Monthly Archives: July 2013

Why Do You Believe the Gospel?

Why do I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ?  It is because I want to believe it.

Growing up, my parents both believed the gospel, so along with their influence and the other common folks of my childhood, the good news about Jesus became my belief as well.  But when I became a man and had to think for myself, I examined what I was taught to see if it was so, and in the process began hearing the other side of the issue.  I listened to other points of view on how we ought to live here on earth.  Many writers were read who explained different ways to serve God.  With so many different ways to be righteous, how was I to know if the gospel was the truth?

The Bible says that there are not many wise men who find the Lord.  To those who have higher intellects and seemingly are able to prove everything scientifically, the news about someone dying for them is just plain foolishness.  But their wisdom should not intimidate us, because no matter how smart a person is, there is still so much that they do not know or can explain by wisdom.  Compared to the infinite wisdom of God, none of us are even in preschool yet.

I listened to and read the writings of many skillful writers who explain other “gospels” which will show us the way to live.  I still believe the gospel because I have never heard any better explanation of life and its problems that the glorious gift of God’s Son to mankind!  No one else offers me a better explanation of the Universe than God in His Word.  No one else has a remedy for my big problem–sin.  They just tell me to be good, which does nothing at all to help my spiritual disease.  There is no other way of living that is better than the gospel way, and whatever good other religions offer, they borrow it from God’s own Word.  Besides, the best people I have ever known are those who live by the gospel.  True, there are many who do not live up to their calling in Christ, but those who provide other believes are almost always critical, unhappy people I don’t ever want to be like.

It always comes down to this question for those who would criticize faith in Jesus: “Do you have a better way?”  They don’t; they believe, like me, what they want to believe.  Why would a person want to believe something other than the good news of Jesus giving Himself for us, overcoming our enemy, death, and giving us eternal life?  Friends, what do you want to believe?  If you don’t believe the gospel already, I hope you will give it another try.  Read it or talk to someone who is a member of the Lord’s church.  See if it is indeed what you want to believe.

Thomas W. Woody
~ P.O. Box 148, Brighton, IL  62012-0148

A Simple Yet Proper Perspective

Many, if not most, of the truths presented in God’s word are being attacked and dismissed by a growing number of people in our society.  A large number of these attacks are coming from various segments of the sciences including geology, biology, sociology, etc.  There is a growing segment of everyday people who simply accept what these modern sciences spew forth as what they call “scientific fact” when in reality they are nothing more than man’s futile and ongoing attempts to deny a Creator.  Many search and search for the slightest bit of what they call “evidence” to say, “See, see, there truly is no God!”  Accordingly, if people do not accept these claims, they are dismissed as ignorant, bigoted, or worse.

It seems to me the last remaining bastion of those who believe in one true God and in His one truth, the Bible, are those who claim to be Christians.  In the past, most people seemed to believe in a Creator, and they had a basic belief in right and wrong in some form even if they did not claim to be Christians.  However, this number seems to have dwindled to very few in this modern era.  At least in these United States, those who claim to be Christians seem to be standing alone against much of the nonsense that is accepted as science today.

Now there is growing pressure on Christians to just accept the lies of macro-evolution as fact.  Christians are told since they are not educated in these sciences their opinions do not count.  What arrogance!  I think it is important for Christians to know that they do not need to be educated in the sciences to argue against them.  Certainly, there are many good books written by men and women who do believe the Bible and who do accept a literal six-day creation.  In addition, there surely is nothing wrong with reading such materials to use in discussing this topic.  However, there is also nothing wrong with simply stating a belief and certainty that the Scriptures are correct in how the Lord created this universe.  You do not have to be a scientist to explain how you accept God’s word in this matter, and you can certainly use the word of God to make your point.  You can show how man willingly chooses to forget creation and the Genesis flood as specifically noted in 2 Peter 3:5-6.

Yes, there are many books written on the subject of sin and morality and how sin harms lives.  Authors who believe in the dangers of sin and living immoral lives write many of these books.  However, a Christian does not have to be a sociologist to state he or she believes in the Bible’s standards for right and wrong.  In an age in which many call good bad and bad good, there is nothing wrong with quoting the word of God on its own merits.  Feel free to use the Bible to show how the works of the flesh truly do lead to death, and righteousness can lead to life.

Finally, you do not need to be an historian to say you believe in the historical legitimacy of the Scriptures.  Again, those who believe the Bible is historically accurate write many books and references, and there are many evidences that seem to validate many of the historical facts of God’s Book.  There is certainly nothing wrong with reading and using these resources as you argue with those who are against the Bible, but you do not have to be educated by man’s standards to have the right to state what you believe.

