Preaching to the Spirits in Prison

Preaching to the Spirits in Prison

I Peter 3:18-20

Introduction:

  1. “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” 1 Peter 3:18-20 (King James Version).

Discussion:

A common interpretation of this passage is that those who lived during Noah’s time and died in a lost condition were imprisoned in Hades (specifically Tartarus, the realm of the wicked). It is believed that, during the time between Christ’s death and his resurrection, Christ went to these people and preached the gospel to them.

This cannot be correct for a number of reasons. First, the spiritual condition of a person when he dies is the same as his spiritual condition at the time of the general resurrection. While death is followed by judgment (Hebrews 9:27), there is nothing in the Bible to indicate that those who have died are ever given an opportunity to repent.

Second, in the account of the rich man and Lazarus, it is said that the realm of the dead includes a great gulf between the evil and the righteous. Luke 16:16. This gulf is “fixed” and does not allow for passage from one area to the other.

Third, Why would Jesus preach only to those who lived in Noah’s day? Why not preach to everyone who died prior to Christ death? God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:3) and wants everyone to repent and be saved (II Peter 3:9).

Fourth, just minutes before Christ death, Christ told one of the thieves he would be with him in Paradise. (Luke 23:4)

What then, does I Peter 3:18-20 teach? Christ was made alive in the spirit, in which, during the days of Noah, he preached to evil people whose spirits are now (at the time of Peter’s writing) imprisoned (or confined) to punishment in Tartarus.

How did this preaching take place? The same way it takes place today – through men. In the context of I Peter 3, the preaching took place through Noah (a preacher of righteousness, II Peter 2:5). In connection with I Peter 3, notice I Peter 1:11, where it is said that the spirit of Christ was in the Old Testament prophets.

When someone does something through the agency of another person, it can be said that he (the first person) did it. For example, Nathan told David he killed Uriah. (II Samuel 12:9). Yet we know David did not personally take a sword and kill Uriah. But, because David arranged for Uriah to be killed, it can be said that David killed Uriah. In the same manner, because Christ preached through Noah, it can be said that Christ preached to the spirits in prison.

What lessons can we learn from the text?

First, people today, just like in Noah’s day, are saved through the medium of God’s word. James wrote that we are to receive with meekness the engrafted word which is able to save our souls. (James 1:21). No one has ever been saved from their sins without first hearing the word of God. (Romans 10:17).

Second, God is patient. The statement from Genesis 6:3, “yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years,” would seem to refer to the time Noah would spend building the ark. During this time, Noah was preaching to the lost and pleading with them to repent. Today, God is patiently pleading for people to repent. (II Peter 3:9).

Third, today, just as in Noah’s day, few will be saved. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14).

    Conclusion:

    1. What’s important for us to remember from this passage is that Christ died for us so that we might be made righteous before God, cleansed of our sins, and live life on this earth with hope of an eternity in heaven.

    David Crosby Thinks Heaven is Overrated

    David Crosby, a founding member of the music groups “The Byrds” and “Crosby, Stills and Nash” (which later became “Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young” died Wednesday, January 18, 2023 at the age of 81.  Several news sources have reported that, just hours before his death, he went on Twitter and, speaking of heaven, said, “I heard the place is overrated……cloudy”

    When I first read his statement I wasn’t sure what to think.  Was it an attempt at a joke?  If so, it was a very bad joke.  Was he seriously expressing how he felt?  If so, how sad! Was this really his idea of heaven?  If so, how misinformed.  My own thought centered on two ideas.  One, it is impossible to overrate, or overstate, the beauty of heaven.  Two, it is impossible to overstate, or exaggerate, the pain of the alternative – an eternity in hell.

    First, consider the beauty of heaven.  In heaven, we will be with God forever.  The apostle Paul wrote, “13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”  I Thessalonians 4:13-17.  Christians experience fellowship with God now.  In heaven, we will be in the presence of God.

    In heaven, there will be neither sadness or sorrow.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:4. God will wipe away all tears.  The burdens of this life will have all passed away.

    In heaven, there will be no more sin.  “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:27.

    In heaven, the redeemed will be able to “enter into the joy of their Lord.” Matthew 25:21

    In this life, men may often say, “All good things must come to an end.”  Not so in heaven for heaven is eternal! “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Matthew 25:46.

    On the flip side, it’s impossible to overstate the pain of hell.

    Hell is where Satan and all his angels will be.  “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” Matthew 25:41.

    Hell is described as the second death.  “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” Revelation 20:14. Just as death always involves a separation, the term “second death” implies those in hell will be forever separated from God and His people.

    Those doomed to hell will spend their eternity with murderers, the sexually immoral, hypocrites, the detestable and liars. “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8.

    Hell is a place where their will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  “And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 24:51. “Weeping and gnashing of teeth” is a figurative expressing indicating the intense pain felt by hell’s inhabitants.

    The pain of hell will be eternal.  “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Matthew 25:46. When experiencing pain in this life, we can find some degree of comfort in knowing that it will end.  Not so in hell!

    This list is certainly not exhaustive.  But it should be enough to answer the question, “Is heaven overrated?”  Is heaven overrated?  Not at all! 

    Heaven is where I want to spend eternity.  And it’s where I want everyone reading this to be!  Thankfully, God has not left us in the dark as to how we can have that heavenly home.  We must all believe that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, having willingly died on the cross as the only sacrifice that can provide forgiveness of our sin (Romans 10:9-10).  We must come to a recognition of our sin and repent of our sin (Acts 17:30).  We must then confess our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior (Romans 10:10) and be baptized into order to receive the forgiveness of our sin (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:1-4; Galatians 3:27; I Peter 3:21).  We must then live a life of faithfulness of God.  What a tragedy it is to see those who were once faithful decide to forfeit their salvation (II Peter 2:10; II Peter 2:20-22)!

