Study the Word: Bulletin Articles
“And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27). Death is an appointment which none of us will escape unless we are alive when the Lord returns. It is a Divine appointment as punishment for sin. It began with Adam and Eve’s banishment from Paradise where the “tree of life” dwelled (Gen. 3:22). Their inability to eat of that tree led to their certain death. God said to Adam in Genesis 3:19, “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” The father of the faithful, Abraham, said of himself, “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes…” (Gen. 18:27).
Modern medicine has made great strides in curing some illnesses and diseases, in lengthening life, and in helping us have a better quality of life while we are here. But make no mistake about it — man shall never eliminate death! It is a pipe dream that too many of us have subtly tried to accept as we attempt to avoid the inevitable. We have trusted in modern medicine to “cure” all our ills. But death sweeps over us silently and continually just the same.
What is my point? I am totally in favor of living a quality life, of taking advantage of the benefits of modern medicine, of natural medicine, and of medicine yet to be discovered. But I do not want us to pursue physical life at the expense of pursuing eternal life! You see, we can get so caught up in trying to exterminate certain diseases that we can forget that death is still certain! Do you know anyone living today who is over 125 years old? If not, then death is still inevitable. It is “appointed” for men to die once! So prepare for that appointment!
God appointed physical death because of sin and spiritual death! Through His eternal scheme of redemption, He negated the eternal effects of both physical and spiritual death to those who believe! Read carefully this truth from Hebrews 2:14-15: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Jesus Christ took on a physical body in order to live a sinless life, to become the sinless sacrifice for sin, and therefore, through His own physical death to destroy (1) Satan’s grip over mankind with the threat of endless death; and (2) Man’s hopeless fear of physical and spiritual death.
Let us never forget that physical death was caused by spiritual death! There is that inexorable connection! You cannot ignore sin and hope to eliminate physical death! But you never read of this in the medical journals, do you?
I remember seeing an interview on TV years ago between someone from the news and a famous singer. I recall the singer stated that her kids would take advantage of her when they knew she had to sing that night. They knew she couldn’t yell and raise her voice for fear of straining her vocal chords.
Obviously this kind of entertainer wanted to sound perfect when she sings. This begs the question, do Christians entertain God when they come together to worship Him? Do people think that our Creator wants His children to be like court jesters and magicians to amuse Him? Such thinking is ridiculous. This requires more of our attention since we live in an entertainment-infested society.
Take for example when Paul and Silas were cast into prison for being accused by the Jews for causing trouble (Acts 16:20). We are told that their clothes were torn off and they were beaten with rods. They were also put in the inner prison with their feet fastened to the stocks (vrs. 22-24). It would be odd to think they didn’t cry out in pain when many stripes were given to them (vr. 23).
Why did I bring up these men of God? Reason being, in verse 25, we are informed that it was midnight and these two were praying and singing. I wonder how “beautiful” their voices sounded. I don’t mean to be funny, but were they like the musical group, Simon and Garfunkel, that had perfect pitch and harmony? I think it is safe to assume that wasn’t the case. Nor should we conclude that they were trying to entertain the other prisoners and the Lord, even though they were heard by all.
The very reason you have religious groups bringing in all kinds of innovations is to help “improve” their worship for God. When saints are commanded, yes, commanded to sing (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:17), just where does that leave the person who can’t carry a tune in a bucket? Are those with a tin ear doomed to shut up and just listen to those better able to “perform” for God? Of course not! May we learn the lesson that we sing from the heart and God loves those who do such in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:24).
When we read through the scriptures and learn how godly people are to walk, there are just some things that are hard to imagine. I have made a short list of things that would seem so strange to proceed from the mouth of a Christian, yet I wonder how true they might actually be:
How can I do less for the Lord and still get by as being faithful?
How can I be faithful and still put my desires ahead of the Lord?
How can I fulfill my duty to sing praises to God without actually opening my mouth?
How can I be there for my brethren when I don’t want to be around them?
How can I convey to others that I have joy in being a Christian without ever smiling?
How can I fret about every little thing, yet tell people that I have the peace that passes all understanding?
How can I develop my abilities without ever volunteering to do anything?
How can I convey to the lost that I want them saved, but I refuse to talk to anyone?
How can I claim that I build others up, when all I do is criticize them?
How can I complain about people not being friendly to me when I am not friendly to them?
How can I be a positive example to my children when my actions at home don’t match my actions at worship?
How can I give to the Lord as little as I can and be happy with that, knowing I ought to give more?
This list could go on and on. The point I want us to see is that even though these can’t be done, it doesn’t mean people are not trying. Yes, it is futile, but as long as people convince themselves that they might be able to do it, they will continue to try. When Jesus said that no one can serve two masters, this didn’t stop people from trying (Matt. 6:24).
