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Vol. 45, No. 10

October 2008

HELPING THE GRIEVING Levi Sides, Jasper, AL When you love someone so much and you see the pain that they are in, and you are fighting with everything in you to help them preserve their dignity, to help them maintain their strength of mind and character, you hide your own feelings. You submerge yourself totally in the person who is sick, or you deny that you have needs. You deny that you have physical needs, although your body may be screaming for those needs to be taken care of, or you deny that you have emotional needs because all of your emotions are poured out on the person who is ill. Between the diagnosis of a terminal illness and the actual death, many losses occur which affect both the ill person and family members. They may be physical, psychological, social, spiritual, or a combination of all of these. Reaction to these losses is called ANTICIPATORY GRIEF—a term commonly associated with the slow and expected deaths that have become more typical in our society. A man dying of cancer, for example, may no longer have the ability to work and may grieve the loss of his identity as a productive person. A woman whose husband suffers from Alzheimer’s disease may grieve the loss-in-process of his ability to provide support and companionship. She may also grieve losses yet to come, such as the further deterioration of his health and unfulfilled plans and dreams they have shared. What can Christians do to help those who are grieving? Let me offer four simple suggestions:

1. LISTEN. You cannot say anything that will help as much as listening. When Job’s three friends came to see him in his tragedy, they said nothing for seven days (Job 2:13). They were comforters until they started to talk. A widow wrote after her husband’s death: “Alone in my house, I longed for someone to call...anyone...I just wanted to talk.” 2. FEEL WITH THEM. Don’t try to push people away from their feelings. Do not tell people they do not need to grieve or cry. They need to cry. Let them express doubt, anger, disappointment, guilt, or whatever they feel. “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits” (Rom.12:15-16). 3. DON’T FORGET THEIR PHYSICAL NEEDS. They may need food, transportation, someone to help house guests, or even pay bills. If you see a need, do not wait until you have an official request. Take action and do it! 4. LEARN FROM THEM. People who are dealing with death are “coming to grips with their own mortality.” And so must we. It is clear that life is brief and that death is an appointment we all must face. “...For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). “...It is appointed unto man once to die…(Heb.9:27). WOT


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October 2008

EDITORIAL—Part 2

THE CHRISTIAN’S RESPONSE TO NATIONAL CRISES PROVIDE FREELY The church has a wonderful opportunity during times of national and international disaster to tend to the needs of those who have been affected by these misfortunes. During such times, many will prey on those who have experienced tragedy. Those who are devastated and downtrodden by calamity are seen as easy marks for wicked individuals who seek opportunity to take advantage of others. Even those with better intentions may look to provide assistance to the needy, but do so with strings attached. It is no wonder that some are apprehensive and cautious about accepting things they need in times of crises. As God’s children we have both the opportunity and the obligation to meet the needs of those around us to the fullest extent possible. Part of practicing “pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction” (Jas.1:27). Strong says of the word episkeptomai, translated “visit” in the verse above: “to inspect, that is, (by implication) to select; by extension to go see, relieve.” It is our grave responsibility to help relieve the burdens of those in need. The church can gather clothing, food, furniture, etc., in order to give to those who have lost such things in time of disaster. The church can provide shelter for those who have none. The church can assist financially as well. There is nothing wrong with congregations participating together to assist the needy during times of national crises, provided that a faithful congregation oversees the distribution of materials and funds. This is precisely the manner in which the early churches of Christ assisted the needy saints in Judea, by cooperating together and sending the funds to the church in Jerusalem, where distribution could then be made by the elders of the church. It is hoped that through our benevolent efforts, a soul might be made more receptive to studying the word of God. We have often stated that the work of the church is three-fold: evangelism, benevolence, and edification. Truth be told, the work of the church is singular in nature—evangelizing the lost (Luke 19:10). Benevolence and edification help to accomplish the task of saving souls and keeping them saved. Great sums of money are set aside in church budgets for evangelistic outreach