    Where Do You Look to Find Jesus?

    Where do you look to find Jesus today?  Where is he?  No, that’s not a trick question.  It’s a simple question with an easy answer.  But, before we answer that question, we’re going to take a few minutes to see where different people have looked for Jesus in the past.

    Let’s begin with the shepherds in Luke 2:8-16 – “8And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.”

    Of all the births that have ever taken place, Christ’s birth is without a doubt the most significant.  It surpasses all others.  Christ’s birth was a fulfillment of thousands of years of prophecy.  Isaiah wrote, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah 9:6. 

    This was nothing less than God coming to earth to live in a physical body.  Notice from John 1:1 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  In verse fourteen of that same chapter we find the following – “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” 

    I’m thankful Christ was born.  If Christ had never been born you and I would have no other option but to hopelessly live in our sin.  But if I could go back to that same manger today, I wouldn’t find Jesus.  He’s not there. 

    Next, consider the wise men as they search for Jesus.  Pay close attention as we read Matthew 2:1-11.  You may find that things didn’t take place quite like you thought.  Or at least, not quite like you’ve always heard they did.

    “1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” Matthew 2:1-11.

    Did you notice where they wise men found Jesus?  Not at the manger, as is so often portrayed on Christmas cards.  Not at the manger, as is so often depicted in the displays in people’s yards at Christmas time.  Notice verse 11 – “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary.”  This was some time after Christ was born.  Some say it may have been about six weeks.  It’s very likely may have been close to two years after His birth.

    Yeah, but you may be thinking, “I thought the wise men came to the manger, bringing gold, frankincense and myrhh.”  I can see how you thought that too.  After all, it’s what you’ve always heard.  If you hear something often enough and long enough, you may start to believe it.  But when you study the Bible yourself, you may find a lot of things you hear are not in the Bible. 

    Now let’s consider Joseph of Arimathea and where he looked to find Jesus. Let’s read from Luke 23:44-56 – “44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. 46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. 47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man. 48 And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned. 49 And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things. 50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: 51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. 54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. 55 And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. 56 And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.”

    Verse 53 says Joseph took him down, meaning he took Christ down from the cross.  I’m thankful for the cross.  I believe if we are going to get closer to God, we need to get closer to the cross.  Meaning we need to always meditate on the things that took place at the cross.  To never let the events at the cross slip from our mind.

    But, while I worship the one who was on the cross, I don’t worship the cross.  While we may sing the words of the old hymn, “So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,” we understand that we don’t cherish the cross itself.  We cherish the one who willingly went to the cross. And I certainly can’t go back to the cross and find Jesus.

    Next, let’s read Luke 24:1-2 and see where Mary Magdalene and others went to find Jesus.  “1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. 3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 8 And they remembered his words, 9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. 11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. 12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.”

    Can you imagine how these women felt when they found the tomb empty?  When they found the stone had been rolled away? When they saw Jesus body was gone and then saw two men in shing garments (undoubtedly angels) they were afraid.  They knew Jesus died.  These women knew Jesus had been placed in the tomb.  But now, he wasn’t there!

    Notice verse five as the angels ask, “Why seek ye the living among the dead?”  A tomb is where you expect to find dead people.  But Jesus was alive!  Notice verse six, “He is not here.  He is risen.”  I’m thankful Jesus is risen!  When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he said if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not raised and we would not be raised either.  But Paul went on to say that Christ was raised and His resurrection makes our resurrection possible.  Jesus taught that one day all who are in the grave would be resurrected.  “28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28-29.  ALL are going to be raised, the righteous unto eternal life and the unrighteous unto damnation.

    Some want to celebrate the empty tomb at certain times of the year.  And yes, I’m thankful the tomb was found empty.  I can’t go back to the tomb and find Jesus.  He’s not there!

    Where is Jesus now?  Where should I look to find him?  Let’s read Acts 1:9-11 – “9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”  He’s in heaven of course!

    Peter wrote that Christ has gone on to heaven and is now at the right hand of God. I Peter 3:22. Because Christ has all authority, angels, authorities and powers are subject unto him.

    I Timothy 6:15 teaches us that Christ is now serving as Lord of lords and King of kings. 

    Christ’s birth, His resurrection, His empty tomb, and His ascension to heaven is of no benefit to me unless I willingly submit to His authority as King of kings.  All these things are of no benefit to me unless I allow Him to be Lord of my life – unless I willingly conform my life to His will, allowing Him to make me what He wants me to be!

    Where do you look to find Jesus?  He’s in heaven at the right hand of God, now serving as Lord of lords and King of kings!

    Neither Shall He Eat!

    If a man doesn’t work, neither should he eat!  We often use this thought, taken from II Thessalonians 3:10, to justify our refusal to provide benevolent help to certain ones who may be in need.  Is this really the point of this verse?

    Let’s look at this verse in its context. “7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; 8 Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: 9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. 10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. 13 But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. 14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (II Thessalonians 3:7-15.)

    First, from verse 7, Paul stated his conduct among the Thessalonians was blameless.  Paul said he had not acted disorderly.  The word Paul used in his writing, translated disorderly, was a military term, meaning “not keeping rank” or “insubordinate.”

