Category: Articles

Articles of Biblical truth for today’s world

HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAYS TO THE CHURCHES

One repetitive phrase that strikes the reader of the second and third chapters of Revelation is “He who an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Each message to the seven congregations ends with this phrase (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). What should we make of this?

First, each congregation is addressed individually, but not privately. Notice that the recurring phrase is “what the Spirit says to the churches” (plural). John expected each congregation to respond appropriately to what was written not only to it but also to the other six churches. This understanding is also supported by the fact that there is no manuscript evidence for the individual messages to have independently circulated. All extant manuscripts have all seven messages together. In other words, the messages never existed independently, but only as part of a whole work.

Second, we know from Paul’s letters the names of several other cities in Asia Minor in which there were Christian congregations. Why were no messages written to them, why these seven congregations? There are several possible answers to this question, but the best answer has to do with the number seven. The number seven has a symbolic meaning of complete or all-inclusive. By identifying just seven churches, John designates the messages to be for all churches, wherever they may be located.

Third, each church receives a message reflecting its own situation and indicates that each of the seven churches seems to possess a distinct character and personality. Although there are differences in the situations and personalities of the congregations, there is one overarching challenge: whether or not to compromise true faith (even if it entails serious social, economic, or political consequences). Will the people of God in these cities join the Nicolaitans, Balaamites, followers of Jezebel, and Laodiceans who are participating in various forms of compromise and accommodation or will they be faithful? The letters to the seven churches were designed not only to comfort the afflicted but also to afflict the comfortable (those who were tempted to assimilate into the attractive pagan culture).

Finally, it is helpful to ask some questions while studying these messages. What type of congregation and individual Christian is Revelation attempting to form? How is the character of a community of faith developed and shaped? When individuals come together to form a Christian congregation, a faith community, that congregation is more than the sum of its parts, more than the sum of the individuals that make it up.

In The Presence Of The Living One

The first scene in the book of Revelation has John claiming that his message comes from a visionary experience that he had while he was “in the Spirit” (Rev. 1:10) and being told to, “Write what you see in a book” (1:11). The first thing that John sees and hears is a divine figure whose appearance was difficult to describe in human language.

The repeated use of the words “as” and “like” (1:14-16) indicates that John was describing something that did not fit within the confines of ordinary speech and belongs to the divine realm. The Old Testament (Isa. 11:4; 44:6; 48:12; 49:2; Ezek. 1:24; 43:2; Dan. 7:9, 13-14; 10:5-6; Zech. 4:2) and cultural symbols provided the language through which John conveyed his vision. These images tell the reader that Jesus is really Lord. Christ is powerful, priestly, and present (this is a present and not a future reality). Christ is not an absentee landlord.

The presence of this Lord Jesus among the churches is a message that the churches are not alone, but have Christ in their midst, both as Savior and judge. This disclosure of the presence of Christ may be reassuring or unsettling depending upon the position of the reader. The depiction of Christ of chapter one provides the basis for the two functions of comforting and confronting the congregations.

Why is this picture so important to the seven letters? To comfort in the midst of harsh conditions. To confront spiritual assimilation. This is not the time for Jesus meek and mild. This is not the time for Jesus on the cross (there is more to Jesus than the cross). It is a sign of security. It is a sign of hope, the one who was killed is now living, and permits the church to participate in His victory over empire and over death. The vision is a call to discipleship. The one who speaks the word of God summons the church to obedience.

Revelation does not simply convey information but confronts readers with the presence of a living being.

THE CRUCIBLE OF FAITH: The Contemporary Relevance Of The Formative Stories Of Seven Ancient Congregations

Please join us at the Columbine church of Christ Sunday mornings in February and March at 10:00 AM for an exploration into:

THE CRUCIBLE OF FAITH:

The Contemporary Relevance Of The Formative Struggles Of Seven Ancient Congregations

Feb. 4           The Scary Jesus: The Reigning King Jesus – Rev. 1:9-20

Feb. 11         Abandoned Love In Ephesus: Rekindling One’s First Love – Rev. 2:1-7

Feb. 18         Persecuted In Smyrna: Remain Fearless And Faithful – Rev. 2:8-11

Feb. 25         Accommodation in Pergamum: Quit Compromising – Rev. 2:12-17

March 4       Tolerant In Thyatira: Assimilating Despite Active Faith – Rev. 2:18-29

March 11      Dead In Sardis: Reputation Without Reality – Rev. 3:1-6

March 18      Missional in Philadelphia: Enduring Commitment – Rev. 3:7-13

March 25      Lukewarm in Laodicea: Indistinctive Discipleship – Rev. 3:14-22

 

Columbine church Christ, 7453 Zephyr Ct., Littleton, CO 80128

(NE corner of Ken Caryl and Wadsworth)

