Ransom

Matthew 20:28 [fullscreen]

..Ransom..

transitive verb:

  1. to deliver especially from sin or its penalty
  2. to free from captivity or punishment by paying a price

Noun:

  1. a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity
  2. the act of ransoming In the biblical example:

28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” ~ Matthew 20:28 (ESV) . Our captive souls were redeemed by at a cost beyond compare, hence our debt is not “cancelled, but paid. . .

Acts 2:38 [mobile-1262x1262].png

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ~Acts 2:38 (ESV)

The preaching of Peter is the fulfillment of the expectation of Jesus. He was told to baptize in the Jesus’ name and his exhortation closes down with that same refrain!

 

#bible #Christian #faith #timelesstruth #Jesus #transformation

Eyes of your Heart

Ephesians 1:18 [mobile-1262x1262]

18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, ~ Ephesians 1:18 (ESV)

One of Paul’s prayers for the believers in Ephesus should be our own. The ability to see with genuine spiritual discernment is a window to great spiritual success. How we see what surrounds up will always drive us to the choices we make on our journey to be evermore like Christ. When we begin to value our spiritual blessings beyond our temporal surroundings hope will abound beyond compare.

Should God have made us, knowing many will be lost?, by Doy Moyer

One of the more difficult questions asked about God is this: why would God create people whom He knew would reject Him and, therefore, be forever lost?

First, while the following may not typically satisfy the unbeliever who asks the question, we need to consider this:

“Who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.” (Rom. 9:20-24)

This gets into the nature of God, who is all-knowing, all-wise, and sovereign over life and death. Do we really have a right to question God on the way we are made? Even so, there is an important idea stated in this passage that helps inform us about the issue: God has shown His patience and wrath toward those who perish so that He can show forth His grace and glorify His people. The wicked do perish, and while God would rather that they all come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9), He will not allow that fact to keep Him from being able to glorify His own. He is a God who glorifies. He took the risk, at least in part, because glorifying people is worth it to Him.

God created humankind with free will and the capacity to choose love. He did this so that He can glorify, but we make a mess through our abuse of the freedom and choice to hate God and others. Should that fact have kept God from creating those whom He can glorify? Not at all.

Why should those who freely choose to love God be prevented from being blessed, saved, and glorified just because there will be those who choose not to love God? If people choosing not to love God should have prevented God from making the human race with free will and the capacity to love, then the idea of the negative, obstinate, hard-hearted who would have had no desire for God would have wielded more influence over God’s decisions and will than the fact that it is in God’s nature to bless and glorify free will creatures. Evil should not be allowed to suppress the good. For God to keep from doing good because He knows there will be evil would be to let the concept of evil have the final say in what ought to happen. This is not God’s mode of operation.

I can only conclude that the provision to bless and glorify His image-bearers is extremely important to God in the scheme of things — more important than letting the fact that many will perish stop Him from doing what He loves and wills to do. Allowing the knowledge of unbelief to keep Him from creating those whom He can glorify together with Him would be giving too much credence to rejection. Is Yahweh a God who allows the negative to trump the positive, the evil to overcome the good? Apparently not. Let’s not forget, either, that God has made this salvation and glory available to all by His grace.

Every parent knows that bringing a child into the world runs a risk. The child can bring great joy and happiness, or the child can bring much sorrow and pain. Parents desire to have children that they can bless and care for. They know they will have times of great difficulty. They know there will be growing pains. They patiently work with their children through the hardships to bring them up. Parental desire to bless their children doesn’t change even as they grow up and move out. Yet that risk is there that the children will finally rebel, reject parental love, and turn their backs on the blessings and love that come through the family. Even so, knowing this risk and possibility, people keep having children and holding on to the desire to have a family they can bless and keep in close fellowship. The potential for the love and joy is great enough to take that risk. There is goodness in being able to bless someone. That goodness and love is in the nature of God, and this motivates God to bless and glorify a special people, even though others will have turned their backs on Him to be lost.

Likewise, every potential friendship runs the risk of causing great pain and heart-ache. Yet, we believe strongly enough in the love, the fellowship, and the joy that comes from it that we are willing to run that risk of loss. Should we let the fact that some may betray us cause us never to seek out friendship, fellowship, or love? Should we let the fear of loss keep us from the potential of love and joy?

