A Challenge to Choose

Dan S. Shipley

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Armorites, in whose land ye dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:15).

Those who claim to be Christians need confronting with this choice encouraged by Joshua in the long ago. Not, of course, that allegiance to these same false gods is the problem, but there are other kinds of “masters” that are equally effective in stealing the affections of God’s people. In fact, these modern masters may be even more dangerous because men serve them while thinking themselves to be serving the true God. Does it seem strange that professed believers should be challenged to make a choice about serving God? It shouldn’t. When have the ranks of God’s followers NOT been infected with a Laodicean-like lethargy? (except, perhaps, in the earliest days of the church) — and, when more than NOW? Those who say and do not, the lukewarm, the vacillating, the unfaithful and undependable who call themselves Christians need to be challenged to MAKE UP THEIR MINDS ABOUT SERVING THE LORD!
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The Gospel Plan of Salvation

Steven J. Wallace

Have you obeyed the gospel? Is the gospel to be obeyed and if so, what is  required? We know the gospel is to be obeyed because Paul said of our Lord’s second coming,

“in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8).

Further, the apostle Peter asks,”For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Pet. 4:17).

With such doom facing those who do not obey the gospel, it must be clear what man must do to be saved. The New Testament teaches five things which must be done to be saved. Sometimes Christians are ridiculed as “five-steppers.” But which step shall we eliminate? Shall we delete the need to:
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Some Context for this Election (Cornerstone 11/06/2016)

Some Context For This Election

Thomas Keese

It may be true of every election, but it seems the case in this election it is unlike any other in our nation’s past. I know I am not alone in feeling gravely concerned for our nation’s future. There are so many things at stake as we approach November 8. No matter who is elected, we as Christians will continue to be confronted with major issues. 1st of all there is rampant immorality, fornication, adultery, lasciviousness and lovers of themselves, lovers of money, abortion, homosexuality, etc.… Which I doubt either candidate will deal with. This societies downward spiral started years ago and will likely continue for years to come. If God wanted to judge this nation based on its current moral state how can anyone argue it would not be deserved? No matter who is elected for most of us life will continue to go on without drastic changes. My goal for this article is to provide words of comfort and some context for this election cycle. Continue reading “Some Context for this Election (Cornerstone 11/06/2016)”

Seeing Through the Fire (Cornerstone 10/02/2016)

Seeing Through the Fire

Thomas Keese

Although it was more than 30 years ago, I still remember distinctly our Driver’s Ed teacher’s instructions about how to conquer our fear (among inexperienced drivers) of a bridge near Comfort, TX. Although there are few of them around anymore, this bridge was half a mile long and had two very narrow lanes framed by steel girders. His advice to us was to focus on the caution light on the other side of the bridge. It made no sense to us at the time, but when I actually took his advice, it worked. The principle, looking past our current circumstances to what the future holds also works.

Now I want to deal with my present circumstances. I have been dealing with excruciating pain a result of having MS for the last 28 years and the resulting immobility. In the midst of that pain there have been very few things that will bring me comfort for my mind to dwell on. When you find yourself in the midst of this type of adversity, my advice to you is to focus on the other side of the bridge, look through the fire. One of the things I consider is to look forward to the period of time after the pain medication has taken effect. I will recite to myself Paul’s words from Romans 8:18, “the sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
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When the Shut-in Gets Out

“let us consider one another order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:25

 I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. -Psalm 122:1

 Such a simple concept, assembling together to worship. Yet, this simple concept is so integral to our success. Last Sunday was the first Sunday I was able to attend worship services in the past year.(7/5/15)  I will not even attempt to describe how much I am encouraged and my family is encouraged when I can attend. Being successful and remaining faithful to our Christian faith is so difficult to do alone. As individuals, we need support and encouragement that only comes from worshipping with others. Continue reading “When the Shut-in Gets Out”

Worship

Donald Willis

Worship is “courtesy or reverence paid to worth; hence, honor; respect.” (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, pg. 988). There is in man an innate quality, which causes him to recognize and pay homage to Deity. There are varying degrees of homage paid, but basically man is a worshipper. Worship is accomplished in more than one way. One is instructed that worship is “honor, reverence, homage in thought, feeling or act (My Emphasis, DW)… The O. T. idea is… the reverential attitude of mind or body or both, combined with the more generic notions of religious adoration, obedience, service.” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. V, pg. 3110).

