Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Consequences of Sin

Throughout both the Bible and the pages of secular history, we can read of the disastrous consequences of the errors and misconduct of men. The Biblical account of Adam and Eve’s disobedience is not a mere myth but a God given record of their transgression and the effect that it brought on all generations since that time. By the tenth generation of human life, wickedness had become so prominent that God flooded the earth to destroy all creatures in which was the breath of life except the animals and eight people in the ark that Noah had built at the commandment of the Lord, a catastrophic destruction of such magnitude that the earth still shows the marks and scars of the event. The consequences of sin have been at a horrible cost to humankind, besides requiring the death of Christ in order to make possible redemption, forgiveness, and salvation for those who will believe in Him and obey His word.

About 4,000 years ago in the 20th generation of humanity, when there were still a limited number of organized nations with functioning governments, God called Abraham to leave his country and family and go to a land that God would show him, and God promised, “I will make you a great nation. I will bless you, and in you all families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3 is a promise we now understand to be a prophecy of Christ the Savior coming a couple of thousand years later through the lineage of Abraham). It was several generations of his offspring later that his people developed into a nation.

God led Abraham to the land of the Canaanites and promised him that land. Abraham had a son named Isaac. Isaac had a son named Jacob (later changed by God to Israel). Jacob had 12 sons. Eventually when one of his sons, Joseph, was ruler in Egypt, Jacob and all his sons moved to Egypt. It was during those years in Egypt that they became a great multitude of people, so many in number that the Egyptian government enslaved them and attempted to control their population by killing their male babies lest they should become powerful enough to be instrumental in the overthrow of the government.   It was in that time period and environment that God raised up Moses to deliver the Israelites from the cruel bondage of Egypt. Ten terrible plagues were sent by God on the Egyptians before their ruler consented to let the people of Israel go.

Leaving Egypt, they traveled to Mount Sinai and it was there that God audibly spoke to the terrified multitude and gave to Moses the Law that was to guide them. From the time of God giving them a law, they were then known as the nation that was promised to Abraham, though they did not possess the land of Canaan until the days of Joshua.

The great lesson that I want to consider is that God constantly warned them to take heed to do His commandments and to be careful to observe all His statutes. He made promises to them never made to any other people. He promised that if they would obey His word, no enemy soldier would ever tread upon their soil, the people would prosper and be blessed with health, they would never have a crop failure, their livestock would never lose their young. But He warned them of the tragedies and sorrows that would come upon them if they failed to obey Him. Even before they left the mountain, they made a golden calf and worshipped it.

As they traveled through the wilderness, they were constantly complaining and violating the commandments of God. When they refused to enter the Promised Land, they were sent back into the wilderness until that generation of them died. Remember Korah, Dathan, and Abiram and their death because of their sin. When the people finally entered the land, remember Achan and his sin and death. Why did they not learn to obey God? They had been repeatedly warned.

By the time of the Judges, every man was doing what seemed right in his own eyes with little or no regard for the commandments of the Lord. Nation after nation warred against them and oppressed them, and each time after God delivered them they returned to their sins. In the days of Samuel, the people demanded a king to rule over them. Samuel warned them in detail what the consequences would be, but the warning did not change their demand.

Some of their kings were exceedingly corrupt. Even Solomon, whom God blessed with a degree of wisdom above all other men, grievously departed from the path of righteousness, for at least a portion of his life, and supported some of the worst forms of idolatry, and perhaps set a world record for his harem of 1000 wives and concubines. Jeroboam led 10 tribes of Israel into heathen idolatry. In spite of the preaching and warnings of the prophets that God sent among the people, wickedness still prevailed and God had the northern tribes overthrown by Assyria and then the southern tribes carried away into Babylonian captivity for 70 years.

After that period of chastisement in the days of the Medo-Persian Empire, the Jews were permitted to return to their land, but they were never really a free nation again until 1948 when the United Nations granted them permission to be an independent nation once more. And yet to this day, among them there is but limited knowledge and obedience to the law of God for this era of time.

