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Too Good To Be True?

Too Good To Be True?

     There are those who make the claim: “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is”. We’ve all heard this. Some of us have seen situations that seemed “too good to be true”.   When a person makes an offer that seems too good to be true, there’s bound to be a catch.   This is because most people are looking out for themselves. Usually, when an offer such as this is presented, the obvious question: “What’s in it for me?” is asked. When an offer made by man, seems “too good to be true”, there is usually more in said proposal for the one making the offer than there is for the one to whom the proposition is extended, and because of this, these types of offers should always be refused. However, not all offers are made by man, and not all good things come from man.  
     “Too good to be true” is a very cynical attitude, especially when one takes into consideration the offer Christ has extended to humanity. The “offer” Christ makes to humanity is one that had been in formulation since before the world began.   Christ’s offer is not “too good to be true” nor is it to be refused, because it originated with, and is ordained by God.   It is made quite clear in James 1:17 that all that has been given or provided by God is “good and perfect”. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.  It makes no sense for folks to refuse the offer God made through Christ as 2Peter 1:3-4 shows that the offer to become a child of God comes with everything we ever need, as well as great promises. According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
     However, all who have failed to accept what Jesus Christ has provided for mankind are refusing what God has offered through Christ. Unfortunately, many are refusing what Christ offers through ignorance.   In Matthew 7:7 we find the Lord, in the midst of the Sermon on the Mount offer this advice. He said: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: ” The problem is, when one asks or seeks, they must go to the right source, or the offer may indeed be “too good to be true”.   Man offers several plans that cannot save.   All of man’s plans for Salvation, fall way short of what the Lord would have man do.
     Even some of God’s own O.T. people wanted what God offered, but they wanted it on their terms. This is not the way the plan of God works! The prophet Jeremiah was sent to them and in Jeremiah 6:16 they were told what to “ask for” and how they replied. Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.    Isaiah 30:10 identifies the rebellious children of God: “Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: ”  
       In this, the N.T. age, some claims to want what is clearly offered in the Word of God, but they still want it “their way”. We see in 2Timothy 4:3-4 this often was (and often still is) the case. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.   What kind of fables?   Fables such as: “Salvation is by faith only”.   From whence do such abominable ideas come?   From a total mis-application of a few verses.   We can see this from Acts 16:30-31 in the case of the Philippian jailor.   And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
     This is an enticing offer, and if one applies only these verses, it becomes an offer “too good to be true” and is also a “fable” that many follow.   All one has to do is “believe” and “they’re saved”? Too Good To Be True! Neither God nor Christ has offered this!   James 2:19 also reveals that this cannot be.   Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.    I ask you, are the devils saved?  
       Now, let’s read Acts 16:32-33 - And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. (preached the gospel to them) 33 And he (Paul) took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.    This aligns perfectly with the Words of Jesus Christ in Mark 16:16 - He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.  
       Christ’s offer for Salvation is not “too good to be true”. But it can only be received in accordance to God’s plan.   Hear the Word – Romans 10:17. Believe that Christ is God’s Son – John 8:24. Repent of your sins – Acts 17:30.  Confess before men that Christ is God’s Son – Romans 10:9-10.   You can then be baptized into Christ – 1Peter 3:21.   Then remain faithful through the rest of your life – Rev 2:10.   Too Good To Be True? Not God’s plan. Too hard to follow?   Not God’s plan.   Let us help you.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Can You Hear Me Now?

Can You Hear Me Now?

