Sunday, April 29, 2012


REVIVE US AGAIN!!!                           R. D. ICE

Clem Thurman writes in Gospel Minutes Sept. 27, 02: “Some folk, faced with the conditions as they are in the world today, are led to believe that ‘Christianity has failed.’  Even among those who are supposed to be Christians, many are ready to give up on ‘the law of the Spirit of life’ (Romans 8:2) as a world-changing movement, claiming that the gospel will just not fit the complex issues of our society today.”

Paul “planted.”  Apollos “watered.” But it was God Himself who gave the increase.  1 Corinthians 3:6.  Both planting preachers and watering preachers are required.  But no human effort can substitute for God who makes the plant grow.  God Himself is always on His Throne.


The Lord’s church has existed since Pentecost in Acts chapter 2.  But over the centuries there have been times of revival and renewal, movements, brotherhoods, and difficulties - all within the Lord’s church.  Note the “church of God” at Corinth struggled with many things.

The Lord’s church is indestructible!!!  Even the gates of hell cannot prevail against her!!!  Yet individual churches are only one generation away from extinction, and a local church may lose her candlestick [Revelation 2:5].

The Church is continually in need of "times of refreshing from the Lord."  Satan does his worst to discourage us and to send us down "blind alleys" to turn our attention away from Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.  Note Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:10-31.  We need revival and renewal to fill our hearts with the love of Christ [Romans 5:5].  This gives us hope, and hope is the anchor of the soul!  Peter proclaimed: "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."  [Acts 3:19 NKJV]

We in America look back to three times of revival which have had particular importance to the Churches of Christ in America.

1. "The Great Kentucky Revival" which took place around 1801.  Barton W. Stone said this was the Holy Spirit stirring up things [John 16:7-15], convicting and convincing.  This revival at Cane Ridge was a milestone.

The French & Indian War had ravaged and desolated the morality of our Nation.  It was said that the nation had become a nation of drunkards.  Crime was rampant.  Religion was at a low ebb.  When a time of revival broke out in Logan County, Kentucky, Stone went to see for himself.  He came back with new hope and strength.  He prayed, along with others, and revival came to Cane Ridge.  In that time of difficult and almost impossible travel, thousands came to join in, some from 100 miles away.  Perhaps twenty thousand came.  It was a new day!  Later Campbell and Walter Scott and others joined in.  Jesus was preached and thousands across the land "obeyed the gospel."

2. "The War Between The States."  Another time of revival took place around the time of the Civil War.  The War produced great upheaval and dislocation and suffering.  But Dr. J. H. Darst wrote in a history of the "restoration" in Virginia, "Ante-Bellum Disciples":  "Between the surrender in April, and November 1865, Chester Bullard baptized 500 persons in southwest Virginia, and about the same number of converts were secured in eastern Virginia: approximately a 10% increase in the State membership during the first seven months of peace."  The War produced strains on the "restoration" that later produced division.  But for a time Jesus was preached and many across the land "obeyed the gospel."

3. "World War II."  The Great Depression had come to an end.  Many were snatched up and taken overseas to fight.  It was a time of great turmoil and dislocation.  But many came to realize there was a World out there which could be won to Christ!  Returning soldiers brought with them great excitement and this filled the Churches of Christ!  Success became the goal!  Much outreach was done to bring people to Christ Jesus and to get them to "obey the gospel."  Many benevolent works were done; helping those in other countries who were starving; and also proclaiming Christ Crucified and Risen!  Much the same things were done here in our own country.  We saw a time of tremendous growth!

But the devil does his worst.  Whenever revival comes, the devil works to oppose it.  He tries to convince good people that the revival is sinful and that these things are of the devil.  Note how the Pharisees spoke of Jesus in Matthew 12:24.  Jesus said they were in danger of the unpardonable sin, verse 32.  But it is the Lord who opens doors that no one can shut (Revelation 3:7-8).  In opposing “revival” we could be opposing God (Acts 5:38-39).

