Wednesday, December 10, 2008
How are Christians to treat this day? As a religious holy day? Just a secular holiday? Or should Christians avoid any sort of observance whatsoever? Let us notice what the Bible has to say.
Christmas as a secular holiday -- In Romans 14, Paul discusses matters of personal opinion (Romans 14:1). He uses two illustrations -- the eating of meats and the observing of days. Both of these were things that could be done while attaching some sort of religious significance to it (1 Corinthians 8:7; Galatians 4:10-11), but such was not inherent in the practice. One could eat meat or observe days without applying the religious meaning that others applied, and do so acceptably. Paul affirms that observing certain days falls into the category of personal liberty (Romans 14:5-6).
Christmas as a religious holy day -- Since Christmas is used to commemorate the birth of Christ, many believe that Christians would have to observe this day religiously. But matters of religious service differ from matters of liberty. We must have authority for all that we do in our service to God (Colossians 3:17). Where would we go for such authority in the Bible for the religious observance of Christmas? Jesus gave no instruction concerning this commemoration. The apostles also gave no instructions, either. There is no example of the early church practicing it. Plus, the Bible gives no indication that Jesus was born on, or even near, December 25th.
We cannot invent our own religious practices and still please God (Matthew 7:21-23; Colossians 2:23). If we want to observe Christmas as a secular holiday, fine. But let's not go beyond the liberty that God has given us.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
Naturally, many people look forward to retirement. It is a time when one no longer has to devote a large part of their waking hours working in order to make a living. There is more time for rest, hobbies, and spending time with family.
While there is nothing wrong with retiring from a job, we must remember that retirement is not an option when it comes to our spiritual responsibilities. We can never “retire” from being Christians. We are told to “be faithful until death” (Revelation 2:10). The Hebrew writer warns us to not “come short” of the promised rest (Hebrews 4:1).
Let us never quit our service to God. Rather, “let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11).
Monday, December 1, 2008
- The Growing Acceptance of Homosexuality by Andy Sochor
- The Christian and Civil Government by Andy Sochor
- Spirit of Faith by Andy Sochor
- A People for God's Own Possession by Andy Sochor
Monday, November 24, 2008
With this in mind, I want to briefly look at Colossians 3:15-17. These three verses contain three reminders to us to be thankful. These verses also give reasons why we should be thankful to God.
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful" (v. 15). As Christians, we can be thankful because we are part of His body, the church, where salvation is (Ephesians 5:23). We have the peace of Christ, being assured of the salvation we have in Him.
"Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (v. 16). We sing hymns of praise and thanksgiving to God for His goodness. We also sing in order to teach and admonish one another. This reminds us that we should be thankful that we have our brethren for support and encouragement (cf. Ephesians 4:15-16; Hebrews 3:12-13).
"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father" (v. 17). We often cite this verse to show that we must do all things by the authority of Christ. But this, too, is a call for thanksgiving. Give thanks that God has revealed His will to us that we can know how to please Him.
As you reflect on the many reasons you have to be thankful, do not forget what Paul mentions in these three short verses. Give thanks to God for your salvation as part of Christ's body, for your brethren, and for the Word that reveals the will of God.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
In order to obtain this goal, Paul was willing to give up anything that could hinder him from reaching it. In these verses, he said he was going to forget the past. He does not mean we should completely remove past events from our memory. Realistically, this would not be possible. Instead, Paul is talking about not dwelling on the past so that it hinders us in our present and future service to God.
We also must learn to put the past behind us. There are at least 3 ways in which we might let our past hinder us:
- Dwelling on our past sins. We all make mistakes. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But God offers forgiveness where our sins will no longer be held against us (Hebrews 8:12). Paul, before his conversion, was the “foremost of all” sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). But he was forgiven. He did not allow his evil past to prevent him from faithful service.
- Thinking about what might have been. Had Paul not become a follower of Jesus, he had a promising future ahead of him among the Jewish people (Philippians 3:4-6; Acts 22:3-5). What if Paul had never given that up? Would he be suffering the persecution that he was at the time of this writing? Frankly, it doesn't matter. Paul says, “whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ” (Philippians 3:7). What if we had done things differently in our lives, for good or bad? We cannot change the past. There is no sense in worrying about what could have been. Focus on where you are now in relation to your service to God. Look forward, not backward.