       Most everyone remembers those Verizon commercials that lasted about nine years. Being heard clearly is very important, especially in the realm of personal communication devices.  It seemed during that timeframe every program on television had at least one spot to draw buyers to this specific brand. As it turned out, this became a very successful method of convincing customers to purchase their products and services.  
     Everyone wants to be heard. We all want to be heard especially when we think we have something to say. For example, have you been in a restaurant lately? All the patrons, involved in conversation, try to “out-talk” everyone else in volume. This is simply because they want to be heard.   Perhaps their actions (volume) were asking “Can You Hear Me Now?”  
       Does God ever have occasion to ask you the question that heads this article? This came to mind when recently, my wife asked me a question. That was: “Have you ever wondered, that of all of God’s creation, man, the only to be created in the image of God, is that which refuses to hear (listen) to Him?” How profound! Honestly, I had never really thought about it. Have you?
      We have ample examples of this within the Word of God. We have the case of creation, when even the elements heard and obeyed as God spoke, and it was so.   There were also the animals of Genesis 6:19-20. Some may think that Noah went and gathered them, but the scriptures show this is not so. How then, did they know to “come to the ark”?   They heard God, and did as He Commanded.   And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. 20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. Their salvation depended upon hearing God and doing as He Commanded. The same went for Noah and his family.   All others of that day perished in the flood. Why? They refused to “hear God”.   All who possess a soul and refuse to hear God and obey Him as He has directed will perish in eternal Hell fire.
      As time passed, God continued to carry out His plan to save the souls of man. He had separated out a people, Israel, provided the means where they could grow to be a great nation, and then delivered them from the bondage they suffered at the hands of the Egyptians. Shortly afterward, He spoke to them through their deliverer, and prophet Moses. Notice what God had Moses tell them as we read Deuteronomy 4:35-36.  Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him. 36 Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire. Did they hear? At times.   Did they obey? Not all the time. Why? Because they refused to hear.  
     Not even the waters and the weather refuse to hear the Lord. We have a great example of this in Matthew 8:26-27 – When Christ was asleep on the ship, and the storm arose. His disciples, many of them, rugged men of the sea, were sorely afraid. 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. 27But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!  Neither the Father, the Son, nor the Holy Ghost has ever had to ask any of God’s creation, with the sole exception of man, “Can You Hear Me Now?”   Ever wonder why this is?
     God has provided this answer in the Words of His Son in regard to that very people, Israel.   Jesus came to “seek and to save that which was lost” as we read in Luke 19:10.   Why then are not all saved?   Because they refuse to hear and obey what God has said.   When Jesus came His message was one of repentance to Israel so they could be saved. But before they could be saved, they had to “hear” Him and obey. He came to call Israel to repentance and then to die on the cross to purchase the church. This was the event in which He gave Himself as the only sacrifice that could bring about the saving of a soul.  In His coming, dying, and resurrection He “fulfilled all righteousness.
     But His death on the cross is without effect on those that will not hear. We also have Jesus’ own Words of Matthew 13:14-15 to tell us why many of the Jews of His day would not be saved when the church came into being on the day of Pentecost. He said: And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. God had said to them, “Can You Hear Me Now?” and they refused. These folks, like many of their ancestors who refused to hear, were lost.
     Even to those “baptized into Christ”, God’s children, has God had to ask Can You Hear Me Now? so they wouldn’t go astray. We have an example of this in Hebrews 3:7-9 to the Hebrews that had been converted to Christ. Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.  They knew the history of their forefathers and knew that some died in the wilderness and never reached the Promised Land.
     God is asking you and I today: “Can You Hear Me Now?”.  Won’t you hear? He speaks through His Word to Christians, and Christians are to take His Holy message of Salvation to all who will hear.   Can you hear Him?   Obey Him.  Let us help you understand God’s message and how to follow it so you too can have the hope of Heaven, that eternal Promised Land. If you refuse to hear Him and obey, you too shall be eternally lost!  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

The Spirit Of Compromise

The Spirit Of Compromise

     The Lord’s people have always been attacked and challenged by those in the world. The undenominational church of the New Testament today continues to be criticized by the denominations of the world. On each occasion when the church is attacked from without, we must be willing and able to defend the “bride of Christ” by using the “sword of the Spirit.” As Jude wrote, we must be willing to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). The soldiers of Christ must be stedfast and unmovable. The attacks from without will do nothing but make the Lord’s people stronger as long as the truth is cherished and defended against these attacks. The greatest danger to the Lord’s church today is the spirit of compromise which seems to be growing in popularity among the ranks of the Lord’s people. Our persevere in the restoration of the New Testament church are not unlike Nehemiah’s efforts to restore the walls of Jerusalem. Several made efforts to stop the rebuilding of the walls. They began by using force; their efforts failed. They then desired Nehemiah to leave the work to meet for discussion. This also failed because Nehemiah saw this invitation as an invitation to compromise. His reply was, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” It is interesting to notice in this regard some words of brother F.G. Allen written in about 1886, which are profoundly important even today. He wrote, While we remain true to the principles on which we started out, there is no earthly power that can impede our progress. But, the day we leave these walls and go out to take counsel with the world will mark the day of our decline. We have nothing to fear from without. Our only danger is from within. This danger lies in the direction of indifference and compromise. While we are true to God in the maintenance of these principles, the divine blessing will rest upon our work. But, should they ever be surrendered, ruin will as certainly follow as that the Bible is true” (Old Path Pulpit, p. 33).    
          Certainly it will not benefit the Lord’s church to invite denominational speakers into our classrooms and pulpits. It will bring only catastrophe to the Lord’s church to encourage meetings with these who have set aside the principles of New Testament Christianity in a spirit of compromise for the sake of “friendship.”
        We must, as Nehemiah, live by the principle, “We made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night.”