    Next, from verse eight, Paul did not eat anyone’s bread for nought, meaning free of charge. The ESV translates this, “nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it.” Paul labored with travail, or painful effort, night and day. Paul did so in order that he would not be chargeable to any of those at Thessalonica, meaning he would not be a burden to them.

    From verse nine, Paul certainly had power, or authority, to be supported in his work.  But, as a result of his laboring among the church at Thessalonica, Paul became an example for others to follow.

    From verses ten through twelve, we know that when Paul was previously with the church at Thessalonica, he had commanded them that, if any would not work, neither should he eat.  Paul had received news that there were some in Thessalonica who were walking disorderly, out of rank or insubordinate, in that they did not work at all and were busybodies.  Evidently, there were some in Thessalonica who expected Christ to come very soon (II Thessalonians 2:1-3).  They chose to quit working and fell into a state of laziness, idling biding the time as they waited for the return of Christ.  In verse twelve, Paul repeated the thought that they should work and quietly be about their own business.

    From verses fourteen through fifteen, if any man did not obey the commandment to work, the church was to note that man, meaning they were to mark him and take cautionary note of the one who refused to obey.  They were to have no company with him, that he might be ashamed.  They were not to count him as an enemy, but rather admonish him as a brother. 

    Did you notice Paul’s comments in verse fifteen?  They were to admonish him “as a brother.” It is obvious the man who refused to work was a Christian.  A member of the church at Thessalonica.  Paul’s admonition to “have no company with him” could not apply to someone in the world, living outside the body of Christ.  The thrust of II Thessalonians 3:7-5 is not the need for man to work.  The principal concern of the passage deals with the church’s responsibility to withdraw from fellow Christians who refuse to work

    Obviously, God expects man to support himself through his work.   God has always expected man to labor. Beginning with the creation of Adam, God has expected man to work and be productive (Genesis 2:15).  Paul taught that man is to work with his hands, not only to provide for his own needs but to provide for others who were in need (Ephesians 4:28).

    My advice to those who go down the path of deciding whose is worthy of help and who is not is this – proceed with caution!  But some will be quick to say, “We are to be good stewards of that which God has placed in our hands!”  Of course, we are!  But, in light of the fact that everything we have is a blessing God has placed in our hands, and over which we are not owners, but mere stewards, we ought to think long and hard before we decide to withhold those blessings from others.

    Whom of us is deserving of all that which we have been blessed? I’m thankful that God has blessed me in spite of my “bad habits” and those times in which I may not have “given my best effort” to life’s endeavors. It is interesting that God makes his sun rise on the evil and the good and sends his rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45). The unjust are those who do not conform their lives to what is right – yet God sends them his blessings!

    Does II Thessalonians 3:7-15 apply to all those who refuse to work, including those within and without the Lord’s church?  Perhaps.  We’ll leave that discussion for another day.   But for now, let’s remember this – never take a passage out of its context to justify why we do, or don’t do, what God has commanded!

    When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, I See the Power of the Blood

    It frees us from the bondage of sin. It takes the dark, crimson stain of sin and makes it white as snow. It makes peace with God possible. It’s what makes the forgiveness of our sin possible. What can do all this? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

    Christ’s blood has a power found in no other blood. No wonder we sing the sing “There is power, power, wonder working power in the precious blood of the Lamb.” Listen to find three characteristics of Christ’s blood that give it its wonder working power.

    When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, I See the Obedience of Christ

    What do you see when you look at the cross of Christ? A simple outline of a body hanging on the cross? A cross made of rough pieces of wood? Do you see the crowd as they gathered out of curiosity around the cross watching the events take place? There’s much more than this to see when you take time to survey the wondrous cross.

    The Disrespect For Marriage Act

    On July 19, 2022, all Democratic members of Congress, along with forty-seven Republicans, voted to pass the Respect for Marriage Act. The fate of the bill in the Senate is uncertain. The Act, introduced by Democrat Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which defined marriage as a union only between a man and a woman. The Respect for Marriage Act seeks to defend same-sex marriages by preventing states from denying same-sex couples the right to marry.


    A more appropriate name for the Act would be the Disrespect for Marriage Act. The marriage relationship was instituted by God and can only be defined by God. When God first created a mate suitable for Adam, he created a woman. Genesis 2:21-24. Jesus reiterated God’s definition of and design for marriage in Matthew 19:4-6. “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” From the beginning of time, God has defined marriage as a relationship between MALE and FEMALE. Jesus said for this cause shall a MAN leave father and mother and cleave to his WIFE.


    While same-sex marriages and homosexual/lesbian relationships have many defenders, they have no defense. God’s Word clearly and unequivocally teaches that these relationships are sinful and unacceptable to God. “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” Romans 1:24-32.


    Notice what the inspired writer, the Apostle Paul, wrote to the church at Corinth. I Corinthians 6:9-10. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”


    Search the scriptures and you’ll find every time God speaks of the marriage relationship it is always between a man (male) and a woman (female). No exceptions!


    Those who continue to support same-sex marriages bring reproach to our country. “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34.

    A Fetus in the Womb is a Human Being!

    Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines abortion as “the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus.”  It is interesting to note that the same dictionary defines death as “the end of life.”  Combining these two definitions, it would be fair to say that an abortion can be considered as “the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the end of the life of an embryo or fetus.”

    There has been much in the news lately about the decision of the United States Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade.  While emotions are “riding high” on either side, all need to remember the Supreme Court did not ban abortions.  The Court simply decided the United States Constitution does not provide anyone with the right to an abortion.  In so doing, the Court sent the issue back to the individual states to decide.

