I once came across a great message from Joe Corley. On October 20, I used it to present a message to our radio audience about THE BEGINNING OF CHRISTIANITY.
Christianity did not begin as a practical religion until after the ascension of Christ. The stage had been set for the beginning of the Christian religion. Jesus had come, lived among men, fulfilled the law and offered a satisfactory sacrifice for sins. Jesus had been raised from the dead and in so doing He had supplied the life and vitality needed for the spread of Christianity. Now it would be possible to go forth with the important and exciting message that—WE SERVE A RISENSAVIOR!!! The excitement and joy of such a message begged to be distributed far and wide. The apostles had been selected and trained for their work of spreading the message of salvation and recording the message. His final orders to His apostles were for them to remain in Jerusalem until the Spirit came (Acts 1:1-11). Jesus ascended to the Father (1:9-10), and did send the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, and Christianity had its birth (Acts 2).
Today I listened to the latest offering from the PTP Podcast. I was impressed with this presentation from Matt Vega. He is a lawyer and he spoke about one particular lawyer that we read about in Scripture (Luke 10.25). To me, the most interesting and helpful point in his lesson involved an illustration he used from a USA Supreme Court case, not that well known. It involved a case in which a pardoned individual refused the pardon. Please listen and learn from this outstanding lawyer. Listen by clicking HERE.
Why did Paul go to Jerusalem in Acts 15? Would not the Holy Spirit have guided them in answer to their question? Another great question that was turned in by one of YOU. Let’s take a few lines to consider this excellent question. Will you study it with me?
It is certainly true that Jesus promised the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit to guide the apostles into ALL truth! Notice John 16:13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. And, John 14:26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. There should be no question in anyone’s mind whether or not the apostles (including Paul) knew every single thing that they needed to know to do the work of spreading the saving message. Jesus’ words make that perfectly clear.
So then, there must have been some other reason that a meeting took place in Acts 15. Let’s read it… Acts 15:1-2 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. (2) When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. Luke informs us here that certain Judaizing teachers were causing problems (dissension and disputation). They were seeking to bind parts of the Law of Moses upon Gentiles. Let us not for one moment think that Paul was confused about this matter or that he needed consultation with others before he could give his answer to these false teachers! Listen to what Paul wrote: Galatians 1:11-12 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. (12) For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. The truth of the gospel was revealed to Paul by Jesus Christ and he had the exact same authority and guidance that the other apostles did.
Back to Acts 15.1-2. Let’s ask the question: What word is the antecedent for the word THEY in verse 2? Who was it that determined that such a meeting was needed? Grammatically, it could be: PAUL AND BARNABAS. But contextually, that does not make sense because of the phrase: AND CERTAIN OTHER OF THEM. It seems the antecedent has to be THE BRETHREN of verse 1. Paul and Barnabas were quite willing to defend their position in Jerusalem or anywhere else. It was the brethren who were beginning to be influenced by the false teaching of the Judaizers. They needed some confirmation that the position of Paul was the true position.
Those false teachers had attacked the authority of Paul and Paul was thus forced to defend his apostolic authority. That is what he does in 2 Corinthians and Galatians. The thing that came out of the meeting of Acts 15 was recognition that Paul’s position was true and a letter was sent out to the Gentile churches (Acts 15.20). Paul had the SIGNS of an apostle (2 Cor 12.12) and none of the Gentile Christians ever should have questioned Paul’s teaching, but evidently some were in that sad state. Not only was the Judaizing doctrine a problem among the Gentiles, there were many Christians of a Jewish background who also were having difficulty with that particular doctrinal discussion. The doctrine was always WRONG and the Jerusalem meeting simply was one means of getting that message firmly presented among all brethren.
Paul went to Jerusalem for the meeting of Acts 15 because he loved the souls of men—he wanted that question to be answered once and for all, if possible.
