Thursday, December 27, 2007

Unless You Believe

"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24).

Belief in Christ is essential for salvation. But the belief that Jesus mentions here is more than just a belief that he existed, came to earth, died for our sins, rose again from the dead, and ascended back into heaven. Yes, we must believe those things about Jesus. But if that is the extent of our belief, we will die in our sins.

If you read this verse in your Bible, where Jesus says, "unless you believe that I am He," the word "He" is probably in italics, differentiating it from the rest of the words. The reason for this is that the word was added by the translators. It is not in the original text. What Jesus actually said is, "unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins." This clearly points back to Moses' conversation with God when God called Himself the "I AM" (Exodus 3:14). This is also not the only time Jesus used this phrase in this way (John 8:58).

So what Jesus is actually teaching here is that unless we believe that He is God, we will die in our sins. That means we must recognize Him as our God and humbly submit to His will in faithful obedience (Hebrews 5:9). If we truly believe in Christ, that He is "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Revelation 19:16), we will do what He has instructed us to do.

"Faith without works is dead" (James 2:26), and a dead faith will ultimately result in us dying in our sins.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rest for the Weary

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). This is the great invitation offered by Jesus. He offers the invitation and makes the promise to those who will come: "you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:29).

However, we must work in order to receive rest. We must take on His yoke. As a yoke is placed upon the oxen so they do the work their master guides them to do, we must do the work Christ has given us to do. Work precedes rest. And so we must see to it that we are working the "works of God" (John 6:28) so we do not miss out on the promised rest. The Hebrew writer warned, "Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience" (Hebrews 4:11).

Jesus never promised a life of ease and comfort here and now. The promised rest comes after death (Revelation 14:13). We need to continue working as He would have us to and guard against becoming complacent. If we give up at the end and instead of entering into His rest, we "come short of it" (Hebrews 4:1), we will miss out just the same as those who never tried.

"Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest" (Hebrews 4:11) and "let us not grow weary while doing good" (Galatians 6:9).

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Why was Simon Called to Bear Jesus' Cross?

"As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross" (Matthew 27:32).

Why was Simon made to perform this task? Because Jesus stumbled as He carried the cross, right? That's what so many people believe. But if you look at the gospel accounts, there is no mention whatsoever of Jesus stumbling while on the way to be crucified.

There could have been many reasons why Simon was pressed into service. Maybe Jesus was walking slower than the soldiers wanted, so they got someone else to carry the cross. Perhaps Simon looked at one of the soldiers the wrong way and they forced him to do this. It might be possible that Jesus stumbled. But in reality, we don't know. Any reason we might give would be purely speculation.

But many people choose to believe that Simon was called to bear the cross because Jesus stumbled. The thought of Jesus stumbling and falling underneath the weight of the cross can have a great emotional impact on someone. It could even bring them to tears. Preachers could use this emotionalism to their advantage in trying to provoke one to respond to his message. So this idea has been popular through the years.

Our goal, however, is not to make people cry. Our goal is to bring them to the point of faith. Faith is to be based upon the word of God (Romans 10:17), not our speculations and imaginations.

The point in all of this is to remember to "examine everything carefully" (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and test all teachings with the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). We must not believe something because we've always heard it, it sounds good, or it makes us feel good. We must believe what God has revealed in His word.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

BOTC - December 2007

The new issue of Banner of the Cross is now online and contains the following article:

Right & Wrong by Andy Sochor

Banner of the Cross

Saturday, December 1, 2007

PBT - December 2007

The December issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:

Editorial: Is This Website Authorized? by Andy Sochor
Be Ready by Andy Sochor
Prayer by Andy Sochor
Denominationalism by Andy Sochor

You can read the new articles by clicking on the link below. I hope you may find the new material helpful to you.

Plain Bible Teaching

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Always Giving Thanks

Around the time of the Thanksgiving holiday, we are reminded of how richly we have been blessed by God. James tells us, "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow" (James 1:17). Of course, we should be "always giving thanks" (Eph. 5:20), not just during this time of year. But the holiday serves as a good reminder for us.

Sometimes though we are tempted to think negatively of our situation despite God's abundant blessings. It is easy to look at others around us who have more of this world's goods and who don't seem to have to struggle as we sometimes do in order to make ends meet. If we allow it, bitterness can creep in and we will end up miserable. But if we put away covetousness and are truly thankful for what God has given us, it will be easier to see how blessed we are.

But holidays can also be a time of sadness for those who have endured some great loss, such as the death of a loved one or some financial tragedy. How should we react when some of our greatest blessings are lost or we are not being blessed as others are?

Consider the example of Job. In a short time his family and great wealth were taken away (Job. 1:13-19). Did he blame God? Did he become depressed and say that life was not fair? No. Notice what he did immediately after hearing the reports of his catastrophic loss:

"Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job. 1:20-21).

Job recognized that God was in control. He blesses us according to His will. He knows what is best for us (cf. Mt. 6:8). We must simply trust in Him.

You may, at this time or other times, be suffering great hardship and loss. You could certainly look to others who are more prosperous than you are. But in any of these circumstances, we can still see how God has blessed us if we are willing to recognize it. Throughout our lives, whether times are good or bad, let us be truly thankful to the Lord for the good things He has given and praise His name.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rethinking Divorce recently posted an article titled, An Evangelistic Rethink on Divorce. The article discusses the fact that divorce, which was once looked down upon, is now accepted and defended among many religious people. Some have come to accept divorce by ignoring the Scriptures. But the article talks about those who try to use the Bible to condone it.

