Know Your Bible

VOL. 4                           January 15, 2006                           NO. 52

 Popularity Without Principle

    "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets." (Luke 6:26, KJV) People do not characteristically want unpleasant truths. They prefer comforting lies. The false prophet understands this, and like his political counterpart he seeks out that message he believes most people will approve. Politicians do it by polls. They actually pay people to take samples of what positions and platitudes people most want to hear, and then they go out and say those very things. It is shallow in substance but profound in effect.

    Preachers do the same thing, except that they do not need polls. Truth unsettles us. We may be comfortable and satisfied, and then truth rebukes us and "unsettles" us. A man of conscience will repent and change his life. But sin-loving, self-willed men will oppose that truth. However, they want to appear to love truth, so they seek out preachers who will preach what they like. As Paul said:"...after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears." (2 Tim. 4:3b)

    It is a "self-feeding" process. There are plenty of preachers and politicians who want to say what people want to hear, and there are plenty of people who will reward the preachers and politicians who do it. So the reality of it is that they are actually looking for each other! It is therefore no compliment to a preacher or politician to be particularly popular, and certainly such should never be the goal. Consider Jeremiah's comment about his generation: "The prophets prophesy falsely and my people love to have it so..." (Jeremiah 5:31)

    The empowerment and credibility of the false prophet (and politician) is in the fact of his popularity. "Look at his following!" they say. "That many people cannot be wrong!" "He must surely be doing something, or a lot of things, right!" So it goes! It is once again a "self-feeding" situation where preacher, politician and people make each other feel good, all kinds of sin, corruption and abuses notwithstanding. But do not altogether blame the preacher or the politician. It could not happen if the people did not "love to have it so." Or if it was not for the fact, as Jesus said, that "men love darkness rather than light." (John 3:19)

    Whatever else is true, popularity is more of a sign of desertion of duty than a rendering of right. Remember, Jesus said, "Woe unto you when all men speak well of you."

---Jere Frost

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Ox Puller, or Ditch Filler

    Who ever said, "a stitch in time saves nine," was a pretty good observer of life. Prevention is often better than redemption. Redemption would not be necessary if sin could be prevented. Each of us would live much better if we avoided a lot of the things that cause us harm and misery.

    Take the person who drinks a little wine or beer at times. I have never known any "moderate drinker" who didn't some time or another, get a little too much. What starts as some times, becomes an all time habit. It proves the point that the best way to stay sober is to stay away from intoxicants.

    This is the basic thrust of I Thess. 5:22. "Abstain from all appearance of evil." This principle applies to lots of things. Consider the opportunities we have to assemble with the Lord and His people. At least three times a week we can be together in an assembly of the saints. It may not be a big gathering. It might not have much social or entertaining activity, but it is the most valuable association provided for humans on this earth.

    Yet some of us miss an assembly here and there, now and then. With some, it gets to be a sort of routine. Missing a Bible class on Sunday, now and then, grows into a regular forsaking of Bible classes on Sunday. Then the same things begins on Sunday evening, then Wednesday night, and that leads to a "Sunday morning" only (now and then) attender.

    In the face of this we should remind self that God doesn't feel good about those who abandon His assemblies (Heb. 10:25). I realize that abandon is a strong term, but so is drunkenness. Just like a now and then drinker will, some time or other get drunk, some time or another this and then attender will quit the church.

    That little phrase, "a stitch in time, saves nine," is purely true. When applied to our duty to attend services of the church, the stitch in time is to avoid missing the first one -- and the way to never miss any services of the church is to attend them all.

    Situations rise, now and then, when people feel they cannot attend regularly. Haven't we all made reference to the "Ox in the ditch'? Some times the ox may have been given a gentle shove toward the ditch, but granted, some times we do have things that prevent us from attending.

    One of the best pieces of advice I ever got from a man of great respect was, when you think the ox is in the ditch either sell the ox or fill the ditch. I need to fill some ditches and sell a few oxen before I let things of this life keep me from being where I ought to be when the saints gather to worship God, do his work, and study his word.

    Somewhere I read some awfully good advice that caps off this little article right well. It is always better to build a fence at the top of the cliff than to keep an ambulance down in the valley."

—Dudley Ross Spears

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    When some hear a hard sermon, they misunderstand the purpose of it. To them the preacher is out of place condemning specific sins among the members of the audience. He seems to care little about their feelings and to enjoy making people uncomfortable to the point of squirming. He sounds as if he wants to run off the weak by saying the most shocking things in the strongest language possible.

    If the preacher gives you this impression, do not feel mistreated; your discomfort is small in comparison to that of the preacher. Few preachers enjoy delivering a "hard" sermon; and, although they may seem calm on the surface, most preachers are deeply touched by the thoughts they are trying to get over to you. Few people realize how much energy is used in such an effort.

    Think for a moment: How would you feel if a loved one were in a burning house and refused to leave it? Picture yourself after thirty minutes of unheeded pleading. You might get a small idea of how a preacher feels after pouring out his heart to an audience composed of souls in every conceivable situation. Next time the preacher "gets you told," have sympathy for him. Maybe the sermon you endured for a few minutes is one he has been dreading for days.

---Author Unknown

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Life: the time God gives you to determine how you will spend eternity.

* * *

Be more concerned what God thinks about you than what people think about you.

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The church is now assemblying at 6:00 PM on Sunday!
Please keep this in mind if you should desire to met with us!
All other meeting times are the same!

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      "Know Your Bible" is e-mailed weekly by the church of Christ which meets at 112 Roberts Avenue in Wise, Virginia. If you know of others who might benefit from the articles contained in this bulletin, we would be glad to have you submit their e-mail addresses and we will include them in next week's mailing. If you are receiving this bulletin and do not wish to continue to do so, please e-mail us with your desire to be removed from the mailing list and we will remove your address promptly. Continue to the bottom of this page and further instructions will be given as to how you may contact us.

--- E.R. Hall, Jr.

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