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Monthly Archives: May 2016

GREAT BIBLE QUESTIONS

GREAT BIBLE QUESTIONS
by Robert Stapleton
God created man with a mind to think. Sometimes questions are used to stimulate the mind to do so. Questions often make people think about important things. At times we find great lessons being taught and grasped by asking questions. Every time a question is asked in the Bible, whether by God or by an inspired man, a great lesson is taught. In this article, we want to examine some of the great questions of the Bible so as to assist us in better understanding what God would have us to know.

“WHERE ART THOU” - GENESIS 3:9 - God’s first question to man was a serious one. Adam and Eve were now in sin, trying to hide from God. He saw them, and the condition they were in. The question here is not just a question of where they were physically, but where were they spiritually. Men have been trying to hide from God since that time. Hagar said, “Thou God seest me” (Genesis 16:13). We would be well off to remember this at all time. There is no place where we can hide from the “all seeing eye of God” (Hebrews 4:13). We need to be aware that our sin will find us out (Numbers 32:23).

“AM I MY BROTHER’S KEEPER?” - GENESIS 4:9 - This is the first question asked of God. The background for the question reveals the sin of Cain (Genesis 4:1-8). It is important to realize that we are our “brother’s keeper” (Romans 14:7-21). We should always think what affect our words and actions will have on others (Philippians 2:4).

“IF A MAN DIE, SHALL BE LIVE AGAIN?” - JOB 14:14 - Job was interested in this question. He was in misery, and it seemed that death was at his door. Over time, this question has lost none of its interest. Thanks to God, the question is plainly answered (John 5:28, 29; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Thessalonians 4:13, 14). Our life here will determine our life beyond the grave.

“WHAT IS A MAN PROFITED . . .?” - MATTHEW 16:26 - Christ asked this question. By looking at it, we see that it is a two-in-one question. Actually, I know of no answer to it that could be seen as a positive one. It is unanswered, and is unanswerable, as there is nothing but loss when one puts aside the spiritual for the physical!

“WHO THEN, CAN BE SAVED?” - MATTHEW 19:25 - After Jesus’ lesson about a rich man’s difficulty in going to heaven, the question was asked by the disciples (Matthew 19:23, 24).

Over the years, many answers have been given by man that have been in error. However, the Bible answers the question in no uncertain terms. Hell will be filled with people who did not intend to go there (Matthew 7:21-23). Many rational people intend to obey the gospel but neglect to do so. They forget that today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). They forget the brevity of life (James 4:14). Life’s brevity and uncertainty makes this question one of great importance.

“WHAT SHALL THE END BE?” - 1 PETER 4:17 - For those outside of Christ, certainly not salvation (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). For those who refuse to remain faithful, a condition that is worse than their previous one outside of Christ is all that remains (2 Peter 2:20-22). For those who were “once enlightened,” but who have “fallen away” and are remaining in that condition there is no hope (Hebrews 6:4-6).

“WHO SHALL BE ABLE TO STAND?” - REVELATION 6:17 - All will be examined in view of God’s Word (John 12:48). Who will be able to stand as righteous in the sight of God? (Mark 13:13; Revelation 2:10; 22:14).

“AND NOW WHY TARRIEST THOU?” - ACTS 22:16 - This question was asked by an inspired preacher of a praying, believing, penitent Saul. Because of his desire to please the Lord, when he was told what to do, and he did it (Acts 9:18).

These, and other questions similar to them, cause us to carefully consider what God would have us to do. We conclude with one more question, “What will you do with Jesus?” (Mark 15:12).

Robert Stapleton

Leadership-the subject of character

There will not be enough space in weekly leadership posts to exhaust every possibility about the subject of character.

However, it should go without saying that a leader’s character is invaluable. Without godly character, a leader cannot succeed in leading as God desires.

Character is the very substance of leadership. Where there is character, there will always be leadership.

John Maxwell claims, “Talent is a gift, but character is a choice.” Character in leadership will be indicated by the actions created from the choices made. With each choice, character is developed.

Within a fortune cookie from several years back the following statement was found: “God gives us one face and we make for ourselves another.” This is character.

