Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Certified Bible-Thumper
    The Bible says it.  [Thump.]  I believe it.  [Thump.]  That settle it.  [Thump.]
     But, what does the Bible say?  Apostle Paul wrote: for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life...the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament...now the Lord is the Spirit.  [2 Corinthians 3:6-8]
    Christians worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  The Bible shows us who we are and shows God teaching us and guiding us into eternal life.  The Bible speaks of Jesus the only-begotten Son of God.  We see God’s Vision Of The Ages and how Jesus is God’s Lamb to take away the sin of the world.  As we see turmoil and confusion and conflict around us, we turn our eyes to that City whose builder and maker is God.
    The Gospel is the Power of God.
    “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.  For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  Gal 1:11-12 (KJV)
    “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.  And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe.”  1 Thess 1:5-7 (NKJV)
    True Apostles were called by God.  They learned the Gospel by direct revelation from the Risen Son, and by the Scriptures. 
    “Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me."  And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.”  Luke 24:44-45 (NKJV)
    “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  2 Tim 2:2 (NKJV)

    1. Paul met Jesus face to face and was directly certified to preach the Gospel of Christ’s doing and dying and rising to life again.  He was given direct knowledge by the Holy Spirit.
    “Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me.”  Gal 1:1-2 (NKJV)
    “Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?  If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.  1 Cor 9:1-2 (NKJV)
    “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."  In that He says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”  Heb 8:10-13 (NKJV)
    “This is He who came by water and blood--Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.  For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.  And there are three that bear witness on earth: the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree as one.”  1 John 5:6-8 (NKJV)
    “And Jesus Christ was revealed as God's Son by his baptism in water and by shedding his blood on the cross (literally This is he who came by water and blood): The truth is that Jesus' baptism and death confirmed his identity as the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus of Nazareth was and is truly the Christ, the Son of God, from the beginning and forever.  5:7-8 three witnesses: The Spirit descended on Christ at his baptism (see John 1:32-34). The water is the water in which Christ was baptized (see Matt 3:13-15; Mark 1:9-11). The blood is the blood that Christ shed at his crucifixion (see Mark 15:37-39). —NLT Study Bible
    “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.”  Psalms 139:23-24 (NKJV)
    “But the path of the just is like the shining sun, That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.”  Prov 4:18 (NKJV)

Jesus The Son came in human form;
flesh & blood, in order to defeat
the devil and the forces of evil.
Why is our world the way it is???
A wise man said: “How can you
have a top without a bottom?
or a front without a back?”
The contradictions of our world
are part of God’s Plan.  He gave us
freewill and we can choose Him.
And yet He chooses us in Christ.
Because He loves us, He wants us
to love Him and draw near to Him
with clean hands and a pure heart.
To make this possible, He sent Jesus
The Lamb Who Takes Away Sin -
by the sacrifice of Himself.
We love Him because He first loved us!


Friday, October 21, 2016



"It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me."  John 6:45; Isaiah 54:13.

"Look here!  In the paper!  A Great Camp Meeting!  They're going to have Holy Communion at Cane Ridge in August!  We could go to that!  It would only take three or four days to get there.  And I think the Lord would be especially pleased if we would go to this."

A preacher wrote about the spiritual condition of the people in 1800 as they moved westward from the coastal area.  "How many thousands … never saw, much less read, or ever heard a Chapter of the Bible! How many ten thousands who never were baptized or heard a Sermon! And thrice ten thousand, who never heard of the Name of Christ, save in Curses … ! Lamentable! Lamentable is the situation of these people."

At the Cane Ridge Revival, people came to a three day Gospel Meeting climaxing on Sunday with the celebration of the Lord's Supper.  When they arrived there, the preaching was:  REPENT!  AVOID HELL!  JESUS DIED FOR YOU!  THERE IS POWER IN THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB!  GOD WILL FORGIVE YOUR SINS!  TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION!  COME TO JESUS NOW!

Barton W. Stone believed the Cane Ridge Revival was a work of God.  Christ was preached, lives were changed, God's purposes were accomplished.  Certainly Satan was there also to do his worst.  But as Jesus said to the Pharisees: "If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you."  Matt 12:26-28 (NKJV)

Christ was preached at Cane Ridge, and just who was doing this preaching?  Apostle Paul wrote: "What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice."  Phil 1:18 (NKJV)

Robert Rainey wrote in 19th Century England this comment.  "It is not true that the preaching of Christ serves no purpose and yields no fruits, in cases where it is not carried on in the right or the best spirit. . . Now the Apostle, looking at this, is glad of it. He is not glad that any men, professing Christ, give way to evil and unchristian tempers. But he is glad that Christ is preached. There were cases in which he vehemently contended with such persons - when they strove to poison and pervert Christians who had learned the better way. But now he is thinking of the outside world; and it was good that the making known of Christ should gather strength, and volume, and extension. And the Apostle knew that the Lord could bless His own message, imperfectly delivered perhaps, to bring thirsty souls to Himself, and would not fail in His unsearchable wisdom to care for those who came, and to lead them in the ways He thought best. Let Christ be preached. The converts do not belong to the denominations, but first of all to Christ.  Neither is it appointed that the denominations shall permanently hold those whom they bring in; but Christ can hold them, and can order their future in ways we cannot foretell. . . . But GOD is not tied up to give no success to men acting under wrong motives: at least, if we are not to say He gives the success to them, yet in connection with them He is well able to take success to Himself. Through strange channels He can send blessings to souls, whatever He gives or denies to the unworthy workmen. Souls truly gathered in will soon get beyond their teaching."

