Know Your Bible

VOL. 8                           August 2, 2009                           NO. 28

                                        Adorning The Doctrine

 

    People come to God with various preconceived ideas about all sorts of things. If they are going to become a Christians, then they must readjust their thinking and priorities about a good number of things. When Paul became a Christian he had to face up to the fact that so many of the things upon which he had placed such a high value, where worthless in the sight of God (Phil. 3:4-8). 

    "Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect" (Titus 2:9-10). The word adorn means to put in proper order, hence to decorate or garnish. Notice the following ways that this verse is translated, "for in all such ways they add luster to the doctrine" (NEB); "as to recommend the teaching about God our Saviour by all that they do" (TCNT); "that altogether they shall beautify the  teaching"(Ber). Christians can by their attitude and way they implement God's instructions, demonstrate to a skeptical world how wise and attractive such instructions are. Here are some applications of this concept:

    Singing: We are going to encounter people who are going to be greatly disappointed that congregational worship in the New Testament church does not include instrumental music, choirs or soloists (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). We must remind them that God specified the type of music He wants, and worship is all about pleasing Him (1 Pet. 2:5). Such alternatives to singing displace the glory from God to men. When we worship God our attitude should be one of wanting to do what is His delight, and His delight is that we obey His instructions (1 Sam. 15:22-23). We can really adorn God's teaching concerning singing if we all sing from the heart, seek to improve our singing skills, be constantly looking for new spiritual songs, and really think about the songs we select for worship services and for each aspect of worship.

    In modern times, the wisdom of God specifying singing can be seen in what has happened in the denominational world. Obeying God's instructions on this point has kept the church from becoming lured into the entertainment business, and one major complaint heard among many denominations is that the "Christian" music industry is increasingly looking and sounding just like the world. 
 

    Excitement In Worship: Some people will be disappointed that during our worship services we aren't clapping our hands, dancing, or something else. We can counter this by saying a hearty "Amen" when we really agree with a topic being said (1 Cor. 14:16). We can express the truth with feeling and can pray fervently from the heart. We need to prove to the world that God's directions for worship in the New Testament provide the framework for the expression of true devotion and that we don't need any fads to make our worship meaningful. 
 

    God's wisdom is also seen in this area. The danger with depending on the latest fad to make your own worship seem meaningful, is that what stirs your heart this year will require something else next year. God has given us the proper outlet for our emotions, that is worship in Spirit must also be worship in Truth, our emotions and feelings must be channeled into the particular style or manner of worship that God desires (John 4:24). 
 

    Social Things: People can be disappointed that the work of the church does not include providing social and recreational activities, such as church kitchens, fellowship halls, gyms, family life centers, and so on. In order to show God's wisdom in separating the work of the individual Christian and the work of the congregation (Acts 2:46; 1 Cor. 11:34), we must as individuals become very hospitable and social (Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:1-2). We can demonstrate God's wisdom that showing that the above human innovations are completely unnecessary and that we can get together eat, recreate, and socialize just fine on our own. This demands that we must make an extra effort in this area. 
 

    Human Institutions: God set up the local church as a self-sufficient unit that can do all the work God has planned for Christians. The local church is God's organization (1 Tim. 3:15). In the first century, Christians evangelized the world, trained preachers and elders, taught members, and cared for their own needy members all without any church supported colleges, publishing houses, or benevolent societies (Col. 1:23). We can demonstrate God's wisdom in this area by getting involved in the work of the congregation we attend. Each local congregation should strive and make an investment in being able to train preachers, develop its own elders, see to it that the needs of its members are being met and so on. 
 

    In addition, in our times God's wisdom in this area is tremendously manifested when we see many colleges started by Christians going into apostasy and many benevolent societies simply becoming secular in their mission. 
 

    Helping The Poor: In the New Testament, we find that in the area of benevolence, the funds collected by the local congregation were only used to help other Christians (Acts 2:44-45; 4:34; 6:3; 11:27-30; Rom. 15:26; 1 Cor. 16:1-3; 1 Tim. 5:16,9-10). As individuals, we are commanded to help not only our brothers, but also all men (Gal. 6:10; James 1:27). Once again, we need to make an extra effort in this area; we need to prove to the world that God's method is the best method. No money is wasted on maintaining unnecessary "machinery"; all the money given goes directly to the person in need. This is true benevolence, where the individual has to take the initiative, and get personally involved ("visit" James 1:27; "you gave Me", "you invited Me in", "you clothed Me", "you visited Me" Matthew 25:35-36), "you came to Me"), rather than paying someone else to serve for you. As Christians we need to be involved in our communities and become the servants of those who are less fortunate. 

 

---Mark Dunagan (edited for length)

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Before We Criticize...

 

    There are times when mistakes are made and things need to be pointed out. And, unfortunately, we all know that offering criticism can sometimes make a bad situation even worse. Serious thought needs to go into what we will say. Maybe it would help if we would ask the following questions before offering criticism:

 

1. Why am I doing this? Do I really want to help this person, or am I just doing this to make myself feel better? Am I trying to improve the situation, or do I just want to say, "I told you so!"? What is my motive? "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others" (Phil. 2:3-4). Regardless of what the world believes, we don't have the right to let off some steam at the expense of another. Criticism that is only going to make us feel better needs to be kept to ourselves.

 

2. Do I have a right to criticize? Was I available when this person could have used some help before? Can I sympathize with what they are going through? Can I offer some positive suggestions to go along with the criticism? Some people like to just sit on the sidelines and criticize the labors of others. Such people really have no right to criticize.

 

3. Have I examined myself? It is not right for me to give criticism that I am not willing to take. Jesus says that I must make sure that the log is out of my eye first, then I can offer to help my brother get the speck out of his eye (Matt. 7:3-5). Criticism is respected when it comes from a respectable person, but no one appreciates a hypocrite.

 

4. What will I say, and how will I say it? This is very important. I must choose my words very carefully. They have the power to build up or to destroy (Proverbs 12:18, 16:24). As Paul said, "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt" (Col. 4:6). What we say, and the way we say it, will make all the difference in the world. 

 

5. Will it glorify God? "...Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31). Who's glory am I seeking? Am I saying something to help the cause of Christ or just to be heard? If it is just to be seen and heard by men, then truly I have my reward (Matt. 6:1-6).

---Heath Rogers

                                                                                                                  

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