A Christian World View

A great topic of discussion in sectarian circles these days is the need for instilling a “Christian World View” in the minds of believers. As I understand this term, it refers to the attitude that we have when addressing all the areas of life around us. A true “Christian World View” would insist that we base all of our decisions and opinions of things on what the Bible says. This is easier dreamed of than done. Many people today will tell you that they believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and they believe the Bible is His word, but those truths should be restricted to the Church House. To try to carry that into the realm of science, morality, entertainment, culture, etc… would be going too far. This is an interesting thing to consider.

The Example of the New Testament Church

What makes a church a Church of Christ (Romans 16:16) is not that some conclave of men recognizes them as such and their name is stamped with a seal of approval and put on record in a basement somewhere. It is not being able to “rattle the chain of church secession,” nor is it determined on following one or two core creedal beliefs, but rather what makes a church a Church of Christ is submission to the instruction of the Bible alone (2 Tim. 3:16-17), and the example the early Church provides for us. When we do things as they did them, in the manner in which they did them, we will be one of them. So we ask, what of the Church under Apostolic guidance? What was it’s world view? Did Paul and Peter teach that Christianity should be confined to the worship service, but left out of daily affairs? Let us consider our only source:

 

A Christian View of Science

As Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus, surrounded by the greatest intellectual minds of his day, he did not hesitate to present a “Christian World View”. To these poly-theists, pantheists and atheists he declared, “God, who made the world and everything in it… is Lord of heaven and earth. He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.” (Acts 17:24-26) He further affirmed that man could be, and often was wrong in his scientific theory. “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called…” (1 Tim. 6:20) Some might say, “well I want to know what Jesus Christ thought about science and religion, surely he did not seek to mix the two?” Quite the contrary, there was never a more outspoken defender of the miracles and wonders of God than Jesus Christ. Surely the scientific world of today would balk at the claims of a man to be the Son of God, to have the power to heal the sick and raise the dead, to have control over the very forces of nature. The Lord convinced many of the great minds of His day, for example Luke, the gospel writer and author of the book of Acts was a physician, and held a “Christian View” of science.

A Christian View of Morality

It is interesting to see people trying to keep the Bible out of discussions on morality. Interesting I say, because there would be no concept of morality in human civilization and we would be but a raging chaotic race of cave men if not for the master work of God. Moral concepts that are realized without the scriptures are said to be “written in our hearts” by the hand of the Creator. “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts.” (Romans 2:14-15). So we see that indeed even our most basic understanding of right and wrong comes from God, but we ask, “How do we now what is truly ‘good’?” Jesus gave us the answer, “No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (Matthew 19:17). There is no good to be found in this world, but by the word of God. Furthermore, we note that in the scripture we have “the truth,” the absolute standard that settles all matters of faith and practice. “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32) The only fitting view of moral issues is a Christian view.

A Christian View of the Government

One area where we find a great deal of activity today is the attempted merger of Church and State, but as we look into the scripture, we will see that this goes against the “Christian View” of earthly politics. The church is not told to take an active role in the affairs of the state, aside from being submissive, inasmuch as God is primarily served, and being good citizens, but of the Church it is said that we should behave as “guests” in the kingdoms of this world. We are in the world, but not of the world (1 Jn. 4:4-6). We are strangers and pilgrims (1 Pet. 2:11). We are not to involve ourselves with the affairs of the world (Rom.13:12), nor are we to love the world (1 Jn. 2:15). When I see Christians who are more concerned for the state of the State than the condition of the Church I am greatly troubled. When I see God’s people busier seeing to the President’s business than the King’s business, enthused and invigorated to go out and campaign for a ne’er-do- well senator, but unwilling to lift a finger to proclaim the sinless Christ, that is disturbing indeed. We thank God for the civil authorities, they are a gift from Him. They are sinners that the Lord uses to do the things Christians could never do (enact vengeance, take up arms, etc…) unto our protection from other sinners. We are to obey the Laws of the land, whether we think them unjust or not, so long as we give to God first (Matt. 22:20-21), pay our taxes, not speak evil of those in power (Titus 3:1-2) and pray for them.