- Focusing on our accomplishments. We may do great things in our service to God. We may make sacrifices to follow Him. But just because we've been faithful in our lives to this point, that does not mean that we have an excuse to slack off. Paul had not obtained anything yet (Philippians 3:12-13). We also have not reached the goal. We must continue to “press on toward the goal” (Philippians 3:14). “Be faithful until death” (Revelation 2:10). Do not fall “short of the grace of God” (Hebrews 12:15).
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Those of us who live in the United States of America have the blessing of being able to live in what is arguably the greatest country on earth. We have the freedom to worship God and teach the gospel. We have the opportunity to work and provide for our families. We live without fear of persecution or harassment from the government. Many around the world cannot ever expect to experience these blessings in their lifetime.
But as great as this country is, we seek a better country. This better country is not contained in campaign promises and political rhetoric. It is not obtained through congressional legislation or presidential policy. It is not preserved and maintained by law enforcement and military might. The better country we desire is one we will never see here on earth.
The Hebrew writer describes the faithful of old who sought after this better country:
“All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:13-16).
The better country we desire is our home in heaven. We, like these, must seek it in faith. We must put our trust in Almighty God, hear Him, believe Him, obey Him.
While we should be thankful to God for the blessing of living here, we must remember that there is something more important than our American citizenship. It is our heavenly citizenship. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
Whatever our opinion of the election results, let us not take our eyes off of the goal. Our home is in heaven. We are eagerly waiting for the Lord to return to take us home. Never lose sight of that.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
The November issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:
- The Eternal Gospel by Andy Sochor
- The Anti-Christ by Andy Sochor
- The Importance of Assembling by Andy Sochor
- The Lord's Prayer in the Garden by Andy Sochor
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
This short proverb refers to instructions in the Law of Moses (Deuteronomy 19:14; 27:17). Job gives us a reason why someone would want to move these boundary marks. “Some remove the landmarks; they seize and devour flocks” (Job 24:2).
These landmarks marked the boundary of someone's land. It was the area they possessed (Deuteronomy 19:14). If one were to move one of these boundaries, he might be able to claim something that was not his, thus cheating his neighbor (Deuteronomy 27:17). They were to be content with the area they had and not try to unlawfully go beyond it.
There is a spiritual application in this for us -- Do not go beyond what God has authorized.
God has given instructions in His word. We must confine ourselves to these instructions and what He has authorized. John wrote, “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9).
The teaching of Christ -- the word of God -- is what we must confine ourselves to. If we go beyond this, we lose our fellowship with God.
There are many in the religious world who are not content with what God has said. They want to move the boundaries He has set. They want to do what God has not authorized. They don't want to do what He has instructed. They want to do things their way, not God's way.
Those under the Old Law were “cursed” for moving “his neighbor's boundary mark” (Deuteronomy 27:17). Under the new law, we will be “accursed” for changing the word of God (Galatians 1:6-9).
Let's be content to remain within the bounds of Scripture.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Often, there is no regard for where the money comes from to pay for these benefits. People just want their free health care, education, tax rebates in excess of the tax they paid. They want these things even if it means that the government takes the money from others who earned it.
This type of greed and selfishness is to be expected of those in the world. But it has no place in the life of a Christian. Notice the words of Paul:
“For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone's bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to do this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-9).
Paul is talking about his work in preaching the gospel. He said he worked so as not to be a burden to the congregation. He paid his own way.
Why did Paul do this? He says it wasn't because he didn't have a right to be supported for his work in preaching. He told the Corinthians, “So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14).
So why did Paul work to support himself while preaching among the Thessalonians? He did so “in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example” (2 Thessalonians 3:9). He was teaching a lesson by his actions. That lesson was: work to support yourself without expecting help from others, so you will not be a burden to others. To those who did not want to work, he commanded them to “work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:12), not to hope someone comes along who will provide for them so they don't have to take care of themselves.
There are some people who simply cannot work to provide for themselves. We ought to help such people. But there are others who simply don't want to work, or don't want to work hard, to support themselves and their family. Instead, they want others to take care of them, whether it be the government or someone else. But Paul said, “if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
Political candidates make great promises about what they will do for you. As Christians, we need to understand what we, as individuals, are responsible for. We must support ourselves and our families as long as we are physically able to do so.
We should also remember that “every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). Whatever we have we have received these things as blessings from God. We must learn “to be content in whatever circumstances” we find ourselves in (Philippians 4:11), even when God has chosen not to bless us as much financially as others.
