Wednesday, February 20, 2013

                                           OUR GOOD WORKS   
       We hear a lot about works in the religious world.  Most of what is said is we can't earn our salvation through our own works or merit and that is true.  There is really no disagreement on that point.  Others want to make actions commanded of us by God a work because it does not agree with their interpretation of Scripture concerning salvation.  Chief among this argument is the subject of baptism.
     While disagreements may continue to abound concerning the subject of works, it cannot be denied that works are mentioned often enough in the Scriptures to warrant our attention.  It also must be understood these works are not only important but necessary.  Of course, we must be clear what defines a good work.
     The most often mentioned Scripture associated with good works is Ephesians 2:10.  Here we are told, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (KJV).  The reason this verse stands out is because of the mention of grace in verse 8, used by many to show baptism is a work and therefore not essential to salvation since we are saved by grace.  Baptism is not a work unto salvation but obedience to a divine command, wherein we become recipients of God's grace (Col. 2:11,12).
     Moving on from that argument we must address the good works we have been designed to perform.  I was told some time ago of a preacher who told people he was off to do a "good work."  It came to be known his deeds were sinful and therefore, not the good works of which Paul writes in Ephesians 2:10.  However, our good works do serve a purpose.
     Peter writes, "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation" (1Pet. 2:12; KJV).  Our works are to serve as a glory to God so others who observe them can also come to glorify God in obedience to the gospel.  James speaks of our faith and the works that prove that faith (J. 2:17-26).  Our works are not done to earn salvation but because of the gift of salvation (God's grace) we have received.
     The following passages speak of doing good works.  They are Colossians 1:10, 1 Timothy 3:1 (elders), 2 Timothy 2:21, and Titus 3:1.  There are others besides but these will suffice to help us understand our walk with God is not a passive one.  It is to be a life based on faith, while understanding true faith requires obedience to God's word.  Then we are to glorify God in our daily walk so as to show to others through our deeds the love of God.  This what Peter wrote of in the passage cited earlier.  We were created to glorify God and this is done through our good (godly) works.  Rodger

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

                                        SEEKING TRUE FREEDOM
     Tim Hardin sang a song popular many years ago that said, "Come and sing a simple song of freedom; sing it you've never sung before.."  Today we have a simple song of freedom that can be sung but there are those who are trying to complicate the simplicity of this freedom.
     The song we sing is that of Moses and the Lamb (Rev. 15:3).  These songs speak of deliverance.  For Moses (Israel) it was deliverance from Egypt (Ex. 15).  For us it is the deliverance from the bondage of sin. When God delivers His children it is a true freedom they enjoy, and no freedom is greater than that of being freed from our sins.
     Some are seeking to destroy that freedom by telling us that no one church has a monopoly on truth.  Of course the purpose behind this proclamation is to get us to believe that one church is as good as another, since all churches have at least a partial amount of truth associated with them.  Some will go so far as to say it is impossible to know the perfect gospel.
     There is a major problem with this supposition.  The problem is that truth did not originate in any church.  Truth comes from God so we must believe God's truth is perfect.  Understanding that God's truth is itself perfect leads us to what our response is to be.  We must accept God's truth and be obedient to it if we are to truly become free for the church was established on the truth of God's word.  This is why only God can add us to the church (Acts 2:47).
     Why people stumble over this is due to the lack of teaching concerning the covenants.  Many want to hold to the old covenant (Law) under Moses while retaining portions of the new covenant established by Christ.  This can't be done for Christ has taken the first out of the way, nailing it to the cross (Eph. 2:13ff; Col. 2:11-15).  God alone establishes the covenant and its conditions, and  man responds.  Doing so is the basis of obedience and faithfulness.
     Jesus said "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (Jn. 8:32).  John later writes we can know we have eternal life (1 Jn. 5:13), and that knowledge is based upon knowing God.  Truly knowing God is possible only through obedience to His word (1 Jn. 5:2).  When man seeks to change what God has set forth he has left the righteousness of God (Ro. 1:16,17) and, in turn, has established a righteousness of his own (Ro. 10:2-4). 
    It is possible to know the perfect gospel for the perfect God, our Father, has revealed it.  It is simple and easy to understand for those seeking God's truth.  Becoming truly free in obedience to that truth allows us to sing that simple song of freedom.  Rodger

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

                           THE BLESSINGS OF BEING GRATEFUL   
       I have been reminded of the need to be thankful several times recently.  Reasons for people's jealousy has been addressed, and brethren are always commenting on our need to be thankful.  But the last reminder came from a most unexpected place.  There I was at the Grayson County Detention Center getting ready for a study session.
     I was thankful first that eight inmates would be in attendance, though one was not able to come.  As the first few came into the room to get ready to start, we had a conversation about their lives and current events taking place around them.  Several in the group are members of the church which helps in talking about certain subjects.  Still you don't expect people in this environment to be thankful for anything.  Wrong again.
     As the conversation progressed the inmates began to talk about how to get more than what you currently possess.  The key is to be grateful for what you have.  Neither the ASV or KJV mention the word grateful, and the NASB speaks of gratitude.  Of course gratitude is being thankful, and you'll certainly find words associated with thankfulness sprinkled generously throughout Scripture.  It was a blessing to listen to the inmates.  Even here they spoke of blessings they received.
     As one remarked, if you want more time, be grateful or thankful for the time you have.  It must be noted he was not speaking of time in reference to his sentence but in being able to accomplish certain tasks or goals.  If you want more money, be thankful for the money you have.  The Lord can give you more of what you already have since He has given what you currently possess. Tell the Lord thank you.
     As an illustration another inmate spoke of something given to him by his father as a young boy.  He ran around and shouted to all who would listen, "Look what my father gave to me!"  So thankful to receive something that gift needed to be shared.  Our heavenly Father blesses us richly everyday, and we should be thankful He provides as He does.
     If you want more of something, first be thankful for what you have, not sorrowful for what you don't have.  Use your blessings to God's glory and allow Him to bless you even more.  While going with the thought of teaching others, I was taught another lesson myself.  If these people can find reason to be thankful, certainly I can too. 
     The joys of life can be found in the most unlikely places.  For that I am grateful.  Rodger