Salvation is too important to be left entirely in human hands.  God does want everyone to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).  Some picture God as an Old Man with pad & pencil writing down everything He can find to keep us out of heaven.  Some work hard to "prove" that no one can be saved!  They are "defenders of the truth."   Some Jewish leaders condemned the miracles Jesus did as being from the devil.  But Jesus was RIGHT - and the Pharisees were wrong.  "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."  John3:14-17 (NKJV)

Although Satan seems to be turning everyone away from God, this cannot be true.  God is always working in ways we may not know.  HIS DIVINE PURPOSE CANNOT BE DEFEATED!  The battle between the Church and the Devil has already been settled in heaven.  The Ascension of Christ meant the downfall of Satan, and every act of Christian sacrifice confirms it!  Read Revelation ch 12.

Leapfrog ahead from the First Century to Cane Ridge in 1801.  Stone believed that the evidence he saw of obedience to God and changed lives and then they  continued in faithful obedience was proof that God was present in what had happened there.  We see things like these in the New Testament.  Compare Acts 19:11-20 and note the results.  Live were truly changed!

Many factors went into the Great Revival at Cane Ridge.  We note The Great Awakening in America in the 1730s and 1740s which had tremendous results. The number of people in church multiplied, and the lives of those converted showed a true Christian morality.

Quite by surprise there was a tremendous outpouring of response to the preaching of Jonathan Edwards. This movement of the Spirit surprised people because it produced something unexpected: people professing conversion to Christ. What Edwards said was: "You can't control salvation." But Puritans heard him saying, "if you try, God will aid your salvation." Phrases like "It is in your power to use means of grace" and "One can strive against corruption."  Edwards wanted to make the point that salvation ultimately is in the hands of God, and that He empowers the Christian to resist evil. And people responded to what they viewed as an invitation to seek after salvation.

Alexander Campbell spoke of a "Christianity at large" which viewed the Ancient Order seen in the New Testament as superseding sectarianism to gather all to be One In Christ.  Whitefield said: "Father Abraham, whom have you in heaven? Any Episcopalians? No! Any Presbyterians? No! Any Independents or Methodists? No, No No! Whom have you there? We don't know those names here. All who are here are Christians...Oh, is this the case? The God help us to forget your party names and to become Christians in deed and truth."  In essence, Whitefield reduced Christianity to it's lowest common denominator--those sinners who love Jesus will go to heaven. Denominational distinctives were down played. This theme was picked up by Samuel Davies, one of the principle leaders of the Awakening in Virginia.

Denominational barriers broke down as Christians of all persuasions worked together in the cause of the gospel. There was a renewed concern with missions, and work among the Indians increased.  Methodist "circuit riders" who rode from place to place worked to spread Christ and the Awakening.

America was much smaller back then and this Revival was mostly in the New England States.  It is difficult to believe that in 1782 not one permanent settlement existed in the whole of Ohio (except perhaps Indian villages) and that by 1800 Ohio population was around 70,000 for the whole State.

Before 1800, western Kentucky was sparsely populated. The French & Indian war against the settlers had been a disaster.  Midnight raids by terrorists - for that was what they were - created hopelessness and spiritual ignorance.  Some of these early settlers were outlaws fleeing punishment by hiding in the wilderness. There were also decent God fearing citizens that came looking for a future.  But it was a time of violence and fear.  Men like Big & Little Harp (America's first serial killers) committed great crimes against the settlers.

Today we have Church every Sunday (Lord's Day).  And every Sunday is Holy Communion.  But it was not so in those days of the Frontier.  There was not a church on every corner.  Organized worship was mostly nonexistent.  They did not know they could gather in a house-church assembly to praise God and eat the Supper of the Lord.  Yet times of Holy Communion would be held in Revivals - three or four day meetings with all-day preaching and climaxing in the Supper on Sunday.

It is difficult to for us today to understand what happened at Cane Ridge.  Our America is anti-supernatural (yet we believe everything we see on TV).  Bultmann wrote: "we cannot use electric lights and radios and, in the event of illness, avail ourselves of modern medical and clinical means and at the same time believe in the spirit and wonder world of the New Testament."  And some in the church do think that way.  In the world of politics it would be the worst possible sin to be an intensely committed Christian.  Yet read the Book of Acts.  God The Holy Spirit jumps out at every page.  Peter healed people (Acts 5:12-16).  Amazing things were done in Samaria (Acts 8:5-8).  The Holy Spirit sent Philip to the Ethiopian Nobleman and sent Paul to Macedonia.  God is awesome, powerful, shaking things up, but above all - Loving, Cleansing, and Saving.
The effect of Cane Ridge on people was powerful.  "...everyone was crying out for mercy.  The anguished screams caused trees to sway ... mother, she fell and was breathing hard, like a sheep on a hot day...The eyes of the crowd were blazed with the glory of heaven, seeing only the divine and the celestial."   Stone said: "I saw sinners every where, of every age and sex, rich and poor, bond and free, old and young, weeping, praying, and converting to God--I saw enemies become friends, and sweetly united in the bonds of love--I saw brotherly kindness, meekness, gentleness, obedience, all the divine graces, growing and abounding among the saints of God. The Bible was read with intense desire to find the truth. This, this I call a revival. This I call the work of God."

