CONTENTS


Editor's Note: In this section you will find short articles suitable for use in your church bulletin. Most are approximately 500 words in length. Please read our copyright policy before down loading.


  • Copyright policy
  • Building A Happy Home
  • "The Golden Compass" - How Should Christians Respond?--by Ed McGeachy
  • The Challenge of Faithfulness
  • Faith Destroyed By A Box of Bones?--by Ed McGeachy
  • Is Postmodernism Dangerous? -- by Randy Mashburn
  • TV = Too Vulgar-- by Chuck Davis
  • The Direct Operation of the Holy Spirit--by Chuck Davis
  • Movie Review: "The Passion of the Christ"-- by A. Reid Jones
  • Postmodernism and the Church
  • The Silence of the Scriptures
  • --by Wayne Jackson
  • The Bible Is Genuine and Authoritative
  • Counsel of the Ungodly
  • The Bible Heart
  • The Ministry of Kindness
  • The Lord's Supper: Observed Every Sunday and Only on Sunday
  • God Amid the Shadows
  • I Don't Love Her Anymore
  • --by Charles Billingsly
  • Forgiveness Without Repentance?
  • --by Guy N. Woods
  • Legal Lunacy
  • --by Frank Chesser
  • What Liberals Have Done To The Bible
  • The Church of Christ
  • --by Johnny D. Hinton
  • Who Cares?
  • Daily Christianity
  • Thanksgiving Tradition
  • Fellowship Has Limitatons
  • Christmas Customs: Right or Wrong?
  • What Does The Bible Say About Easter?
  • Congregational Autonomy -- Not a Shield for Error
  • -- by Wayne Jackson
  • Is Hand Clapping in Worship Wrong?
  • Miracles Today?
  • Abortion: An Issue We Must Face
  • Old Time Religion Vs. Show-Time Religion
  • The Holy Spirit "Illumination" Theory: A Critical Review
  • --by Wayne Jackson
  • Pseudo-Science and Pseudo-Religion
  • How To Help The Bible School
  • Some Facts About Heaven
  • A Vision of God
  • Imagine This If You Can
  • Changes That Challenge the Church
  • The Heart Searcher

  • Editor's Note: In this section you will find short articles suitable for use in your church bulletin. Most are approximately 500 words in length. Please read our copyright policy before downloading.


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    BUILDING A HAPPY HOME

     

    Building a happy home depends upon many things.  For those contemplating marriage as well as those who have been married for many years, we offer the following suggestions and thoughts.

     

    1.      Be careful in your selection of a mate.  Choose someone who can help you in living a faithful Christian life.  Remember that those whom you date may become your mate.  Thus, the old adage still rings true: “Choose a date fit for a mate.”   Look for that “inner beauty,” that purity of life and character.  Make sure that you marry a genuine Christian.

     

    2.      Marry only one who is eligible for marriage.  One who has been divorced for a reason other than fornication (sexual immorality) is not eligible for marriage.  Jesus said: "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery" (Matt. 19:9).  An innocent person who has the right to marry would become guilty of adultery by interring into a marriage with one who is not eligible.  Remember: those who are eligible for marriage according to Scripture are: (1) Those who have never been married;  (2) Those whose mates have died (Rom. 7:1-4);  (3) Those who have put away their mates because of their fornication (Matt. 19:9).

     

    3.      A happy home is built on mutual love and trust.  Satan works in many ways to destroy the sanctity of marriage and the happiness of the home.  He would stir up jealousy, envy, and strife.  Selfish hearts seek to have their own way without regard for others.  Paul’s instruction to husbands and wives is clear: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them (Col. 3:18-19; Cf. Eph. 5:22-33).  Husbands and wives should strive to please one another and to please the Lord.  Determine that you not let anything or anyone come between you and your mate.

     

    4.      Take time to say “I love you.”  A number of years ago a young married man confided that he would make a diligent effort to tell his wife he loved her every day and several times a day.  He made it a practice to tell her “darling I love you” before they fell asleep at night.  One morning he awoke to find that his lovely wife, just past thirty years of age, had died in her sleep.  The young man said, “the memories are sweeter now because I know that the last words she heard me say were “darling, I love you.” From the very beginning of your marriage determine to tell your mate often how much you love them. It is such a little thing, yet saying “I love you” means so much.

     

    Let us remember that marriage was instituted by God for the good of all mankind (Gen. 2:18-25). Happiness in this life as well as in eternity depends on building happy homes. May we do all that we can build happy, successful, Christian home.

    ~Dan Flournoy

    _____________________________________________

    Email: dan@christian-family.net

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    "The Golden Compass" - How Should Christians Respond

    Ed McGeachy

    The anticipated December 7 release of the movie, “The Golden Compass,” with its big budget, well known cast and extensive advertising, has sparked a storm of controversy.  The internet is buzzing with warnings, church bulletins sound the alarm, and the Catholic League has called for a boycott of the film.

    So, here we go, putting in our two cents worth. Just so we are clear: what is said here is based on the conviction that we must individuallyexamine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (I Thes.5:21), maturing in such a way as Christ’s disciples that we are able to discern good and evil” (Heb.5:14).

    Some facts:

    ·        “The Golden Compass” is based on Philip Pullman¹s book, Northern Lights. Pullman, is an avowed atheist; a honorary associate of the National Secular Society.

    ·        Northern Lights is the first in a trilogy of books for children called, His Dark Materials; the second is The Subtle Knife and the last, The Amber Spyglass. They have sold 15 million copies world wide, and won numerous prestigious awards.  It has also been noted that the first book is the least offense of the three, and that the books get progressively worse regarding Pullman¹s hatred of God. Pullman insists that his books are not anti-Christian, but rather anti-theocracy, which he defines as religious totalitarianism in all its forms (he includes the Taliban and Soviet Communism in this group). However in a 2003 interview with The Sydney Morning Herald he said, “my books are about killing God.”

    Now here’s the usual part: “The Golden Compass” is being attacked both for being anti-religious and for being pro-religious!

    ·        That¹s right, atheists are coming out against this movie - but note why!  Terry Sanderson, president of the British based National Secular Society (Pullman is English) complained that the movie takes out the anti-religious elements of the book, “they are taking the heart out of it, losing the point of it, castrating it.” He also grumbled – probably to your surprise, “It seems that religion has completely conquered America¹s cultural life…”

    ·         On the other hand, while it is being marketed as a children¹s fantasy film like other recent epics, parents need to be aware that there is much more to this movie. Of concern is the fear that once seeing this “fairly innocuous” film, there will be a desire to buy the books   where the real damage may be done!

    ©2007 Christian-Family.net via The Bridgewood Beacon, Bridgewood Church of Christ, Fort Worth, Texas.  Used with permission of author.

    Email: dan@christian-family.net

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    THE CHALLENGE OF FAITHFULNESS

     

    There are many challenges facing the Christian but none is greater than the challenge to remain faithful to Christ.  In reality, this is what Christianity is all about.  Jesus summed it up this way: “ Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).  Of course, we understand that Jesus addressed this to Christians who were being tortured and killed for their faith.  He challenged them to be faithful and not deny Him even if it meant death.  The reward of heaven would far outweigh the pain of torture.

     

    Most Christians today do not face death for their faith, yet the challenge to be faithful is

    still very real.  The Christian’s faith is being challenged daily by distractions that take the focus from the priorities of life.

     

    How can one remain faithful?  The Word is full of admonition and encouragement to be faithful.  Here are some things that will help to this end:

     

    1.      Daily Bible Study.  Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!”( Psalm 119:11).  Jesus used the Scripture to overcome the temptation of Satan and so must we (Matt. 4:1-11).

    2.      Daily Prayer.  Jesus both taught and demonstrated the necessity of daily prayer in remaining faithful (Matt. 6:9-15).

    3.      Encourage One Another.  The Hebrew writer warned against the sin of unbelief and admonished “exhort one another daily” (Heb. 3:13).  Christians need to help one another to bear the burdens of daily living (Gal. 6:1-2).

    4.      Add the Christian Graces.  Peter admonishes Christians to grow spiritually by adding to their faith: virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness brotherly kindness and love.  By growing in these things, Peter says:   you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-7).  Accordingly, Peter says “for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter  1:11).

     

    In other words, to remain faithful we must do our best each day to do God’s will.  We must never lose sight of the heavenly goal.  Paul put it this way: “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).

     

    May we never let the distractions of the world cause us to take our eyes from the cross.  The Hebrew writer admonished: “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1-2).  May we ever strive to remain faithful to the Lord. 

    --Dan Flournoy

    ©2005-2007www.Christian-Family.net

    Email: dan@christian-family.net

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    Faith Destroyed By A Box of Bones?

    Ed McGeachy

     

    Got to give them their due: Just like the “Energizer Bunny,” foes of Christianity keep on going and going – no matter how ridiculous, improbable or transparent their claims.

     

    James Cameron, of Titanic fame, now steps forward, only the ship he’s trying to sink this time is Christianity!  “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,”  is the documentary in which he and others present “scientific evidence” of having found an ossuary [bone box] containing the remains of Jesus.

     

    First, the obvious: #1, Where’s the evidence that the remains of Jesus were ever placed in an ossuary?  Certainly, His body was taken from the cross and laid in a tomb (Matt. 27:57-61), but is there even a suggestion from any source that He was in the tomb long enough for His flesh to decay and bones placed in an ossuary?  Scripture is quite definite: His flesh did not suffer decay (Acts 2:31).  But also, #2, how likely is it that one from a poor Galilean family, who died as a criminal, would be buried in Jerusalem in an ornately decorated bomb (as in the documentary)?

     

    James Cameron and friends may have thought they were delivering a death blow to Christianity, but instead they have unwittingly created an even greater wonder – an effect without a cause!   The resurrection of Christ from the grave is at the very heart of Christianity (I Cor. 15:1-8), therefore take away that cause and how do you explain the following effects?

     

    ·        The transformation of the disciples: Fearful men (Jhn. 20:19), became bold proclaimers of the resurrection, doing so initially only a short distance from the tomb where they laid His body! 

    ·        The silence of His enemies: Produce the body, and Christianity dies!

    ·        The conversion of Saul of Tarsus: Jews wouldn’t, Christians couldn’t.

    ·        The world-wide spread of Christianity with its wholesome life-changing influence; often in the face of crushing persecution.

     

    Via The Bridgewood Beacon, Bridgewood Church of Christ, Fort Worth, Texas

    March 7, 2007

     

    Email: dan@christian-family.net

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    Is Postmodernism Dangerous?

     

    The answer to the title’s question is YES! We amble through life just trying to get through each day while we are incessantly bombarded with subtle and insidious concepts that slowly bend us to the worldly culture’s thinking.  This assault will change us and shape our children who are even more susceptible to its destructive nature unless we firmly teach them otherwise.

                Indeed, we are “strangers and exiles on the earth” (Heb. 11:13).  Peter insists that as “aliens and strangers” we must “abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (I Pet. 2:11).  Paul says “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20).  We have been warned not to succumb to “philosophy and empty deception” (Col. 2:8).  Fellow saints, we are the counter culture.  Christians have always been the counter culture, attempting to avoid absorption by caving in to the world (Rom. 12:2), and simultaneously attempting to provide salt and light (Matt. 5:13-14) to a society that threatens to overwhelm us.

                Postmodernism poses that life has no meaning.  Thus it insists that man can not understand life and his best bet is to live any way he pleases and rationalize his deeds to fit his needs.  It denies logic, saying truth can not be determined thereby.  It distrusts reason.  It carps that words have no meaning except what the reader might suppose them to mean.  It may seem to take its predecessor Mordernism to task for its dependence upon reason, but actually advances into total skepticism, having seen the failures of its forerunner. Thus the postmodernist view is one of incoherence.                                                       

                Christians have a world view based upon belief in a God who has created an orderly world and by His revelation of Himself has disposed man to seek meaning in life.This God has revealed Himself in creation (Psa. 19:1-4) and in self-disclosure to men of His choosing (2 Peter 1:20f).  God’s most perfect revelation of Himself to men is in Jesus Christ (John 1:18; Heb. 1:1-2).  His word is truth (John 17:17).      

                We in churches of Christ owe something to the Enlightenment because we approach the Scriptures with reason.  We believe that truth is objective and obtainable. Isaiah pleaded with men to “reason together” regarding godly principles (Isa. 1:18). Paul “reasoned” with Jews and devout persons (Acts 17:17) and with Felix about righteousness (Acts 24:25).  Saints must “study” (KJV) the Scriptures reasonably (2 Tim 2:15) and must be ready to give an answer for our beliefs (I Peter 3:15). All of this affirms, then, that truth is objective and attainable.  Thus we must oppose Postmodernism’s error that truth is unattainable and each person may twist words to suit himself.

                The apostle Peter insisted that saints not be “conformed to your former lusts” (I Pet. 1:14; cf. Rom. 12:2) and Paul said we must “seek the things that are above” (Col. 3:1).  We must “walk by the spirit” (Gal. 5:16).  Such exhortations fortify us to resist the images and ideas that are aimed at us by the thinking of Postmodernism.  Music videos and their lyrics are menacing, incoherent, and lewd.  Movies and literature no longer have heroes, but anti-heroes.  Protagonists in movies and on television are amoral people who achieve their ends by utilitarian and immoral means.  Humor has turned crude and cynical.  And the Postmodern culture around us wages war on our thoughts and morals every day!  We must “stand fast therefore, and not be entangled again in a yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1).  It is time to reclaim truth, reason, meaning, purity, and morals from those who have trampled on them!

                Postmodernism’s focus upon self-satisfaction, form rather than substance, and materialism has ruined many a church.  It has convinced churches that they must offer outsiders entertainment, comfort, and vacillating doctrine.  David F. Wells has written, “Our commerce…has become our culture, and advertising is the art form that weaves them together.”  Churches have sought to become “mega-churches” by applying the principles of marketing.  We must appeal to men upon the basis of the gospel (Rom. 1:16).