Why would God create people whom he knew would reject Him and therefore be forever lost? It would seem, at least in part, that the answer lies in the fact that God, in His goodness, love, and grace, has strong motivation to bless and glorify free will creatures made in His image. Yet to make free will creatures He can glorify also meant making free will creatures who would choose to reject and hate Him, which puts them in a very bad position. Bear in mind, also, that even if we never fully understand this, that does not put us in a position to deny God.

God’s offer and desire is to glorify us, but He won’t force us to accept. Will we be vessels of wrath prepared for destruction or vessels of mercy prepared for glory? As Moses told the people of his day, “So choose life in order that you may live” (Deut. 30:19).

Doy Moyer

find this and more thought provoking articles here: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/

The Truth about the “house church movement”

Recently the Caneyville church of Christ arranged for brother Connie Adams to preach a series of messages dealing with the “house church movement”. (Which, btw is different than a church meeting in someone’s home).

ConnieConnie W. Adams was born in Hopewell, VA, on September 22, 1930, and preached his first sermon at Pike Road, NC, in 1945. He continued filling preaching appointments through high school years and during four years as a student at Florida College (’48-’53). Connie and his wife Bobby Katherine have eight children between them: he has two sons, Wilson (who preaches in Nashville, TN) and Martin (Air Traffic Controller) and she has six children, three sons and three daughters. Connie’s local work has been done in Lake City, Palmetto, and Orlando, FL; Atlanta, GA; Bergen, Norway; Newbern, TN; Akron, OH; Louisville, KY. Also, he has preached in Canada, England, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and the Philippines. He has done fulltime meeting work since 1975.

 

We’ve Come a Long Way, by John R. Gibson

About two years ago the Athens News Courier contained a quarter page advertisement inviting all to a “Free Community Cookout.” The ad went on to say, “Join us as we say, ‘Happy Birthday America’ on Saturday, June 30th. We will begin serving hamburgers, hotdogs, chips and drinks at 6:00 pm and will serve until we run out. There will also be sno-cones, cotton candy, face painting and games. You will have the best view in town of the City of Athens’ fireworks display.”  [The ad is quoted word for word, but capitalization and punctuation have been changed to a normal paragraph style. JRG]

Don’t get me wrong about this. I’m a patriotic American who likes hamburgers, chips, and fireworks, so if this had been sponsored by the Lions Club or some other civic organization I wouldn’t have thought twice about it. However, this Free Community Cookout was sponsored by a local church and that raises a lot of questions in my mind.

  • Is there anything in the New Testament that would suggest church sponsorship of such events is the will of God? Matt. 7:21
  • Are there any examples of New Testament churches, under the guidance of the apostles (1 Cor. 4:17), hosting community events with free leg of lamb, pita bread, chariot races, and such?
  • Can a church rightfully claim to abide in the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9) and engage in practices never found in the New Testament?
  • When did the Lord tell us to change our approach from simply preaching the gospel as his power to save (Romans 1:16) to attempting to draw people with entertainment and food for their stomachs? See 1 Thes. 1:8 where it was said of the church in Thessalonica that “from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth.”
  • Should our conduct be any different than that of Paul when he refused to give either the Jews or the Gentiles what they wanted, but insisted on giving them what they needed, viz. the message of the cross? 1 Cor. 1:21-23

We’ve come a long way from the New Testament pattern when it was the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers who were equipping the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12, 13). Now, most churches feel they need a director of basketball operations, a grill master, a face painter, and a host of other things never even hinted at in the New Testament. Yes, many churches, including those calling themselves “of Christ,” have come a long way, but the question remains—who gave the instructions to move?

We’ve come a long way from the New Testament pattern when it was the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers who were equipping the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:1213). Now, most churches feel they need a director of basketball operations, a grill master, a face painter, and a host of other things never even hinted at in the New Testament. Yes, many churches, including those calling themselves “of Christ,” have come a long way, but the question remains—who gave the instructions to move?