Jesus said in a parable "Go out into the highways and byways and compel them to come in."  (Matt. 22:9-10).  Note they gathered both bad and good.  The sorting would be done later.  (Some want to presort people before preaching to them.  But the identity of wheat and tares will be shown by what they produce.)

God is interested in results.  God was being true to Himself when He worked miracles, and also when He gave orders to do things in an unusual way.  Compel them to come in!  And this was the order of things in the Kentucky Revival at Cane Ridge in 1801.  Stone believed that the Hand of the Lord was at work in these things.  Repentance and changed lives were proof to him.  "Bring forth fruits of repentance."  And this was surely happening!

The Kingdom of God is a spiritual nation of people who are called by the gospel of Christ.  Their relationship and loyalty is to God-in-Christ.  In the Lord's Supper we are to "show forth His death until He Comes."  Christians, then, are to be a living demonstration of Who Christ Is.  We let our light shine by the love and good works we do to the "least of these."

Elder David Purviance wrote in his Biography.  [note: I have revised some of the language for clarity.  RDI]
"In due time a great camp-meeting to be held at Caneridge, in the coming month of August, was advertised widely. Such was now the general interest of the public mind, that when the meeting came, it was attended by about 25,000 souls. Persons were said to be in attendance from most of the States in the Union [as it was in 1801]. Particularly were gathered together, on that memorable occasion, the thousands of Israel [the church], from all the religious orders of the land. Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, &c., &c., were there, as one mighty spiritual host, assembled together, to fight the battles of the Lord. They had come up to the help of Zion. They preached and prayed and praised together; they mutually labored together for the salvation of sinners. Their objects and aims were the same; there was no schism (sectarian division).  Nay, more than this. Together, in sweetest, holiest, symbolic communion, they sat down at the One Table of the One Lord, and together commemorated His sufferings and death, affording to a gazing and admiring world, a monumental exhibition of an answer to the memorable prayer of the incarnate Jesus (John 17), to His and their Heavenly Father for the union of His people. Such were the glories of the times that many good people thought assuredly the Millennium (Golden Age) had begun to dawn upon the world.

THE GREAT MEETING AT CANE RIDGE commenced on Friday before the third Lord's day of August, 1801. From the commencement the roads were literally crowded with wagons, carriages, horsemen, and people on foot, all pressing to the appointed place, till by the Sabbath day (Sunday) the grove that was then open near Cane Ridge meeting-house, was filled with wagons, tents, and people. It was supposed that there were between twenty and thirty thousand people there. Elder Stone in his Journal remarks, "A particular description of this meeting would fill a large volume, and then the half would not be told." Stone's Biography, pg. 38.

For the sake of the present and future generations, I will attempt a faint description.- From the very commencement, an uncommon solemnity appeared to rest on the countenance of the people. Not infrequently several preachers would be speaking within the bounds of the encampment without any interruption to each other. Wagons, stumps, and logs were used for stands. The preaching and exhortations were interesting and impressive. Salvation free to all mankind was proclaimed, and the willingness of Jesus to save all that would come (John 6:37) was urged universally by the speakers. "The word of God was quick and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword;" many sinners were cut to the heart, and fell prostrate under an awful guilt and condemnation for sin. This was not confined to any one class. The moral, genteel and well raised, the giddy and profane, the wicked, the drunkard, and the infidel, the poor and also the rich, as well as the proud and vain, with all their gaudy attire, were brought down by the SPIRIT of the ALMIGHTY, and they appeared to have forgotten every thing in this world in view of their souls' eternal salvation.  [Compare Acts 2:36.  "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"]

LET UNITY BE OUR POLAR STAR!  Stone and the Campbells intended to join hands with true believers in a united effort to LIFT UP THE CAUSE OF CHRIST.  Stone was first, and from Cane Ridge the gospel "spread like fire in dry stubble."  The Campbells - father and son - joined in, along with a host of others.

Stone spoke of four thoughts on the unity of believers.

1. Book union.  He spoke not of the Bible, but of creeds [patterns] which may be written in a book, or be unwritten, but still followed. Creeds written/unwritten when used as tests of fellowship tend to divide rather than unite.

2. Head union.  He spoke of a common understanding of the Bible.  Stone's words, "Each one believed his opinion of certain texts to be the very spirit and meaning of the texts - and that this opinion was absolutely necessary to salvation."  Daniel Somer once wrote in frustration: "The New Testament is the Book we divide over."  Paul warned: "for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."  2 Cor. 3:6 (NKJV)  And: "But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter."  Romans 7:6 (NKJV)

3. Water union.  All who have been baptized into Christ are one in Christ.  Stone says, "Water union was defined to be a union founded on immersion into water. But fact proves that this union is easily dissolved, and that immersion will not keep those who are immersed, united."  In Stone's words: "How vain are all human attempts to unite a bundle of twigs together, so as to make them grow together and bear fruit! They must first be united with the living stock, and receive its sap and spirit, before they can ever be united with each other. So must we be first united with Christ, and receive his spirit [Spirit], before we can ever be in spirit united with one another. The members of the body cannot live unless by union with the head—nor can the members of the church be united, unless first united with Christ, the Living Head. His spirit [Spirit] is the bond of union. Men have devised many plans to unite Christians - all are vain. There is but one effectual plan, which is, that all be united with Christ and walk in Him."

