Tuesday
Mar082011

From Where I Stand: Baptism

Although nearly every group in Christendom and its fringes employs water baptism for some purpose, there is hardly unanimity about the subject. Differences arise in mode (immersion, sprinkling, pouring, metaphorical), purpose (forgiveness of sins, infant protection, church membership) and urgency (immediately upon belief or reserved for a certain church-wide day). It is not that the Bible, however, is as unclear as its apparent adherents make it seem. In the New Testament, we find that baptism could be  accomplished in a river, where there was much water, not by dipping fingers in a font (John 3:23). We find the baptizer and the penitent going down into the water, indicating again its volume (Acts 8:38). In the New Testament, we are told by none other than the apostle Peter that baptism is “for the remission of sins” and is “an appeal to God for a good conscience” (Acts 2:38, First Peter 3:21). Baptism, therefore, is done with a certain urgency; there is no pattern for convening a church council, nor even to wait at all until some future point of convenience (Acts 8:36-37, 16:33). Baptism is no mere ritual, but neither is it a meritorious, grace-nullifying work. Baptism is simply what the New Testament, not the creeds, say it is.

Tuesday
Mar082011

From Where I Stand: Worship Assembly

Many have witnessed or participated in various kinds of worship, perhaps in a cathedral, synagogue, or Protestant church building. Although many Protestant churches now boast a choice between traditional and contemporary worship, neither is really much like what happens at a church of Christ. Both usually have some sort of homily and in both, members can be expected to have a chance to give of their means. Instruments of music are almost universally lacking among churches of Christ, however. Some must wonder why this is – Can they not afford a piano? Is no one capable of playing the organ? Are they so traditionalist that they will not allow electric guitars and drums on the stage? Actually, we stand against the introduction of mechanical instruments into our musical worship for another reason altogether – they are wholly absent from any New Testament example or command. Every worshiper is commanded to sing, but the biblical church never played (Ephesians 5:19, Hebrews 13:15). It was six centuries later that an apostate Pope wheeled in the first organ. If we do Bible things in the Bible way, there is no room for any instrument more complex than the human heart and voice (Colossians 3:16-17).

Tuesday
Mar082011

From Where I Stand: Churches of Christ

“All the churches of Christ greet you.” Paul was writing to the Christians in Rome when he closed his letter with greetings from other congregations he had encountered (Romans 16:16). They were not denominations, for none yet existed, but they were simply churches that belonged to Jesus Christ. Today, churches of Christ continue to exist around the world as autonomous communities of believers, striving to work and worship according to the approved examples of those early, first century churches Paul wrote about. If our worship seems primitive, that is by design – divine design – for it involves prayer, teaching, communion, sacrifice and a cappella music. It is our goal to do all things according to the authority of Christ, to worship in spirit and in truth, and to preach no other gospel than the faith once for all delivered (Jude 3). That is non-denominational Christianity, and the churches of Christ were committed to it long before it became popular again. It’s the pattern set by the apostles and it still works!

Wednesday
Dec152010

Deliverance Is of the Lord

Deliverance is of the Lord, who “will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom” (Second Timothy 4:18), for “the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” (Second Peter 2:9).

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Tuesday
Oct122010

Hard Pressed

Preachers are little different from anybody else. In the course of doing the Lord’s work, they want to provide for their families and be ready to pay for braces, college educations, and their own old age. How many preachers are depressed by the difficulty in begging for support all one’s life, only to reach old age and to be cast aside?

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Tuesday
Jul202010

Who Has Bewitched You?

The Judaizers’ promise was sonship to Abraham, the relationship they thought they enjoyed through the Law of Moses. Historically, however, Abraham lived long before Moses and could not have been justified by keeping the decalogue. Abraham, Paul points out, was made just when he believed God, and the same process holds for believers in the age of Christ, who keep, not the old, dead law, but the new covenant of grace.

