Study the Word: Bulletin Articles
The first article got me to thinking once again about the commands that we have been given without being given the specifics. Meaning, we need to do what we are told even when no specifics are given.
- Study the word of God, without being told exactly when (II Tim. 2:15).
- Pray often without being told exactly when (I Thes. 5:17).
- Do good to all especially those of the household of God, without being told exactly when (Gal. 6:10).
- Spread the good news without being told exactly when (II Cor. 5:11).
- Meditate upon the word of God without being told exactly when (I Tim. 4:15).
- Give yourself to hospitality without being told exactly when (Rom. 12:13).
- Test the spirits to see whether they are of God without being told exactly when (I Tim. 4:1).
- Examine yourselves whether you are in the faith without being told exactly when (II Cor. 13:5).
- Build others up in their faith without being told exactly when (I Thes. 5:11).
- Rejoice and again rejoice without being told exactly when (Phil. 4:4).
- Be thankful for everything without being told exactly when (I Thess. 5:18).
Recently in our Sunday morning Bible study class we studied the text of I Timothy 5:3-16, dealing with duties of children with a widow parent. It is not the purpose of this article to go back over all the things we studied; however, it was brought to my attention that it would be good to expand on the hardships children often face in having to look after an elderly parent.
The fact is this: just as parents make tough decisions in raising their children, the same happens when taking care of aged parents. Often it comes down to judgment calls. We might be quick to judge harshly someone who puts their parent in a facility that is unwanted. To this we need to be careful. There are times when around the clock medical attention is required. A son or daughter may not be qualified to handle certain needs.
None of the judgment calls that we are talking about ever provides justification for abandonment. I knew of a couple that were blessed with the opportunity to grow very old together. The downside is that it got to the point where one couldn’t physically take care of the needs of their mate. The one was eventually put in a nursing home so she could get around the clock care. The husband got up each morning and went down and spent the day with her. He did that until she passed. My point is that it wasn’t a case of not wanting to care for her, it was that he couldn’t. The same thing can happen with children.
Not all decisions that parents make for their children are understood and appreciated. The same can happen with parents toward their grown children. The important thing to remember is whatever life changing decisions that need to be made for a parent, remember Paul’s words to Timothy, “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (I Tim. 5:8).
It’s not necessarily wrong to do something for a parent that makes it better for everyone. The danger is in trying to justify passing off one’s responsibilities by saying it is better for everyone when it is truly only better for you. There is no question that it is very hard for anyone who is looking after a parent on their own. I have personally seen family members age long before their time because of the stress and work that is involved in looking after a loved one.
This is something brothers and sisters need to be aware of. In Galatians 6:2, we are told to bear one another’s burdens. This might mean to volunteer to sit with the member’s parent while they have a night off. It also might be needed to give some objective advice that might be hard to utter. It is very difficult to hear advice that encourages you to seek professional care, when you feel that no one else should do your job. The text of I Timothy 5 wasn’t written to cast guilt upon loyal and loving children who are unable to personally handle all the physical needs.
One of the hardest things any child has to face is when the parent no longer is able to think properly to express their wishes. Gaining the power of attorney is a double edge sword. On one hand, a person can now make decisions that is best for someone else without their permission. However, there can be a lot of doubt and stress, hoping that they choose what their parent would have wanted.
It’s such a wonderful blessing to have our parents live a long life. The reality is that everyone will someday die (Heb. 9:27). Children, as they get older and have families of their own need to think and plan for what will eventually come as their parents age. Also, parents need to also be thinking about things to help make it easier for their children for when that time comes. To not talk about it can create so many more problems. The Bible lesson today is that even though we make many judgment calls, let’s never forget our God given duties.
At first reading, one would conclude that the apostle John stated that once a person becomes a Christian he/she no longer sins. Here is what John wrote, “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” (I Jn. 3:9). Is that true? Are saints sinless? Let’s take a closer look.
We need to go back to the first chapter to help us understand what is being taught. The apostle included himself when he told brethren, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (I Jn. 1:8). Notice that this inspired writer included himself by saying, “we”. Are we to assume that John, not any of the brethren that he is addressing, are born of God?
How can we harmonize the two statements that were uttered? Is this a case of a clear contradiction within the word of God? To that we say no. The apostle was inspired to write both and it is our duty to study and rightly divide them. The danger is in reading more into what was said. That actually goes for both. It is just as wrong to assume John, in the first chapter, was condoning the practice of sin, as it would be to conclude in chapter three he is now advocating perfection.
Christians are never allowed to sin. In I John 2:1, the brethren were told, “My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin.” All sin is evil and and has serious consequences unless repented of (Rom. 6:23; Lk. 13:3). There is not a hint of tolerance for sinning. We are commanded to resist the wiles of the devil (Jas. 4:7). But, when sin happens, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus (I Jn. 2:1).