4. Fire union.  By this Stone meant what we read in 1Cor. 12:13.  "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."  And: "Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."  Eph. 4:3   The Greek can be translated: "Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds you together."

This is the only way to be faithful to Scripture. In the words of Stone: "We have been too long engaged with defending ourselves, rather than the truth as it is in Jesus.  Let us trust our little selves with the Lord; and rest not, till by faith in the promised Spirit and by incessant prayer we receive and be filled with it, like they were of old in the ancient order of things."

The question we face then is not "How can we work toward unity?" but rather "How will we be faithful to the call to maintain the unity of the Spirit?"

The Psalmist wrote: "A song of Ascents. Of Solomon.   Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain." Psalms 127:1 (NKJV)

The apostles and disciples could not begin their "witness" until God-The-Holy-Spirit came in power.  They were to tarry in Jerusalem until that time.  Jesus said of The Spirit: "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--"  John 14:16 (NKJV)

PS: What would another "Cane Ridge" look like today with Twitter and Facebook?

Saturday, October 15, 2016


Rhoderick D. Ice

[This is taken from a work by a group of conservative-evangelical Bible scholars from 1977 through 1987, "The International Council on Biblical Inerrancy."  I have digested this and put it into "Church of Christ" terminology.]

1.  As the revealed word of God, the Bible is the authority of God Himself and confirmed by our Lord Jesus Christ who is Lord of the Church.
We do not believe it is possible to divorce and separate the authority of Christ from the authority of the Bible, or to pit one against the other.
2. We believe that Christ Jesus is both God and Man in one Person.  Just so we believe that the Bible is God's word placed in human language.
We do not believe errancy exists in Scripture (in the ancient languages) any more than that in Christ as Man there is any sin on His part.
3. We believe that Jesus Christ is the center of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments - His Person and His work.
Anything which rejects or obscures this Christ- centeredness (such as questioning His maleness or Jewishness) is contrary to the teaching of Scripture.
4. We believe God The Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures acts through the Bible today to create faith in the Bible's message.
We do not believe The Spirit ever contradicts the message He has already inspired.  But we believe The Holy Spirit is always present with us.
5. We believe The Holy Spirit enables believers to seize Bible truth and apply it to themselves.  We believe The Holy Spirit works into us what Christ has worked out for us.
We reject the idea that the natural man is able to see spiritual things apart from The Holy Spirit.  [note Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:14.]
6. We believe the Bible speaks in normal human language and normal use of language, following the rules of grammar and interpretation.
Although salvation is of prime importance, we deny that this is the only function of the Bible.  Willful deception is of course wrong, but so it unintentional misunderstanding and confusion.
7. The clear, logical meaning is usually that which is intended.
But the Bible must sometimes be understood in a "poetic sense" rather then the bare meaning of the words.
8. We believe the Bible applies to all cultures and all times: sometimes only in a particular situation, and sometimes in a wide sweeping way.
We believe the universal and particular must not be determined by cultural and situational factors (although these factors cannot be dismissed out of hand).
9. We believe there are patterns of Bible study which may properly be used to understand just what the Bible is saying and how this applies to us.  Even though the name applied to the technique may be unfamiliar to us, this fact does not disqualify the use of patterns of study.
We do not believe the message of Scripture should be dictated by the interpreter's own frame of reference.  Campbell tried to approach the Scriptures each day as though he had never seen them before.  (This of course was impossible, but it shows how he tried to eliminate any bias on his part.)
10. The Bible speaks to us in a variety of literary forms.  The inspired message was written down in the language of the writer.  Peter noted that Paul sometimes wrote things hard to understand.
We do not believe that any limitations of human language in any way dim the truth which God has spoken to us.
11. We believe that God intended the Bible to be translated into the many languages of Man.  We believe the Bible speaks our languages across all cultural and temporal barriers.  Compare Acts 2:7-12.
We do not believe the Bible is so tied to the culture of those from whom it came that it then becomes impossible to understand in our frame of reference today.
12. We believe the translators of the Bible should fulfill their mission as though the original writers were now writing in the target language.  How would Paul, for example, write his message in our language today?
Methods of translation which are insensitive to the demands of cross-cultural communication, or which distort biblical meaning, are wrong.
13. We believe one must have a "poetic soul" to properly understand much of the Bible.  When one is deaf, you must shout loudly for him to hear.  When one is blind, you must draw large scrawling pictures for him to see.  Certainly Jesus used these techniques to communicate the truth.  "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off."
We do not believe that those schemes which deny the Bible's historical accuracy are correct.
14. We believe that the biblical record of events, speeches, and teachings, though presented in a variety of ways and forms, are historical fact.
We deny that the biblical writers invented fictions or accepted things merely traditional.  Note Peter in 2 Peter 1:16-21.
15. We believe the literal grammatical-historical sense is most often correct.  We must of course take note of all figures of speech and literary forms.
We believe a figurative sense must be called into question and examined closely, even though other factors may eventually show that the figurative sense is the correct one.
16. We believe legitimate critical techniques should be used to know the meanings of the Bible text.  We use critical techniques to read our daily newspaper.