303-979-8944

www.columbinechurchofchrist.org

THE NEW TESTAMENT IN A YEAR READING PLAN

WEEK 1

Matthew 1

Matthew 2

Matthew 3

Matthew 4

Matthew 5

WEEK 2

Matthew 6

Matthew 7

Matthew 8

Matthew 9

Matthew 10

WEEK 3

Matthew 11

Matthew 12

Matthew 13

Matthew 14

Matthew 15

WEEK 4

Matthew 16

Matthew 17

Matthew 18

Matthew 19

Matthew 20

WEEK 5

Matthew 21

Matthew 22

Matthew 23

Matthew 24

Matthew 25

WEEK 6

Matthew 26

Matthew 27

Matthew 28

Mark 1

Mark 2

WEEK 7

Mark 3

Mark 4

Mark 5

Mark 6

Mark 7

WEEK 8

Mark 8

Mark 9

Mark 10

Mark 11

Mark 12

WEEK 9

Mark 13

Mark 14

Mark 15

Mark 16

Luke 1

WEEK 10

Luke 2

Luke 3

Luke 4

Luke 5

Luke 6

WEEK 11

Luke 7

Luke 8

Luke 9

Luke 10

Luke 11

WEEK 12

Luke 12

Luke 13

Luke 14

Luke 15

Luke 16

WEEK 13

Luke 17

Luke 18

Luke 19

Luke 20

Luke 21

WEEK 14

Luke 22

Luke 23

Luke 24

John 1

John 2

WEEK 15

John 3

John 4

John 5

John 6

John 7

WEEK 16

John 8

John 9

John 10

John 11

John 12

WEEK 17

John 13

John 14

John 15

John 16

John 17

WEEK 18

John 18

John 19

John 20

John 21

Acts 1

WEEK 19

Acts 2

Acts 3

Acts 4

Acts 5

Acts 6

WEEK 20

Acts 7

Acts 8

Acts 9

Acts 10

Acts 11

WEEK 21

Acts 12

Acts 13

Acts 14

Acts 15

Acts 16

WEEK 22

Acts 17

Acts 18

Acts 19

Acts 20

Acts 21

WEEK 23

Acts 22

Acts 23

Acts 24

Acts 25

Acts 26

WEEK 24

Acts 27

Acts 28

Romans 1

Romans 2

Romans 3

WEEK 25

Romans 4

Romans 5

Romans 6

Romans 7

Romans 8

WEEK 26

Romans 9

Romans 10

Romans 11

Romans 12

Romans 13

WEEK 27

Romans 14

Romans 15

Romans 16

1 Corinthians 1

1 Corinthians 2

WEEK 28

1 Corinthians 3

1 Corinthians 4

1 Corinthians 5

1 Corinthians 6

1 Corinthians 7

WEEK 29

1 Corinthians 8

1 Corinthians 9

1 Corinthians 10

1 Corinthians 11

1 Corinthians 12

WEEK 30

1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 14

1 Corinthians 15

1 Corinthians 16

2 Corinthians 1

WEEK 31

2 Corinthians 2

2 Corinthians 3

2 Corinthians 4

2 Corinthians 5

2 Corinthians 6

WEEK 32

2 Corinthians 7

2 Corinthians 8

2 Corinthians 9

2 Corinthians 10

2 Corinthians 11

WEEK 33

2 Corinthians 12

2 Corinthians 13

Galatians 1

Galatians 2

Galatians 3

WEEK 34

Galatians 4

Galatians 5

Galatians 6

Ephesians 1

Ephesians 2

WEEK 35

Ephesians 3

Ephesians 4

Ephesians 5

Ephesians 6

Philippians 1

WEEK 36

Philippians 2

Philippians 3

Philippians 4

Colossians 1

Colossians 2

WEEK 37

Colossians 3

Colossians 4

1 Thessalonians 1

1 Thessalonians 2

1 Thessalonians 3

WEEK 38

1 Thessalonians 4

1 Thessalonians 5

2 Thessalonians 1

2 Thessalonians 2

2 Thessalonians 3

WEEK 39

1 Timothy 1

1 Timothy 2

1 Timothy 3

1 Timothy 4

1 Timothy 5

WEEK 40

1 Timothy 6

2 Timothy 1

2 Timothy 2

2 Timothy 3

2 Timothy 4

WEEK 41

Titus 1

Titus 2

Titus 3

Philemon

Hebrews 1

WEEK 42

Hebrews 2

Hebrews 3

Hebrews 4

Hebrews 5

Hebrews 6

WEEK 43

Hebrews 7

Hebrews 8

Hebrews 9

Hebrews 10

Hebrews 11

WEEK 44

Hebrews 12

Hebrews 13

James 1

James 2

James 3

WEEK 45

James 4

James 5

1 Peter 1

1 Peter 2

1 Peter 3

WEEK 46

1 Peter 4

1 Peter 5

2 Peter 1

2 Peter 2

2 Peter 3

WEEK 47

1 John 1

1 John 2

1 John 3

1 John 4

1 John 5

WEEK 48

2 John

3 John

Jude

Revelation 1

Revelation 2

WEEK 49

Revelation 3

Revelation 4

Revelation 5

Revelation 6

Revelation 7

WEEK 50

Revelation 8

Revelation 9

Revelation 10

Revelation 11

Revelation 12

WEEK 51

Revelation 13

Revelation 14

Revelation 15

Revelation 16

Revelation 17

WEEK 52

Revelation 18

Revelation 19

Revelation 20

Revelation 21

Revelation 22

Teachers! Teachers! Teachers! My, How God Loves Them!