    It’s easy for a person to come to his, or her, own opinion about the acceptability of having an abortion. With that in mind, it would benefit all of us to consider what the Bible, the inspired Word of God, has to say about abortion. (While I am unaware of any Biblical translations that use the word “abortion,” the Bible nonetheless teaches principles that allow us to come to a reasonable and fair conclusion concerning the acceptability, or unacceptability, of abortions.)

    First, consider the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 12:7.  In describing the aging process of man and man’s eventual death, Solomon wrote, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”  Notice that man’s spirit comes from God, the creator of all life.  Anyone’s life is very special to God!  Ending another person’s life is no frivolous matter!

    But what about a fetus?  Is a fetus a human being?  Does a fetus deserve to be protected just as any other person’s life should be?  There are numerous passages from the Bible that affirm that a “fetus in the womb” is a human being with a spirit and, as such, is deserving of protection. For now, let’s consider just two.

    The first is from Ecclesiastes 11:5. “As you do not know the way the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything.”  Solomon, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote that the development of a fetus in the womb is an activity, or work, of God.  Also, notice the phrase, “spirit comes to the bones in the womb.”  God gives a spirit to a person while that person is yet in his mother’s womb!

    Our second text is from Exodus 21:22-25.  “When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman’s husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. But if there is harm, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.”

    This passage is discussing what takes place when a pregnant woman is accidentally injured.  Two men are fighting and accidentally injure a pregnant bystander, resulting in the premature birth of her child.  If neither the mother nor baby is harmed, the Law of Moses stipulated that the person who caused the injury to pay a fine.  But if the fighting resulted in the injury, or death, of the child, the Law of Moses stipulated an equal punishment.  The person who caused the injury and resultant death was to be executed.  This passage clearly, undoubtedly, unequivocally and without hesitation considers this preborn infant to be a human being. 

    The above passage calls for the execution of the guilty party in case of an accident.  Imagine how God must feel concerning those involved in the willful and intentional act of murdering the unborn!  One of the things the scriptures note as an abomination to God is hands that shed innocent blood.  Proverbs 6:17. You’ll never find anyone more innocent than an unborn child in his, or hers, mother’s womb.

    Life clearly begins at conception and is deserving of every means of protection we can provide!

    Another Pride Month Has Come and Gone

    June 2022, designated “Pride Month” by many, has come and gone.  Consider just some of the things that took place this past month. Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and Zulu all have a page to honor Pride Month.  Several clothing manufacturers, including Adidas, American Eagle, and Converse, have a line of clothing celebrating the homosexual lifestyle.  Disney, long touted as family friendly, has gone to great lengths to promote the homosexual lifestyle.  An increasing number of cities promoted gay pride parades, many even encouraging very young children to attend.  The city of Tulsa, OK hosted a “Weekend of Pride.” President Biden’s Department of Food and Nutrition Service, an agency within the USDA, announced it will strip money, especially for lunches, from schools who don’t allow trans students to use the bathroom of their desired gender.  Pizza Hut, as part of its “Book It” reading program, featured a book about drag kids.  ESPN’s Sarah Spain called Tamp Bay Rays players bigots for not wearing a gay pride patch on their uniform.  In Dallas, a gay bar hosted a “Drag the Kids to Pride” event, aimed at little kids, even with babies in attendance.  Drag queens danced in front of the little children while the kids were encouraged to give them money.  Some of the children were invited onstage to dance with the performers.  Michigan’s openly gay Attorney General said “Drag queens make everything better.  Drag queens are fun.”  She went on to say “a drag queen for every school is needed.” New York City shelled out $200,000 to bring drag queen performers to public schools.  And the list goes on and on.

    What was once recognized as sin is now considered by many to be an acceptable lifestyle.  Even many of those in the religious world are now recognizing same-sex marriages.  Some even allow homosexuals to serve as “pastors.” What do the scriptures have to say about homosexuality?

    It is good to be reminded that only God, man’s creator, can define what is right and what is wrong.  When man attempts to do so he is bound to fail.  “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” (Jeremiah 10:23)

    Homosexuality is condemned in Genesis 19:1-11, the account of Sodom and Gomorrah. While some try to make the men of Sodom guilty of nothing more than inhospitality, the, fair and unbiased reader of the Bible is forced to conclude that God destroyed the men of Sodom on account of their sinful practice of homosexuality.

    Consider Leviticus 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.”

    From the New Testament, homosexuality is condemned in Romans 1:26-32 – “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions.  For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

    But friends, there is hope for those who are guilty of homosexuality, just as there is hope for those who are guilty of any sin.  When Christ died on the cross, He died for ALL of mankind.  Anyone who repents of his or her sin and turns to God, seeking to comply with God’s conditions for forgiveness, can be saved from his or her sin.

    Notice 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” We learn from this passage that homosexuals CAN change.  Notice Paul’s words – “And such WERE some of you.  But ye were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God.”

    In an effort to justify homosexuality, it is often said that “God made them that way. They were born homosexuals.”  Friends, that’s just not true! Homosexuality is a learned behavior. It is true that someone may have certain dispositions toward homosexual behavior., perhaps as a result of childhood sexual trauma or improper training as a child.  However, that is entirely different from saying someone was born a homosexual. No one is born a homosexual and none of these dispositions change the fact that homosexuality is sinful.

    The blood of Christ has the power to cleanse man of any and every sin he has committed.  God will forgive any and all who repent of their sin (Acts 17:30), confess their faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 8:37) and are then baptized for the forgiveness of their sin (Acts 2:38)  But no one can be saved from his sin as long as he persists in his sin and refuses to repent.