Why is it so significant to examine areas regarding leadership character?

How should character be defined? How does character define our leadership? What happens when our character is flawed or seen as no longer credible?

We will explore these questions and other important areas about the need to understand character and our leadership. We will also consider several practical areas in developing leadership character.

Keep Pressing Forward

The Lies of Denominationalism by John Stultz

I Corinthians 14:33clearly states that God is not the author of “confusion”. In the original Greek, the word ‘confusion’ comes from the root word meaning ‘disarray’. If God were such an author, humanity would never be able to clearly understand God’s Word, by which we all are to live. We have all encountered individuals in our lives who, speaking on one subject or another, would say one thing to one group of people and something different to another. Finally, we all just stop believing them completely.

This is the EXACT reason why so many people believe God does not exist. They look at the mess that “Christianity” has become by the hands of men and they say to themselves “what kind of Supreme Being could possibly be behind all of this?” And the answer to that is clear: NONE! Since denominationalism is utterly confusing and contradictory, with one group teaching one thing, another group teaching something utterly different, and yet another teaching something in between, AND, since scripture clearly teaches that God is not the author of such confusion, then who IS behind all of this? There is only one possible response. Satan is behind it. He IS the father of lies – John 8:44. In addition to this, in Matthew 16:18, following Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ, Jesus said that upon the foundation of Peter’s confession that Jesus was, and IS, the Christ, that He would build His church, SINGULAR, not churches, plural.Jesus only built one church - HIS church. And, because of this, there is no such thing as being a “hyphenated” Christian – a Baptist-Christian, Methodist-Christian, or, Lutheran-Christian, etc.In addition, the apostle Paul was VERY clear, when he said, speaking of religious unity, “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 be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement”– I Cor, 1:10. How, “in the world” (no pun intended) does denominationalism follow this verse??Obviously, they do not.

Denominations have built their different doctrines on yet another lie, namely, that all scripture is open to one’s own private interpretation. This false belief says that we are free to interpret God’s inspired Word any way we please, AND that this interpretation will perfectly acceptable to our Heavenly Father. According to this line of thought, if we feel a passage applies to us, we will decide to go by it. But, if we do not particularly like it, or, if we believe that it no longer applies, such as baptism for the remission of sins, or following the New Testament examples left for us, then, we can just ignore it,or explain it away by saying, “well, I know what it ‘says’, or APPEARS to say, but, we just don’t believe that way”. In response to this, I would ask our denominational friends one important thing: Where is the verse, or verses, that tell us that such “picking and choosing” is acceptable to God? And, what right does ANYONE have to say to God that something important enough for Him to include it in His inspired Word just is not worthy of our obedience to it? Think about this - no one can change or rescind an order in the military unless he/she is of equal or greater rank to the one who originally gave it. Just who, here on earth, fulfills this? Also, Peter, in II Peter 1:3, states that we have been given all things that pertain to life and Godliness. Are the teachings found in the New Testament mere “suggestions” for us to follow? No! Why not? God knew that if He gave us a choice of obeying or not obeying His word, that we would ALWAYS choose not to do so, wanting, instead, to do what WE wanted to do, or what doing what WE thought was best.

This raises the question of how so many people can believe that this is OK with God? How can we ignore plain passages on how we are to live and how God wants to be worshipped,and then do whatsoever WE want to do with no doubts and no guilt? In II Peter 1:20 God, thru Peter, states that no prophecy came to us by the prophets own private interpretation. Now, if the prophets were not free to “interpret” scripture as they gave it to us, through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, essentially saying what they THOUGHT God wanted said, kore what He meant by it, then, how can WE, who are not inspired, POSSIBLY think we have the right to do these things?Again, there is one simple reason. The devil has deceived US just as he deceived Eve in the Garden. There, he told Eve “Oh, it’s OK, go ahead and eat! You know you won’t die! God just doesn’t want you becoming like Him, that’s all!” Today, he is telling us – “go ahead and change that passage, or, ignore the verses you don’t particularly want to follow. It’s OK! You ‘won’t surely die!! After all, you are still obeying MOST of what He says, aren’t you?” And, just as in the garden, when lightning bolts from heaven do not rain down upon us, we reason that it must be OK with God. And, so we would not really notice what was happening, satanm otivated us to change just one little thing at a time. The first change began with the leadership. He influenced one elder to begin asserting influence over his fellow elders. When they allowed it, he asserted more and more influence, until he assumed complete control of the whole church. This idea moved from one church to another until each church had one elder – the ‘pastor’.It then continued with this one assertive man taking control of several churches, until he became the ‘bishop’ of many churches. Then, satan influenced these leaders to change more, and more, and more, just to suit the feelings of themselves and others, until the New Testament church disappeared altogether, being changed into the Catholic church.