Teachers! Teachers! Teachers! My, How God Loves Them!

by Andrew Connally, deceased
Topic(s): Children, Evangelism
Teachers mold the hearts of little children. Whenever little children study the Bible, wonderful women and men mold their hearts and lives. Such is a work of God, to teach and train little minds the grand and glorious truths of God, to prepare them for life’s great adventure. Concepts are formed and opinions strengthened for life.
Teachers uphold the truth of God always; at least they should, and when they do, wonderful things happen. Darkness is banished, light is brought to bear, the great things of life are illuminated, and error is exposed. Little minds and hearts are touched for good, and lives are changed for the better! Teachers deal with the great issues facing every generation. If not, then the practical application of these great truths is lacking and much is left undone. Without direction and application, people often go away untaught and are left to wonder what God expects of them. Teachers change our communities and lives. Their example and training often spill over from the classroom into our families, communities, and lives. God wills it so. This is an expression of our lights shining and our salt influencing those about us.
Some of our dearest memories are of teachers we have had in our lives. They have made a difference. They always will. Man is a teachable, learning being, and great and good teachers influence us. One of their rewards is found in seeing the change in their students’ lives, and just once in a while the student then becomes a teacher himself. What attribute and honor to those who taught them. This is a great reward.
So, dear teacher, please continue to forget the thankless hours of preparation and sacrifice, the pain and anguish of teaching. Just keep on doing your wonderful thing, for God loves you—and so do we!

Connecting Paul’s Early Life as a Christian from Acts and Galatians

Connecting Paul’s Early Life as a Christian from Acts and Galatians

Volume 12, Number 12
Wayne Burger
December 30, 2007

Meditating on the Word
“In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2

“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the Columbine church of Christ, 7453 S. Zephyr Ct., Littleton, Colorado, 80128. E-mail: burgpreach@prolynx.com — Suggested topics are welcomed.
Vol. 12 No. 12 December 30, 2007

Connecting Paul’s Early Life as a Christian from Acts and Galatians

• He persecuted the church severely, Acts 9:1; Galatians 1:13

• Receiving letters of permission from the High Priest, he went to Damascus to bind Christians and bring them to Jerusalem, Acts 9:1-2

• Near the city of Damascus Jesus appeared to him and he became a believer, but was told to go into the city where he would be told what to do, Acts 9:3-18; 22:3-16; 26:9-18

• As soon as he was baptized he began to proclaim Jesus, Acts 9:19-22 (This may be before he went to Arabia and received the gospel by revelation from Jesus)

• It seems soon after his conversion he left Damascus, went into Arabia where he received the gospel by revelation, and then returned to Damascus, Galatians 1:15-17

• The total time of Paul in Damascus, including his trip to Arabia, was three years (from the time he left Jerusalem to go to Damascus to persecute Christians), Galatians 1:18 (He did not spend three years in Arabia as some teach)

• He then went to Jerusalem to see Peter (Cephas) where he stayed 15 days, Galatians 1:19

o Acts 9:23 says that “after many days” – that is, after three years

o Because the Jews were trying to kill him he had to escape in a basket let down through the wall of the city, Acts 9:24-25

o This occurred during the reign of Aretas, the king, II Corinthians 11:32-33

o At first the disciple in Jerusalem were afraid of him, but through Barnabas’ help they accepted him, Acts 9:26-27

o During the 15 days he was preaching, Acts 9:28-29

o The Jews were making preparation to kill him, Acts 9:29

o During the fifteen days while in the temple he had a vision where Christ told him to leave Jerusalem, Acts 22:17-21

o Therefore, he went to the area of Syria-Cilicia, to his hometown of Tarsus, by way of Caesarea, Acts 9:30; Galatians 1:21

o He worked in this area about four or five years, but we do not have record of what he did.

o He worked there until Barnabas came and got him to work with the church in Antioch, Acts 11:22-26

o They worked with the church a year before going on their first missionary journey, Acts 11:26; Acts 13:1-3

• When they returned to Antioch from the first missionary journey they discovered that there was a problem about circumcision, Acts 15:1-2; Galatians 2:1-1

o The fourteen years counts from the time of his conversion or when he left Jerusalem to persecute Christians in Damascus, Galatians 2:1

o He did not say that this was the second trip to Jerusalem because he had made a trip to Jerusalem while he was working with the church in Antioch before he went on the first missionary journey, Acts 11:27-30

o In Galatians he refers only to the trip to Jerusalem for the Jerusalem Conference because that relates to the problem with which he is dealing in Galatians – the circumcision problem

• Details of Acts 15 and Galatians 2 connected

o Men had come from Jerusalem and taught Gentiles in Antioch that they had to be circumcised in order to be saved, Acts 15:1, 22-24; Galatians 2:4

o At the suggestion of the brethren and approval of the Holy Spirit, Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to discuss this with the apostles since men had come from Jerusalem and created a problem, Acts 15:2-3; Galatians 2:2

o They took with them Titus as a “test case” to see if he needed to be circumcised, Galatians 2:1-3

o It seems that when they got to Jerusalem they met with the church, then had a private meeting with the apostles and elders, and then met with the church to discuss the matter publicly, Acts 15:4; Galatians 2:2; Acts 15:5-6ff

o Three arguments were made to show that circumcision was not necessary

• Peter said that he was the first to preach to the Gentiles and it was not required of them, Acts 15:7-11 (Acts 10-11)