There is nothing wrong with examining our beliefs and practices in light of God's word. In fact, we should do that. Our lives and outlook on the world around us should be shaped by the word of God. But many have this backwards. They let their lives and society shape their interpretation of God's word. The result is a "different gospel" that Paul warned the Galatians about (Gal. 1:6-9). That is exactly what this rethinking on divorce is - a different gospel.

There is no need to rethink divorce to allow what Jesus clearly condemned. There is only one cause that gives one the divine permission to put away their mate. That cause is fornication on the part of one's spouse (Mt. 19:9). Jesus did not use ambiguous language. Everyone can understand this (if they want to).

Evangelicals, and some of our own brethren, are twisting the Scriptures (2 Pet. 3:16) in order to justify multiple causes of divorce. Their "rethinking" is based in the wisdom of man. They would do good to remember the words of Paul: "the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Cor. 1:25).

Monday, November 5, 2007

BOTC - November 2007

The new issue of Banner of the Cross is now online and contains the following articles:

Will We Recognize One Another in Heaven? by Andy Sochor
Glorifying God by Andy Sochor
The First Day of the Week by Andy Sochor

Banner of the Cross

Thursday, November 1, 2007

PBT - November 2007

The November issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:

The Unchanging Standard of Truth by Andy Sochor
Husbands & Wives: Distinct Roles & Responsibilities by Andy Sochor
Will We Recognize One Another in Heaven? by Andy Sochor
Individual and Church Action by Andy Sochor

You can read the new articles by clicking on the link below. I hope you may find the new material helpful to you.

Plain Bible Teaching

Friday, October 19, 2007


"Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim. 3:12).

Being persecuted for living as a Christian is not something that might happen, but is something that will happen. The degree of persecution may vary by time and place. But it is something that each Christian will have to face.

I wonder sometimes if some have forgotten this (or perhaps not been taught it). Sometimes conflicts arise when we try and live according to God's word. Opposition sometimes will come when we preach the gospel in its purity and simplicity. How do we react when this happens? Do we say, "oh, we must be doing something wrong," and then change our lives or message?

We should not automatically think we are doing something wrong when persecution comes. It could be that what we are doing and teaching is exactly right, and that is why we are being persecuted.

It good to examine ourselves and our teaching (2 Cor. 13:5). But if we are right, we cannot allow the persecution to alter our actions or message. This is the goal of persecution. Do not become embarrassed or fearful. Instead, "consider it all joy...when you encounter various trials" (James 1:2).

Remember the words of the apostle Peter: "if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name" (1 Pet. 4:16).

Monday, October 8, 2007

BOTC - October 2007

The new issue of Banner of the Cross is now online and contains the following articles:

We Can Understand the Bible by Andy Sochor
True Love by Andy Sochor

Banner of the Cross

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Emphasizing Jesus Christ

Paul wrote to the saints in Corinth, "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2). Why did Paul place such an emphasis on teaching Jesus? He explains, "so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God" (1 Cor. 2:5).

The Corinthians had a problem of following after men. This resulted in division, as some were saying, "'I am of Paul,' and 'I of Apollos,' and 'I of Cephas,' and 'I of Christ'" (1 Cor. 1:12). Paul later explained that when they claimed loyalty to these men, they were carnally minded and immature (1 Cor. 3:1-4).

The inspired apostle sought to correct this thinking so that they would focus on following Christ, and not men. This is the first problem he addressed in his letter (1 Cor. 1:10-17). But notice how he subtly makes this point before he explicitly states it.

{1} Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
{2} To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:
{3} Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
{4} I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus,
{5} that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge,
{6} even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you,
{7} so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,
{8} who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
{9} God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
{10} Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.

In the first ten verses of this letter, Paul mentions the name of Christ ten times. In doing so he references His deity, lordship (authority), gospel, and revelation in judgment. He also points out that in Him we have salvation, sanctification, grace, fellowship, and unity.

No man can compare with Christ. No one can offer us what Christ can. So let us do as Paul encouraged the Corinthians to do: be wholly devoted to Christ and serve Him faithfully.

Monday, October 1, 2007

PBT - October 2007

The October issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:

The Great Conspiracy by Andy Sochor
The Body of Sin by Andy Sochor
Some Things That Christians Cannot Do by Andy Sochor
Divorce for Any Reason at All? by Andy Sochor

You can read the new articles by clicking on the link below. I hope you may find the new material helpful to you.

Plain Bible Teaching

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Concepts or Carefulness?

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others" (Mt. 23:23).

Jesus mentions two ways in which one might serve God. One way is to take the larger principles (justice, mercy, faithfulness) and go through life trying to live by those principles. The other way is to pay close attention to the smallest detail (tithing of herbs), no matter how insignificant it may seem to others.

Some have tried to take this verse and say we must choose whether we will serve God through right principles or through following the strictest details. Actually, Jesus says we must do both - "these are the things you should have done [concepts of justice, mercy, and faithfulness] without neglecting the others [carefulness of strict adherence to the Law]."