“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.” 2 John 9

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” Matt. 7:21

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.’” Matt. 28:18

“For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Rev. 22:1819

Unless noted, all quotations from the New King James Version, copyright 1994 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Baptism: A Death, Burial, and Resurrection, by Doy Moyer

Picture

“Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’ But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well- pleased.’” (Matt 3:13-17)

In one sense, the baptism of Jesus fits what is sometimes called the “principle of embarrassment” (which actually increases the credibility of the text). Why would Jesus come to John to be baptized? Why would Jesus need baptism at all? John’s baptism was “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3). If Jesus didn’t need repentance and forgiveness, then why would He be coming to John for baptism? John recognized this difficulty, reacting with surprise and attempting to prevent it. Jesus told Him to permit it “at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” There is something about His baptism that is connected to the fulfillment or completion of righteousness.

There are likely several reasons why Jesus came to be baptized by John. This was, indeed, a special time of fulfillment. The Messiah has come! This action serves as the inauguration of His public ministry, identifying Him explicitly as the Son of God. This would also identify Jesus with those who were awaiting the kingdom. Recall that John’s preaching entailed the message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2). In preaching the kingdom, he was pointing to the Messiah, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29). It was this action, coupled with the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus, telling John that Jesus was the expected One (John 1:29-34). By doing this, Jesus identified Himself with John’s mission and validated the work John was doing. It also serves as an example to all who would follow Jesus. This is just the beginning.

With all the possible reasons that could be given for the purpose of Jesus’ baptism, the one we wish to focus on is how His baptism foreshadowed His own work. Paul later makes the point that baptism is a death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6:3-7, a passage we’ll come back to). Through baptism, Jesus foreshadows His purpose for coming into the world as the Son of God: to die and rise again.

That the resurrection is ultimately in view is confirmed by what the Father said: “This is My beloved Son.” This statement comes from Psalm 2:7. Psalm 2 is messianic and focuses on the kingship of the Anointed One. “He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’” This very passage was taken by Paul to refer, not to the birth of Jesus as the Son, but to His resurrection:

“And we preach to you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are MY Son; today I have begotten You.’ As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’” (Acts 13:32-34)

The second part of what the Father said (“in whom I am well-pleased”) comes from Isaiah 42:1, another messianic passage that speaks to the fact that He was endowed with the Spirit, bringing justice to the nations (cf. Matt 12:15-21). In Jesus’ baptism, He shows that His work as the Servant would culminate in His own death, burial, and resurrection.

Our Baptism

Baptism, then, is both symbolic and a very real action. In other words, it is not just getting wet. In this case, our own baptism is itself a way of following after the footsteps of Jesus as He went to the cross and rose again from the dead. Baptism, for the believer, is also a death, burial, and resurrection:

“Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” (Rom 6:3-5)

“Death” is a word used in several ways. We are dead in transgressions and sins (Eph 2:1). Yet, when we respond to God’s will in baptism, we die again, only this time we die to our sins (instead of being dead in our sins). Paul began Romans 6 by making this very point: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it” (vv 1-2). The old self is then said to be crucified with Christ so that we would no longer be slaves of sin, “for he who has died is freed from sin” (vv 6-7). Paul continues, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again” (vv. 8-9).

This is the point Paul makes about baptism: it is our own death, burial, and resurrection, following the same pattern of Jesus both in His baptism and in His physical death and resurrection. It is an identification with everything that Christ is and stands for, primarily as He died for sin and rose again. Our being baptized says that, by the grace of God, we have died to our sins and we are raised up to walk a new life with Him.

Baptism is, likewise, making a commitment to the new life resulting from death, burial, and resurrection. If we really have died to sin, how shall we keep living in it?

“Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Rom 6:11-13)

Elsewhere, Paul makes a similar point: “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.” (Col 3:1-4)

By being baptized into Christ, we are making a vow to serve Him. We are dead to sin and alive in Him. We have buried the old man who was dead in sin and we have been raised up to be new creatures in Christ. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor 5:17). Baptism is our pledge that, by God’s strength, we will no longer be controlled by sin. We are a new creation.

Once again, we should be able to see the great significance of baptism. It is, through God’s grace, our inaugural act that identifies us with us the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It also identifies us with that same kingdom preached by both John and Jesus. Further, baptism is done with repentance and for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), and anyone who wishes to follow to Jesus will gladly do it (Acts 2:41). Many ask, “is baptism necessary?” The answer should be obvious if we substitute the word “baptism” with how Paul discusses it in Romans 6: “Is it necessary to die to sin, be buried with Christ, and be raised to walk a new life?” But even more, wouldn’t the one who desires to follow the Lord eagerly do what He says? Let us, then, be committed to the crucified and raised life.