The worship paid to Jehovah under the Law of Moses was one, which appealed to the letter of the law and could only foreshadow the true worship, which would be under the Law of Christ. The worship of Israel was a fleshly observance. God, as conceived by the Jewish nation, was a supreme being interested in the affairs of that particular people. Thus they rendered respect unto him. Many impressions of the real nature of God are given through the writings of the inspired Prophets, but the Jews did not understand. The Jew had the impression that his personal presence had to be in a particular place at a particular time, and if it were, he was worshipping Jehovah. God did require his presence. They brought sacrifices to God offered with their hand, of both animal and vegetable nature. Their worship, then, was one that appealed to the senses of man; i.e., touch, smell, etc.

John 4

But God is Spirit! The aggregate of existent substance is the product of Jehovah’s power. He is the ruling monarch over his creation. He is an infinite and eternal mind, an intelligent being, without material existence. God is interested in man and his worship directed to God. To note the nature of Jehovah, one must conclude that he cannot be worshipped with mere external observances, but an individual’s personal spirit must be imbedded in his worship in order to unite with his Father, who is Spirit. “How utterly heterogeneous (dissimilar, DW) would be a carnal and spurious worship with the perfectly pure and holy nature of God . . .” (Meyer, The Gospel of John, pg.l58-159).

The Samaritan woman was concerned about the place in which to worship God, this mountain or Jerusalem. Jesus explained, “True worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24).

Heart Worship

God is not pleased to accept the simple outward forms of worship but the heart must accompany an individual’s worship. “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matt. 15: 8). The Lord has said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matt. 22:37). Knowing the nature of God to be spirit, man must place the spirit (the part of man made in the image of God) into his worship in order to reach the throne of God with his praises. Fleshly observances are entirely void unless they have the escort of the heart, for they miss the mark of God’s acceptance. “The simplicity of the primitive Christian worship . . . is worthy of particular notice and admiration. Here are no expensive ceremonies: no apparatus calculated merely to impress the senses, and produce emotions in the animal system, ‘to help,’ as has been foolishly said, ‘the spirit of devotion.’ The heart is the subject in which this spirit of devotion is kindled…” (Adam Clark, Commentary, Book V, pg. 681).

 

which this spirit of devotion is kindled…” (Adam Clark, Commentary, Book V, pg. 681).

“Christians shall worship God, not in the ceremonial observances of the Mosaic institution, but in spiritual ordinances, consisting less in bodily exercise and animated and invigorated more with divine power and energy.” (Matthew Henry, Commentary, Vol. 5, pg. 524).

A Proper Attitude in Worship

In our worship and praise to Jehovah, it is necessary to manifest the proper attitude. Simple attendance at the services is not sufficient, although attendance is commanded and therefore necessary (Heb. 10:25).

One observes many different attitudes of people who attend services.

(1) The sentiment of many is to be saturated with the knowledge and spirit of God; to take into their being the spirit of Christ and manifest in their lives the fruit of the spirit. Would that all professed “worshippers” were of this nature!

(2) Some folk attend out of a sense of duty. They apparently have the impression that all God requires of them is personal presence (i.e., this mountain of Jerusalem). Therefore such improper attitudes as the following manifest themselves.

(a) I know that I must attend the Sunday morning services, therefore I am here.

(b) The singing is terrible.

(c) The person wording the prayer made a grammatical error; it seems that someone would be called upon to lead in prayer that would at least know how to speak properly.

(d) The preacher talked for a long time. I never did get the significance of what he was saying. (Reminds me of the little boy who said he thought it was a pretty good “show” for just a quarter.)

Beyond these matters, one cannot help but note the attitude manifested by many during the services.

(1) Gum Chewing. There is nothing wrong with chewing gum, as far as I can determine, but when one comes into the presence of Jehovah to pay his homage to Him, it is completely out of place. The solemnity of the hour would demand our abstinence from this type thing.

(2) Whispering. While gathered to worship God, many cannot manage to withhold just a few words from his/ her neighbor. This has been known to happen during prayer, while one is beseeching his God; during the reading of the Bible, while God speaks to man; and during the exposition of divine truth. This exemplifies the “disinterested” attitude, and one who professes to be a child of God certainly could not be disinterested during his worship.

