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Restored New Testament Christianity

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Thought for the week

Be Perfect

To be perfect is something Jesus expects His disciples to be: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). How can that be, you ask, when it is simply not possible even though you try as hard as you can. In fact if Jesus meant to be perfect like Himself; that is, having not sinned (II Corinthians 5:21) then He contradicts His own scriptures which state, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (I John 1:10). So, is the meaning of perfect as used by Christ to be sinless? Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that one can only be such by being “perfect in Christ” (Colossians 1:28); that is “perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12) and no, for try as we might “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

A simple analysis of the word “perfect” comes up with the answer as to its meaning. According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary the word as used by Jesus is “tel’-i-os
From G5056; complete (in various applications of labor, growth, mental and moral character, etc.); neuter (as noun, with G3588) completeness: – of full age, man, perfect.” In other words the word means to complete a task; be mature; reach the end.

Jesus wants those who decide to follow Him to reach a point whereby they are not only in Christ but are striving to reach the goal of maturity. This was something the Hebrew converts were lacking in according to Hebrews 5:12-14 “when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” He is saying they were still feeding like infant babes from the elementary “principles of the doctrine of Christ” instead of being mature and eating the protein of doctrinal “perfection” (Hebrews 6:1).

So this is Jesus plea in Matthew 5:48 that you be perfect so that you may know what is right and what is wrong when it comes to the will of God.

Are you perfect and complete in all the will of God? Are you in Christ having been baptised for the remission of sins? If not, then I strongly urge you to seek out a member of God’s church to find out exactly how to become perfect in His will before you die because “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27) and you sure don’t want to face this frightening prospect: “Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:30-31).

Graham

Thought for the week

Ok, so where am I going wrong?

The sometimes testy subject of fellowship is on my mind this week. I say “testy” because fellowship circles in the church invariably bring with it issues associated with error. Let me explain by way of a theoretical example.

A brother in Christ who has for years been revered as having an exemplary record regarding biblical study by upholding the Pauline call to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15) and lived life in pursuit of “righteousness, faith, love and peace” (II Timothy 2:22) then, out of the blue, with inexplicable audacity publically serves up a lesson from a “different gospel” (Galatians 1:6). One is left wondering, “What gives?” So with grace and humility words are exchanged “seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6) over an extraordinary length of time not just by me but many faithful brethren seeking to correct ‘if God perhaps will grant them repentance” (II Timothy 2:24-26) but, alas, to no avail. To this day he remains defiant even accusing correctors of being dishonourable and inciting division.

Now, having pursued a course of “proving all things” as true and correct from the scriptures to show the errant one’s departure from the truth to brethren who fellowship him via personal contact, using him in church outreach programmes etc. and endeavouring to point out with the same attitude displayed to the errant one that such contact and association is “sharing in his evil deeds” (II John 2:11), I and faithful brethren are the ones rejected and found to be dishonourable even to the point of misapplying II John 9-11. Have I misapplied II John 9-11? I do not believe so. A.T. Robertson, Baptist (1863-1934) says the text is dealing with those who progress beyond the doctrine of Christ not about Christ. Adam Clarke, Methodist minister (1762-1832) said, “He who passes over the sacred enclosure, or goes beyond the prescribed limits; and abideth not in the doctrine – does not remain within these holy limits, but indulges himself either in excesses of action or passion; hath not God for his Father, nor the love of God in his heart.” Which brings me to the title of this week’s thought for the week, where am I going wrong? Are you willing to help me out using scripture, of course?

Graham

Thought for the week

God of Convenience

“Convenience” means suitability to one’s needs (Oxford Dict.). Many see and use God as a convenient tool to blame for their misery. Take the homosexual community for example. They count those that appeal to God’s word such as Romans 1:18-32 which condemns homosexuality as bigoted hate mongers and by implication blame God for the difficulties of being ostracized in this life. Still others see God as a convenient altar to hide behind in order to excuse or perhaps escape the consequence of their wrong doing. Perhaps the most memorable person who did this was Adonijah, King David’s favourite and oldest son, after Absalom, whom he mistakenly promised would inherit the regency. However the prophet Nathan reminded David that Solomon was to be the rightful heir according to a promise he had made to the Lord and Bathsheba much to the dismay of Adonijah and friends who were busy prematurely celebrating. When word reached the pretender that Solomon now sits on the throne, “all the guests of Adonijah trembled and rose, and each went his own way.” Adonijah “went and took hold of the horns of the altar” as if appealing for clemency from God of which, it turns out, was successful (I Kings 1:1-50). On the other hand there are those, when life is good and no afflictions trouble, have no use for God. He is absent from their lives because they cannot see or understand He is necessary beyond this life for eternal happiness. Prosperous souls when on the day that is appointed for them to die will try to behave like the aforementioned examples of blame and appeal at their judgement (Hebrews 9:27-28) but, sadly, the reply will come as no comfort, for Jesus will say, “Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23).