    The New Testament Church

    It is estimated that there are more than 2,000 different religious groups in the United States. Yet, the New Testament speaks of only one church. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). What was this one church like? Does it exist today? If so, can we find it, and how? Let’s consider the following points.

    First, the New Testament church was built according to a pattern. A pattern is something to be duplicated, or copied. Just as God provided a pattern for the ark of Noah’s day and the tabernacle of Moses’ day, he has provided a pattern for the church. Notice Paul’s words from Romans 6:17, “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.” Also notice from II Timothy 1:13, “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”

    Second, the New Testament church was built according to prophecy. Joel prophesied that it would be built in the last days when the Spirit was poured out. Joel wrote, “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions; And also on my menservants and on My maid servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: Blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the Lord has said, Among the remnant whom the Lord calls” (Joel 2:28-32). Daniel prophesied that Christ’s kingdom, the church, would be built during the days of the Roman kings (Daniel 2:44). Isaiah also prophesied concerning the time when the church would be built. “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord’s house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths, For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:1-4). We read in Acts 2:1-47 that all this came about, just as the prophets had prophesied. Notice Acts 2:16, where Peter speaks, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.”

    Third, the New Testament church was a part of God’s eternal purpose. Paul wrote, “To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all people see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:8-11). Some, such as those who teach the doctrine of premillenialism, perceive the church to be an afterthought, a “Plan B” if you will, that was concocted after Jesus was rejected by the Jews. But this idea is contrary to what Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus.

    Fourth, the New Testament church was built by Jesus Christ. Jesus promised, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus is the church’s foundation and chief cornerstone (I Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:19-22). Jesus shed his blood for the church. Notice Paul’s exhortation to the elders at Ephesus, recorded in Acts 20:28. “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which he purchased with His own blood.”

    Fifth, the New Testament church had a specific organization. Jesus Christ is the head of the New Testament church (Ephesians 1:22-23). A plurality of elders, or pastors, are appointed to oversee local congregations (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17; Acts 20:28; Titus 1:5-7). They are required to meet specific qualifications (I Timothy 3:1-7). Deacons are to be appointed as servants of the church (Philippians 1:1; I Timothy 3:8-13).

    Sixth, the New Testament church had a specific pattern of worship. They met on the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:1-2). They observed the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis (Acts 20:7). They worshipped in prayer (Acts 2:42). They sang praises to God (Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16-17). This was done without the accompaniment of mechanical instruments of music. The New Testament church was edified by the preaching of the gospel (II Timothy 4:2-4). Those persons who were members of the New Testament church gave of their means financially on the first day of every week (I Corinthians 16:1-2). This giving by the members of the church made it possible for the church to carry out its work.

    Seventh, the New Testament church had a work to do. They had a responsibility to preach the gospel to the whole world. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20.) Also notice Jesus’ words in Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” The church served as the pillar and ground of the truth (I Timothy 3:15). The church had a role in helping to edify those who are saved (Ephesians 4:12). The church had a responsibility to help the needy, both those who were Christians and those who were not. Paul wrote, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10.) Notice James’ words James 1:27, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

    Eighth, the New Testament church was united. There were no different denominations, there was simply one church. Can you imagine Peter being a Catholic, Paul a Methodist, John a Presbyterian, James a Baptist, Mark a Lutheran, and, well, you get the idea. But the current situation of our day is no more acceptable to Christ than it would have been in the days of James, Paul, or Peter. The phrase “churches of Christ” in Romans 16:16 simply refers to individual congregations of the Lord’s church, not a variety of different denominations, each going by a different name and teaching a different doctrine. The Bible condemns the division that exists in the religious world today. Paul wrote, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you are perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, I am of Paul, or I am of Apollos, of I am of Cephas, or I am of Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (I Corinthians 1:10-13). Jesus prayed that all those who believed in him would be united. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who believe in Me through their word; that they may all 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 17:20-21). How were Jesus and the Father united? How were they one? By simply agreeing to disagree? By agreeing to recognize their doctrinal differences? Not hardly. They were one in their thought and in their teaching.

    False teachers in the early church were marked. “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18).

    Ninth, the New Testament church maintained the divine standard of morality. Works of the flesh were condemned. Paul wrote, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

    Those who walked disorderly were withdrawn from. Paul wrote, “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us” (II Thessalonians 3:6). To the church at Corinth, Paul wrote, “But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner – not even to eat with such a person” (I Corinthians 5:11).

    Members of the New Testament church were known by their love for one another. “Now all who believe were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:44-47).

    Tenth, those who were in the New Testament church had a common hope. They realized they were “strangers and pilgrims on this earth” (I Peter 2:11). Their citizenship was in heaven. Paul wrote, “For our citizenship is in heaven, form which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

    Eleventh, the New Testament church had specific conditions of membership. Prior to becoming a member of the New Testament church, a person had to hear the gospel. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). He had to believe the gospel (Mark 16:16). He had to repent of his sins (Acts 2:38). He had to confess his belief that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 10:32-33). A person became a member of the New Testament church when he, or she, was baptized into the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13). This baptism we read about in the New Testament was an immersion in water (Romans 6:4-5). This baptism was for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). It was through baptism that a person was placed into Christ, where all spiritual blessings are located (Ephesians 1:3). Paul wrote, “For you are all Sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).

    Twelfth, members of the New Testament church continued to have Christ as their Advocate, High Priest, and Mediator (I John 2:1-2; I Timothy 2:5). “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

    What do we learn from all of this? In the Bible, we read of only one church. All those who were saved were members of that one church. Christ’s one church was built according to the pattern. In order for the New Testament church to exist today, we must adhere to the patter given in the New Testament.