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Tuesday
Jul132010

Technology and the Church

While we cannot afford to be left behind technologically, neither can we afford to go beyond the will of Christ or cheapen the Bible’s truths. This is one technological challenge the scientists won’t be able to solve for us.

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Tuesday
Jul062010

Sons of Encouragement

People can become beaten down and awfully discouraged, but if their brethren and leaders are sons of encouragement, they can survive.

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Tuesday
May182010

Would Anybody Notice?

If this congregation were hit with a devastating plague, or its membership fell victim to an unexplained sinkhole during worship, or it just suddenly decided to stop functioning as a church, would the community around it notice?

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Wednesday
Mar242010

Free Fish

Churches and teachers today are still slapping the free fish sticker on anything they can find that might entice an audience and maintain a membership. Free sports and recreation. Free banquets and parties. Free coffee and doughnuts. Some even go old school and fry up free fish from time to time.

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Wednesday
Mar032010

After Midnight

Judging the worth of a sermon based upon a glance at your watch is without scriptural precedent. Some crave short sermons because they are spiritually disinterested, but others actually want them long as a show of their endurance and to prove some point of pride.

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Tuesday
Feb232010

Indignation in the Temple

One lesson seems clear: religious indignation at sin and blasphemy is the necessary byproduct of zealous faith, but if that zeal is not according to knowledge, the anger will inevitably be misdirected and counterproductive.

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Tuesday
Feb162010

Eating Blood

Those who come to the cross from cultures where blood is regularly eaten will face just as serious a challenge as the people in ancient Greece who first read James’s letter, but “If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.”

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Tuesday
Feb092010

Sowing to the Spirit

How many people reach middle age, find the kids grown and gone, the spouse disaffected and the path back to the church obscured because they spent the prime of their lives putting themselves first? You always finish last when you put yourself first.

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Tuesday
Jan262010

Paul on Mars Hill

Surrounded by the world’s greatest creations, he proclaimed to them something that preceded creation itself – the man Christ Jesus who came to earth, lived and died, and was resurrected in the interest of every man’s judgment and eternity. Confronted by the greatest philosophies of western civilization, the learned, converted Paul preached Jesus unto them, without shame or fear, but with pity and hope.

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Tuesday
Jan192010

The Rest Were Hardened

The New Testament points out that sometimes people become figuratively callused – their hearts and consciences become unfeeling and insensitive to rebuke, admonition and correction. It happens to unbelievers who repeatedly turn a deaf ear to the gospel call, but it also happens to Christians who learn to mute the sounds of reproof lest they feel guilt for their unreformed behavior.

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Tuesday
Jan122010

Mad at Moses, Mad at Me

Moses was not only a friend to God; he was his right hand man on Earth for decades – longer even than the administration of FDR and much longer than the comparatively brief ministry of Jesus the Christ. There were times, however, when God became angry at Moses – justifiably and righteously indignant with his shortcomings. Yes, even Moses – God got mad at Moses.

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Tuesday
Jan052010

At Your Word

Sometimes every ounce of worldly wisdom is driving us in one direction and the only thing restraining us is our faith in Jesus. Sometimes every other indicator is pointing toward compromise or failure, but that is when our faith is most sorely tested. Will we remain true to the plan of God or venture beyond it to explore the innovations of man?

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Tuesday
Dec012009

So Ready for Christmas

It is futile to pretend that Christmas does not exist and counterproductive to dismiss it without an explanation. While it is unwise and confusing to sing songs like Silent Night and Joy to the World this time of year or to send Christmas greetings with nativity scenes upon them, the days leading up to the twenty-fifth of December provide fertile ground for respectful religious conversation. Many people are temporarily in a mood to talk about Jesus – it’s a mood that will not be repeated until spring and then not again until next Christmas.

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Tuesday
Dec012009

Christian

Christian is a noun that implies a description – a person who is striving to behave and think like his Master, Jesus the Christ. Christian, however, has come to mean any system or thing that is thought to be consistent with the teaching of Christ or the church.

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