Don’t treat God as a means of convenience; rather, “this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarrelling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:11-14).

Graham

Thought for the week

Standing For Truth

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something in your life” (Winston Churchill – 1874-1965). Now, don’t you find it astounding that perfectly contented souls will all of a sudden erupt in fits of vitriol when you point out a Bible truth? One need only visit a debate forum on Face Book, Google or such like to see them go hammer and tong all because someone had the audacity to quote the Bible. The quote invariably goes against their perception of truth or perhaps the lifestyle they or someone they know has indulged in. The apostle Paul would, however, counter with this: “Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16). Yes, it is almost like one becomes their “enemy” all because God’s word which is the “truth” (John 17:17) was cited. The Bible believer must “not yield in submission even for a moment” (Galatians 2:5); rather, must continue to speak that “truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
It should come as no surprise that these things take place for even Jesus, the Master teacher and counsellor said, “But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” (John 8:45). My friends, if Jesus couldn’t persuade because of hardness of heart then we who stake our lives upon His truth ought to take comfort, for to repeat Churchill, “That means you’ve stood up for something in your life.”

Graham

Thought For The Week

Hearts and Actions

You know the feeling; that is, you know what is right and what to do about it but you never quite get around to doing it. For example: you have read the need to share your faith, “in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (I Peter 3:15). However, you don’t get out there and follow through with the necessary action. James says it is not good enough just to hear the word but to be “doers of the word” (James 1:22).

Again, Jesus issues a parable about the heart and corresponding action: “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away” (Luke 8:16-18). You have lit the lamp of the word in your heart, now put it on the stand and share its message. God’s word lights the path He wants you to tread (Psalm 119:105) but not just you but all mankind (John 3:16) and “with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38).

Have a great week following the lamp.

Graham

Thought for the week

The debate that is raging at the moment is all about “gay marriage” and the rights and wrongs of it that I feel compelled to add it is fuelled by liberal politicians such as US President Obama and New Zealand Prime Minister Key to garner political “Brownie Points”. My question is: Is it possible that this issue can ever be solved through a method devoid of higher authority? I say no! For as the Bible says, ” No one is good but One, that is, God” (Mark 10:18). Let’s be honest, man’s premise of atheism cannot account for moral behaviour such as marriage, for atheism itself is mere opinion devoid of objective proof. Go ahead; prove to me there is no God. Tolerance, remember, is that one man’s opinion is no better or worse than another’s so you must objectively, as God says, “prove all things” (I Thessalonians 5:21).

Soon after the Second World War 22 high ranking officers of the Nazi regime were brought to justice in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg, the birth place of the Nazi Party. The Allies used the newly created London Charter of the International Military Tribunal, which differed from individual Allied nation’s laws, to prosecute these criminals. The Nazi defence argued on the grounds of subjectivity saying they were “only acting under orders”. That is to say, as it was legal in Germany to pursue war and the associated atrocities that thereafter occurred, each officer was merely following a superior’s order. Instead of arguing the defenders’ point, the Allied prosecution appealed to a higher authority’s objectivity; that is, The “Nuremberg Principals” which consisted of seven articles with this basic principal in mind: that an individual or head of state “who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.” To this day, no nation has the subjective right to sanction murder without consequence from an international high authority.

So the “gay marriage” argument pursued without a higher authority’s input is merely an argument devoid of objective proof. Many people of all sorts of secular backgrounds and viewpoints now argue for the right of homosexuals to be legally married. In a similar fashion many people in Nazi controlled Germany from all sorts of secular and even religious backgrounds argued for the right to exterminate Poles, Dutch, French, British, and Jews etc. through their act of war. Yet, in both cases, while being legal according to constitutional governance that does not mean it is morally right.

As I stated in the beginning, man is not the inventor of morals, for if so, that would constitute morals based upon mere opinion. The God of the Bible claims He is the higher authority regarding morals (Mark 10:18); therefore man needs to appeal to He who is “good” for the right for homosexuals to marry. Without fear of a true and valid contradiction I will point out from His New Testament (mankind is subject to the new covenant today so don’t do as many are apt to do in this debate and appeal to nonsensical arguments based on the old covenant’s statutes) that giving homosexuals the right to marry would be sinful. Go to Romans 1:18-32; I Corinthians 6:9; I Timothy 1:10 where the Holy Spirit guided apostle states unequivocally that practicing homosexuality is condemned.