Lester Kamp – The Gospel Preceptor – May 6, 2022

       The above article was “borrowed” as it fit well with the a.m. sermon I plan to preach this week.   That sermon is: Faithful Stewards.   One will find that it is not possible to be a “faithful steward” if they ‘compromise’.   There may be areas of life when it may be possible to compromise (in some small way) and still remain faithful to the task at hand.   This is because in these instances the principles by which a task is defined by man and are not immutable. That is, the conditions and rules in such a case are set, and controlled by man, and therefore, changeable.   But when it comes to what God has stated in His Holy Word, there is no compromise. When there is compromise here, there is sin.  
         Compromise in the realm of religion is sin because God, His Word, His Laws, Commands, and Precepts are unchangeable. Psalm 119:144 tells us not only that His Word and His righteousness are everlasting, but also through His Word man can understand what God wants man to do. The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live. Even in this, the New Testament age, we can know what God wants us to do and how to do it.   It MUST be done without compromise that we might receive the promises that He has made in His Word.   In Malachi 3:6, in dealing with the sons of Jacob, God Himself stated that He does not change. For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. He had previously made promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God did not and will not compromise, therefore, so that the promise could be fulfilled, the sons of Jacob would not be consumed. It was through them Christ would come.
       That plan of God is now complete.   It came to fruition in Christ. Christ did not compromise when He came to die on the cross, purchase the church with His precious blood, and ascend to the Father with that blood sacrifice.   Then the Word of God came to the apostles through the Spirit. Because of this uncompromising plan of God, the obedient and faithful can be heirs according to promise. However, if one compromises, they cannot receive the promise of God. This is clearly indicated in Galatians 3:26-29.   For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
         This is what Jesus was saying in John 10:1 while He was on the earth. He said: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. Why compromise? That way only leads to death and destruction. Let us help you understand that true way – without compromise – to become sons of God?

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Is It Mother's Day, Or The Lord's Day?

Is It Mother’s Day, Or The Lord’s Day?