(and rightfully so). Much money is spent in efforts to edify the brethren. But how much is set aside for benevolence in the church? In some places I have seen, brethren have set aside nothing for benevolence. Brethren, this ought not to be! In many instances, our benevolent efforts are reactionary in nature, meaning that we work in a benevolent way only when confronted by a crisis. We should search for opportunities to do good unto others instead of merely waiting on the opportunity to come to us. “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially those of the household of faith” (Gal.6:10). In times of national calamity, the church should be the first on the scene to provide for the needs of our neighbors and friends. Providing freely of our material possessions for the good of others during times of crises will build a good reputation for the church and her members in the local community (Acts 2:47), and ultimately it is hoped these efforts will open doors of opportunity to teach the Gospel to the lost. The criteria for judgment will be how we have either accepted or abdicated our responsibility to see to the needs of others (Matt.25:31-46). PROMOTE FEVERISHLY As has already been stated, in times of national or international calamity, the hearts and minds of many are more likely to be focused on spiritual things than they otherwise would be. The church must capitalize on such opportunities to promote the name of the church of our Lord and the cause of truth for which we stand. While we must always seek to put forth the name of the church before the world, some opportunities prove more opportune than others. Times of disaster often provide such favorable times to advance the cause of Christ in our communities. Many are searching for somewhere to turn; they are looking for something to which they can hold; they are seeking to find order amidst the chaos and confusion that tragedy often brings. Let us show the world where to turn: “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:18). Let us give them something to which they can cling when


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the world around is crumbling: “Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord” (Acts 11:23). Let us point the world to the God of peace and order: “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all church of the saints” (1 Cor.14:33). Christians must aggressively advance the kingdom of our Lord, and there may be no more opportune time to do so than when we face great calamity in our nation. “Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God” (Deu.32:3). PERSEVERE FAITHFULLY In times of peril and distress many lose heart and adopt a very bleak and pessimistic outlook on life. Amidst evil and suffering, it is very easy to be soured toward the world around us. The way in which we view the world often becomes skewed in light of negative experiences and the constant barrage of all that is wrong in our world headlining the news, newspapers, radio, internet, etc. Christians must beware lest we allow our hearts to faint within us and become discouraged. The world takes notice of those who exhibit a “peace that passeth understanding” (Phi.4:7). Instead of allowing tragedies to disappoint us, we should look upon times of crises as chances for the Gospel to triumph. Instead of seeing obstacles that stand in our way and set us back, we should see opportunities to reach the hearts of men and women with the message of Jesus Christ. Character is often determined by how we respond to moments of trial and tribulation in our lives. The world is watching the church of Christ to see how we will react to the evils that come upon us and our nation. What will they make of the character of members of the Lord’s church? Will they see us throw in the towel in tough times? Will they see us call it quits when problems surround us? Or will the world see in God’s children a faith and trust that cannot be shaken? Will they see in us a determination to draw closer to God and lean upon Him while the world falls to pieces? We must resolve to persevere through the difficulties of life. God has promised to see us through. “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Jesus Christ, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you” (1 Pet.5:10). It is imperative that we “continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Col.1:23). If we lose hope and lose heart, we will lose any opportunity to win the lost to Jesus. The saints of God must persevere in spite of adversity, in spite of threat, in spite of crises. When the world can see in us a