(3) Note Passing. This falls into the same category as the above and is not only evidenced by young folk, but many adults do the same. FOR SHAME!

(4) Star Gazing. Such simply are disinterested (covered in number 2) in what is being done or said, and wish that everything would hurry up and be over so we can go home. Many, many attenders manifest this attitude!

(5) Fashion Show. Many see only what people wear to the services, and pay little or no attention to the purpose of assembly. You hear them speak of what “Sis. So-and-so” had on instead of the spiritual benefit derived from the assembling together.

Conclusion

Are we partaking of the nature of God when we worship? Remember, God is Spirit, and those who worship must worship in spirit and in truth. Mere presence is not sufficient, but we must respect the person of God, who demands that approved worship be in a proper spirit or attitude. Worship relates to both man’s observance and God’s acceptance. “Christ’s reign … has primary reference to the inner man… And this serving God in mind, or with the spirit, I denominate the true worship of God. All else is secondary or partial.” (Moses E. Lard, The Pioneers on Worship, pg. 22).

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength…” (Matt. 1-2:30).

Truth Magazine VII: 6, pp. 14-15
March 1963

 

If We Hope…

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Romans 15:4

One of the most important words in the Bible may be this little four letter word Hope. The Scriptures are God’s gift to us for the purpose of establishing our faith, giving us a cause for hope. A man with hope for his future can endure great hardship. A man without hope lacks direction and purpose. Hope can be a powerful motivation in our lives. As we study the Scriptures our faith is built and reinforced and our hope that there is a better life awaiting us empowers us to endure the sufferings of this life.

For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. – Romans 8:24, 25

There is difficulty in establishing this hope. God’s promises are not based on tangible things that we can see or touch. If we believe in the beauty of God’s character and his love for us we will seek to please Him and we will hope for what he has promised. I love this phrase, if we hope, then do we eagerly wait. As a child I remember not being able to sleep the night of December 24 as I eagerly awaited the morning. Are we awaiting our reward with eagerness?

(as it is written, “I have made you a father of many nations” in the presence of Him whom he believed—God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” – Romans 4:17, 18

Why was Abraham a father of many nations? It was because despite their advanced ages, despite what he could understand, he believed God’s promise. Even though Abraham had nothing tangible on which to base his faith, he believed God. How strong is your hope?

tdk

Gospel Meetings

By Connie W. Adams

In spite of the claim of some that “the days of gospel meetings are over”, congregations continue to have them. Reports in bulletins and other periodicals indicate that some meetings are productive of much good while others seem to have little good effect. It seems that in the last few years there has been an upswing in the number of people obeying the gospel in meetings. I do not claim to be an expert on the subject, nor to have had the amount of experience in meeting work that others have had. Over the past twenty years I have been privileged to work in a good many meetings in various sections of the country I and within the last four years have preached in sixty meetings. From these experiences some observations have been made, and some judgments formed which I wish to pass along to the reader.

Why the Difference?

You can go to a place for a meeting and preach your heart out to empty seats, with half or less of the members making any attempt to attend, and very few visitors and be chilled to the bone from the indifference. You spend a week trying to revive an almost dead church, while in your heart you wonder if you would not have done more good at home. Then you close there, and the next nights begin somewhere else and right away you sense the difference. Here the meeting house is clean; the tract rack is neat and filled with a good selection. There is warmth and friendliness about the people, the house is comfortably filled the first night and the crowds, interest and enthusiasm mount throughout the week. You preach along the Mme general lines as in the last meeting and several people obey the gospel. You close and go home with a feeling of accomplishment. What makes the difference?

(1) Some brethren have a meeting as a matter of tradition. They have always had a meeting every year, whether they needed it or not! They get a preacher lined up to come, run his picture, in the paper, have some handbills printed (and usually wind up with half of them left over), and think they are ready for a meeting. The members of some of these congregations act like they have just enough religion to make them miserable,

(2) Successful meetings are the result of much planning, prayer and effort. They do not just “happen.” A congregation with a lively program of personal evangelism will nearly always have a few people about ready to obey the gospel when the meeting time comes. The members talk the meeting up. There is an air of expectancy and enthusiasm. I used to hear older preachers talk about a meeting having a good “tone” and did not know what they meant. Now I do. You see members come in all smiles as they introduce you to their neighbor, or a relative, or a co-worker from the office or factory. You see them with the same person when the service is over looking over the tracts and trying to steer their friend into selecting two or three that would be a big help to him in learning the truth. Often zealous members make arrangements for you to come and talk with their friends. In short, the congregations which have good meetings have done their homework.