The Pharisees were condemned by Jesus for many things. As a result, it is sometimes easy to associate everything about the Pharisees as being wrong. But the Pharisees were NOT condemned for trying to strictly adhere to the Law in this instance. Their strict adherence did not cause them to neglect the "weightier provisions" either. They were just negligent in these areas and needed to be corrected.

So what is the point of the verse? Not that we must choose to focus on principles and attitudes OR precepts and actions. But that we must strive to strictly follow all of the Lord's commands while allowing our hearts and minds to be guided by the greater concepts of the gospel of Christ.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Do Not Receive Him into Your House

When Paul came to Thessalonica in Acts 17, he began preaching in the synagogue with some success (v. 1-4). However, many of the Jews became upset and caused an uproar (v. 5). They searched for Paul and Silas, the ones who had "turned the world upside down" with their teaching (v. 6). When they could not find them, they brought Jason and some of the other brethren before the city authorities (v. 6-7). What charge did they bring against Jason? He "welcomed them" (v. 7).

This reminds me of a passage in 2 John. John wrote, "If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds" (2 Jn. 10-11). John is teaching that when one supports, welcomes, or receives one who does not bring the "teaching of Christ" (2 Jn. 9), he becomes a partner in evil. The Jews in Thessalonica saw Paul and Silas as evil men. In their minds, Jason, because he welcomed them, was just as deserving of punishment and they were. This is the principle of 2 John 10-11. But the punishment for receiving one that John talked about will not come from civil authorities, but from "Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Mt. 10:28).

It is interesting that some of the enemies of the cross of Christ were able to grasp this principle of fellowship while some of our own brethren cannot. Some Christians and local churches today welcome false teachers, support compromisers, and receive those who are unwilling to bring "the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:28). When they do this, they become a partner in wickedness and stand just as condemned as the one they receive.

First and foremost, "our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 Jn. 1:3). Let us not forfeit our relationship with God for any man, no matter how popular, friendly, knowledgeable, zealous, etc., he is.

I just recently read an article, 2 John 9-11 and Fellowship by Tim Haile. If you are interested in reading more on the topic of fellowship, I would recommend that article.

Monday, September 3, 2007

BOTC - September 2007

The new issue of Banner of the Cross is now online and contains the following article:

Words of Wisdom About the Use of Alcohol by Andy Sochor

Banner of the Cross

Saturday, September 1, 2007

PBT - September 2007

The September issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:

The Source of Authority by Andy Sochor
Only the Red Letters? by Tim Haile
The "Creed in the Deed" by Larry R. DeVore
Immodesty in Dress: Who Is To Blame? by Andy Sochor

You can read the new articles by clicking on the link below. I hope you may find these helpful to you.

Plain Bible Teaching

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Uncertainty of Life

"Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.' But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil" (James 4:13-16).

We often like to plan for the future. It gives us a sense of security knowing what is coming next and working toward a certain goal. But we do not know what is coming next. Our best plans could be in vain. Many things could happen that are beyond our power to control that can completely change our life.

Our life is uncertain. James reminds us that our time on this earth is as "a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away." Events in our life are uncertain. Instead of saying, "we will go to such and such a city," we should say, "if the Lord wills." After all, He is the one in control.

Failure to recognize how little control we have over the events that impact our life constitutes arrogance. We are nothing. We should not think that our plans are set in stone. This is not to say we shouldn't make plans. James isn't teaching that at all. Make plans. But condition them with the phrase, "if the Lord wills."

While we might feel secure "knowing" what our future holds, realizing that we cannot know what will come tomorrow can cause anxiety and fear. But though I am not in control, it is not as if no one is in control. God is in control. So we should not be anxious about the future. Jesus said, "do not worry about tomorrow" (Mt. 6:34). Regarding the necessities of life, Jesus said, "your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (Mt. 6:32-33).

If you ever feel overwhelmed or tempted to worry about what life may bring, remember you can cast "all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you" (1 Pet. 5:7). Remember the words of the apostle Paul: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7).

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The All Sufficiency of the Church

I came across Daniel Sommer's commentary on the New Testament. I thought a couple of his comments regarding the church in particular were quite good.

1 Timothy 3:15
"...I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth."

Sommer comments:
"We may also learn by considering the verse now before us that the Church is declared to be "the pillar and ground of the truth," and thus is the support of the truth. In other words, the Church of God, wherever it exists, is intended, by its Founder, to be the institution to uphold the truth, and he never ordained any other institution for that purpose."

Ephesians 3:21
"to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."

Sommer comments:
"It indicates that God's purpose is to be glorified in the Church in all ages, and does not intimate that he desires to be glorified, nor can be glorified, in any human institution. This verse is God's eternal veto of all human societies that man may pretend to establish for his glory."

Sunday, August 5, 2007

BOTC - August 2007

The new issue of Banner of the Cross is now online and contains the following articles:

Guided by Feelings by Andy Sochor
What About the Thief on the Cross? by Andy Sochor

Banner of the Cross

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

PBT - August 2007

The August issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:

Editorial: Third Year of Publication by Andy Sochor
The Gospel of the Grace of God by Andy Sochor
Guided by Feelings by Andy Sochor
The Need for Factions by Andy Sochor

This issue marks the beginning of the third year for Plain Bible Teaching. Thank you for your continued interest and support during this time. I hope you will continue to find this a useful resource in your study of God's word.

