Wednesday, March 27, 2013

                       WHAT IS NEEDED IS AN EARNEST DEFENSE    
     With all the talk recently about the need to ban assault rifles another problem has reared its ugly head.  It is the continual assault directed at our God and His holy word.  What we have here is a godly reminder to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).
     Long ago the psalmist wrote, "if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Ps. 11:3) The foundations that are crumbling before our eyes are those upon which the truth of God stands.  The reason for this destruction is the continual assault on God's word.  The reason for the assault is ignorance.  Many who claim to love God and hold to a form of faith are the main culprits.
     First, let me affirm the fact that God is always the victorious one.  As Paul wrote to Timothy, "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knows those who are his..." (2 Tim. 2:19).  That said there are still those who will suffer and lose their soul because of the attitudes and beliefs of those who claim to know God and yet are devoid of knowledge concerning His word.
     The current battle over gay marriage is the latest assault.  What is driving the debate is an ignorance of God's word.  Many are beginning to voice the viewpoint that gay marriage will succeed because all the so-called Bible thumpers can do is speak from the Scriptures.  In so doing they are denying the love being shown in the gay community which is really not love but lust.  The ignorance behind this viewpoint is that many want to believe that the Bible is not relevant to today's world, so those who hold to Scripture are the one's out of touch with reality and therefore out of touch with God.  Just one more argument Satan has devised to deceive the hearts of man.    
     What many people are refusing to see is the damage that will be done to children.  Some of this damage will be inflicted on those who are raised in the midst of godless unions, while others will deceived and led into the practice of this ungodliness because of society's desire to be tolerant.  Any who uphold this lifestyle in any way are answerable to God.
     The truth is this.  Either Scripture is the word of God or it isn't.  Either it means what is says or it doesn't.  If we are going to walk in manner worthy of our calling (Eph. 4:1), then we must walk according to the divine instructions designed to guide us to our heavenly home (2 Tim. 3:16,17). 
     It is not surprising we are being assaulted from the world for this is Satan's dominion (2 Cor. 4:4).  What is troubling is the weakness of those who claim to be Christians and yet really have no understanding of how the Scriptures are to be applied to everyday living.  This is a danger of denominational teachings for they rob people of their faith and the ability to discern truth and its application.
    While we must be people of love and compassion we must also be faithful children to our Father.  It is possible to do both without compromising His truth.  Since love is inherent within the word we must continue to earnestly contend for the faith which was delivered unto the saints.  Rodger

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

                                                 HE KNOWS ME!   
     It's not what you know, it's who you know.  We hear this a lot as we look to improve our station in life.  As people we have a burning desire to be known by people.  This desire starts at a very early age and increases as we get older.  If we're not well known in high school we have wasted four good years.  This is true also in college and continues into our professional life.
     What if nobody knew who you are?  That would be sad indeed.  What if family didn't know you?  Sadder still!  Recently a situation arose that got me to thinking about this.  Civil War buffs will recall a battle that took place on the sea between Union and Confederate  forces.  The first battle of its kind.  The Confederate ship Virginia was going to battle the Union ship Monitor.  The Union leaders didn't want this to happen but President Lincoln went ahead anyway.  It was an unexpected victory for the Union forces that turned the tide of the war and led to victory. 
     But the victory was short lived as the Monitor sank a couple of months later in a ferocious storm.  Of the 63 crew members 16 lost their lives.  In recent times expeditions have discovered the Monitor's resting place on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, and when trying to salvage portions of the ship, the remains of two of the crew members were also discovered.  While records have recorded the names of those who perished when the ship went down, there was no way to identify the remains of those found.  When these two unknown men were buried recently at Arlington National Cemetery, it was noted it would never be known who they are.  Even descendents of those who died attended the ceremony not knowing who it was being buried.
     I read this article and was saddened by this.  I began to imagine what it would be like not to be known to anyone, not even family.  I then turned my thoughts to the Scriptures and found great comfort in the fact that while men may not know me, my heavenly Father does.  And if my Father knows me, that's all that matters.
     Jesus told His disciples, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me." (Jn. 10:27).  In writing to the young man Timothy, Paul writes, "Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knows those who are His. And let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2 Tim. 2:19).  Paul exhorts Timothy and us to make our lives a vessel of honor unto Jehovah by living according to the truth of God's word.
     It's a wonderful thing to be known by people.  It is even better when those who know you also like you.  But what really matters is not how well known I am among men, but that I'm known by God.  The names of those two sailors are unknown to everyone but God.  When you get right down to the bottom line, there are more people who don't know me than those who do.  But when I lay my head down to sleep tonight I will do so with the knowledge my God knows me because I am His covenant child.  That's all that matters.  Rodger

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

                                       THE SUFFICIENCY OF GRACE      
     We have a new brother in Christ.  Donnie Patterson was baptized this past Tuesday (February 26th) at the Grayson County Detention Center.  Through the teaching of God's word Donnie came to realize his lost state due to sin, and in obedience to the gospel decided to put on Christ through baptism. 
     Thinking of this wonderful event and given the privilege of performing this baptism, my thoughts were captivated by the wonderful grace of God.  But what does this grace that God supplies really mean?  If we truly want to be thankful for receiving God's grace, we should seek to understand as much as possible about grace. 
     As we discussed last week concerning our good works, Paul writes about grace to the Ephesians (2:8) and the fact that it is a gift from God.  No one denies this.  But a close reading of the context of this passage will reveal to us that the recipients of God's grace are those who are His workmanship (2:10).  What this means is that while we can't perform a work to earn salvation, for it is God's gift to us, we are recreated through the working of God who creates the new man free from sin by removing the old man of sin through spiritual circumcision (Col. 2:11,12).  Man has obeyed God's command regarding salvation but the work here is performed by God and not man.  The Ephesians had done this as well (1:13,14).
     Grace is then made even more sufficient in that it helps to provide strength to us for our daily walk.  When Paul is praying for the thorn in his flesh to be removed, he is told that God's grace is sufficient, for God's power is made perfect through weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).  The grace mentioned here is, "The favor of Christ, assisting and strengthening his followers and ministers to bear their troubles (Joseph Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament, pg. 666).  Grace then serves to help strengthen us through our Lord and His promises as we contend with earthly struggles until our victory is complete.
     Then there is the element of grace concerning instruction.  Titus was told by Paul that grace "appeared bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11,12; ASV).  Grace then acts as a teacher helping us to understand we can't live in sin and think that grace is going to cover ungodly behavior (Ro. 6:1).  God's love to us demands our love in return through obedient living as covenant children.
      God's grace is truly sufficient for it serves many functions in the life of God's children.  Let us then walk in God's light and live as recipients of His grace as we await the return of our blessed Savior and Lord.  Rodger