                It is time for us to “awake to soberness righteously” (I Cor. 15:34) and face this menace.

                                                                                                                Randy Mashburn

    ©www.Christian-Family.net

                                                                                                               

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    TV = Too Vulgar

    Chuck Davis

     

     

    I am often harassed by my wife and children because of my affection for the cartoon series “Underdog”. The mild mannered shoe shine boy (really a floppy eared dog) who, when troubles arise, becomes the most adorable superhero anyone could imagine. Once in a while I will flip through the channels and find a re-run of this loveable cartoon and, I have to admit, it is somewhat corny. How I long for those days of corny, fun filled television.

     

    Now it is nothing more than trash. I was disgusted and disheartened when I turned on the television last Monday night to watch the Cowboy’s football game only to be welcomed by nothing more than a pornographic “seduction” of a star player in the locker room. ABC thinks it is cute, much like CBS, MTV, NBC and all the other smut filled boardrooms that think “pushing the envelope” is cute, as long as it has the desired affects...ratings.

     

    TV is not what it used to be. Some will try to push it off to being a “Red State versus  Blue State” issue like they tried to do with the election. They will say that if we want to be “moral freaks” don’t infringe on their rights to produce and televise shows with no redeeming value because there is a market out there for it. Who said they could infringe on our rights?

     

    The moral corruption that Hollywood has laid at the feet of the households

    in this country has brought us to the brink of the highest rates in: divorces, teen pregnancies, AIDS cases, other sexually transmitted diseases, and the list goes on and on.

    How do we as Christians view television? Have we become so desensitized to the sex, vulgar language and the violence that it doesn’t bother us anymore? If the child of God had to give an account of how many hours they study the Bible and their TV viewing time, who would win? With reference to assembly time with the saints and all other church related functions, where do you find yourself? At church or on the couch?

    Years ago, Sen. Bob Dole (along with many others) made an attack on Hollywood violence and sex, showing a connection to what is seen on TV/movies, etc. and the real thing. In a poll, two out of three children say they've been influenced by the entertainment media on issues like sexuality and morality, etc.

     

    Note the poll results: according to children 10-16 years in age:

     

    “There is too much sex before marriage on television” - 77% said yes.

    “Sex on TV and in movies influences kids to have sex too young” - 62% said yes.

    “TV makes children think people care more about money than people” - 54% said yes. “TV makes children think young people talk back to their parents” - 51% said yes.

    “TV makes children think people are mostly dishonest” - 49% said yes.

    “TV makes children think people are selfish” - 46% said yes.

     

    This information is not new to us. We have to start making some tough choices. We have known for some time that TV is molding and harming the character of children (and adults). But we rationalize it by saying that the shows we watch have a good plot and a deeper meaning. Our young people are leaving the Lord's church. Our adults have grown apathetic. Adults can watch a two-hour movie with vulgarity, sex and large amounts of

    violence, but complain if the preacher speaks over 30 minutes.

     

    Do we monitor what our children are watching? Do we limit their TV viewing times? Do we monitor what we as adults watch? Do we live a double standard - “Now that the kids are in bed I can watch the good stuff.” We need to tip the scales toward God by reading the Bible, coming to Bible classes, and doing the Lord’s work! The souls that are saved may be our own!

     

    "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is of

    good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. The

    things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace

    shall be with you" (Philippians 4:8,9).

     

    Chuck Davis is a member of the Lord’s church in Lewisville, Texas

    Used by permission

    ©2005-2007www.Christian-Family.net

     

    Email: dan@christian-family.net

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    The Direct Operation of the Holy Spirit

     

    Chuck Davis

     

    In recent years, there has been much discussion regarding whether the Holy Spirit operates directly on the heart of a child of God separate and apart from the Word of God.  While numerous debates have occurred, I feel this question is easily answered if we would answer the question regarding the origination of our faith in God.  Where does our faith come from?

     

    Hebrews 11:6 states, “And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing [unto him]; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.  It is impossible to please God without faith.  From where are we to derive our faith?  Are we to rely on the Holy Spirit to “touch” our heart or is there some other means?

     

    Romans 10:17 tells us, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  Our faith is to be found in hearing (listening to the word through our heart as we read the sacred pages) the Word of God.  What is so special about the Word of God that it is the only source of our Faith?

     

    Jesus answers this question in John 17:17 when, in prayer to God, he says, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  God’s word is truth!  It is the basis on which our faith is built.  It was given to us by God as he spoke to the writers of the New Testament through the Holy Spirit.  How many times was it given?  Jude 1:3 answers, “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.  “The Faith” talked about here is the gospel and it was delivered once!

     

    How is the word of God able to build our faith?  Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  No other source can convict us of our sinful state except the Word of God.  Paul states in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “Every scripture inspired of God [is] also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness.  That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.  The passage says “complete, furnished completely”, that means there is no need for anything else, what was given is all sufficient.

     

    My friends, if we insist that the Holy Spirit operates directly on the heart of a child of God separate and apart from or in addition to their hearing, understanding and making application of the Word of God in their lives, then we are stating that 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is false.  If 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is false, then nothing about the bible can be considered true.

     

    Is that what we believe?  God has told us he has delivered the means by which we attain our faith once, and it will make us complete if we study it, accept it, obey it and apply it in our lives. Paul declared that the Word of god is able to build us up and take us to Heaven if we will only follow it (Acts 20:32).  There is no need for “other guidance.”

     

    ©2007 www.Christian-Family.net

     

    Chuck Davis is a member of the Lord’s church in Lewisville, Texas

    Used by permission

    ©2007www.Christian-Family.net

     

    To comment on this article email the author at:

    dan@christian-family.net

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    Movie Review:

    “The Passion of the Christ”

     

    A. Reid Jones

     

    I have been watching, with interest, the ideological howl the "secularists" have raised about Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ, waving their banners of anti-Semitism and unnecessary violence.  I watched Newt Gingrich say on FOX that this movie could prove to be one of the significant societal turning points of this decade, and I was fascinated.  I watched O'Reilly's interview with Mel Gibson when  Bill said that he had reread the Gospels over the weekend in preparation for the movie and the only two problems he had were (1) that the level of violence was sense-numbing and (2) literary license was taken with Simon of Cyrene.  Mel Gibson spoke of his careful handling of the text of the Gospels, and both he and Bill verified that the Pope had indeed seen the movie and remarked "That's the way it was".  Mel Gibson knows how to make a movie that captures your attention and moves the plot.  So informed, I had high hopes for this movie.

     

    These are my reactions after seeing the movie last night:

     

    1. Violence - I found it to be instructive, particularly the scourging.  My vision of the suffering of Jesus is forever changed.  For me, It was one thing to read the words through the filters of my experience and imagination, and another thing entirely to see this interpretation.  Even so, the scene where Jesus was dangled over the wall by his chains like a puppet was unrealistic and more than a little over the top.

     

    2. Anti-Semitic - Jews understandably should protest this movie, but not because of blame for their role in the violent crucifixion of Jesus. Their fear of race-oriented attribution is surely absurd.  They should, however, protest being depicted as ignorant louts, just one gene short of being the hunchback of Notre Dame.  In general, there was no normal range of emotion portrayed by the Jewish leaders, or the mob; light switch acting - either mindless rage or frog-in-a-hailstorm passivity.  Their dialogue in Aramaic was  guttural and mono-toned to the point of Neanderthalism.  I don't care what the language is, people put observable emotion in their speech.  When Caiaphas, the High Priest, confronts Jesus' "blasphemy", the sin of all sins, he shows about as much real outrage in the "spitting" scene as he probably had at dinner when the mint jelly ran out before he finished his lamb chop.  These quasi-zombies truly are not , in my opinion, the Jews of the New Testament.  Jews should protest the bad acting and directing, not the message!

     

    3.  Flawed Characters - Mary, repeatedly addressed by various persons as "Mother", was clothed in  black attire strikingly similar to a modern nun.  She was in more than half of the scenes with a very visible and prominent role and in one scene she encouraged Jesus to do what he must.  After the scourging scene, Mary and the "woman taken in adultery" used cloths received from the wife of Pontius Pilate to wipe the floor of the precious blood spilled by Jesus (perhaps advancing the notion of religious relics?).  Interestingly, the only mention of Mary in the Gospels, during this time, was the scene with John at the foot of the cross.

     

     - Judas, following his return of the silver, is attacked by Satan in the form of a group of boys chasing and attacking him much like a pack of wild dogs.  Apparently driven crazy, he hangs himself.  This is inaccurate and demeaning to the Judas of scripture, who hung himself in remorse after repenting of his betrayal of Jesus.

     

     - Simon of Cyrene is recruited, unwillingly, to carry Jesus' cross.  Then, on the Via Dolorosa, the movie has Simon taking a courageous stand when he refuses to carry the cross any further unless the Roman soldiers quit beating Jesus.  There is nothing whatsoever in scripture from which to create this illogical extrapolation.

     

    4.Nitpicking:

     

     -- The scourging of Jesus took place after  Pilate released Barabbas, not before as in the movie.

     

     -- Pilate's wife sent word to Pilate about Jesus while Pilate was sitting in judgment, not in a private conversation well before the judgment began as in the movie.

     

     -- Scripture tells of Jesus being offered sour wine from hyssop to drink whereas the movie has him being offered water from a sponge.

     

     -- The Gospels say the veil  of the temple was split but not the temple itself being split down the middle as in the movie.

     

     -- Darkness covered the land for three hours immediately before Jesus died, according to scripture. A passing thunderstorm does not properly depict this miracle of God.

     

     --"Truly this was the Son of God" says the centurion of scripture.  The movie centurion remains silent.

     

     --The movie has a crow attacking the "bad" thief on the cross, pecking out his eyes.

     

     -- Scripture tells of the crowds at the crucifixion beating their breasts in anguish over His death

     

     -- The Gospels tell us that Jesus wore a seamless tunic woven in one piece.  The soldiers cast lots for this garment rather than tear it (which fulfills prophecy on this detail).  The movie shows it being torn and ripped off Jesus as he is being mounted on the cross,

     

     -- Theological historians and Greek scholars tell us that the crucifixion nails were driven into the wrists instead of the palms so the bones of the wrist could hold the weight of the body rather than rip through the soft tissue of the palm; and that the wrists would be included in the Greek word for "hand".  The movie drives the nails through the palm.

     

    5.Critiquing the Critics:

     

     -- Assuming the pope has, in fact, read the Gospels, one can only assume that his reported statement, "That's the way it was", is a result of advanced age and memory loss, or that he has had an infallible subsequent revelation from God as to the events depicted in the movie.  In large measure, scripture does not substantiate his view.  It does, however, advocate the Catholic view of Mary, and that the physical suffering of Jesus is the focal point rather than the anguished separation of Father and Son so that the Son could die for our sins.

     

     -- Newt Gingrich may be correct about the impact of the film.  The audience I observed, after this movie had already been out a week or so, was clearly moved by what they saw and was almost reverently silent throughout the movie.

     

     -- Bill O'Reilly needs to re-read the Gospels again this weekend, with his glasses on.

     

    6.  Mel Gibson should be praised for taking the financial risk and the flak from his peers and the media to bring us this movie.  On balance, it helps more than it hurts, primarily because it opens a national dialogue on this critical subject.  Predictably, Gibson was true to his Catholic roots and view of scripture; however, it is regrettable that he did not find the Bible's portrayal of a riveting story in the details, because it is certainly there.

     

    ~~A. Reid Jones

     

    To comment on the article, e-mail the author at Christian-Family:

    dan@christian-family.net


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    THE BIBLE IS GENUINE AND AUTHORITATIVE

    by Dan Flournoy


    Is the Bible reliable? Can we rely on its statement of fact? Must we bow to its claims of authority? What evidence is there to demonstrate that the Bible is genuine? That is, how can we be sure that men like Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Peter and Paul actually wrote the books ascribed to them?

    Briefly, let us observe that the Scriptures were authoritative from the time of writing. As Moses wrote the Pentateuch, the Israelites accepted his writing as being from God. They observed the numerous signs which demonstrated that God was with him. Even the magicians of Egypt said, "This is the finger of God." (Exodus 8:19). Thus, as each Old Testament book was written, is was accepted, copied, preserved and placed in the collection of books that eventually became the 39 books of the Hebrew Bible.

    Likewise, the apostles and prophets of the New Testament wrote and confirmed their word by signs and wonders (Hebrews 2:4; Mark 16:17). Paul said "truly the signs of an apostle were worked among you" ( 2 Corinthians 12:12). Early Christians kept, copied, collected and preserved the New Testament document with such care that we can say that the New Testament is the best attested document in all of ancient literature!

    There are about 1,000 Hebrew manuscripts (copies) of the Old Testament in existence. Over 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament are available today. In addition to these, there are thousands of early translations of the Bible. For example, the New Testament was translated into Syriac, Egyptian, and Latin between the end of the first century and end of the fourth century AD. Furthermore, early Christians often quoted from the New Testament letters as they wrote to one another. By taking the quotations of New Testament books in the writings of Christians up through about 325 AD, scholars have been able to reproduce the entire New Testament with the exception of fewer than a dozen verses.

    In comparing the documents which support the genuineness of the Bible with those that support other ancient literary works, one can be certain of the Bible's authenticity. F.F. Bruce, professor of biblical criticism and exegesis in the University of Manchester, has said:

    "The evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning. And if the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt." (The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, p. 15).

    We stand amazed at the abundance of evidence for the genuineness and authenticity of the Bible. God in His providence has preserved the sacred text. We need have no doubt as to its reliability. The Bible indeed is from God, its authority is unquestionable and its statements are infallible. Therefore, we must obey its commands and may derive hope from its promises.
    --Dan Flournoy


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    COUNSEL OF THE UNGODLY

    By Dan Flournoy

    The word "counsel" has to do with giving and taking advice. Scripture warns against evil counsel and encourages our taking good advice. The Psalmist said "Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of ungodly" (Psalm 1:1). The counsel of the ungodly is simply the advise of the wicked.

