Study the Word: Bulletin Articles
I remember reading a comment made by a person who left the Lord’s church years ago stating, “The problem with members of the church of Christ is they don’t have confidence they are going to heaven.” This person may well have encountered Christians who felt that way, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s take a closer look.
The problem faithful people have with stating, “They are going to heaven” has to do with not wanting to take over the Lord’s role as being judge and be presumptuous (II Cor. 5:10). As students of the word,, saints also know that Christ spoke about those who thought for sure they were going to heaven but were mistaken (Matt. 7:21-23). So how should a child of God deal with this?
It’s important that we see the distinction between trusting in the Lord and trusting in ourselves. All who will be saved are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). Therefore, we know God’s grace is reliable, and we also know Christians can and do walk by faith (II Cor. 5:7). Even though people think grace means God overlooks sin, and people think one can walk by faith without scriptural authority, and creating a false hope, Christians know better.
Just because so many people in their foolish thinking have convinced themselves they are ready, it should not remove the confidence the faithful should have. Having said that, let’s look at the dangers that the Lord’s people face in being over confident.
The apostle Paul told the church at Corinth that they need to “take heed lest you fall” (I Cor. 10:12). There was a negative (warning) but balanced with the positive. We all need to see that there is not a Christian that could ever take heed lest they fall, if they couldn’t know what is right. The fact is, one can know if they are doing wrong, because they know what it means to be doing right and are capable of doing it!
In line with all of this, the same church was told to regularly examine themselves to make sure they are in the faith (II Cor. 13:5). The great thing is, in knowing the standard, they can always get back on track if they find that they have sinned (I Jn. 1:8-10). Our God is faithful and just to forgive us. Salvation is not earned, but it is that which we have to work out with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).
For the most part, answering out loud that we are okay spiritually might cause others to think we are bragging and being arrogant. Even with the cautions put in place over being over-confident, it doesn’t mean Christians can’t be confident. After all, the confidence is in the word of God and His grace. The last thing children of God need to be doing is questioning the inspired word and having doubt. After all, we are clearly told we can know the truth (Jn. 8:32).
Consider this: a man is asked, “Does you’re your wife love you?” If you answer yes, does it mean you’re puffed up as if you are the best husband in the world? It could, but not necessarily. Could it not simply be that you’re confident in your wife’s words and actions that she truly loves you? With such, would it be wrong to have a confidence and feel good inside? Obviously not. How much more so with our heavenly Father. He knows us and we know Him. We can have faith and with such, we can be pleasing to Him (Rom. 10:17; Heb. 11:6).
We ought to speak like Paul and say, “nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (II Tim. 1:12).
When you stop and think about it, it is silly to think God has changed as time has gone by. Reason being, our God doesn’t reckon time like man. We are told that a thousand years is like one day to Him (II Pet. 3:8). Not only that, we are talking about a Being without beginning or end. One who knew what was going to unfold thousands of years before it even happened (Gen. 12:1-3).
This brings us to man wanting to alter worship. Throughout history, mankind was punished over and over for making even the slightest changes to worship. From Cain (Gen. 4:1-6), to Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10:1-2), all the way to those in Christ’s time (Matt. 15:7-9). Any worship acceptable to the Lord always has to be according to His will, not man’s. Since the final message has been revealed (Jude 3; II Tim. 3:16-17), any changes to worship today, we know has come from the mind of man and not God.
In many religious circles today you find worship nothing more than an entertainment event designed to appeals to the masses. You can see how happy Satan is to see people wanting to serve the Lord by doing things Satan’s way. It’s like the garden all over again. We know that God has said that we must worship in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:24). Satan says, “Not in spirit and in truth.” And just like Eve, it is believed.
You can choose to presume to know what God approves of or you can choose to know by listening to His words. Until man realizes that worship is for God, he will continue to do what man likes rather than what is divinely approved. When Jesus said, “Unless you believe that I am He you will die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24), it is implied that we listen and do what He says. The fact that people say that their worship is for the Lord, doesn’t excuse, or make up for that fact they do things that are unauthorized.
The question we close with, are you worshipping the way the word of God instructs? Don’t assume or presume, study and know for certain.
We are told by our Lord to love everyone (Matt. 22:37-39). There is no question that it is hard to do such when someone is being unkind. Christ clearly states that if we love those who love us, what reward have we? (Matt. 5:46). It would do us well to remember that people who hurt people are hurting. Most of the time we just don’t know what others are going through.