And there is great similarity in the history of other nations. Great nations of the earth have perished because of their corruption. People who have read Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire see a pattern of things that led to the doom of that nation being very much like things that have developed in the United States. Our nation is one nation that was founded on Christian principles, though the founders were certainly not all Christians, but they seemed to have respect for godly morals and righteousness. But today in schools where at one time the Bible was a primary text book, the Bible is now scorned and taboo, and evolution is taught. Gambling was once discouraged as being immoral and those who did gamble did so rather secretly or under the cover of the darkness of night. Now gambling casinos and lottery ticket sales stations dot our land.

Our nation that once believed in the solidarity of the marriage union of a man and a woman “in sickness and in health, in prosperity and adversity until death do us part” now grants divorces over trivialities such as “incompatibility” or for almost any cause. For generations fornication and adultery were recognized as sin, but in modern times, many do not marry. They just live together in a sinful relationship and expect society to accept their lifestyle.

Homosexuality was at one time considered about as low as any person could go, but now government leaders honor prominent sports figures or movie stars who openly admit that they are “gay,” not with any sense of guilt or repentance of sin but with an attitude “You ought to accept me in my lifestyle.” Legal permits are granted to such people for parades and demonstrations and appeals to Congress to legalize their “rights” to live the way they want.   And as accusations were made against the prophets of old as they warned people concerning their sins and the consequences that would follow, likewise people today meet severe opposition who dare to speak out against homosexuality and to teach what the Scriptures reveal, that sinners are treasuring up for themselves the wrath of God in the day of judgment (Romans 1:26-2:11, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Revelation 21:8 and 22:15). We who again sound warnings against such sin become the victims of their hostility and are accused of bigotry and intolerance. Men even resort to perverting the Scriptures saying that we are taught to love everyone. How can they say we do not love them when we are trying to save their souls from hell?

We pray for all men that they may come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved. We love people enough that we want to warn them of the consequences of sin and tell them of a loving Savior who died for their sins if they will repent and turn to a life of obedience to God. If a youth here in the Ozarks is given a new gun so he can go deer hunting or turkey hunting with his father, and the father instructs him regarding proper handling of the gun and warns him of the dangers of mishandling it, is that warning given because of the lack of love? If a parent tells a young driver to be careful, is that a lack of love? The reason God has warned us of sin is not because He does not love us, but because He loves us and does not want us to suffer the consequences of sin.

God has truly blessed our nation, perhaps more than any nation, but like other great nations that have fallen, our nation is jeopardizing its future. A number of us who have lived a long time have seen several nations pass from existence and new nations take their place. God is still in control and has the power to plant nations and to pluck up nations (Jeremiah 18:6-10). Whether it be concern for the destiny of our nation, or concern for the destiny of individual souls, men would do well to take heed to the warnings God has given concerning the consequences of sin and of the reward that He has offered to those who will believe in Him and obey His Word. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Thomas D. Dennis
~ 207 W. Hunter Dr., Nixa, MO  65714

The Consequences of Sin

Throughout both the Bible and the pages of secular history, we can read of the disastrous consequences of the errors and misconduct of men. The Biblical account of Adam and Eve’s disobedience is not a mere myth but a God given record of their transgression and the effect that it brought on all generations since that time. By the tenth generation of human life, wickedness had become so prominent that God flooded the earth to destroy all creatures in which was the breath of life except the animals and eight people in the ark that Noah had built at the commandment of the Lord, a catastrophic destruction of such magnitude that the earth still shows the marks and scars of the event. The consequences of sin have been at a horrible cost to humankind, besides requiring the death of Christ in order to make possible redemption, forgiveness, and salvation for those who will believe in Him and obey His word.

About 4,000 years ago in the 20th generation of humanity, when there were still a limited number of organized nations with functioning governments, God called Abraham to leave his country and family and go to a land that God would show him, and God promised, “I will make you a great nation. I will bless you, and in you all families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3 is a promise we now understand to be a prophecy of Christ the Savior coming a couple of thousand years later through the lineage of Abraham). It was several generations of his offspring later that his people developed into a nation.

God led Abraham to the land of the Canaanites and promised him that land. Abraham had a son named Isaac. Isaac had a son named Jacob (later changed by God to Israel). Jacob had 12 sons. Eventually when one of his sons, Joseph, was ruler in Egypt, Jacob and all his sons moved to Egypt. It was during those years in Egypt that they became a great multitude of people, so many in number that the Egyptian government enslaved them and attempted to control their population by killing their male babies lest they should become powerful enough to be instrumental in the overthrow of the government.   It was in that time period and environment that God raised up Moses to deliver the Israelites from the cruel bondage of Egypt. Ten terrible plagues were sent by God on the Egyptians before their ruler consented to let the people of Israel go.

