Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Do Not Move the Ancient Boundary

Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set” (Proverbs 22:28).

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

Campaign Promises

During this time of political campaigns in our country, particularly since this is a Presidential election year, the citizens listen to the promises of the candidates as they decide who to vote for. Many people look for the candidate who promises to do the most for them - education, health care, money, etc.

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

Those Who Are of "The Way"

There is an interesting description of the Lord's people in the book of Acts. In a few places, the Lord's church is called, “The Way.

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

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

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