Archives for : August2016

Modern trends . . .

Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation concerning media use by children, age 8-18, shows:

·   Kids spend almost 8 hours a day using media

·   The largest chunk of this time is with TV – 4½ hours a day

·   Music has grown the most since 1999, then TV, then computers

·   MP3 ownership has quadrupled in the last 5 years

·   Mobile phone ownership has doubled

·   Tweens (8 hours and 40 minutes a day) use more media than other ages 

·   On average, kids use media more than they sleep

– via ParentingInTheDigitalAge.com, 9/29/14

Deuteronomy 6:6-7Deuteronomy 6:6-7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; 7 and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

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  “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10

Each of us makes a choice – and we make that choice every day! It is a decision to choose happiness, or a decision to choose unhappiness. It really does depend upon us (despite our belief that others make us happy or unhappy). Solomon suggests five areas where one should find “happiness” and a “cheerful heart.”

First, one should be happy with his food and drink (v. 7). There are so many in the world that are dying of thirst and starvation. For those of us who have our “daily bread” there should be an attitude of gratitude.

Second, one should be happy with his clothes (v. 8a). If one can pick clothes that are comfortable (“white”), he should be happy with that. Again there are many in the world that lack the kind of clothing needed for the changes in the weather. If one has adequate clothing, there should be a sense of joy.

Third, one should be happy if he has medicine (v. 8b). Solomon mentions the benefits of “oil.” Frequently oil was used for medicinal purposes, as well as an ointment to aid dry skin. Not all have either the availability of oil or the resources to purchase it.

Fourth, one should be happy with his mate (v. 9). When one finds a wife he has found “a good thing” (Prov. 18:22Prov. 18:22
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, And obtaineth favor of Jehovah.

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). There are so many who are in unhappy marriages. Why are they unhappy? Usually because one or both have failed to invest in the marriage, trying to make it the best marriage possible. Also there are those who have failed to develop contentment with one’s mate. If the husband is always thinking of other women, or the wife is thinking of other men, a lack of contentment will exist and will grow as a cancer in that marriage.

Fifth, one should be happy with his job (v. 10). There are so many who continually grip and complain about their jobs. Yet there are others who have the same job and are happy with that job. So what is the difference? They have a determination to maintain a positive attitude about that job. Frequently people become discontent and either are miserable in the job or are frequently ‘job hopping.’ The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, as so many foolishly find out – but too late.

Happiness is in your grasp. Choose to seize it!

–Denny Petrillo

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10Ecclesiastes 9:7-10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God hath already accepted thy works. 8 Let thy garments be always white; and let not thy head lack oil. 9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of thy life of vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all thy days of vanity: for that is thy portion in life, and in thy labor wherein thou laborest under the sun. 10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in Sheol, whither thou goest.

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I’VE MESSED UP

Editors have a difficult job as is evident from these mishaps:

~  IMPORTANT NOTICE: If you are one of hundreds of parachuting enthusiasts who bought our Easy Sky Diving book, please make the following correction: on page 8, line 7, the words “state zip code” should have read “pull rip cord.”

~ It was incorrectly reported last Friday that today is T-shirt Appreciation Day.  In fact, it is actually Teacher Appreciation Day.

~ There are two important corrections to the information in the update on our Deep Relaxation professional development program.  First, the program will include meditation, not medication.  Second, it is experiential, not experimental.

~ Our newspaper carried the notice last week that Mr. Oscar Hoffnagle is a defective on the police force.  This was a typographical error.  Mr. Hoffnagle is, of course, a detective on the police farce.

~ Apology:  I originally wrote, “Woodrow Wilson’s wife grazed sheep on front lawn of the White House.” I’m sorry that typesetting inadvertently left out the word “sheep.”

~ In one edition of today’s Food Section, an inaccurate number of jalapeno peppers was given for Jeanette Crowley’s Southwestern chicken salad recipe.  The recipe should call for two, not 21, jalapeno peppers.

~ The marriage of Miss Freda vanAmburg and Willie Branton, which was announced in this paper a few weeks ago, was a mistake which we wish to correct.

We’ve all been there.  We’ve all said something we shouldn’t have said, or we said something in a way that was hurtful (often when we didn’t intend to do so).  Newspaper editors have learned that whenever they make a mistake, the best thing to do is to publicly announce (as quickly as possible), “I’ve messed up.  I didn’t intend to but I did, and I want you to know that I’m sorry.”

It’s a lesson we would all do well to learn.  Instead of denying responsibility, instead of pretending it never happened, instead of making excuses, we need to learn to say, “I’ve messed up.  I didn’t intend to but I did, and I want you to know that I’m sorry.”

That kind of honesty is necessary to restore our relationship with people around us.  More than that, it is necessary to restore our relationship with God.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:8-9John 1:8-9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. 9 There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world.

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The one thing that is absolutely necessary to restore relationships is the thing we often find most difficult – honesty.  Perhaps there’s someone whom you have hurt recently by your words or your deeds.  Don’t put it off.  Let them know, “I’ve messed up.  I didn’t intend to but I did, and I want you to know that I’m sorry.”  Doing that won’t be a mistake you’ll need to correct later!

Alan Smith

Today’s millennials are on the frontline of a battlefield more daunting than any living generation before them.

I was more than a little amused to read one of the latest offerings at the offbeat online food site “Munchies” (munchies.vice.com).  While it seems to be having fun with the overkill-reporting of all movements millennial, they give hard data to support the idea that those in the age range of 18-34 are forsaking fast-food chains and sit-down restaurants in deference to convenience stores with their nachos, taquitos and slurpies.  This data is being interpreted as a reflection on their tendency to impulse buy or be lured in by novelty.

Having at least two children who would fit the broad definition of “millennials,” I am always trying to figure out how this demographic ticks.  It seems that every news story featuring them, as a generation, casts them as fickle, rebellious, self-serving, or disconnected from the rest of society.  While they have inherited some broken systems (educationally, economically, religiously, etc.) and, as such, may naturally feel some distrust and disdain for those responsible, stereotypes and broad brushes are usually faulty.

When I view Christian millennials, having spoken with a great many of them over the past few years, I see a group intent on doing great things for Christ.  They don’t want to hear plans for helping the poor and needy; they want to organize and supply manpower for doing it.  They want more than Bible classes and sermons on soul-winning; they want to see their “role models” doing it and involving them in it.  They don’t want to simply accept our word for it on why we do what we do in worship and doctrine; they want well-thought-out explanations and demonstrations of book, chapter, and verse.