While many in the world like the idea of receiving benefits at the expense of those who are richer than they are, Christians should be different. We are to be like Paul. Notice his words to the Ephesian elders that are similar to the words to the Thessalonians:
“I have coveted no one's silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'” (Acts 20:33-35).
We should support ourselves and help others. How are we to do that? Not by hoping the government takes money from others to help us, but by working hard on our own.
If we vote, let's not let our choice be based on a greedy, “what's in it for me?” mentality. Instead, let's base our vote on what candidates best fit with the role God has given to civil government.
Friday, October 3, 2008
Saul went to Damascus “so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:2).
Later, after Saul (then Paul) became a follower of Christ, he was preaching in Ephesus. “But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples” (Acts 19:9).
Answering his accusers before Felix, Paul said, “But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our Fathers” (Acts 24:14).
Each time this term is used, it is describing a people who were suffering for their faith. They were spoken against. They were persecuted. They were called a sect. Sound familiar? Doesn't this happen with the Lord's church today?
There is something that I find interesting as we relate this to our day and age. Today we have brethren who argue that we should not use “church of Christ” as a name or description of a local congregation. What is usually the reason for wanting the change? The negative connotation people have of churches of Christ. What is probably the primary complaint against us? “You people in the church of Christ think you're the only ones going to heaven.” This is too exclusive and narrow-minded for most people's liking.
What if we started calling ourselves “The Way” so we would not be called by the unpopular term, “church of Christ”? Would that be any better? You can't get much more exclusive and narrow-minded than this term. “The Way” implies that there is just one way. Couldn't people say, “you people of the Way think you're the only ones going to heaven,” just the same?
We need to not care about what the world thinks and focus on pleasing God. The passages we looked at show us that if we follow Christ, we will not be popular or well-liked. So don't seek the popularity or approval of the world. Let's simply do the will of God no matter what people say about us.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
The October issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:
- The Way, the Truth, and the Life by Andy Sochor
- Amos the Herdsman by Andy Sochor
- The Importance of the Assembly by Andy Sochor
- The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit by Andy Sochor
Sunday, September 21, 2008
It may be understandable why those who refuse to obey the gospel will be punished. But what about those who never hear the gospel – those who do not know God? Is it really fair for God to punish people because they never heard? People have wondered this and even questioned God's justice.
The reality is that no one will be punished for not hearing the gospel. They will be punished for their sins. Paul wrote, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The remedy for this is the gospel, “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16).
Paul told the brethren in Thessalonica that it is “only just” for God to punish certain people (2 Thessalonians 1:6). Rather than question God's sense of justice, let us take advantage of His grace in offering salvation and making its conditions known in His word. Let us also look for opportunities to share the gospel with others so that they might be able to avoid punishment for their sins.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
In the context surrounding this verse, Peter is talking about the coming day of the Lord. This judgment would not come as quickly as some thought it would. This caused some to mock the idea and believe it will never happen (2 Peter 3:3-4).
The length of time until the day of the Lord is not because God is slow about His promise. After all, "with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day" (2 Peter 3:8). God is not bound or regulated by time like we are. The wait until that day is not due to God's slowness, but God's patience.
Why is God being patient? Because He is "not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." God is not just waiting to do something. He is waiting for us to do something. In delaying judgment, He is giving us time to repent and get our lives right before Him.
However, while we have time now, we will not always have time to repent. "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up" (2 Pet. 3:10).
We must not think lightly of God's patience or take it for granted. He has been gracious to give us the time we have to serve Him. Let us be ready to meet Him so we will not be caught unprepared.
Monday, September 1, 2008
The September issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:
- To the Law and to the Testimony! by Andy Sochor
- The Divinely Given Role of Civil Government by Andy Sochor
- The Sword of Christ by Andy Sochor
- The Great Commission: Mission Accomplished by Andy Sochor
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The words condemning each place begin with this phrase: "For three transgressions...and for four I will not revoke its punishment" (Amos 1:3,6,9,11,13; 2:1,4,6). Most of the time, this phrase was followed by just one sin. The phrase is a figure of speech meaning that this sin that is mentioned, after everything else they had done, is what caused the Lord's patience to end and His wrath to begin. Each city or nation reached this point in different ways.
Notice in particular the words regarding Ammon:
"For three transgressions of the sons of Ammon and for four I will not revoke its punishment, because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to enlarge their borders" (Amos 1:13).
What did the people of Ammon do that caused the Lord decide it was time to punish them? They killed the unborn children.