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patient endurance even in adverse circumstances, it will make a profound impact. No matter what may come, let us remember and live by the words of the persevering patriarch Job: “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). As Christians, we owe it to our God, ourselves, our families, and the lost to “hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Heb.3:6). CONCLUSION National and international calamities present a great and glorious opportunity for the church to shine forth the light of Christ. In a time of upheaval and political uncertainty, God sent Jonah to the wicked Assyrians with the message of repentance (Jon.3:1-10). While Assyria had been a powerful nation at one time, and would again rise to world dominance, they were currently experiencing great trouble in the kingdom. Is it any wonder that God sent His messenger Jonah at such a time? When God’s own people were in the throes of despair and tribulation, having been taken into Babylonian captivity, only to find themselves ruled by the Persians, the Almighty through His providence brought Esther to a position of prominence. She was reminded of the obligation and opportunity to do great things for God and His people by the words of Mordecai: “For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Est.4:14)? In times of distress, we must be assured that God still rules in the kingdoms of men (Dan.4:17). It may be that we have been brought to times of trial and tribulation so that we may show to the world God working in us (Phil.2:13). What will be the reaction of the church of our Lord in times of crises? May we pray fervently for God’s blessings, His protection, and open doors to teach the Gospel. May we preach fearlessly the truth, all of the truth, and nothing but the truth. May we provide freely for the needs of those who are ravaged by calamity and hardship, that the Lord and his church might gain favor with the people. May we promote feverishly the cause of Christ and his precious church while hearts and minds are focused on the spiritual. May we persevere faithfully in the midst of adverse circumstances, showing to the world a patient resolve and a peaceful demeanor that result from leaning upon a God Who has promised to see us through even the most unfavorable times. When times appear bleakest the light of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ radiating in and through us shines brightest! WOT


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October 2008

BETTER THAN I DESERVE Rod Halliburton, Camden, AR I recently had a friend greet me with the commonly heard phrase, “How are you doing.” I responded, “Much better than I deserve.” My friend gave me a rather odd look and said, “Well, that may be; only you know what you’ve been doing.” It seemed that he took my words, “Much better than I deserve,” as an admission of some sort of wrong-doing. Not at all! When a Christian considers how he is doing, he realizes that he really is doing much better than he deserves! First, who among us deserves God’s love? Yet, God loves us anyway! Men often persist in sin in spite of God’s clear warning against its consequences. Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Men often continue in their rebellion despite God giving them ample opportunity to repent. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). Even when we turn our backs on God and stubbornly ignore His will, God still loves us. When we persist in a life of rebellion against Him, God still loves us. God loves us with a love that cannot be measured, a love that has no borders (Ephesians 3:18-19). Most of us are familiar with the parable of the prodigal son, found in Luke 15:11-32. The younger son went to a far country and wasted what his father had given him. He wasted his substance with riotous living, no doubt a reference to a lack of self restraint and involvement in those practices which went against what his father had taught him. Later, the son repented and returned to his father. But how did the father, who represents God in the parable, react? He was filled with compassion, ran, fell on his neck, and kissed him. He lovingly welcomed him home! When we stray from God and live in rebellion, God is still full of compassion toward us. He is still longing for the time when he can welcome us home. Why then, if man is often so rebellious, does God continue to love? Because anything else would be contrary to His nature! John wrote, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (I John 4:8). God’s love for us was manifested, or made known, when He sent His only begotten Son into the world. It is through his Son that we have the hope of eternal life. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that

God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (I John 4:9). Second, who among us deserves our salvation? Yet, God saves us anyway! Can we do anything that would make God indebted to us? Not at all! Can we do anything to save ourselves without God’s gift of His son? Not at all! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). We are saved by God’s grace, most simply defined as God’s unmerited favor toward man. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Could we possibly save ourselves apart from the blood of Christ? Not at all! “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8). God sacrificed his son for a sinful people who lacked the strength, the power or ability, to save themselves. Third, who among us deserves heaven? Yet, God has promised it to us anyway! The Bible describes heaven as a place where God will wipe away all tears, where there will be no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying, and no more pain. All these things will have passed away (Revelation 21:4). Yet what we deserve is the exact opposite of all this. That’s why death is referred to as the wages of sin, but eternal life is referred to as a gift (Romans 6:23). God has truly been good to us. How are you doing? WOT