Indeed we can all agree that a “Christian World View” is essential to being a New Testament Christian and being a Member of the New Testament Church. CED

Questions About the Lord’s Supper Answered

Dear Interested Reader,
I write this article to help you in your quest for simple, New Testament Christianity, an essential part of which is scriptural, God-pleasing worship!
The Cup –
What I would first encourage you to do is look through the scriptures where we are told how to commune. It is always cup, never cups. There was no sign of individual cups until 1898 when Rev. J. G. Thomas invented the first set. G. C. Brewer in his autobiography, “40 Years on the Firing Line,” makes this admission: “I think I was the first preacher (Church of Christ) to advocate the use of the individual communion cups, and the first church in the state of Tennessee that adopted it was the church for which I was preaching, the Central Church of Christ, Chattanooga Tennessee.” This occurred in 1914; how can something so recent be called apostolic? I know of people alive today who witnessed the first time individual cups were ever used by the Lord’s Church in the observance of communion. How are they different from instrumental music? One innovation is just as sinful as the other.
Q. Does it make any difference how we observe the communion?
A. Jesus says yes. “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Vain worship means useless worship, good for nothing.
A. The Apostle Paul says yes. In 1 Corinthians 11 the Bible says that the churches of Corinth had perverted the communion by turning it into a common meal, no discerning the Lord’s Body. Because they did this it was no longer the Lord’s Supper that they were partaking of (1 Cor. 11:20) Christ said, “This do in remembrance of me.” When we change it, it can no longer be called the Lord’s Supper.
A. Logic and common sense say yes. The word communion means “joint participation.” We are communing or participating jointly, eating and drinking with one another and with Christ. Individual cups and loaves destroy that concept of joint participation.
Q. Is the word “Cup” making reference only to the contents?
A. Experts of the Greek Language say no. Thayer, Bullinger, Vine, Ardnt and Gingrich and others all agree that the word poterion, translated cup, means a “drinking vessel”.
A. Jesus says no, “Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you’.” (Luke 22:20) Now earlier Jesus said that the fruit of the vine (grape juice) represented the Blood. He then says that the Cup containing the grape juice represents the New Testament. The Apostle Paul said the same thing in 1 Corinthians 11:25.
Q. Jesus said in Luke 22:17, “Take this (the Cup) and divide it among yourselves…” doesn’t this give the authority to divide it into individual cups?
A. Jesus explains what He meant.
He Commands them to divide it – Luke 22:17, “Take this (the Cup) and divide it among yourselves…”
He tells them How to divide it – Matthew 26:27, “Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it (the Cup), all of you.” (NKJV)
They do as they were told – Mark 14:23, “And He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them: and they all drank of it (the Cup).”
The Loaf –
The initial reasoning for why we ought to use one loaf is the same as with the cup. Jesus only used one, it is clear from the text, so we should use one in order to comply with his command to “do this.” Like the individual cups it was not until recent years that men, particularly the Lord’s Church ever started using individual loaves.
There are a number of problems with individual loaves-
1. The bread must be unleavened, just as the grape juice must be unfermented, as the supper was being observed during the Feast of Unleavened Bread all leaven, in or out of food or drink, would have been purged from the house. Are the crackers often used as “individual loaves” unleavened?
2. The word translated bread or loaf in the Gospel and Pauline accounts means specifically one loaf. Artos is the Greek word meaning a loaf, if it were referring to more than one it would be an entirely different word.
3. It destroys the entire picture symbolized in the bread. Jesus said “this is my body.” The loaf represents the Body, the body is the Church: One Church , one body, one loaf. In the Old Testament there were twelve loaves, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel , that were on the showbread table in the temple. (Lev. 24:4-6) Today we are one tribe represented by one loaf. “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? We being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:16-17)

The Headship, Covering and Hair of 1 Corinthians 11

1 Corinthians 11 is indeed a very controversial text, but I do not believe that it should be. It is very straight forward in what is says and even closes with a reiteration that the teachings it offers ought not to be disputed. Let us notice what is being taught:

1. There is a sacred, absolute, divinely appointed (God ordained) order of authority in the universe. “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3) Here we have spiritual heads mentioned. God is Christ’s spiritual head, Christ in Man’s spiritual head and Man is Woman’s spiritual head.

2. “Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.” We find this is a very important issue that affect our prayer life and our relationship to Christ and God. Now here the topic of discussion changes from a spiritual head to a physical head. I believe that the physical head is representative of the spiritual head. Something about a woman praying with her physical head uncovered dishonors her spiritual head (Man, Christ and God). I believe the answer to what lies in verse 10.