Last week, our seven year old granddaughter went through something that broke our hearts. Let me first give you some background. Lucy is in the 1st grade and developed a friendship with a fellow student that didn’t have too many friends. This girl would often act odd and was struggling to learn things, of which Lucy would help her with. The teacher would say that Lucy would go out of her way to assist that girl in any way she could. Sometimes the girl would have to leave class when a counselor would have to come and take her out for being disruptive. There were even times this child would have to go home for getting sick all of a sudden.
Well, last week Lucy’s friend was taken to the hospital and they found out she had brain tumors, which explained the many problems she has had learning and her problems dealing with others. The child died this past week and the teacher called my daughter, Leah, to tell her how hard this was going to be on Lucy to help prepare her.
The lesson I learned from Lucy is that whether or not someone is ill, we should be willing to care for others. Part of me thinks, a seven year old doesn’t need to go through such. But what do you tell her, not to care for people? Of course not. Think of Jesus. Our Lord cared for everyone to the point of dying on the cross for those who didn’t love Him (Rom. 5:6-11). But would we have wanted to tell Jesus not to care? Of course not.
May we learn to love from our Master and from a seven year old who looked past the bad behavior that caused others to ignore her.
Jesus Christ came to give us freedom that comes through the truth that has been given (Jn. 8:32). This is why the gospel is referred to as the perfect law of liberty (Jas. 1:25). However, this great law came by means of Christ’s death and shedding of His blood (Matt. 26:28). This gospel message is perfect because it can free those who are under bondage to sin (Rom. 6:18).
Knowing the great price that had to be paid to provide those who want this freedom, many have failed to grasp what this means. By that I mean, so many people have come to the false conclusion that Jesus did what He did so we can do whatever we want. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Let’s take note of the can and can’t.
Freedom means you can and you can’t choose
(People can choose to do whatever they want, but it doesn’t mean the Lord automatically approves of what they do)
We all faces choices in this life. Because of what our Lord did, He made it possible for us to make the right choices since there is freedom in Christ. However, we do not have the freedom to do whatever we want!
Early last week I received an email from a gentleman who wanted me to deal with his Bible question on our TV program. He has sent a number of questions in the past. This one centers around something John the Baptist stated in Matthew 3:11. It reads, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” He wants to know what the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire means.
Let me first deal with a serious problem we face with most people that misunderstand this text. That is, they try to answer it without looking at examples in the Bible where this is fulfilled. This we will do later on in this article. But before we get to that, we need point out what is not in this verse. It’s assumptions that lead to false teaching.
When you read the text, John was not saying that everyone was going to receive the Holy Spirit. This we will clearly see when we examine the fulfillment of this promise. To take this text and teach that everyone in the future will be baptized by Jesus with the Holy Spirit is a clear mishandling of scripture. This is why there is so much false doctrine in the world today because people do this very thing with many verses in the Bible.
Let’s now study the context. This should help in ascertaining the meaning of Matthew 3:11. If you look at verse 10 and verse 12, you will see that John was dealing with two classes of people. There are those who are faithful to the Lord and those who are not. Thus, we are dealing with those being rewarded for being righteous and those being punished for being wicked. Why would we conclude that verse 11 isn’t linked with these truths?
Fire, in scripture, is often used to deal with the consequences for being evil (Jude 7; Matt. 25:41; II Thes. 1:8; Rev. 20:15 etc.). The word baptize means to immerse, which is a fitting term to describe those who will be baptized with fire. On the other hand, the faithful obtain the “gift of the Holy Spirit” when they become Christians (Acts 2:38). This gift is the hope of salvation, which every faithful saint enjoys.
This brings us to the fulfillment of those baptized by Jesus with the Holy Spirit. We need to see the link with Christ baptizing with the Holy Spirit and with providing the gift of the Holy Spirit for all the saved. Consider the promise Jesus gave His apostles concerning the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:13; Acts 1:8). Look at those passages carefully. For in them Jesus said His apostles would be guided into all truth and that it would happen when they were in Jerusalem. In Acts 2:1-4, the apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit. As they taught the life-saving message and people responded they could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit – which was that hope of eternal life.
In one sense, what John stated would apply to everyone. After all, with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, all of mankind would be able to hear the gospel in order to be saved (Rom. 1:16). Then the baptism of the fire deals with all those who reject the Lord and do not obey the gospel (II Thes. 1:8). Please keep in mind this all has to do with the scheme of redemption Christ brought to this world.
I realize there are those who say they have had a “religious experience” and say they were “Baptized with the Holy Spirit and/or with fire”, however the Bible teaches otherwise. Even though Matthew 3:11 is used to support this idea, such is not the case. Let’s be sure we handle the word of God properly and do not twist the scriptures to our own destruction (II Pet. 3:16).