Sometimes honest and sincere brethren will differ over what to them is a matter of "The Faith."  Note Romans 14.  We are to welcome all the Lord's followers - even those whose faith is weak, as Paul says.  We are not to spend our time arguing with them over their concerns.  We are to love them and help them. Yet of course our own freedom is not limited by what others think (1 Corinthians 10:23-29).

In the 50's brethren began debating brethren over certain "issues" that were being raised.  Some began to "choose up sides" and withdraw themselves from those they labeled as "unfaithful."  There would perhaps be two struggling churches now, where one strong church existed before; sometimes three or more struggling churches.  The Churches of Christ are effectively split into five distinct groups who have little or no contact with each other.  Note the list of distinctives in Mac Lynn's Directory: “Churches of Christ in the United States.”

But the past is no more.  There are times of Revival in our past, but we must move boldly ahead as good stewards of our "revival heritage."  Jesus is Lord and we must be faithful to Him!  We must speak out and encourage new revival simply because the Word of God on these matters is true.  Out of our deep love for God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit, we must strive to make our faith and love be real, honest, genuine and sincere!  We lift up our voices to God and ask for fresh strength!!!

Lensch wrote: "A revival is not just a season for spiritual fun and games.  No, revival is a divine corrective that is designed to get the church back on a course that is biblically normal." We look back to see the church as it was in the New Testament.  We also reach forward to the responsibility of sowing the same good seed from the Bible.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!  We must exalt and glorify JESUS CHRIST and lead people to love and obey HIM!!!  [Read John 3:10-21.]

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Problem of Evil

The Book of Revelation is in a sense the "last word" about the struggle between good and evil. The divine drama which the Bible records is still going on, and will continue until Jesus Comes.
If we focus on the power of evil, we seem to think and dwell upon the disunity and ineffectiveness of the Lord’s church. "By names and creeds distressed." We see the failures and the crimes done in the name of being faithful to the Lord. Human pride and inertia, stupidity.  [But, are we seeing the whole picture?]
But this - we - are the material, inside and outside the church, which the Spirit of God has to work with. And He will only work by love and not by compelling.
We can think of today as a new Dark Ages, with materialism and sin and evil everywhere to be seen. Has Christianity failed??? God forbid!
In the years since Pentecost, Acts 2, these short years of infancy, saintliness, courage, care, concern, have made their mark. Lives have been changed, fear has given way to hope, new light - the light of Christ - has shone in dark places. The church has no need to apologize for its total record of service, its defense of the weak and helpless and unfortunate. Though often it has left its consecrated ones to fight the battle alone.
Jesus the Son of God, came in human form as flesh & blood, was tempted in every way that fallen man is tempted. Hebrews 4:14-16. The gulf between God and man has been bridged by God Himself in the person of the second Adam, a new kind of man, Jesus of Nazareth. He is God expressed in terms of human life (Romans 8:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:20-25).
Certainly the Book of Revelation is an odd one; its language cryptic, its symbolism strange. But it speaks in Jewish terms and figures, something like Daniel. Like the Book of Hebrews, Revelation was written to strengthen the church and encourage resistance to the power of evil. This world is only temporary. Jesus is Coming Again! Evil doesn’t stand a chance against the God who sits on His throne.

 Problem of Evil

    The Chardon OH shooting reminds us that Satan still tempts people.  Satan is bound by Christ and His Sacrifice, but still permitted to use his evil influence.  “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”  “Resist the devil and he will flee.”

1.       Satan is powerful, but restricted.

    “Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.  For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night.   And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.  And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.  Therefore, rejoice, O heavens!  And you who live in the heavens, rejoice!  But terror will come on the earth and the sea, for the devil has come down to you in great anger, knowing that he has little time.”  Rev 12:10-12 (NLT)

    Michael and his angels do the attacking.  Satan is booted out of heaven.  Christ’s Atonement frustrates the devil. 
1) Now God’s salvation has come. 
2) Our brothers won the victory. 
3) For the devil has come down in great anger. 
There will be Christians alive and waiting when Jesus Comes!  The church/kingdom does not come to an end but continues on into Eternity.