Doy Moyer

For more on baptism, see also Baptism: Washing with Water

 

Via: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/1/post/2014/04/baptism-a-death-burial-and-resurrection.html

A Teenager’s New Year’s Resolution, by Bill H. Reeves

While preaching in El Salvador I found the following New Year’s resolution attached to the door of Mercedes Hernandez, daughter of Joaquin Hernandez who preaches in Central America. The paper was written by his daughter for her benefit alone, a few minutes after greeting the New Year. She went to her room, wrote her thoughts on the paper and fixed it to the door. She did not know anyone else would see it. I was impressed by it and asked her to let me have a copy of it to share with others. Her example may inspire the rest of us to greater zeal in the Lord’s kingdom.

January 1, 1988. 12:15 a.m. This year I desire, if the Lord wills:

1. To study in order to learn.

2. To persist in useful things.

3. To forget things which are not pleasant.

4. To smile more and be more pleasant among those about me.

5. To be punctual and constant.

6. To be better toward Said and Yasser (her two little brothers, BHR).

7. To do all things whole-heartedly and with love toward the Lord.

What I have written I propose in my heart, asking the Lord that I might fulfill it.

I desire, oh Lord, that you permit me to accomplish it in accordance with your divine will, and when I feel weakness in me I ask you to accompany me.

But above all I supplicate thee to be with me and accompany me always, Lord of heaven and earth.

Permit me to read the Holy Bible and to pray every day.

Pray: many times daily.

Read: one or more hours daily.

Blessed be thou Lord Jesus. Be with my brothers. In your great love. Amen.

Guardian of Truth XXXII: 6, p. 171
March 17, 1988

via: http://www.truthmagazine.com/archives/volume32/GOT032082.html

THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE ORGANIZED CONGREGATION, by Doy Moyer

Picture
The twin fallacies of composition and division assume that what is true of the parts is true of the whole (composition), and what is true of the whole is true of the individual parts (division). Composition would take the basic form, “Individual pieces of x have characteristics Y and Z; therefore all of X has characteristics Y and Z.” This is not always fallacious, but it cannot be assumed to be true without proper warrant. For example, one might reason that since particular players are the best at their position, then putting all the players together necessarily makes the best team (though they might not play so well as a team). Division would reverse composition. For example, since this is the best team in the league, then all the individual players are the best players at their position. (These are common illustrations.)

These fallacies can be instructive when thinking about the relationship of the individual to the congregation. It would be fallacious, for example, to say that what is true of the individual Christian is true of the congregation of which he is a part. Likewise, it is fallacious to say that whatever is true of the congregation as a whole is true of each individual Christian who is part of the group.

Once again we should be able to see how these fallacies might be committed. For example:

“These Christians are hypocrites; therefore the whole church is hypocritical.”
“The church is evangelistic; therefore each Christian is evangelistic.”

Both of these statements are fallacious. Hypocrites within a congregation do not make the entire group hypocritical, and a congregation that is overall actively evangelistic does not mean each individual is actively participating very well.

It is not uncommon to hear the argument, “Because the church is made up of individuals, then whatever the individual can do (or is doing), the church can do (or is doing).” This is the fallacy of composition. We can understand how the fallacy is made. The church is comprised of Christians, but individual Christians acting is not identical to the organized group as a whole acting. This is seen in passages like 1 Timothy 5, where believers are told to care for their own needy first (widows) so that the church is not burdened: “If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed” (vs. 16). This would make no sense at all if there is no distinction to be made between individual action and organized group action. Individuals act in their capacity as business associates, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, citizens, neighbors, etc. These actions are independent of the organized group. No one would reasonably argue that since a husband and wife, both of whom are Christians, share an intimate relationship, this means the entire church shares that same relationship. Clearly, individuals can act on their own without their actions being that of the group. In matters of money, Peter told Ananias, who had just lied, that his land and money were under his (Ananias’) control. We can understand that an individual maintains control of his own possessions and finances until relinquished to the group.

