Category Archives: Volume – 57

Ashamed?

Some people are ashamed of their parents. Some parents are ashamed of their children. Some are ashamed of their family, or where they came from, and some are ashamed of their church. Some people are ashamed of the place they live or their income or their job, or lack of a job. Some people are ashamed of their education, or lack of one. There are those who are ashamed of their voice or their appearance, their face or their skin or their hair or their clothes. Some people are ashamed of things they have done, or things they have left undone. Sometimes, it is right to feel ashamed, especially of bad behavior and failures, as part of a process of correction and redirection (Romans 6:21). However, sometimes shame is really not appropriate, especially of things one has no choice about or power over, or things that are passing fashions or unimportant; and then again there is always one thing that no Christian should be ashamed of, no matter what the circumstances or the pressure.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).

The author of that statement, Paul, showed that he meant what he said as over and over again he conscientiously proclaimed redemption from sins through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, no matter what hardships or oppression that preaching aroused. Paul preached the cross of Christ as the one answer to humanity’s biggest problem, the problem of sin and death. He said that Christ sent him “to preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:17) and even amplified that the preaching was not a matter of clever words that appeal to human taste or wisdom or dignity, but that the “word of the cross” is “the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:17-18). Because of that whole hearted conviction Paul would not only say that he himself was “not ashamed of the gospel,” despite being arrested and charged with a capital crime for preaching, but would also emphasize to his fellow believers and coworkers, “do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me, his prisoner” (2 Timothy 1:8). Peter in turn echoed Paul’s urging to not be ashamed of the gospel when he wrote:

But if anyone suffers as a Christian, he should not be ashamed, but should glorify God with that name (1 Peter 4:16).

People who are ashamed of things in their lives may try to hide the truth, or may try to disown or disguise those things that embarrass them. That happens not only in personal matters, but in religion and churches as well. People may go to a church that they are in some ways ashamed of, and be hindered from sharing their faith because of it. Remember though, Paul didn’t believe or teach that the power of God for salvation was in an exhilarating church music program or a high tech evangelistic program, or an eloquent speaker on a Sunday morning, or just the right set of handouts or the right program or person of any sort at all. Those things really are all stuff that Paul disavowed in terms of weak “wisdom” and “clever speech” (1 Corinthians 1:17-2:5) which were not a part of the gospel, not the power of God, but of the world. It is the gospel, the proclamation of the cross of Christ, the truth that Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead and ascended to the throne of God, that is the power of God for salvation. It is the gospel that Christians today, like Paul and Timothy and Peter long ago, need to uphold unashamed and testify to, and that everyone needs to believe. There is no substitute for the gospel, no useful augmentation of it, no power for salvation apart from it. Say it together with Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes.”

~ Charles Fry

Back to the Basics

There are two basic questions to consider when we go back to the basics:

  1. Why are you a member of the church of Christ?
  2. If you are not a member of the church of Christ, why are you a member of the religious organization that you are?

I can’t answer the second question because I am not a member of a religious sect. I can only answer the first question because God added me to His church.

WHY I AM A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST?