You can read the new articles by clicking on the link below.

Plain Bible Teaching

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Allegiance to Christ

"Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, but who can find a trustworthy man?" (Pr. 20:6)

Millions of people will profess allegiance to Christ. But who is truly loyal to him? The proverb says that most who claim to be good and loyal are not. Are you truly loyal to Christ? Am I? Even the apostle Peter wavered in his loyalty to the Lord after His arrest. Peter beforehand told the Lord, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You" (Mt. 26:35). Yet we read further on in the chapter and see that Peter denied the Lord three times (Mt. 26:69-75). It is far easier to claim allegiance to Christ than to actually show it in the face of trials and conflicts.

Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other" (Mt. 6:24). We cannot be loyal to Christ and loyal to another master. One may be able to ride the fence for a while as long as there is no conflict between the ones they are trying to be loyal to. But when conflict arises, when truth has "fallen in the street" (Is. 59:14), that is when it will become evident whether we are truly aligned with Christ or not.

Brethren, our allegiance must be to Christ and Him alone. Not to some college, bookstore, publication, preacher, elder, family member, etc. "No one can serve two masters" (Mt. 6:24). Let's be sure we're serving the One who can reward our loyalty with a "crown of life" (Rev. 2:10).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Passing Pleasures of Sin

Among the great examples of faith in Hebrews 11, we read this about Moses:

"By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward" (Heb. 11:24-26).

It is acknowledged in this passage that sin is pleasurable. That is why people choose to sin. It is a choice. We are never forced to do right or wrong. But many times we choose to sin. We do because we are enticed by our own lust (James 1:14-15). When we give into these desires, we sin.

While sin may be pleasurable, the pleasure of sin is temporary. That's why this passage speaks of the "passing pleasures of sin." This is why people have to keep going back to sin. The pleasure that was derived from one sin doesn't last. So they have to go back for more. Ultimately, the pleasure will pass forever with no way to get it back. John wrote, "the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever" (1 Jn. 2:17).

What should we do, knowing that though sin might be pleasurable, it is passing? We should seek God and His reward regardless of the consequences. Moses gave up the "pleasures of sin" for "ill-treatment with the people of God." Why? He was "looking to the reward" which was "greater riches than the treasures of Egypt."

There will be hardships and difficulties in living as a Christian (2 Tim. 3:12; 1 Pet. 4:16). But in the end, the reward is more than worth it, no matter what came before. We are admonished to "lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1).

Friday, July 6, 2007

Truths about Temptation

"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it" (1 Cor. 10:13).

It is inevitable that we will be tempted. But we must remain faithful and not succumb to temptation. If we allow ourselves to fall, the ultimate result is spiritual death (James 1:14-15). So we must strive to overcome temptations whenever they come. The verse above provides three reminders that will help us do what is right when we are tempted to sin.

1. You are not alone. There is no temptation that is not "common to man." Whatever we may be faced with, others have endured that same temptation. What is encouraging is that while others have faced the temptation you may be facing, not all have given in to it. You don't need to give in to it either.

2. You can overcome temptation. God "will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able." Every temptation you face is one you are able to overcome. This has been promised by God. Whatever you face, you should know that you can endure it.

3. There is a way of escape. You will not encounter a situation in which no matter what you do you sin. You always have the option of doing what is right. It may not be easy to do sometimes. But the "way of escape" is always there.

Let us remember these truths about temptation and be encouraged that temptation can be overcome. We do not have to sin. We can do what is right. Let us strive to avoid sin and live faithfully for the Lord.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

BOTC - July 2007

The new issue of Banner of the Cross is now online and contains the following articles:

A Stone of Stumbling by Andy Sochor
The Silence of the Scriptures by Andy Sochor

Banner of the Cross

PBT - July 2007

The July issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:

Fellowship with One Another by Andy Sochor
Those Who Will Be Saved by Andy Sochor
Instruments in Heaven by Andy Sochor
Non-Church Collectives: Are They Authorized? by Andy Sochor

You can read these articles by clicking on the link below. I hope this material is helpful to you.

Plain Bible Teaching

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Silence of the Scriptures

Does God's silence authorize or prohibit? This question has been discussed for centuries. Some believe that a thing is wrong only if there is a specific prohibition against it. This reasoning is used to defend such practices as the use of instruments in worship and taking money the church has collected and using it for recreational purposes.

A helpful passage to consider is Hebrews 7:14. "For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests." In this context, the Hebrew writer is making the point that the law has changed (v. 12). This was necessary before Jesus could be a priest. Jesus could not be a priest under the old law. Why? He was from the tribe of Judah. Why was this prohibited? Nothing was said about it. When the Law of Moses specified the tribe of Levi as the tribe from which priests would descend, all the other tribes were automatically excluded, even without a specific prohibition.

We should not defend a practice by saying, "God hasn't said not to." Instead, we need to find where the practice is authorized. Notice in Hebrews 7:14 that even Jesus, the Son of God, could not have the rules bent so as to allow Him to be a priest under the old law. Let us not think so much of ourselves that we bend the rules and expect God to be pleased. Instead, let's do only those things authorized in His word.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Support of Preachers

"So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel" (1 Cor. 9:14).