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WITHOUT VISION, THE CHURCH WILL NOT PROSPER Mark Lance, Chalmette, LA The wise man wrote: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Prov.29:18). The Lord’s church today will only prosper if her leaders have enough vision to look beyond the here and now, and look to what is ahead. Notice some of the areas wherein leaders must have vision for the church to be productive. VISION TO THINK BEYOND THE CHURCH DOORS The elders must have enough foresight to see that simply having a building in which to meet is not nearly enough for the church to grow. Too many socalled leaders seem to think that they have met their responsibility if they build a building and put a sign out front with the service times listed. When Jesus walked upon the earth, He did not have the mentality of “here I am, let them come to me if they need something.” Luke records, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). We must go out into the community and seek those that are willing to hear the gospel. We can go door to door and talk with those in our community. Some think door-knocking is no longer effective, be we have those that are faithfully serving the Lord where I preach that would not have become Christians had someone not gone out to seek them and knocked on their door. We can use mail-outs into our communities such as House to House/Heart to Heart. This method allows the church to put good, sound material into the hands of our neighbors where they can sit down and read it at their convenience. We must realize that seed does not always spring to life immediately, so we must be patient. Remember, the main thing is to go: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). A good visitation program is of the utmost importance. When people visit our services, we must be quick to follow up with them. Often this is left up to the preacher due to members that are lazy and indifferent. Those same members will often blame the preacher when there is a lack of growth, while they themselves have not been busy about the Father’s business. VISION TO FEED THE CONGREGATION PROPERLY We need to be balanced in our approach to the spiritual food provided to the congregation. Some brethren do not seem to know that there is any other subject to discuss than false teachers. We must point out those that are promoting false teaching, but it should not be the heart of every sermon and every Bible class and every bulletin article. People need to know what is right about the church. They need to hear what they need to do to deal with everyday life. People need to know that someone cares: “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up unto him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph.4:15). Even though the local preacher may

teach on needed subjects, it will help to strengthen the brethren when we have qualified men to come in and preach sound, uplifting doctrine. Having creation seminars is an excellent way to prepare the congregation for what they will be bombarded with in the schools and in the work place. Our children need to be well grounded in the faith. We can help them by having good Vacation Bible Schools that have been well prepared. They will grow strong in the faith when they have faithful, dedicated teachers that take the necessary time to prepare to teach them on a weekly basis. The boys need to be trained from an early age to pray publicly and read the Scriptures. The ladies of the congregation need to work in their role to build up the church. In most cases it is the women of the congregation who are spiritually stronger than the men, who so often do not want to accept their God-given responsibilities of spiritual leadership. The ladies of the congregation can grow by having Ladies’ Days. They need to bring in those ladies that have the ability to build them up in the word of God, not someone that encourages them to do things that are not approved in God’s word. VISION TO PLACE QUALIFIED MEN AS LEADERS Too many congregations are not growing because they cannot grow beyond their leadership. Only qualified men should serve as elders and deacons in the local congregation. Those qualifications are given in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. It is unfortunate that some men are appointed only because they are well liked. Sadly, the congregation has to pay for appointing men who do not know the word of God, and who do not meet the qualifications of leadership in the church. It is not a popularity contest, but rather a very important role that must be taken seriously for a congregation to prosper. Deacons must be men that are willing to dedicate themselves to the work of the church. Too often deacons do not seem to realize that they have any responsibilities. Before a man takes upon him the responsibility of serving as a deacon, he must ask himself if he is willing to give the needed effort that is required. If he is not, then he should not accept the task. The Bible class teachers must be those that are sound in the faith. It is very detrimental to the congregation to have those who are not faithful, yet who are serving as Bible-class teachers. Some are not willing to put very much effort into their classes. Some do not know the Bible well enough to teach a class. Elders need to know what is being taught in all Bible classes. Unqualified teachers should never be turned loose in a Bible class. The Lord certainly deserves our very best. WOT