       Today is the Sunday many have set aside so they might focus on Mother’s Day. Interestingly enough, “Mother’s Day” cannot be found in the Bible. It is also interesting that the term “Lord’s Day” only occurs once, and this is when John was on Patmos to receive the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, (Revelation 1:10).   There are many passages that speak of the Lord, and there are many that reference “Mother”. The word mother is found 320 times within 292 verses in the entire Bible. However, the term “Lord”, in reference to Jesus Christ is found in the New Testament more than 600 times. Why is it we have to take a “Lord’s Day” to honor Mom?  
     The fifth of the ten commandments - Exodus 20:12 deals with the honor one is to have for parents.   Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.   This was part of the decalogue, given specifically to Israel, directing how they were to serve and worship God.   The fourth Commandment, coming before the fifth, surely has more importance. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.  
      Now, we know that the Lord’s Day is not the Sabbath day.   We also know that we do not live under the Old Testament Law of God.   It was always the intention of God to have a “new day”, under a “new covenant” wherein man should serve and worship Him. Jeremiah 31:31-32 is one of the many places this is prophesied.   Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: Along with this new covenant was a new day in which man is to worship God.
      The Spirit had many prophets speak of this day. In Isaiah 2:2-3 we find a prophecy of this.   And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. Yet another is found in Zechariah 14:8-9. And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. 9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
      While Jesus was on earth, He taught His disciples about that kingdom, the church, of which the prophets spoke.   In Matthew 4:17 we are told just after John was imprisoned, Jesus began to preach. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.   Christ also had things to say about mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. In so doing, He also stated that one must put first things first and keep things in their proper priority.   In Matthew 10:37-38 we read: He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  In Matthew 6:33 as Jesus spoke during the Sermon on the Mount, He told the Jews gathered there of that which is of most importance. He said: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
        Ephesians 6:2 repeats God’s Commandment regarding the honor to be directed toward parents. This is a part of God’s N.T. Law.   Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)  We all should honor our parents as directed in the Word. Was it not “the Lord”, Christ, who died on the cross?   Was it not the Lord who “gave Himself” for us? We are told in Titus 2:14 that is exactly what He did.   Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
       No doubt mothers make many sacrifices for their offspring.   For this they should be honored. But should not a “greater sacrifice” deserve more honor? The greatest sacrifice a mother can offer, is to “give herself” in service to God and the teaching of her children so they might know how to obey, to serve, to be pleasing to God.   But Christ made the ultimate Sacrifice as His blood is the only Sacrifice that made it possible to take away sins.   We are told that Christ came to do His Father’s Will.   In so doing, He paid the price so that we might be saved.   Then as Hebrews 10:12 shows, He went back to the Father.   But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;  
        It is proper to “honor” Mom for all she does. (Romans 13:7)   She deserves it!   But’s let’s not fail to honor God, His Son and the Spirit first! A godly mother does not desire that she be honored more than God.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Hard Hearted?

Hard Hearted?

       The Bible uses the term “heart” in a number of different ways. We can see the “heart” defined in context as the “center” in Exodus 15:8 as the great joy of the delivered Israelites burst forth in song. And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea. Later, when the Holy garments of the high priest were being described in Exodus 28:30, the Urim and the Thummin was to be worn “upon Aaron’s heart”, indicating above the physical heart. And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron's heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually. There may be other ways in which the Word of God utilizes the term heart.
     However, in most cases, the “heart” in the Bible refers to the mind. This is never more clear than in the first use of the word heart in the Bible. As man began to increase on earth, Genesis 6:5 shows that man’s “heart” (mind) had become obsessed with malevolence. And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. We find that heart means mind through the remainder of the Holy scriptures.   There is the willing heart, sorrowful heart, discouraged heart, upright heart, astonished heart, joyful and glad heart, trembling heart, foolish heart and more.   All of these things begin in the mind.  
       Many other words are used to describe the thoughts, ideas, and emotions of the mind of man which bring about his actions.   Perhaps the saddest of these is the hard hearted.   Most would think that the “hard hearted” people would be those like the wicked folks of Noah’s day which perished in the flood. Those hearts were indeed “hard”, but they are not the only ones. Some of God’s own people were guilty of this.  
     In Ezekiel 3:4-7 it is clear that God, in speaking to the prophet, was telling him to go to God’s people, Israel.   God Himself identified His people as those suffering from hardness of heart. And he said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with my words unto them. 5 For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel; 6 Not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee. 7 But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted.
      It is important to note that not every Israelite was hard-hearted. Down through Israel’s history, there were always some who were diligent in their service and dedication to God. Solomon was very aware that his father David was faithful to God and he started out that way. In 1Kings 3:6 we read what Solomon said to the Lord in his dream about his father which proved that the heart of David was not “hard”. This also explains the opposite of hardness of heart.   And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.   Shortly afterward, we see that Solomon himself (at that time) did not possess a hard heart because of what he asked in verse 9. Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?   This pleased the Lord. Unfortunately, even Solomon allowed his heart to become hardened when he followed his wives instead of God.  
     After Christ had been resurrected, (still O.T. times), He reproached His apostles for allowing disbelief to harden their hearts. In Mark 16:14 we have this record. Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. Just after this, He presented the “Great Commission”, which applied to them as well as to us, and cannot be carried out by those with hardened hearts. If the apostles of Jesus Christ, His ambassadors, could be afflicted by this human condition, how can we not think we too could suffer this?   They had seen and been with the Christ.   Remember what Jesus said to Thomas in John 20:29 when he didn’t believe? Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
       Even Christians must protect themselves from this malady. The Spirit had Paul write in Romans 2:5-9 to tell the outcome of hard heartedness as well as obedience. But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
       Hardness of heart will bring the “wrath of God” upon your soul.   On the other hand, “patient continuance in well doing” (obedience) yields eternal life.     How’s your heart?   Is it hardened?  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Make The Crossing

