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Archive for the ‘Baptism’ Category

Little Word—Big Meaning

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Jesus once said, “We must work the works of him that sent me…” (John 9:4). Must refers to that which is necessary, indispensable, required, or obligatory. What are some things we must do (emph. DM in all quotes)?

• We MUST Believe in God: “And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him” (Heb. 11: 6). Belief is the necessary beginning point in anyone’s relationship with God. Those who genuinely believe in God also believe in His Word and in Jesus Christ, His Son. The context of this passage (all of the chapter) indicates that the belief God requires is more than a mere intellectual admission of His existence. Rather, it is one that cannot be defined apart from obedience to His will (cf. Jam. 2:14–26).

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Avoiding New Fads

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Introduction

The worldly, fashion-mad nature of humankind has changed little through the centuries. Luke provides an interesting description of the philosophers whom Paul encountered at Mars Hill in ancient Athens: “Now all the Athenians and the strangers sojourning there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear something new” (Acts 17:21).[1] The word new  in this passage comes from the root word kainos, which means “that which is unaccustomed or unused, not new in time, but new as to form or quality, of different nature from what is contrasted as old.”[2] This definition tells us that those Athenians were always looking for something different, new-fangled, novel, modern—some new gadget or fresh gimmick. In short, they were fad-mad!

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Honoring With the Lips

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Pharisees and scribes once came to Jesus, chastising Him for not honoring the traditions of their forefathers (Mat. 15:1–2). He responded by accusing them of violating God’s commandments by their human traditions, and cited one of their traditions as proof (vv. 3–6). He then excoriated them as follows:

Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people honor-eth me with their lips; But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men (vv. 7–9).

Upon reading His scathing rebuke of such hypocrisy among His contemporaries, it is only natural to inquire if such hypocrisy exists today. If so, Jesus’ rebuke of its modern versions is no less powerful and appropriate. Notably, those against whom Jesus originally railed were religious leaders.

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Recognizing and Interpreting Synecdoches

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Introduction

Both literature and the spoken word abound with figures of speech—words or phrases that are used to mean something other than their normal or literal meanings. Figures of speech are actually a “language within a language,” and in everyday speech we do not stop to think about them, but we immediately and automatically “translate” them. The Greeks called these “tropes” (from tropos, a turn) because they represent “turns” or variations from the normal and literal meaning of words. We expect the poet’s pen to be filled with figures, but prose contains its share of them, too. Additionally, both formal orations made from the public platform and ordinary daily conversations are liberally sprinkled with such word pictures. In fact, I have already used several figures in the foregoing comments (e.g., the spoken word for millions of words, the poet’s [singular] for all poets, pen for the actual words written by poets, filled with for containing many, the platform for any place of public address, liberally sprinkled with for frequently occurring, and perhaps others that have escaped me [escaped me for my failure to see them]).

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The Gospel of Christ Is Unchanged and Unchanging

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Introduction

The cry for change was the main theme of William Jefferson Clinton and a press bi­ased toward him in the last presidential campaign. This cry was what swept him into office more than any other single thing. In order to bring about the changes it sought, a liberal news media was willing to overlook both his lack of qualifications and character. Change-at-whatever-price seemed to be the demon that drove them. They accomplished their aim and we now have a man (and woman) in the Whitehouse who are a dis­grace to our nation and who bode disaster for it.

The cry for change in the Lord’s church has been heard with increasing frequency and intensity in recent years. Those calling for changes in the church, like their political counterparts, seem determined to effect it at whatever price it may exact on the body of Christ. This cry is heard in various books that our brethren have written (e.g., The Church in Transition, by Jim Woodroof, The Cruci­form Church, by Leonard Allen). It is heard in various journals (e.g., Image, Wine­skins, Christian Chronicle). It is heard in speeches made at lecture­ships, conferences, and workshops (e.g., Nashville “Jubilee,” Tulsa Soul-winning Workshop, “unity” forums, various university campuses, et al.). Articles and even workshops are now appearing more frequently on how to accomplish change and how to be “change agents” in local congregations.

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