What was the ultimate result of this process? The simplicity of the New Testament teachings morphed into the confusing mess that it is today as many, who disagreed with the teaching of the Catholic church, then split off and started their own church, which was the birth of the first 1st denomination. After that split, then, when opinions differed, they also split off, then others split off from those churches, and so on, and so on, until we come down to today with well over 600 denominations, and who knows how many more smaller ‘splinter’ groups have been estabished. And since we still have not witnessed God’s wrath coming down upon the false teachers here on earth, we feel that these hundreds and hundreds of denominations, all with their own collection of doctrines, MUST be acceptable to God, right?

Unfortunately, we must give satan the credit he is due. He is VERY good at getting millions and millions of people to believe his lies and to make those who do succumb to them to feel perfectly justified in doing so!After all, “we human beings DO have our rights, don’t we?”And, because of OUR exercising these ‘rights’, we are losing hundreds and hundreds of formally faithful congregations of the Lord’s church to these horrid lies as leadership after leadership just doesn’t see any difference between the truth of the Bible and the lies that the devil and his servants are continually spreading among us. John 8:32 plainly states “Ye shall know the TRUTH, and the truth shall make you free.” Note: this plain inspired verse does not say “Ye shall know the ‘truths’, or, your personal version of the truth that appeals to you” and that these beliefs will be OK with God, regardless of what they are.”

Some may STILL ask “what’s the big deal? They still teach SOME of the truth, and they DO believe Jesus is the Christ.” To answer this, please consider this. One brother here that I spoke with about this agreed with my illustration of God’s word. Namely, it is like a high mesa located out west. It is completely flat on top, with a vertical drop-off all around. Staying within the boundaries of its flat surface provides safety. But, if we go beyond the boundaries of its surface, whether by one step, or by a huge leap, it would bring certain death. It would not matter how close or how far we went over the edge.When we hit bottom, we would be just as dead.When we “go beyond” God’s word, either adding to or taking away from its truths, when we pass from this life and stand before God in judgment, the result resulting condemnation will be the same.

Brethren, we must gird ourselves with the truths of God’s word and we must all be willing to enter the battlefield where the most important war of all time is currently being waged and is being LOST.. What are the “spoils” of this war? The spoils are the souls of all of the people who are being duped by the evil one, which, unfortunately, includes many formerly faithful brethren who have fallen prey to satan’s lies. Their salvation is literally hanging in the balance.

One final word must be said. In Ezekiel 3:18-19 God tells us that if we warn those who practice iniquity of God’s judgement and their need to come back to God, If they do not listen, they WILL die in their sins, but we will have saved ourselves. However, if we do not warn them,yes, they will still die in their sins, butk,lwe will suffer the same eternal consequences. Remember, we must ALWAYS be doing God’s will. Matt. 7:30 states that if we are not gathering others for Jesus then, we are actually scattering them abroad.

True Christians everywhere must realize that what is now going on, both in our brotherhood and in the denominational world IS OUR BUSINESS. We must always stand for the truth and do our best to warn those around us of their impending doom when they do not abidein the truth of God’s word. Many will never listen, brethren. But, we ALL MUST TRY.And, God willing, WE WILL SAVE SOME – I Cor. 9:22.