Leaving Egypt, they traveled to Mount Sinai and it was there that God audibly spoke to the terrified multitude and gave to Moses the Law that was to guide them. From the time of God giving them a law, they were then known as the nation that was promised to Abraham, though they did not possess the land of Canaan until the days of Joshua.

The great lesson that I want to consider is that God constantly warned them to take heed to do His commandments and to be careful to observe all His statutes. He made promises to them never made to any other people. He promised that if they would obey His word, no enemy soldier would ever tread upon their soil, the people would prosper and be blessed with health, they would never have a crop failure, their livestock would never lose their young. But He warned them of the tragedies and sorrows that would come upon them if they failed to obey Him. Even before they left the mountain, they made a golden calf and worshipped it.

As they traveled through the wilderness, they were constantly complaining and violating the commandments of God. When they refused to enter the Promised Land, they were sent back into the wilderness until that generation of them died. Remember Korah, Dathan, and Abiram and their death because of their sin. When the people finally entered the land, remember Achan and his sin and death. Why did they not learn to obey God? They had been repeatedly warned.

By the time of the Judges, every man was doing what seemed right in his own eyes with little or no regard for the commandments of the Lord. Nation after nation warred against them and oppressed them, and each time after God delivered them they returned to their sins. In the days of Samuel, the people demanded a king to rule over them. Samuel warned them in detail what the consequences would be, but the warning did not change their demand.

Some of their kings were exceedingly corrupt. Even Solomon, whom God blessed with a degree of wisdom above all other men, grievously departed from the path of righteousness, for at least a portion of his life, and supported some of the worst forms of idolatry, and perhaps set a world record for his harem of 1000 wives and concubines. Jeroboam led 10 tribes of Israel into heathen idolatry. In spite of the preaching and warnings of the prophets that God sent among the people, wickedness still prevailed and God had the northern tribes overthrown by Assyria and then the southern tribes carried away into Babylonian captivity for 70 years.

After that period of chastisement in the days of the Medo-Persian Empire, the Jews were permitted to return to their land, but they were never really a free nation again until 1948 when the United Nations granted them permission to be an independent nation once more. And yet to this day, among them there is but limited knowledge and obedience to the law of God for this era of time.

And there is great similarity in the history of other nations. Great nations of the earth have perished because of their corruption. People who have read Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire see a pattern of things that led to the doom of that nation being very much like things that have developed in the United States. Our nation is one nation that was founded on Christian principles, though the founders were certainly not all Christians, but they seemed to have respect for godly morals and righteousness. But today in schools where at one time the Bible was a primary text book, the Bible is now scorned and taboo, and evolution is taught. Gambling was once discouraged as being immoral and those who did gamble did so rather secretly or under the cover of the darkness of night. Now gambling casinos and lottery ticket sales stations dot our land.

Our nation that once believed in the solidarity of the marriage union of a man and a woman “in sickness and in health, in prosperity and adversity until death do us part” now grants divorces over trivialities such as “incompatibility” or for almost any cause. For generations fornication and adultery were recognized as sin, but in modern times, many do not marry. They just live together in a sinful relationship and expect society to accept their lifestyle.

Homosexuality was at one time considered about as low as any person could go, but now government leaders honor prominent sports figures or movie stars who openly admit that they are “gay,” not with any sense of guilt or repentance of sin but with an attitude “You ought to accept me in my lifestyle.” Legal permits are granted to such people for parades and demonstrations and appeals to Congress to legalize their “rights” to live the way they want.   And as accusations were made against the prophets of old as they warned people concerning their sins and the consequences that would follow, likewise people today meet severe opposition who dare to speak out against homosexuality and to teach what the Scriptures reveal, that sinners are treasuring up for themselves the wrath of God in the day of judgment (Romans 1:26-2:11, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Revelation 21:8 and 22:15). We who again sound warnings against such sin become the victims of their hostility and are accused of bigotry and intolerance. Men even resort to perverting the Scriptures saying that we are taught to love everyone. How can they say we do not love them when we are trying to save their souls from hell?