Make The Crossing

       “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath delivered us INTO the kingdom of His dear Son . . . “ (Col. 1:13).
        “For as many of you as have been baptized INTO Christ HAVE PUT ON Christ.”   (Gal. 3:27).
      We have previously pointed out that men must walk by faith in order to please God; that faith cometh by hearing the Word of God, and that whatever are God’s Commands to us are ACTS OF FAITH.   God has commanded alien sinners to BELIEVE, REPENT OF SINS, CONFESS FAITH IN CHRIST, and BE BAPTIZED IN WATER FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS (Acts 2:39).   As the sinner obeys these commands, he is walking by faith. As he walks by faith, God gives him pardon and Salvation from sin.
       Satan is the author of sin. He has a kingdom.   It is strong and powerful. Its citizens are those who OBEY his commands. These are they for whom Jesus died. He loves them so dearly and wants every one of them to live with Him in Heaven someday, but they are blinded and deceived by Satan’s false promises. They refuse to let Jesus save them. They are bound by chains of sin.   They need deliverance.
       The devil is aware of Jesus’ love. He loves nobody. It is a matter of revenge or vengeance with him. He knows that eternal Hell awaits him and he is striving to take everybody there with him.   There is no limit to his efforts to destroy mankind.   He hates man because man is made in the image of God. It is such a pity that man can’t see this.  

       Satan is a LIAR and the father of it. (John 8:44). He tells men: “You are good enough as you are.” This one is real popular. It appeals to the ego and soothes the conscience.   It eliminates the need for change, responsibility, spiritual adjustment. It blinds man to his sins. If he can’t see his mistakes and feel his guilt he is hopelessly lost. It must not be forgotten that there are many honest, sincere, moral and respectable citizens in Satan’s kingdom. He perhaps, is more proud of them than many of his vile ones. They are a “front” for him.
       Then Satan comes up with another false statement: “The Bible says it, but it doesn’t mean it.”   The serious thinker would ask, “Then why does it say it?” You’d think this “gimmick” would have little appeal to men but it is extremely effective. It destroys respect, confidence, and a definite need to rely on what God has said. It opens the door for speculation, human wisdom, tradition. Many preachers (?) use this gimmick.
      Satan is not too concerned if a man believing what God says IF believing is as far as it goes.   “The devils also BELIEVE and tremble.” (Jas 2:19). The devil is not too unhappy when a sinner repents, if this is the extent of it, because this only means that he is inactive.   He is still in the ranks of Satan at this point.   However, Satan begins to get nervous and uneasy when a believing, penitent sinner walks down the aisle to confess FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST. This step brings him TOO CLOSE to the CROSSING.   Satan knows that only ONE STEP MORE will release this servant from the BONDAGE of sin. One step more, baptism in water, and the work is done.   Translated “out of the kingdom of darkness and INTO the kingdom of His dear Son.” (Col. 1:13).  
         Satan knows that baptism in water for the remission of sins is where the TRANSITION is made – where the crossing takes place. He must not permit this to happen. If so, he loses a disciple, a servant. He summons help from some of his ministers, his most influential citizens.   The fight is on.   He offers fame, money, power, threats, anything and everything at his command. He ridicules the followers of Christ, the church, showing how few in number they are compared with the number in his camp. As per usual, he does not tell the truth, that “. . . strait is the gate, and narrow the way which leadeth unto life, and FEW THERE BE THAT FIND IT.” (Matt 7:13:14)
         Don’t forget, SALVATION is IN CHRIST. (2 Tim. 2:10).   Redemption, forgiveness of sins is IN Christ. (Eph. 1:7). A sinner is a NEW CREATURE “in Christ.” (2 Cor 5:17). One must be “baptized” INTO Christ in order to “get in Christ”.”   We read: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were “baptized into Christ” were baptized into His death?” (Rom. 6:3).   It follows then, there is no other way into Christ except by baptism.   It is the LAST step. In baptism, the “crossing is made” from sin to salvation, from darkness to light. This is God’s way.   It must be right.  
        Friend, don’t let Satan keep you from making “the crossing”. Don’t let him make you believe that you have made the crossing UNTIL you have satisfied God’s demands.   Go all the way with God.   Take no chance on your soul.  