3. 1 Corinthians 11:10 “For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.” (NKJV) The covering on a woman’s head is a symbol of her subjection to God’s order of authority. The terminology “because of the angels” has a rather frightening meaning. We understand that it is possible for angels to sin, and they have no forgiveness. The only sin that the Bible divulges that angles can commit is the sin of rebellion. “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6) When a woman removes her covering she commits the same sin of those angels in days of old “leaving her proper domain.”

4. The Apostle Paul defines what the “covering” of earlier verses is in vs. 15. “But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.” Her long hair is the covering that God has given her, and it is a glory to her, a symbol of her love and subjection to God and his ways.

Q. Is this scripture taking about a veil, or artificial covering?

A. The Apostle Paul says no. “But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering.” The word for is from the Greek anti meaning in place of. Is a wonderful thing to consider: if a woman could not pray without an artificial covering it would put her in a lot of bad situations. The scripture nowhere restricts this to the assembly of the Church. If a woman is in a car accident and dying, unable to move, realizes that she needs to make her life right with God, she needn’t search around for a sheet to cover her head, if she has long hair she is covered with the covering God has given her.

Q. What does “long hair” mean?

A. We ought to let the Bible answer that question. Many today claim that if it is longer than a man’s (long in feet and inches) it is “long hair”. But the Bible says quite differently. In 1 Cor. 11:5-6, it says, “But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.” There are three ways a person can wear there hair: 1) Shorn (cut or trimmed) 2) Shaven (Shaven bald) 3) Covered (Long). Notice also Ezekiel 44:20, “They shall neither shave their heads, nor let their hair grow long, but they shall keep their hair well trimmed.” Three ways the hair can be worn: 1) Shave their heads 2) Keep it trimmed 3) Let it Grow Long. You see the parallel? This is the word of God! The term let the hair grow is clarified in the book of number where we read about the Nazarite vow, “All the days of the vow of his separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the LORD, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow.” (Numbers 6:5) On top of all of this we find those who study such things inform us that the Greek word komao means literally “hair that is allowed to grow long; growth uninterrupted by cutting.” So we see that the Bible defines what long hair is, it is hair that is not shaven off, cut off or trimmed, hair that is touched by no razor, hair that is allowed to grow.

Q. What does Paul mean in Verse 16, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.”?

A. First we can see obviously what it does not mean. It is ridiculous to assume that Paul is here saying that if you don’t like what I just said you don’t have to listen to me. All scripture is God breathed” the Bible says, does God waste his breath! Such a notion is absolutely ridiculous, God didn’t put 15 verses into the Bible for space filler. Let us cast this foolishness aside and attempt to see what the scripture actually teaches here. Here is what John R. Rice had to say on this verse:

On the matter of submitting to authority, there are frequently those who “seem to be contentious.” Self-will dies hard, even in a Christian. We want our own way. Some of the Christians who were servants and slaves thought that now they were Christians they need not obey their masters. And children felt that now they were saved, they were equal to their parents. Citizens felt that they now need not obey their heathen rulers, and wives naturally felt themselves equal to their husbands. Were they not saved just the same way? Were not all members of the body of Christ alike? But to such people the Lord plainly gave command as you see in Colossians 3:18-25, Ephesians 5:22-6:9, and elsewhere. No doubt some wives wanted now to cut their hair and act like men. And perhaps some men encouraged it. Some men do now. But to all such Paul said, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” No custom of bobbed hair was allowed for women in New Testament churches. Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, who had more to do with founding churches and their control than any other man who lived, plainly said that this custom was never recognized and never allowed. Bobbed hair is unscriptural, and the idea of it was utterly repugnant to New Testament Christianity.” (Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives and Women Preachers by John R. Rice; Sword of the Lord Publishers 1941©)

Some newer translations word it, “If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.” Let us not argue with God but submit wholly to his will in love and reverent service. CED

Are Public Bible Classes, Tracts, Papers and TV Preachers Really 4 of a Kind? Part 2

Opposing Innovation in Religion

There are certainly those who will ask: why do we approve of innovations in material matters and oppose them in divine matters? Well the answer is very simple. There are two types of Innovations:

 

  1. Those Involving Man’s Arrangements
  2. Those involving Divine Arrangements

With the first we have no problem. Why? It is because such innovations do no alter or affect the holy commandments of God. Refrigerators are an innovation in the storage of food from the day of the New Testament Church, but it is not sinful to own one. God did not instruct us on how we were to store our food. 747 Airliners are an innovation in travel from the days of the Apostle Paul, so is it sinful for our preachers to use them to fly to foreign nations to do missionary work? No, God did not give divine instruction on how we are to travel, it is the same with using the television and Internet or sending out Bible Tracts, these are innovations in man’s arrangements not God’s. God has instructed us on how to teach the saved, and public bible classes were never a part of his plan.

