Know Your Bible

VOL. 13                                                                                                                          June 1, 2014                                                                                                                            NO. 13



During my wife's recent surgery, I was impressed with the fact I had not seen a male nurse the entire time she was in the hospital. This made me to reflect on the fact that, by and large, women make the better nurse when it comes to care and compassion of the sick. This is not to say that men do not care nor have compassion on the sick but, in this area, men are the exception while women are the rule.

In the past four decades of this country, the focus of attention has been placed on the exceptions to things rather than the rule about things. When it comes to the roles of men and women, all the attention has been on the reversal of their roles rather than the rule which God has decreed. God stated that the man was to provide for the family by the "sweat of his face" (Genesis 3:17-19; 1 Timothy 5:8). The woman is to be a "keeper at home” [“homemaker, NKJV] (Titus 2:4,5). The focus today is on the "career woman" and the "house-husband"; the exception rather than the rule. We now have a generation that has looks upon the exception as being the rule.

In recent years, much publicity has been given to the homosexual and how their "alternate lifestyle" should be accepted as "normal". Yet, God created male and female (Genesis 1:27) and that the woman's "desire shall be to thy husband and HE shall rule over thee" (Genesis 3:16). "The wife hath not power of HER own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of HIS own body, but the wife." (1 Corinthians 7:4). God's word never refers to a wife as a HE or to a husband as a HER! Yet, the homosexuals want recognition in their relationships and "marriages" as acceptable exceptions to the norm and, if not, they are quick to brand others as intolerant and bigots. Can we not see that we are just a short time away from having a generation that will consider it a rule to accept homosexual lifestyles and those who will oppose such to be the exception?

Due to constant exposure, we are a society that accepts indecent and irreverent behavior as the rule. Clothing, or the lack of it, by men and women is no doubt becoming more like the fig leaves that Adam and Eve sowed together. The only difference is that today people think that they are clothed when Adam and Eve still realized they were naked. (Genesis 3:7-10). Talk is full of four letter words and suggestive, to say the least, but we are told this is the norm for people to talk that way. It is all a part of our "societal evolution". Look at the parade of "guests" which marches across the TV talk shows that began years ago with Phil Donohue and now up to the present. Notice how the gross, the vile, the perverted, and the filth are held up to admiration while anyone who would object is ridiculed and scorned. We are making fun of the rule of honor and decency and being entertained by the vulgar. We are presently seeing a generation that considers the vulgar as the rule and the descent as the exception and their behavior is the proof.

We have a generation of children who have been entertained by blood, gore, violence, and action till they think that such things as the law of gravity are exceptions if they should decide to jump off a cliff. They believe in actions without consequences. The rule is: "for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap" (Galatians 6:7). The rest of the verse says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked:

God’s rules may be made fun of (and they are) but we are fooling no one but ourselves when we begin to focus, as the world has, on the exceptions rather than looking into God's word and finding out what the rules are.

—E.R. Hall, Jr.

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There can be little doubt that sincerity is essential to pleasing God. Jesus reserved the most scathing rebukes of His earthly ministry for hypocrites (Matt. 23). He said the first and great commandment is to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matt. 22:27). Religious words and services that are not from the heart are useless (Matt. 15:8; 1 Cor. 13:1-3). A pure heart a good conscience, and a sincere faith are essential to pleasing God (1 Tim. 1:5).

I am convinced that only conscientious, sincere and devout people will go to heaven. I don't believe there will be any hypocrites and pretenders there. But, is sincerity and devotion enough to save one? Is it possible for two people to be equally sincere, devout and conscientious in their worship and service toward God and one be saved and the other lost? Does the fact that one is sincerely doing what he thinks is right toward God make him right? Is it not possible that one might be sincere and devout and, at the same time, be ignorant and/or deceived as to what God requires of one to be saved? Once we see that one is sincere and devout in his religious service, should we leave him undisturbed to do what he believes to be right?

It is possible for one to even kill the Lord's servants thinking he offers God service (Jn. 16:2). "Oh, but killing the Lord's servants could never be right," one may say. If sincerely thinking a thing is right before God makes it right for that person, then such killing would be right for such persons. Obviously, there must be some standard of judgment. The Word of God will judge us (Jn. 12:48). It must be preached (2 Tim. 4:2). It must be obeyed (1 Pet. 1:22). One is born again by it (1 Pet. 1:23). It lives and abides forever (1 Pet. 1: 23-25). Peter then shows that the Word of God is not some inner voice, but “the word which by the gospel was preached to you" (1 Pet. 2:5b). Regardless to how devout and sincere one is, he still must conform to the objective standard of the Word that the apostles preached — the New Testament revelation.

In Acts 2, Peter tells an audience of "devout men" (vs. 5) that they had crucified the Christ (vs. 36). They were told to "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized...for the remission of sins" (vs. 38). If being devout was enough, why must they repent? Why must they be baptized for the remission of sins? Evidently, being devout is not enough.

In Acts 9, Saul of Tarsus was converted. What kind of person was Saul? "A wicked persecutor of Christians," you answer. That's right, but that is not all. He was an honest, devoted, sincere, conscious clean, persecutor of Christians. He was doing what he conscientiously though to be right toward God. He later said, "I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day” (Acts 23:1) and "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them" (Acts 26:9,10). Paul always did what he thought was right and what he sincerely believed God wanted him to do. Evidently, such sincerity was not enough. He later said he was chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15).

In Acts 10, Cornelius was "a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always" (vs. 2). Yet, he needed (words by which {he} and all {his} household {would} be saved (Acts 11:14). If he was yet to be saved, then he was presently lost. Here is a devout, God-fearing, alms-giving and constantly praying man who was lost! He still had to hear the gospel, believe it and be baptized to be saved from his past sins (vv. 34-48). Again, God must require more of us than sincere, conscientious, heart felt devotion. It is possible for one to have a zeal for God and it not be according to knowledge (Rom. 10:1).

One must devoutly, sincerely, and conscientiously learn, accept and obey the truth to be saved -- to become a Christian (1 Pet. 1:22-25). As a Christian, one must devoutly, sincerely and conscientiously walk according to the truth of the Gospel (cf. Gal. 2:14ff; 5:7). All spiritual truth is found in the Word of the Gospel which the apostles preached (Jn. 16:13; Gal. 1:8-10).

"Whosoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God" (2 Jn. 9). It does not say "whoever (unless he is devout, sincere, and conscientious) transgresses..." but "whoever" -- sincere or not. 

—Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.

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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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