Because…

  1. It was founded by the scriptural builder:
  2. a) Christ founded the scriptural church – Matthew 16:18-19
  3. b) If a church was founded by any other man it is not scriptural, simply because we can’t find any scriptural verse.
  4. It was founded on the scriptural foundation:
  5. a) A scriptural church must have a scriptural foundation – 1 Cor 3:10-11, Eph 2:19-22, Matt 7:24-25
  6. b) It is important to realize that a good foundation is of extreme importance. No structure built out of proportion with the foundation can stand long – 1 Cor 3:12-15, Matt 15:13, Matt 7:26-27
  7. It was founded at the scriptural place:
  8. a) We cannot be a member of the scriptural church unless he is a member of the church founded at the scriptural place – Isa 2:2-3, Mic 4:1-2, Zech 1:16
  9. b) Jesus, in giving His worldwide commission, taught that Jerusalem was to be the starting place of the church – Luke 24:46-49, Acts 2:1-4
  10. c) If a church was first founded in America, London, Rome, or Philippines, that Church is not of the Lord’s church. The Lord’s church did not have its origin in any of these places.
  11. It possesses scriptural organization:
  12. a) Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist and teaching Pastors – Eph 4:11, 1 Cor 12:28
  13. b) The Bible clearly states that the church is to be governed by the elders of the local church. Deacons are to help and serve in this work. Bible teaches very plainly that elders are to be ordained in every church – Titus 1:5, Act 14:23
  14. c) Religious Organizations today are ruled by their ecclesiastical (Clergy) forms of government like Reverend Pastor, Senior Pastor, Directors and Others
  15. It has the scriptural creed:
  16. a) The Bible contains all that we need; we need nothing else to make us pleasing in the sight of God. – Isa 34:16, 2 Peter 1:3, 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  17. b) Human creeds or a Church Manual are the stigma of weakness and imperfection. Human creeds cannot be defended.
  18. It has the scriptural answer: “What must I do to be saved?”:
  1. a) The absolute necessity of faith is emphasized from the beginning to the end of the Bible. – Act 2:37-38, Mark 16:15-16, Acts 15:9, Rom 15:1, 2 Cor 5:7, Acts 16:31, Heb 11:6, Galatians 2:20, John 8:24, 1 John 5:4
  2. b) Many deceived people contend that faith comes as a result of a miraculous operation upon the heart. Others believe because of what their parents/Pastors told them.
  3. It speaks of the church in scriptural terms:
  4. a) “Churches of Christ” (Rom 16:16)

“Church of God” (1 Cor 1:2).

“Church of the living God” (1 Tim 3:15)

“Church of the firstborn” (Heb. 12:23)

  1. b) People who claim that they belong to Christ and yet are members of a religious group whose name is foreign from the Bible, this is a dishonor to our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ….
  2. There are more scriptural testimonies and evidences from the Bible, but I think seven (7) good reasons are more than enough to answer the question, “Why I am a member of the Church of Christ?”

THEREFORE : If our neighbors/friends were ask us why we are a member of the church of Christ or what is the difference of the church of Christ and the other churches, I pray we could give them a scriptural answer.

“Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.’” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

Note: I will be happy to receive any comments from you: iglesiapilipinas@gmail.com

~ Roger Wanasen

Little Things

Just recently, I had the honor of paying $90 to have my mechanic look over my car and tell me there was nothing wrong with it. He kept it overnight, because the battery had just died and he wanted to be sure. In the end the problem turned out to be an old 150W Inverter that I had purchased on one of my travels a few years ago to allow me to power my laptop from one of the van power sources. While it has been a long time since I used this inverter, we had apparently left it plugged in. After being plugged in it had been a minor drain on the battery. Not as bad as leaving your lights on, but enough that it was starting to drain the battery significantly overnight. It didn’t used to do this, but it does now. This minor accessory developed a small flaw that has caused me major problems.

This is how sin works in our lives. It is rare for us to start with a major sin. Usually we start small. A little lie because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. A quick look at a provocative magazine. Taking that candy bar without paying for it because the big corporation will never miss it. Then we go on about our lives either without thinking about it or deciding that we didn’t hurt anybody, so it doesn’t matter.

There are two problems with this line of reasoning. The first problem is that there is no sin that doesn’t hurt somebody. I could talk about how shoplifting actually increases prices at retailers, so others are paying for your crime, or how looking at dirty magazines objectifies the people who are featured in it and lines the pockets of those who only want to use people as commodities. But those are too specific, and don’t hold force in other areas. Sin is often harmful to those around us, but there are two people that should be mentioned that are always harmed by sin.

The first person is yourself. Solomon warns us that sin is a trap that ensnares us and holds us fast (Proverbs 5:22). Paul tells us that the wages we earn when we sin is death (Romans 6:23). Paul also talks about people who are liars and encouragers of sin when he talks about people whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:1-3). Each time we sin we destroy a part of ourselves that is good. We ruin our ability to discern right from wrong and we work towards a permanent and lasting death. Sin leads only to more sin. In the end, sin can only take us to destruction. This is why Jesus told us that if part of our body causes us to sin that we should get rid of it (Matthew 5:29-30).