     The above article was written March 6, 1966 by O. D. Wilson. “Truth” is still “truth” today, yesterday when my Father-in-Law preached, and when it began in A. D. 33 when the church was born. (John 8:32). One CANNOT be TAUGHT WRONG in denominationalism, and be baptized in accordance to God’s plan to receive Salvation. One MUST MAKE THAT CROSSING in full compliance with the Commandments of God, or they are not citizens and cannot have the benefits or promises granted to citizens. For example, there are many “crossing illegally” into our country today seeking a “shortcut” to citizenship. There is a “legal” way to citizenship, but no “shortcut.  

            The same is true of becoming a child of God in His kingdom (the church). God’s Commands MUST be obeyed for one to become a citizen (Christian).   There is no “shortcut” into Christ. (Eph. 2:13 & 19)

     Why would anyone refuse to “make the crossing” legally and scripturally in order to prepare for eternity?   Let us help you learn what God says to do, so you too can make that most important crossing.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

The Second Most Important Resurrection

The Second Most Important Resurrection

     If one were to ask you: “What is the most important resurrection the world has known?” What would you say?   It is likely, if you believe in God and have some knowledge of His Holy Word, you would answer: “The resurrection of Christ from the dead!” Well done! This would be the correct answer.   But if they were to be permitted a follow-up, and inquire: “What is the second most important resurrection?” Would your answer be correct? Most would not.
       I state this because most true “believers” would respond that the final resurrection, that which is to take place at the end of the world, is the second most important resurrection of humanity.   However, this would NOT be a correct answer to that question.   There is absolutely no doubt that this cataclysmic event will indeed be the finality of humanity in its present form. We are provided an inspired description of this event as well as a solemn warning in 2Peter 3:10-12 to become and remain prepared as we know not when this final event on earth might occur. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 
        This final event of humanity is indeed important, and it will occur because God has made promise through His Word that it will. All that He promises has, or will come to pass. This final event will occur, but not every soul can “look forward” to the “Second Coming” and the Judgment that will follow. Those who are not “in Christ” will not be resurrected to be with Him forever. To them, this won’t be the second most important resurrection. 
       I submit that the second most important resurrection is that resurrection which places one “in Christ”. Resurrection by definition is: the concept of coming back to life after death. In John 11:25,   Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: The term “believeth” here means more than to just believe or to affirm that Christ is.   It indicates obedience.   We see a similar phrase to indicate the same thing in Ephesians 5:14 to the Christians living in Ephesus. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. We know these folks were Christians, because Ephesians 2:1 shows this to be the case. And you hath he quickened, (made alive) who were dead in trespasses and sins;
         If this is not enough to call one to obedience, perhaps Romans 6:13 will convince. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. If one cannot “yield themselves” to God in obedience, they cannot be “born again” or made alive in the spiritual sense. In John 3:5-6, Jesus was speaking of one being obedient in baptism, and being “resurrected to life”.   Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, (be baptized) he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. This “new birth”, or coming forth from the dead to be “in Christ” is the second most important resurrection because it places one in Christ and makes one prepared for that final resurrection.
      1Thessalonians 4:13-18 was written to the church (those in Christ), who worshipped in Thessalonica, and clearly indicates that there are those which “have no hope”.   But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, (the dead) that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
   Those who are “in Christ” (and are faithful) have that hope and can indeed look forward to the Second Coming and the Judgment.  
        Much attention is directed toward the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and so it should be as this is the most important resurrection.   All other resurrections depend on His resurrection.   None could be “born again” or be resurrected from the dead and have their sins remitted had Christ not died and then come forth from the grave to die no more.   He did this so you too could be resurrected on that last day.   John 1:12-13 clearly shows this. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. Won’t you be baptized into Christ and take part in this second most important resurrection?

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

How Short Is Too Short?

How Short Is Too Short?