    Baptism, a Work of God

    Many would object to baptism as being necessary for salvation, saying it is a work. Baptism is most certainly a work – it is a work of God (Colossians 2:12). When a person is baptized, God saves him from his sins (Mark 16:15-16, Titus 3:5, I Peter 3:21), washes his sins away (Acts 22:16), places that person into the body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13) – that body is the church of Christ (Ephesians 1:23, Romans 16:16). When a person is baptized, God is busy at work, saving that person from his sins, washing his sins away, and adding him to his church! Baptism is the point at which we submit to God’s will and let Him work on us!

    God’s Grace is No License to Sin!

    God’s grace is a wonderful thing.  We are saved by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).  In fact, Paul wrote that the more we sin the more God’s grace abounds (Romans 5:20). 

    But God’s grace ought never be abused.  God’s grace never gives us a license to sin.  In regard to the abundance of God’s grace, Paul also wrote, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:1-4).  As Christians, we are dead to sin, meaning we have separated ourselves from the practice of sin. Be thankful for God’s grace, but never abuse it nor take it for granted

    Do All Things Without Complaining

    “Do all things without complaining and disputings:” (Philippians 2:14)

    Complaining is a sign of ingratitude.  God delivered his people from their Egyptian bondage.  Later, they complained against Moses, saying they had better food back in Egypt (Exodus 16:1-3).  “Why,” they wondered, “did Moses take us into the wilderness to die of hunger?”  Would they have complained had they been truly thankful for God freeing them from their slavery in Egypt?

    Second, complaining is discouraging to others.  The apostle Paul wrote, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” Ephesians 4:29.

    Third, complaining is un-Christ-like.  Christ bore the suffering of the cross without complaining. I Peter 2:21-24.  He left us an example, that we should walk in his steps. Today, I will do my very best to refrain from complaining!

    Looking Forward to the New Year

    This excellent article was written by Cody Westbrook, preacher for the Southwest church of Christ in Austin, TX. It is from the December 30, 2021 edition of the Christian Worker.

    The Holiday Season is now behind us and thus we look forward to a new year. No doubt your calendar is beginning to fill up with plans and projects for the next 12 months. And, of course, we all take time to contemplate goals and improvements to implement in the days ahead. These are good and necessary practices for maintaining a healthy lifestyle both physically and spiritually. While thinking about things like health and finances allow me to suggest 4 spiritual goals to implement this year.

    – Bible Reading. It has been said that by dedicating 30 minutes of time each day, the average person can read through the Bible in about 6 months. There is great value in reading God’s Word regularly (1 Tim. 4:13) and there are several helps available to aid in that effort. This year, plan to dedicate 30 minutes each day to reading God’s Word.

    – Bible Memorization. We talk regularly about the benefit of memorizing scripture (cf. Psalm 1). This year, approach your Bible memorization in a different way. Get into the habit of reading a chapter so that you can identify the key verse, or verses, and give the chapter a title which summarizes its main idea. Make a list then commit those items to memory.

    – Evangelism. Likely, you know well the responsibility of every Christian to be evangelistic. But, have you thought carefully about how you will apply the command? Let me suggest identifying 1 person per month to evangelize. Pray for that person by name daily and work to create as many evangelistic opportunities with them as possible.

    – Hospitality. Our homes are one of our greatest resources for edification and evangelism (cf. Acts 2:46). This year, use your home as a tool to serve the Lord. Invite brethren into your home to share a meal and strengthen your bonds in Christ. Have Bible studies in your home to provide a more hospitable and comfortable setting for teaching the gospel.

    Any list of spiritual goals would be subjective to some degree. Consider these 4 suggestions prayerfully. May God bless us as we serve Him in the new year.

    It Is a Good Thing to Give Thanks


    Introduction:


    1) Psalms 92:1-2 – “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night,”


    a) Be thankful – to be grateful, appreciative of what someone has done for us.


    b) Give thanks – express our appreciation, or gratitude. Giving thanks may be expressed verbally or by some reciprocal act.


    2) Psalm 92 says it is good to give thanks. Why is giving thanks good?


    Discussion:


    1) GIVING THANKS IS THE WILL OF GOD.


    a) 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”


    b) Thayer’s Lexicon defines “will” as “what one wishes or determines will be done.” We like for others to express their appreciation to us. Doesn’t it only make sense that God likes for us to express our appreciation toward Him?


    c) In every thing give thanks. May seem difficult and, admittedly, it sometimes is. But it is possible to find reason to give thanks in any and every situation in life.


    2) GIVING THANKS HELPS US RECOGNIZE OUR DEPENDENCE UPON GOD.


    a) James 1:16-17 – “Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”


    b) Do not err – don’t be mistaken about it. We might say “Don’t kid yourself.” If you start to think you have accomplished what you have solely on your own, apart from God, you are only kidding yourself. Every good thing that you have has come from God.


    c) With God, there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. When we look at God from every angle possible, from every perspective, it becomes evident that God is good.


    3) GIVING THANKS HELPS US LEARN TO BE CONTENT.


    a) 1 Timothy 6:6-10 – “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (Other translations, such as the American Standard Version, translate verse ten to read, “for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”.)


    b) The world is constantly trying to draw us to the things of the world and, in the process, draw us further way from God.


    c) When we give thanks, we concentrate on our fortune in life, rather than our misfortune. We concentrate on what we have, rather than on what we do not have. We become content with our situation in life and are able to focus on what really matters – our relationship with God.


    Conclusion:


    1) Is it any wonder, then, that the psalmist wrote, “It is good to give thanks?”