Today’s millennials are on the frontline of a battlefield more daunting than any living generation before them.  The prince of this world has attempted to brainwash and indoctrinate them with his lies.  The institutions of our culture actively seek to redefine right and wrong for them.

So many of the Christian millennials I know are eager to serve as soldiers in the Lord’s Army.  They may disparage some of the “established” forms not founded upon the Rock, but the kind of faith they are developing and must grow will be anything but “convenient.”  They may have to pay a higher price for holding onto their faith than any of us did at their age.  May we have the wisdom and take the time to mentor, encourage, love, and assist them in influencing a world so rapidly changing.  They can do it, and we must help.  God certainly will (cf. Rom. 8:37-39Rom. 8:37-39
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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–Neal Pollard

Does THIS GUY worship with you?!

SUPPOSE THERE’S A man with a bad reputation in the community…

He’s impatient, unkind, and uncompassionate, and he takes advantage of people in business deals. He treats people poorly, disdaining those he considers beneath him.

He’s also a church member who holds conservative, orthodox convictions on matters of faith. In fact, he holds his convictions quite rigidly and will not tolerate anyone who deviates even slightly.

There’s an obvious problem here, right?

He seems to believe that the most important part of faith is what we do toward God, what might be called the vertical aspect. If our worship and doctrinal convictions are right, then we’re okay.

Or maybe not.

Jesus opposed that particular perspective frequently and vocally. Look at the second part of his response to a question he was asked, and notice how closely he aligns love for neighbor with love for God:

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:28-31Mark 12:28-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

28 And one of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together, and knowing that he had answered them well, asked him, What commandment is the first of all? 29 Jesus answered, The first is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one: 30 and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. 31 The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

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What does it mean to be God’s child?

Love God, love people, Jesus says.

In fact, he links them so strongly as to make them inseparableIf you love God, you will love people.

It’s everywhere in Jesus’ teachings.

The hero of his most famous parable was a hated Samaritan—his theology wasn’t too good, but he was praised because he had a heart for hurting people.

The unnamed villain of another story was sent to hell for what? Bad theology?

Not so much.

He wasn’t even condemned for treating poor Lazarus terribly. He wasn’t mean or harsh. He didn’t throw the beggar off his property or spit on him as he walked by.

He just ignored him. He was indifferent, unconcerned. His great sin was doing nothing.

But through his teaching and living Jesus taught us that loving God means loving God’s people.

He was gentle with the adulterous woman brought to him in shame.

He forgave the “woman of the city” who let her hair down and cried on his feet.

He hung out with drunks, prostitutes, and tax collectors [see Mk. 2:16-17Mk. 2:16-17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with the sinners and publicans, said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? 17 And when Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.

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In fact, you can’t read a page of the gospels without seeing his kindness toward people.

And that’s what he tells us to do. It comes through so clearly that we come to realize that we don’t really love God if we don’t.

None of this means God doesn’t care about our theology.

But it does mean we can have some pretty good theology and still not know God.  –Chuck Webster

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:28-31Mark 12:28-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

28 And one of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together, and knowing that he had answered them well, asked him, What commandment is the first of all? 29 Jesus answered, The first is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one: 30 and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. 31 The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

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Mike Benson

Solomon doesn’t beat around the bush. He identifies clearly the kind of people he wants his son to avoid:

Sometimes (many times?) change is hard. My wife tells me I don’t like change. This may be the way it is with most people.

Solomon knows that we may make choices in life that are hard to change. One area that is hard to change is the people with which we associate. It takes wisdom for a person to determine to no longer associate with unspiritual people. There comes a time when you have to honestly admit that they are influencing you more than you are influencing them.

Solomon doesn’t beat around the bush. He identifies clearly the kind of people he wants his son to avoid:

“…men who speak perverse things,
who leave the paths of uprightness
to walk in the ways of darkness;
Who delight in doing evil…
From the adulteress who flatters with her words…”
(Prov. 2:12-16Prov. 2:12-16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 To deliver thee from the way of evil, From the men that speak perverse things; 13 Who forsake the paths of uprightness, To walk in the ways of darkness; 14 Who rejoice to do evil, And delight in the perverseness of evil; 15 Who are crooked in their ways, And wayward in their paths: 16 To deliver thee from the strange woman, Even from the foreigner that flattereth with her words;

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These may all be, overall, nice people. They might be funny, entertaining, and even charismatic. Yet wisdom screams that we should get away from such. They all have the tendency to turn others into being like them: people who have no relationship with God.

If we are wise, we will find good people and make them our true friends. Solomon says to his son “So that you will walk in the way of good men, and keep to the paths of the righteous” (Prov. 2:20Prov. 2:20
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20 That thou mayest walk in the way of good men, And keep the paths of the righteous.

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Maybe it’s time for a change; for you to say to your friends, “I’m out of here!” Or, related to this, maybe it is time to say: “I’m done watching that TV show,” or “I’m finished going to that type of movie,” or “I’m not going to read that kind of material any more.” Realizing that these people and/or activities are pulling us down should make us pull away. That would be a wise choice.

Denny Petrillo

The Sin of Murmuring

The word “murmur” is defined as “low, muttered complaints; grumbling.” (Webster). It is condemned by God as being sinful. We are commended to “do all things without murmuring and disputings.” (Philippians 2:16Philippians 2:16
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16 holding forth the word of life; that I may have whereof to glory in the day of Christ, that I did not run in vain neither labor in vain.

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). The apostle Paul warned Christians against this sin in his letter to the Corinthians: “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured and were destroyed of the destroyer” (1 Corinthians 10:101 Corinthians 10:10
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10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured, and perished by the destroyer.

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). The sinfulness of murmuring is vividly illustrated by God’s severity of punishment toward the guilty Jews, as shown in the following account.

Korah, Dathan, Ahiram, fifty princes of the congregation and others rebelled and murmured against God’s servants Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16:1-11Numbers 16:1-11
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16 1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: 2 and they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the congregation, called to the assembly, men of renown; 3 and they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and Jehovah is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the assembly of Jehovah? 4 And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face: 5 and he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, In the morning Jehovah will show who are his, and who is holy, and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he shall choose will he cause to come near unto him. 6 This do: take you censers, Korah, and all his company; 7 and put fire in them, and put incense upon them before Jehovah to-morrow: and it shall be that the man whom Jehovah doth choose, he shall be holy: ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi. 8 And Moses said unto Korah, Hear now, ye sons of Levi: 9  seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of Jehovah, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them; 10 and that he hath brought thee near, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee? and seek ye the priesthood also? 11 Therefore thou and all thy company are gathered together against Jehovah: and Aaron, what is he that ye murmur against him?