    The battle between God’s Kingdom and the Devil is not determined on earth.  It has already been settled in heaven.  In Rev. 12 John saw Satan defeated.  Yet Satan, thrown to earth, uses every weapon he can find to war against the Creator.  As John wrote, the Roman Empire was the Beast which Satan used to harass and destroy the people of God.  But the wrath of God, the Word of His Power, continues to prepare the punishment of evil.

2.       God’s Plan is being worked out.

    “Then the Lord God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil....”  Gen 3:22

    “True free will cannot exist without the possibility of evil, that humans cannot understand God, that suffering is necessary for spiritual growth, or evil is the consequence of a fallen world.”  Wikipedia

    “And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."  Luke 22:31-32

    The devil sifts each of us looking for our weakness.  The Enemy uses the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life to tempt us to sin.  [But temptation itself is not sin.]  He uses fear of persecution to frighten us, as he did Peter.  Sometimes well-meaning Christians are tricked into opposing us.  Paul warns: “Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. 2 Thess 3:15

    Note Jesus prayed for Peter, and Peter did return to the Lord.  Peter’s sifting led him to change his heart and mind.  It was Peter with the power of God who spoke at Pentecost. 

    3. Both Good And Evil.

    In the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, both good and evil exist together in our world.  To weed out the tares would disrupt the wheat.  But at the time of harvest, the sorting will take place.  [Matt. 13:24-30.]

    “God’s promise held true; Spring would come. He built into nature a cycle of life and death to show us that death was temporary, even when it seemed to be permanent, final, the end of all dreams.”  (Patrick Mead)

    “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse . . .”  Romans 1:20

    Christians are to know that during this Gospel Age which stretches from Pentecost until the Second Coming, both good and bad will come to God’s people.  Satan will send persecution and lies against each Christian.  But God’s special help prevents the Devil from attacking the church directly and destroying it.  Satan is to be allowed one last all-out effort to destroy the church (Rev. 20:7-101, and this may parallel the persecution of the first century. But we already know the outcome. Satan has already lost! And the Second Coming will put a stop to his final effort.  Some think a period of explosive growth will take place in Christ’s church at the exact same time that Satan is permitted to make his last effort.  History shows that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.”

    “Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them.  Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!   Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.  Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord.”  Romans 12:14-19 (NLT)

    “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”  Eph 6:10-12 (NLT)

We Can Resist The Devil

    Jesus taught an obedient love for God that we are to show in the actions of ordinary life.  Doctrine is important, yet what we really are shows up in visible ways.  How we treat each other is proof of our faith in our God.  [Matt. 25:31-46]

    "To convert the pagan world, we must be the sign and wonder: We must be holy."  [Tom Forrest]

1.       God’s discipline is always good for us.

    “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”  Heb 12:28-29 (NKJV)

    a) God gives us the authority to resist evil.

    “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  James 4:7 (NKJV)

    “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”  1 Cor 10:12-13 (NLT)

    b) As we learn we are able to help others.

    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  2 Cor 1:3-4 (NKJV)

2.       We conquer evil by doing good.

    “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”  Romans 12:21 (NLT)

    “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  
Matt 5:16 (NKJV)

    “Men do not praise the street lamps which protect them from robbery and assault, but they praise the municipal administration which furnishes the lamps.”  McGarvey - Four-Fold Gospel

    3. Paul speaks of holy living.  Romans 12:14-21 (NKJV)

    “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”     

    “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

    “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.”

    “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.”

    “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” 

    “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.”  [Deuteronomy 32:35]

    “Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."  [Proverbs 25:21-22]

                “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”