Back in 1980 Jimmie Steele preached a sermon about THE DOCTRINE OF BAPTISM at the Karns church. I used the points he made in his material to broadcast that excellent lesson to my listening audience in western Kentucky over WCBL, 99.1 on the FM dial and AM 1290. He made the following points in the study:
(1) The Doctrine of Baptism is a SCRIPTURAL DOCTRINE—It is divinely commanded.
(2) The Doctrine of Baptism is a controversial doctrine among many teachers of the religious world.
(3) Who is the Scriptural subject for baptism?
(4) The Scriptural ELEMENT of baptism, the ONE baptism, is WATER.
(5) The true doctrine of baptism requires ONE mode or method.
(6) Baptism has a scriptural DESIGN or PURPOSE.
(7) All unscripturally taught persons are scriptural subjects STILL for baptism.
Friends, let us make sure that we as individuals have been scripturally taught on the doctrine of baptism. Our souls are too precious for us to be weighed in the balances and found wanting in that final Judgment Day (Rom 14.10-12; 2 Cor 5.10-11; Eccl 12.13-14).
The various names, titles, and descriptions of Jesus Christ in Scripture are so revealing and important to understand. Christology is the study of the Christ and is a subject matter that ought to be better appreciated than it generally is in our time. In the first chapter of John’s account of the life of Christ, we have an important picture of Christ which stresses how vital it is to have a relationship with Him.
Can you even imagine what it would be like to be in a place of total darkness? When my wife and I married (on our honeymoon), we visited an area in the Ozarks of Arkansas. One of the places there we decided to visit was a cave. I only learned later how very claustrophobic she was, but she went along willingly—at least I don’t remember dragging her into the cave. When we had made it down into the belly of the earth a good ways, our guide flipped a switch which turned off all artificial lighting. It was DARK! A kind of darkness you can almost feel. It was a kind of darkness you never would choose to remain in for more than a few seconds. By inspiration, John presents to us the Savior as being like the light switch being flipped ON after having a moment like we shared in that cave in the Ozarks. The spiritual darkness that exists outside of Christ is infinitely more horrible than being without physical light!
In one of my trips to India I took a day off and signed up for a bus tour to see the great Taj Mahal. My traveling companion, Royce Frederick, had already seen it, so I went on the trip alone. We left early in the morning from Delhi and returned that same night. As we were returning to Delhi, we stopped at a place to rest a bit and drink some coffee. The sun was beginning to set as we arrived at the rest area, when we left it was rather dark. I did not pay careful attention as I was walking in the dark, and did not see a step. I fell and injured my ankle. It began immediately to swell. Later it changed color to indicate quite a bit of trauma had taken place. I blame the darkness for my blunder. Had it been light, I would have seen where I was walking and would not have taken the fall. In a much more serious way, Jesus, like light, can protect us from falling in a different way that will affect our eternal destiny. John wanted us to get that picture.
On October 6 our radio program (Walking in Truth) centered on a study of John 1.9-13. If you would care to listen to that message you may do so my clicking .
TRUTH for January 2019 is now available. We are thankful to Roger Campbell for his study of the Bible and his interest in helping others better to appreciate and know God’s Book. Will you please consider the four excellent studies for January. Listed below are the titles and first paragraphs of the four one-page articles found in TRUTH for January of 2019.
Prophets of God in the First Century Church
Fulfilled Bible prophecy is evidence that the Bible’s message came from the mind of God. We thrill to read of the foretelling of the virgin birth of the Christ (Isaiah 7), the coming fall of Babylon (Isaiah 13), and the influential role of King Cyrus (Isaiah 44). Each of those memorable prophecies is found in the Old Testament. But what about prophets in the New Testament church? To read more download here: Truth1901.
Lessons We Can Learn from David Sparing King Saul
King Saul was granted the privilege of being the first human king to rule over the nation of Israel. The message of 1 Samuel 18 shows how the relationship between Saul and a young man named David was soured. When Saul heard some in Israel praising David more than they praised the king himself, he was extremely upset. Saul was angry, he was afraid of David, he kept his eye on him, he counted David as an enemy, and more than once he tried to kill him. To put it mildly, in his dealings with David, Saul was not a very nice person. To study SEVEN lessons from this Bible account, download: Truth1901.