– John Stultz

GOD’S VIEW OF SIN by Robert Stapleton

Nearly everything looks different to those that participate and to those that observe. The football player verses the “armchair quarterback,” the automobile driver and the so-called “backseat driver,” and the sinner and God. It does not take long to see how people tend to view sin differently than God. Atheism denies its existence while materialism views it as a violation of one’s conscience. When we consider religious people we see a varied view. There are those who see sin as pre-destined, while others view it as a matter of birth and other as a matter of individual free will. To sum it all up, we could say that God’s view of sin is much graver than man’s view. In this article we want to give serious consideration to God’s view of sin and, hopefully, be encouraged to take the same view as He does.

GENERAL DEFINITION - We first want to notice a general definition of what sin is from God’s perspective. God describes sin as the transgressing of His will (1 John 3:4). He, further, describes it as man not doing what he knows to do right (James 4:17). And even further, He views sin as unrighteousness (1 John 5:17).

SIN AS GOD SEES IT - When we consider the Scriptures, we are provided a “window” that allows us to see sin as God does. We see that God views sin as self-destructing and defiling. The Psalmist speaks of evil hunting down the violent man and overthrowing him (Psalm 140:11). From Scripture we see that the sinner is often far more destructive to himself than to others, even those he intended to harm (Proverbs 8:36). The Bible is clear concerning the fact that sin is shown to be destructive (Isaiah 3:9-11). From this text we see that denial of sin will not make it go away. We can, also, note from the Scriptures that saying “everyone does it” won’t ever make it right (Exodus 23:2). When it comes to sin, even our best efforts are seen as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

Additionally, we note that God sees sin as hateful. Those that discriminate unjustly for advantage are an abomination to God (Deuteronomy 25:13-16). In Psalm 5:4-6, David summarized God’s attitude toward sin when he indicated the following.

God has no pleasure in wickedness

There is no place in God’s presence for evildoers

Workers of iniquity are hated

The wicked will be destroyed

From Proverbs 6:16-19 we see seven things that disgust God.

Pride - James 4:10

A lying tongue - Colossians 3:9; Proverbs 19:5

Hands that shed innocent blood - Matthew 27:14

Those that devise evil - Amos 5:14; 3 John 2

Those that are swift participants in evil - Romans 3:15; Matthew 2:1

Those that bear false witnesses - Romans 13:9, 10

Those that are sowers of discord - Proverbs 16:28

It is also quite revealing to note that God sees sin as separating and alienating. In Isaiah 59:1, 2; 64:7; and Hosea 5:6 we clearly see the fact that sin results in separation and alienation of man from God. The writher to the Hebrews indicated that there is a great depth to which one may fall in sin (Hebrews 6:4-6). The Apostle John indicated that some are so deep in sin that intercessory prayer is useless because such individuals are unwilling to turn from their sin (1 John 5:16). Man needs to be careful that he not allows sin to become such a force and presence that it alienates the only One who can help (Isaiah 55:6, 7).

In further study, we may see that God sees sin as enslaving and progressive (Romans 6:16). In a careful study of sin, we see that it results from a lack of self-control (Romans 7:23).

THE BIBLE EXPRESSES THE DIVINE SUMMARY ON SIN - Sin is seen to be universal (Isaiah 53:6). The Apostle Paul pointed out that both the Jews and Gentiles were convicted under sin (Romans 3:23). Even Christians are not immune to the possibility of sin in their lives if they give into temptation (1 John 1:8).

We may also note that sin is internal in origin - no one can make us do it. The Scriptures indicate that what controls the heart controls the man (Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 15:18-20; Luke 6:45). We must understand that sin is inexcusable in view of natural revelation (Romans 1:20-31) and written/inspired revelation (2 Timothy 3:16, 17; Titus 2:11-13).

Sin looks different to man than it does to God. Man may offer several excuses. It is often heard.

“After all, everybody does it.”

“I just don't see anything wrong with it."

“You don't want me to be unhappy do you?”

“It’s not as bad as what others do.”

“I can always change later.”

However, regardless of how we see, or don’t see, sin, God sees it as:

Self-destructing and defiling

Hateful

Separating and alienating

Enslaving and progressive

In the end, it can easily be said that sin, by nature is:

Universal - Therefore, everyone needs Jesus

Internal - Therefore, everyone needs the gospel

Inexcusable - Therefore, everyone must accept personal responsibility and take personal action - 2 Corinthians 5:10.