This leads us to the text where John stated that those born of God cannot sin (I Jn. 3:9). What is John saying here, knowing he previously stated he and other saints have sinned? Firstly, the word “cannot” doesn’t mean they can’t. For example in Luke 16:3, Jesus spoke a parable where a steward said within, “What shall I do? For my master is taking the stewardship away from me. I cannot dig; I am ashamed to beg.” It wasn’t this man couldn’t dig. The same point is illustrated again by our Lord when He stated concerning someone who came to a friend a midnight, “and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’?” (Lk. 11:7). It wasn’t that he couldn’t get up.
In John’s epistle he wasn’t saying those born of God won’t sin. If you read the whole text in I John 3:4-9, you can see the point is that those born of God will not abide in sin. In verse 7, it was said that those who “practice righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.” One born of God does not practice lawlessness. When and if they sin, they immediately repent. To walk in sin and not care, you cannot say they have Christ’s seed remaining in them (vr. 9). To be righteous, a saint must practice righteousness, not just do one act of righteousness.
Peter, Simon, John, the church at Ephesus, and all other Christians are born of God. For them to say they are, they better not have unrepented sin in their lives. Why? Because, as John wrote, those born of God do not abide in a sinful state. This is the comfort given to all who are baptized into Christ. To live in fear that if they ever sin again they might question their conversion. Paul taught that in Christ Jesus one can have the forgiveness of sin (Eph. 1:7). This spiritual blessing is for Christians. Why say such if Christians don’t sin once they are part of God’s family?
This article is a far cry from making allowances for sinning. When we do sin, there better be godly sorrow that leads to repentance, else we are not born of God (II Cor. 7:10). Read that text – it was talking about a fallen brother. May we rightly divide the word.
Ever notice how two people can be saying the exact same thing but mean two totally different things? You can have two people both quote John 3:16, where it says that those who believe will not perish. One says it means faith only, where the other says it is an active obedient faith (Jas. 2:24). If a person doesn’t see the difference he can be following false doctrine. Here are a few others to be aware of:
John 9:29 Knowing no one can be plucked from the Father’s hand, two people will say you can be once saved always saved. It is true a person can be saved and stay that way by being faithful until death (Rev. 2:10). It’s something else to teach when a person is saved they can never so sin as to lose their salvation. That is not true. Yes, no one can pluck us from the Father’s hand, but we can leave it on our own (Jas. 5:19-20). We better see the difference.
Acts 2:38 Knowing that a person must repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, two people can say we must have the remission of sins. It is true that all mankind needs the remission of sins, but there is a difference in saying repent and be baptized for the remission of sins and repent for the remission of sins and then you can get baptized. The word “and” makes repentance and baptism essential for salvation. We better see the difference.
Matthew 16:18 Knowing that Jesus said He would build His own church, two people will say there is only one church. It is true that both can acknowledge Jesus didn’t say churches. However, there is a difference in saying Christ’s church is His of which He is the Head and His doctrine must be adhered to (Col. 1:18; II Jn. 9), and saying Christ’s church is made up of various denominations. We better see the difference.
Psalm 51:5 Knowing that in sin David’s mother conceived him, two people will say that mankind is born in sin. Yet, it is vital that we see the difference between teaching children are born sinners and a child is born into a sinful world (Ezek. 18:20). We better know the difference.
You might be asking; how do you know Jesus is coming in 2018? It’s because He came in 2017, and every day since He went back to heaven (Acts 1:9-11). No, I am not talking about His second coming, the end of time. I am talking about our Lord changing the lives of people who respond to His message and dwelling within them.
While addressing the brethren at Ephesus, Paul told them, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height –to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:17-19).
Saints do look forward to when Christ does return so they can spend eternity in heaven, but due to faith they get to enjoy peace within the heart because of Christ being there. The lesson that needs to be learned is how that occurs. It isn’t so much “asking Jesus to come into your heart” as it is, what happens when you hear and obey His word.
This same idea is given to the church at Philippi, when the apostle told the brethren to have the same mind as Christ (Phil. 2:5). Those who think like Christ are not those who are possessed by the Lord and no longer think for themselves. It is those who know how Christ thinks, through His written word, and follow it. Only those who know Jesus would know what Jesus would do!
When we go into all the world and spread the gospel (Mk. 16:15), it is true that the message contains the 2nd coming. However, mankind also needs to know that Jesus is very much alive and can dwell in the hearts of those who will walk by faith believing what the Son of God says. Since brethren can and do fall away (I Tim. 4:1; II Pet. 2:20-22), man is the one who decides to have Christ dwell within them, or depart.
Knowing all of this we can say with confidence that Christ is coming in 2018 for anyone who will accept His teachings and obey them.