We see the attitude of the Lord towards those who would have no regard for an unborn child and choose to abort a baby. Those who practice this, and those who defend the practice (cf. Romans 1:32), must repent if they want to avoid God's punishment. And the punishment that is coming is far worse than what Ammon was threatened with (Matthew 13:50; Mark 9:48; Revelation 21:8).
Every soul is precious to God. That is why He sent Jesus to die for all (John 3:16). God is also "not one to show partiality" (Acts 10:34), which means that the soul of the unborn is just as precious to Him as the soul of the born.
The word of God uses the same Greek term (brefos) to describe a child inside the womb (Luke 1:41) and outside the womb (Luke 2:12). This is different than people today who call an unborn child an embryo, or a fetus, but not a baby.
We must see the unborn as God sees them -- human beings, living beings, that are precious in His eyes. They must not be disregarded. They must not be downgraded to something less than human, and therefore, can be eliminated. God will deal harshly, and justly, with those who practice or defend this type of infanticide.
Friday, August 15, 2008
How could Judas betray Jesus? After all, he was one of the 12 disciples. He had been with Jesus throughout His public ministry. Why betray Him?
We may have a clue given in the betrayal account for one of the reasons Judas could have betrayed Jesus. Notice Matthew's account:
"While He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a large crowd with swords and clubs, who came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, 'Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him.' Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, 'Hail, Rabbi!' and kissed Him" (Matthew 26:47-49).
Did you notice what Judas called Jesus? He called Him, "Rabbi."
Rabbi meant teacher. While it may have been a title of honor, it was also used to refer to many religious leaders and teachers (Matthew 23:6-7). Jesus, of course, was different than all these other men. He was more than a teacher. He was the Son of God, Savior, and Lord.
Did Judas view Jesus as just another teacher? Possibly. It is interesting that earlier, when Jesus tells His disciples that one of them would betray Him, Judas' response was different than the others. The eleven asked, "Surely not I, Lord?" (Matthew 26:22). Judas asked, "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" (Matthew 26:25).
The other disciples certainly recognized Jesus as a teacher (John 9:2; 11:8), but they also knew He was the Lord. We don't see Judas calling Jesus "Lord." All we know from the gospels is that Judas saw Him as a teacher. We don't know any more than that.
There are many today who see Jesus as a great teacher who had some good things to say, but not as the Son of God and Lord. Failure to recognize the Lordship, and therefore, the authority of Jesus, leaves us with no strong motivation to obey Him. If Jesus was merely a good teacher among many, we can take some of His words and reject others, just as we do with other men's words.
We cannot treat Jesus as if He were just another man. He was (and is) special. He was God in the flesh (Matthew 1:23; Colossians 2:9). If we wish to be saved, we must obey Him (Hebrews 5:9). This means obeying all of His commands, not just the ones that sound good to us (Matthew 28:20).
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
"For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision" (v. 12). Paul goes on the explain that the rest of the Jews, even Barnabas, followed him in his hypocrisy (v. 13). Paul condemned Peter for not being "straightforward about the truth of the gospel" (v. 14).
Everything began with Peter "fearing the party of the circumcision." He thought too highly of these men. He wanted to be accepted among their sect. He was loyal to the party line. As a result, "he stood condemned" (v. 11).
Christians today sometimes make the same mistake as Peter. They fear the party of _____. This could be a college, magazine, or publishing company. It might be those who hold a certain doctrine. Whatever the party, some Christians, like Peter, want to be accepted by these brethren because they think too highly of them, and so they speak and act by the party's standards.
The results are the same as they were with Peter. They refuse to associate with ones that wouldn't be accepted by the party. They act hypocritically, preaching the gospel of Christ and following Jesus as Lord, yet following the message of these men and elevating them above others. They are not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, because that would lead them to condemn the sects they so look up to.
Let us learn from Peter's example. Do not think so highly of men, even brethren, that you will compromise the truth in order to be accepted by them. Our allegiance must be to Christ, and Christ alone.
Friday, August 1, 2008
The August issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:
- Hold Fast the Pattern by Andy Sochor
- In the Days of Those Kings by Andy Sochor
- The Greater Need by Robert A. Sochor
- No One is Good Except God Alone by Andy Sochor
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
This is one of many verses in the book of Proverbs that talks about the sluggard. The sluggard is lazy. He doesn't want to do anything or fulfill his responsibilities. Instead, he makes excuses ("There is a lion outside"). Is it a legitimate excuse? Is there really a lion outside lying in wait for him? It doesn't matter. His slothfulness has made him believe in the possibility of a lion outside, therefore, just in case, he will decide to stay inside.