Bible Classes: A liberty, or an Innovation?

Now many may say, “We understand why we must prevent ‘harmful’ innovations, but what would be wrong the Bible Classes they are strengthening the personal knowledge of Christians aren’t they?” Rather than answer this question with my own frail, fallible words, I will give an example found in the Word of God. Let us look at a story that is found in 1 Samuel 15:1-22. The gist of the incident goes like this: King Saul was commanded to go over to the land of Amalek and utterly destroy the people, and all they possessed. After reaching the land, Saul, instead of doing exactly as he was told, spared the best of the flocks and oxen, and even the King of the Land. Behind his action was a noble purpose; at least it would appear. But let us not forget that God commanded this man to do something, and regardless of the motives behind his actions he failed to do what God had commanded. Will he be held responsible? Let us see – “And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in Gilgal. And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken, than the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel 15:20-22. In the eyes of Saul and the people, the thing they did by bringing back these fine animals and the King of the Land was doing an extra service for God. They took the liberty of expanding somewhat on what God had told them. But Samuel told him the finest oxen and sheep and the greatest riches in all the land were not as good as obedience. The same lesson applies today what we might see as a liberty that would seem to be beneficial to the mission of the Church, is in the eyes of God an innovation and corruption of His command.

Closing Comments on what is Wrong With Public Bible Classes

The wonderful thing about having the Word of God to guide us is that it is perfect, harmonious and clear. If followed exactly as it is written there will be no division, no controversy, and when there is it can only be due to mans foolishness of deceit. When Acts 20:20 is seen for what it is than we have a distinction, public and private. With public we have Worship Service and Evangelism which, according to 1 Cor. 13:44-45 and 2 Tim. 2:11-12, are times when women are forbidden to speak (the assembly) and teach or take an authoritative role (publicly). In the story of Pricilla and Aquilla studying with Apollos we see two men and one women talking together in private. In private a woman is authorized to teach a man. These lines and boundaries are very clear, but when a system alien to the scripture is placed in the picture the lines become distorted. When Public Bible classes are advocated one will be ready to stand and say “Lets have women teachers in these Bible classes.” How will you rebuke them with scripture? We have already determined that the Bible class cannot be classified as either of the two authorized methods of public teaching of the word, nor can it be classified as private. This means that you would not be able to rebuke them using the Word. The only way you would be able to, would be to admit that because of a lack of scriptural backing, the Bible Class system is unscriptural. Finally, in 1 Peter 4:11 there is a command to all Christians, a command that the early Restoration preachers knew had to be strictly followed if the will of God was to be done, it says “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” If we are to truly worship God in accordance with His will we must hold to what was said in that verse, when we speak we must “speak as the oracles of God.” “Speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is Silent” is recognized as an old Restoration plea. Examine the scriptures and see if they anywhere mention or authorize “public bible classes”, if not than please run “back to the Bible” and hold fast to the Ancient Order. –CED

Are Public Bible Classes, Tracts, Papers and TV Preachers Really 4 of a Kind? Part 1

The Question was recently posed to me asking what the difference is between bible classes and a television program or tracts. How is one any more scriptural than the other? In the Early Church their were two basic methods of teaching the Word of God according to Acts 20:20 where Paul said, “I taught you publicly and from house to house,” meaning publicly and privately.In subgroups we have three examples of how God’s Word was taught.

1. Public Worship Service (Assembly)

2. Public Evangelism

3. Private Bible Study

In order for a method of teaching the Bible to be authorized by the Scripture it has to fall under one of these categories. When examining the three modern modes of teaching that are listed in the title we immediately can come to realization. A Bible tract or religious paper is not a worship service or a private Bible study, but it is a mode of public evangelism. The same could be said of the TV preaching program, but what of the Public Bible Class? Can it be classified under any of the three authorized sub-groups? Let us see:

Is a Public Bible Class a worship service? A worship service is composed of an assembly of the saints: praying, praising god in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and hearing the Word of God taught to them, and on the Lord’s Day, the observance of the Lord’s Supper and the giving of means is also part of the public service (Acts 20:7). It is important to point out that in the worship service it is: a shame for a woman to speak (1 Cor. 13:34-35), it is not to be divided (1 Cor. 11:20, 14:23), it is to be carried out with order and reverence, with one man speaking at a time (1 Cor. 14:31), and it is forbidden for a woman to teach or take an authoritative role (2 Tim. 2:11-12). Even supporters of Bible Classes will say that they are separate and different from the worship service, if this is the case then the first of the three sub groups can be checked off.