    The world is filled with advisors, yet much of the advice they give is worthless because it comes from atheistic, ungodly presuppositions.

    The Scriptures are filled with examples of wicked counsel and its destructive results.

    1. The counsel of Baalam (Num. 31:16) resulted in a deadly plague upon Israel.

    2. The counsel of the young men to Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:10-11) resulted in the division of the nation.

    3. The counsel of Athaliah to her son Ahaziah, king of Judah (2 Chron. 22:3) resulted in his short, one year reign and ultimately his death (2 Chron. 22:7).

    4. The counsel of Job's wife to "curse God and die" (Job 2:9-10) resulted in a stern rebuke from Job. Fortunately, this advice was not headed and Job was richly blessed (Job 42:12). 5. The counsel of companions (Prov. 1:10-19) will lead to death, both physically and eternally.

    Beware of the counsel of the ungodly. Those who have no regard for the Word of God will have no regard for that which is good and pure and holy. The counsel of the wicked can be found almost anywhere: on TV, in the movies, with godless teachers, so called scholars, politicians and even some of our friends. Let us be careful regarding those from whom we accept counsel. The child of God must consider the character of those who seek to give us advice.

    The counsel of God's Word is to be desired above all. Paul said, "But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them" (2 Tim. 3:14). Thus, the appeal was not only to the things learned, but to the source of the information. Paul goes on the remind Timothy of the Scriptures, which he had learned form his youth (2 Tim. 3:15).

    When Christians have serious problems they need to seek the advice of a godly elder, minister or Christian friend. In other words, seek advice from those who know God's word. We would do well to remember that Jesus is the "wonderful counselor" (Isa. 9:6). He invites all to come and "learn of me" (Matt. 11:29).
    --Dan Flournoy


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    THE BIBLE HEART

    By Dan Flournoy

    In the Bible the word "heart" does not always refer to the blood pump. Often it is used to refer to the "inner man". The apostle Peter taught women that emphasis should be placed on the "hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit" rather than on outward beauty (1 Pet. 3:4). Just what is this "inner person of the heart?" Please consider that the Bible heart is composed of four elements:

    1. The intellect. With the Bible heart one thinks (Prov. 23:7), understands (Matt. 13:15 and believes (Rom. 10:10).

    2. The emotions. With the Bible heart one desires (Rom. 10:1), Loves (Matt. 22:37) and trusts (Prov. 3:5).

    3. The will or volition. With the Bible heart one makes decisions or purposes (Dan. 1:8), intends (Heb. 4:12) and obeys (Rom. 6:17).

    4. The conscience. The Bible heart either excuses our actions (1 Cor. 4:4-5) or condemns them (1 John 3:20).

    The heart is not always as it should be. It may be corrupt as the ancients of the anti-deluvian world: "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5). It is not always a good idea to follow ones feelings because the heart can be corrupted. Jeremiah warns, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" Therefore the Wise Man warns: "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (Prov. 4:23). Jesus said "For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, railings: these are the things which defile a man..." (Matt. 15:19).

    On the other hand, there are those exceptional people whose hearts are right with God. Of king Josiah it was said: "And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him: (2 Kings 24:25).

    David observed that the right attitude of heart begins with its being broken or crushed. He said, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God thou wilt not despise." The broken heart is symbolic of humility and penitence and synonymous with "a broken spirit." Thus Jesus said: "Blessed are the poor in spirit; fir theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:3).

    The greatest need is for the heart to be changed from a hard, stony and stubborn heart to a heart that is submissive to the will of God. The heart of rebellion must be changed to a heart of obedience. With the intellect one understands God's will. With the emotions one responds in love. With the will one decides to obey and having done so, the conscience is cleansed. Will you allow God's word to change your heart and life?
    --Dan Flournoy


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    THE MINISTRY OF KINDNESS

    By Dan Flournoy

    "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you" (Eph 4:32).

    Expressing kindness is such a little thing, yet it means so much. An anonymous writer has well said: "The ministry of kindness is a ministry which may be achieved by all men, rich and poor, learned and illiterate. Brilliance of mind and capacity for deep thinking have rendered great service to humanity, but by themselves they are impotent to dry a tear or mend a broken heart."

    Despite his busy schedule during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln often visited the hospitals to cheer the wounded. On one occasion he saw a young fellow who was near death. "Is there anything I can do for you?" asked the compassionate President. "Please write a letter to my mother," came the faint request. Unrecognized by the soldier, the Chief Executive sat down and wrote as the youth dictated: "My Dearest Mother, I was badly hurt while doing my duty, and I won't recover. Don't sorrow too much for me. May God bless you and father. Kiss Mary and John for me." The young man was too weak to go on, so Lincoln signed the letter for him and then added this postscript: "Written for your son by Abraham Lincoln." Asking to see the note, the soldier was astonished to discover who had shown him such kindness. "Are you really our President?" he asked. "Yes," was the quiet answer. "And now, is there anything else I can do?" The lad feebly replied, "Will you please hold my hand? I think it would help to see me through to the end." The tall, gaunt man granted his request, offering warm words of encouragement until death stole in with the dawn.

    If only we could remember that everyone is carrying some kind of burden that kindness could help them bear. How many hearts are aching for a little smile, a little word of encouragement or sympathy. Another anonymous writer penned these words: "Do a deed of simple kindness, Though its end you may not see; It will reach like widening ripples, Down a long eternity!"

    Brotherly kindness is one of the "Christian graces" one needs to add to his life in order to make one fruitful in the Lord's service and thus be given an abundance entrance into that eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:5-10). May we learn the lesson of kindness and practice this Christ like quality in our daily lives.

    --Dan Flournoy

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    THE LORD'S SUPPER:

    OBSERVED EACH FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK AND ONLY ON THE FIRST DAY

    By Dan Flournoy

    Among religious groups, the churches of Christ are distinct in insisting that the Lord's Supper should be observed each Sunday. For those who reverence the pattern authority of Scripture, the issue is clear. The Scripture sets forth a clear and unmistakable pattern of authority for observing the Lord's Supper on, and only on, the first day of the week. May we consider some important points on this vital subject.

    1. Paul quotes Jesus' instruction: "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me" (1 Cor 11:25). While Jesus did not here state the day of its observance, a regular observance is clearly inferred in the phrase "as often."

    2. It should be noted that Jesus' resurrection was on the first day of the week (Mk. 16:2). Furthermore, on successive Sundays, Jesus appeared in the assembly of the disciples. First Jesus appeared to the apostles on the day he arose (John 20:19), Thomas being absent.; and again on the following Sunday (Thomas present) (John 20:26).

    3. Without dispute is the fact that the church of our Lord had its beginning on Sunday. The Day of Pentecost always began on the first day (Acts 2; Cf. Lev. 23:15). Thus, the first day of the week is significantly connected with the resurrection of Christ. Furthermore, the Jerusalem Christians were steadfast (i.e. regular) in their observance of the Lord's Supper (Acts 2:42).

    4. The example of New Testament Christians demonstrates a regular observance on the first day of the week. On three separate occasions, Paul, arriving at a place on Monday, waited seven days in order to observe the Lord's Supper in the assembly of the saints: at Troas (Acts 20:6), at Tyre (Acts 21:3-4) and at Puteoli (Acts 28:14). If it made no difference regarding the day, why wait?

    5. The writer of Hebrews bound upon Hebrew Christians the obligation of attending the assembly of the saints for worship (Heb. 10:24-25). It is necessarily inferred from this passage that the Hebrew Christians had an established custom of assembling for worship. The church at Corinth, likewise, had an established custom of meeting on the first day of the week as did the churches of Galatia (1 Cor. 16:1-2). The purpose of their coming together was to eat the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:33).

    Conclusion: The significance of the first day observance of the Lord's Supper is directly connected to the resurrection of the Lord and the establishment of the church. Both occurred on the first day of the week. The New Testament pattern is clear: saints met on the first day of each week to observe the Lord's Supper. Those who wish to be Biblical in practice will "hold the pattern of sound words..." (2 Tim. 1:13).

    --Dan Flournoy
    dan@christian-family.net

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    GOD AMID THE SHADOWS"
    By Dan Flournoy

    The phrase "the providence of God" is not found in the Bible but the concept certainly fills the Sacred Book. The word translated providence is from a Greek word meaning forethought, or to provide for (Vine, Vol. 3, p. 227).

    Divine Providence may be defined as a part of the nature of God which preserves, governs, and protects His creation. It is sometimes spoken of as God working "behind the scenes" to accomplish His will.

    There are two types of providence, general and special. First, in a general way, God exercises providence over His creation by upholding and sustaining it. "He makes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust" (Matt. 5:45). The Hebrew writer declared that "He upholds all things by the word of His power"(Heb. 1:3).

    God also exercises a special providence over His people. Peter affirmed that "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation..." (2 Peter 2:9). Jesus taught His disciples to pray: "And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" (Matt. 6:13). It is through the providence of God that "all things work together for good to them that love, God, to them who are called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28).

    Providentially, God supplies our needs: "And my God shall supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19; cf. 2 Cor. 9:10). Providentially God protects His people "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears are open unto their cry...the righteous cry...and the Lord delivereth them out of all their trouble." Providentially, God governs nations: "He makes nations great, and destroys them; He enlarges nations, and guides them" (Job 12:23; cf. Ps. 22:28; Dan. 5:21; Acts 17:26).

    There are times when things don't seem to be going right. When truth and justice seem to be trampled and crushed, rest assured that God is exercising His providence.

    James Russell Lowell as captured the essence of God's providence in his poem,
    "This Crisis:"

    Careless seems the Great Avenger, History's pages but record. One death grapple in the darkness- Twixt old systems and the Word Truth, forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne... But He who holds the future, Stands amid the shadows, Keeping watch above His own.

    "God amid the shadows keeping watch above His own" aptly describes the working of God "behind the scenes." Thus, we do not always "see" God working, but we know that He does. When it seems that evil is going to prevail in the world, rest assured that God "stands amid the shadows keeping watch above His own." May we never lose heart because things don't seem to be going right. Remember, God is still in charge and "all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28).
    --Dan Flournoy

    dan@christian-family.net


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    "I Don't Love Her Anymore"

    by Charles Billingsly

    A man who was a little over forty years of age, suffering from the classic "mid-life crisis," sat down to talk to a preacher about his problems. He explained how his marriage of twenty years was not longer satisfying or fulfilling. Finally, he reached the crux of the situation, the bottom line. "I just do not love her anymore," he said. "What can I do?"

    After a few moments of reflection, the preacher said decisively, "As I see it, you have only one option." The man perked up with anticipation. Was the preacher going to suggest a divorce? Would he be free to pursue the thrilling lifestyle of the younger generation that he had come to admire? Would this be his chance to regain his fleeting youth? What was the preacher's advice? The sagely advice of the preacher was, "Seems to me that the only thing left for you to do is repent and start loving her again."

    So often we hear of married couples who complain that they have "fallen out of love." That is so sad, but it happens. The real issue is: What do you do when you realize that such a situation exists? The world, with its unconcern for God's will, says, "Leave that marriage and get on with your life! That is just one of those things that we cannot help." The Bible, on the other hand, says the same thing that it has always said: "Husbands, love your wives" (Eph. 5:25), and wives are to "love their husbands" (Titus 2:4).

    It is essential that we note that these are not just suggestions. They are commands! To fail to love your mate is to commit sin! And sin always requires repentance, if there is to be forgiveness (Luke 13:3). Be careful, however, not to confuse the commanded "love" with shallow infatuation that soon fades or erotic love that exists conditionally. The love that God commands husbands and wives to have for each other is a sacrificial love of choice and intention that seeks the interest of the one loved more than self. It is the kind of love Jesus has shown to us (Eph. 5:2). Such love "…is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud or rude … isn't selfish or quick-tempered … doesn't keep a record of wrongs that others do … rejoices in the truth, but not in evil … is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting … never fails!" (I Cor. 13:4-7). Being "in love" with one another will continue to exist as long as married couples give to one another the love that God commands.

    --Charles Billingsley,
    Las Vegas Trail Church of Christ, Ft. Worth, Texas


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    FORGIVENESS -- WITHOUT REPENTANCE?

    By Guy N. Woods

    Children of God should love all men, even their enemies, and when they repent, forgive them. Occasionally, I am asked if it is our duty to forgive those who sin against us when they neither ask for nor desire forgiveness. It is not only not our duty to do so, were we so disposed, but it is an utter impossibility.

    The question recurs because many people persist in disregarding what the Scriptures teach is involved in genuine repentance and by substituting their concept of what they feel forgiveness should include. Those who do this imply, whether they intend to or not, that forgiveness is simply the cancellation of all bitter, revengeful, and uncharitable feelings toward those who sin against us, and the substitution of a disposition of kindness, love, and warm regard for the offending one or ones -- a disposition, they urge, which should always be characteristic of faithful Christians.

    But many devoted and dedicated disciples of the Lord never experience bitter, revengeful, and uncharitable feelings toward those who sin against them, however cruel and heartless such actions may have been. This attitude of a kind disposition is not forgiveness, anyway. God never entertains "bitter, revengeful, and uncharitable" feelings toward even the most vile of sinners, but He forgives only those who repent.

    Our Lord, in the shadows of Gethsemane, prayed for those who hated him so much they sought and obtained His execution, but He did not forgive them until they repented. Amid the agonies of the cross, He said to His Father. "Forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Lk. 23:34) a petition not unconditional in nature, since by His own words first uttered in the Great Commission (Mk. 16:15-16) and later applied by Peter it was intent that pardon be bestowed only on the basis of repentance and obedience to the commandments He gave (Acts 2:36-38).

    The words "remission" and "forgiveness" often translate to the same Greek word aphesis, the meaning of which is "release," the "sending of sins away" and the consequent restoration of the peaceful, cordial, and friendly relationship formerly existing. Unless the offender wants this "peaceful, cordial, friendly" relationship, it is impossible for the offended to affect it, however much he may desire and seek it.