    Five Questions Concerning the Judgment

    There is a day coming when God will judge the world. How much attention are you giving to that day? Let’s consider five questions concerning the judgment. Will there be a judgment? Who will be judged? Who will be the judge? When will this judgment be? And lastly, How will we be judged?

    Are You an Atheist?

    Are you an atheist?  “Well, of course not,” you say.  “No way would I be an atheist! I know that God exists.”

    “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1)  This verse is often used to teach that a person who does not believe in the existence of God is acting foolishly.  I couldn’t agree more!  A person who says there is no God is a fool.  But, is that really what Psalm 14:1 teaches?

    If you read further into Psalm 14, you’ll notice the psalm describes the fool’s behavior; he is corrupt, he has done abominable works, there is none that doeth good, they are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy.   Also notice that reading Psalm 14:1 from the King James Version, the words “there is” are in italics.   This italics indicates these words were not a part of the original text but were inserted by the translators to help convey the meaning of the text.  Without these words, Psalm 14:1 would read, “The fool hath said in his heart, no God.”  Is the fool in Psalm 14 one who denies the existence of God?  Or is he one who, in rebellion, lives as if there is no God?  Is his conduct such that it fails to convey his belief in God to others?

    Let’s look at three passages where men believed in the existence of God, but acted like atheists.  First, from the book of Exodus, chapter 14.  When the Pharaoh found out that God’s people were fleeing from Egypt, his heart was turned against God and he decided to pursue God’s people.  When the children of Israel saw the Pharaoh and his army coming after them, they became very afraid the – KJV says they were sore afraid.  They thought they simply had no way out – no way of escape.  Their backs were to the Red Sea and the Egyptian army was quickly drawing closer to them.  They began to chastise Moses – “Why didn’t we stay in Egypt?  Why did you take us out here just to die in the wilderness?  Were there no graves in Egypt?” 

    Now notices Moses’ response from Exodus 14:13-14 – “13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. 14 The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”

    What was wrong with their thinking? They wondered why Moses took them to where they were, yet they were exactly where God had led them.  They thought the Red Sea was an insurmountable object, yet God led them right through it.  They saw nothing in store for them but death and defeat.  Oh, they believed in the existence of God.  But they were acting as if God was unaware and uncaring about their situation.  They had no faith that God would deliver them through their hardship.  There were acting like atheists.

    Keep reading and you’ll find out that God parted the sea, allowing His people to cross on dry ground.  When the Egyptians followed after them, God brought the waters together again, overthrowing the Egyptians in the sea.

    Sometimes, life can throw us a curve.  It may be financial struggles, health problems, marital problems, or difficulties with our jobs.  You and I can experience such hardship that we see no way out.  We feel hopeless and helpless.  We still believe that God exists, but we forget that He is always there to carry us through life’s struggles.  You might say we become practical atheists.  Oh sure, we believe God exists, but we act as if there is no God.  But remember, God may not take you around your Red Sea, but He will part it for you and carry you through it.

    Next, consider Matthew 6:25-33 – “25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

    In verse 24, Jesus said that no man can serve two masters; he will hate the one, and love the other.  He went on to say “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”  The word mammon refers to material gain or financial profit.  Among Jesus’ audience there must have been some who placed unnecessary thought on the things of this world.  Jesus assured them that God would take care of them, just as He cares for the fowl of the air.

    If we’re not careful, we can take on this same attitude today.  We can become overly concerned with the things of this world.  We take on a desire for material gain because of our concern over meeting our simplest needs. Someone stays up late at night, unable to sleep because they are worried about making a living.  With prices going up the way they are, how will the bills be paid?  Have you been to the grocery store lately?  Prices are out of sight!  How will I be able to keep food on the table?  Then there’s the unexpected visit to the hospital, doctor or dentist.  How am I supposed to make ends meet?

    Sometimes we forget that God is there the whole time, taking care of us. We believe God exists, but we act as if He doesn’t – we act like atheists. 

    Next, let’s look at James 4:13-17 – “13 Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: 14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. 15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. 16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. 17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

    James wrote about a man who had big plans.  This man was going to start a business venture and, over the coming year, make a big profit.  But this man needed to be reminded that his life was a vapor that was here for a short while and then vanishes away. Sadly, in his boastings, the man left God out of his plans.  He should have been saying, “If the Lord wills, we will do this or that.”  James describes this attitude – boasting of the future and leaving God out of our plans, as evil.  It reminds me of Proverbs 27:1 – “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.”

    Now notice verse 17, Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”  I have often heard this verse used to teach that there are sins of omission.  That is, we sin not only by the things we do; we can also sin by the things we do not do.  While this may be true, I don’t believe this is what this verse is teaching.

    The ESV translates James 4:17, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  I believe this conveys the meaning of James 4:17 more clearly.  If boasting of our plans, while leaving God out of our plans, is evil, then the “good” of verse 17 would be to include God in our plans.

    Sometimes we can make great plans for our future, but leave God out of our plans.  When it comes to planning our future, we believe God exists but sometimes act as if He doesn’t.  We act like atheists!

    Although we believe God exists, we act like He doesn’t when (1) we forget that he will help us through the struggles of life, (2) when we forget that He will provide all of life’s needs (3) when we forget to include God in our plans.

    Now do you understand why I began by asking the question, “Are you an atheist?”

    If you say, “of course not!  I’m not an atheist, then make sure you don’t act like one.

    Your Marriage Can Be G-R-E-A-T!