       Much has been said in God’s Word about “length”. The first mention is in regard to the ark God Commanded Noah to build. In Genesis 6:15, God said to Noah: And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. Here, God addressed the length, width, and the height of the vessel in which humanity would be saved from the flood.   Any “less” dimensions utilized by Noah would be “too short” in length and height, and “too narrow” to accomplish what God Commanded.
      There are a great number of things which could be listed for which we need to be cautioned so they be not “too short”.   Garments are one thing. They are designed to “cover”. If too short, they don’t adequately cover.   God has addressed this in 1Timothy 2:9 where Christians were told how to “adorn” themselves in “ . . . modest apparel”. In Isaiah 28:20, God also used a “short bed” and a narrow blanket to describe the inadequacy of Israel’s adherence to His Law.   For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.
         As we contemplate “short” here, let’s focus on something that applies to all humanity that “draws breath”.   That thing is time.   Upon being conceived, we begin a journey. That journey is from “life” on this earth to eternity.   God has constantly reminded man of this journey, and how it will “end” on the earth. In Psalm 89:47-48, the Holy Spirit had the psalmist pen these Words: Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain? 48 What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave?   Can we not see from this single passage that God has granted “time” so that we can “choose” to adhere to His Word and make the changes needed so we can spend eternity with Him?   If we can see this, why do we delay to make the needed changes?
       Time means nothing to God who is eternal. In 2Peter 3:8-9 we are told this as well as the reason God “created” time for our use. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. God has always been, and will forever be.   To Him, time means nothing.   We can see this in Romans 9:28. The Spirit gave this to the apostle Paul to write over 1,900 years ago. For he will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.   That “work” is the work of Salvation. To us, this has been a “very long time”. To God, it is not.
          We don’t know how long (or short) our life will be. This was adequately declared by the Spirit through the pen of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:11-12. There, we are not only told we don’t know how long we have, but also, we don’t know how our death might occur.   I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. 12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.
         Armed with this information, again I ask, why do people delay to make the needed changes and prepare themselves for eternity? At what point does “short” become “too short” in regard to life?   It becomes too short when one: 1) refuses to hear and obey God’s plan of Salvation, or, 2) abandons “that way”, having once “laid hold” on the promise of eternal life.   Anyone whose life comes to an end, who is “accountable”, and has refused or rejected God, has lived a “life too short” because after this life, there is no opportunity to make any changes.   The warning Words of 2Thessalonians 1:8-10 provide a vivid description of the fate that awaits those whose life becomes “too short” and when that fate will take place.   In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
         The “wise man” Solomon was given the Words of Ecclesiastes 3:17 to pen as he was “moved” by the Holy Spirit.   I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work. We are also told from the pen of Paul, (from the same source), in 2Corinthians 5:10, what we do with our time, while in our bodies, will determine our eternity. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
            Your life is not “too short” if you act now.   2Corinthians 6:2 clearly shows this.   (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)   Don’t let time run out for you.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Don't Be Fooled