    It is at this point people often say, "Yes, but we must be ready to forgive always," as indeed we ought, but it should be recognized that such readiness is not forgiveness. Our Lord made crystal clear our obligation in all such cases when He said, "Take heed to yourselves; If thy brother trespass, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he sin against thee seven times...turn again to thee saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him" (Lk. 17:3,4). Thus, the divine edict is, if one sins against us, we are to rebuke him; and when he repents, we are to forgive him.

    It is the duty of all children of God to love all men, even their enemies, actively to seek their good, and pray for their well-being; and, when they repent, to forgive them. It should ever be borne in mind that reconciliation is an integral and essential element of the relationship resulting from penitence on the part of the offender and forgiveness on the offended, and that is occasioned by an adjustment and settlement of all differences that led to the alienation. We must be sure that no action or attitude of ours deters the proper response of others to us because our fellowship here on Earth and our salvation in Heaven hereafter are matters intimately involved.

    --Guy N. Woods

    --via, The Sunset Church of Christ, REMINDER,

    Shreveport, LA, Darwin Hunter, editor


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    LEGAL LUNACY
    by Frank Chesser

    Too bad human babies don't hatch! Maybe then they would enjoy some legal protection! A panel of judges in Florida upheld a $108,800 fine against a man who poached 1088 turtle eggs from a state park. The public defender argued that an egg isn't a turtle until it hatches; but the prosecutor affirmed that 80-00% of marine turtle eggs are fertile, and therefore, each egg must be considered a unit of marine life. The judges agreed with the prosecutor!
    The pro-abortion establishment claims that a "fetus" is not a human "person" until birth has occurred. Several years ago the highest court in the nation agreed, and declared any and all laws protecting the unborn (humans, that is) to be "unconstitutional."

    Isn't it more than ironic that laws protecting unhatched marine turtles are perfectly alright, but laws protecting unborn human beings are unconstitutional? An unhatched turtle is a "unit of marine life," but an unborn human is just so much "tissue." Swipe a thousand turtle eggs and we'll fine you $100 each (not to mention sending you to jail for 60 days); kill a thousand unborn human children and we will reward you for your "work" with tax money and laud you as a champion of "reproductive freedom"!

    How utterly absurd!

    --Frank Chesser,

    via Mabelvale Church of Christ Bulletin, Mabelvale, Arkansas,
    Dennis Gulledge, editor

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    What Liberals Have Done To The Bible
    by Dan Flournoy

    The 36th chapter of Jeremiah records the tragic account of a king's vain attempt to destroy the word of God. In the opening section of the chapter, Jeremiah, God's prophet, is commanded to write down in one volume all the predictions he had uttered against Israel, Judah, and all the surrounding nations, from the beginning of his prophetic ministry.

    When this is accomplished, the words of Jeremiah are then read to all the people during a general fast. When king Jehoiakim hears of this, he sends for the scroll of Jeremiah and commands that it be read to him. The king was so displeased with the word of God written by Jeremiah that he cut the roll with a penknife and cast it into the fire. This, however, did not destroy God's word. In the last portion of the chapter, Jehoiakim is punished by God and removed from the throne. Jeremiah is commanded to write another volume to replace the one destroyed by the king.

    Today, there are those, who like the wicked king, are displeased with certain things they read in God's book. Therefore, they try to "cut out" certain sections of the Bible by calling them myths or legends. They claim that some sections of the Bible have a "cultural bias," and therefore not binding today. Many so-called preachers have been influenced by critics of the Bible who have tried to up-date and modernize the Bible by utilizing a new method of interpretation known as "the new hermeneutic."

    One such preacher had been with a congregation for a few years when he was called to the bedside of one of the members who was very sick. "Perhaps you would like me to read and pray with you?" asked the preacher. "Yes," replied the man as he took his Bible and handed it to the minister. When he opened it, he was shocked at what he saw. Many of the pages were torn away, whole chapters were missing, and a number of verses were cut out. The preacher asked reluctantly, "Haven't got a better Bible than this?" The man replied, "When you came to our church, I believed the entire Book. But as soon as you told us that certain sections were not true, I removed them. When you said that some stories were probably fiction and referred to them as fables, I tore them out. When you preached that certain passages with cultural bias don't apply today, I snipped them out of my Bible. I think if I had another year under your teaching, I would have nothing but two covers left!"

    Such is the effect of the liberal approach to the Bible! The critics have so mutilated the Word of God with their "liberal penknife," that there is hardly anything left. They have cut out the miracles of the Bible and denied the pre-existence, Virgin Birth and Resurrection of Jesus. The account of creation is said to be of human origin and there never was such a thing as the world-wide flood as recorded in Genesis. God's laws prohibiting homosexuality is relegated to cultural bias and therefore not applicable in this enlightened age. Passages that restrict the roll of women in the public assembly and in leadership positions in the church are likewise rejected. When the liberal critics are through, there is really nothing left of the Bible but the two covers!

    These efforts to destroy the Word of God by Jehoiakim's modern counterparts will be no more successful than in the long ago. Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matt. 24:35). On the last day of history, all will be judged by all the Word of God, not by the watered-down version of the liberals (John 12:48). Those who attempt to silence the message of God only bring His displeasure and condemnation upon themselves.

    Friends, the good people of Thessalonica, received the gospel "not as the word of men but as it is in truth, the Word of God" (1 Thess. 2:13). Let us recognize that the Bible is the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). Let us accept its claims, believe its facts, obey its commands and enjoy its promises!

    --Dan Flournoy

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    The Church of Christ

    We are NOT a denomination. The term "denomination" refers to a division of a greater whole. The Bible explicitly condemns division (John 17:20-21; 1 Cor. 1:10-13, 3:1-4, 17).

    Most denominations today came into existence out of protest against the apostasy of the Roman Catholicism or each other.

    Churches of Christ are simply a modern restoration of the church as found in the New Testament. The Law of Biogenesis teaches that not only does life come from life, but that kind produces kind. When you plant the pure seed (of the kingdom...the Word of God - Luke 8:11), you get a pure harvest...New Testament Christianity.

    * We are UN-denominational in that we go to the New Testament as our sole authority in all matters of faith and practice.

    * We are NON-denominational in that we are independently organized with no attachment to some man-made structure larger than the local church.

    * We are ANTI-denominational in that we are opposed to that which is in competition with what the Lord established. We are also opposed to that which confuses unbelievers and that which gives people a false sense of security in salvation.

    --Johnny D. Hinton (8-17-03)

    Bulletin of the Wewoka Church of Christ Volume 24 ~ Number 3


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    WHO CARES?

    Have you ever felt as though no one love you...no one cared about you? David must have been in the depths of despair when he wrote: "No one cares for my soul" (Psalms 142:4). While earthly friends may sometimes fail to care as they should, we can be sure that someone does care about us. "Who cares?," you ask. Notice carefully that:

    1. ANGELS CARE. The scriptures demonstrate that angelic beings are concerned with our welfare. Jesus said, "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents..." (Luke 15:10). From 1 Peter 1:12 observe that angels are concerned with the salvation of mankind. Angels care!

    2. JESUS CARES. A well-known hymn asks, "Does Jesus care?" The refrain answers, "O yes, He cares; I know He cares..." Jesus, the loving shepherd, laid down his life because he cared for his sheep (John 10:13,14). "Greater love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). Truly, Jesus is one who cares for us.

    3. OUR HEAVENLY FATHER CARES. The giving of His only begotten son shows the extent of God's great love (John 3:16). Indeed he is "the father of mercies and God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3). Paul said that "God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

    When you are depressed, lonely and feeling as though no one cares, do as David did, turn to God in prayer. He prayed saying: "I cried out to You, O Lord; I said, 'You are my refuge..." (Psalms 142:5). Remember that there are those who care!

    --Dan Flournoy

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    DAILY CHRISTIANITY

    Most folks have their special "Sunday clothes" that they wear to church. They also have their "everyday clothes" that they wear the rest of the week. Unfortunately, some folks also have a religion they wear only on Sundays. They take their "Christianity" off with their Sunday clothes and do not put it back on again until the next Sunday.

    There is an old saying that suggests: "Measure not men by their Sundays, without observing what they are all the week." A genuine Christian is one who lives his religion every day, not just on Sundays. True Christianity is an everyday affair. What does it involve?

    1. Daily Christianity involves daily prayer. Jesus taught his disciples to pray "give us this day our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11). The godly Daniel not only prayed daily, but it was his habit to pray three times each day (Dan. 6:10). Perhaps he followed the example of king David who said "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice" (Psa. 55:17).

    2. Daily Christianity involves daily Bible study. The noble Bereans set a powerful precedent for "they searched the Scriptures daily..." (Acts 17:11). Our daily speaking to God in prayer is important. However, it is just as important that we allow God to speak to us through the daily study of His word. It is through a daily study of the Word that one is able to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).

    3. Daily Christianity involves daily service. Jesus set the example of daily service: "even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). Our Lord left the glories of heaven and took "the form of a servant" (Phil. 2:7). There are those around us who have daily needs: those in the hospital, shut-in at home or in the nursing home. The elderly need someone to take them shopping or to the doctor. True Christianity is not a matter of mere profession but of daily service. The apostle admonishes us saying "My little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth" (1 John 3:18).

    4. Daily Christianity involves daily evangelism. The Jerusalem church grew because "every day, in the temple and at home, they ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus as the Christ" (Acts 5:42). There are many ways to teach the gospel. As we go about the business of life, we have opportunities to speak to others about the Lord and His church. We all have friends, neighbors and relatives that we can teach. Invite them to church, hand them a tract or invite them to study the Bible in your home. Paul set a noble example when he said "I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears" (Acts 20:31).

    What kind of religion do you have? Is it so flimsy that it cannot stand daily wear and tear? Christianity is not just a one-day a week religion. While worship on the Lord's Day is important, that should not be the end of our service to God. May we strive for an everyday religion rather than a "Sunday go to meetin'" religion.

    --Dan Flournoy


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    THANKSGIVING TRADITION

    THANKSGIVING TRADITION

     

    Thanksgiving has long been an American tradition. We trace its history back to 1621 when governor William Bradford established a day of thanksgiving among the early settlers of the new world. In the early days of our great nation George Washington proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. In his proclamation, Washington reminded the citizens of the Divine care and protection they had enjoyed before and during the Revolutionary War.

     

    Later, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln made a similar proclamation that read in part:

     

    It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

     

     

    Our forefathers enjoyed Thanksgiving as a time to re-count God's bountiful blessings. It was a time for families to be together. It was a time to rejoice and enjoy the simple things of life.

     

    With the increase of affluence, many have become so self-sufficient that they have lost the grace of gratitude. Thanksgiving Day, for some, has degenerated into a day of feasting and football. It is merely an excuse to overindulge. Like ancient Israel, some take life's blessings for granted and forget to acknowledge the blessed Giver. God warned Israel about growing wealthy and forgetting that it was God "that giveth thee power to get wealth" (see Deut. 8:11-20).

     

    May we enjoy Thanksgiving Day with our loved ones. Let us pause to acknowledge our great God and give thanks for his blessings. Furthermore, may we remember to be thankful every day. In the words of Inspiration: "Giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father" (Ephesians 5:20).

     

    --Dan Flournoy

     


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    FELLOWSHIP HAS LIMITATIONS

     

    The word “fellowship” in our English translations of the Bible is from the Greek word that means “partnership", "joint participation" or "sharing.”  It is sometimes translated “communion” (1 Corinthians 10:16), and “contribution” (Romans 15:26; 2 Corinthians 8:4).

     

    To have fellowship, there must be two or more parties (Amos 3:3).  Christian fellowship involves Christians who have fellowship with one another, and God.  Whenever one establishes fellowship with God, he also establishes fellowship with others who are in fellowship with God.  Likewise, when fellowship with God is broken, fellowship with those who are in fellowship with God is broken.  It is one’s fellowship with God that determines the limits of fellowship with brothers in Christ.

     

    Fellowship with God is limited to those who have been “born” into the family of God (John 3:3-5).  Regardless of how sincere and pious one might be, he is not a son of God unless he is baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26,27).  One who has not been baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) is still outside the family of God and therefore not be in Christian fellowship.

     

    Christian fellowship is also limited whenever a brother in Christ is no longer in fellowship with God.  Not all of God’s children are in fellowship with God.  Some children have been disinherited.  When a brother turns from walking in the light to walk in darkness again, he looses his common union with Him who is in the light (1 John 1:7). Likewise, he looses his fellowship with his brothers who are walking in the light.

     

    God’s word is clear that fellowship cannot be extended to certain ones, even though at one time they were considered brothers in Christ.  These include the following:

     

    1.      False teachers who destroy the faith of others and lead them into error cannot be tolerated in the fellowship (2 John 9-11; 2 Timothy 2:17).

     

    2.      The immoral must be excluded from the fellowship (1 Corinthians 5:9).

     

    3.      Those who cause division in the church must be marked and, if necessary, excluded from the fellowship (Romans 16:17; Titus 3:10).

     

    4.      Those who willfully leave the fellowship, like the prodigal son, cannot expect to enjoy the benefits of fellowship unless they repent and return.  Such a one may be a child of God, but he will be lost in the “far country” unless he is restored to the fellowship.

     

    May we never take our fellowship for granted.  It should always be a precious and priceless possession.  The words of the beautiful song by John Fawcett should inspire us to maintain the beautiful bonds of fellowship in Christ:

     

    Blest be the tie that binds Our hearts in Christian love;

    The fellowship of kindred minds Is like to that above.

     

    --Dan Flournoy


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    CHRISTMAS CUSTOMS: RIGHT OR WRONG?

     

    There are many customs that prevail during the holiday season.  These include decorating a tree, sending greeting cards and exchanging gifts.  Are these customs right or wrong?  Some have concluded that Christians cannot observe these customs in any way.  Some carry their opposition so far as to make themselves obnoxious by insisting others must adopt their attitude.  Others observe the traditions of the season without attaching any religious significance to them.  Still others go all out to put “Christ in Christmas” and observe Christmas as a religious “holy day” that celebrates the birth of the Savior.  What does the Bible say about practicing these various customs?