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). “The earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up they, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them, and they perished from among the congregation” (verses 32-33). “And there came out a fire from the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense” (verse 35). When the Jews murmured that Moses and Aaron were responsible for the deaths. God killed fourteen thousand, seven hundred of them by a plague (verses 41-49). This is written for our admonition and should cause all murmurers in the church to repent and reform, lest they suffer a “sorer punishment” (Hebrews 10:28-29Hebrews 10:28-29
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28 A man that hath set at nought Moses law dieth without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses: 29 of how much sorer punishment, think ye, shall he be judged worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

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A murmurer can do great harm and irreparable damage in a congregation by creating discontent discouragement and apathy among members, by sowing discord among the brethren (which God hates – Proverbs 6:19Proverbs 6:19
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19 A false witness that uttereth lies, And he that soweth discord among brethren.

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), by undermining the work of preacher, teachers, deacons, and the rule of elders. This many times creates a general attitude of dissatisfaction and loss of interest, enthusiasm and zeal, resulting in decreased attendance, contribution and impairment of all work in general. The murmurer may then be the first to criticize the lack of growth, and may use the preacher or someone else as the scapegoat to bear the blame, not realizing or ignoring the fact that his own sin is responsible.

The murmurer does not truly love God and is not really interested in the welfare and growth of the church, but in his own selfish desires and opinions. He is either woefully ignorant of or willfully disregards God’s word regarding his sin, and is a dangerous threat to the cause of Christ. He can and does destroy or greatly lessen the influence and work of those who happen to be the object of his disgruntled attack. It is difficult to deal with such a situation because often times the murmurer does not have the courage or character to honorably discuss his complaints with the proper ones, but whispers them in secret to others. Christians should not lend receptive ears nor endorsement to murmuring, but exhort the guilty one to cease his sin. Remember, if one will murmur to you, he may murmur about you, because many times he is a pharisaical faultfinder, a chronic complainer with a hypercritical attitude who is usually never satisfied very long with any arrangement.

We earnestly exhort all murmurers everywhere in the name of Christ to repent of this sin, to cease and desist in tearing down the work of God, and to get busy in the kingdom to build it up. Those who truly love God and his church have no desire to be hypercritical faultfinders, wandering about murmuring to all who will listen. If anyone should persist in this sin after proper warnings and efforts to restore, then scriptural discipline should be brought about to protect the flock of God and its work. The work of our Lord is too important to allow murmurer to run and ruin the church.

– by Earl Fly

“But I thought”

The story is told of a lady who walked into a pharmacy and asked the pharmacist if he had a cure for the hiccups. The pharmacist said, “I sure do,” and immediately and unexpectedly yelled, “boo!” at the top of his lungs. Well, this nearly scared the lady half to death! She looked at the pharmacist and asked, “Why in the world did you do that?” The pharmacist said, “Because a good scare will rid a person of hiccups.” The lady then said, “But I don’t have the hiccups. My husband does and he’s out in the car!”

Oops! Now there’s an illustration of how assumptions can be costly. However, the greatest cost regarding assumptions occur in the spiritual realm. How many people assume they are believing and practicing the things that please God? How many people believe things that they have never bothered to read and study for themselves? How many times do you think God will hear someone say in the day of judgment, “But I thought.”

The Bible says to “prove all things and hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:221 Thessalonians 5:22
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22 abstain from every form of evil.

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Steve Higginbotham

It was Sunday evening, February 10th.

We had barely started the assembly when it was announced that a funnel cloud was some eight miles to our west and headed in our direction.

Our fellowship broke into two groups and we huddled into a couple of classrooms to wait for what would transpire. We sang hymns and prayed fervently for the Almighty’s protection.

Within minutes the EF4 tornado broke through the northwest edge of our parking lot breaking down power lines, exploding transformers, and scattering debris.

Somehow the dark tempest skirted our vehicles as well as the building itself and we escaped unscathed.  Unfortunately, hundreds of home in our area suffered extensive damage and hundreds more were totally destroyed.

When the tornado finally dissipated, it had left a 21- mile path of chaos in its wake.

Our shepherds cancelled the rest of the service, we closed with a prayer of thanksgiving, and then urged everyone to travel to their homes with caution.

A few minutes later, I started making my way home taking the usual trek down 40th Avenue towards Lincoln Avenue.

Barely a block away, I noticed a medium-sized tree on the right that had been toppled by storm. The tree was standing, actually lying, all by itself in a families’ front yard.

Ironically, no less than thirty yards away there was a long, tight line of much smaller trees which were perfectly erect. Not a single one of them had been damaged or uprooted.

The little scene struck me like a hard slap in the face. Even though the singular tree in the yard was much, much larger, and presumably stronger than the saplings nearby, it didn’t have the luxury of numerous other trees to buffer from the effects of the harsh winds.

The snapshot in time reminded me physically of what is true spiritually.

God never meant for any of us to go it alone. He never intended for us to be Lone Rangers and to try to survive life’s storms all by ourselves.

A strong tree left in seclusion can’t withstand 160+ mile an hour winds, but a cluster of tiny hardwoods can brave the same fury because they mutually protect each other by their very presence.

In Romans 1, Paul wrote:

“For I long to see you, that I may impart to

you some spiritual gift, so that you may be

established—that is, that I may be

encouraged together with you by the mutual

faith both of you and me” (Romans 1:11-12Romans 1:11-12
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11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; 12 that is, that I with you may be comforted in you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine.

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  1. 15:24).

It is intriguing to me that the apostle wanted to give the gift of his presence and fellowship so that both he and the Roman brethren would be strengthened and comforted. He was a giant—a spiritual Redwood, and yet he admitted his need for that which only fellow saints could provide.

THOUGHT: If the apostle Paul couldn’t make it in the world all by himself, if he couldn’t navigate the storms of adversity on his own, how can any of us manage to do so by ourselves today? Dear brother, dear sister—are you making regular contact with fellow Christians?

— by Mike Benson

 

“At hand” is the “Kingdom of God”

In his teaching, John the baptizer firmly stated that the “kingdom of heaven” was “at hand”.

The use of the phrase “at hand” established the understanding that the kingdom of heaven would soon be established. This coincides with the teachings of Daniel that the kingdom of God would be established in the time of the Roman Empire.

When an individual takes in context the entire teaching of God’s inspired word, it becomes evident that Jesus’ entire ministry centered on the establishment of his kingdom. The establishment of the long prophesied kingdom was a primary reason for him to spend some 30 years on earth.