Is a Public Bible Class Public Evangelism? Aside from the Worship service, the Bible tells us that the Apostles practiced another form of public teaching that was separate and different. In Acts 14:1 the Bible tells us that Paul and Barnabas were at Iconium and went into “a synagogue of the Jews” where they preached the word to a multitude. This was not a worship service but rather Paul and Barnabas had gone into the realm of unbelievers to teach them the Word in order to convert them. This is what such things as TV Preachers and Bible Tracts can be classified as, not a worship service, not an assembly of the Saints, not a private Bible Study, but a method of Public Evangelism. A Public Bible Class cannot be called Public Evangelism because it is not an outreach to the world intended to convert, but rather a public Bible study of the Saints.

Is a Public Bible Class a Private Bible Study? This seems like a rather silly question, the two titles show the distinctive difference: Public and Private. Supporters of Bible Classes often use the story of Priscilla and Aquila to support their claim that the New Testament gives an example of Early Church members studying the Bible outside of the Worship service. Well that is very true, the Early Church would study the Bible publicly (worship service, public evangelism) and from house to house (private bible study). But in order for the story of Priscilla and Aquila to exemplify and authorize public bible classes, it would have to demonstrate a public bible class taking place. In Acts 18:24-28 the Bible tells of Priscilla and Aquila. In verses 24 and 25 the Bible says that there was a preacher named Apollos who was “an eloquent man and mighty in the scripture.” It says that he “taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.” So after he was finished preaching, the Bible says in verse26, “They took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” Notice the words there, “they took him aside,” this indicates to me that it was a private discussion, or study, on the scriptures separate from the worship service. The key word there however is private.With that in mind we cannot justifiably classify Public Bible Classes under this category. What are we to do now? The only three scripturally authorized methods of teaching the Bible have been taken out of the picture and still the Public Bible Class has no home; this is because it cannot be found within God’s Word, and thus has no place within His Church. – CED

You Are What You Eat!

Do you get more milk or meat in your diet? “I’ll have a chocolate shake and a cheeseburger, please. ” No, no. Not that kind of diet, I mean your scripture diet. Do you study and challenge yourself to get a little deeper into the Word, or do you just read the easy texts?

When we start out as babies we need lots of milk. As we grow, we begin to develop a need for stronger and more solid foods. If we consumed only milk, we would have major health problems and eventually die from malnutrition. So, as we develop, we need foods other than milk to give our bodies proper nutrition to reach adulthood.

Your spiritual growth is no different than your physical growth. We start as babies in Christ because at our baptism we were born again (John 3:3-6; Romans 6:4). Then we need food. What would the spiritual person need to eat? Things that cause spiritual growth. What gave us a new spirit? The scriptures. Therefore, we need to feed on the scriptures so that our spirit can grow. “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby.” I Peter 2:2.

As we begin the Christian walk, we will grasp the simpler passages and topics that we read and hear in the assembly. Then comes those adolescent years where we challenge everything we read and hear. Finally, we begin to mature and understand the broader topics that God has revealed in His Word.

We find Jesus, just after His baptism, in the wilderness were He is fasting to bring His mind into subjection so He can begin the great ministry. There Satan comes and tempts Jesus to eat. In this case, the food was bread. Remembering the importance of scripture over fleshly desires, Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:1-4. Jesus reminded Himself and Satan during this strongly difficult time that, the spiritual foods are longer-lasting than the fleshly foods. The Word of God is the keeper of our spiritual life.

In John chapter four, we see Jesus having a discussion with a woman at Jacob’s well in Samaria. There He had asked this foreign woman for a drink. Jesus encourages the woman to ask Him for some water because He had the everlasting water of life. After she departs the disciples come to Jesus and try to get Him to eat something. His reply is simple, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” John 4:34. So there is food and drink for the spiritual being, it is the Word and Will of God. We will not grow by reading or hearing only, but by doing (James 1:22).

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6.

There were a few times that the Lord fed the multitude with some loaves and fishes. After a while, the people followed Jesus only to be fed in this miraculous way, and perhaps for the entertainment of His words and healing. We should always be mindful that the Lord knows our hearts as He knew theirs. “Jesus answered them and said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.’” John 6:26-27.

