Category Archives: Spiritual Growth

“Throw Yourself into It”

Last week we mentioned that “just getting started is half the job”. That may be, but having started the job (i.e., those things that need to be done but often get shoved aside for less important matters) we still need to complete it, and it’s going to take more than “just getting started” to finish. So, using another idiom, “just throw yourself into it”; commit yourself to the task and “give it your all”. Once you’ve started some-thing – vital to your spiritual growth and service to Christ – if your heart isn’t committed to its completion, you’ll “run out of gas”. Okay, enough idioms.

Doesn’t God always finish what He started? Check the hundreds of fulfilled prophecies in the Old Testament. If we’re going to be holy as He is holy, sanctified for His service, then we need to throw ourselves into those daily tasks that draw us closer to Him and serve His purpose. Paul would say, “fight the good fight, finish the course, keep the faith” (2 Tim 4:7). There IS NO fighting, finishing or keeping apart from throwing ourselves into the daily actions needed to accomplish the goal.

Josiah is a great example. “He did right in the sight of the LORD and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left” (2 Kings 22:1-2). Now that is amazing considering that his grandfather Manasseh was THE evilest king ever to reign in Judah. It would take too much space to describe how Josiah threw himself into the project of reforming Judah and bringing the nation back to God. Countless decisions had to be made every day to accomplish that mission. There was no rest for the weary, if Josiah was going to complete that project. Several mini projects had to implemented to complete the main one. And yet, with God’s help Josiah succeeded in finishing what he’d started. And so, his epitaph reads, “Before him there was no king like him who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.” But then, we are startled by God’s response to Josiah’s commitment. “However, the LORD did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath with which His anger burned against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him” (2 Kings 23:25-26).

Do you think Josiah would have gone to all that trouble, knowing that throwing himself into the reforms as he did would bring about no lasting affect? I believe so, because “he did right in the sight of the LORD and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left”. You see, Josiah did what he did (every day) not for personal reputation or gain, but for the glory of Yahweh (the LORD God of Israel).

God is worthy of our commitment to the daily tasks that result in our spiritual growth, and the advancement of His Kingdom and King. As we fulfill those tasks, we may see the immediate advantage to ourselves and others. But ultimately, it is God who more than deserves our sacrifices and fulfilled commitments to His cause.

Jesus is the prime example. He threw Himself into the service of His Father; Jesus was totally and daily committed to God. When Jesus was driven into the wilderness to tempted by the Devil, Jesus resisted the temptation to take the wrong path by saying and doing what needed to be done (cf. Matt 4). What immediate personal benefit did He receive? Extreme hunger and weakness. Throughout His life our Lord rarely gained an immediate advantage from His daily commitments. But at the end of His life on earth, He could pray, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4). We see that Jesus threw Himself into the work that needed to be done, because God is worthy of our glory!

Remember the men who promised to follow the Lord wherever He went, but had not considered the (daily) sacrifice necessary to do so? Jesus reminded them that commitments promised – yet unfulfilled – rendered the promise maker unfit for the Kingdom of God (cf. Luke 9:57-62). By all means, “just getting started is half the job”, but to finish the job will require you to “throw yourself into it”. May Josiah’s epitaph be ours one day, to the glory of God. – By Boyd Jennings

“Revive Us – Again!”

A resolution is a firm decision to do or to not do something. Resolutions are about beginning something new, or starting over again; and it’s always easier to have a resolution than to finish it. It takes fire in the soul to keep one’s resolve, and sometimes that fire can burn out. God revived David many times in his life (Psalm 28:6–9). Do we need reviving? Does our faith need rekindling? The consequence of neglect is devastating (cf. Ecc 10:18).

I. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE FIRE GOES OUT?

A. Worship is neglected (John 4:23-24)
B. Compassion is absent (Matt 9:11-13, 36)
C. Holiness is abandoned (Rom 12:1; 1 Pet 2:5, 9)
D. Faith is defeated (1 Tim 1:18; 6:12; 2 Tim 4:7)

II. WHAT WILL SMOTHER THE FIRE?

A. Self-satisfied (Rev 3:17)
B. Hopelessness (1 Cor 15:57–58)
C. Apathetic people (Num 13:30–31; Matt 15:8; Luke 12:1)
D. No fear of judgment (2 Cor 5:10; Mark 9:40-48)
E. Insufficient love for Christ (Eph 5:25-27; Jer 2:1-3; Rev 2:1-4)

1. I don’t attend the Bible classes
2. I neglect the assemblies
3. I make excuses
4. I don’t’ bring a Bible to building
5. I don’t hunger for God’s word every day
6. I don’t read God’s word for transformation, just information
7. I don’t sing out, or sing at all
8. I am not moved by the hymns
9. My thoughts are consumed with this world
10. I don’t look forward to being with the church
11. I would I rather be somewhere else today
12. I complain about church members/leadership
13. I don’t try to encourage anyone
14. I don’t pray that often
15. I have no goals for spiritual growth
16. I am not indignant when God’s name is used in vain
17. I am amused by the sins that crucified Jesus
18. I’ve never taught the gospel to anyone
19. I’ve never started a spiritual conversation
20. I don’t spend any time thinking of Heaven

III. WHAT WILL REVIVE THE FIRE? (Rev 2:4–5)

A. Remember: relive the memories and emotions
B. Repent: get back to basics, quickly
C. Repeat: the deeds you did at first

“The cross is a blazing fire at which our heart is kindled,
but we have to get near enough to it to catch a spark.”

Rekindled the fire in Your heart with love for Christ.
Our Father is willing to salvage any relationship.
Be intense and intentional in turning to Him (Malachi 3:7)

Grow to Know Christ

2 Peter 3:14-18; 2 Peter 1:1-11. How honest are we about how well we know Christ? How do we “grow in the knowledge of Christ”? First, to know Him we have to do our best to keep up with Him (1 Peter 2:21-23).

I. KNOW CHRIST: PROCESS

A. “Applying all diligence…supply…increasing” (2 Pet 1:5, 8)

1. Faith – conviction, strong assurance (Rom 10:17; John 20:20-21)
2. Moral excellence – virtue, goodness
3. Knowledge – correct insight
4. Self-control – self-discipline
5. Perseverance – bearing up under trials
6. Godliness – character devoted to God
7. Brotherly kindness – love of brethren
8. Love – active goodwill

II. KNOW CHRIST: INCENTIVES

A. Grace and peace multiplied (2 Peter 1:1-2; cf. Jas 4:6; Phil 4:7)
B. Everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3-4)
C. Prevent spiritual myopia (2 Peter 1:9)
D. Prevent spiritual condemnation (2 Peter 1:10)
E. Heaven (2 Peter 1:11)

Before you claim to know Jesus Christ,
refer to this list — regularly.

Presenting Every Man Complete In Christ

Colossians 1:24-28.  The apostle Peter received strength from Christ to strengthen others (Luke 22:31-32).  We all have the responsibility of helping other Christians achieve their full usefulness in Christ (Col 1:28; 4:12).  We are, after all, members OF one another (Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 12:25; Eph 4:25).

I.    THE NEED FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

A.    In Christ, we begin our spiritual lives as an “infant” (Heb 5:13)

B.    Our growth is gradual (Heb 5:14; 1 Pet 2:2).

C.    As we grow, the body (church) grows & reaches its potential (Eph 4:14-16).

II.    THE NEED FOR MUTUAL EDIFICATION

A.    In Christ, we help the body (church) by helping its members grow.

B.    Our help is edification (Rom 14:19; 15:2; Heb 10:24; Eph 4:29; 1 Thess 5:11).

C.    As we love, the body (church) is edified (Eph 4:31-5:2; 4:15-16; 1 Cor 8:1; Gal 5:13).

1.    Teaching (Col 1:28; 3:16).

2.    Admonishing (Col 1:28; 3:16; Acts 20:31; Rom 15:14).

3.    Prayer (Col 1:9-11).

4.    Example (1 Tim. 4:12).

Not only is there joy in helping others grow, but there ought to be joy in receiving such help.
We ought to express our appreciation to those who edify us (1 Thess 5:12-13; Prov 27:6).

May we each do all we can to assist our brethren in their development —
And receive in the proper spirit the help they give us.

The Restoration Principle — God’s Wondrous Grace

The difference between policy and principle may properly be considered the basic difference between the “Protestant Reformation” begun in the Sixteenth Century and the “Restoration Movement” of the Nineteenth Century. The word policy often conveys the idea of human wisdom, sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs. Whereas the word principle, derives from the Latin princeps, principis, whence come the English word , , prince,” meaning “first” or “chief”; hence, “a fundamental truth; a primary or basic law, doctrine, or the like.” Policy may change when in fact principle is “a settled rule of action; a governing law of conduct” (Webster). Compromise is a way of life with persons who consider truth and right as policies. With men of principle, truth and right are never negotiable!

Following the ascension of Christ except for the direct impartation of miraculous powers by the Holy Spirit upon the apostles (Acts 2:1-4), the first Gentile converts (Acts 10,11), and the apostle Paul (who claimed that he was “not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles,” 2 Cor. 11: 5), we are unaware of anybody, anywhere, at any time receiving the Holy Spirit miraculously apart from the laying on of an apostle’s hands. This being the case, miracles ceased with the death of the last person endowed miraculously through the medium of an apostle’s hands. This, then, is our reason for appealing to the apostles’ teaching rather than post-apostolic creeds and practices of apostate bodies.

Meaning Of “Restoration

To restore is to give back or bring back to the first or previous state. Abimelech “restored” to Abraham Sarah, his wife (Gen. 20:14); Nehemiah urged his fellow-Jews to “restore” fields and houses to their deprived brethren (Neh. 5:11).

Illustrative of the “restoration principle” as applied to rule or government was the apostles’ question to Jesus following His resurrection, viz., “Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:1-6) Obviously the apostles were thinking about a return of the power and prominence fleshly Israel had exercised over other nations in the glorious days of David and Solomon and also fleshly Israel’s escape from the Roman domination of Israel in their own time. It is in this sense that we use the words “restore” and “restoration” in this treatise regarding the “bringing back” of “spiritual Israel” in its faith, practice, attitude toward and respect for the form of government, revealed in Christ’s apostles and their contemporaries as they were directed by the Holy Spirit in their oral and written communication. They used the words with which the Holy Spirit supplied them to convey whatever idea God wanted taught.

Biblical Basis of Restoration

Apostle Paul makes the foregoing observations unmistakably clear when he says, “We received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth but which the Holy Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words” (1 Cor. 2:12,13). Since words are vehicles upon which thoughts ride by reading what men inspired by the Holy Spirit in the First Century wrote, we of the Twentieth Century can understand the mind and will of God now. Every written communication argues the factuality of one person’s mental ability to understand the thoughts of another. Unless, therefore, it can be -established that God has changed His will since the completion of the New Testament we necessarily conclude that whatever God willed for man to believe and practice from the apostolic writings then the same God wills now. If not, why not? Jesus declared, “Heaven and earth shall pass away; but my word shall not pass away” (Mk. 13:31).

In the “Parable of the Sower” Jesus said, “Now the seed is the word of God” (Lk. 8:11). It follows, therefore, that there never has been or ever will be any person converted to Christ or developed In the image of Christ apart from the pure word of God, the gospel of Christ, described by the apostle Paul as “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). The gospel, preached by the apostles, produced new persons identified as “Christians” (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16). Those converts to Christ were Christians only and only “Christians” with no sectarian or denominational designations characterizing much of the present religious world professing allegiance to the Bible as God’s word. Those non-denominational Christians constituted the only “assemblies” or “churches” ever originating from the apostles’ teaching and were identified by apostles as “the churches of Christ” or “the church of God” (Rom. 16:16), also called “the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 12:29).

Restoration Practices

The collective (congregational) activities of these Christians were exceedingly simple. These “saints” called such by the apostles, and also described as “sanctified” in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:1,2) — as a result of the apostles’ teaching, assembled on the first day of the week to break bread (observe the Lord’s Supper, Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:20-33), not to “socialize.” In this assembly, each disciple according to his financial ability, contributed cheerfully of this material means toward relief of the poor saints and the support of gospel works (1 Cor. 16:1,2; 2 Cor. 8,9; Phil. 1:3-5; 4:14-18). Assemblies also were edified through their mutual study of the Scriptures and by singing and praying and exhorting to love and good works (Acts 2:42; Eph. 5:18,19; Col. 3:16,17; 1 Cor. 14:15; .Heb. 10:21-25).

Each assembly had its own overseers (bishops), also known as pastors (shepherds) and elders and deacons (servants) (Phil. 1:1; Acts 20:17-35; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; Tit. 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 5:14).

There is no reason to think that there was any earthly super-structure of government, or even association restricting any two or all of these congregations under one human head or group to be or do anything collectively! Some 153 years ago, well did Alexander Campbell, a preacher of great influence in the religious world, observe,

“The societies called churches, constituted and set in order by those ministers of the New Testament, were of such as received and acknowledged Jesus as Lord Messiah, the Savior of the World, and had put themselves under his guidance. The ONLY BOND OF UNION among them was faith in him and submission to his will. No subscription to abstract propositions framed by synods; no decrees of councils sanctioned by kings; no rules of practice commanded by ecclesiastical courts were imposed on them as terms of admission into, or of continuance in this holy brotherhood. In the “apostles doctrine” and in the “apostles’ commandments” they steadfastly continued. Their fraternity was a fraternity of love, peace, gratitude, cheerfulness, joy, charity, and universal benevolence. Their religion did not manifest itself in public fasts nor carnivals. They had no festivals – no great and solemn meetings. Their meeting on the first day of the week was at all times alike solemn, joyful and interesting. Their religion was not of that elastic and porous kind, which at one time is compressed into some cold formalities, and at another expanded into prodigious zeal and warmth.

The order of their assemblies was uniformly the same. It did not vary with moons and seasons. It did not change as dress nor fluctuate as the manners of the times. Their devotion did not diversify itself into the endless forms of modern times. They had no monthly concerts for prayer; no solemn convocations, no great fasts, nor preparations, nor thanksgiving days. Their churches were not fractured into missionary societies, bible societies, education societies; nor did they dream of organizing such in the world. They knew nothing of the hobbies of modern times. In their church capacity alone they moved. They neither transformed themselves into any other kind of association, nor did they fracture and sever themselves into divers societies. They viewed the church of Jesus Christ as the scheme of Heaven to ameliorate the world,- as members of it, they considered themselves bound to do all they could for the glory of God and the good of men. They dare not transfer to a missionary society, or bible society, or education society, a cent or a prayer, lest in so doing they should rob the church of its glory, and exalt the inventions of men above the wisdom of God. In their church capacity alone they moved” (Christian Baptist, Vol. 1, pp. 6-7).

The foregoing represents “The Restoration Principle.” “The seed is the word of God” (Lk. 8:11). The pattern for the formation of New Testament churches and the power to restore them to the same order of government, work, and worship that existed in the First Century is found in the New Testament. The only obstacle presently preventing such d6restoration” is the application of the apostolic principle of “seed sowing” “in good and honest hearts!” Such a procedure in reality is more than restoration. It is a reproduction of the New Testament order! If not, why not?

By James R. Cope, Guardian of Truth – June 5, 1986


GOD’S WONDROUS GRACE

We are all familiar with the word GRACE. Let’s spend a few moments on this wonderful word, & its relationship to the Christian.

GRACE DEFINED – Biblically

  1. Speaking words that edify (Luke 4:22; Isa 61:1-2; Eph 4:29; Col 4:6)
  2. Showing good-will or mercy (Eph 2:4-5)
  3. The state of being “in Christ” (Rom 5:1-2; 1 Pet 5:10-12)
  4. An expression of gratitude (1 Tim 1:12)

GRACE & SALVATION

  • Grace, Obedience, then Salvation (Eph 2:4-9; Titus 3:4-5; Rom 6:3-4)

GRACE & HOLY LIVING

  • Grace came with instructions (Titus 2:11-13; Rom 6:1-2)

GRACE & GROWING

  • Grace must be pursued, but is never exhausted (2 Pet 3:18; 1 Pet 2:1-3; 2 Peter 1:5-11)

GRACE & WASTED EFFORT

  • Grace can be gained, then lost (2 Cor 6:1; Gal 5:4; Jude 4; Heb 10:26-31)

 

See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, & by it many be defiled (Heb 12:15; cf. 12:28; 13:9, 25).

Today, you many receive God’s Wondrous Grace! (Acts 20:24; Heb 2:9; 5:9; Mark 16:16)