• Paul and Barnabas showed that God had blessed their work while on the missionary journey and they had not required circumcision, Acts 15:12

• James, the Lord’s brother, not the apostle (Acts 12:1-2) showed that the Old Testament foretold that the Gentiles would be accepted, Acts 15:13-18

o Therefore, a letter was written to explain that Gentiles did not have to be circumcised and it was sent, along with Silas and Judas, to verbally verify what had been discussed, Acts 15:22-29

Wayne Burger

Someone has written…

God is before me, He will be my guide;
God is behind me, no ill can betide;
God is beside me, to comfort and cheer;
God is around me, so why should I fear?

Enoch’s Walk with God

Enoch’s Walk with God

In terms of information that we have about Enoch, he might be called a minor character in the Bible, but in terms of lessons that he teaches us, he can be called a major character. It’s not uncommon in the Bible to find major lessons from minor characters.

 

All that we know about Enoch is found in three passages. “Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methusela. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methusela, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” Genesis 5:21-24 (NASB). “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God” Hebrews 11:5. The name “Enoch” is also mentioned in Jude 14-15, but the article will not address that passage. In these few verses we see a worthy example and valuable truth.

 

Enoch was unique in many ways, one of which is that he was in the minority in three special ways. First, he was only one of two who did not have to go through the physical process of death as we know it. The only other of whom we have record was Elijah who also was taken directly to heaven (II Kings 2). Second, Enoch is one of only two men of whom the Bible says, “He walked with God.” Surely many others did, but he and Noah (Genesis 6:9) were the only people that the Bible specifically gives

that information. The third way in which he was in the minority will be discussed later.

 

 

Many practical lessons can be drawn from this worthy example. First, he walked “with” God. In a sermon presented March 22, 1964 to the Hillsboro church in Nashville, Tennessee, the beloved brother B. C. Goodpasture gave an interesting and powerful insight as to what it means to walk “with” God. Based upon the King James and American Standard versions Deuteronomy 13:2-4 exhorts Israel to “walk after” God (NASB has “follow”). Goodpasture said, “to walk after God is to recognize our dependence upon God. It is to recognize God’s authority over us; it is to bow in submission to his will, acknowledge his leadership.”   Brother Goodpasture also points out that in Genesis 17:1 God told Abraham, “Walk before me.” Goodpasture explains, “To walk before God is to walk conscious of God’s presence, to walk conscious of his superintending power and might.” But, with Enoch the text says that he “walked with” God.   We are not saying that Enoch did not walk after (follow) God, nor are we saying that God was not “before” Enoch. But, the word “with” conveys a close, intimate walk with God. What a special walk that is – a walk where one has a close and personal relationship with God. If we will develop that kind of relationship with God today, we can do as was promised the faithful saints in Sardis, “They will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy” Revelation 3:4.

 

Second, he walked with God in a time when it seemed that most others did not walk with God. Genesis 5 leads into the account of Noah and the flood. The character of those genealogies Moses recorded, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” Genesis 6:5. Those were the peers of Enoch. It is a lot easier to walk with God when everyone around us walks with God; it is a lot harder when most people around us are not walking with God. That makes Enoch a special example. Our corrupt society makes it hard to walk with God, but not impossible. Righteousness can be manifested by an individual when all around him are unrighteous. In the midst of our crooked and perverse generation we can walk with God just as Enoch did (Philippians 2:15). He did it because he was determined that his direction was to walk with God. These factors determined his destiny. Even though the majority of our peers have determined to have a direction away from God, we can follow the example of Enoch. Dealing with that idea Paul exhorts, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” Colossians 3:1-4.

 

Third, he lived life to the fullest. In an article entitled “A Man Who Did Not Die” in the January 26, 1973 issue of the Gospel Advocate, Guy N. Woods made an interesting observation about the length of time that Enoch lived. Of the nine other men named in this context, seven of them lived over 900 years. The other two lived 895 and 777 years. Enoch lived less than half as long as the shortest life and barely over a third as the longest. But, he is the one of whom it is said, “For he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God” Hebrews 11:5. Life is not measured in length, but in breadth and depth. A great contrast is seen in Enoch’s son Methusela, who lived 969 years, the longest of anyone whose age at death is recorded in the Bible. But, when one studies carefully, one finds that Methusela died the year of the flood. Whether that was by natural death, or died in the flood, we cannot determine. He had length, but we do not have record of any depth to his life. Today, it doesn’t matter how long we live. What does matter is the depth and breadth of our life with regard to our relationship to God.

 

Fourth, he walked with God without written instructions. He lived long before God’s word had been put into any kind of printed form. It is true that God spoke directly to the Patriarchs, but at the same time, they had to remember without the benefit of being able to read God’s instructions whenever they wished. Instructions improved when Moses recorded God’s law. But, even that is so much inferior to what we have today. In America, and in many parts of the world, people have or can have a written copy of God’s instructions for life. What a blessing! Enoch didn’t have that blessing. Not only do we have specific instructions for today, but we have the written examples of those who have lived before us. It’s no wonder why Paul said, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” Romans 15:4.