Ultimately, what you do need is a sound and proper foundation of Faith in the Lord and His Word.  That in itself gives Christians the right to stand for what they believes in.  Men may not respect that right, but it is given and approved of by the Lord.  Ultimately, that is what counts.

May the Lord grant His people the courage to continue to stand for what is right in the eyes of God.  May we as Christians continue to depend upon what He has provided for life and godliness.  May His people be at peace with what Christ has given for their spirits as they battle “… against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”(Ephesians 6:12b).  For that is who and what we are struggling against.

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

Imitating God

Perhaps you have known of children who put on their parent’s shoes.  I can remember as a child trying to walk around our house in my father’s shoes.  It was a difficult task, as the shoes were rather large compared to my little feet.  Yet there was great enjoyment in this activity.  Certainly, it bemused me to trip over myself trying to maintain control.  The real joy, though, came from the fact that I looked a little bit more like my dad.  I shared his shoes.  When one saw me walking about the house, one recognized immediately who I was trying to imitate.  That is not to say that I imitated him to perfection.  His shoes were big shoes to fill, and until I matured, my feet could not fit into them.

Paul may have had a similar concept in his mind when he told the Ephesian brethren to be, “…imitators of God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1).  A child looks to his father as the very epitome of what he ought to be like.  Little boys will attempt to sing bass so they sound like their dad.  They will pick up phrases and mannerisms by watching how their father speaks and interacts.  As children of God, we ought to look at Him as a loving child would their own father.  There should be a respect and love for Him that causes us to desire to be like Him.  John, in 1 John 3:1, points out the great love our Father has for us in calling us His own children.  His desire has always been to elevate us to be like Him.  He was not willing that any should perish, so He gave us all the opportunity to repent (2 Peter 3:9).  This is the love our Father has for us.  Should we not desire to exhibit the very same qualities in our own lives that make Him so great?

Someone may point to Isaiah 55:8-9, where we learn that God’s thoughts and ways are far above our own, and wonder why Paul would encourage us to imitate God.  Is there not some lower standard that we could measure up to?  It is impossible to expect that we would fill the shoes of God.  So too, it is impossible to expect a three year old to fill his own physical father’s shoes.  However, that does not mean we should not desire and try to imitate God.  No other being contains all knowledge, always judges righteously, always speaks appropriate and measured words, always succeeds in the plans He makes, never speaks untruth, loves all for their good, and gives of Himself so that His creation will be blessed.  How incredible is our God!  Truly it would be impossible for us to imitate Him perfectly.  Yet, as His children, shouldn’t we want to be more and more like the perfect Father we love so dearly?  Certainly we should.  Just like the child whose feet grow more and more with years, our spiritual feet will grow more and more into the beautiful feet of the one who brought good news upon the mountains (Isaiah 52:7).

One might astutely inquire, “What characteristics does God desire that we imitate?”  Turning back to the Ephesian letter, Paul points out in Ephesians 4:17-32 three overarching traits our God desires of His children.

In verses 17 through 24, we are encouraged to pursue true righteousness and holiness.  Instead of allowing ourselves to pursue the lusts of the flesh leading to sin, we are to be pure in mind and right in action.  We should not be deceitful or greedy, weaseling our way into power or money.  This is not the way of God our Father.  His nature is righteous (Psalm 23:3).  He is holy (Revelation 4:8).  He has no deceitful lust within him.  There is no greediness in our Father.  Let us become honest individuals always seeking to do what is right before God.

Verses 25 through 29 convey that our life should be led by truth.  The things we speak ought to be based on truth.  One cannot reflect the image of God by lying (John 17:17) We must be truthful in our endeavors.  It is not proper for the child of God to steal his bread.  Is God a thief?  How much of a price was He willing to pay for the items of His desire (1 Corinthians 6:20).  The Christian must ensure that the words proceeding from his or her lips express the truth of God dwelling within them (Matthew 12:34).

Finally, we see in verses 31 through 32 that we must learn to be gentle and forgiving.  God’s love is pointed to as the standard for our lives.  Did we deserve forgiveness?  Romans 5:8-10 explain that we were enemies of God when He chose to redeem us.  How humbling to think that God paid so dearly for our souls, and yet we have difficulty forgiving the cashier for sacking the milk with the bread.  Jesus told His disciples in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  When we love each other by eagerly forgiving beyond seventy times seven, when our love expresses a gentle spirit toward one another, then we are proclaiming to the world, “I belong to God Almighty. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.”