Shortly after this admonition, Jesus makes another profound statement. “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” John 6:53. Jesus was explaining to the crowd that He was the embodiment of the Word of God. Without total belief and devotion, no one could be saved. Many people would no longer follow Him, because His words were too hard to understand. He lovingly asks the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” Peter replies, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” John 6:67-68.

In our spiritual walk, we need to PRO-gress (forward) not RE-gress (backward). Concerning the young Corinthian church, Paul gave them simple teaching with the encouragement to grow up toward Christian maturity. They didn’t. At first he was “tolerant” as they learned, but when he saw they had not progressed, he became stern and commanded them to pay attention to their undone condition. “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” I Corinthians 3:1-3. These had returned to a worldly standard of living and not achieved the spiritual maturity necessary to survive this side of eternity.

We must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The more we grasp now in our youth, the stronger and more stable we will be in the days ahead. There would be a great loss to the church if we had only “children” trying to tend the flock and none able to tell right from wrong. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those having their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:12-14.

Get involved in your bible Don’t just read, study. The next time you hear someone say, “Do you want fries with that?”, remember to give your spiritual person some food too. –Sean S. McCallister

Bed too Short, Cover too Narrow

In the 28th Chapter of Isaiah we find a rather interesting, and at the same time, humorous picture painted by the words of the prophet. In verse 20 he writes, “For the bed is too short to stretch out on, And the covering so narrow that one cannot wrap himself in it.” It is kind of funny really to picture a man of some height and width, trying to position himself in a baby crib and cover up with a washcloth. It just wouldn’t work! The point illustrated is the devastating results of insufficiency. The same Isaiah later wrote, speaking for God, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa. 55:8-9) It has been, since their very earliest days, that the thoughts, ways, and opinions of man have fallen far short of the perfect wisdom of God. “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Jeremiah wrote, “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.” (10:23)

We think back on the occasion when Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit and, realizing their nakedness, they were ashamed. The Bible records that they sewed for themselves some skimpy garments from fig leaves. Imagine it! It won’t take much imagination, I am sure they weren’t too far from many of the bathing suits and sports wear that people parade around in today, but the fact is, that in this state they considered themselves covered, without shame. God had a higher standard, when He saw the garments He saw them as insufficient, and we read that he slew two beasts and made for them a much more covering garment, causing them to be modest in the eyes of heaven. When one considers this, it is laughable to think that modesty, or any other sin for that matter, could conform to culture! This would place on a man’s shoulder a burden or responsibility he has never been able to handle: to define for himself what is sin and what isn’t. He will always on his own, fail miserably.

But we also find times when men have looked upon God’s plan and, failing to see the greatness set before them have viewed it as insufficient. We read of Abraham and Sarah in their promise to receive a son. God had taken the future Patriarch out into the desert and told him, “As many as the grains of sand that cover the desert floor, and the stars that spangle the heavens, too vast shall your progeny be.” What a great promise! But the years passed and Abraham, now 76 years old still had no son. Furthermore, Sarah, who was also advancing in years, believed herself to be barren. They distressed; they knew that God had great plans for them that involved a glorious bloodline, but things had run their course and obviously, God’s plan just hadn’t worked out! So they reasoned together that they would take matters into their own hands. Abraham, at Sarah’s behest, went to the handmaiden Hagar and knew her. The child that was conceived was called Ishmael. This boy should have never been born. He was the product of disregarding God’s ways, disobeying God’s wishes, and doubting God’s plan. His children and descendants for years after, of whom it was said, “He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man’s hand against him.” (Gen. 6:12) would have never been born. The murderous religion of Islam would have never been founded, and hundreds of wars would have never been waged, if only God’s plan had been followed.

Today there are many evils in the world, many departures from the faith, and divisions in the church have been the result of men trying to do things according to their own foolishness, or trying to do better than the ways of God. The Missionary Society came because people thought the Church was insufficient. The Sunday School came because people thought the home was insufficient. Now these Bible Study Classes (that the scriptures give no authority for) are finding their way into the Church, and causing the same terrible division, because people are claiming the public teaching in the assembly is insufficient! The Apostle Paul taught, “publicly and from house to house” when we leave the Bible pattern for something of our own design then weare using a bed too short, and a cover too narrow. The Lord gave a far less humorous picture of the devastating results of insufficiency, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’? Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.” (Luke 14:28-32) Let us not make the same mistake, but remember that “if God be for us, Who can be against us!” CED

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