Graham

Thought of the week

Preparation

As I sat in my favourite coffee shop drinking a cup of vanilla chai latte this afternoon, I watched many people going about their daily business and I got to thinking that many, of whom I feel certain, would be blissfully unaware that this life is a preparation for that which is to come. They were laughing and frowning; playing and toiling and just living life as though this is all life has to offer. But what if there is something more to this life as we know it?

The Bible tells man there is definitely more to life than that which he experiences in the here and now. The wise man said, “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes” (Proverbs 16:2) but the God of the Bible thinks and says differently, for just as He warned the Israelites to “Prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4:12) so, too, the warning is just as relevant for man today to be prepared! John the Baptist said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2). He was of course speaking of the realization of the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) as foretold by Isaiah 750 years beforehand. This same Lamb of God says to “Repent or perish” (Luke 13:3). That word “repent” is given meaning by the Apostle Paul’s preaching as he recalls to King Agrippa in Acts 26:20 that men “should repent, turn to God and do works fitting to repentance.” That is to say, do due preparation to turn and meet God or you will, as Jesus says, “perish”.

What do you need to do in this preparation? Well, here is a web site that will be a good start: www.churchesofchrist.net/authors/David_B_Brown then click on “How to become a Bible Christian”.

God bless you as you travel and study through His word.

Graham

Godhead United In Word and Deed

In this week’s thought for the week let’s consider the unity of The Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit who make the Divine Godhead of the Bible.

The idea that each of the Godhead is divorced of the thought and actions of the other is strange to say the least. For instance, some say that Jesus is love but God the Father is wrath. So, they suggest through implication that God the Father is not love, hmm!
This nonsense has grown, in my opinion, from the thought that people only want love and not the consequence of sin which is wrath.

To show that all three of the Godhead are united in all they think and do, let us consider three separate verses dealing with the topic of sanctification.

• Jude 1 “Sanctified by God the Father.” The Father sets the Christian apart.
• I Corinthians 1:2 “Sanctified in Christ.” Jesus sets the Christian apart.
• I Peter 1:2 “Through sanctification of the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit sets the Christian apart.

Each of the Godhead is in total harmony regarding the sanctification of Christians which is just as true with all the other workings of the Godhead, for Jesus acts just as wrathfully (Revelation 6:16) as God the Father (John 3:36) as much as the Holy Spirit is just as grieved at sin ( Ephesians 4:30) as Jesus is grieved (Mark 3:5).

Jesus said in His prayer to God the Father “that they (the holy apostles GJW) all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21). The purpose of Jesus’ words is to show He is united in thought and deed in order to create faith in unbelievers, for the opposite creates disorder and confusion which leads to faulty ideas such as this thought opened with.

God bless as you travel and study through His word.
Graham.

Thought For The Week

I thought I would add a new segment for to end the week with, called “Thought For The Week.”

LAW OF MOSES NOT IN EFFECT TODAY.

“For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, because other law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression” Rom.4:11-15.

People need to understand that the Law, as handed to Moses in Exodus, cannot logically be in effect today, for if it were it would contradict the passage above. Paul said it was “nailed to the cross” Col.2:14 meaning it is dead and no longer in effect.

May God bless you as you travel and study through His word.
Graham

The truth; i.e., God’s word will set you free from sin


A preacher back in 1958 had the following to say about the truth of God’s word that changeth not over the years in much the same manner as God Who declares: “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. [This in order that] In the exercise of His will He brought us [that is those who have obeyed his word] forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures” (James 1:17-18).

Let us sit back and hear what Melvin Vaughan had to say all those years ago.
Of all those things which are important and essential to man’s spiritual welfare, there is no single item that can affect him more significantly than his attitude toward the truth.
The truth, in a special sense, was made known by the coming of the Lord: “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17). It is not surprising that the Lord had so much to say about the truth and what it can do for men. The Lord pointed out that the truth leads men to the freedom most needed: “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8: 31,32). The truth revealed and applied is the means by which God “sanctified” or sets man aside in His service as the Lord indicated in His prayer: “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth”3 (John 17:17). So important is the truth to men that the major function of the Comforter or Holy Spirit was to remind the disciples of the truth Jesus had taught them during his ministry (John 14: 26), and to guide the apostles “. . . into all truth” (John 16:13).