We do not believe any method of technique should be allowed to question the truth or integrity of the Bible writer's meaning and teaching.
17. We believe the Bible is logical and consistent, that it cannot contradict itself, and that it is its own best interpreter (when used according to the laws of language).
We deny that later writers misinterpreted earlier writers of Scripture when quoting from them or referring to them.  New Testament writers made a wide use of the Old Testament part of the Bible in showing Jesus as the fulfillment of the promise to the fathers.  Note Acts 13.
18. We believe the Bible's own interpretation of itself is always correct; never contradicting, but showing the writer's intent.  The words of a prophet include, but are not restricted to, the prophet's own understanding.  God's intention may reach far beyond what the prophet understood when it comes to fulfillment.
We do not believe the prophets always understood the full implications and meanings of their own words.
19. We do understand in the frame of reference of things we already know.  The preunderstandings of the interpreter should be in harmony with biblical teachings and subject to correction by them.
We do not believe Scripture should be "forced" into agreement with "alien" biases, such as naturalism, evolutionism, scientism, secular humanism, political correctness, and relativism.
20. We believe that God is the author of all truth.  Things biblical and those outside the Bible are consistent. The Bible speaks truth when it touches nature, history, or anything else (even though it is not a scientific textbook).  Also, some things outside the Bible may help to make clear what the Scriptures teach.
We deny that science may be made to disprove the Bible, or that science as currently understood has a higher priority than the Bible.
21. We believe the various things taught in the Bible, specific and general, are in harmony with each other and with the true facts of nature.
Scientific theory changes from time to time.  We deny any conflict between scientific fact and the true meaning of any passage of Scripture.
22. We believe that Genesis chapters 1 to 11 are factual when understood, as is the rest of the Bible.
We deny that the teachings of Genesis chapters 1 to 11 are mythical and pure fancy.  While there may be an element of "poetic truth," we find no need to revise the Bible to fit current "theories" of the origin of Creation.
23. We believe the Bible speaks clearly about sin and salvation.  We believe in the finished work of Christ Jesus and being put right with God by faith in Jesus Christ.
We understand that not all passages of Scripture are equally clear or that all have an equal bearing on the message of redemption.
24. We believe that God intended the average person to understand the Bible without depending on the expertise of scholars.  However, we do not reject those who have devoted their lives to studying the Bible.
We deny that anyone should ignore the technological study of those equipped to study the Scriptures in depth.  We must depend on the truth and accuracy of those who translated the Bible into our language.
25. We believe the one who is preaching should study to permit Scripture to speak to him, and then pass on to the hearers this good news of God.  Correct preaching faithfully expounds the word of God spoken in the Bible.
We deny the preacher has any message apart from what God has revealed to us in the Bible.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Is God shaking America?
    We pray: God bless America in these times of crisis.
    "For thus says the Lord of hosts: 'Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land;  and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,' says the Lord of hosts.”  Haggai 2:6-7; Hebrews 12:26
    “God will again shake the heavens and the earth at the coming day of judgment (see Isa 2:19-21; 30:28). The previous shaking was the judgment on Egypt at the time of the Exodus (2:21-22; Exod 14:31). The NT relates in just a little while to the return of Jesus Christ (Heb 12:26-27). Haggai probably saw God's ultimate judgment foreshadowed in events to take place after his time (e.g., the fall of Persia to Greece, the fall of Greece to Rome; see Dan 2:39-45).—NLT Study Bible
    “In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His disciples first of all, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.”  Luke 12:1-3
    “Also He said to them, "Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand?  For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.  If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."  Then He said to them, "Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.  For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him."  Mark 4:21-25
    God’s Hand is in everything.  Where we see “either/or” God works “both/and”.  Christ spoke parables to illustrate His teaching.  Both wheat and tares grow together.  Both good and evil are in our world.  We build up our response in the choices we make.  And God shakes us and pours us out the way He wants us to be [if we trust and obey].
    “The very purpose of light is to provide illumination.  Who would cover it up or hide it???  If a light is hidden, it can only be for a short time, and when it is placed on the lampstand, its light reveals the things hidden by darkness.  Jesus himself is light (John 1:4-5), and it would be foolish for him to hide the very thing he came to reveal.  Yet we can see that time was required for this light to be clearly revealed.  The parables and the whole mission of Jesus were not easy to understand, but in time the meaning would be clearly revealed.  Jesus worked secretly in his earthly ministry, but the meaning was to be made known at the right time as God vindicated Him and brought in His kingly rule in power.  Compare Paul’s anthem of praise in Acts 13:26-41.”  [13 Lessons on Mark - Ice]

O God, send Your Holy Spirit
that He may also reveal to us and in us
the true Face of Your Church
beyond the shortcomings of disciples
who walk with a heavy step,
weighed down by twenty centuries of history.

May Your Holy Spirit draw us into
the hidden mystery of the Church,
of Jesus the son of Mary, the Human One,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
so that Your Church may remain,
for each passing generation,
the Faithful Witness,
speaking Your Truth,
the Sacrifice of Jesus our Lord.

Send Your Holy Spirit who reveals
Your unfathomable Father-tenderness
for all Your children
whether prodigal or not. 
May Your Spirit teach us to pray,
calling You Our Father,
with the heart of a child who knows
that he is loved and understood.