This verse, along with the verses leading up to it, shows us God's design that those who devote their lives to preaching the gospel ought to be able to make a living from their work. Local churches and individual Christians ought to take this seriously. Are they, to the best of their ability, allowing those who labor in the gospel to devote their lives wholly to that work?

When we consider the responsibility to "support such men" (3 Jn. 8), we need to properly understand the nature of that support. It seems there are some who view the money they give to a preacher, at least to some degree, as benevolence. They are helping someone who is in need. The reason he is in need is because he has devoted his life to preaching instead of getting a job that will allow him to support himself and his family. This is not how the New Testament describes a preacher's support.

Paul told the Corinthians, "I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you" (2 Cor. 11:8). The money Paul received for preaching was not benevolent aid. He was paid wages. Wages are that which you earn for what you do. Therefore, when deciding what to pay a man for his work in preaching, it is right to pay him based on his work, not his need.

A word to preachers: There may be times when brethren will not or cannot provide enough support for you to completely devote yourself to preaching. In those cases, do what Paul did. Work while you preach (Acts 18:3-4; 20:34). It may not be ideal, but it can be done.

Preachers need to preach the gospel. Brethren and local churches ought to do what they can to allow those who preach to make their living from the gospel. Let us all take our responsibility seriously.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

BOTC - June 2007

The new issue of Banner of the Cross is now online and contains the following articles:

Tradition in Worship by Andy Sochor
The True Word of God by Andy Sochor

Banner of the Cross

Friday, June 1, 2007

PBT - June 2007

The June issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:

The Bible by Andy Sochor
Preparing to Preach by Andy Sochor
Forsaking Methodology by Brandon Trout
The Establishment of the Kingdom by Andy Sochor

You can read these articles by clicking on the link below. I hope this material is helpful to you.

Plain Bible Teaching

Friday, May 18, 2007


It is easy to get caught up in accumulating wealth and possessions in this life. Many around us are prosperous and have lots of things we would like to have. So we are tempted to pursue those things. While there is nothing wrong with possessing some of this world's goods, if those things are our aim, we will be as unfruitful as the thorny ground in the parable of the sower. The "worries and riches and pleasures of this life" (Lk. 8:13) will choke out the word and leave us in a sad condition before the Lord.

So what is the solution? Instead of the endless pursuit of physical things, we must learn to be content with what we have. Paul said, "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am" (Phil. 4:11). The next verse states that this meant at times getting along with humble means and at other times living in prosperity. There is nothing wrong with being prosperous. But whether we have abundance or suffer need (Phil. 4:12), we must be content.

Paul told Timothy, "if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content" (1 Tim. 6:8). Paul goes on to warn, "But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (1 Tim. 6:9-10).

Notice Paul does not say that those who are rich fall into temptation, but those who want to get rich. One may be poor and still have the love of money that will destroy his soul. Let us not be led away from our devotion to Christ by the things of this world. Rather, let us be content and serve God regardless of our circumstances.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Free Gift of God

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 6:23).

Many use this verse to show that we are saved by the grace of God and that there is nothing we can do to affect our salvation. That is, works (acts of obedience) are not necessary for salvation. We all recognize the fact that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," so it is true that all are deserving of spiritual death. But those who say grace is unconditional try and say that those who believe it is conditional believe they can earn their salvation.

Let's assume for a moment that it is possible for one to live his entire life without sinning. Has that person earned heaven? Since he has not sinned, he is not due the wages of sin; therefore he does not deserve to go to Hell. But that is all. He has not earned eternal life. That is still a "free gift of God."

We must realize that we will never earn a home in heaven. But that does not mean God's grace is unconditional. He expects us to be obedient to him (yes, that means "works") in order to be saved. Jesus is "to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation" (Heb. 5:9).

Let us obey God faithfully in order to receive the free gift of eternal life. But when we obey him, let us not think we've earned anything. Instead, let us have the servant's attitude commended to us by the Lord. "So you too, when you do all that things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done'" (Lk. 17:10).

Sunday, May 6, 2007

BOTC - May 2007

The new issue of Banner of the Cross is now online and contains the following article:

Why the School Shootings? by Tim Haile

Banner of the Cross

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

PBT - May 2007

The May issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:

Why The School Shootings? by Tim Haile
Romans 14 by Andy Sochor
Fellowship Questions and MDR by Andy Sochor
Is Gambling Wrong? by Andy Sochor

You can read these articles by clicking on the link below. I hope this material is helpful to you.

Plain Bible Teaching

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"O how I love Your law!"

The psalmist wrote, "O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day." (Ps. 119:97) He goes on to say the law of God had given him wisdom, insight, and understanding. He abstained from evil and practiced the ordinances of God. He concluded this section by saying, "From your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way." (Ps. 119:104)

Notice the contrast. He loved God's law and hated every false way. Because he understood God's precepts, he hated everything opposed to and out of harmony with them. Why? For the same reason we might. Sin separates man from God and ends in eternal death (Is. 59:2; Rom. 6:23; James 1:15). Teaching something other than God's truth causes one to be accursed (Gal. 1:8-9). Understanding these things should cause us to "hate every false way" as well.