With Jesus fulfilling all the Old Testament prophesies concerning the Messiah, it is evident within the word that he also fulfilled the establishment of God’s kingdom. As he traveled through Galilee he proclaimed the kingdom:

Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people (Matthew 4:23Matthew 4:23
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23 And Jesus went about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness among the people.

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Jesus proclaimed the same message as John, “the kingdom of God is at hand”:

Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:14-15Mark 1:14-15
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14 Now after John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, 15 and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe in the gospel.

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The phrase “at hand” used by Jesus is the same as the one used by John. Jesus is teaching that the kingdom will come soon. He also noted that some who were hearing his voice would live to see the establishment of his kingdom”:

Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom (Matthew 16:28Matthew 16:28
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28 Verily I say unto you, there are some of them that stand here, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.

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; See vs. 24-28; Mark 9:1Mark 9:1
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9 1 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There are some here of them that stand by, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God come with power.

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27 But I tell you of a truth, There are some of them that stand here, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.

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In his discussion with the Pharisees concerning the coming of the kingdom, Jesus noted two important things. One, that the kingdom will not come with signs to be observed, and two, that it was in their midst.

Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:20-21Luke 17:20-21
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20 And being asked by the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God cometh, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you.

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Jesus’ teaching concerning the coming kingdom was that it would be established in a short time. This coincides with the teaching of John, Daniel and the rest of the Prophets.

Why would anyone question the words of our Lord and Savior?

— by John E. Werhan

To possess a legitimate claim of Messiahship, Jesus needed to be the Son of David.

Step with me into the shoes of an educated first century Jew reading the Gospel of Matthew for the very first time. Immediately Matthew confronted him with converging lines of evidence from the cosmos, history, angels and prophecy proclaiming Jesus to be the long- awaited messianic King of Israel.

The wait was over.

Perhaps the year was about A.D. 60 when our ancient friend was handed either an Aramaic or Hebraic copy of Matthew. Did a smile of recognition creep over his face as his eyes ran down Jesus’ genealogy?

To possess a legitimate claim of Messiahship, Jesus needed to be the Son of David.

His mind could have eagerly raced through a string of familiar names, some of whom were kings. Then he came to the deportation to Babylon, where most likely the genealogy became new to him. If he was reading Matthew in Jerusalem, perhaps he looked out a window toward the Temple thinking, “”I’ll confirm these last few names with our records.”

Certainly Matthew’s final genealogical observation caught him by surprise. It is almost as if history itself had agreed to authenticate Jesus as the promised Son of David.

Since the Hebrew alphabet served double duty as letters and numbers, to read “dvd” signified both David and yielded the sum of fourteen. Amazingly, every fourteen generations from Abraham a significant event transpired with the line of David. Now the bounce of history’s fourteen generations had landed squarely in Jesus’ lap!

How does a coincidence like that happen?

Pushing forward into Jesus’ birth narrative, he heard Matthew describe how angels, the cosmos and even prophecy had all proclaimed Jesus to be much more than just another baby born in Bethlehem. The wise men were searching for “the one born king of  the Jews,” while a panicked Herod sought to eliminate the promised Messiah.

When the Gospel of Matthew finally closes, the one risen from the grave has been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18Matthew 28:18
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18 And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth.

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). The wait is over.  The Lord reigns.

If he is Lord, are we his willing servants?

— by Barry Newton

Her name was Josephine

She showed up on our front door step last week.

Even though she was outside at the time, I could hear her distinctive “meow” throughout the house. We have a cat, but Lucky’s voice has a much lower tone and pitch, so I knew it wasn’t him.

I stepped outside to introduce myself to our new guest.  She made a couple of quick circles around my feet and I nearly tripped. She was thin, small, black and white, and had a light pink nose.

I’d studied feline dialect over the past twelve years so I could tell she was hungry. I walked back into the house, stole a cup of Meow Mix from Lucky’s bag, came back outside, and then poured her dinner in a small heap on the concrete. She devoured it as if she hadn’t eaten in days.

She stuck around our house for the next few days. I dutifully fed her–morning and evening, but couldn’t help wonder whom she belonged to. Surely her owners would be concerned as to her whereabouts. She didn’t have a collar, and I feared for her safety in light of our proximity to Old Highway 24.

On Friday as I was leaving for the office, I pulled up to the intersection in front of our house and noticed a homemade placard which had been duct-taped to the STOP sign. There was a photo of this very cat, and then the following information:

LOST CAT

“Josephine”

Small Black & White

No front claws

15 years old

601 818 _ _ _ _

Very Loved!

I instantly knew two things–1) the cat’s name and 2) her owner’s phone number. I picked up my cell and punched in the ten digits.

Oddly enough, I got an old man somewhere out in south Purvis. He seemed aggravated that I had even called and said that he had never owned a cat in his life. I confirmed the phone number with him; it was correct.  Apparently, Josephine’s owner has posted the wrong phone number on the sign. I apologized to the man and hung up.

Lanore and I talked about what we should do on Saturday. She suggested that I try punching in different combinations of the last four digits of the phone number. I switched the 2 and the 1 and pressed “call.” A lady immediately answered and said, “Hello.”  I said, “I’m calling about a cat…”

Before I could finish my sentence, she interrupted and announced, “Yes!!! That’s MY cat-that’s Josephine!”

I gave the lady directions to our house and within two minutes she was pulling up in our driveway. I carried Josephine over to the car.  Her owner literally ran up to me, snatched Josephine out of my arms, gave me a huge hug, and then began to weep. “I can’t believe it!” she sobbed. “I just knew something bad had happened to her.”

As it turned out, Josephine’s owner had let her outside late Tuesday evening, but she didn’t return as usual.  The old cat had wandered out of the neighborhood, crossed the highway, and then decided to camp out on our porch on Heritage Place.

This whole occasion got me to thinking. I wonder exactly what happens in heaven when folks repent and are restored to Christ? What kind of party does the spirit world hold when a wayward brother returns to his first love?

Jesus said, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15.10; cf. v. 7).

Think about it.

by Mike Benson

 

People have driven themselves into the deepest pits of misery

THE 2 CAUSES OF MISERY 

What causes people to be unhappy in this life?  Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein sought to answer this exact question.  Bernstein is a licensed psychologist and has worked with individuals, couples, and families for over twenty years.  It was from this vast experience that he came up with the two main reasons why people were miserable in this life (Psychologytoday.com).  Here were his 2 reasons.