Don’t Be Fooled

     We recently experienced another “April Fool’s” Day. We have one every year. Some folks look forward to these days so they can trick, “punk” or fool someone, or attempt to make them feel foolish.   These pranks are “harmless” according to those doing the pranking or fooling. However, those who are “fooled” or pranked in these so-called “innocent” episodes are anything but harmless.   Some often go way “too far” in their tricks.  
          The origin of “April Fool’s Day” is disputed in history. Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. In the Julian Calendar the new year began with the spring equinox around April 1.   Those who failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it on April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes and were called “April fools.”
           Interestingly, the word “fooled” is not found in the Bible, although the term “fool” occurs 73 times.   This doesn’t mean that the idea of being fooled isn’t in the Word of God.   We also don’t see the word “fooled” or “deceived” in the account of the Serpent’s deception of Eve in the Garden.   But reference to what happened there is found in 1Timothy 2:14. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. She then gave the forbidden fruit to her husband, and he ate it.  
        God’s plan from before the beginning of the world was to save the human soul. We are told in the following verse, 1Timothy 2:15, how this was to be accomplished.   Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety. This means there is no reason for anyone to be fooled as 2Peter 3:9 shows. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
        God’s plan to save human souls included childbearing in that Mary, the virgin wife of Joseph, would give birth to the Son of God, the Savior of the world. Isaiah 7:14 prophesied this. Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.   This was fulfilled in Luke 2:11-12 and was announced to the shepherds in the field.   For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
       Christ, as that promised Savior, was confirmed by the apostles as they stood before the council in Acts 5:30-32. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.   Again, there is no plausible reason one should be fooled or deceived. 1Timothy 2:3-4 makes it abundantly clear that God desires Salvation for all, and has provided the means for this to happen.   For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
        The New Testament is filled with warnings about being fooled or deceived.  Listed here, are just three. 1Corinthians 6:9-10 shows that those who do evil are “fooled” if they think they can do these things and be part of the kingdom for which Christ died.   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 mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 1Corinthians 15:33 reminds us not to be “fooled”, by those with whom we associate. We need to strive to be wise in all areas of life. Poor choice of companions is foolish. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.   In Galatians 6:7 we are also told that each will be “rewarded” for the things done in this life.   Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
      There is a great reason for these, and all other Biblical admonitions of this nature.   2Timothy 3:13 tells us that there will be many who will do much to seduce and deceive others.   But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.  Along with this, Timothy was told in verse 14 how he could continue to avoid being seduced to follow evil. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;  
      This advice to Timothy also applies to us today. There is no reason that we should be fooled or deceived. God, through His providence, has given us His Holy Word.   This Word is full of warnings, promises, instruction and direction. 2Timothy 3:16-17 shows that God’s Word is provided so we need not be deceived.   All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good work. 
        Don’t be fooled! The world cannot offer your soul Salvation. God’s Word is the answer to all life’s problems.   Study it, obey it, and follow it.   Failure to do so is to be fooled. To be fooled in this way has eternal consequences.  

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

Whom Will You Obey?

Whom Will You Obey?

        As we live our lives, we have no doubt had times in our lives in which we have not obeyed as we should.   This “trait” of humanity began in the Garden of Eden when the woman, in Genesis 3:6 decided to disobey God’s Command regarding the forbidden fruit.   And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. This trait continued with the first son of the first earthly parents.   In Genesis 4:7 we read of a conversation that occurred between Cain and the Lord after Cain had disobeyed.   If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.
      Interestingly, the word “disobey” in that form, doesn’t exist in the Bible. The word “disobeyed” occurs once. This is found in 1Kings 13:21, where the old prophet who had deceived the “man of God”, informed him of his error and also defined disobedience.   And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the LORD thy God commanded thee,. The disobedient prophet died as a result.
        The Word “disobedient” occurs 13 times, and “disobedience” is found 6 times in God’s Written Communication to man.   Even without these, there are still plenty of passages which indicate the penalty that must be paid for going against God and His Word.   In Jude vs 7, the Spirit had a New Testament penman, provide an Old Testament example to remind Christians of the end result of disobedience to God. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
        The Spirit had the apostle Peter “stir up” the minds of the recipients of the letter in 2Peter 3:1-2, so they would continue to obey. This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: We can see in 2Peter 3:17 why the warning was given. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.    This is important as all will serve someone or some-thing as Romans 6:16 clearly shows. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness. 

         Perhaps, many years ago when my wife’s dad, O.D. Wilson wrote the poem below, he was trying to “stir up” some minds.  

The Kingdom Will Not Pass Away

Stand up, shout it out to the nations,
The Cause of the Lord will survive,
The world is offered Salvation,
Because that the church is alive.
There are “seven thousand” dear brother,
Who’ve not bowed their knees unto Baal.
But within the ranks the unfaithful,
Are working that it might fail,
  

When Daniel unfolded his vision,
Daniel chapter two, forty-four,
He promised that God up in Heaven,
Would build One to stand evermore.
The kingdoms of men come and go friend,
But Christ set His church on the Rock.
The Word is the seed of the kingdom,
And faith is the key to the lock.

 

Some day when the trumpet is blowing,
And time on this earth then is past,
The Body of Christ will be going,
The triumphant church, Home at last.
Eternity then will be waiting,
The heavens and earth passed away.
The faithful will be celebrating,
The message is for us today.

O.D. Wilson – deceased

     Whom do you serve? Are you serving and following Satan? His kingdom is “of this world”. It will pass away per 2Peter 3:10. . . . the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.  The church, the body of Christ will exist with God forever. Make your choice as to whom you will serve.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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