The second person is God. There is a reason why David said that he had only sinned against God (Psalm 51:3). Without God, sin has no meaning. Sin is going against what God has created us to do. Sin cannot be in the presence of God. Solomon mentions things that are an abomination to the Lord, and they are all one or another form of sin (Proverbs 6:16-19). God is the final judge and arbiter of our fate, and he cannot tolerate sin. This is why so many times the Bible refers to him blotting out our sins or remembering our sins no more. The Father gave up his Son to be cruelly put to death to try to get rid of our sin. It pains him to see his creation sin.

Which brings us back to the problems with trying to reason our way out of the problems of sin. We have this conception in our minds that there are sins that don’t matter. The God who said don’t murder, also said don’t work on the seventh day, and also said don’t bear false witness (Exodus 20:3-17). The penalty for breaking the Law of the Lord was almost universally death, usually by stoning. The consequences were always severe for any sin. God did not have a scale on which he said, “this sin isn’t as bad as that one.” God just said that sin is sin. All sins are worthy of the consequence of death.

This is why Paul tells us that we need to stop sinning once we are baptized into Christ (Romans 6:1-2). It is important for us to understand that while we will constantly be working to not sin, there will be times when we will fail. John reminds us that if claim to be without sin, we call God himself a liar (1 John 1:9-10). However we also know that we have someone to intercede with God on our behalf, his son Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1). Jesus isn’t just our advocate, he was willing to die to separate us from our sins. That is how badly God wants us to stop sinning and become righteous. He doesn’t want to only take the planks out of our eyes, he wants to get out the specks too. And he is the only one who can see clearly enough to do it.

~ Benjamin Fry

Obedience to the Creator

Do you truly believe that, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth?” (Genesis 1:1). God demands from the opening line of Scriptures that we acknowledge Him as designer and creator. It is not enough to think God set elements in motion that stirred up creation by evolutionary process. We cannot have faith in God, nor please God, unless we attribute the observable as being created by that which is not seen. “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).

Psalm 104 eloquently expresses the psalmist’s faith in God as creator, summarizing his belief in verse 24, “O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your possessions.” As with the psalmist, our faith in God grows as we observe God’s handiwork. His observations led him to three truths, each one furthering and deepening our faith in God and our appreciation for creation.

He begins, “how manifold are your works.” The Lord has done many works, from laying the foundations of the earth and setting the boundaries for the deep to developing gravity and the water cycle. The psalm reminds us of the many great works involved in a stream of water coming down a mountainside (Psalm 104:10-13). Beside the stream trees are able to live and grow. Within the branches of the trees birds of the air find a place to build their homes. The birds take the trees’ seeds and help scatter them throughout so that new trees grow and life continues to prosper. God’s many works were designed in such a way that a wide variety of living creatures would be able to dwell together. Truly God’s creation is teeming with magnificence.

The psalmist continues, “In wisdom you have made them all.” Our God is a master craftsman (Proverbs 8:22-30). For example, have you ever wondered what keeps a giraffe from getting dizzy every time he takes a drink? It lifts its head 15-18 feet in the air within just a couple seconds. The loss of blood pressure would be enough to make any person faint. Yet, the giraffe rises with ease because God designed it to handle the swift change in blood pressure. The size of its heart (over 25 lbs.), along with an extremely high blood pressure (nearly twice that of a human), helps keep enough blood pumping to the brain. This incredible pump, and all the intricate details surrounding it, keeps the giraffe standing tall. Consider also the hummingbird, which can flap its wings 80 times per second. Commonly these tiny birds travel at speeds reaching 50 mph. If humans had the metabolism of hummingbirds, we would need to consume 155,000 calories per day. With that incredible caloric consumption, how does a hummingbird maintain its energy? God designed the hummingbird with a long beak and a two-furrowed tongue. The hummingbird sticks its beak into a flower’s center in order to drink its nectar, an extremely effective fuel. The tongue takes the nectar from the flower and stores it in its furrows, finally taking the nectar into the hummingbird’s bill and squeezing it out of its furrows as it curls back into the hummingbird’s head. There is also the dolphin’s sonar, which can detect a fish the size of a golf ball from 230 feet away. And the lobster’s eyes, which are modelled in such a perfect way that NASA copied their design for use in their x-ray telescopes. God’s creation exudes wisdom and perfection. It declares His handiwork. It demands that we acknowledge Him as the masterful Creator.