  1. Overly Wanting What You Don’t Have.
  2. Overly NOT Wanting What You Do Have.

Even though these may not be the only two reasons, they certainly include most cause of misery.  If nothing else it, these two points should get us thinking about our own lives.  Every day people are being consumed by unhealthy thoughts about the things they have and desires for things they don’t.  Let’s look at a few common examples.

Overly Wanting…

  • Money.
  • Power.
  • Success.
  • Beauty.
  • Love.

Overly NOT Wanting…

  • Your marriage.
  • Your spouse.
  • Your children.
  • Your home.
  • Your job.

People have driven themselves into the deepest pits of misery by focusing on these aspects.  All of this can be summed up in the word “selfishness.”  All of these desires are self-centered.  It is all about what makes “me” happy, and what makes “me” better.  So, how can we combat these desires of ours?  It all comes down to being content with ourselves and what we have.

Paul put it best by saying, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13Philippians 4:11-13
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11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content. 12 I know how to be abased, and I know also how to abound: in everything and in all things have I learned the secret both to be filled and to be hungry, both to abound and to be in want. 13 I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.

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Overly seeking something we don’t have can lead to a very miserable life.  Learning to be content is one of the secrets to happiness.  No one is perfect and no life is perfect.  There is always something to improve, but we can’t let those desires consume us.  Let’s learn to look on the positive side.  Let’s learn to look at the good points, and learn to love the blessings God has placed in our lives.

Brett Petrillo

Every marriage needs a “Geneva Convention.”

ON JUNE 24, 1859NE 24, 1859
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Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja!

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, HENRI Dunant witnessed the Battle of Solferino in northern Italy…

 

Seeing the bloodshed, Dunant immediately began enlisting local peasants to carry the wounded from the battlefield and take them to local churches, where doctors tried to relieve their suffering.

 

Deeply troubled by the inhumane treatment of wounded soldiers, Dunant and four other men organized an international conference of thirteen nations in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss ways to make warfare more “humane.”  At the end of the conference on August 22, 1864st 22, 1864
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Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja!

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, the representatives had signed the Geneva Convention.  This agreement provided for the neutrality of ambulances and military hospitals, the protection of people who helped the wounded, and the return of prisoners to their country.  It also adopted the use of a white flag with a red cross on hospitals, ambulances, and evacuation centers–whose neutrality would be recognized by this symbol.

 

Even though the Geneva Convention has gone through several revisions in the past 150 years–including the denunciation of chemical weapons in battle–it has stood like a sentry over hundreds of battles.  And tens of thousands of soldiers have been saved because of its protection.

 

Every marriage needs a “Geneva Convention.”  They are non-negotiable situations where we’d never mistreat the wounded or treat them with mustard gas:

 

1.  We will not criticize each other in public including in the presence of our kids.

 

2.  We will not address areas of disagreement when we’re at our worst.

 

3.  We will not resort to name-calling.

 

4.  We will not, in the heat of battle, bring up information shared in moments of sincere vulnerability.

 

5.  We will not use each other’s physical characteristics as ammunition when we’re arguing.  Robert Wolgemuth & Mark Devries, “Conflict: Only You Can Prevent Forrest Fires,” THE MOST IMPORTANT YEAR IN A MAN’S LIFE, 91-92

 

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your wrath.”  Ephesians 4:26Ephesians 4:26
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26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:

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Mike Benson

Is homosexuality the only sin?

From 1 Corinthians 6:9-111 Corinthians 6:9-11
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9 Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with men, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye were washed, but ye were sanctified, but ye were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

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, we note the following: There are sins mentioned other than homosexuality (just so you know that I know). But some are deceived (“Be not deceived”) into thinking that they can live these lifestyles and still attain the kingdom of heaven.

Apparently these ailments are not incurable (“Such were some of you”). Many Corinthians had once done these things, but they were doing so no longer–repentance had taken place.

Two things one often hears regarding the subject of homosexuality.

“Why are you making a special case of homosexuality?  Why do you not preach against other sins? You act as if homosexuality is the only sin there is!”

“In what way is speaking against homosexuality calculated to influence those who are homosexuals to become Christians?”

With regard to statement number one, I feel professionally and personally hurt. Homosexuality is distinctly not the only sin I have preached against. I have been preaching for a long time, and I have addressed many subjects in my messages.

I do indeed care about racism, poverty, theft and so on. If you do not believe this is so, you have simply not been listening.

Regarding the second concern, please note the following declaration: “To commit homosexuality is to break God’s law, and those who do so are called to repentance.”

How would this approach differ from that of an adulterer, a gossip, or a racist? How, for instance, should we approach the racist?

Shall we suggest it is a sinful lifestyle, or not?  Should we teach this from the pulpit and in private, or not? Shall we suggest the racist should repent, or not?

Should we suggest that for the penitent racist, there is forgiveness and grace, or not? It seems to me that it is not the Christian who makes a “special case” of homosexuality, it is the homosexual advocate. They want this sin to not be considered sinful. Gossip, racism and other acts are sinful, but this one is not.

When homosexuals win the legal right to marry, do you believe the “homosexual agenda” will be satisfied? Will their powerful lobby simply retire happy in the knowledge that they can now be considered married? You would be extremely naive if you thought so.

Already Christian-based orphanages are being pressured to give equal opportunity to homosexual couples for adoption. Already speaking against homosexuality is being couched as “hate speech.” The day will come when this very article will be considered hate talk.

Christianity, it seems, has become the “alternative lifestyle.”

Some Questions you might ask:

Is it sinful to be confused about your sexual preferences, or to feel tempted? Answer: Remember that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, yet did not sin.

Does God love the homosexual? Answer: Yes. Jesus died on the cross for the homosexual, just as much as he died for the arrogant, the murderer and the thief.

Remember, however, that the cross runs two ways: It expresses not only God’s love for the sinner, but the seriousness of the sin. The same cross that expresses the grandeur of God’s love also expresses the depths of our depravity.

Is it unkind to say that homosexuality is a sin?

Answer: No. It can be said in an unkind manner, I acknowledge, but how else is the church to know what is a sin? Mental telepathy? Osmosis?

Is homosexuality the civil rights issue of our era?

Answer: No. The Bible frequently states that God is no respecter of persons, racially speaking (Acts 10:34,35Acts 10:34,35
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34 And Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him.

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). If a preacher or Christian declares a person of color is not valued in God’s sight, then his statement is unscriptural and wrong! The Bible, however, does speak against homosexual sin.

Will homosexual marriage become the law of the land?

Answer: Yes, I believe it will. Hasn’t the shift in public opinion the last 10 years shocked you? This is sad, considering America’s Christian background, but when did God’s people ever decide biblical doctrine based on a nation’s legislation?