(3) The preachers responsibility in a meeting is serious. If he is a sour apple by nature, this will be reflected both in and out of the pulpit and will cause some whom he could help to feel that he is unapproachable. He must come fully prepared to preach the truth without fear or favor of man, yet with a genuine warmth and spirit of kindness. He must resolve to preach what is needed. This will not always be appreciated. There may be serious problems in the congregation which require teaching. There may be pressures in a given area which afflict the church. Sometimes the church may be in a battle with institutionalism or the social gospel movement, and need some help. There may be prospects almost ready to obey the truth that need to be taught on certain subjects and persuaded to become Christians. Nearly every congregation has a problem with members being afflicted with the spirit of the world. There are devout saints who need encouragement. There are mature and advanced Bible students who need meat, as well as babes who need milk.

I cannot speak for other preachers, but I cannot spend all day long socializing, or on a golf course, or making an endless round of calls on people who are not really prospects at all, calls that are more social than anything else, then rush to a big meal somewhere, and finally get to the meeting house worn out, get up to preach and do my best work. Regardless of how many times a man has spoken on a subject, he ought to have Some time fo-ponder his lesson, refresh his mind on the passages to be used and recheck the sequence of points he plans to make. Before all the golfers descend on my head, let me add that I have nothing against a man getting a little exercise during a meeting, and if he can find time for a round or two, then that is fine with me. But I have worked with preachers in meetings who played every day and have seen some of them get up and make a flop in the pulpit when I knew they were capable of much better.

The preacher’s private conduct in a meeting can help or hinder not only the meeting but the work in general at that place after he is gone. Some fall into the trap of hearing one side of a dispute and then at, tempt to grind someone’s axe for him. It is not uncommon for members to ask questions of visiting preachers and this often affords opportunity to do much good teaching. Sometimes this may involve close study and even argumentation. Some delight in asking loaded questions, or in trying to see if a difference can be discovered between the visiting and local preacher. I have known of preachers bringing up questions in private homes that raised more doubt than anything else, so that the local preacher would have his hands full for several months putting out the brush fires so carelessly caused. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col. 4:6).

Bring a faithful preacher who practices what he preaches, together with a zealous congregation which has made adequate preparation, and you will have a good meeting. The truth will be preached, sinners will be instructed in the way of righteousness, and the saints will be edified. Whether they are “visible” or not there will be good results from such an effort.

TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV: 2, pp. 23-24
November 13, 1969

 

 

The Family Table

J. Wiley Adams

The family meal is an occasion that can help to unify the family. Memories of pleasant times around the table for me are very pronounced. This is true whether I look back to my own boyhood days or whether I consider the matter in terms of my own family, children and grandchildren.

I grew up in different times that included the great depression and World War II. Breakfast was a main event at our house. Everyone had to work and thus everyone needed to eat a substantial meal. Diets and various food restrictions were unheard of. We all worked so hard nobody in the family was “fat.” Everyone came to the table at meal time and no one dared say “I don’t like” this, that, or the other which was on the table. We could not afford to be “picky” about our food. Whatever was on the table you were glad to have it, and you asked for more. You knew it had to last until the next mealtime. Eating between meals was not a well known practice in those days.

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Liberty

By Robert Farrish

 It is 9:30 p.m., July 4, 1986. The Washington fireworks are about over, while the New York Statue of Liberty fireworks celebration is soon to begin.

The words, “freedom” and “liberty,” have been spoken and heard often today. It would be interesting to know how many times the words have been used in the last twelve hours. It is doubtful if any person in the United States has not used the word, liberty or freedom, today! What are my rights or liberties? “Rights” are frequently claimed which are based upon selfish “license” rather than proper liberty. The word “liberty” is often mis-used by selfish interests. What is liberty? How would you define the word?

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