The psalmist concludes, “the earth is full of your possessions.” We are told in Psalm 50:10-12:

“For every beast of the field is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is mine, and all its fullness.”

Everything on this earth belongs to God. He is its originator and its life-giving source. Therefore, Jesus was able to rebuke the wind and the waves to be still, and they obeyed His voice (Matthew 8:26). Creation obeys the voice of its owner and creator. The seas keep their boundaries (Job 38:11), the sun knows its circuit (Psalm 19:5-6, 104:19), the moon knows its seasons (Psalm 104:19) and the living creatures fulfill their created roles exactly as God designed (Job 39:9-30). If all creation is subject to its Creator, then should we not also submit ourselves faithfully to Him?

Romans 1:18-20 states:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”

What does Paul mean, “they are without excuse?” God eloquently evidences Himself through creation in such a way that we should be led toward faithful obedience. When our actions belie our faith in God, we have no excuse. We are like a man who cannot find his glasses, though they sit atop his head; the evidence is right in front of us, but we’re too blind to see.

Do we truly believe that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth?” Then let us show forth our faith by humble obedience to our Creator’s will. “Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (Psalm 100:3). Follow the great Shephard, Creator of Heaven and Earth, and be forever blessed.

~ Joshua Riggins

Spreading the Word

A few months ago I noticed a well-placed billboard on a well-travelled highway leading into Kansas City. The sign was simple. It said, “God’s Word Romans 1:24-28: Homosexuality is Sinful Behavior Not an Identity.” While I heartily concur with the veracity of the message I believe the setting was misplaced. We have been called to spread the Word. But if we do not approach our task with love, we can do more harm than good. Spreading the gospel is a singular responsibility, and we must approach it with the utmost care.

In 2 Samuel 12, Nathan is sent by the Lord to convict David of wrong concerning his behavior with Bathsheba and Uriah. But Nathan does not bluntly accuse David of wrong. Rather, he tells a parable and David convicts himself. In Acts 16:3, Paul encounters a young man named Timothy. Timothy has a Jewish mother and a Greek father. But we find that Paul circumcised Timothy. He did not do this because it was required by the gospel but rather because it enabled Timothy to speak with and to unbelieving Jews. Paul could have used Timothy’s uncircumcision to point out the differences between the Old Law and the New Law. Instead he set the issue aside to enable him to reach more unbelieving Jews. This does not mean that he bent the truth or that he did not stand up for the gospel. In fact, we read in the next verse that Paul is carrying the letter from the apostles and elders in Jerusalem refuting the doctrine that the Gentiles must be circumcised. So, we know that Paul was still preaching the whole truth of the Gospel. But, he was also making allowance for the weaknesses in his audience. Paul could have used the letter from Jerusalem in concert with refusing to circumcise Timothy, who was half Jewish, to make the point that “circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing” (1 Corinthians 7:19). But rather, Paul chose not to throw the gospel in the face of unbelieving Jews and attempt to smash their beliefs with the Word of the Lord. Likewise, we too must understand our audience and approach them with care.

As we are discussing the scriptures with a friend, we typically approach many subjects with the utmost tact. And with good reason –the revelation of our sins is a painful process. Paul tells us, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Likewise, David writes, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Psalm 51: 17). It is with good reason that the Word of God is described as a sword,

“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” (Hebrews 4:12)

The three thousand souls in Acts chapter 2 were “cut to the heart” by the Word (Acts 2:37). The truth presented in the word of God will be hard enough for many to receive. But we can easily poison the Word if we are not sensitive to their weaknesses. Paul addresses this aspect of spreading the word in 1 Corinthians 9:

“For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19 -22).

Paul is not telling us he changed the gospel. But rather, he varied his conduct, as much as he could, to remove barriers that might have prevented him from preaching the gospel.