May Your Spirit help us
to translate the Gospel
into action at the heart of the world,
that when men see how Christians love
they may see in each one of us
the light of His Face,
the tone of His Voice,
the compassion of His Heart,

and the tenderness of His Smile.

Monday, October 10, 2016

How History impacts the Church

  [The idea for this came from an article in the Christian Standard April 10 - 05 by Tom Lawson.  I have adapted this to speak to the Churches of Christ.]
        "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Hebrews 13:8; 2 Cor. 1:19-22.  As the Bride of Christ, the Church is unchangeable.  Truth cannot change - but opinions and style may be modified by social changes.  When people moved off the farm and into the city, they faced new challenges and had to rethink some opinions.          
        Events create a lot of tension among people.  We are a New Testament Church!  But we are also influenced in some ways by things around us.  Paul wrote: "So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.  Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother's way.  I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him is unclean."  Romans 14:12-14
        Each of the following was a point of controversy and a point of change - some good and some bad.
        War Between The States  The tensions created by the Civil War threatened and changed the unity of the "restoration movement."
        The melodeon (1850-1900) - a non-electric keyboard.  Up to 1850 most churches simply sang "a-capella."  Organs were wildly expensive.  The cheap melodeon brought changes.  Churches of Christ continued to sing without an instrument.  Daniel Sommer made this a test of fellowship at Sand Creek, Illinois, in 1889.
        Sunday School (1870-1900) - Bible study classes for all ages.  These began in England as an effort to reach the unevangelized children of the cities.  This method was adopted by the Churches of Christ.  Bible classes taught on the level of the children in language they can understand.  (The bus ministry was an outgrowth of this, reaching out to children to involve them in Bible study and worship.)
        Furnaces  (1880-1930) - Forced-air heating made for even heating (compared to potbellied stoves), and larger church-buildings became possible.
        Speaker systems  (1915-1990) - Charles Spurgeon had "leather lungs" and preached to a congregation of 10,000 people in London, England.  Speaker systems made it possible for everyone to hear without the preacher being forced to shout.  They also changed the style of preaching.
        Patriotism 1916-1950 - WWI and especially WWII changed attitudes about military service.  Cornelius was a military man in the Roman Army (Acts 10:22).
        Radio 1922-1950  Churches rushed to broadcast the Gospel.  Since the broadcasting had to be done in the radio studio (you could not make a tape back then), this changed the singing that went along with it, as well as the style of the preaching.
        Mimeographs  (1930-1960) - a type of printer.  A. B. Dick invented a process in the 1870s which made it possible to cheaply print thousands of copies of bulletins, papers, lesson sheets, etc.  These were superseded by Xerox machines and computer printers.
        Old Time Religion   Worship changed dramatically from 1850 to 1950.  Fundamentalism was a movement to return to the recent past.  It was advertised as a return to The Fundamentals of Faith.  However this was influenced by John Darby's view of the Book of Revelation (dispensationalism) as preserved in the Scofield Reference Bible.  Churches of Christ are not "fundamentalist" but seek a return to the worship of the New Testament - "all the way back to Jerusalem."  (Everyone has an opinion on this.)
        The invitation   A call to get right with God.  Without putting pressure on people, a focus on faith in Christ and obedience to God's terms of salvation.
        Worship God
        "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.  But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."  John 4:22-24

        Examine yourself  Paul wrote: "For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God.  For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.  Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.  Prove yourselves.  Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? - unless indeed you are disqualified."  2 Cor. 13:4-5       