We pray for all men that they may come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved. We love people enough that we want to warn them of the consequences of sin and tell them of a loving Savior who died for their sins if they will repent and turn to a life of obedience to God. If a youth here in the Ozarks is given a new gun so he can go deer hunting or turkey hunting with his father, and the father instructs him regarding proper handling of the gun and warns him of the dangers of mishandling it, is that warning given because of the lack of love? If a parent tells a young driver to be careful, is that a lack of love? The reason God has warned us of sin is not because He does not love us, but because He loves us and does not want us to suffer the consequences of sin.

God has truly blessed our nation, perhaps more than any nation, but like other great nations that have fallen, our nation is jeopardizing its future. A number of us who have lived a long time have seen several nations pass from existence and new nations take their place. God is still in control and has the power to plant nations and to pluck up nations (Jeremiah 18:6-10). Whether it be concern for the destiny of our nation, or concern for the destiny of individual souls, men would do well to take heed to the warnings God has given concerning the consequences of sin and of the reward that He has offered to those who will believe in Him and obey His Word. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Thomas D. Dennis
~ 207 W. Hunter Dr.,  Nixa, MO  65714

NUMBERS… NUMBERS… NUMBERS

It seems to be human nature to emphasize and think highly of large numbers of people, in particular as it relates to churches. After all, if such a large number of people believe or do something, it must be a good thing. Right?   Actually, not really. Nowhere is this more important than in religion. Unfortunately there are a lot of people who believe if something is very popular and has a lot of followers, it must be good. In reality, it is just the opposite.

In regard to the Lord’s people, the faithful seem to have always been a percentage of the perceived people of God. Not all of Israel was faithful, only a portion. Consider what is perceived as “Western Christendom.” We as members of the body of Christ are an extremely small percentage. In the so-called “evangelical community,” the churches of Christ make up a small percentage. Even among the number of churches of Christ, those of us who believe the brothers of a congregation are to be the public teachers of that body are a very small percentage of that number. Among the congregations that practice the mutual edification of the saints even those we might consider large who have memberships in the 70s and 80s are still very small when compared to most of the churches of Christ in this country.

There is such a temptation to assume that if a congregation has a large number of members they are faithful to the Lord. We certainly know this is not necessarily the case. There are bodies that claim to be churches of Christ that have thousands of members that I have trouble conceiving of them as faithful to the Lord in faith and doctrine (This is not to say there are none in those congregations who will be saved, for that is the Lord’s judgment to make ,not mine).

Conversely, there is also a temptation to assume that because a congregation is small in number, they are not a faithful congregation of the Lord’s people. My point is that just because a congregation is small does not make them wrong, nor does it make their assemblies unedifying by the Lord’s standards. Yes, their singing may be a bit weak and “off-key,” their speakers may not be highly skilled, and they may not have the latest in comforts because of their lack of funds, but they still may very well be acceptable to the Lord.

It is worth noting that when you consider Jesus’ messages to the Seven Churches in Asia in Revelation chapters 2-3, only two were totally faithful to the Lord, the churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia. Jesus had nothing negative to say to either of these congregations, and He had plenty of negatives to say to the other five. Judging by Jesus’ words, they both appeared to be smaller and poorer congregations, yet they were the most faithful.

Consider Jesus’ words to Smyrna in Revelation 2:9, “I know your works, tribulation and poverty (but you are rich).” They were poor yet they had much faith. Consider Jesus’ words to Philadelphia in Revelation 3:8, “for you have a little strength.” In spite of their small number, they had kept His Word and had not denied His name. What commendations to both smaller congregations! What an encouragement Jesus’ words are to His congregations today who may “appear” weak and poor to the eyes of man, but in reality they may be rich and spiritually prosperous.

Let us not fall into the trap Satan appears to weave by assuming because a congregation is small in number they are not faithful nor worthwhile. The fact they are small or poor may simply mean they are unpopular in the eyes men, but this does not necessarily make it so in the eyes of God. It is not important to God that His people be popular. What is important to the Lord is for His people to be faithful.–

Jay H. Graham
~ 7715 Quarterhorse Cir, Flagstaff, AZ 86004