The bigger question is how the church will respond. I think the most depressing factor in this matter is the large number of people in Christian circles who have already compromised on this issue. In the face of clear biblical teaching, they have walked away from the Bible.

Here is the issue, in a word: Will we take the Bible as our guide, or will we conform to the world. A generation of faithful Christianity is at stake here.

God bless us all!

by Stan Mitchell

Is Jesus deity?

The Watchtower Society makes some startling claims about Jesus.

Go to their official website and you will discover that they urge readers to “consider what the Bible really teaches about Jesus Christ,” and then informs them:

He was God’s first creation and therefore had a beginning. He is not equal to God and “never even considered trying to be equal” to God.

It doesn’t take exceptional insight to see where this is going. Clearly, Jehovah Witness doctrine wants people to believe Jesus is not deity.

Does the evidence of Scripture confirm this idea? Open your Bible and then study the following:

Jesus is recognized as deity. He was to be called “Immanuel,” which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23Matthew 1:23
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23 Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, And they shall call his name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us.

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When Thomas saw the resurrected Christ he said, “My Lord and My God” (John 20:28John 20:28
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28 Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.

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Paul said explicitly, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9Colossians 2:9
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9 for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,

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As Stephen stood on the threshold of death, Luke records that he called on “God saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59Acts 7:59
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59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon the Lord, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.

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Jesus possesses the attributes of deity. He knows all things (John 2:25; 6:64John 2:25; 6:64
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25 and because he needed not that any one should bear witness concerning man; for he himself knew what was in man. 64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who it was that should betray him.

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). He is all powerful (Isaiah 9:6Isaiah 9:6
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6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

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; Hebrews 1:3Hebrews 1:3
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3 who being the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

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). He is eternal (Micah 5:2Micah 5:2
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2 But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.

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Jesus’ works are those of deity. He has power to forgive sins (Mark 2:5-7Mark 2:5-7
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5 And Jesus seeing their faith saith unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins are forgiven. 6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts, 7 Why doth this man thus speak? he blasphemeth: who can forgive sins but one, even God?

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; Ephesians 1:7Ephesians 1:7
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7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

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). He gives eternal life (John 10:28; 17:2John 10:28; 17:2
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28 and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 2 even as thou gavest him authority over all flesh, that to all whom thou hast given him, he should give eternal life.

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). He will judge the world (John 5:22, 27John 5:22, 27
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22 For neither doth the Father judge any man, but he hath given all judgment unto the Son; 27 and he gave him authority to execute judgment, because he is a son of man.

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). He controlled nature (Matthew 8:26Matthew 8:26
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26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

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). Jesus is worshipped as deity.

He is worshipped by angels (Hebrews 1:6Hebrews 1:6
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6 And when he again bringeth in the firstborn into the world he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

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) as well as by man (Matthew 2:1, 2; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 18:26; 28:9, 17Matthew 2:1, 2; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 18:26; 28:9, 17
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2 1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, Wise-men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, 2 Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we saw his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 2 And behold, there came to him a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 18 While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. 33 And they that were in the boat worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. 26 The servant therefore fell down and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 9 And behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. 17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted.

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; John 9:38John 9:38
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38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

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10 that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth,

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), and yet only God is to receive such homage (Exodus 34:14Exodus 34:14
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14 for thou shalt worship no other god: for Jehovah, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

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; Matthew 4:10Matthew 4:10
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10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

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). No, the Bible does not support Watchtower dogma. Jesus is deity; He is God.

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son

is given; and the government will be upon

His shoulder. And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah

9:6).

— by Mike Benson

While we will witness violence, hatred, gross immorality, an anything goes mentality, and the like, lost sinners are not the enemy.

Terrorist madmen shoot up a school in Pakistan and kill over 100 people, mostly children.  A politically correct society is close to forbidding biblical teaching on matters that violates its bombastic code.  Pluralism (all religious paths are equally valid) and syncretism (blending two or more religious belief systems into a new system) seem to grow more popular in the religious philosophy of a great many.  An erosion of morality and ethics seems to daily redefine acceptable norms and boundaries so that things not long ago thought outrageous are now not just tolerated but celebrated.  The culture of unbelief and agnosticism spreads while the spirit of humble dependency upon God seems to shrink.  When we pause to consider all of this, our head can spin and we can begin to question how this happened and so quickly.

Paul often writes that we are engaged in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10-13Eph. 6:10-13
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10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.

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; 2 Cor. 10:3-5; 12 Cor. 10:3-5; 1
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3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh 4 , 5 casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians 1 1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints that are in the whole of Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; 4 who comforteth us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any affliction, through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound unto us, even so our comfort also aboundeth through Christ. 6 But whether we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or whether we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which worketh in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: 7 and our hope for you is stedfast; knowing that, as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so also are ye of the comfort. 8 For we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning our affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were weighed down exceedingly, beyond our power, insomuch that we despaired even of life: 9 yea, we ourselves have had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead: 10 who delivered us out of so great a death, and will deliver: on whom we have set our hope that he will also still deliver us; 11 ye also helping together on our behalf by your supplication; that, for the gift bestowed upon us by means of many, thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf. 12 For our glorifying is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and sincerity of God, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we behaved ourselves in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward. 13 For we write no other things unto you, than what ye read or even acknowledge, and I hope ye will acknowledge unto the end: 14 as also ye did acknowledge us in part, that we are your glorying, even as ye also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus. 15 And in this confidence I was minded to come first unto you, that ye might have a second benefit; 16 and by you to pass into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come unto you, and of you to be set forward on my journey unto Judaea. 17 When I therefore was thus minded, did I show fickleness? or the things that I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be the yea yea and the nay nay? 18 But as God is faithful, our word toward you is not yea and nay. 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timothy, was not yea and nay, but in him is yea. 20 For how many soever be the promises of God, in him is the yea: wherefore also through him is the Amen, unto the glory of God through us. 21 Now he that establisheth us with you in Christ, and anointed us, is God; 22 who also sealed us, and gave us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. 23 But I call God for a witness upon my soul, that to spare you I forbare to come unto Corinth. 24 Not that we have lordship over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for in faith ye stand fast.

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Tim. 1:18; 1 Tim. 6:121 Tim. 6:12
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12 Fight the good fight of the faith, lay hold on the life eternal, whereunto thou wast called, and didst confess the good confession in the sight of many witnesses.

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). While we will witness violence, hatred, gross immorality, an anything goes mentality, and the like, lost sinners are not the enemy.  They embrace the thinking and values of the enemy, but Paul says such people are ensnared and held captive by the enemy (1 Tim. 6:91 Tim. 6:9
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9 But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition.