The Truth Shall Make You Free

( Melvin L. Vaughan – 1958)

Those to whom the Holy Spirit was sent emphasised the importance of truth. James writes of the “word of truth” as the means by which his readers had been “begotten of God” (James 1:18). Paul reminded the Ephesians that the salvation they enjoyed was the end result of their response to the truth delivered to them (Eph.1:13). Peter points to the truth as the means by which man becomes justified before God: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto the unfeigned love of the brethren see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (1 Pet. 22, 23).

Even though the importance of the truth has been emphasized and its source clearly identified with the will of God; it has been denied, ignored, ridiculed, and misrepresented by men. Those who have sought to uphold the truth have been persecuted, oppressed and even put to death because of their devotion to the truth which they held to be unalterable.
The word of God renders to man an invaluable service by pointing out to him the truth with regard to his state, the limitations of his ability, his great need, and the solution to that need. Paul in examining the spiritual state of the people apart from Christ concluded that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Sin is identified in the Bible as including both the “transgression” of God’s law (1 John 3:4), and the failure or refusal to fulfil a known duty to God: “To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

To recognise the fact of sin and its existence, even in one’s self, is of little significance until it is known that sin is the barrier that separates man from God. “Behold,” the prophet has written, “The Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save, neither his ear heavy that he cannot hear; but your iniquities have separated between you and your God and your sins have hid his face from you that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:1,2).
Here is the truth about man’s state and need. He becomes guilty of sin because he has violated Divine law. Because he is guilty of sin he is alienated from God and should he die in this condition he is forever and eternally excluded from the joys of heaven. A disagreeable picture, to be sure. and unfortunate indeed is the person whose knowledge of the truth goes no further than this!

Man does not have within himself the means or knowledge by which he can free himself from these sins and become reconciled to God. Jeremiah had long since reminded Israel of this: “The way of man is not in himself, it is not in man that walketh to direct his own steps” (Jer.10: 29). To provide the means, God sent His Son to be the propitiation for the sins of the world; to provide the guidance, the Son brought the truth. In the Son is revealed the truth by which alone it is possible to have access to God: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6).

Jesus had said: “. . . if ye continue in my word . . . ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). The truth does provide freedom from ignorance by making both knowledge and understanding available: “The entrance of thy word giveth light, it giveth understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130). The truth provides freedom from uncertainty by making the pathway visible: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my pathway.” (Psalm 119:105.) The truth makes known the possibility of attaining freedom from sin by showing how the barrier between man and God can be removed: “. . . if ye continue in my word . . . ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31,32). The truth provides this freedom from sin in reality as man obeys the truth: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obedience to the truth . . .” (1 Pet. 1:22, 23).

The good news of freedom from sin through the sacrifice of Christ and obedience to the truth is called “the gospel” (1 Cor.15:1-4).

For the truth to become to you what it can, and what the Lord desires it to become, it must be sought in the words of the Lord and His apostles (John 8: 31,32). This truth must be approached reverently, respectfully, and open-mindedly that it might produce faith. (Rom. 10: 17; 2 Thess.2:10-12). The response of which a believer involves the turning from sin and error to truth and righteousness inspired by gratitude for His mercy and the desire to please him (Rom.2: 4). The removal of the guilt resulting from sin is to be found where the Lord placed it in His death where His blood was shed. According to the truth the penitent believer is “baptized into his death” (Rom.6:3,4), “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). It is here that he is made “free from sin” (Rom.6:18), has his sins “washed away” (Acts 22:16), enters Christ (Gal.3:27), and becomes a “new creature” (2 Cor.5:17).
The church, which is composed of the saved (Acts 2:47), is to be the “pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim.3:15). The ‘disciple indeed” is to “let his light so shine before men that others may see his good works and glorify his Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:13-16). The teacher must uphold the truth at all times in its purity and fullness as revealed by the Lord (2 Tim.2: 2; Jude 3).

Love and devotion to the truth leads the new creature to walk in the steps of him who “. . . left us an example. . . .” That he might “draw near with full assurance of faith having his heart sprinkled from an evil conscience and his body washed with pure water” (Heb.10:22).
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed in Him: If ye continue in my word then are ye my disciples indeed and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8: 31,32).

  • Will you recognise according to God’s standard that you are caught up in sin and need to rectify it?
  • Will you follow the steps provided by the unchangeable word that leads to freedom from sin?
  • Will you enter the church that is Christ’s body where the truth that sets you free is a “pillar and ground”?
  • If you are willing to follow, let it be known to Christ’s church that gathers in your neighborhood or reply to this post and let “us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18).

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