Jesus told the eleven, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Jesus tells us that we “are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14) and that we should let our “light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Paul also told Timothy, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). There is no doubt that we are called to preach the gospel in word and deed. However, the manner in which the message is delivered matters. In fact, Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:15 that we should be “speaking the truth in love.” We cannot brow beat our neighbors into repentance. Attempting to do so will, in most cases, have the opposite effect. When it does, we have done more harm than good. In fact, Jesus tells us that we should use discretion when preaching the Word, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you” (Matthew 7:6). We must take stock of our audience before sharing the gospel. In some cases, this may mean not sharing the gospel at all. In others it may mean choosing a different starting place in the scriptures. But, in every case we must share the gospel in such a way that it demonstrates love for our neighbors (Matthew 5:44, Matthew 19:19).

Paul, quoting Isaiah the prophet, says, “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15). The gospel is a story of how we can have peace with the Creator of the universe. It is a beautiful story! We have the privilege of conveying the gospel to the world. Let us make sure we spread the gospel with love and care.

~ Richard Garbi

Pigments of Our Imagination

I grew up on the fuzzy, flapping fringe of the color line in the United States. My paternal grandmother had five generations of Cherokees behind her, and before that it was several of the “First nations people” of Canada who got together with my Scottish and French ancestors on my grandmother’s side, which makes me, according to the Canadian constitution, a Métis (I am “Aboriginal under section 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act 1982”–it says so on the back of my official registry card with the Eastern Woodlands Métis Nation Nova Scotia). Additionally, there is also knowledge in my family of some Osage heritage in my paternal grandfather’s line as well as more Cherokee. My adoptive maternal grandfather was Cajun. My closest cultural associations growing up were with Melungeons, Lumbees, “half-breeds, “and Creoles. Because of this and because of my own certain awareness, I really do not consider myself as “white” and I never really have. When I have to mark that little box, I write in my own line that simply says “human.” “White” is what it says on my birth certificate. “White” is what you would think to call me when you look at me. But “White” doesn’t account for everything and “White” seeks to disguise so much. I do not like the term “white” because as a designation for ethnicity it is a really modern invention and actually a part of a great big lie.

Do you know that when the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, there were no “white” people there? There were “English” people there. There were “European-Americans” there, but they did not think of themselves as, or call each other “white.” In fact “white” as a term of social status appears in no records in the American colonies until 1691. “White” as an identity had to be carefully taught for six decades before such a term could be on the books. In the Genesis creation account, every living thing, including human beings, is made according to its “kind.” The Hebrew word translated here is the word “miyn.” This word means species. In terms of human kind, there is but one species. The apostle Paul (a Jew) confirmed this truth when speaking to an audience of Gentiles on Mar’s Hill when he said, “we are of one blood/one man.” According to the Bible, in these and other passages, there is no such thing as the concept of “race,” that is, unless all we are talking about is one race, which is to say, the human race; and, the whole concept of “mixture” is predicated on purity and what can any human possibly purely be except human? We must avoid the erroneous teachings of men, brethren! Racism, in any form, is erroneous teaching. And dividing up the human race according to skin color? Not Biblical either!

You cannot tell from a person’s DNA whether he or she is black, red, yellow or white. I would not expect you to think in terms of the social constructs of “race” in the way that a citizen of Japan would think, or like someone in Brazil, or India. Do you think of an “Irishman” as being of another “race?” Prior to the civil war, that is exactly what people in this country thought! But the “color line” soon took care of that with the appearance of “Jim Crow” and the “One Drop” laws, “quantum blood requirements” for Native American citizenship, the use of terms such as “Caucasian” and “Negroid,” the invention of the “white race,” and other such Satan-infused poison darts of our shared cultural heritage. We have been taught to accept that there are “races” and that the basis for race is skin color. But it is not true! “Race” is not real; ethnicity is! But ethnicity has no genetic basis in reality but is rather something that is imposed by social experience.

Skin color is determined by the interaction of so many different genes working together; the same interactions that are present in every ethnic group, with such a wide degree of variation that it is impossible to attribute skin color to race. There are the components of our D.N.A which have been termed “genetic markers,” but these are not unique to ethnic populations either. You might be much surprised to learn what genetic “markers” are present within your genome. There is a greater and deeper technical discussion which could be entered into here, but suffice it to say, there certainly are no “race” genes, and there are “black people” living in these United States with overwhelming distribution of “Caucasian” genetic markers, and, conversely, “white people” sharing a significance of shared markers with populations of people who have never left Africa. We are about truth brethren, not lies (1 Timothy 3:15, 6:20)!