This reminds me of what James wrote, “Out of the same mouth proceed blessings and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring can yield both salt water and fresh.” (Jas. 3:10-12). You might argue that a person can cuss and say blessings. That is true, however, you can’t utter blessings and feel there are times when you can cuss.
There is a reason the word hypocrisy is found so much within the word of God. Such play acting is taken place by many in the spiritual realm. We all need to make sure we haven’t become such good actors that we have fooled ourselves. This is why self-evaluation is vital for the Christian (II Cor. 13:5). The reason saints are told not to be deceived is because many are (II Tim. 3:13).
When you read the twelve statements listed at the beginning of this article, you can’t help but realize people actually think these things. If we are not going to learn, we will be in for a rude awakening come judgment day.
We all know that people can live in a country and not be a citizen. They could either be an illegal immigrant or a legal immigrant. For the most part you can’t tell by just looking at someone whether they are a citizen or not. The only way you can tell if someone is a citizen of a certain country is to provide documentation. No, this is not a political article. The fact is that this concept of citizenship is taught in God’s word concerning the kingdom of Christ.
When someone becomes a Christian they then have the status required to gain citizenship into the spiritual kingdom, the church (Col. 1:13; Acts 2:47). The apostle Paul, in writing to the church at Ephesus, spent some time pointing out this aspect of citizenship and what it ought to mean to the brethren there. We will look at the text of Ephesians 2:19-22, to see the lessons that the apostle was pointing out.
“No longer strangers and foreigners” (vr. 19)
When someone dwells in a country without citizenship, he is considered by those who live it that country to be a stranger or foreigner. This isn’t meant to be rude, it’s just a fact. Paul knows this to be true spiritually. People can worship with Christians and pretty much do everything that other Christians do; however, if they have not become a Christian, they will be considered strangers and foreigners. This isn’t a minor technicality. You are either a citizen or you are not.
“fellow citizens with the saints” (vr. 19)
It matters not to the Lord if you are a 3rd generation of Christians or a 1st generation Christian. It’s not my place to look down on someone who is a new Christian just because his parents and grandparents were not part of the kingdom. Nor should a new convert feel like less of a citizen. The concept of being a fellow citizen means equal rights. We are all one in Christ (Gal. 3:27-28).
“built on the foundation of apostles and prophets and Jesus Christ” (vr. 20)
For a recent child of God, he or she can talk about the forefathers as their forefathers. It might seem odd for me and for those who hear me, when I become a citizen of the United States, to speak about “our” founding fathers of this nation. Those who have been citizens their whole life might deep down think, “Wait, they aren’t your founding fathers!” But, in truth, they are. Spiritually, the apostles, prophets, and Christ Jesus are not more of a foundation to older Christians as they are to recent one.
“the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (vr. 21)
The idea of every citizen working together following the same laws and having the same care for one another is appealing indeed. Not only that, we are talking about that which belongs to the Lord. Remember, we are in a kingdom that has a King. We have no problem being loyal subjects because of all the spiritual blessings that come with being in the household of God (Eph. 1:3-4). Therefore, being a holy nation will be the natural outcome. It’s no wonder that physical kingdoms in the world will never achieve this because they aren’t the kingdom of the Lord.
“built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (vr. 22)
When we stop and consider that way we act as citizens, would our God be pleased dwelling in our midst? The fact is, if He wouldn’t, then we are being disloyal and will be held accountable for our actions. May we all, as Christians, be proud to be a citizen and not take it for granted.
There is an interesting verse as the first epistle to the Corinthians comes to a close. In it, Paul admonished the brethren to accept Timothy as a fellow worker (I Cor. 16:10). He then went on to talk about Apollos, saying “Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time.” (vr. 12).
Think about how Paul had strongly urged Apollos to go to Corinth. It wasn’t a passing question like, “Hey Apollos, would you like to go?” There is no doubt the apostle had some strong reasons for wanting this man to go to Corinth. However, Apollos didn’t just say no. We are told that he was quite unwilling. It wasn’t that he despised the brethren at Corinth. The text make it clear that Apollos was very busy at that time and could not get away right then.
All of this teaches us an important lesson about respecting the opinions and advice of others. It wasn’t Paul’s place to “order” this teacher of God’s word to go to Corinth. Nor was Apollos showing disrespect to Paul, since he informed him that he would go when he had the time.
The danger that we must see is making assumptions which blow a situation out of proportion. For example, Apollos could have blasted Paul and assumed that Paul was thinking he wasn’t busy and could go at the drop of the hat. The apostle could have also told the brethren at Corinth that Apollos said he had something that was more important than coming to be with them. The fact is, whatever Apollos had going on, wasn’t to be measured by importance. Whatever he was doing needed to get done, and going to Corinth is something that was also needed.
All Christians would do well to learn from this example and work together and respect one another.