     

    The Bible teaches that some things are always wrong.  It is always wrong to lie, murder, steal and commit fornication.  These violate God’s moral law (Revelation 21:8; Galatians 5:19-21).  To commit such acts constitutes immorality. On the other hand, there are some things commanded of God.  These we must observe if we would please the Lord (John 14:15; 1 Corinthians 4:6; Colossians 3:17). 

     

    There are some things that are morally right but when practiced as religious acts are wrong.  Washing someone’s feet was a custom in Bible times.  Jesus used the act of washing the disciple’s feet to demonstrate the nature of servant hood (John 13:1-20).   To make this custom an act of worship on the Lord’s Day is to take that which is morally right and make it religiously wrong.

     

    Circumcision was a religious rite instituted by God as a sign of His covenant with Abraham (Exodus 17:9-15).  After the inauguration of the New Covenant, circumcision was no longer a religious obligation (Galatians 5:6).  However, it was practiced by Christians as a custom.  Paul had Timothy (whose father was a Gentile) circumcised in order to help in teaching the Jews in that region (Acts 16:2).  Yet Paul refused to allow Titus (a Greek) to be circumcised.  Why the difference?  The difference is that some Jewish Christians were insisting that Titus be circumcised as a religious act.   To make this morally right custom a religious act would make it wrong as a religious act because it is not authorized under the New Covenant.  When parents have their boy babies circumcised as a matter of health, they do not sin.  For them to do so as a religious act would be wrong.

     

    Now, apply this principle to traditional holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc.  Many customs associated with these holidays are not wrong in themselves.  Decorating a tree, giving gifts, sending cards, etc., are customs that are morally right.  However, to practice these customs as being a matter of Christianity is to make them wrong.  These are not authorized by God in His word. 

     

    Christians must examine their own motives for the customs they practice.  Do you dress up for Halloween in order to celebrate some religious “holy day” or just to have fun?  Do you decorate a tree as a religious act or as matter of custom?  Do you hide eggs for the kids as a game or as a religious ritual?  Remember, some things may be morally right but religiously wrong.

     

    May the Lord help us to weigh our customs in light of His Word.  May we enjoy the customs of the season.  However, let us be careful not to observe Christmas as a religious “holy day.”  To do so puts us in the same category as those religious groups that worship God in vain (Matthew 15:9).

    ~~Dan Flournoy


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    WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT EASTER?

     

    The word Easter appears but once in the King James Version of the New Testament regarding the arrest of Peter by King Herod (Acts 12:4).  The venerable Methodist scholar Adam Clarke made this comment:  “Perhaps there never was a more unhappy, not to say, absurd, translation…(Clarke’s Commentary, Vol. V, p. 774).  The Greek word pascha is rightly translated “Passover” in all revisions of the KJV (ASV, NKJV, etc.) in all 29 places where it is found, including Acts 12:4.

     

    Bible scholars agree that the word “Easter” is not of the New Testament origin.  Many say the derivation of the word is from the name of a Teutonic goddess of spring, Eastre, and was adapted to its present usage about the 8th century after Christ.  (See Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. I., p. 486).

     

    From the text of Acts 12:4, it is clear that King Herod planned to kill the apostle Peter after the Jewish Passover feast.  This reference could in no way authorize the observance of a special religious “holy day called Easter.

     

    The observance of religious “holy days” such as Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Ash Wednesday and Easter cannot be found in the Word of God.  These are all innovations adapted from various pagan cultures and woven into the fabric of so-called “Christianity” by converts from heathen religions.

     

    Those who desire to follow the New Testament as their only authority do not observe such so-called “holy days.”  Following the New Testament pattern, Christians meet on the first day of the week to eat the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-34).  Sunday, the first day of the week is the day of worship and has significance for the Christian because on the first day of the week:

     

    1. Jesus was resurrected – Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1.
    2. Jesus appeared to his disciples – John 20:19,26.
    3. The church was established – Acts 2:1ff; Cf. Lev. 23:15.
    4. Christians held their common assembly – 1 Cor. 16:1-2; Acts 20:7.

     

    Today, Christians worship on the first day of the week (Sunday) because this is authorized in Scripture.  Paul said, “Whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name (authority, DF) of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17).  Men have no scriptural authority to add unauthorized “holy days” (1 Cor. 4:6).  May we therefore “hold the pattern of sound words” and “learn not to go beyond the things which are written” (2 Tim. 1:13; 1 Cor. 4:6).

    --Dan Flournoy

    4/9/01


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    Congregational Autonomy -- Not a Shield for Error


    By Wayne Jackson

    The Scriptures teach that each congregation of the Lord's body is under self-rule, but with limitations. Sadly, some do not recognize these limitations and jeopardize their fidelity to sound doctrine.

    In the first century, when churches operated under the ultimate oversight of inspired apostles, congregations were independent. There was no superstructure by which they were tied together. There was neither pope, bishop, nor council to regulate the affairs of local groups. It was an abandonment of this pattern that eventually gave rise to the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic system with all of its tyrannical dominance.

    Autonomy Defined



    One aspect of New Testament church government is the concept known as "congregational autonomy." The term "autonomy" derives from two roots. "Auto" means self. The second syllable reflects an anglicized form of the Greek word, nomos, which denotes law or rule. The word thus suggests the idea of self-rule. Each local church, in some sense, is to be self-ruling. But in what sense is a congregation of the Lord's people granted the right of self-rule? Is it not the case that Jesus Christ has all authority over his people (Mt. 28:18)?

    There are two broad areas of activity in which a church may operate. There is that realm of the essentials, and there is a sphere of expedients. In areas of doctrine, the church is subject to the law of Christ. Contrary to the assertions of some, there is a system of divine law to which the church is obligated (cf. Rom. 8:2; 1 Cor.
    9:21; Gal. 6:2).

    On the other hand, in matters that have not been specified, human judgment must be exercised. It is obvious, therefore, that the principle of self-rule does not apply in cases where doctrinal truth is at stake. Church autonomy prevails only in matters of expediency.

    Autonomy and Expediency



    Let us make application of the principles set forth. As suggested above, expediency involves the necessity of making decisions in areas where the Bible has imposed an obligation, but where the method for implementing the obligation has not been regulated.

    For example, Christians have a responsibility to meet every Lord's day for the purpose of worshiping God (cf. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Heb.
    10:25). We are not told, however, at what time of the day to assemble, or whether the church should rent or purchase a facility for these meetings. These are matters for the leadership of the congregation to decide. No other church has the right to dictate policy in these areas.

    Suppose a congregation in a certain community sends a missionary to a foreign field. The elders of this church may invite another congregation to fellowship with them in the support of the preacher. They may invite, but not demand; demanding would be an infringement of congregational autonomy. On the other hand, if the neighboring church decides to assist the missionary, they are free to do so; they have not surrendered their autonomy. But what if a church is well-financed, and yet it persistently turns a deaf ear to every plea for help, due to its disposition of "we must care for our own needs"? Might not such a flagrant lack of concern for the church at large be worthy of censure?

    Autonomy and Law



    By way of contrast, there are matters of church {dictionaryLink("polity")} which are regulated by divine law. For instance, entrance into the body of Christ is granted only to a penitent believer, and that by means of immersion in water (Mk.
    16:16; Jn. 3:5; Acts 2:38; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 5:26). No church has the right to suspend this scriptural law and allow infant membership, or admission into congregational fellowship on the basis of the sprinkling of a few drops of "holy water."

    But what if a church alters the sacred plan of salvation and incorporates one or the other -- perhaps both -- of these practices? May they claim immunity from brotherhood rebuke on the ground of "congregational autonomy"?

    The only musical form of corporate worship authorized by the New Testament is that of congregational acapella singing (Eph.
    5:19; Col. 3:16). The use of mechanical instruments is an innovation, first conceived in the Roman Catholic movement, and later borrowed by most Protestant churches.

    What if a
    church of Christ decides to incorporate an instrument into its worship? Should it be free to do so? Do sister congregations have a right (indeed, an obligation) to publicly call attention to this digression, and to withhold their association from the "progressive" group? Of course they do. Would such be a violation of the liberal church's autonomy? Never!

    More and more, left-leaning churches are protesting when others highlight their digressions. They complain that criticism of their innovations is a breach of their autonomy. Is the complaint justified? It is not. Autonomy was never meant to be a shield for apostasy. Let us thus respect the principle of church autonomy -- but in the biblical way.


    © 1998 - 2004 by Christian Courier Publications.

    Date: Wednesday, January 7, 2004
    Author: Wayne Jackson
    URL: http://www.christiancourier.com/archives/autonomyNoShield.htm



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    IS HAND CLAPPING IN WORSHIP WRONG?

     

    Hand clapping while singing in worship has become popular in some churches across the Brotherhood.  Some have asked,  what is wrong with clapping hands while singing in worship?”  The proper question is, “what is right with the practice?”  May we go to the Bible for an answer to the problem.

     

    “Worship” is defined as “homage rendered to God and the ascended Christ...” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, p. 548).  Jesus said, “God is a spirit; and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).  God is the object of our worship and we must worship as He directs.  To worship according to our own desires is to worship in vain (Matthew 15:9).  How we worship must be determined by the authority of Scripture or it is vain.

     

    The New Testament authorizes singing as the type of music to be rendered in Christian worship. (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16)..   Anything else is a human addition and is condemned just as surely as were Nadab and Abihu who offered that “which He had not commanded them” (Leviticus 10:1).  There is no authority for humming, whistling, clicking, snapping the fingers or hand clapping in New Testament worship.

     

    The whole tenor of New Testament worship is one of beauty and solemnity.  We are to worship God in “reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 13:28).   Clapping the hands while singing is just another addition like instrumental music.  One may as well be beating on a tambourine or a drum!  It does not add to the beauty of worship or express reverence for the Almighty.

     

    In reality, there are several observations one might make regarding hand clapping in worship:

     

    1.      It is childish.  There comes a time when childish ways must be put away (1 Corinthians 13:11).  Shall we continue to sing the songs of our childhood with the hand motions and catchy tunes?

    2.      It is a false front.  Jesus condemns hypocritical and showy religion (Matthew 6:5; 23:5).  The Pharisee sought to be seen of men.  The hand clapping and swaying back and forth are not evidence of one’s spirituality but rather evidence of one’s effort to be seen and heard.

    3.      It is a symptom.  The whole idea of hand clapping is a symptom of the inordinate desire on the part of some “to be like those round about.” It is a symptom of the desire on the part of some to “change for the sake of change.”

    May we come before our God with true reverence and godly fear.  Let us render homage to Him in Scripturally proscribed ways.  May we learn “not to go beyond that which is written but rather “hold to the pattern of sound words” (1 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Timothy 1:13).

    --Dan Flournoy

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    MIRACLES TODAY?

     

    Abundant are the claims for modern day miracles.  One claims he has been given a “word” from God.  Another claims God uses him to heal the sick.  Another says the gibberish he babbles at a worship service is the miraculous gift of tongues spoken of in Scripture. 

     

    The purpose of miracles in both the Old and New Testaments was to confirm the truthfulness of the words spoken by the prophet of God.  Moses, for example, was able to convince the magicians of Egypt by the use of miracles (Ex. 7:10-12; 8:16-19), even though they could perform certain magic tricks themselves.  Philip was also able to confirm the words he spoke and convinced even Simon the sorcerer by the signs which he performed (Acts 8:6-13).

     

    Miraculous powers were received  (as far as the New Testament is concerned) either through Jesus himself, through the laying on of the apostles’ hands or through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus conferred certain spiritual gifts to the 12 and the 70 (Matt. 10; Luke 10) to aid them as they heralded the approach of his kingdom.  Only the apostles and the house of Cornelius received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-4;10:44-48; 11:4,15).  The baptism of the Holy Spirit was a promise to the apostles (acts 1:5) and was fulfilled on Pentecost (Acts 2).  It was administered by the Lord to the household of Cornelius as a sign to the Jewish Christians that Gentiles were subjects of the gospel (Acts 11:15-18).  This leaves only the laying on of the apostles’ hands as a means of imparting miraculous gifts.

     

    After Jesus’ ascension, only the apostles had the power to impart miraculous gifts to others.  This is evident by the fact that: (1) miraculous gifts were promised to believers (Mark 16:17ff); (2) but believers had to send for the apostles before receiving them (Acts 8:14ff): (3) believers saw that gifts were imparted by apostles (Acts 8:18ff); (4) Paul gave a gift to Timothy (2 Tim. 1:6 cf. 1 Tim. 4:14); (5) Paul wished to impart gifts to those at Rome (Rom. 1:11).  Since only the apostles had the power to impart spiritual gifts to others, it follows that when the last apostle died, the ability to impart spiritual gifts ceased.  When the last person with spiritual gifts died, miracles ceased.

     

    Furthermore, 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 teaches that miraculous gifts would cease with the coming of “that which is perfect.”  The miraculous gifts were “in part.”  That is, only part of the church had spiritual gifts and even then, the revelation of God’s word through them was only partial.  Thus, the apostle is looking forward from his point in time to a day when the partial would cease and the revelation of God’s word would be complete.  When the written New Testament was completed, toward the end of the first century, the various miraculous gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 ceased.  The New Testament now furnishes the Christian with everything essential for acceptable service to God (2 Pet. 1:3; 2 Tim. 3:16).

    --Dan Flournoy


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    ABORTION: AN ISSUE WE MUST FACE

     

    On March 6, 1857 the US Supreme Court in the “infamous” Scott vs. Sandford case (commonly called the Dred Scott decision), ruled that a slave was the “property” of his owner, not a citizen and therefore could not be protected by the laws of our nation.  Fortunately in 1866 the US Congress passed the 14th amendment which overturned the Dred Scott decision .  In essence Congress said the Supreme Court was wrong and guaranteed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all persons regardless of race or color.