 

   Fifth, he was a great example to his children. Notice that the text says that he was sixty-five when Methuselah was born. It is interesting to note that the next verse says, “Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah.” We may not know for sure what Enoch’s life was like before Methuselah’s birth, but it implies that Enoch was not walking with God. Becoming a parent is a powerful motivator to begin to walk with God. Enoch’s example shows us how our walk with God should be an example for our children: (1) It should be a long walk – whatever number of years the Lord grants us to live, we need to walk with God, (2) It should be a consistent walk. Enoch did not start and stop – it was constant. Methuselah never saw a day in which his father was not walking with God. (3) It was a walk with which God was well-pleased (Hebrews 11:5). As sinful as we are, we can live a life that pleases God. This indicates that Enoch had faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” Hebrews 11:6.

 

Finally, Enoch teaches a valuable lesson that each person in the world today needs to learn. The Hebrew writer said, “God took him up” Hebrews 11:5. Enoch proves that there is life beyond this life. God has a place prepared for us after death. Death is not the end. Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” John 14:2-3. We can go where Enoch went. Life is not just what we have in this body on this earth.

 

May Enoch motivate us to live for God in this life as we look “to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” I Peter 1:4-5.

           Wayne Burger

Traditions and Holidays

Meditating on the Word

                                            “In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2

 

“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: gwburger@q.com – Website: coniferchurchofchrist.com

Vol. 15                                                                             No. 10                                                                          March 8, 2015

 

 

Traditions and Holidays

 

Under the Law of Moses the Jews had several different holidays and feast days they were to observe (Leviticus 23). When Jesus died on the cross He removed the Law of Moses (Ephesians 2:14-15). Because the Jews had observed these holiday for centuries, it was difficult for some of them to give up those holidays. Therefore they wanted to bring them into the church and bind them on Christians. Paul condemned Christians for observing those holidays. He wrote, “You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain” Galatians 4:10-11. He also said, “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” Colossians 2:16. Those holidays were fulfilled in Christ. Because they were fulfilled, they are not to be observed or bound today. But, about this time each year the broad spectrum of Christianity begins to promote special holidays. We need to understand that these are holidays that the traditions of men have devised and that they do not come from the Bible. Below are some modern day holidays and what they symbolize.

 

Fat Tuesday – Fat Tuesday is the traditional name for the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. It is more commonly known as Mardi Gras, which is simply Fat Tuesday in French. It gets its name from the custom, in many Catholic countries, of marking the day with feasting before the fasting season of Lent begins” A Dictionary of Catholic Terms. The Bible speaks nothing of this activity. In today’s society it is a very sinful festival.

 

Ash Wednesday – “The seventh Wednesday before Easter; the first day of Lent for most Christians; the day after ‘Fat Tuesday,’ or Mardi Gras. It is frequently observed as a day of fasting and repentance for sin. In some churches, ashes are placed on the foreheads of worshipers on Ash Wednesday as a reminder of their mortality. The words of God to Adam in the Bible are often used in the ceremony: ‘dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return’” The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, 3rd Edition. The Bible does not authorize such activity.

Lent – “The Christian season of preparation before Easter. In Western Christianity, Ash Wednesday marks the first day, or the start of the season of Lent, which begins 40 days prior to Easter (Sundays are not included in the count). Lent is a time when many Christians prepare for Easter by observing a period of fast-ingrepentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. The purpose is to set aside time for reflection on Jesus Christ – his suffering and his sacrifice, his life, death, burial and resurrection,” Mary Fairchild “Christianity Expert.” Again, the Bible doesn’t say anything about Christians observing a time of fasting or giving up some particular item for a certain period of time.

 

Maundy Thursday – It comes from the activity of Jesus washing the disciples feet on Thursday night before He was crucified the next day. It comes from the Latin term mandatum (commandment). It is the ceremony of washing the feet of poor people as Jesus washed the disciples’ feet on that night. This is reenacted in some churches on Thursday before Good Friday, Collins English Complete and Unabridged Dictionary. The Bible records Jesus’ activity on that night, but again, there is no authorization for Christians to engage in such activity.

 

Good Friday – “The Friday before Easter, observed as a commemoration of the Crucifixion of Jesus” Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged. The term originated “from good in Middle English sense of ‘holy,’ and especially of holy day or seasons observed by the church (early 15c)” Online Etymology Dictionary. Again, the Bible tells of the events which took place on that day, but does not say that the day is to be remembered with any sort of special activities or recognition.

Palm Sunday – “The Sunday before Easter. It is celebrated by Christians to commemorate the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem five days before his crucifixion. On that occasion, the people of Jerusalem laid palm leaves in his path as a sign of welcome. Palms are carried or worn by worshipers in many churches on Palm Sunday, The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, third edition. Again, the Bible does tell about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the fact that people did place in front of Him palm leaves as well as articles of their clothing. But, God did not command us to reenact those activities.

Easter – “An annual Christian festival in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, observed on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, as calculated according to tables based in Western church on the Gregorian calendar and in Orthodox churches on the Julian calendar” Collins English Complete and Unabridged Dictionary.