The sad thing is that we do the same thing today. We make excuses, legitimate or not, for not doing what we are responsible for, or what we can accomplish. Instead of making excuses, we ought to look for solutions to dealing with whatever obstacles we face.
"There is a lion outside." This was the sluggard's excuse. What should he have done? Find a solution. What possible solutions would there be for dealing with this problem? Either kill the lion or avoid the lion.
The same is true for us. Find a solution. Eliminate the problem or work around the problem.
There are many areas of life where we could apply this principle. But let's consider one that relates to our service to God -- sharing the gospel with others.
Do you avoid talking to someone about the gospel because you don't know what to say? Eliminate the problem: study, prepare for anticipated questions and responses. Or work around the problem: invite them to church services or a Bible study with you and a preacher or elder. But don't envision failure ("I will be killed in the streets") and then do nothing.
Look for solutions, not excuses. If "there is a lion outside," do something about it.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
This verse comes during Paul's instruction regarding care for widows by the local church. He explained to Timothy why younger widows were not to be put on the list to receive continuing support. The danger is that they learn to be idle, which leads to other sins -- in this case, being gossips and busybodies.
King David is an example of one who fell into sin as a result of idleness. His sin involved Bathsheba. It began with lust, and proceeded to adultery, deception, getting Bathsheba's husband drunk, and ultimately arranging to have him killed in battle.
How did this happen to David? Notice the verse at the beginning of this account: "Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem" (2 Samuel 11:1).
In these times, military conflicts were led by kings. It was "the time when kings go out to battle." But did the king of Israel go out to battle? No! "David stayed at Jerusalem" while all the men of Israel went out to war. Since he was at home, and not where he should have been, what would he do to pass the time? Well, one of the things he did was sin with Bathsheba.
We need to be busy. We all have much to do. Paul instructs to make "the most of your time" (Ephesians 5:16). There is nothing wrong with taking a break to relax every once in a while. But there is so much we need to do, and much good that we can do beyond our fundamental responsibilities. Idleness prevents us from doing these things and opens the door for sin. Good is not accomplished and evil often takes its place. Let us guard ourselves from idleness so as not to give Satan any advantage.
Monday, July 7, 2008
This verse comes at the end of a section dealing with the care of certain widows. Paul had given Timothy instructions about which widows were to receive continual, ongoing support from the local church, and which ones were not. In the case of widows who had family to care for them, the church was not to be charged with their care.
The idea of the church not being charged with something can certainly extend in application beyond just the care of certain widows.
God has given the local church plenty of work to do without men trying to throw additional tasks and obligations upon it. The local church has been commissioned with the works of evangelism (1 Timothy 3:15; Acts 13:1-3) and edification (Ephesians 4:11-16). It can also provide temporary benevolence in certain situations to Christians (Acts 11:29; Romans 15:26), and continual benevolence to widows indeed as Paul discussed in 1 Timothy 5.
But many feel that it would be good to charge the church with other works: extending benevolence to non-Christians, providing recreation and common meals, offering services like secular education and daycare. The list could go on and on. The thing is, none of these are wrong in themselves. The problem is that God has not given them as responsibilities for the church.
Local churches need to focus their time, energies, and resources on the tasks that God has given -- evangelism, edification, and limited benevolence. There is far too much work to do in these areas for us to burden the church with anything else. Leave all the other "good works" to individuals and the institutions of men.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
The July issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:
- Shortcuts to Bible Study by Andy Sochor
- Money Matters by Andy Sochor
- Doctrines of Demons by Andy Sochor
- Do We Have Authority for a Church Building? by Andy Sochor
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
David showed love for a broad range of people. We can see the love and kindness he shared with his friends, namely Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:1; 2 Samuel 1:26). He loved his enemies, sparing Saul's life twice when he had opportunity to kill him (1 Samuel 24:1-4; 26:2-11). Both instances came when Saul was pursuing David in order to kill him. We also see David's love given to those in need with the example of him caring for Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9).
We must demonstrate love for our friends and brethren (1 John 4:11). But like David, we must do more than this (cf. Matthew 5:46). We are to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). We must show love and kindness to those who are in need (Ephesians 4:28; Romans 12:20). David shows us an example of love. Christians are to be recognized as such by their love (John 13:35).