     

    On January 22, 1973 the US Supreme Court, in the infamous Roe vs. Wade decision ruled that “only viable human beings who have the capability of meaningful life” may, but need not, be protected by the State.”  Furthermore, the Court ruled that the word “person” as used in the Fourteenth Amendment does not include the unborn.  Since the US Supreme Court was obviously wrong in the Dred Scott case, is it possible that the Court is wrong in the Roe V Wade case as well?

     

    The wording of the Court’s ruling raises several important questions.

     

    1.       If “viability” means the ability to survive outside the womb, how can this be an indicator of who should live and who should die?  A perfectly healthy newborn infant cannot survive outside the womb without the aid of its parents.  Is it not still considered murder to destroy such a child?  What about a two year old left without care?  Our laws still protect them don’t they?  How about a diabetic without insulin?  The “viability doctrine” carried to its logical conclusion is dangerous to say the least!

     

    1. Who is to decide what is meant by “capability of meaningful life?”  Suppose a child is born handicapped or mentally retarded?  Are such persons capable of meaningful life?  What about those injured in accidents who must spend the rest of their life confined to a wheelchair or hospital bed?  What of a stroke victim left unable to speak or feed himself?  Is there capability of meaningful life?  Who gets to decide?

     

    It is time we faced the ramifications of the Roe v. Wade decision.  It is not just the fact that millions helpless babies have been murdered since 1973.  It is not just the fact that a woman and her doctor are given the right to take an innocent life.  We must face the fact that behind the Roe v. Wade decision is the philosophy of the “utilitarian ethic” which is Godless to the core!  It is the idea that we must do “whatever brings the greatest good to the greatest number.”  Those who hold this view might say that all mentally handicapped people should be terminated for the greater good of society.  Likewise, all over a certain age should be terminated to make room for those who are younger.  Or, as in the case of Nazi Germany, all in a certain ethnic group should be eliminate for  the greater good. 

     

    Friends, every four years we have an opportunity to vote for a new president.  Listen carefully to those running for this high office.  Consider that the president has an opportunity to appoint judges to the US Supreme Court.  The vote you cast may determine the destiny of millions yet unborn.  Study, think, pray and act.

    --Dan Flournoy


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    POSTMODERNISM AND THE CHURCH

     

         Are you amazed that someone would question the definition of the word “is?”  How can someone say they believe baptism is essential to salvation and at the same time accept people who have not been baptized as though they were saved? How can one claim, on the one hand, that Jesus is the Saviour of the world, and on the other hand, say that one may be saved without ever hearing of Jesus and the gospel plan of salvation?  The answer to these questions is found in the word postmodernism.

         The “modern age” was the age of logic, reason and rational thought.  The “postmodern age” will have none of that.  It has outgrown such old foggyism.  This philosophy or world view is much like what we used to do as children playing and making things up as we go along.  Things can be simply what we want them to be.  Logic and reasoning are not required.  In fact, logic and reasoning must not be used or postmodernism will not work 

         Politically,  postmodernism attempts to redesign government to circumvent the guidelines of the constitution and the rule of law.  These are based on logic and reason and cannot be trusted according to postmodern thinking.  To postmodern politicians, truth is what they say it is.  Furthermore, what may be truth one day, may not be truth the next.  Words such as truth, family values, tolerance and forgiveness are simply redefined to mean what they want them to mean.  This may help to explain how politicians can speak of family values while committing adultery.  They can speak of the sanctity of human life while continuing to support partial birth abortion.  They can “repent” of immorality while remaining immoral. 

         Religiously, postmodernism attempts to redesign the church to circumvent the Bible.  It attempts to appeal to those who may not feel comfortable with a logical and well reasoned exposition of scripture.  Thus, they substitute “user-friendly,” “touchy-feely” sermons designed to make people feel good.  While making up the rules as they go along, they preach as if the Bible has nothing to say about worship, differing roles for men and women in the church, congregational organization or the terms of pardon.  This is why we hear of “unity in diversity.”  For the postmodernist, this is not a contradiction in terms.  In reality unity in diversity is simply the age old lie of unity in error!  I believe baptism is necessary and you believe it is not and we will both be right.  Pay no attention to the logical inconsistency and never mind what the Bible says (Acts 2:38).

         Postmodernism is a false philosophy which destroys.  It may spell the downfall of our freedom as a republic.  Time will tell.  As applied to religion, it will spell doom for those who embrace it, but it can never overcome the eternal kingdom of God’s dear son (Dan. 2:44; Matt. 16:18).  Postmodernism will destroy the faith of those who espouse it, but it will never destroy those whose faith is in the Word of God which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23).

     

    ~~Dan Flournoy

     


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    The Silence of the Scriptures

    by Wayne Jackson
    Christian Courier: Archives
    Wednesday, November 10, 1999

    One of the controversies that has raged in the world of “Christendom” for centuries is the matter of whether or not the “silence” of the Scriptures must be respected or ignored.

    One of the controversies that has raged in the world of “Christendom” for centuries is the matter of whether or not the “silence” of the Scriptures must be respected or ignored. Some allege that whatever is not expressly forbidden is allowed in religious practice; others contend that anything not authorized is not permitted.

    The dispute surfaced early in the post-apostolic age. Tertullian (c. A.D. 150-222) spoke of those who contended that “the thing which is not forbidden is freely permitted.” He replied: “I should rather say that what has not been freely allowed is forbidden” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995, Vol. III, p. 94).

    During the early Reformation period, Martin Luther (1483-1546) taught that “whatever is without the word of God is, by that very fact, against God.” He frequently appealed to Deuteronomy 4:2: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it.” But he gradually modified his view.

    Later Luther wrote: “Nothing ought to be set up without scriptural authority, or if it is set up, it ought to be esteemed free and not necessary” (emp. WJ). Finally, he declared: “What is not against Scripture is for Scripture, and Scripture for it” (A. H. Newman, A Manual of Church History Chicago: The American Baptist Publication Society, 1902, Vol. II, p. 308). How tragic it is that Luther’s course of doctrinal digression is now pursued by so many today.

    Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) of Switzerland felt that practices “not enjoined or taught in the New Testament should be unconditionally rejected” (Ibid. p. 308). Yet not even he grasped the full implication in this maxim, for he sanctioned infant baptism - which is neither enjoined nor taught in the New Testament. For a very helpful discussion of the Reformers’ struggle with the principle of “silence,” see: Jack P. Lewis, “Reformation Thought,” Gospel Advocate (January, 1996), pp. 18-19.

    In the final analysis, the issue actually is: Does the Bible itself sanction the principle that the “silence” of the Scriptures is prohibitive? That is what counts.

    It will be the contention of this article that both the Old and New Testament amply demonstrate that one is not allowed to engage in any religious practice for which there is not scriptural authority (either in a generic or specific format).

    Old Testament Evidence

    1.     The difference between Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam, was the difference between respecting what Jehovah had authorized, and what he had not. Cain offered the produce of the field; Abel offered the firstlings of his flock (Gen. 4:3-4).

    The latter act was “by faith” (Heb. 11:4) - which comes by hearing what the Lord has spoken (Rom. 10:17) - not what he has left unspoken! The former act was obviously of human inclination, and so Cain was rejected by the Creator. Not all “Cains” have passed from earth’s scenes!

    2.     Similarly, when Noah constructed the ark, he did so “by faith” (Heb. 11:7), which means the patriarch did “according to all that God commanded him” (Gen. 6:22), or, as the NIV renders the clause: “Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”

    Though the question is frequently ridiculed these days - when authority is held in contempt - it is still appropriate to ask: Would Noah have been preserved if he had acted upon the presumption that “whatever is not forbidden is allowed,” and so had altered the divine pattern for the building of the ark?

    3.     Nadab and Abihu were sons of Aaron, the first Hebrew high priest. When they employed “strange fire,” i.e., fire not taken from the altar of sacrifice (cf. Lev. 16:12), they were destroyed by God. What was their crime? The inspired text states that they offered “that which [God] had not commanded them” (Lev. 10:1), or, to express it in another way: “[T]hey offered unauthorized fire before the Lord” (NIV; emp. WJ).

    4.     One of the sacred items of the tabernacle system was the ark of the covenant. The Mosaic law specified: “Jehovah set aside the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant” (Deut. 10:8). The Levites were thus authorized to carry the ark. There was no specific prohibition regarding the other tribes; the law was simply silent as to their privilege of transporting the holy vessel.

    Was that silence prohibitive? Yes it was, for a parallel passage explicitly states: “None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites, for them Jehovah has chosen to carry the ark . . .” (I Chron. 15:2; emp. WJ). When the Levites were specifically authorized to bear the ark, in the absence of supplementary authority, that clearly implied that “none else” should function in that capacity. Silence excluded!

    Furthermore, the Levites were to bear that ark by poles, which were passed through rings on the side of the golden box (Ex. 25: 12-14). David, however, had borne the ark on a “new cart” (II Sam. 6:3). Was such a sin, inasmuch as the law was silent respecting the matter of carts? Israel’s great king clarified this matter when he later confessed: “. . . we sought [God] not according to the ordinance” (I Chron. 15:13), or, “in the prescribed way” (NIV).

    One is not at liberty to go beyond what has been “prescribed” in a religious practice, any more than a pharmacist is allowed to add more to your medicine than what the physician prescribed!

    5.     The very first commandment of the Decalogue stated: “I am Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:2-3). Of course the nation of Israel egregiously violated that prohibition across the centuries.

    There is an interesting commentary on this matter in the book of Jeremiah. God’s prophet was instructed to stand in the gate of the temple compound and urge the nation to: “Amend your ways” (Jer. 7:3). What was their transgression? Among other things:

    “[T]hey have built the high places [centers of idol worship] of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded not, neither came it into my mind” (Jer. 7:31; emp. WJ).

    A comparison of this passage, with the original law forbidding idolatry, plainly shows that a practice which the Lord has not commanded is equivalent to an explicit prohibition. The Bible is its own best commentary!

    New Testament Evidence

    The New Testament record is equally lucid with reference to our obligation to acknowledge the principle of biblical silence.

    1.     In his first letter to the Christians at Corinth, Paul addresses the problem of attaching oneself to a church leader and forming a sect around that individual. The apostle condemns the practice by the use of some rhetorical questions: “Is Christ divided?”, etc. (I Cor. 1:12-13).

    Later, he apparently alludes to the issue again when he says:

    “Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written . . .” (I Cor. 4:6 ASV).

    The reference to “myself” and “Apollos” is “a veiled allusion to those who were actually responsible for the church factions, tactfully withholding their names . . .” (W. E. Vine, 1st Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1951, p. 61). When one goes “beyond the things that are written,” he has entered the realm of silence. And the inspired apostle says that one must learn not to do that.

    2.     In Paul’s letter to the saints at Colossae, he condemned the practice of “will worship,” a disposition which is “after the precepts and doctrines of men” (Col. 2:22-23). W. E. Vine defines “will-worship” as “voluntarily adopted worship, whether unbidden or forbidden” (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words Westwood, NJ: Fleming Revell Co., 1962, Vol. IV, p. 236).

    We have no difficulty in understanding what it means to do that which is “forbidden.” But what does it mean to do that which is “unbidden” - if it is not doing that about which the Bible is silent?

    Noted lexicographer J. H. Thayer described “will-worship” as “worship which one devises and prescribes for himself . . .” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1958, p. 168).

    Everett Harrison commented that “will-worship” is that which “is not prescribed by God but only by (the will of) man” (Colossians: Christ All-Sufficient Chicago: Moody Press, 1971, p. 72).

    Here is the issue: If one may, with divine approval, operate in the realm of silence, why can’t he “devise and prescribe for himself” whatever pleases him? And yet, it is this very thing that is censured.

    3.     In the opening chapter of Hebrews, the inspired author argued for the superiority of Jesus Christ over the angels. One of his points was this: One may not place angels in the same class as God’s Son. Why not? Because the Father never “at any time” said to an angelic being: “You are my Son” (1:5).

    The principle is this: When God is silent about a matter, humanity has no right to be presumptive, and thus to speak (or to act) without his bidding.

    4.     One of the most powerful arguments setting forth the “silence” principle is found in Hebrews 7-8. In 8:4, it is affirmed that Jesus Christ, if on earth, could not function as a priest. And why was that the case? Because, as indicated in 7:14, the Lord Jesus was from the tribe of Judah (not Levi). Here is the crux of the matter. Concerning priests from the tribe of Judah, “Moses spake nothing,” or, to say the same thing in another way: He was silent about it!

    Silence amounts to no authority, and is thus prohibitive. One scholar expresses it in this fashion:

    “It was from the tribe of Judah that our great High Priest descended. The Mosaic legislation never authorized anyone from that tribe to be a priest” (William McDonald, The Epistle to the Hebrews Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1971, p. 102).

    Or note the comment of the renowned scholar John Owen, in his monumental seven-volume set of commentaries on the book of Hebrews:

    “And this silence of Moses in this matter the apostle takes to be a sufficient argument to prove that the legal priesthood did not belong, nor could be transferred, unto the tribe of Judah”(An Exposition on the Epistle to the Hebrews Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, Vol. V, p. 442).

    Could a matter be clearer? This argument has never been answered by those who ridicule the “silence-is-prohibitive” concept.

    5.     An inspired apostle wrote:

    “Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son” (II John 9).

    There is an objective body of truth designated “the teaching of Christ.” To step beyond it - either into that which is specifically forbidden, or into the unauthorized realm of “silence” - is to transgress the will of God.

    There has been considerable technical discussion over the grammar of this passage. Some have contended that the verse addresses only the nature of Jesus, but not peripheral matters of doctrine. The fact is, one of the most ludicrous positions that one can entertain is to allege that one must accept the New Testament teaching about Christ, but he may, with impunity, ignore the instruction that is from the Lord!

    The “silence” principle is quite valid, and a repudiation of it leads to abject apostasy.