Although the Bible puts a great deal of emphasis on the resurrection of Jesus, it does not authorize setting aside one particular Sunday in which that great event is to be honored. Every Sunday is of equal importance. God expects Christians to assemble to worship Him every Sunday, not just that one particular Sunday (Hebrews 10:25). The way the Bible authorizes us to honor the resurrection of Christ is by being baptized. Christ died, was buried, and arose from the grave. A person reenacts that when he dies to sin, is immersed in water for the forgiveness of those sins and is then raised up out of that watery grave to walk a new life (Romans 6:3-4).

Conclusion

The Christian Age in which God has authorized the Christianity system of honoring God, has been practiced for about 2,000 years. Unfortunately, men have tampered with God’s plans. Through the years men have added their ideas. None of the practices mentioned above are authorized by God. Unfor-tunately, many people have grown-up practicing such traditions so long that they think they originated with God. With everything that we do we need to ask, “Does God authorize this practice?” God does not authorize traditions of men, and in fact He condemns such practices. Jesus said, “In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” Matthew 15:9. Remember, the Bible teaches that whatever we do, we must give authority from God for doing that (Colossians 3:17). It is just as wrong to make a law that God hasn’t made as it is to break a law that God has made.                                                    Wayne Burger

“I See Wonderful Things”

 

Text: “And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:3).

The following is a partial account of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb: The next day Carter started to drill a hole into the plaster door. In the foreground, Carter, Carnarvon, Lady Evelyn, and Callender waited anxiously. Carter made the hole in the upper left-hand corner and started to chip away at the opening. As the hole became larger, it allowed him to peer inside. Carter held the candle into the darkness and permitted his eyes to adjust to the warm ancient air that exited the tomb. This air made the candle flicker. The gold furniture became illuminated by the small candle. Carter stood frozen and looked with amazement. Lord Carnarvon who waited anxiously for any news quickly exclaimed, “Can you see anything?” Carter replied with, “Yes, wonderful things.”

When I read, in God’s word, of heaven I often think of this account. Revelation gives us a glimpse into heaven. Surely we must peer, with amazement, through that “hole of discovery.” There are other Biblical passages, as well, which give us small glimpses of heaven. All these should cause us to exclaim, “I see wonderful things.”

God has described to us, by way of earthly treasures, the beauty of heaven i.e. gold and all manner of precious stones. 

We are also assured that suffering, pain, mourning and death will not be present there. In addition there will always be light and no darkness.

These are all real incentives for desiring to go to heaven but the most important thing, I suggest, is not so much how it will look, rather who will be there. 

Those who overcome will spend eternity with God the Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ! Surely this is what Paul was thinking when he wrote, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better” (Philippians 1:23).

We are promised, “He that overcometh shall inherit these things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Revelation 21:7).

The beauty and glory of heaven awaits. All that heaven holds can be ours. Not just to “peer at in amazement”, but to posses, to inhabit, to enjoy – in the presence of God, for all eternity.

Roy Allen Crutcher

 

By What Authority?

the-holy-bible1[1]Meditating on the Word

                                            “In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2

 

“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: gwburger@q.com – Website: coniferchurchofchrist.com

Vol. 15                                                                             No. 9                                                                            March 1, 2015

 

 

By What Authority?

 

It is sad that so many people evidently believe that God has given no instructions. Therefore, they believe they can do whatever they wish and God accepts it. They believe that they can live as moral or immoral as they wish and God doesn’t care. They believe they can devise any plan by which to be saved from their sin and God will forgive them. They believe they can offer any kind of worship and God is overjoyed to receive it. Is that what the Bible teaches about God and authority? Does the Bible teach that man rather than God determines what is right and what is wrong? Even those who do believe that God has given the Bible have often interpreted it to justify what they want to do.

 

Two Ways to Interpret

There are two ways to interpret scripture. One approach is to say that one can do anything God has not specifically condemned. This opens the door for us to do anything and everything. If this were the approach to the Bible being our authority, God would have to continually add to the Bible to condemn every new idea that is suggested. The Bible would never be a completed book.

 

The other view of interpreting scripture is that one can do only what God has authorized him to do. Paul verified this approach to scripture when he wrote, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” Colossians 3:17. The phrase, “In the name of” means, what one does, he must do by the authority of Jesus.

 

We use this phrase the same way in our secular world today. For example, when the police knock on someone’s door they will say, “Open the door, in the name of the police.” By this phrase they mean, “Open the door by the authority of the police.”

 

This approach to interpreting the Bible means that we must have authorization from Christ to do whatever we do. If there is no authorization, it is a sin to do it. In Leviticus 10:1-2 we have an example of this kind of sin. Nadab and Abihu offered fire which God had not authorized. The text says they, “offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them” Leviticus 10:1. Thus, God had not authorized the fire they used. (In the Bible the word “strange” is used when speaking of something God has not authorized). Sinning in this way brought their death. “And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed then, and they died before the Lord” Leviticus 10:2. Doing that which God has not authorized is serious!