David was a man after God's own heart. So while we can learn from his example of loving others, we should remember that God is our perfect example. "God is love" (1 John 4:8). He demonstrates His love for His friends, which Jesus said are the ones who follow His commands (John 15:14), by saving them. Jesus is "to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation" (Hebrews 5:9).
God loves His enemies. Paul said that it was "while we were enemies [that] we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son" (Romans 5:11). "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16), and this came when the world was not on friendly terms with Him.
God also loves the needy -- not just those who are monetarily poor (James 2:5; Matthew 11:5), but those who are "helpless" in their sins (Romans 5:6). God offers salvation to all those who need it, before we are worthy to receive it. Because in reality, we will never be worthy of God's grace. He offers to save us because He loves us. Let us respond to His love appropriately, by submitting to His will in humble obedience (John 14:15), and "be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us" (Ephesians 5:1-2).
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
This is an invitation for salvation that has been extended by Christ. It is for all who need the water of life. This means that it is for all, for "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23) and "the wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23). All who wish to obtain the gift of salvation and be saved from their sins may come.
There are three entities mentioned that help extend the message of salvation. The Spirit -- who revealed the message to the apostles (Jn. 16:13), which we have recorded in the Bible. The bride -- the church of Christ (Eph. 5:24,31-32). And the one who hears -- those who have believed and obeyed the message of salvation.
Let us use the word, the church, and our own individual lives to help extend the Lord's invitation to a lost world.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
The June issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:
- The Ancient Paths by Andy Sochor
- Predestination by Tim Haile
- Instrumental Music in Worship to God by Andy Sochor
- The Disciples were Called Christians by Andy Sochor
Monday, May 26, 2008
"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not the life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?"
In these verses, Jesus asks three questions. As the master teacher, He is able to ask questions in a way that is more instructive than inquisitive. Notice the three points Jesus makes to help us deal with anxiety.
- There are more important things to consider (v. 25). Yes, food and clothing are important. But a few verses later Jesus tells us how we should order our priorities. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you" (v. 33). We need to put a priority on spiritual things. Recognize that the physical things we worry about are only temporal.
- We are valuable in the sight of God (v. 26). God provides for the birds of the air. Jesus says that in God's eyes we are worth much more than birds. If God will provide for the needs of animals, He will provide for our needs.
- It does no good to worry (v. 27). We cannot prolong our life by worrying. Another translation mentions one adding height to their physical body. No good is accomplished by worrying. Good will be accomplished when we consider the situation and act appropriately. Anxiety hinders us in this.
Remember also the benefit of prayer that we have. Paul mentioned this in Philippians 4:6-7 "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."
Let us keep all these things in mind. Do not let anxiety hinder you from serving God. Put your faith and trust in Him that He will take care of us, as long as we "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
This is a popular verse for those who like to pervert the gospel and try to condone or ignore sin. They say we have liberty in Christ, so therefore, we do not have to concern ourselves with obedience or following the New Testament pattern.
The New Testament teaches that through Christ we are free from the Old Law (Col. 2:14), sin and death (Rom. 6:6-7), and following the commands of men (Col. 2:20-22). But we are not free from following the instructions of Christ and His word (Heb. 5:8; 2 Th. 1:8).
It is a mistake to use liberty as a justification for sin. Just as Paul wrote to the Galatians, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh” (Gal. 5:13).
Monday, May 5, 2008
Thursday, May 1, 2008
The May issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:A Model for Personal Evangelism by Andy Sochor
Doctrinal Purity by Andy Sochor
Friday, April 25, 2008
Tonight I was able to watch Ben Stein's movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. It is a documentary about the efforts to silence and discredit those who offer an alternative to the theory of evolution -- namely, Intelligent Design. It was very well done and I highly recommend you see it.
During the movie, one scientist described how adopting the theory of evolution led him to give up his belief in God. How sad that one would stop believing in God due to pressure to believe an improbable, unproven, and unprovable theory. Yet this is what Paul warned Timothy about -- some straying from the faith by following after bogus knowledge.
We must have faith in God and His word, realizing that all of the Bible is true (Psalm 119:160). Many scientists mock the Genesis account of God creating the universe from nothing. Some of our own brethren have questioned the days of Genesis 1 being literal, the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and the universal flood. But what does the word of God say? And will we believe it, or try to explain it away?
If one can justify in his mind the belief that the days of Genesis 1 are figurative, there was no real serpent in the garden, or that the Genesis flood was only regional, what part of the Bible is safe from reinterpretation? Where would one draw the line? Or how could one draw a line?