    The Consequences of Rejecting the “Silence” Principle

    We must at least give brief attention to the logical consequences that attach to rejecting the “silence” concept. Once one abandons this principle, “anything goes” becomes the name of the game. One of the leading digressive voices of today argued this very point:

    “If it were the case that anything not expressly forbidden in the New Testament is permissible in the Christian religion, then we could not only use pianos to accompany our singing but beads to aid our prayers, crucifixes to focus our devotion, and hashish to enhance our sensitivity. We could also initiate an organizational network similar to that which has been protested so strongly in Catholicism or begin financing church projects with bingo games (where legal) on Tuesday evenings. Not one of these things is explicitly forbidden in the New Testament, and no one who denies the legitimacy of the authority principle as outlined above can consistently argue against any of them” (Rubel Shelly, Sing His Praise! A Case For A Capella Music as Worship Today Nashville, 20th Century Christian, 1987, pp. 33-34).

    A Recent Twist

    We conclude this study by citing a recent “twist” to the “silence” controversy that, quite frankly, we have yet to decipher. In April of 1988, Alan E. Highers and Given O. Blakely (of the Independent Christian Church) debated the instrumental music issue in Neosho, Missouri. In that encounter, Blakely broke new ground in that he contended that “authority” is wholly irrelevant to the issue of worship. Our friend utterly rejects the “silence” principle. Amazingly, though, in the July, 1996 issue of Banner of Truth, the gentleman wrote these words:

    “God’s silence is not a governing factor in matters pertaining to life and godliness. The whole idea of “silence,” as those of the anti-instrumentalist position have used the term, requires the interpretation of fallible men. If God did not say it, then how can we be sure that men have said what He meant, but did not say? How dare mortal men to take upon themselves to thus unauthorizedly speak for God?” (emp. WJ).

    If I understand the point being made, it is this: It is not legitimate to use the “silence” argument because God has been silent regarding the “silence” argument, and if God is silent with reference to the “silence” argument, then the “silence” argument is unauthorized, hence is improper as an argumentative device.

    There are two things that may be said in response. First, as we have demonstrated already, God has not been silent regarding the “silence” principle.

    Second, in view of Blakely’s reasoning - if God has not said it, it is unauthorized - why is it not the case that the employment of instrumental music in Christian worship is improper, inasmuch as the New Testament is silent concerning its use, and thus it is unauthorized?

    Conclusion

    There is but one hope of maintaining the purity of Christianity, as that system existed under the leadership of inspired apostles. We must plead that men remain within the guidelines of New Testament authority. That can be done only when the principle of the “silence” of the Scriptures is revered


    For more excellent articles by Wayne Jackson visit

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    Email:dan@christian-family.net

     


    OLD TIME RELIGION  VS.  SHOW-TIME RELIGION

     

    The extent to which some brethren have gone in an effort to fill the pews would almost defy belief.  We are being told that the church must adampt its message to meet the challenge of our entertainment oriented society.  One church defends its  “drama ministry” saying

     

    Our prime objective is to teach.  Not everyone is comfortable with drama, but there are others who can understand forgiveness, healing, and faith through drama when sermons don’t touch them.  Others can see themselves and their sins in such a way they they cannot run from them anymore.  And there is always Jesus there to forgive and take them in  His arms, wipng away their tears.  For some people, this is something no preacher can do.

     

    We wonder why the Lord overlooked this marvelous medium?  After all,  first century society was steeped in drama.  Rome, Corinth and Ephesus all had huge theatres accomadating thousands of spectators.  However, there is no evidence whatever to suggest the  use  Christian “drama.”   

     

    Some brethren are not detered by the lack of biblical authority for substituting performance for preaching. Here is a sampling of  what is being done by some in the church today:

     

    The minister comes out to announce that  “Today’s theme is pressing toward the goal.  We have a skit prepared to help us make application...”  Lights are dimmed, two  spot lights are pointed to two men with wireless microphones dressed for the roles of high school football coaches.  Then a 70’s style Howard Cosell type announces “The Game of Life.”    Three high school football players (with jerseys, pads and tight pants) come out to play their parts.

     

    One is carrying the weight of sin (a black cloth partially draped over his jersey) being tackled...caught from behind and dragged down by sin as he looses sight of the goal.  Another, having received a long pass, droped the ball before he could reach the goal.  Finally, there is a missed field goal.  Now on to the locker room where there are heated exchanges between players.  The coach settles everyone down and exhorts each to press toward the goal.  This is done by focusing on the goal, throwing off the weight of sin, etc.  The assembly claps enthusiastically at the conclusion and the re-illumination of the auditorium.

     

    Friends, all of this emphasis on dramatic productions is just another way to attract the worldly minded.  These productions may entertain, but they are not sanctioned by the God we are to glorify.  Short plays  may be helpful in illustrating Bible truths to the immature mind of a child, but here comes a time when folks must “put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). 

     

    Another church has decided to use their dramatic arts in the name of “outreach.”   This consists of excerps from the musical adaption of  Victor Hugo’s classic tale of the French Revolution, Le Meserabel.  Their justification for this extraveganza is that it is just too hard to get non-Christians to attend worship.  At least with this kind of production, outsiders may become accustomed to coming into their church building.

     

    The chief problem with the entertainment based approach is that it is man centered rather than God centered.   It is concerned with what people want, not what God demands.  It sees the church existing for people’s sake rather than for God’s sake.  The very idea that this generation is so simple minded that they can’t understand the love of God from a sermon but must have a dramatic production to get the point accross is not only obsured but insulting!

     

    After nearly 2,000 years, it is still “God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21).  The growth of the church in the first century  has nothing to do with entertaining the populace but everything to do with preaching the gospel.  Paul asked: “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? or am I striving to please men?”  Notice his startling conclusion: “If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).   Let us remember that the power to save the lost is in the gospel (Romans 1:16) not in entertainment.

    Dan Flournoy

     

     


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    The Holy Spirit “Illumination” Theory: A Critical Review

    by Wayne Jackson
    Christian Courier
    Thursday, May 1, 2003

    Many sincere people contend that one cannot understand the Bible without a special “illumination” by the Holy Spirit. What lies at the basis of this theory? Does it have the support of the Bible? Study this interesting theme in this month’s Feature article.

    There is a doctrine, quite common in the denominational community, that is making its presence increasingly felt among the people of God. It is the notion that the Christian has the promise of a direct “illumination of the Holy Spirit” in interpreting the text of the Bible.

    The theory suggests that the Scriptures, as they presently stand, are incapable of being thoroughly understood (and, by implication therefore, the divine message is incomplete; yet see: 2 Tim. 3:16-17). And so, in addition to the biblical record (as approached with correct methods of interpretation), it is alleged that there must be a direct working of the Spirit of God upon the heart of the Bible student, thus effecting an “illumination” that brings into sharper focus the meaning of the divine text.

    The History of the Doctrine

    The “illumination” view is not new; actually, it is a part of the residue of the old concept of human hereditary depravity. This is the idea that man is so hopelessly depraved by virtue of Adam’s fall, that the Scriptures are incomprehensible to his blighted mind. This dogma was popularized most prominently by John Calvin (A.D. 1509-1564).

    Some of the early “church fathers” introduced the idea that the guilt of Adam’s sin was contracted by all of his descendants. Tertullian (A.D. 150 – 222) contended that a person inherits both his body and his spirit from his parents (De Anima, chps. 23-41). Later, Augustine (A.D. 354-430) taught a similar idea. Cyprian (A.D. 200-258) had alleged that new-born infants inherit “the infection of the old death” from Adam (Epistle lviii). Origen (c. A.D. 185-254) suggested that a child is polluted with sin “though [its] life be but the length of one day upon the earth” (Homily in Luc. xiv). On this account he argued that no Christian should celebrate the day of the birth (Hom. in Leviticum , viii.3).

    And so, due to man’s supposed “corrupted” nature, he cannot understand the Scriptures without direct divine guidance. Calvin, cited Paul’s statement that “no man can say, Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3) as proof of this dogma (see Calvin’s Institutes, II,II,20-21).

    But this Corinthian passage merely asserts that belief in Christ’s lordship is dependent upon the revelatory mission of the Spirit. To suggest that it affirms that each individual must have a direct, personal enlightenment of the Spirit, is to assume more than the text states. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Scriptures; apart of that body of information, no man can declare Christ’s lordship. Hence, ultimately, this precious affirmation must be attributed to the Spirit. But this by no means establishes the “direct illumination” theory.

    Calvin likely borrowed the “illumination” idea from Augustine, for, as Norman Geisler has noted, the north African theologian not only taught that the Holy Spirit is “the means by which we receive God-written revelation (Confessions 7.21), he is necessary [also] for illuminating and confirming its truth” (Homily VI) (quoted in: Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999, p. 331).

    Other reformers, e.g., Luther and Zwingli, taught similar ideas respecting the need for some special power of the Holy Spirit in order that one might be empowered to comprehend the Scriptures. This notion has filtered down to many in the modern world of sectarianism.

    Henry C. Thiessen, a Baptist writer, wrote:

    “[T]he illumination of the Holy Spirit ... is vouchsafed to every believer ... [which will] enable us to understand the revelation God has already made of Himself, especially that revelation of Him in the Scriptures” (Lectures in Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949, p. 45).

    Roy Zuck, a former Bible professor at Dallas Theological Seminary (whom this writer highly regards), has authored a book titled Basic Bible Interpretation (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991). In this otherwise valuable volume, Zuck contended mightily for the idea that “[n]o one can fully comprehend the meaning of the Bible unless he is regenerate” (p. 22). He further affirmed that even the Christian “must also depend upon the Holy Spirit” for a correct view of the Scriptures. He quoted H.C.G. Moule who wrote: “The blessed Spirit is not only the true Author of the written Word but also its supreme and true Expositor” (p. 23; emp. WJ).

    An Analysis

    The doctrine of the “illumination of the Holy Spirit” is not defensible – either on a scriptural or logical basis. Consider the following points.

    1. The passages that are appealed to as proof for the dogma are grounded either in unwarranted assumptions that are imposed upon them (see the reference to 1 Cor. 12:3 cited above), or else the alleged proof-passages are extracted from their original contexts and misapplied.

    For example, John 16:13 frequently is employed to prove the idea of special “illumination” (see Zuck, p. 24). “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth....” But this text refers to the apostles (and, by implication, others who were to be endowed with miraculous teaching powers). Those so empowered would be proclaiming the gospel in that time-period preliminary to the completion of the New Testament canon. This promise from the Lord does not have a direct application to Christians today (see 14:16-17; 26; 15:26-27; 16:12-16; cf. also Mt. 10:19-20; Lk. 21:14-15). It is a travesty to misuse these contexts in such an irresponsible fashion.

    1. If the Holy Spirit illuminates the mind of the Christian student, is he as infallible as an “expositor” as he was initially in his role of “author” of the sacred message? If not, why not? Furthermore, how would one know if, or when, he has been “illuminated”? If he affirms that he has been illuminated with reference to a particular passage, may he ever alter his view of that text? If so, did the Spirit misdirect him earlier?

    If one has been illuminated regarding a passage, are all others who take a different view in error? If two people, both of whom claim illumination, differ on the interpretation of a passage, how could one know which of these is correct – or if either is? If the Holy Spirit could not make the Scriptures comprehensible the first time around (by the “revelation” process), how could one be confident that He could do so the second time around (by the “illumination” process)?

    Note Zuck’s concession. He says that the Spirit’s role in illumination “does not mean that one’s interpretations are infallible” (p. 24). This is woefully inconsistent with the esteemed professor’s endorsement of Moule, namely that the Spirit is both Author and Expositor of the Scriptures for the believer. And why is it that many of these men, who accept this position, are at such variance with one another in their doctrinal positions? Common sense says that something is seriously wrong with this theory.

    1. If the Holy Spirit provides illumination to men today, why do scholars, who subscribe to this ideology, write books instructing folks as to the proper methods of Bible interpretation (as professor Zuck has done)? Such efforts would not be of value to the unbeliever, who has “no spiritual capacity for welcoming and appropriating spiritual truths” (Zuck, p. 22). And they should not be needed by one who has the illuminating Spirit, the alleged “Expositor” of truth.
    2. What if one proposed the following. Select two spiritual Christian people and put them in separate rooms. Provide them with a difficult biblical text, with which each person is equally unfamiliar. Let one of them have access to a good library of reference works, and provide the other with nothing but an empty room and the “illumination of the Spirit.” Allow each several hours of concentration. Then have each of them write his explanation of the obscure text. It can be guaranteed that the person with the library will have a better grasp of the passage than the one who has relied solely on the “presence” of the Spirit.

    If someone should object to such a test, one need only appeal to the admonition of Christ’s apostle.

    “Beloved, believe not every spirit [i.e., every person making a religious claim], but prove [test – ESV] the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1).

    Indeed, and some of them are teaching that the Spirit directly “illuminates” them!

    1. The doctrine of special illumination contradicts the clear testimony of Scripture, namely the explicit affirmation that the devout student is able to understand the Word of God as given originally.

    When Paul wrote to the Ephesian brethren he affirmed that “when you read, you can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4). The apostle did not suggest that “reading” – plus a special intervention of the Spirit – would be required.

    Later, he admonished these saints: “Wherefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). If the theory under review is true, and if the Christian does not understand the will of the Lord – even though he studies diligently – the responsibility must be laid at the feet of the Holy Spirit.

    1. Finally, Paul’s testimony could not be clearer. The inspired Scriptures are

    profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction, which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

    The Scriptures alone are sufficient for man’s understanding of the divine will.

    Conclusion

    We have no doubt but that many of those who advocate the theory of “special illumination” are sincere. But sincerity does not guarantee accuracy (Acts 23:1; 26:9).

    Moreover, it should be a matter of great concern to church leaders that so many of our people are beginning to use this sort of language, reflecting unsound beliefs that they have adopted regarding the Spirit’s operation.