Do we love God's truth and hate every false way? We might all say we love the truth. But would we use language as strong as David, that we hate that which is false?

Are we set for the defense of the gospel, rising up when it comes under attack (Phil. 1:16,17)? Will we stand up for the truth, even when we have to stand alone (2 Tim. 4:16)? Will we confront the preacher who is influencing others toward sin (Gal. 2:11-14)? Will we resist the lead of the elders who are leading us away from Christ (Acts 20:29-30)? Are we willing to forsake family and friends in order to remain true to the Lord (Mt. 10:34-37)?

If not, can we say we hate every false way like David did? If we don't have that attitude that David expressed, perhaps we don't love God's law as much as we think we do.

Let's each examine ourselves in light of God's word.

Monday, April 23, 2007

New Study Material Added

I added a new study section containing the material from a booklet I wrote on the recent marriage, divorce and remarriage controversy. You may click on the link below to go directly to the material. I hope you find this to be a profitable study.

Understanding the Putting Away Controversy

Sunday, April 15, 2007


The Christian Chronicle recently reported that the Highland Oaks Church of Christ has recently merged with the nearby Pitman Creek Church of Christ. [You can read the story here.] Yet what is unique about this merger is that each congregation is going to remain where they currently are. They will now be "one congregation meeting in two locations", sharing "a common staff, eldership, budget and vision."

The obvious error in this is the disregard of local church autonomy and the over-extension of the rule of elders. But I want to notice something else right now that the article mentioned.

The Highland Oaks church has 2000 members. The Pitman Creek church, which has just been taken over, has 200 members. The Pitman Creek church was described as "struggling" and "small". It is difficult for me to see how a 200-member congregation can be described as small and struggling. What does this say about much smaller groups?

The Bible teaches that the church is fully sufficient to do the work God has given it to do. 1 Timothy 3:15 says the church is "the pillar and support of the truth." The context indicates that this is the local church. The local church has the responsibility of upholding and proclaiming the truth.

Each congregation, whether it has 10, 200, or 2000 members, is fully capable and equipped to do what God intends for the local church to do. Let us not be discouraged by those who want to improve God's plan by leading us to believe that we cannot do what God wants us to do without doing it their way. Let us do things God's way. His way is, and always will be, the best way to accomplish His goals.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Victory in Jesus

The book of Revelation is one of the more difficult books in the Bible to understand. Because of the prevalent use of symbolic language and Old Testament references, it requires much study on our part to get a firm grasp on the book. But if we simplify the message of Revelation, we see described a struggle between good and evil; those who are for God and those who are against God.

Revelation 17:14 contains what I believe is the main point of the book. “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.

Satan and his forces are waging war against Christ and His kingdom. This is not talking about some future Armageddon. The war is being waged now. Numerous New Testament passages remind us of this fact (2 Cor. 10:3-4; Eph. 6:11-13; 1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 2:3; 4:7; 1 Pet. 2:11).

The interesting thing about this war is that the outcome is sure: “the Lamb will overcome them”. Christ’s army will be victorious in the end, no matter how strong the forces of evil may seem. We must decide whether we will fight for the Lord, or against Him.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

BOTC - April 2007

The new issue of Banner of the Cross is now online and contains the following articles:

Calling on the Name of the Lord by Andy Sochor
"A Good Work" - Really? by Tim Haile

Banner of the Cross

Sunday, April 1, 2007

PBT - April 2007

The April issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:

Testing the Spirits by Andy Sochor
What is the Church of Christ? by Andy Sochor
Where Did Jesus Go When He Died? by Andy Sochor
Personal Responsibility in the Work of Evangelism by Andy Sochor

You can read these articles by clicking on the link below. I hope you find this material helpful.

Plain Bible Teaching

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The True Word of God

The Bible makes the claim: "All Scripture is inspired by God" (2 Tim. 3:16). Since God is perfect, it would stand to reason that His word is perfect.

This is exactly what we find with the Bible. Despite the fact that it was written by about 40 different authors in three different languages over a period of 1500 years, there is perfect harmony throughout. A proof that the Bible is a product of divine origin, not from the mind of man.

Contrast this with another book claiming to be of divine origin, the Qur'an. The Qur'an originated in the mind of man. As a result, it does not have the harmony found in the Bible. But those who wrote the Qur'an were clever. They provided a loophole to explain any contradiction:

"Whatever communications We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring one better than it or like it. Do you know that Allah has power over all things?" (Qur'an 2:106)

So if you're a Muslim reading the Qur'an and find a passage that contradicts another, what do you do? Simple: believe whatever came later. After all, who's to say that Allah cannot change his mind? Personally, I would not expect fickle to be a characteristic of Almighty God.

The Bible needs no such loophole. Jesus simply said, "the Scripture cannot be broken" (Jn. 10:35). How sharp the contrast between the true word of God and a fraud.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Of First Importance

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4).

Paul told the Corinthians that he had and was presently preaching the gospel to them (v. 1). The reason why it was important is because the gospel brings salvation (v. 2). It is “the power of God for salvation” (Rom. 1:16). In the preaching of the gospel, that which is “of first importance” is the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

This is not to say that nothing else is important. We must obey the commands revealed in the gospel (Mt. 28:20). We are to follow the pattern revealed in the New Testament (2 Tim. 1:13). But the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the foundation of the gospel message.