 

He Didn’t Say “Not”

When many people interpret the Bible they say, “I can do this because God did not say, ‘not to do this.’” In essences, that is what Nadab and Abihu did. God did not say, “Don’t use this fire.” But, when God specified which fire He wanted them to use, He forbade them using any other fire. This hermeneutical principle is called, “The Law of Exclusion.” When God specifies something in a category, then everything else in that category is excluded.

 

We use this principle in our everyday lives; we just don’t think about calling it, “The Law of Exclusion.” For example, when you take your car to the mechanic and ask him to change the oil, that is all you have authorized him to do. You will not be pleased when you return and he says, “I also rotated your tires and the charge for that is “x” number of dollars.” You would say, “I did not authorize you to do that.” But, he could reply, “You didn’t say not to do that therefore I thought it would be okay to do it.” We do not accept that kind of authorization in the business world, why will we accept that sort of reasoning and authorization in the spiritual world?

 

God Accept Only What Is Authorized

God does not accept what we do unless He has authorized it to be done. Thus, engaging in those activities which God has not authorized is sin. For this reason when something is suggested that it be done in our worship services, someone should ask, “What book, chapter, and verse in the Bible gives authoriza-tion from God for us to do that?”

 

Think about religious activities in today’s world. Where is the authority for sprinkling babies? Where is the authority for serving communion everyday? Where is the authority to serve communion once every three months? Where is the authority to play musical instruments in worship? Does it matter? Ask Nadab and Abihu.

 

Submitting to authority is essential, both in the secular realm and religious realm. God has communi-cated His authority in the Bible. But, even then, one must properly interpret it in order to know what God has authorized. The Holy Spirit urges us to be a diligent workman who accurately handles the word of God (II Timothy 2:15). May we learn to ask “By What Authority?”

 

Wayne Burger

 

The Butterfly

 

For thousands of years people have been charmed by the beauty and elegance of the butterfly. Even more so, cultures have been inspired by its incredible metamorphosis. There are about 20,000 different species of butterfly in the world ranging in size and color. One of the most famous is the monarch butterfly. While most butterflies share many of the same abilities, the monarch stands above the rest. Here are some reasons why.

 

  1. Eggs & Location.As the monarch butterfly roams around, it is looking for a place to lay eggs.   To do so, it must find the milkweed plant. This plant is pretty much the only plant the monarch caterpillar will eat (National Geographic). To figure out if it is the right plant, the butterfly will taste it with its feet. It will land on a plant, stomp on it to raise some juices, taste the plan, and determine if it is milkweed or not. Once it finds the milkweed, it will lay eggs on the plant. The obvious danger is for the egg to fall off and die before it hatches. So, the butterfly produces an incredibly unique and super strong glue to keep it fixed to the plant. It’s nature’s superglue.

 

When the monarch egg finally hatches, it will eat it’s own shell and then the milkweed plant it was laid on. This seems fine, except for the fact that milkweed is poisonous and capable of killing large animals if they eat enough of it. Somehow the caterpillar feasts upon this plant without any problem at all. The poison has no effect. In fact, it will even use this poison to make itself very unappealing to predators. If a bird eats a monarch butterfly, it will not be so quick to eat another.

 

  1. Transformation.Once the caterpillar has grown and gone through a shedding like process a few times, it is ready to go under a leaf and form the chrysalis. Inside, the caterpillar will release enzymes to break down and liquefy much of itself. What are left are a few main parts, like organs, and a soupy substance. This liquid is exactly what it needs to transform and keep from starving. This fluid mess functions like a bunch of little Lego blocks (Young). Even though the body is broken down, certain groups of cells (e.g. muscles) will stick together to be reused. Other cells in this fluid will form into “imaginal discs,” which will soon grow into parts like wings and legs (ibid). All of these little pieces will build back together. After about 10 days and some incredibly complex growth spurts, the butterfly will finally emerge in its exquisitely transformed body.

 

  1. Migration.Like most butterflies, monarchs can’t fly in cold weather. It must get its body temperature up around 85 degrees to fly. The cold winter weather is a death trap, so monarch butterflies must migrate to warmer climates. The problem is, not a single butterfly of its generation has done this before. In fact, by the time the year winter migration happens, several generations will have already lived and died (National Geographic). The monarchs that make the trip are the previous year’s great grandchildren. Amazingly, every year these butterflies easily make the 3,000-mile migration to the exact same location, following the exact same route, and some even to the exact same tree as their great grandparents (ibid).

 

The monarch butterfly is an amazing insect! Like many creatures, its abilities pose many difficult questions for the supporters of evolution. Why is the butterfly able to go through such a dramatic transformation in just a few days when other animals supposedly must take millions of years to evolve? Why is it that only insects can undergo such a transformation and no other animals, which are supposedly higher up the evolutionary line, are able to do this today? How does the butterfly know exactly where to migrate to, even sometimes down to the same tree as its ancestors? How did it develop the taste receptors on its feet? How and when did it develop immunity to milkweed?

 

Such an incredible insect can only be the creation of the Almighty God. Without a doubt it was the Lord who made all the insects and creatures (Genesis 1:24-25). All other explanations fall short. Butterflies, especially the monarch, boldly proclaim God as the creator (Psalm 19:1). As Psalm 95:6 says, “Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” The Lord is deserving!