    Marriage! Just say the word and a number of thoughts come to mind. Will I ever get married? If so, whom will I marry? Will I have children? If I do have children, how many? Where will I live? Will I have a good marriage? Better yet, will I have a great marriage? Wait a minute. Let’s consider that question again. Will I have, not just a good marriage, but a GREAT marriage?

    Friends, great marriages do not come about by accident. Oh no friends, great marriages are the result of much planning and effort. Someone has said the success of a marriage is not determined by how much love you put into it as much as it is determined by how much work you put into it.

    But have you ever stopped to think about what sets great marriages apart from all others? Have you ever wondered what makes great marriages great?

    When we consider the letters in the word great, several things come to mind. First, the “G” reminds us that God must be in our marriages. It is no coincidence that this is first on the list, for no marriage can be truly great without God. I cannot emphasize this enough! Couples who strive to build homes with God as their center enjoy enormous advantages over those couples that do not make God the center of their home. Couples who strive to build homes with God as their center enjoy a common sense of morality, a common sense of values, a common standard of right and wrong, a common source of strength in time of need, and a common purpose in life. A couple that builds a home with God as its center is able to pray for one another and for their marriage. Friends, it is an undeniable fact that the closer a husband and wife get to God, the closer they get to one another.

    Consider the words of Solomon, recorded in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12: “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Did you notice the emphasis that is placed on the advantages that two have over one?

    And yet, we cannot help but notice the significance of the phrase “a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” This “third cord” Solomon tells us of is undoubtedly a reference to God. When a couple includes God in their marriage, their marriage is not easily broken. Friends, a great marriage is a marriage where husband and wife are both Christians, striving to help each other grow spiritually and obtain an eternal home in heaven.

    Second, the “R” reminds us that we must remember our vows. A vow is a solemn promise you made to your spouse. Husbands, did you promise to love, honor, cherish, and protect your spouse, forsaking all others? Wives, did you promise to love, honor, cherish, and obey your spouse, forsaking all others?

    When you made your vows, you not only made them before your spouse, but you made them before all others who were present. But far more important, you made them before God. That’s right! You made a promise to God! Man and woman are joined together as husband and wife, not merely by man, but by God.

    Did your vows include the often spoken phrase, “Till death do us part?” Marriage is a lifelong commitment. The story books may picture a couple getting married, only to live happily ever after, seemingly free of problems. But we know that real life is not always like what we read about in the story books. Admittedly, there will be difficult times with any marriage. There will be times of hurt feelings, disappointments, and problems that, at least at the time, seem to be insurmountable. But times like these should cause a husband and wife to remember the promise they made to one another. Friends, when a husband and wife are committed to one another, they will never face any problem that cannot be resolved with God’s help.

    When Jesus was asked about divorce for any cause, he responded: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder”(Matthew 19:4-9). Friends, God expects us to keep our vows! God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).

    Third, the “E” reminds us that a husband and wife are to enjoy life together. A husband and wife should take time simply to enjoy being with one another. It goes without saying that we all have daily obligations to meet and responsibilities to fulfill. I understand we all have busy schedules and appointments to keep. We all share in many of the stresses of daily life. Sure, life is filled with its peaks and its valleys, its ups and downs. But we should not allow the “downs” to prevent us from enjoying life. Couples should make it a priority to spend time together, to do things together, to have fun together, and to laugh together. A husband and wife ought to develop an interest in recreational activities they can both enjoy together. Someone has said, “The couple that plays together stays together.” Listen to the words of Solomon, recorded in Ecclesiastes 9:9: “Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.” Also notice Proverbs 5:18: “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.” Your spouse should be, not only your spouse, but also your best friend!

    Fourth, the “A” reminds us that husbands and wives are to appreciate one another. When you stop to count your blessings, don’t forget to include your spouse. Don’t neglect to tell your spouse that you appreciate him (or her). To appreciate your spouse means to grasp or understand your spouse’s worth, or value. Few things can be more harmful to a marriage than for one (or both) of the spouses to feel unappreciated. A failure to appreciate your spouse will eventually manifest itself in selfishness and disrespect. “Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing” (Proverbs 18:22). Also notice Proverbs 19:14: “House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord.”

    The fact that a wife is given to man by God can also be seen in Genesis 3:9-12: “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”

    Friends, precious gifts are not to be abused nor flaunted. They are to be treated graciously out of respect for the giver. For a husband or wife to neglect his or her spouse is to work against God’s plan.

    Fifth, the “T” reminds us that a husband or wife is to treat his or her spouse as the most important person in the world. After all, who on earth is more important to you than your spouse? Listen to the words of the apostle Paul: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself” (Ephesians 5:24-28).

    In I Peter 3:7, Peter wrote: “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

    Also notice Paul’s words to Titus: “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children” (Titus 2:3-4).

    Did you notice something about Paul’s words? Love is not just an emotion! Not just something we feel! Love is an action! Love is a type of behavior! Yes, a husband should treat his wife as the most important person in the world, because to him, she is the most important person in the world!

    How can a husband treat his wife as the most important person in the world? By refusing to ignore her. By valuing her opinion. By taking time to be with her. By refusing to make sarcastic remarks about, or to, her. By refusing to be rude to her, whether publicly or privately. By being aware of her needs. By defending her when others are criticizing her. Of course, these things would also apply when considering a wife’s treatment of her husband.

    To sum it all up, in terms of your relationships with others, none should be more important to you than your relationship with your spouse.

    Yes, your marriage does not have to be just good. Your marriage can be great! Your marriage can be great if God is in your marriage. If you remember your vows. If you enjoy life together. If you appreciate one another. And if you treat your spouse as the most important person in the world.