We have the opportunity to be “reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10). After being reconciled, we have the hope of being “united with the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom. 6:5). Salvation would not be possible without the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

We are to remember the death of Christ weekly as we partake of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-26). But given the importance of this, we should remember it more than just one day a week. Let us think of these things often as we strive to serve the Lord.

Monday, March 5, 2007

The Lost Tomb of Jesus?

A documentary that aired recently on the Discovery Channel entitled "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" has caused quite a stir among many. In the film, it is claimed that the tomb of Jesus Christ has been discovered. While those who believe the Bible understand that Jesus ascended to heaven as His apostles looked on (Acts 1:9-11), it is good for us to learn how to answer the skeptic. Ethan Longhenry has written a good rebuttal to the claims made in the documentary which is posted on the Renewed in Spirit website. I encourage you to read his article.

"The Lost Tomb of Jesus": A Review

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Banner of the Cross

I have started printing a monthly bulletin called Banner of the Cross. You can follow the link below to read the first issue. I am currently using this as a bulletin for the congregation where I preach regularly. Since it contains only articles and no announcements specific to that congregation, it can easily be used by others in different places. The intent is to include articles that will be beneficial to both Christians and non-Christians. Most of the articles will be ones that have appeared here or on If you are interested in using BOTC, you can download the current issue in PDF format from that page, print it out, and make as many copies as you need. I hope this might be a helpful resource for you.

Banner of the Cross

Thursday, March 1, 2007

The Lamp - February 2007

The February issue of The Lamp is now online. This month's article discusses God's desire for man to return to Him.

"Return to Me" by Matt Nevins

The Lamp

PBT - March 2007

The March issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:

Rightly Dividing the Word by Andy Sochor
Did Alexander Campbell Start the Church of Christ? by Justin Monts
"Preach Christ, Not the Church" by Andy Sochor
Local Church Autonomy by Andy Sochor

You can read these articles by clicking on the link below. I hope you find this material helpful.

Plain Bible Teaching

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Crucified with Christ

Paul told the Galatians, “have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

All Christians have been “baptized into Christ” and “baptized into His death” (Rom. 6:3). It is in baptism that we become “united with Him in the likeness of His death” (Rom. 6:5). This is when we, like Paul, are “crucified with Christ”.

This event should mark a change in our life. Paul said it was “no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”. That is, Paul was no longer living for himself and fulfilling the desires of the flesh. He was now living “by faith”.

Likewise, when we have been “buried with Him through baptism into death,” we rise from that watery grave to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). The intent is that “our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:6). Now that we have been “freed from sin,” we must become “slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:18).

Let us “put off the old man” and “put on the new man” (Col. 3:9-10) that we might be found pleasing to the Lord who loved us and gave Himself up for us.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

True Love

Love is a favorite topic for many in the religious world. While it is good for us to talk about love, John warns us not to stop there. “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 Jn. 3:18) That is, we must display love in our actions, not just our words.

In the surrounding context, John is pointing to the examples of God and Jesus as motivation for us to show love. God demonstrated His love by sending His Son to die on the cross (1 Jn. 4:10). Jesus demonstrated His love by willingly sacrificing His life for us (1 Jn. 3:16). So John says, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 Jn. 4:11)

It is important that we demonstrate our love toward one another. When Jesus was asked what was the “great commandment”, He answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Mt. 22:36-37) John said that if one says he love God, but not his brother, “he is a liar” (1 Jn. 4:20). We cannot fulfill the “great commandment” and not fulfill “the second [which is] like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mt. 22:39)

But how do we fulfill the command to love God? Demonstrating our love for our brethren is part of it. But John explained how we are to love God. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 Jn. 5:3) Jesus said, “if you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jn. 14:15) It is not enough to simply talk about how much we love the Lord. If we truly love Him, we will obey His word.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Don't Believe Everything You Hear

"The naive believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps." (Pr. 14:15)

When it comes to things that pertain to the Bible, many have a belief that is based upon what someone has told them, whether that is a parent, preacher, pastor, etc. But we are being naive if we believe everything someone might tell us, regardless of how much respect we have for that person.

Paul told the brethren in Thessalonica, "do no despise prophetic utterances." (1 Th. 5:20) That is, do not despise the things that have been revealed by God. Today we have these prophetic utterances contained in Scripture. He then told them, "But examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil." (1 Th. 5:21-22) If we do not examine carefully the things we are taught, we despise the word of God by blindly accepting what man has said instead of testing those things according to God's word.

The Bereans were commended for their attitude when Paul came and preached to them. They were described as "noble-minded", because they were "examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." (Acts 17:11) They were not naive and did not just blindly accept what Paul was saying. They made sure what he taught was right, then they accepted it. But not because Paul said it, but because it was the truth.

Do not accept what anyone teaches in matters of religion simply because they said it, no matter who they are. "Examine everything carefully" (1 Th. 5:21) and do so according to the infallible standard of the word of God. Do not be naive. Do not despise the word of God. Rather, examine the Scriptures daily to determine what is the truth.

The Lamp - January 2007

The January issue of The Lamp has been posted. I was out of town for a few days. That accounts for it being posted late. I encourage you to check out the latest article now.