The church (group) is not an institution separate from people (as we have previously argued), but the group still does exist with organization and authorized actions; in this sense the church is an organization (i.e., a group of people organized for a particular goal or work). This organization need not be complicated, and we aren’t using the term here to imply some massive business model. Organization means that there is order to what is going on, under leadership, and has a goal and purpose to which all are attending. Is there biblical evidence for this?

1. The evidence for local congregations is found throughout the New Testament documents, particularly from Acts on. When congregations are addressed, these epistles take on more than simply the idea of Christians who all happen to live in the same city. The epistles were intended to be read in assemblies, implying that they met in order to hear God’s word read and taught. The church at Corinth, for example, came together as a group (or were supposed to) with the intention of edifying, teaching, and participation in the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:18ff; 14) . Instead of chaos, and since God is not the God of confusion (14:33), order and organization within the assembly itself was required.

2. The evidence for elders and deacons shows God’s desire for local organization (Acts 20; Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3; Titus 1). If we are to put ourselves under the “leaders” (Heb 13:17), who keep watch for our souls, this cannot be done without some level of organization. They cannot do this if they do not know who it is that they are supposed to watching for. This implies some kind of record, knowledge, roll, or something of which they would be aware. People often shy away from “membership” terms, but the idea is simply that the Christians know who is part of their group so they can help encourage and share their activities.

3. The evidence for organized, congregational action is strong. The very fact of assembling together for edification, hearing God’s word, participating in the Lord’s Supper, etc., is evidence of specified group action. Paul wrote of the “churches of Macedonia” acting by collecting funds to send back to needy saints in Jerusalem (2 Cor 8:1ff; note that the plural form of ekklesia here implies local groups acting; if all Paul was doing was talking about Christians generally in the area, why would he use the plural form?). He directed the “churches of Galatia,” and then the church at Corinth, to collect funds for needy saints (1 Cor 16:1-4). Any actions like these require some organization.

Authorization for individual action is not identical to authorization for congregational action. If the church is not to be burdened with some matters that the individual has an obligation toward, then this is proof enough of the point. The congregation exists for a purpose, and God has provided for particular activities within a congregational setting—Christians coming together for His purposes, and in which all are expected to participate in organized action.

The point is that we should not conflate individual action and authority with congregational action and authority. We understand this principle in other matters. If we gave funds to a hospital with an expectation that these funds are used for helping the sick, and they take these funds and form a softball team with it, we would likely be fairly upset with such a misuse. Does this mean we wouldn’t support a softball team in another context? Of course not. This is simply recognizing the context and purpose for which a particular group or organization exists.

God wants Christians banding together in a congregational setting to worship Him and encourage one another in the things of Christ. We don’t find congregations in Scripture acting in any and every way that individuals might act separately, though they are sometimes chastised for the way certain individuals act (e.g, 1 Corinthians; Revelation 2-3). “When you come together as a church” is instructive (1 Cor 11:18), and they were limited by God’s orders as to what they were to do in such a setting (1 Cor 14:37). If no distinction is to be made between church and individual settings, then there would be no context in which the women could speak up (vs. 34).

Everyone participates in various organizations and relationships with different contexts and purposes. Christians might join together to form a business in one context (e.g., a donut shop), but this does not mean the “church” as a whole (congregational or universal) is in the donut business (composition fallacy). Christians working in conjunction with each other in education generally does not put the church in the education business. Context and purpose are everything (as in biblical interpretation, so in life application). In the capacity of a local congregation, there is a context and purpose that differs from other actions that may involve multiple Christians. Again, we recognize this principle in other areas of life. Players on the Giants going to the movies together does not mean the “Giants” are going to the movies (this would imply a more official, organized context and purpose). There is a reason people speak about government abuses, where they recognize that there are limits to what a government ought to be able to do in relation to the individuals of the state. Again, organizations exist for different purposes and in different contexts. Why would this be any different when it comes to local congregations that exist on God’s authority?

Though the congregation is comprised of individuals, the congregation as an organized group is not identical to the individual (division) and the individual is not identical to the congregation (composition). We do well to remember this in discussions about both individual and congregational activities.

Doy Moyer

Via: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/1/post/2013/12/the-individual-and-the-organized-congregation.html