If we want to be saved, we must love and believe the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10,12). This means we must simply accept what the Bible teaches, even if others disagree. So when we read in the Bible about Creation, the flood, the virgin birth of Jesus, His resurrection from the dead, or any other topic, let's just believe what the word of God says. It is the simplest course. And it is the only safe course.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
This passage is often cited to show how we are to worship. We must worship God in spirit and truth. In spirit -- with the proper attitude, recognizing the greatness of God and the inferiority of man, humbly offering our praise to Him. In truth -- according to the pattern He has revealed, worshipping God as He would desire.
As we worship God in spirit and truth, it is only natural for us to feel various emotions. Emotions are certainly not wrong. After all, possessing emotions is one of the ways in which we have been made in the image of God. We do get into a problem, though, when we begin to focus on inciting emotions within ourselves rather than simply worshipping in spirit and truth. We might well call this emotionalism.
The goal of emotionalism is to create some emotion or some feeling in someone (joy, sadness, etc.). Instead of being a natural byproduct of worship that is done in spirit and truth, these feelings are pursued. The focus is not simply on what pleases the Creator (proper worship done with the proper attitude), but what pleases the creation (what evokes the emotion we seek).
Those who follow the path of emotionalism may argue that they just want to focus on the spirit part of worship since so many in the church have neglected that for the truth part. But to worship in spirit means to worship with the proper attitude. To be a true worshiper of God, we must focus on our attitudes and actions, not emotions! As I said, certain emotions will be a natural byproduct of worshipping in spirit and truth. But they are just that -- a byproduct. They are not to be our focus.
We may hear of some Christians who change what is done in their assemblies or rearrange the furniture in order to make their worship better. But better to whom? To God or to us? God is pleased when we worship Him with the proper attitudes and actions. Moving chairs in a circle does not affect this. The only thing affected is our emotions.
Those who are following after emotionalism need to learn (or be reminded of) why it is that we worship. It is not to make ourselves feel a certain way. It is to praise, honor, and glorify Almighty God.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
The April issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:The Restoration Plea by Andy Sochor
Some Thoughts on Persecution by Andy Sochor
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
It is important to note that Moses did not immediately condemn the people. This is consistent with the character of God who gives men the chance to repent and come to Him (cf. Ezekiel 18:32; 2 Peter 3:9). So Moses extends this invitation -- "Whoever is for the Lord, come to me" (v. 26).
Sadly, most did not answer this call. Only those of the tribe of Levi came to Moses (v. 26). They did not think of the consequences of their decision or what might be expected of them after responding. They simply responded that they were on the Lord's side, no matter what that might mean.
But what of the others who did not respond? If they were not on the Lord's side, whose side were they on? They were on the side that opposed the Lord. Therefore, they were worthy of punishment (v. 27-28).
E.M. Zerr, in his commentary on the Old Testament, makes a good application of these verses to us today. "If a man refuses to take his stand outwardly in favor of a righteous cause he is considered as being on the wrong side" (Old Testament, Volume 1; p. 168). Refusing to take a stand is not an option. We cannot ride the fence. We must make a choice.
Of course, Jesus makes this same point, and Zerr cites this passage to back up his statement. "He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters" (Matthew 12:30).
Are we willing to take an open stand on the Lord's side, regardless of the consequences? There are pressures all around us -- the world, our family and friends, sometimes our own brethren. We must have the resolve that we will stand with the Lord, even if it means not standing with those we love.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
This is a pretty easy verse to understand. Jesus specifically states two things that are necessary for salvation -- belief and baptism.
Yet many claim that this is not what the passage teaches. Most of the "Christian" religions teach that baptism is not necessary for salvation. How do they explain this passage then? They see that the second part of the verse says disbelief results in condemnation, and then point out that it does not explicitly say that not being baptized will cause one to be condemned. Therefore, they say, baptism is not necessary for salvation. This type of reasoning is exactly what Paul warned about: "trickery of men...deceitful scheming" (Ephesians 4:14).
Read the passage again. "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned."
Jesus said the one who believes and is baptized shall be saved. Therefore, both belief and baptism are necessary for salvation. Do you believe His statement? If so, and you want to be saved, that is what you will do. But if not, "he who has disbelieved shall be condemned."
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
These verses are talking about Paul's teaching in the synagogue in Thessalonica. He came with the message that Jesus was the Messiah who had been prophesied of in the Old Testament.