Speaking to be understood

Speaking To Be Understood                 R.D.Ice
        "It's time for a Christian revolution!  Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!"  Psalm 107:1-3; Matt. 8:11
        "So I become all things to all men, that I may save some of them by whatever means are possible." Paul - 1 Cor. 9:22
1         1 billion people worldwide use the Internet.  (soon to be 3 billion people)
2         The Internet is changing the world.
3         God Himself is using the Internet to change lives.
4         On the Internet we must speak to be understood.
        "So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken?  for ye shall speak into the air."  1 Cor. 14:9 KJV
        "And it's the same for you.  If you talk to people in a language they don't understand, how will they know what you mean?  You might as well be talking to an empty room."  1 Cor. 14:9 NLT (New Living Translation)
        Christians  have developed a special way of saying things - a secret language - which doesn't always have the same meaning to others.  Here are just a few of our secret words: "born again, salvation, saved, sinner, new birth, Savior, justification, Holy Spirit, testimony, evangelical, assurance, redeemed, redemption, saved, mission, outreach, repentance, witness, confess, found the Lord, have a burden"
        These are 'insider terms' which exclude the typical un- churched person. We must learn to get inside their heads!  And, does the church always understand these words?  Yet, of course, words must be used to describe Christianity.
    Sinner: one who is far away from God's saving presence. Romans 3:23  Failure to love God is sin.  1 John 4:7-8
    Savior: God acted in Christ Jesus to give Himself for us, a Savior to rescue us from all wickedness and to make us a pure people who belong to Him alone and are eager to do good.  Titus 2:14
    Salvation: chosen for eternal life.  Acts 13:47-48
    Repentance: turn away from sin and turn to God.
2 Cor. 7:9-10
    Confess: to stand with, give allegiance to.  Romans 10:9
    Baptism: a burial in water into Christ Jesus.  Acts 8:36-38
    Born-again:  born from above - spiritually changed.  "Jesus replied, 'the truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.'" John 3:3-7
    New birth: a changed relationship with God.  "For he has rescued us from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and he has brought us into the Kingdom of his dear Son.  God has purchased our freedom with his blood and has forgiven all our sins."  Col. 1:13-14 NLT
    Saved: put into a safe relationship with God.  Acts 26:18
    Justification:  put right with God.  There is one God, who will put both Jew and Gentile right with Himself on the basis of their faith in Christ.  Romans 3:30; 4:6-8
    Holy Spirit:  God-the-Holy-Spirit is active in our world today.  He proves the people of the world are wrong about sin and what is right and about God's judgment.  John 16:7-15  He renews us.  Titus 3:5
    Testimony: In a court of law, witnesses testify about what they believe to be true.  The Apostle Paul said: "'I believed and therefore I spoke,' we also believe and therefore speak..."  2 Cor. 4:13  In this same spirit of faith we also speak our testimony because we believe in Jesus Christ.
    Evangelical: "Evangel" means gospel.  "Evangelical" then centers around Christ: who He is and what He has done in His becoming flesh & blood, living and being tempted, dying as God's Lamb to purge sin, and rising to life in power and triumph over death, hell and the grave.
    Sanctification:  To be dedicated to God; to be accepted by God as holy.  Romans 4:5-8  "But people are declared righteous because of their faith, not because of their work.  King David spoke of this, describing the happiness of an undeserving sinner who is declared to be righteous: 'Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sins are put out of sight.  Yes, what joy for those whose sin is no longer counted against them by the Lord.'"  NLT  Compare Phil. 3:9-11.
    Assurance: confidence in our relationship to God.  Col. 2:2-3  "I want them to have full confidence because they have complete understanding of God's secret plan, which is Christ himself.  In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."  NLT
We sing: "Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine!  Oh, what a foretaste of Glory divine."
    Grace:  God's incredible kindness.  This is unmerited favor, something we do not deserve.  But God out of His great love for us chose us in Christ even before the world began!  Paul writes: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Chris died for us."  Romans 5:8
    Outreach: We as Christians reaching out to everyone with the gospel of Christ - crucified, risen, coming again.  We have been given the mission of making friends to God.
    Found the Lord: We rejoice in the fact that God has reached out to us and we are now aware of Who He Is and What He Has Done.  Note the parables Jesus used in Luke 15.  They demonstrate God's seeking for us.  We rejoice when we have found Him!  We sing: "Trust and obey, for there's no other way."
    Have a burden:  Paul spoke of his care/concern for all the churches (2 Cor. 11:28).  In the imagery of "Pilgrim's Progress," he "had a burden" which he carried everywhere with him.  We may have a burden when we feel some responsibility falls on us.  Perhaps we think God has spoken to us or brought certain things to our mind.  Surely the Providence of God will cause us to choose to promote His Cause and purpose.

    It sometimes helps to write down and paraphrase what we intend to say, then read it out loud, and think how it may sound to others.