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October 2008

THE POWER TO BECOME SERVANTS Mark Reynolds, Muncie, IN Most would find the idea that it takes power to become a servant rather odd. Many feel that while it takes great power to become a master, servants, on the other hand, are made up of the powerless. The attitude of the world has remained constant through the ages; people will fight to the death to become great leaders, and will do everything they can to avoid servitude. The Bible teaches, however, that all Christians are to be servants, and that deacons must learn to serve in a special way. If we desire to have the mind of Christ, we must learn to serve as He did. Service is a learned trait, something that must be taught, practiced, and perfected even in godly people. Perhaps no other passage illustrates this better than Mark 10:35-45. The context of the above passage comes on the heels of Jesus’ predicting two events in regard to Himself. First, His crucifixion and everything that went with it: His betrayal by Judas, His condemnation by the Jewish leaders, the mockery of His enemies and, perhaps the most degrading of all, the spitting on Jesus from those who hated Him (Mark 10:33-34). Second, He foretells of the glorious event of His resurrection from the dead (Mark 10:34b). The Request After this awful and wonderful prediction, James and John approach Jesus with the request to be seated on either side of Him in His kingdom. This seems like an odd time for this request, but perhaps they were showing their faith in Jesus reigning in His kingdom. They would not have asked for this blessing if they did not believe Jesus would be reigning. No one asks to sit on the right and left hand of a man who is going to the gallows. They still believed He was King, and that He was about to establish His kingdom, although Jesus understands their thinking of a literal, physical kingdom is flawed. The Response Jesus’ response to their request is telling. Jesus denies this favor on two accounts, both of which help us understand the power it takes to become servants. First, he denied their request based on their ignorance. Neither the mother, who actually made the request for her sons (Mat. 20:20), nor the sons themselves truly understood what they were asking. When Jesus asked them if they were able to “drink of the cup that I drink of ? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” (10:38) they, seemingly without a moment’s hesitation, said: “We can.” In a few short days they would be fleeing with the crowd of frightened disciples when Jesus was arrested. They were not able to drink the cup, but as

they grew they would be willing to taste of the cup, and would consent to the very thing they would shirk; one by the sharp edge of a sword, and the other by a long wearisome exile in Patmos. Something changed in these men, which will be noticed later. Second, Jesus denied their request based upon His inability to grant it: “But to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared” (Mark 10:40). No doubt Jesus had great power, but it was not His purpose to give places of power arbitrarily. It was not upon the basis of favor that men would receive an office in the kingdom of Christ, but rather, men would be put into office according to their fitness for the office within the will of God. Just as a man could not go through and arbitrarily say who can and cannot be an elder or deacon, neither could Christ appoint places of leadership arbitrarily. These men must first be qualified and prepared, and then they could be appointed. The Requirement The question that arises after understanding the need for preparation is: “How does one become prepared for an office in the Lord’s kingdom?” What is the requirement? The Gentiles viewed this requirement as the disciples did at this point: “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them” (Mark 10:42). Someone who was in power gave authority to whomever he wanted, and in turn, they could then lord this power over others. They wanted Jesus to arbitrarily grant them power so they, in turn, could have power over the others, which explains why the other apostles were full of indignation at their request (Mat. 20:24). But this is not how it is done in the kingdom of Christ. God views greatness in terms of service: “And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all” (Mark 10:44). These “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17) wanted positions of power, not to do good to others, but to have good done to them. Jesus gave the perfect illustration, using Himself, of how it was to be in His kingdom: “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). By sacrifice man fits himself for power in the kingdom of Christ; by the denial of self and a readiness to serve, and he only retains this greatness as long as he retains his badge of service. When he loses that, he loses all his God-given power. As noted earlier James and John were called