Notice how Paul taught this message. He did not simply state his premise that Jesus was the Christ and therefore had to suffer and rise again. He explained and gave evidence. His explanations and evidence were from the Scriptures.
Paul's main point was true: the Christ had to suffer, die, and rise again and that Jesus was the Christ. But Paul did not expect them to accept this simply because he said it. He pointed them to the Scriptures and reasoned from them. He later wrote to the ones here who accepted his message, "we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God" (1 Thessalonians 2:13). They could accept it as the word of God because they were shown that it was the word of God.
We must teach in the same way today. Never expect someone to accept a point you make, even if it's true, simply because you say it. Reason from the Scriptures. Explain and give evidence why the point is true. Our aim is to bring people to faith. Faith, the type of faith that saves, does not come by hearing what men say, but hearing that comes "by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).
Monday, February 11, 2008
"Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:11-12).
Throughout this book, the Hebrew writer has been demonstrating why Jesus Christ and His new covenant are better than the system put in place by God through Moses. The above passage continues in this theme. It contrasts the work of the Levitical priests and the work of Christ.
The contrast is a simple one. The priests of old stand daily. Jesus sat down.
The implication is that the priests stand daily because their work was never done. Every time they offered a sacrifice, they would later have to offer another. And these sacrifices themselves would never atone for sins.
On the other hand, Jesus sat down. His work of sacrificing is done. He offered one perfect sacrifice, His life. He will never have to offer His life again, because the first offering was fully sufficient.
The lesson for the Hebrews was for them not go back to the old system. Atonement for sins and salvation is in Christ. If they deserted Him, they had no hope.
Today, there are probably not many Christians tempted to go back to Judaism. But the basic point still applies. Salvation is found only in Christ. If we desert Him, we will be lost. Let us remain faithful and devote our lives to the One who offered His life on the cross for us.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Friday, February 1, 2008
Living in View of Christ's Return by Andy Sochor
Safeguards Against False Teaching by Robert A. Sochor
Who Is Qualified to Preach the Gospel? by Andy Sochor
Prayer and the Christian Soldier 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, January 25, 2008
After I finished 2 Timothy, I noticed a pattern in the verses I had chosen. 2 Timothy 1:13, 2:15, 3:16, and 4:2.
What are we to do?
"Retain the standard of sound words" (1:13). Hold fast the pattern and live by it, no matter what the cost.
How do we do this?
"Be diligent (study, KJV) to present yourself approved to God...accurately handling the word of truth" (2:15). Study the word. That is our standard. We cannot retain the standard if we are not familiar with it.
Why should we do this?
"All Scripture is inspired by God" (3:16). Why bother following the Bible and not some other standard? Because the Bible is the only book that is from God. Nothing can compare with it.
What should we do with it?
"Preach the word" (4:2). Do not hide the truth. Do not insert your opinions or those of others. Simply preach the pure, unadulterated word of God.
These instructions were written to the evangelist Timothy. But all Christians can learn from this. Hold to, practice, study, preach and teach the word because it is in fact from God. The more we work at these things, the more we will please Him.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
DIY Sermon Outlines
I will not be posting full outlines, only the main points and passages. You are free to use any of the outlines, but you will have to fill them out yourself and make them your own. (Hence the reason for the name.)
I hope you might find this new site helpful in some way.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
After the child was born, their neighbors and relatives gathered to rejoice over the birth (Luke 1:57-58). The question came up about what to name the child. The friends and family suggested naming him Zacharias, after his father (Luke 1:59). Elizabeth said, "No indeed; but he shall be called John" (Luke 1:60). The others, however, could not see any reason to name the child John, and essentially questioned Elizabeth's decision (Luke 1:61).
Then they asked Zacharias. Since he still could not speak, he wrote, "His name is John" (Luke 1:63). Luke then records, "at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God" (Luke 1:64).
Zacharias' statement was worded in a way to show that this was already determined. Not, 'he will be called John,' but 'he is John.' Before and while others were discussing possible names, the child's name was John. Why? That was God's will. No suggestion from anyone else could change what God said.
This must be our attitude in all things relating to our service to God and response to His word. When God's word instructs us to do something, we should determine that that is what we will do, even before the situation arrives that requires us to act and regardless of what others think.
Right is right. Sin is sin. No amount of deliberation will change that. "His name is John." That is what God determined. That is the way it is.
Monday, January 7, 2008
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
Another Jesus by Andy Sochor
Put On the Full Armor of God by Andy Sochor
Measures of a Sound Church by Andy Sochor
Non-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