Achieving Obedient Faith by Matt Nevins

The Lamp

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

PBT - February 2007

The February issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:

Training Our Senses by Andy Sochor
Reverend by Tim Haile
Rebaptism by Andy Sochor
Nation's Largest Church of Christ Adds Instrumental Music and Saturday Night Communion by Larry R. DeVore

You can read these articles by clicking on the link below. I hope you find the material helpful.

Plain Bible Teaching

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Glorifying God

In John 17:4, Jesus prayed to the Father, "I have glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do." Likewise, since Christians "have been bought with a price", they must therefore, "glorify God in [their] body." (1 Cor. 6:20)

How do we glorify God? People may invent many different ways to try and glorify God. But instead of doing what we think will glorify God, let's look to Jesus, our perfect example (1 Pet. 2:21). How did Jesus glorify God? He "accomplished the work" which was "given [Him] to do." (Jn. 17:4)

We glorify God by doing what He intends for us to do. The wise man summed up God's intention for us in the statement: "fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person." (Eccl. 12:13)

God's intention for Christians is that "whatever [we] do in word or deed," we must "do all in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Col. 3:17). This does not mean we invent our own ways to glorify God and claim that we're doing them in the name of Christ. Those who do this will be condemned (Mt. 7:22-23). Jesus said that by doing this, they are not glorifying God, but rather are practicing lawlessness.

We glorify God by doing His will. His will has been revealed in Scripture (1 Cor. 2:10-13). Doing these things not only brings glory to God (Mt. 5:16), but will also result in our eternal reward from Him (Mt. 7:21).

Monday, January 15, 2007

“A Good Work” - Really?

Religious people often attempt to authorize their religious practices and programs by labeling them "good works." This label is too often attached, not upon the basis of Bible authority, but upon the basis of human preference, and of the end justifying the means. These folks reason that if some good is accomplished by their action, then God must be pleased with it. Of course, this is human reasoning, and it arrogantly assumes that man’s approval of a thing makes it approved also by God! Jesus taught the danger of this reasoning in Matthew 7:22, 23. He said that "many" will stand before Him in the day of judgment and claim justification on the basis that they had performed "many wonderful works." The modern day my-work-is-a-"good-work" crowd might assume that such people will most certainly be admitted into Heaven, but not so! Jesus said that He is going to tell these people to "depart from" Him, for He "never knew" them! What had they done that was so wrong that they will be barred from Heaven? They had worked "iniquity" (lawlessness) (vs. 23). Though their works were esteemed as "wonderful" by them, they were not so esteemed by God. Jesus classified these so-called "wonderful works" as acts of rebellion against God. It is sinful to invent "good works" and perform them "in the name of" Christ.

The Bible teaches that the "good works" that saints are to practice have been "prepared beforehand" by God (Ephesians 2:10). They are not human inventions, but divine inventions. They were not designed by men, but by God. They reflect, not man’s wisdom, but God’s wisdom. But, where do we learn of these works? Paul answers this question in his words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. After describing the Scriptures as being inspired and all-sufficient, Paul says that the Scriptures "thoroughly furnish us unto every good work." If one wishes to know what works are "good works" he must consult the "Scriptures." He does not consult other humans (Matthew 15:9), nor does he turn to the desires of his own heart (Prov. 14:12; Jeremiah 10:23). Men work "iniquity" when, in the name of Jesus, they produce and practice their own "religious" works and activities.

- Tim Haile

[This article appeared in the Bowling Green Daily News on January 5, 2007 courtesy of the Parkway church of Christ.]

Friday, January 5, 2007

Looking at the Big Picture

"The sum of Your word is truth" (Ps. 119:160)

Considering only one verse to prove a point can be dangerous. Many verses, when taken out of context, have several plausible interpretations. But if we conclude on one interpretation without considering the sum of God’s word, we can easily find ourselves with an improper understanding of God’s will. Consider the following example in reference to salvation.

Ephesians 2:8 – "For by grace you have been saved through faith"

A plausible explanation of that verse is that we are saved at the point of belief in Jesus Christ. But notice another verse.

1 Peter 3:21 – "Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you"

A plausible explanation of that verse is that baptism is the only thing that is necessary for us to be saved. While these are both plausible explanations for these two verses, neither one is correct.

We must look at the sum of God’s word. Is faith necessary for salvation? Yes! Is baptism necessary for salvation? Yes! These passages do not contradict each other. Rather, they compliment each other.

When studying the Bible, let us be careful that our interpretation of a passage does not conflict with another passage. If it does, we need to reexamine our conclusion. The word of God is truth. Truth harmonizes with truth. As Jesus said, "the Scripture cannot be broken" (Jn. 10:35).

Monday, January 1, 2007

The Lamp - December 2006

The December issue of "The Lamp" has now been posted. This issue deals with the subject of worship.

Why on the First Day of the Week? by Matt Nevins

You can read this article by clicking on the link below.

The Lamp

PBT - January 2007

Happy new year!

The January issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:

- Constants in a Changing World by Andy Sochor
- We Can Understand the Bible by Andy Sochor
- Do You Believe in CENI? by Larry R. DeVore
- The Priesthood of Christ by Andy Sochor

I hope you find these to be helpful. You can read them by clicking on the link below.

Plain Bible Teaching
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