Satan has already induced our culture to swallow one poison pill. Now he is trying to get us to swallow another. The same misrepresentations of the facts of genetic science that gave rise to the social construct called “race,” have for some time been applied to what the world calls “sexual orientation and preference.” It’s the same old story, the same old flawed reasoning that men use to endeavor to prove or advance their own willfulness. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University in Illinois, divulges the results of a study done on 400 homosexual men. The study looked at a region of the X chromosome called Xq28. Although reports soon followed this study with bold claims about how science had vindicated the “born that way” crowd, a careful and honest examination of this study, gives no such certainty. In point of fact, the study was inconclusive as the words of the scientists indicate. Please consider this: “The gene or genes in the Xq28 region that influence sexual orientation have a limited and variable impact. Not all of the gay men in Bailey’s study inherited the same Xq28 region. The genes were neither sufficient, nor necessary, to make any of the men gay.” Another study involved the examination of identical twins. If sexual orientation is genetically determined, then the concordance rate among identical twins should be 100%. If one twin is gay, so should be the other. Alas, the concordance rate, according to researchers Peter Bearman from Columbia and Hannah Bruckner from Yale, is somewhere between 5% and 7%. The publication The Guardian swallows hard, but has this to say about that study: “The flawed thinking behind a genetic test for sexual orientation is clear from studies of twins, which show that the identical twin of a gay man, who carries an exact replica of his brother’s DNA, is more likely to be straight than gay. That means even a perfect genetic test that picked up every gene linked to sexual orientation would still be less effective than flipping a coin.”

In other words, brethren, the genetic evidence for biological causation is so poor you’d have better luck predicting sexual orientation by throwing darts blindfolded. In truth, the only sure thing about saying that there is a genetic component for homosexuality is the certainty that people will continue to say that there is. Satan is very clever at what he does.

It has never been about what is “in your blood” as far as God is concerned! God only makes humans and he does not make them to sin. And the only blood that matters is the blood of God’s dear son. Are you washed in THAT blood?

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

~ Steve Wright

You Follow Me

We, as the Lord’s people, are continuing to see our society spiral down into spiritual darkness in many avenues. Over the past generations we have seen our country disregard the Lord’s Word time and time again as the very fabric of our society continues to tear away in regard to common decency, morality, even marriage. We are tempted to wring our hands and cry out “Woe are we!” as we lament these serious issues. Religious people in general are tempted to march in the streets, cry out against wickedness with placards using politics to mend these issues, and even some are drawn to speaking in hatred and anger toward these ills and those that seem to be at the heart of such wickedness. While Christians need to be reminded of many things we can say in this regard, such as the importance of speaking the Lord’s truths in love and letting the light of the Lord shine from our lives in this dark world, there is another point that I think is important that will help us testify to the Lord’s truths in a right and just manner.

There are a number of passages that come to mind as I think on what our response should be to these things. These answers are not “exciting” as many long for as man’s wisdom often is, nor are they appealing to the flesh. However they do appeal to holy spirits and are indeed godly responses to these issues and can and will help us be the “World’s Bible.”

I recall the discussion Jesus had with Peter in John 21:15-22. Jesus had just spoke to Peter of his (Peter’s) death. Rather than meditate on the Lord’s words of admonition and take them to heart, Peter tried to change the subject to John, to which Jesus said, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow me.” That was the Lord’s answer to Peter’s concern: “You follow me.” That admonition will help us as we perceive seemingly troubling times. “You follow me.”

I recall a discussion Jesus had with his disciples in Matthew 20:20-28 when His disciples were arguing with each other in regard to some of their number wanting to be higher placed in the Lord’s kingdom then their brothers. Jesus’ answer to their concern/squabble was in verses 26-28. Rather than being concerned as to who was the greatest in the Kingdom they were told to serve one another! What a great answer! That will help us navigate through these troubling times.

