A New Year Is An Old Refrain
It was on the fourth day of creation (Genesis 1:14-19) that God placed lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and to serve as signs and seasons, and for days and years. The sun would rule in the day and the moon would rule in the night. The design of the heavenly bodies was to give light on the earth and to divide the light from the darkness. "And God saw that it was good."
Our world is not two thousand and nine years old. It is much older and no one knows the exact age of the earth. As we pass the milestone of 2009 we reflect upon the creation of time and the impact on man. The world is ruled by days and nights that have been established in a period of time since creation. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1) declares that man lives in an envelope of time. Creation itself is divided into six days with the Lord resting on the seventh day. The garden where man first lived had a "tree of life" (Genesis 2:9) that would sustain the years of man's existence forever. Following the rebellion of man in Genesis 3 the Lord God drove man from the garden "lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" (Genesis 3:22).
Moses writes of Adam living 930 years and his son Seth living 912 years (Genesis 5:5,6). The oldest man in the Bible is recorded as Methuselah at the age of 969 years (Genesis 5:27). Throughout the pages of scripture the Holy Spirit impresses upon the pages of time the years of man's fleeting years. Life has been measured by the ruler of time since the beginning and how many new years have passed is known only to the Creator. The reality of life is that while we acknowledge a new year it is only an old reminder of the ages past where men have walked before.
Time is a fleeting vapor that "appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (James 4:14). The marking of transition between years serves as a reminder that we are mortal beings governed by the clock of time ever winding down toward a final end. Reflections are made from this past year of those whom we knew and loved that died. In that somber reflection we acknowledge that time has passed for that person. Man has a beginning and man has an end. There is no new year for them. Even if we were able to live as long as Methuselah we would find the same fate he found at the age of 969: "and he died." Should this make us despondent or should this make us aware of our mortality?
The celebration of a new year should be a time of joy to share with one another in the blessing of God's grace. Cognitive of this fact should cause us to think soberly upon the decisions that we made last year and the decisions we shall make this year. Moses declared in Psalm 90, "So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (v12). We should number our days in the celebration of our years. The decisions made last year will find fruit in the plans we will seek in the coming year to be more keenly aware of our lives before an eternal God.
The preacher of Ecclesiastes declared, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God, and keep His commandments for this is the whole of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good, or whether evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13,14). Happy New Year in the year of our Lord 2009. May the blessing of God's Son be our guiding light in this new year.
Christians, do you read the Bible in your families every day? Do you read it in your closet every day? And do you read it not to quiet your conscience as a work of penance; but do you read it as a pleasure anxiously to be sought after? If you do, I need not tell you what utility, pleasure, and happiness is in the blessed employment. But if you do not, you may rest assured there is something greatly wrong, which, if it is not abandoned, subdued, or vanquished soon, will cause you sorrows, if not agonies, when you will be less able to conflict with them than at present.
Resolve this moment, I pray you, that you will begin today to read the Bible, to enjoy God and Christ and the hope of immortality. "Let not mercy and truth forsake thee, bind them about thy neck, write them upon the table of thine heart; so shalt thou find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man" (Proverbs 3:3,4). Then will you say with Solomon, "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom and the man that getteth understanding: for the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies, and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared with her. Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honor: her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace" (Proverbs 3:13-17). "Begin today: 'tis madness to defer."
The religious world -- I mean the great majority of all professors -- are Bible neglecters. Their ignorance, prejudice, and error show it. I beseech you, daily, habitually, constantly, prayerfully read the Bible in its proper connections, and you will grow in grace as you grow in the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ our Lord. The Lord will bless you, as he has said, in this deed. Read James 1:22-25, and may you prove it true!
The Millennial Harbinger, January, 1839
It is the solemn duty of every gospel preacher to proclaim the message of Christ "plainly." When our lessons are shrouded in ambiguity they do little or nothing for the people. As the old saying goes, "you must put the salve where the sore is." To do less is to fail in our duty toward God and man.
The teachings of our Lord were both "positive" and "negative." If I proclaim His message "plainly," then my lessons will be the same. Timothy, the evangelist, was admonished: "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince (reprove -KJV), rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching" (2 Tim. 2:4). It may come as a shock to some that two-thirds of this instruction about teaching is in the negative. As an evangelist, I must "tell it like it is," whether the people like it or not.
When error is exposed there are always three groups of people who get very upset.
1) Those who are involved in unscriptural beliefs and practices. Naturally, they don't want their deeds exposed.
2) Those who claim they don't go along with the unscriptural practices of others, but they are in sympathy with the advocates of the error. Regardless of how carefully an evangelist goes about exposing error, regardless of how much love and kindness he uses, it is never "handled right" in the eyes of those who sympathize with the evil doer. They are like the Jews who, even after Jesus told them "plainly," were not happy with the answer.
3) There are some who get upset about error being exposed because they honestly think Jesus never did that. Obviously, such people have not read the life, works, and teachings of Christ. Of course, it could be that they have read it, but just don't want to believe it.
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.
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