Saturday, October 1, 2016


      Many things test our faith.  The first generation of the church struggled with "Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy."  Note in the Book of Acts how much Old Testament Scripture is brought in to prove Who Jesus Is and His Saving Act through His Cross & Resurrection.
      At the time of the Book of Revelation, the challenge was whether to praise Christ or Caesar.  To follow Jesus meant to reject Caesar and there was a severe price to pay.  But Jesus is surely worth it all!!!
      Many have struggled with "Who is Jesus Christ???  Is HE only human, or the Son of God [God The Son]???"  The New Testament bears witness to the fact that Jesus is both Human and Divine.  HE came in the flesh, was baptized by John, died on the cross, and raised to life again!  [Read all of 1 John.]
      When we look back some years, we are impressed by the faith & power of the Gospel of Christ - Crucified, Risen, Coming again!  Some today have pulled the plug on power, on Christian love, holy joy, and the fruit of The Spirit.  Paul warned: "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."  (2 Timothy 3:5)
      Look back with me to those days of glory.  A "tent-evangelist" of the past drew on his experience with diverse groups of people who had little or no religious background.  He wrote this formula for producing Christian Revolution, which surely defines the purpose of the Church. 
      Let's have CHURCH  It is our purpose to praise Him!  Remember: church is people, you and I.  The church comes together to worship as a team.  "Church" should be like the "pre-game rally" in the locker room.
      Unashamed,  Paul had complete confidence in the Gospel of Christ's Doing & Dying & Rising Again.  Our worship and spirit ought to reflect this deep faith and confidence in the power of His Resurrection!
      With Power, If we think of ourselves as "losers," how can we transform people's lives and heal society's deepest ills?  And how can we reach the Next Generation with Christ - if we ourselves appear to have no confidence in Him?
      Jesus-Worshiping, Jesus is God the Son who came in human form.  It is right and proper to worship Him for Who He Is and What He Has Done.  Dying Stephen called on God and directed his words to Jesus [Acts 7:59-60].
      Sin-Busting, The way to "bust sin" is to inspire righteousness and holiness among Christians!  Holy to the Lord!!!  We should be bursting at the seams with Holy Joy!  [Romans 14:17].
      Devil-Chasing, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" [James 4:7].  Some appear to think God is totally bewildered and confused by the things taking place in our world; that He has turned everything over to the devil by default.  This cannot be!
      Bible-Loving, Timothy had a godly mother and grandmother who taught him the Holy Scriptures from childhood [2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15-17].  We should feel about the Bible as we do a letter from a dear relative.  The Bible is in some sense a love letter from God - to us!  God does love us and He proved it by sending Jesus [Romans 5:6-11].
      Saving, Having Church means reaching out with the message of JESUS - His Doing & Dying & Rising Again!  The message of how people can be saved forever!  It is the mission of Christ and His Church to save as many people as possible from this wicked world.
      Renewing, We make ourselves living sacrifices.  An English writer of the past century wrote: "The whole world is a temple, and we are everywhere worshipers."  The kindness and mercy we show to others we do to Him by proxy.  We praise Him by living life His way.
      Praising, Christianity is essentially a praising and singing  religion.  Praise helps us to tap into God's power.  Praise helps us fight against discouragement and all the wiles of the devil.  Praise helps raise our eyes from the mundane to the sublime!  Our God is in control and He holds the future in His Hand!
      And With All The JOY The Holy Spirit Provides
      "For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" [Romans 14:17]. 
      "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" [Romans 15:13].
      Praise and joy seem to be in short supply today.  We need to make a conscious decision to permit God-The-Holy-Spirit to produce Holy Joy, Christian Love, and all the Fruit of The Spirit in us [Galatians 5:22-23].  And Paul tells us to Rejoice - many times.  Rejoicing is a command, not an option.
      And People Will Come!  As a few come in the front door, many have gone out the back door.   When we "Have Church" and when we raise up The Triune God in praise and devotion, we are doing just what the New Testament Christians did.
      Let us HAVE CHURCH and reproduce all the Enthusiasm, the Joy, and the Love we see in the Church in the Book of Acts.  Let the Church be the Church in Power and Praise and the Gospel of Christ Jesus - Crucified, Risen, Coming Again!!!
    “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.  For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me."  For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”  Romans 15:1-4 (NKJV)
    “Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Gal 6:2 (NKJV)
    “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.”   1 John 3:23 (NKJV)
    Christ's example shows that real love involves self-sacrifice. We do this by becoming truly concerned about the needs of other Christians and by unselfishly giving time, effort, prayer, possessions, and even our lives to supply those needs. 
    Burdens and opportunities are opposite sides of the same coin.  As we reach out to others we are also blessing ourselves.  The one-talent man saw his opportunity as a heavy burden and so failed.  The others saw their burden as an opportunity and succeeded.
    1. Read the context.
    “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”  Gal 6:1 (NKJV)
    “Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer: Literally Brothers, if a man. • Perhaps some of the Galatians were proud of their obedience to the law or their spiritual freedom and willpower. But those who are truly godly (literally spiritual) are not proud of their accomplishments but humbly help others. • be careful: We are all susceptible to the same temptation to sin (Rom 3:9-20).—NLT Study Bible
    2. My brothers. Paul begins to emphasize the spirit of community which is a very necessary part of the church of Christ. Even those who are being led by the Spirit sometimes are surprised into sin. Compare Gal. 2:11-13; 1 John 1:8-10. The normal human thing to do, is to be hostile to those who sin. The Christian thing to do is to set them right. It is the special responsibility of the spiritual to do this. But it must be done in a gentle way, because hostility might destroy the very one you are trying to save. And keep an eye on yourself.  Don’t think you are immune to temptation. Being aware of our own weakness will help us to be gentle toward others.  Instead of being hostile and scolding one another, you must help each other carry burdens.’ This is the spirit of community.  MacKnight says: “This is an allusion to the custom of travelers, who when too heavily laden with their baggage, relieve one another, by bearing the burden of the weak or fatigued, and in that manner show their good disposition toward each other.” The law of Christ requires benevolence and good will even to those who are surprised into sin.
    3. If someone.  If you are so proud of your own righteousness that you are hostile to your weak brother and will not help him, you are only fooling yourself. When you think you are too strong to fall, you are living in a fool’s paradise!” Should judge his own. “You must not use the faults of others as the standard for your own conduct. There is no honor in looking at your brother and saying, ‘I am better than you.’ If what you do is good, measured by God’s standard, then you can be proud of your actions.” For everyone. “At the Judgment, each of us will have to answer for himself.” Load = PHORTION [fortune]. This can also mean that certain things (such as sickness) and the normal duties of life must be the responsibility of the individual and cannot be shared.
    4. A brother, not an enemy.
    “Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”  2 Thess 3:15 (NKJV)
    “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Gal 6:10 (NKJV)
    We should do good to everyone.  We should do good to everyone, whatever their country or religion should be or whatever their physical appearance. But we do have a special responsibility to those who belong to our family in the faith.

    “Don’t be tight-fisted with those who coach you in God-things. Don’t worry: no one pulls a fast one on God. What you put in, you get out. If you invest your time in dark things, you’ll generate mess. If you spend your time on what God’s Spirit nudges you towards, you’ll generate limitless life. Let’s tough it out through the tired times and keep on doing the right thing – if we keep going, we’ll see results. Whenever we get the chance, do people good – especially if they’re part of God’s crew.”  Lacey