Again, another discussion Jesus had in Luke 13:1-5 gives us a beautiful answer to observing and living in troubling times. Jesus was reminded of some Galileans whom Pilate had killed and of 18 people who were killed when the Tower of Siloam fell. Jesus’ answer to both observations was for people to “repent!” That will also help the Lord’s people in troubling times.

I am also reminded of the Holy Spirit’s observation of the coming parents of John the Immerser, Zacharias and Elizabeth in Luke 1:5-6. At a time when many of the Jewish leaders were corrupted by their own traditions rather than those of the Lord, the High Priesthood had become a political position, and many of the Jewish people had fallen away from the Lord’s will for their lives, Zacharias and Elizabeth had remained faithful to the Lord. The Holy Spirit referred to them as “both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” They did not let the wickedness of others keep them from following the Lord, nor should we!

What can help us remain faithful in these troubling times? What can give us proper spirits as we observe man’s wickedness? Consider these 4 admonitions and what they call us to do. “You follow me.” “Serve one another.” “Repent.” Be “righteous before God.” What better answers for our lives as we humbly walk in the Lord’s ways. If we heed these admonitions we will be lights in a dark world. We will have a positive effect upon others. If we are busy serving the Lord we will not have as much time to worry and complain about our society’s moral issues. And most importantly, the Lord will be pleased with us! “You follow me!”

~ Jay H. Graham

Blood Guilt

In the story of Jericho two spies were sent by Joshua, the Israelite commander, into the city before the invasion of Canaan began. In Jericho the spies found an ally in Rahab the prostitute who recognized the divine power behind the army of Israel and wanted to save her family. A simple bargain was struck in which the spies, whose lives were saved from local authorities by Rahab, agreed that Rahab’s family would be spared, but on one condition. Every person who would be saved must be in Rahab’s house. Any of them who left the house would die, and “his blood will be on his own head” (Joshua 2:19). Rahab took this arrangement to heart, and brought her family into her house to await the Israelite victory, which she and her family survived.

The concept of personal responsibility for our choices in life is pervasive in the Bible. When Solomon became king of Israel he warned a man, Shimei, who had been an adversary of King David that he would be safe and secure as long as he remained in Jerusalem, but if he ever left the city “you can be sure you will die; your blood will be on your own head” (1 Kings 2:37). This was not a complicated arrangement, but the man who had been warned and fully informed did make a trip out of the city after 3 years to retrieve runaway slaves from the Philistine city of Gath. Shortly after his return to Jerusalem he was reminded of the terms of his parole, and Shimei was executed shortly afterward. His blood was on his own head. He chose to do what he did despite knowing the cost.

The prophet Ezekiel was told in broad terms that every person is responsible for their own behavior, whether good or evil, and that one who persists in doing evil will be punished for his own sins, not son for father, and not father for son, but each person is responsible for their own behavior. After listing several kinds of sinful behavior, the Lord said, “Because he has done these detestable things, he will surely be put to death and his blood will be on his own head” (Ezekiel 18:13). No one but the sinner is responsible for the consequence of the sins.

Ezekiel himself was warned that while he wasn’t responsible for what people do, he was responsible for warning people about what they did. He was like a watchman for Israel, God said, and if a watchman saw enemy forces approaching and warned the people, he had done his job. If the people who were warned listened and thus saved their own lives, well and good. If anyone did not listen to the warning, then “his blood will be on his own head” (Ezekiel 33:4-5). On the other hand, if the appointed watchman gave no warning then when disaster came “I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood” (33:6). This was the position Ezekiel was in. He had to warn people of their wrong doing, whether they listened or not. In order for Ezekiel to save himself from blood guilt, he had to warn the sinners, whether they listened or not. Sinners who listened and changed would be saved, but each sinner would be responsible for his own sins, his own repentance. Ezekiel must warn them with God’s words, or else God would “hold you accountable for his blood” (Ezekiel 33:7-9). The reaction to the warning was up to those who heard.