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; 2 Tim. 2:262 Tim. 2:26
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26 and they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him unto his will.

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), “caught” (Gal. 6:1Gal. 6:1
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6 1 Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

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), and “subject to slavery” (Heb. 2:15Heb. 2:15
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15 and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

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).  New Testament writers pinpoint the source of this enormous problem as:

Peter simply calls him our adversary (1 Pet. 5:81 Pet. 5:8
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8 Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,

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).  In the gospel, Jesus often alludes to him as the enemy.  From Christ’s temptations in Matthew 4, we learn that he has been given the power over “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” (8).  They are his to dispense and disperse (9).  New Testament writers pinpoint this domain with its unrighteous thinking simply as “the world” (Jas. 4:4Jas. 4:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God.

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; 1 John 2:15-171 John 2:15-17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vain glory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

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).  All who submit to living according to the thinking and values of this world are submitting to this ruler, god, prince, force, and evil one. They are pledging allegiance to his way and being guided by his leadership.

We can see the devastating effect this is having on the peace and the practice of the masses.  Yet, we must resist it in our individual lives.  Perhaps Paul said it most concisely when he wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2Rom. 12:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

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). Many of the spiritual problems in our lives can be pinpointed to our following the wrong leader.  May God give us the wisdom and discernment to see through his destructive schemes!

— Neal Pollard

 

Idols Aplenty [Note: written while on my recent mission trip to India]

I think I know how Paul must have felt when he happened to find himself in the city of Athens, Greece almost two centuries ago. Due to the riots that erupted in Thessalonica, the “brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea” (Acts 17:10Acts 17:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Beroea: who when they were come thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

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). When the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching in Berea, they came there also and stirred up the multitude so much so that the brethren thought it necessary to send Paul away while Timothy and Silas, Paul’s traveling companions remained behind in Berea. Paul ended up in Athens and Luke tells us that “Paul’s spirit was provoked in him when he saw that the city was given over to idols” (Acts 17:16Acts 17:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he beheld the city full of idols.

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). While reasoning with the Jews in the synagogue, and with the Gentiles in the marketplace daily, certain of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers confronted Paul and wanted to know more of what this “babbler” had to say. The door was now opened for Paul to preach to the idol worshippers of his day. “And Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus, and said, Ye men of Athens, in all things, I perceive that ye are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. What therefore ye worship in ignorance, this I set forth unto you” (Acts 17:22-23Acts 17:22-23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

22 And Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus, and said, Ye men of Athens, in all things, I perceive that ye are very religious. 23 For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. What therefore ye worship in ignorance, this I set forth unto you.

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This past week found us in Gunter, India. Gunter has a population of more than 1 million souls, the most of whom are Hindus. Their worship consists of singing, dancing, burning of incense, and loud music and merrymaking. There are idols aplenty and it would appear that the crowds are never lacking as men and woman bow at the shrines of this false god. The grotesque combination of animal and man that make up the images of the god of the Hindus, and the fact that they bow before a god who cannot see, cannot hear, and cannot speak all attest to the vanity of this man-made religion. This week is Hindu festival week, and unfortunately for those who desire to get a good night’s sleep in a hotel room that faces main street, the marching bands are accustomed to playing well into the night, as they go throughout the city calling on the worshippers to come bow before their god. Young and old alike have believed a lie and fallen prey to the deceitful tactics of the “god of this world.”

While Hinduism represents, by far, the largest percentage of this country’s population, “Christianity” is embraced by a small fraction of the population. Of course a large portion are members of some denomination. When one considers the small number of New Testament Christians who truly worship in spirit and truth, the percentage of the people in India who are pleasing in the sight of God drops to a very, very small percentage of the total population. After we checked into our hotel I was pleased that I had gotten a room that did not face main street, and was grateful that my ears would not have to endure the sounds of those Hindu parades and loud speakers blaring into the night. Outside my window, and just across the hotel parking and driveway, crowds were gathering in great numbers in what appeared to be a general assembly area. Chairs had been set up, a stage erected, and a loud speaker system put in place, suggesting that some kind of public activity was about to take place. Then the music started, followed by loud singing, dancing, clapping of hands, the incessant noise of someone screaming into the microphone telling the worshippers to come. Seats had been set up, enough to accommodate at least 500 people, and it appeared there were no empty chairs. No, this was not a Hindu service, but a Pentecostal healing service.

As an onlooker of both the Pentecostal service, and a Hindu service taking place just a few blocks down the road, I could not discern any difference between the two, seeing the speakers for both the Hindu services and the Pentecostal services spoke in a foreign tongue. From my viewpoint there was not an ounce of difference between the two services. From a Biblical standpoint as well, there was no difference between the two services, so far at spiritual benefit of the worshippers was concerned. Both were loud and obnoxious to those who appreciate the simple worship set forth in the New Testament.

We arrived back to the hotel about 10:00 pm that evening. The streets were quiet (at least for the moment), the bands at both locations stood silent, and the worshippers had either gone home or about their business. In the lot across from my hotel widow the stage was now bare, the loud speakers taken away, and the seats were empty. As I observed those stacked chairs it dawned upon me that those empty seats were a fitting representation of the emptiness of both idolatry and false so-called Christian worship. Like scarecrows in a cucumber patch, the idols provided nothing of lasting value for their worshippers. The futility of their religion keeps them alienated from their Father in heaven. Its makes no difference what false god one may worship, they are all the same, be it Hinduism or blatant rejection of the God given pattern in the Bible. Whether in India, America, or any other one of dozens of countries, there are idols aplenty.

by Tom Wacaster

 

What a difference one person can make!

Samantha Smith made worldwide news in the early 1980s when she wrote the Soviet president, Yuri Andropov, pleading with him to end the “Cold War.”  Her letter was reprinted with Russia, Andropov replied and invited her to his country, she and her parents visited the communist country, and she was an instant celebrity there.  She became a peace activist, calling for the United States and Soviet Union to end the threat of nuclear war.  In 1985, at the height of her very public campaign, she and her father were among eight people to die in a plane crash in her home state of Maine.  She was an optimistic and enthusiastic advocate.  She reached millions in life and was remembered by millions more in death.  The Soviets posthumously issued a postage stamp in her honor and named a mountain after her.  Her mother, Jane Smith, started The Samantha Smith Foundation, “dedicated to fostering international understanding,” to reach out to especially children from the Soviet region and participate in various exchange program activities.  Jane wrote, “Each generation contributes a building block for the next generation.  As individuals, we are particles of earth from which the blocks are formed.  I hope Samantha and Arthur have helped us realize how important each one of us can be.  Samantha couldn’t accept people’s inhumanity to one another.  She stood fast in the belief that peace can be achieved and maintained by humankind. Our Foundation named in her honor will work in that spirit” (www.samanthasmith.info).

