Monthly Archives: December 2015

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