Several times in Leviticus 20 this idea of personal responsibility for sin, lawbreaking, is emphasized in the sexual sins and rejection of authority listed there. Capitol crimes included cursing father or mother, adultery, incest with close relatives, homosexual acts, bestiality, and acting as a medium or spiritist, with the reminder over and over, “their blood will be on their own heads” (Leviticus 20:9-16. 27). This again is a basic and vital concept: the lawbreaker is justly responsible for the known outcome of breaking the law. None of these things listed as unlawful are needs, none of them are required behaviors, none of them are unavoidable, none of them are beneficial, but rather each is a voluntary act, an appetite pursued, a will surrendered. To know the law (and Israel was required to know the law and rehearse the commandments on a regular basis) and choose to voluntarily violate the law, no matter how attractive or rewarding that violation might seem, “their blood will be on their own heads.”

If people choose to do what leads to death, they are responsible for their own death. The follower of God, on the other hand, is responsible like Moses, or the spies, or Solomon, or Ezekiel, to give warning, to make clear what leads to life, and what causes death.

~ Charles Fry

Lost In Harmony with God

There is reason to fear God. What we think of ourselves may not stand. No one can escape the truth. The beauty and goodness of what God has done will not be lost on anyone, and many will awaken to the unpleasant realization of failure. We are fashioned by the Heavenly Creator to understand and respond to the truth. Whether we admit it or not, we know this is a good thing. God has given us a high order of life. “God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods. . . I said, “You are gods, And all of you are children of the Most High” (Psalm 82:1, 6). All are called gods and all will ultimately agree with Him. There is harmony in this even in the sorrow of condemnation.

The eighty-second psalm was written as an admonition to Israel. The psalmist wrote of Israel’s past and future failures, as well as their potential to fulfill the good of God’s design. Man has divine origin not only because he is a part of God’s creation, but because man was given a share in God’s divinity. “You are gods.”

When man was created, he was made like God. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Genesis 1:27). God creating an image of Himself would be similar to man making a statue of himself. This is a feeble comparison but the idea of making an image is true. The very best of artistic talent among us can fashion a shape which may evoke some attitude or feeling but that is all the farther it goes. The image has no life. On God’s plane of wisdom and love, the image He made was not done in futility, conceit, or artistic reverie. He created an image of Himself that is true, beings who might live in the glory of our Father’s goodness. We are designed to be His children, not in a figure of speech but in the reality of His creation.

We see, in God’s conversation with Cain, that Cain possessed a measure of awareness and capability similar to God. It is the core of accountability.

“So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Genesis 4:6-7).

Cain was accountable for doing well. This implies he understood God’s will. It further indicates that God made known His will. Cain and his sacrifice were rejected because he failed to do well. God reasoned with Cain in the aftermath of this failure. This at once denotes God’s desire for Cain’s reform. Cain could have repented and done the right thing. Being accountable, able to understand and able to respond, having the capacity to learn and the capacity to repent, are markers of being made in the image of God.

Jesus taught of a certain rich man who died and was in torment: “he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24). There was no talking back, no hiding his guilt, trying to offset it by whining. He didn’t argue that there would be no comfort forthcoming. He accepted his situation. He knew the righteousness of God. This was amplified by a fervent desire that his brothers should be saved. (This shows the condemned want the gospel to be preached.) “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, ‘for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment’” (Luke 16:27-28). Abraham told him that his brothers had Moses and the Prophets. This tormented man could appreciate the truth. What God had established through Moses and the prophets (the Bible) was enough. They (as well as we) did not need a resurrected neighbor to bring proof. This former rich man was in harmony with God because he understood and learned something in his state of torment. He was not forced into this awareness. He came to it because this was the only thing left – the truth.

As shown by Jesus, the brothers of the rich man could have learned. Jesus didn’t tell us their outcome. However, there is a warning for us. We can put a veil over our ability to know and walk with God. We can give in to deception. We can live a lie if that is what we want. We can choose the truth or the lie. In the grave and beyond we will wear the outcome of our choice in harmony with our Creator. We are gods, and we will appreciate the truth and know that God is right.

One might argue; “We didn’t ask to be created. It would have been better not to have been born. If God is so good then why did . . .?” This evasion might seem to shield us for a little while, but it won’t last. In the end, every soul, whether rebellious or just, will tender their agreement that God is good, that the prospects of life were desirable, and that He is fair and just. Therefore “every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

~ Louis Garbi