 

Brett Petrillo

 

God’s Authority

Meditating on the Word

                                            “In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2

 

“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: gwburger@q.com – Website: coniferchurchofchrist.com

Vol. 15                                                                             No. 8                                                                      February 22, 2015

 

 

God’s Authority

 

A creator has authority over whatever he creates. The Creator of humanity and the universe has authority over all because He is the creator. He has the right to tell His creation how to live. But, God is in heaven and His creation is on earth. How has God transferred His authority to us so that we know how to serve Him?

 

His creative power was manifested through the word He spoke. “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” Hebrews 11:3. The breath that spoke things into existence also brought man into existence. “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” Genesis 2:7. God’s power and authority rest in His breath or in His words. His word is authority.

 

The Father’s Authority Given to the Son

 

   God, the Father, transferred His authority to His Son. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” Matthew 28:18. That authority was transferred to the Son through the word God the Father gave to the Son. While on earth Jesus said, “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak” John 12:49 (See also John8:28).

 

Son’s Authority Given

To the Apostles and Prophets

 

Just before Christ’s death He prayed to His Father and said, “The words which You gave Me I have given to them” John 17:8. Thus, the authority of God, manifested through His word, has gone from Himself to His Son, to the apostles whom Jesus chose. The apostles gave that authority to prophets through laying hands on certain men (Acts 18:8). Thus, the church was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone” Ephesians 2:20.

 

 

Apostles and Prophets’ Authority Written

 

The apostles and prophets put God’s authority into written form as they wrote the books of the New Testament. They wrote by the guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13) so that they would not leave out anything or make any mistakes. Therefore, Paul said, “All Scripture is inspired by God” II Timothy 3:16.

 

Churches Received God’s Authority

 

As the apostles and prophets wrote the New Testament books (letters), they sent them to various churches or individuals. When a church received one of these letters they made a copy of it and sent it to another congregation. We see this principle mentioned when Paul said to the Colossian brethren, “When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans” Colossians 4:16. Soon, all the congregations had all the letters that had been written by the apostles and prophets.

 

Summary

 

Through the process of transferring the authority of God by means of transferring His word, we have God’s authority today. That authority went from the Father to the Son, to the apostles and prophets, to a written form and that written form came to each congregation. No council gave us the Bible. It came to the church as each of the books circulated among all the congregations.

 

Wayne Burger

Next Week: “Interpreting God’s Word”

 

What American Leaders Have Said

 

George Washington: “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”

 

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports.”

“Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” Farewell Address — September 17, 1796.

John Adams – “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other” Address to the Officers of the Massachusetts militia – 1798.

 

Daniel Webster – “To preserve the government we must also preserve morals. Morality rests on religion; if you destroy the foundation, the superstructure must fall. When the public mind becomes vitiated and corrupt, laws are a nullity and constitutions are waste paper.” July 4, 1800 Oration.

 

“If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper, but if we and our posterity neglect its instruction and authority, no man can tell how suddenly a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury us.”

 

“If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If the truth be not diffused, error will be: if God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy; if the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will; if the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end” Daniel Webster, 1823 A Faith Built on Sand By Phil Sanders, p. 43.

 

Abraham Lincoln: “I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given man. All the good from the Savior of the world is communicated to us through this Book.”

 

“I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible. Take all of this book upon reason that you can, and the balance on faith, and you will live and die a happier man.”   Remark to Joshua F. Speed, 1864, from The Soul of Abraham Lincoln by William E. Barton – Abraham Lincoln His Essential Wisdom Edited by Carol Kelly-Gangi, p. 99.

 

Andrew Jackson: “The Book (the Bible), Sir, is the rock on which our Republic rests.”

 

  1. S. Grant: “Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet-anchor of your liberties; write its precepts in your hearts, and practice them in your lives. To the influence of the Book we are indebted for all the progress made in true civilization and to this we must look as our guide in the future.”

 

Benjamin Franklin – “Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure, than they have it now, they may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting liberty.” – Letter to Zabdiel Adams, (First cousin to President John Adams) June 21, 1776 – The Works of Ben Franklin, Vol. 10, p. 297.

Calvin Coolidge – “We do not need more intellectual power, we need more moral power.  We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more government, we need more culture. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen…. If the foundation is firm, the superstructure will stand.”

Tom Clark, associate Supreme Court Justice“The state may not establish a ‘religion of secularism’ in the sense of affirmatively opposing or showing hostility to religion, thus preferring those who believe in no religion over those who do believe”, America’s God and Country, Federer, William J. ed., p. 605.

Warren Burger, Supreme Court Justice “There is an unbroken history of official acknowledgement by all three branches of government of the role of religion in American life…The Constitution does not require a complete separation of church and state. It affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions and forbids hostility towards any.” America’s God and Country, Federer, William J. ed., p. 608.

William Rehnquist, Chief Justice Supreme Court – “It is impossible to build sound constitutional doctrine upon a mistaken understanding of constitutional history…The establishment clause has been expressly freighted with Jefferson’s misleading metaphor for nearly forty years….There is simply no historical foundation for the proposition that the framers intended to build a wall of separation [between church and state]…the recent court decisions are in no way based on either the language or intent of the framers.” America’s God and Country, Federer, William J. ed., p. 608.