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Boanerges, which is, the “sons of thunder” by the Lord. Strong defines Boanerges as “sons of commotion” and refers to two Chaldean words, from which Boanerges is a compound, which means “sons of violent anger” or “sons of rage.” No doubt Jesus knew what He was saying when he gave them this name as the record shows that they sought permission from the Lord to command fire to come down from heaven and consume the Samaritan villagers who did not receive Jesus (Luke 9:49-56). Jesus rebuked them, saying: “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village” (Luke 9:55-56). Jesus condemned their hateful and vengeful attitude. What a far cry from the John of later years who wrote and preached so much about love (fifty-two occasions of the word “love” in various forms appear in 1-3 John); he would become known as the “Apostle of Love.” John, in his humility, did not mention himself by name in four of his five books. He would go back to the same Samaria where he wanted fire to rain down from heaven and consume then, but this time he would pray for the people to receive special spiritual powers from the Holy Spirit. John would have his life end, not on a golden throne of glory, but on an island - alone. And what of James, what became of him? “Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword” (Acts 12:1-2). What a contrast from the sons of thunder to the sons of love, compassion and service. The Retraining How could hearts of stone be melted into hearts of love, as in the case of James and John? Their vengeful hearts were retrained to became hearts of servants. As callous as they once were to the needs of others, there was still hope in them, because they were teachable. Immediately after Jesus’ words to James and John concerning their request to sit on either side of Jesus in His kingdom came the event of the healing of blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52). Jesus, on His way to Jerusalem to suffer, heard the cry of suffering and halted the whole movement of his disciples and a great number of people. Everyone else was trying to stop the cry of the beggar so the journey could continue, but Jesus could not pass up the cry of a suffering soul. Matthew’s account gives the reason for Jesus’ response: “So Jesus had compassion…” (Mat. 10:34). Jesus not only told others the reason for their existence in the kingdom, to be servants of all (Mark 10:44), but He demonstrated this command by being a servant Himself. If He had not stopped to help blind Bartimaeus, His lesson on service would have meant nothing. Their Teacher not only told them to be servants, He showed them how! This example was not lost on James

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and John. Not only did they learn by the example of Jesus, but they learned from His words. As the cross drew nearer, Jesus gave His apostle’s another object lesson of service and compassion when He washed their feet, taking on the lowliest form of service. After the object lesson Jesus gave this marvelous message: Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:33-35, emph. mine, MER). Without a doubt, this message sank deeply into the hearts of James and John. James life was cut short by the sword of Herod, but he spent what time he had demonstrating the love Jesus spoke of. John, on the other hand, seems to have been the last apostle to die, having served the Lord faithfully for seventy years. It seems that the statement Jesus made to His apostles about loving others served as John’s mantra throughout his life of service. John was called the apostle of love, not only for what he wrote about the subject, but by the way he demonstrated love. Along with Peter, John could not pass up the searching soul that was lame from his mother’s womb, and who sat begging each day at the gate of the temple. Their new hearts would not allow them to pass him by. They healed the man and then used the occasion to teach the people (Acts 3). Based on their actions and their words the crowd could only come to one conclusion: Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13, emph. mine, MER). How could they have come to any other conclusion about John than “he had been with Jesus?” After all, he was acting so much like his Teacher. It takes great power to become a servant. Sometimes hearts have to be completely retrained to look for the needs of others, rather than only looking at the desires of self. This is not an easy task, but what great things are easy to accomplish? When one makes the effort to allow his heart to be changed by the gospel of Christ, the result is a beautiful new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). WOT


ASK A BIBLE QUESTION QUESTION: If monogamy is God’s plan for marriage, why did he approve of polygamy? After all, weren’t many of the OT saints polygamists, like Abraham, Moses, David and Solomon? ANSWER: First, the Bible does not approve of every thing it records. The Bible records Satan’s lie (Gen. 3:4) but certainly does not approve of it. Likewise, it records David’s adultery (2 Sam. 11) but gives no approval. Monogamy (married to one person) is God’s plan for marriage (1 Cor. 7:2; cf. 1 Tim. 3:2). Genesis 2:24 instructs man to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and God changes what has been two into “one flesh” (Matt. 19:6). Second, the Bible does speak strongly AGAINST polygamy. Monogamy was taught by precedent (Gen. 1:26-27). God gave Adam only one wife; this set the precedent for the whole race to follow. Monogamy was taught by precept. God told Moses, “Neither shall *you+ multiply wives” (Deut. 17:17). Thus polygamy was expressly forbidden. Monogamy was taught by moral prescription against adultery. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife *singular+” (Exod. 20:17) identifies that there was only one lawful wife the neighbor could have. Monogamy was taught by punishment. Every polygamist paid bitterly for his sin. Solomon’s “wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God” (1 Kings 11:4). The fact that God permitted polygamy no more proves he prescribed it than the fact He permitted divorce indicates that He desired it. What Jesus said of divorce is true also of polygamy; it was “permitted… because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning” (Matt. 19:8). —Mark N. Posey Decatur, AL

Words of Truth 10/2008  

Words of Truth

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