What a difference one person can make!  Samantha was only 13 when she died, but she was a factor in reconciling to warring nations.  Christ came to this earth to bring peace between God and man (Eph. 2:14-17Eph. 2:14-17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, 15 having abolished in the flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the two one new man, so making peace; 16 and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 and he came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh:

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).  Having brought us together, He expects us to reconcile the world to God (2 Cor. 5:19-202 Cor. 5:19-20
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

19 to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses, and having committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, as though God were entreating by us: we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God.

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).  Perhaps you think you cannot make much of a difference in this world as only a single Christian with whatever your perceived limitations.  Just remember how much one person can do!  There was the apostle from Tarsus.  There was Alexander Campbell, Marshall Keeble, Gus Nichols, and many others.  There is you and there is me.  Who knows the good we can accomplish as ambassadors of Christ?  Let’s work our hardest to find out!

–Neal Pollard

TWENTY QUESTIONS CONCERNING BAPTISM

Baptism is an old, familiar, and often discussed topic.  It has long been a theological battleground and the subject of numerous religious debates.  Nearly every church has an “official position” on baptism.  What does the Bible say about baptism?  By asking and answering the following questions, one can know the will of God regarding this important matter.  (For those not familiar with the content of the cited Bible texts, I would kindly urge them to turn to those passages, read them, and let God’s word speak for itself.)

  1. Is baptism a Bible subject? (Matthew 3:1-6Matthew 3:1-6
    English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

    3 1 And in those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, saying, 2 Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3 For this is he that was spoken of through Isaiah the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make ye ready the way of the Lord, Make his paths straight. 4 Now John himself had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then went out unto him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about the Jordan; 6 and they were baptized of him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

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  1. Was Christ Himself baptized? (Matthew 3:13-17Matthew 3:13-17
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    13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 14 But John would have hindered him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 15 But Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffereth him. 16 And Jesus when he was baptized, went up straightway from the water: and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon him; 17 and lo, a voice out of the heavens, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

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  1. Why was Christ baptized? (Matthew 3:15Matthew 3:15
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    15 But Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffereth him.

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  1. Did Christ teach that others should be baptized? (Matthew 28:18-20Matthew 28:18-20
    English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

    18 And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

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    ; Mark 16:15-16Mark 16:15-16
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    15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

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  1. How many valid baptisms are there? (Ephesians 4:5Ephesians 4:5
    English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

    5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,

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  1. What is baptism as to its form or action (what some refer to as the “mode” of baptism)?  (Acts 8:35-39Acts 8:35-39
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    35 And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached unto him Jesus. 36 And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 [And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.] 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, for he went on his way rejoicing.

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    ; Romans 6:4Romans 6:4
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    4 We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.

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  1. What is the element in which one is to be baptized?  (Acts 8:36-38; 10:47Acts 8:36-38; 10:47
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    36 And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 [And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.] 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 47 Can any man forbid the water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we?

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  1. Is baptism a command?  (Acts 10:48Acts 10:48
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    48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

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  1. Must one be baptized in order to be saved? (Mark 16:15-16Mark 16:15-16
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    15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

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    ; 1 Peter 3:211 Peter 3:21
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    21 which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ;

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  1. Is baptism necessary to receiving the remission of sins? (Acts 2:38; 22:16Acts 2:38; 22:16
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    38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.

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  1. Is baptism necessary to being in Christ where all spiritual blessings (including salvation) are found? (Galatians 3:27Galatians 3:27
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    27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ.

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    ; Ephesians 1:3Ephesians 1:3
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    3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ:

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    ; 2 Timothy 2:102 Timothy 2:10
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    10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

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  1. Will baptism alone save a person? (Hebrews 11:6Hebrews 11:6
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    6 And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.

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    ; John 8:24John 8:24
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    24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

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    ; Luke 13:3Luke 13:3
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    3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.

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    ; Revelation 2:10Revelation 2:10
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    10 Fear not the things which thou art about to suffer: behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.

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  1. In order for baptism to be valid, must one first be taught the things of Christ?  (Matthew 28:18-20Matthew 28:18-20
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    18 And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

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  1. Must one believe the gospel before his/her baptism would be valid?  (Mark 16:15-16Mark 16:15-16
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    15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

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    ; I Corinthians 15:1-5).

 

  1. Is baptism for babies or young children who have not come to a personal faith in Christ, who have not developed a consciousness of sins to be repented of, and who are not capable of acknowledging their faith in Christ as the Son of God?  (Mark 16:15-16Mark 16:15-16
    English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

    15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

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    ; Acts 2:38; 8:36-38Acts 2:38; 8:36-38
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    38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 36 And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37 [And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.] 38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him.

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  1. In the light of question # 6 and its answer, if one has only been sprinkled with water or had water poured on him/her, has that person been biblically baptized?

 

  1. In the light of question # 14 and its answer, if one did not personally believe in Christ, repent of sins, and confess faith in Christ, has that person been biblically baptized?

 

  1. Do we have any example of people being baptized again who had received an invalid baptism?  (Acts 19:1-5Acts 19:1-5
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    19 1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found certain disciples: 2 and he said unto them, Did ye receive the Holy Spirit when ye believed? And they said unto him, Nay, we did not so much as hear whether the Holy Spirit was given. 3 And he said, Into what then were ye baptized? And they said, Into John's baptism. 4 And Paul said, John baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people that they should believe on him that should come after him, that is, on Jesus. 5 And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.

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  1. Is baptism the end or merely the beginning of the Christian life?  (Romans 6:4Romans 6:4
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    4 We were buried therefore with him through baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.

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    -14; 2 Peter 1:5-112 Peter 1:5-11
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    5 Yea, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply virtue; and in your virtue knowledge; 6 and in your knowledge self-control; and in your self-control patience; and in your patience godliness; 7 and in your godliness brotherly kindness; and in your brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he that lacketh these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins. 10 Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble: 11 for thus shall be richly supplied unto you the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

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  1. Have you heard the gospel of Christ (been taught the way of Christ), believed in Him, repented of your sins, confessed your faith in Christ as the Son of God, and been buried with Him in baptism for the remission of your sins?

 

“And now why are you waiting?  Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16Acts 22:16
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16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.

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Hugh Fulford