all submit to God’s will. The divine commentary says: “Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah; But in the eighteenth year of king Josiah, [wherein] this passover was holden to the LORD in Jerusalem. Moreover the [workers with] familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD. And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there [any] like him” (2 Kings 23:22-25).
        The greatest need today is for one to find and obey the Word of God and turn to Jehovah with his whole heart!
                1272 Bonham St.
                Paris, TX 75460

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From the


L. O. Sanderson, Deceased

        A careful study of the Scriptures relative to sin will reveal that it is any thought or desire, word or action, digression or transgression, by commission or omission, that is contrary to the will of God. We cannot determine the degree of guilt, nor which sin may be greater, for God does not judge in harmony with the attitudes and standards of men. We may state confidently, however, that the little sins, so called, will undoubtedly be our greater barriers to eternal salvation, since so many are guilty of them. Still, our problem is not to prove that all men “have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” nor that the “wages of sin is death,” for these are undisputable truths; rather, Why do we sin? If, as in medical science, we may determine the cause, we may not only control it, but also remove it far from us.
        May we first examine what does not cause sin?
        God does not cause us to sin. The very character of God, his opposition to sin, and his merciful efforts to blot it from remembrance, make it unreasonable to charge him with cause. Even in the days of Mosaic principles, when Israel had committed divers sins, petty and otherwise, God made known through Jeremiah that they could not even think that Jehovah delivered them unto such (Jer. 7:9,10). It may be urged that God tests his children, and that such trials were made of Abraham and others, but there is a vast difference between trial and temptation — God may try, but he never tempts to sin. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (James 1:13). In fact, every evil appeal is traceable to the world itself and not to God. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world” (1 John 2:15- 16).
        Temptation is not the direct cause of sin. Jesus Christ demonstrated this fact. He was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Our temptations are common, and the extent of their influence is not permitted beyond our ability to withstand. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13). These bounds, of course, are not the will of the evil one — in fact, Satan chaffed under the restrictions respecting job. God is the creator of the “hedge” while he wills that we shall be free moral agents, serving whom we choose, he leads us beside still waters and suffers no temptation beyond our powers to bear.
        It is Satan who tempts to sin. Satan is altogether evil, and desires that all shall walk in darkness. To make men fall from the grace of God is his delight. Why should not sin be attributed to him? This evil one “stood up against Israel” (cf. 1 Chron. 21:1). It was he who “desired to have” Peter that he might “sift” him as wheat (Luke 22:31). He appears “as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14), as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” (cf. Matt. 7:15), as a subtle “serpent” (2 Cor. 11:3), or as a “roaring lion” seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). In every case he is the promoter of the influence that leads men away from God. It is he that plans the temptation and directs its effects. He is the source of evil. He tempts to sin. However,
        Satan is not wholly responsible. While Satan tempts to sin, he cannot force the response. Christ was tempted in all points even as we, and yet without sin — a positive proof of Satanic bounds. Our temptations are common — the unusual is lacking; an escape is always possible. If we “resist the devil, he will flee” from us. If we meet him with the word of God, as did Christ, ours shall be victory over him. Satan may hinder, but a crown awaits the faithful.
        We are responsible for our sins. We may love “the praise of men more than the praise of God,” and we are chargeable for that false love. We may love darkness because our deeds are evil, but we are not forced to evil deeds. Every persuasion is against them. We “eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence” because we prefer such. God leads away from sin; Satan can only go so far in temptation; and the only reason that we sin is that we respond to it while we are still able to bear! And who is to blame for our response? “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14,15).
        Thus the real responsibility is not with the tempter, it is with us! The cause is not in Satan; it is in us! We are “drawn away” and “enticed” — not so much by the cunning subtlety and skill of the evil one, but because of our own unregulated, intemperate desire, the ambition of our own wisdom, the vanity of our own pride, the lusts of our own ill-controlled hearts, and the blindness of our own souls to the inevitable results. The power or temptation to promote response lies more particularly in some weakness on our part of which the prince of this world takes advantage. It is but the case of history repeating itself — a sensual spark, quickened by some apparent external advantage or trifling pleasure, is flamed into a blaze of longing after that which is forbidden, and which, though forbidden, we stretch forth to acquire. The desire for power, for position, for gold, for fleshly joys, will, when encouraged or even permitted, often translate us into hypocritical politicians, social egotists, selfish ingrates and carnal reprobates.
        Do not be lured as a bird to a trap. Human impulses, though weak at first, grow stronger even with toleration; and, if created or courted, will result in acts of ungodliness; and “the wages of sin is death”! The very fact that wages are paid for sin is indicative of personal responsibility. Human laws reckon man accountable for his transgressions, and mete out discipline in harmony with estimated guilt. Nature inflicts suffering on those who violate the laws of health. God holds man responsible for his sins, else punishment for sin is unjust.
        Let us feel keenly the responsibility that we be not overtaken in a fault, and that we resist the tempter always, for he cannot tempt us beyond our own power to resist. By this we shall control the cause of sin, and therefore remove its bitterness from us. Through the blood of Christ and our own response, at least all else will be forgiven.
                Gospel Advocate
                May 12, 1938, p.432

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        Almost everyone in the world today knows of the terrible disaster that struck the coasts of South East Asia. The North American news media gave daily body counts, reported human tragedy and inflicted damage yet, as far as is known, none mentioned the animals. However, Asian reports from the damaged areas comment not only on the ability of trees to withstand the devastating waves but the almost total absence of animal deaths. It appears that the animals, from flamingoes to elephants, took off for the hills long before the humans. The Chinese have done extensive investigations on animals and earthquake detection but are at a loss to explain it. Chinese scientists simply conclude that animals have far greater sensitivity than the best of scientific instruments. Reuters reported from Thailand that the elephants used in the tourist business at Khao Lak began to “cry” at 9 am, about the time of the quake. Some elephants broke their hefty chains, but they all raced away toward the jungle-clad hills, taking their surprised tourists and guides with them. Some people were even picked up by the elephants using their trunks. They all came to a point on high ground where the waves stopped just short of where they stood. Three thousand, eight hundred people died in that area. Notes: Reuters. Mark Bendeich, “Jumbos Save Tourists from Tsunami.” January 03, 2005.

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