Imitation expresses a longing to be closer to the one we admire.  Just as the little boy wearing his dad’s shoes proves a desire to be more like his dad, so our imitation of God proves to Him our longing to be like Him in glory (1 John 3:2).  How are you doing in your imitation of our Father?  Is your life a reflection of  His beautiful life?  Are we constantly expressing our desire to be more and more like our Father?  May our lives prove the goodness and perfectness of God’s will.  May we shine forth as His blessed children, eagerly awaiting our home with Him.

Joshua Riggins
~ 468 N. Seminary St., Bloomfield, IN 47424

Surviving the Assault

The Church as a whole suffers from an assault on two fronts.  As Christians, we need to be aware of these two fronts and how to turn back these assaults so that they do the Church no harm.  The first line of assault is always from an external source.  The world would happily overrun us, if they could.  This is usually the easier to see and thwart.  The second is typically more subtle and frequently poses a bigger threat.  This is the assault from the inside.

The Church has never been a part of the world (John 17:14).  We are separate from it, without having been removed from it yet.  Sometimes we forget that the world hates us (1 John 3:13).  If we page through history, there are many times and many places where we see the world trying to destroy Christians and Christianity.  From the rulers of the Jews — first in Acts 4, but many times after that — to the Emperor of Rome (several of them).  Still today, there are people who are trying to destroy the Church and turn Christianity into a myth.  You can see it in the news, on Facebook, and sometimes in daily conversations.  Beliefs that are part of Christianity are held up and ridiculed in the public arena.  This is not the first time it has happened, nor will it be the last.

Yet we have this promise from Jesus Christ himself, “the gates of Hades will not overcome it [my Church]” (Matthew 16:18).  As long as we are able to hold firm to the truth that Peter had just expressed, that Jesus is the Son of God, we can stand firm.  If we hear his words and put them into practice, we will have a house built on the rock (Matthew 7:24), which is Jesus himself.  It is his strength that carries us, not our own.  It is his strength that allows us to stand, in spite of everything the world may throw at us.

Revelation 13 reminds us that the whole world will worship false gods, except those who belong to God and the Lamb.  Yet John reminds us that we will suffer, just for belonging to God instead of the world.  The appropriate response for us is, and always will be, patient endurance and faithfulness (Revelation 13:10).  This world will not be kind to us.  No one has ever promised that it would be.  But we have a promise from God that there is a hope waiting for us that will put all these trials to shame.  May each of us have the endurance to run the race to the end where the reward is waiting for us.

But wait, you say, that sounds like an end!  That is only one half.  That is the external struggle, the world against the church.  Unfortunately, we also have to deal, with an alarming frequency, with an internal struggle.  It is the internal struggles that have fractured the Church until there are so many out there confused as to what is the true Church.  Surely, the Apostles didn’t have to deal with these kinds of problems, right?

Actually, they did — frequently.  Paul talks about an issue in Galatians 2 that could have been very terrible for the Church, but it was taken care of.  Or again, he warns Timothy against certain men.  John also warns Gaius about Diotrephes in 3 John.  Jude talks about how these men “have secretly slipped in among you” (Jude 4)

The Church has always had a problem of people trying to get in and get what they want from the church.  Sometimes that means power, sometimes that means money, sometimes that means other things.  Whatever it is, the naturally accepting atmosphere of Christians makes it easy for people to join us.  We want people to come, and we don’t want to change that attitude!  Indeed, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).  Our goal is to save souls and we can’t do that if we don’t get them to hear the word of God!  But there are those who will use this beautiful attitude in a damaging way.  These are people who will seem to be wonderful people, they may talk very nicely, they may even act in a way that seems right.  But their father is Satan, the father of lies, and even he can appear to be holy and good and righteous (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

We must then be on our guard against these people.  This is something that the Church in Ephesus was praised for in Revelation 2:2.  They tested people who claimed to be apostles.  We also should follow in this path and verify that people are what they say they are.  We must test the spirits of men, to be sure they are of God (1 John 4:1) before we allow them to teach and to have authority.

To accomplish this task we must be acquainted with God’s word and with people.  Jesus told his disciples to “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16) We remember the innocent as doves part easily enough, but frequently forget the shrewd as snakes.  And the thing that makes us shrewd is God’s word and experience.  Is it any wonder that the writer of Hebrews was frustrated that the readers of his letter were not more advanced (5:11-14)?  We like Timothy must “continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of” (2 Timothy 3:14), which is the holy word of God and his son, Jesus Christ.

It is through constant diligent study of the scriptures that we can become the soldiers able to turn to any assault on the church, whether it be from the outside or the inside.  When we have been prepared by the word of God, we will be capable of handling any threat.  When we lay that aside, we will lose that preparedness.  Let us all fight with endurance the war laid out before us, so we may be among those who overcome.

Benjamin Fry
~ 2324 Delbert St., Bakersfield, CA  93312