Do You Find Worship Boring?
“Boring is defined as someone or something dull or uninteresting” [ http://www.yourdictionary.com ]. As humans, we find certain things and certain people interesting; at the same time, hearing someone discuss other topics may put us to sleep, as we have zero interest in those matters. To read more, download: Truth1901.
1 Corinthians 15.1-8—The Gospel
The theme of the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians is “The Resurrection.” Paul writes about Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead, he notes the consequences which would follow if there were no resurrection, and he speaks of the future resurrection which will occur when the Christ comes again. To consider FIVE points from these verses, download: Truth1901.
HE MARVELED is something Jesus did two times in the New Testament. Words are precious; words are interesting; words instruct; words are valuable; words bless our lives (cf., Treasure in the Heart). Actually, words are indispensable for learning and receiving the will of the Lord and obeying it. We find the Greek word that is translated marvel used 46 times in the New Testament. A large number of those usages of the word are due to something Jesus did or said causing others to marvel. However, if I have correctly examined these 46 verses, there are two occasions in which Jesus, Himself, marveled at something. It is especially interesting to observe what a contrast these two occurrences provide.
He Marveled because of UNBELIEF…
First in one passage, Jesus is said to marvel at the unbelief of a group of people—Mark 6.6… And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching. This incident takes place in the locale of Jesus’ growing up years, the small village of Nazareth. The people of Nazareth knew His trade, His mother, and the members of His earthly family (Mark 6.3).The unbelief of these Nazareth natives caused a sad result—Mark 6.5… And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. What a disappointment these people were to Jesus!
The word marvel comes from the Greek word, thaumazo. It is defined as follows: “to wonder or marvel at some event or object—‘to wonder, to be amazed, to marvel’ (whether the reaction is favorable or unfavorable depends on the context)” [Louw Nida]. The context clearly tells us here that Jesus’ marveling at the faith of the Nazareth folks was not in the category of favorable.
He Marveled because of GREAT Faith…
Second, there is the passage in Luke 7.1-10, where we find Jesus marveling at the GREAT FAITH of the centurion of Capernaum. Luke uses the word marvel here and in the parallel account Matthew also uses it (Mt 8.5-13). Since these are parallels, I count these two verses as one occasion of Jesus marveling.
What caused Jesus to be amazed were words from the mouth of the centurion. The words spoken by this Gentile officer in the forces of Herod Antipas were unlike any Jesus had heard, even among the Jews—Luke 7.9… When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. The words of the centurion which caused Jesus to marvel are recorded in verse 7… Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. This Gentile soldier believed that Jesus had the ability to heal his servant simply by speaking the word. If Jesus would just say he was healed, he would be healed! That caused our Lord to marvel!
Great faith in one instance and great unbelief in the other caused Jesus to marvel. Have you ever thought about causing Jesus to MARVEL at your own faith?
Those souls at Nazareth had been greatly blessed in many ways to have Jesus as a resident. Mark 6.5 tells us that He did heal some sick people in Nazareth. Yet, at one point, they were ready to throw him off a cliff (Luke 4.28-30). How sad!
What could happen to the Lord’s church at Maple Hill if you and I develop within our hearts the kind of faith which would cause it to be said of Jesus: He Marveled?
The audio Bible of my dreams has finally made its way to the app stores! I have a daily Bible reading schedule in which I read 10 chapters per day. It is an adaptation of Professor Grant Horner’s Bible reading plan. The plan has its critics but many Bible-lovers give it high praise. I am into the fourth year of using it daily. The plan is to continue using it. It is my desire to do everything I can to ENCOURAGE the reading of the Bible. For that reason I want to describe to you a new development which might appeal to smart phone users.
