Know Your Bible

VOL. 11                                                                                                                                                             June 3, 2012                                                                                                                                                                NO. 19



How thankful we should be for wonderful examples of courage that spur us on to greater strength in the Lord's service.

Paul was just such an example: "And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear" (Phil. 1:14). These brethren, formerly timid and reticent, were drawing strength from the courage of Paul.

Other examples abound. Stephen's plea, “'Lord, lay not this sin to their charge,'" surely had for its source of strength the forgiving spirit of the Lord (Acts 7:60). The Thessalonian church found a source of strength in the example of the churches in Judea (1 Thess. 2:14). The Philippian church, a model of courage and conviction, could no doubt trace much of its strength back to the wonderful example of patience and equanimity demonstrated by Paul and Silas while in their midst. The Hebrew Christians were admonished to "remember them that had the rule over you, men that spake unto you the word of God; and considering the issue of their life, imitate their faith" (Heb. 13:7).

Christians of this generation are similarly drawing strength from the courage of others. Young men who refuse to miss services of the church to play on a ball team; young women who refuse to be seen in public in scanty attire; businessmen who would lose their jobs rather than compromise their convictions; women who continue to adorn themselves in "meek and quiet spirits" whatever the sophisticated world thinks or says of them; sick people who bear their afflictions with patience and faith; elderly people who continue to attend worship when they are hardly able to go anywhere else; dying people who demonstrate how Christians ought to die; all are sources of strength and courage for others as they face similar circumstances. These all share a common spirit with the great characters of the Bible: they see in their temptations, trials, afflictions, and persecutions a special opportunity to be like Christ, to demonstrate their fidelity to Him, and to provide a source of strength for those who might be weak and wavering around them. They seize the opportunity and stand, and all of us are stronger because of them. Of these courageous people this world truly is not worthy.

Are we, however, to be always on the receiving end of the strength of others? As we draw strength from the courage of others, we must in turn become sources of strength and courage. Others look to us. Each of us has a "charge to keep," "God to glorify," and “a present age to serve." 

---Bill Hall

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Yes, our gospel meeting with Verlin Cox scheduled for June 10-15 is near. It is only 7 days away.

  Do you want it be successful? As you read this you are thinking, “Yes, I do.” But subconsciously many are saying “No. I don’t.” Why is this so? Think about it!

How hard have you been praying for the meeting and the preacher? Are you expending any extra effort to make plans to be present at every service? Are you exhorting the other members to be present also? Are you talking up the meeting with family, friends and acquaintances, telling them about it and inviting them to come? I fear that many of us have allowed ourselves to become so complacent and satisfied with the status quo that we treat gospel preaching nonchalantly (take it or leave it) and feel no compelling need to spread the gospel to others around us?  

Many see gospel meetings as something of the past. Years ago they were successful tools in helping to spread the gospel in a community, but times have changed. Some feel that since they no longer bring the same results as in past years, they are just a waste of time. But this cannot be true if you believe in the power of the gospel Rom. 1:16. Anytime the true gospel is preached truth is proclaimed and good accomplished. God is glorified, Christ is honored, attending saints are edified, and lost souls who attend will be provided another opportunity to learn the truth and obey the gospel. Wherever the gospel seed is sowed, the devil’s weeds will be hoed. 

Should we continue to have gospel meetings? It is true that almost every aspect of society has changed over the years, even gospel meetings. I have been preaching the gospel regularly for 57 years and I can state from personal experience and observation that there is far less zeal among brethren today for preaching the gospel than when I first started preaching, especially in “gospel meetings.” Because of their affluent lifestyles Christians do not seem to feel the same urgency to preach the saving gospel to the lost. They are not as interested in telling the story of the cross to the lost, either because they don’t feel the lost are really lost, or they feel the lost have demonstrated that they have little interest in hearing the gospel.  

Gospel meetings do not produce the same responses as “the good old days” for several reasons. 1. Religion is no longer the central figure of society as it once was. Society has downgraded the importance of religion (especially Christianity) making it insignificant as a moving force to the majority of people. 2. People seem to have less free time available, so spending time in church services listening to the gospel story is a low priority. 3. Years ago, gospel meetings were a community effort because it provided a place for people to go. Now TV, movies, sports, etc. have become the entertainment center for many. 4. Today churches usually meet several times a week (but this may be changing in some areas) so a concerted effort is no longer considered a great deal. Regardless of how we might regard gospel meetings, the outsiders view them only as a series of ordinary sermons, conducted by some little known religious group. So, how will we get the outsiders (and many of the members) we are trying to reach to attend our meetings? 

Maybe we can find an answer in the following story from the pen of Edward O Bragwell Sr. Several years ago there a company was trying to increase its sales. So they hired an expensive sales expert to lecture their salesmen on sales organization and technique. Their experienced salesmen and new recruits were required to attend so they, too, could become experts. The expert unveiled his plan. He demonstrated his sure-fire technique complete with a wall map with pins placed at strategic points to illustrate the salesmen, customers and potential customers. He had refined his program to a fine art. During his lecture he spotted an old salesmen sitting over in the corner who was reputed to have been the top salesman for the company over several years. After, proudly and with fan fare, presenting his technique he asked the old salesman if he had any words of encouragement or advice that he might add to what had been said. The old salesmen replied, "Yes, take all those pins out of that map and stick them into the salesmen!" Could it be that our problem in teaching transgressors the Lord's way and thus converting them to the Lord is not so much poor methods, materials, and facilities as it is poor motivation with no proper foundation? It may be that the joy of our own salvation is the missing element. The Psalmist David wrote, "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You" (Psalms 51:12,13).

Maybe we can’t stick people with a pin but we can talk up the meeting. Most of the people in this area do not even know we will be having a gospel meeting and they won’t know if you don’t let them know about it. Members of a congregation making contact with a relative, friend or relative can sometimes make the difference between them attending or not attending. A personal invitation by letter, phone, or face to face lets the other person know you have a special interest in him. Some might come if you take the time to ask them. So, do it and see what happens. 

Brethren, Verlin will be here and I am fully confident he will preach the gospel. It will be up to us to do what we can to make the meeting successful. I read of a congregation that seemed to keep their planned gospel meeting a closely guarded secret. Some of the members did not even know about it until it was announced from the pulpit just before the meeting was to begin. They had not even prepared announcements to hand out in the community and send to other nearby congregations in the area. It was poorly attended by the members and none from the community came. Afterward some blamed the lack of success on the visiting preacher and others said, “See, I knew gospel meetings do no good. They are a waste of time.”

---Selected and Modified

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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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