    The problem is this. We have numerous Christians these days who have a most superficial knowledge foundation in New Testament doctrine. Combine this fact with the reality that many constantly are feeding themselves (or are being fed by others) on sectarian literature that is rank with such ideas. There is an inevitable result in the wake of such a course.

    Surely it is time for some serious teaching in the church of the Lord on matters pertaining to the Holy Spirit.

     

    For more excellent articles by Wayne Jackson visit

    Christian Courier


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    Email:dan@christian-family.net


    PSEUDO-SCIENCE AND PSEUDO-RELIGION

     

    “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: which some professing have erred concerning the faith” (1 Timothy 6:20-21 KJV).

     

    Recent headlines announced: “Pope calls evolution ‘more than theory’” (Dallas Morning News, October 25, 1996).  The article, written by Laurie Goodstein, points out that the Pope’s comment on evolution is a major change in the official Catholic position. However, the statement by the Pope varies only slightly from the Papal encyclical issued by Pope Pius XII in 1950 which said that evolution was a “serious hypothesis worthy of a more deeply studied investigation and reflection on a par with the opposite hypothesis.”  So, there is really nothing new in the Pope’s statement as far a Catholic teaching is concerned. The article went on to point out that the Roman Catholic Church has taught the false theory of evolution in its schools for years.  All of this is just another indication of how far from the Word of God the Roman Catholic has erred.  It clearly demonstrates the fact that Roman Catholicism is nothing but a pseudo religion.

     

    The Christian has no quarrel with true science.  It is that which is falsely called science that Paul warns against in this passage.  The word translated science in 1 Timothy 6:20 is from a Greek word meaning knowledge and is so translated in some of our English versions.  The theory of evolution is nothing but “pseudo science.”  It is a theory (guess) as to the origin of life on this planet.  It is fostered, not by those who love science, but by those who hate God. 

     

    Anyone who accepts the Bible as the inspired word of God cannot accept the theory of evolution.  Please note the following contrasts: 

    1.       The Bible teaches that God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).  Evolution teaches that the universe is best explained by an explosion (big bang) or perhaps it has always been here (steady state theory). 2

    2.       The Bible teaches that life came from God (Genesis 1:1-31).  Evolution teaches that life began in some kind of primeval soup as a single cell and through eons of time (“billions and billions of years” - a la Carl Sagan) that single cell developed itself into higher forms of life including man.  In other words, evolution teaches that life came from non-living material. 

    3.       The Bible teaches that God created the first man and woman.  Evolution teaches that the first humans evolved from apes. The apostle Paul plainly contradicted the evolutionary scheme when he said “Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13).

    4.       The Bible teaches that man was created on the sixth day of the first week of the earth’s existence (Genesis 2:24ff.).  Jesus said “have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them ‘male and female?’”  Evolution teaches that man is of recent origin, and has been on the earth for only 50,000 years of the 20 billion years claimed by evolutionists. 

     

    We have nothing to fear from pseudo-science and pseudo-religion.  Evolution is a false theory that cannot be proved.  Neither Popes, councils, nor encyclicals can stand against the all-sufficient Word of God.  Let us therefore avoid both false religion and false science and hold fast to the Word of God which endures forever (1 Peter 1:23-25).

    --Dan Flournoy

    December 2, 1996


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    HOW TO HELP THE BIBLE SCHOOL

    We need to realize that the church grows in direct proportion to the amount of teaching being done.   Luke records: ”Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).  It is a proven fact that congregations with an active, attentive and attractive Bible School program grow.  Likewise, those with half-hearted efforts either simply “hold their own” or fall into decline.  When the Bible School is strong it means that the other areas of work such as visitation, personal teaching and benevolence will be strong as well.

     

    The formula for a successful education program in the Lord’s church is a simple one.  There are no tricks or twists.  It is not an easy formula, but it is sure.  The success formula for the Bible School is spelled with just four letters -- WORK!  To be sure, there are other things involved such as wise planning, good organization, adequately equipped classroom, well-trained teachers, etc.  However, the fundamental formula for success is WORK.

     

    May we offer a few practical suggestions to help the Bible School to grow:

     

    1.      Each member determine to be present for Bible class both Sunday and Wednesday.

    2.      Encourage others to attend...tell them about the lesson, the teacher and the class.

    3.      Talk the Bible class up...don’t run it down.

    4.      Make constructive suggestions to the elders.

    5.      Encourage the teachers and pray for them.

    6.      Determine to bring someone with you each week. Concentrate on one person or family at a time.

    7.      Call or visit those who visit your class and encourage them to return or set up a home Bible study.

    8.      Do not grow weary in well doing  (Galatians 6:9).

     

    There is no substitute for WORK.  To have a successful Bible School program, it takes each member doing their best.  The Bible is the greatest book in the world.  It is the only book that tells where man came from, his purpose on earth and his destiny in eternity.  Therefore, let us put forth the maximum effort to make our Bible School a success.

    --Dan Flournoy

    4/10/00


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    SOME FACTS ABOUT HEAVEN

     

    Concerning heaven it can be said, like the wisdom of Solomon, “The half has not been told!  While we cannot fully comprehend what heaven is like, the Bible does reveal certain things about heaven so that we might have a desire to go there.

     

    1. Heaven is real!  Scripture depicts heaven as a place.  Shortly before his return to heaven, Jesus promise: “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).

     

    1. Heaven is where Christ is.  Two apostles, Paul and John were privileged to view heaven.  In the great Book of Revelation, John recorded his vision of heaven and how that he saw the King on His throne (Revelation 4:1-4).  Paul, on the other hand, was caught up into heaven but was forbidden to tell what he had seen (2 Corinthians 12:4).  Later, he exclaimed that he had a desire to “depart and be with Christ” (Philippians 1:23).

     

    Further, he admonished Christians to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).

     

    1. Heaven is where God is.  Moses prayed to God saying, “look down from Thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Thy people Israel” (Deuteronomy 26:15).   Later, Solomon said: “for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth” (Ecclesiastes 5:2).

     

    1. Faithful servants of God from ages past will be in heaven.  Jesus said “that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11).  Furthermore, the faithful of this age and those who are faithful at the coming of the Lord will be in heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

     

    1. Infants and all unaccountable for sin will be in heaven.  Jesus said, “suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:4).  At the death of his infant son, David said, “I shall go to him; but he shall  not return to me” (2 Samuel 12:15).

     

    Just knowing  who will be in heaven should be enough to cause one to want to go there.  A man who was dying asked his doctor to tell him about heaven.  “I do not know anything about heaven,” said the physician, “except that my Master is there, and that is enough.”  As he said this he opened the door, and in leaped his dog and sprang into his arms in gladness.  The doctor said to his patient, “This dog has never been in this room before, but HE KNEW HIS MASTER WAS INSIDE.  That was all that mattered!”

     

    In the words of James, “Be patient therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord” (James 5:7).  As the dog waited anxiously for the door to open--so may we wait patiently for the Lord until He comes or calls us home. 

    --Dan Flournoy


    A VISION OF GOD

     

    Isaiah 6:1  “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.”

     

         One of the greatest needs in the church today is to see God clearly.  Without a clear vision of God we cannot have a clear vision of life.  When we have the right perspective of God then we can have the right perspective on everything else in life including ourselves, our material possessions, our service to God and our fellowman, human relationships, etc.

                Scripture records several great visions of God.  One we call the Book of Revelation  where John, isolated on the Isle of Patmos, saw of vision of God (Rev. 1:1-11).  Another is the vision of Ezekiel, prophet of the Babylonian Captivity, recorded in Ezekiel chapter one.  Yet another vision of God is recorded by Isaiah in the sixth chapter of the book that bears his name.  It is this vision that we wish to briefly consider.

                In Isaiah’s vision of God he saw the Throne Room of the Universe with “the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple” (Isaiah 6:1).  When he saw the Lord God, Isaiah’s life was changed forever.  Hopefully, the same thing will happen when we “see” God through Biblical revelation.  When Isaiah saw the Lord God he was driven to his knees in prayer and was caused to recognize his own weak and sinful condition.  He was moved to confess his sins saying: “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).

                Most are all too content with who and what they are.  Like the self-satisfied Pharisee, it is easy to compare ourselves with others and exclaim “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are” (Luke 18:11).  We tend to think of our selves as being pretty good if we are industrious, basically honest, mind our own business, etc.  Few have any conviction of personal sin until they are confronted with the “vision” of the nature of the true, pure, holy and just Creator and Ruler of the universe.  Once one has a clear concept of God’s absolute perfection, he cannot help but be driven by the contrast to recognize his own imperfection, weakness, and unrighteousness.  The Publican of Jesus’ parable stood with bowed head and said “God, be thou merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). 

                Isaiah, having seen the contrast between himself and the Almighty, was convicted of sin in his life.  He was moved by a contrite heart to confess his sins.  Upon his confession God’s seraph cleansed the unclean lips of the penitent prophet.  He was assured of pardon when he heard thine iniquity is taken away and thy sin forgiven” (Isaiah 6:7).

                May we learn the lesson that life works better when we have the proper view of God.  Seeing Him clearly helps to put all other things into perspective, including our own need.

    --Dan Flournoy

    ©2001www.Christian-Family.net

     

     


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    IMAGINE THIS IF YOU CAN

    Peter – A Roman Catholic

    Paul – A Methodist

    John – A Mormon

    Matthew – A Baptist

    James – A Presbyterian

    Judas – A Pentecostal Holiness

    Andrew – A Jehovah’s Witness

    Thomas – Held to Judaism

    Philip – A Quaker

    James – A Seventh Day Adventist

    Simon – Unitarian

    Bartholomew – A Lutheran

    Judas Iscariot – Thought one church was as good as another

     

    Jesus said: “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18).

     

    The apostle Paul said: “The churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16).

     

    Peter said: “And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, werein we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

     


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    CHANGES THAT CHALLENGE THE CHURCH

     

    Many are alarmed at the changes taking place in the church these days.  They are alarmed because they see many of these changes as apostasy.  Those who believe in the authority of the Word are concerned that the work, worship, organization and mission of the church will be so corrupted that the Lord’s church can not be recognized.

     

    On the other hand, there are those who see change as the only answer for the survival of the church.  Without change, they see the church stagnating into oblivion.  “We must change in order to attract the modern world” is their plea.  The old traditions and forms must be swept away to make way for a new and better way for the church of the 21st century. 

     

    Are these “old traditions and forms” the problem?  Or could it be that some brethren want to sweep away the authority of the Bible and replace it with the modern theology of subjectivism?  May we reflect on what changes are being made today and bring them to the test of the Scripture.

     

    1.   A new interest in denominationalism.  Some in the church are expressing a newly discovered enchantment with denominationalism.  Sectarian clergymen such as Chuck Swindoll and James Dobson are being described as “brothers in the Lord” by some of our preachers and schools.  Some churches have begun the practice of dedicating babies much the same as denominational churches have a “christening ceremony.”  Denominational seminars such as Promise Keepers and Walk to Emmaus are actively promoted by numerous churches.  Can you imagine the apostles encouraging brethren to attend a seminar conducted by the devotees of the goddess Diana?  Those who promote such denominational meetings demonstrate that they either do not understand the nature of the Lord’s church or that they do not care.  Paul was clear and unyielding when he wrote: “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11).

     

    1. A change in the role of women.  Some in the church are clamoring for women to take on leadership roles.  In some churches, women are called upon the lead prayer in the worship assembly in violation of 1 Timothy 2:8-15 and 1 Corinthians 14:33-35.  Several church of Christ have appointed “women elders” and “deaconess’s.”  They totally disregard the teaching of Scripture regarding the qualifications of male leadership (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9).

     

    1. A change in the “style” of worship.  We hear a lot being said about “contemporary worship styles.”  Some churches are engaging in two separate worship services, one “traditional” and one “contemporary.”  The contemporary worship usually incorporates some kind of “praise team” composed of both men and women leading the congregational singing.  Often choirs, solos and “vocal bands” are brought in to enliven the worship.  Along with this entertainment oriented worship comes a lot of hand clapping, and hoopla.  What ever happened to 1 Corinthians 14:40 “let all things be done decently and in order?”  The New Testament is totally void of any authority for solos, choirs and “vocal bands.”  Rather, congregational singing is commanded (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16-17).

     

    Conclusion.  The chief problem with these changes is that they are man centered.  They are designed to cater to the whims and fancies of men.  May we ever follow the admonition of Paul: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”(1 Cor. 10:31). 

    --Dan Flournoy

    ©2004www.Christian-Family.net

     


    The Heart Searcher

    Dan Flournoy

     

    “Search me O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalms 139:23-24).

     

    This psalm has been called “the crown of all the psalms” because it so dramatically describes the nature of God.  Jehovah is described as an all knowing, all powerful, and ever present deity. 

     

    In these verses, David prays for God to search his heart and to lead him in the way of everlasting life.  This ought to be our prayer as well.  The apostle Paul admonishes:

    “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5).  Self-examination is a valuable exercise, yet it is sometimes misleading.  Sometimes our estimation  of ourselves is faulty.  There are many good people who feel bad about themselves, and many bad people who feel good about themselves.  Paul wrote of himself saying, “For I know nothing against myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judges me is the Lord (1 Corinthians 4:4).  Thus, our self-examination must be done in light of what God has said in His word.

     

    Concerning the word of God, consider Heb 4:12 “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  As we allow the word of God to penetrate our hearts, to dwell richly within, it has a way of shedding light upon our character (Colossians 3:16). 

     

    God’s word is able to show us where we need to make change: “And see if there is any wicked way in me...”  However, there are those who refuse to submit to the “searching”

    word of God.  As Jesus said "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.  But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”(John 3:19-20).

     

    The object of this search is not to give God information, but to give us information about our selves.  As the Word searches our heart through daily study and application, we learn to “Abhor what is evil...love the brethren...be fervent in spirit...rejoice in hope...be patient in tribulation...continue to pray...repay no one evil for evil...live peaceabley with all men...” (Romans 12:9-18).

     

    If we, like David, will submit to the search we can change our lives and we will be led in the way everlasting.

     

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