My Bible reading WITHOUT the audio Bible of my Dreams…
It has been my normal practice to use Logos Bible Software to do my daily Bible reading. I have a laptop hooked to a 22-inch monitor. Enlarging the text considerably. I use the audio reading function of Logos (Control + R). The reading speed I set at 2X. Logos will automatically scroll through the content. It is quite easy to move through the ten readings using keyboard shortcuts. It has worked for me for a long time. I am sure it will continue to work for me. It is easy on the eyes and ears. It is very pleasant to notice various and sundry nuances as the words are read and as the words scroll on by. I consider these words to be the very words of God and am convinced I am made a better person through this exercise.
My Bible reading WITH the audio Bible of my Dreams…
For a few days I have been exposed to advertising from the people who produced the Olive Tree Bible App. I have used this app for a few years. I think it is one of the best. There is a free version and you can add to your library with many excellent books and study tools. Their most recent attempts to take my money involved incorporating audio Bibles into their Bible app. I read their material. I watched their video. It looked amazing. I am glad I checked it out and made the purchase. There are several Bible versions available and other books in audio format. I chose the NKJV Voice Only Audio Bible.
As I understand it, these audio Bibles are available now only on phones and tablets with a data plan. If you have enough storage you can download the entire Bible. You can download whatever part of the Bible you want to read, or you can stream the content. I do not have the storage, so I stream. The wonderful thing about these Bibles is that you can do on the phone the same thing I do with my laptop and Logos that I mentioned above. Most audio Bibles are pretty limited about where you can begin reading. Not this one! You can go to whatever book, chapter, and verse you desire. Also, it automatically scrolls through the text, which you can read from the screen as it reads the text audibly! WOW! You can speed up or slow down the reading. It produces perfect audio, the text scrolls without any noticeable delay.
One NEGATIVE in this audio Bible of my dreams…
There is one pretty important flaw in these audio Bibles. I am sure that when complaints come in they will make adjustment with subsequent updates. There is not enough space on the screen for the longer verses. The words appear on the screen a verse at a time. Many of the verses have more words than will fit in the scrolling space. I am using an iPhone 5S, so my screen is small. Even if you adjust the font face and size, some verses still will not fit. Surely this will be only a temporary hindrance, but it is quite frustrating.
In conclusion, this audio Bible does all I need it to do. I recommend it to you highly. It will be a delight to me for many years. My copy came to $26.49, including tax.
In this radio program we consider the important question: “Have YOU been called of God?” This question pertains to a statement found in Acts 2.39. I sincerely believe that many people misunderstand and pervert this passage. I am using some material from the book: The Hub of the Bible, by J.D. Bales in this discussion.
There is a lot of confusion about being called of God which ought not to be so. The Bible is quite clear in its answers to all of the questions we could possibly come up with regarding God’s calling us. When we are content to allow the Bible to speak, our confusion over this matter quickly disappears. Let’s study this important topic by considering the pertinent Bible passages and let God’s Book guide us in answering the questions.
What Does it mean to be called of God?
Men must call upon God in order to attain salvation according to Acts 2.21. But men cannot call on God unless God first calls men. God calls all men, but only those who respond to His call and call on Him does He save. What does it mean for God to call men? How does God call us? Is the call irresistible? To what does God call us?
Questions answered in this Lesson on what it means to be called of God…
What does CALL mean?
Whom does the Lord call?
How does the Lord call?
Is the call of God irresistible?
What happens to those who heed the call?
From what and to what does God call us?From rebellion to obedience (Acts 2.23 + Acts 2.37-42).
1) From darkness to light (Col 1.13; 1 Peter 2.9).
2) From bondage to liberty (Gal 5.13).
3) From antagonism to fellowship (1 Cor 1.9).
4) To sanctification (1 Cor 1.2).
5) God called us by His own purpose and grace (2 Tim 1.9).
Here is the audio recording of our September 2, 2018 edition of Walking in Truth: