Was Jesus a Socialist? (Part 1)

Originally posted on The Bible Meditator:

By Don Ruhl

During election time many people will use the Bible to support opposing ideas. When people from any of the political parties quote or allude to Scripture to support their position, they often have no idea what they are saying, and I am inclined to ask them what Jesus asked many in His generation, “Have you not read [such and such]”?

He would ask that of people who did read Scripture, but they did not notice all that it said, or they ignored the parts that they did not like. What about those who never read God’s word, but

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An Incredible Tale of Influence

Originally posted on Biblical Notes:

By Weylan Deaver

One man can have lasting effect on multitudes, even after death. Nicholas Brodie Hardeman was a premier preacher, debater and educator in the first half of the twentieth century. In Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, he preached the gospel to multiplied thousands, the sermons from which can still be read. He debated truth’s cause, to great effect, with prominent digressives and denominational preachers. He trained preachers in a college named for him. My grandfather, Roy C. Deaver, studied at Freed-Hardeman College in the 1940’s and, after graduating, stayed an extra year to study Hardeman. A half-century later, I would graduate from Freed-Hardeman University. What becomes monumental with time can begin with a modest tale of Christian influence, and Earl West relates just such a remarkable story (Search for the Ancient Order, vol. 4, pp. 155-156).

In 1890 an Alabama preacher named J. A. Minton goes to Milledgeville…

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If You Give a Fool a Favor

Originally posted on Biblical Notes:

By Weylan Deaver

How often does it make headlines that an atheist group is upset that prayers are being said somewhere, or that some religious symbol is in the public, or that something is said or written that makes unbelief feel the least bit unwelcome? It does seem that adamant atheists think that Bible-believers’ main duty in America is to make sure atheists are not made uncomfortable in any way by their presence. The best expression of Christianity is one that is neither seen nor heard by any potentially offended unbeliever. A recent grievance from the godless is chronicled by Fox News contributor Todd Starnes in a July 24, 2013 online article, “Chaplain Ordered to Remove Religious Essay From Military Website.” Evidently, it is no longer a given that chaplains can do the very things that make them chaplains, lest some atheist see and feel discrimination (which has become…

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Sin Pride Month

Originally posted on Biblical Notes:

By Weylan Deaver

In case you haven’t heard, we Americans are supposed to be celebrating sin this month. At least, that’s what our President tells us. From his whitehouse.gov website comes a proclamation which reads, in part:

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2013 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.”

Sin has come a long way, hasn’t it? There was a time when it troubled people. Remember when Abraham’s nephew, Lot (a resident of Sodom), was “greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked” (2 Peter 2:7)? Of course, Lot was distressed by wickedness…

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Why “Same-Sex Marriage” Is a Bad Idea

Originally posted on Biblical Notes:

By Weylan Deaver

“Same-sex marriage” may be winning the polls, but it will lose every time against God’s word in the Bible. Consider several reasons. First, it fails to recognize God’s role in marriage (Matt. 19:6). God does not join anyone in marriage contrary to his law, and if God doesn’t do the joining, then there is no marriage in God’s eyes. For that reason alone, no homosexuals will ever have a God-endorsed marriage. Second, it cannot harmonize with Jesus’ teaching on marriage (Matt. 19:4-5). Jesus endorsed a concept of marriage dating back to Creation, when they were made male and female, and in which a man leaves his parents to cling to his wife. No other definition of marriage meets with Jesus’ approval. Third, it tries to make the unnatural into the normal. A simple reading of Romans 1:26-27 should convince anyone that God deems homosexuality dishonorable, unnatural, shameless…

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Originally posted on The Fellowship Room:

In the third volume of his masterpiece, Search for the Ancient Order (p. 57), Earl Irvin West quotes from an article in the Nov. 17, 1914 issue of Christian Leader by Claude F. Witty. In it, Witty describes some advice an old Christian gave him after he preached his first sermon:

“My brother, now that you have begun to preach, the people of the world will try to kill you, the people of other churches will try to kill you, and that is not all, for your own brethren will try to kill you. And, if they can, you ought to die (as a preacher). If you are not strong enough to live through the ordeal, you are not fit for a preacher of the gospel; but if you are strong enough to live in spite of them, then you are strong enough to make a success of your work.”

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Originally posted on Biblical Notes:

By Weylan Deaver

933Bar Church is the brainchild of Southern Hills church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. The sobriquet was chosen because, starting March 24, 2013 some of their members will begin conducting worship services at a local bar called “Memories” each Sunday morning at 11:30. Both Southern Hills and the new Bar Church have websites (quoted in italics below) extolling the virtues of such a novel approach. Their online list of questions and answers is revealing, if not disturbing.

Southern Hills plainly states, “Bar Church is a satellite location of Southern Hills, and therefore under the oversight of our eldership.” Explaining why a bar was chosen as the right location, they say, “Many people believe in God — or are curious about God — but have legitimate barriers that keep them from traditional churches. By meeting in a bar, we hope to remove some of those religious barriers and…

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In the late summer of 2005, Jim Dubcak and I were privileged to camp for a week in the Canadian Rockies of British Columbia, where we slept in a canvas tent beneath the Northern Lights. As preachers of the Gospel, both of us had taken aim many a time at spiritual wolves, but, in the mountains, we each had a license to hunt a real wolf (and a bear, but that’s another story).

Wolf hunting is not easy. As a game animal, the wolf is one of the most difficult trophies in North America. We only heard one the whole time we were there. Getting out of the truck, our guide began to call to the wolf, which was about a hundred yards away, on the other side of a tree line. The wolf howled several times in reply, and hung around for a couple of minutes. By that time, a breeze at our back evidently carried our unwelcome scent to his keen nose, and he ghosted away. As close as we were to the wolf—and though we heard him loudly—we never saw him, which is exactly how he wanted it. Still, just hearing one in the wild was an experience. Later, we took three barrels of leftover animal parts from the butcher’s shop in Chetwynd and emptied them in the wilderness, hoping the fragrant mound would attract some wolves. Though we returned several times to inspect the pile, no wolf was visible.

As large and potentially dangerous as they are, wolves do not like to be seen. Wolves are wary and well equipped to pull down animals much bigger than they—especially when working in packs. The damage a wolf (or wolves) can inflict must be the reason the Lord compared Canis lupus to the enemies of the church. Once, in giving his disciples a preaching assignment, Jesus said, “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matt. 10:16, ESV). He also warned his followers of “false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15). A wolf does not win his dinner by sauntering around a herd of deer while howling to advertise his presence. If that were his tactic, the herd would quickly run away. But, he may bring down the unsuspecting by ever-so-quietly sneaking up on his oblivious target and then dashing in for the kill. Likewise, spiritual wolves in the church do not wear T-shirts stating their true intentions. They may not look very fierce or smell threatening. More than likely, as the Lord indicated, they have put together a costume that, to some degree, looks like a sheep. Their disguising ability makes them all the more dangerous. Before leaving the Ephesian elders, Paul warned that “after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30).

Wolves do not embrace a “live and let live” approach. The devil is tirelessly trying to make a meal of God’s flock, hunting the weak, the ignorant, the unprepared, the one who dropped his guard, the one who got separated from the rest. He sneaks in close wearing a sheepskin, but it does not fit him well—there is always the telltale sign that something is amiss. The next time you see a sheep with a mouthful of fangs, or with a sharp set of claws where a hoof should be, raise an eyebrow and go wolf hunting.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Disapprove

In Romans 1:32 Paul mentions those who practice sin, and those who approve sin’s practice. You do not have to be personally guilty of any particular sin in order to endorse others who are. God forbids both sin-practice and sin-practice approval. This month has seen the President strike down the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which kept soldiers from openly declaring homosexuality. But, it seems, if there is one thing the emboldened homosexual cannot stand, it is the thought that he does not enjoy approval of his behavior, even at the highest level. The homosexual lobby knows no satisfaction short of a complete restructuring of society around its aberrant values. So now, in the military, they will be allowed to be openly homosexual in practice, while the government makes sure we put an indelible, red, white and blue stamp of approval on the practice. A country of greater moral fiber would not be entertaining such issues. If the practice is sinful, then it is also sinful to endorse the practice, even though approval come from the Oval Office. Immorality is not legislated into morality. And our national leaders would do well to remember that biblical principles trump American politics, policy, and political correctness every time. “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” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, ESV). Come visit us at the Sherman Drive church of Christ, where we still believe God meant what he said about sin.