Know Your Bible

VOL. 11                                                                                                                                                             May 13, 2012                                                                                                                                                                NO. 16



We As Christians Should Conduct Our Lives As It Is Fitting For Saints To Do: -- "But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints" (Eph. 53-12). As this passage indicates, all saints have by profession separated themselves from all evil things, and should by their conduct in righteousness demonstrate the reality of that separateness. Conduct convinces others of the genuiness of professed faith far more than words do. We are to receive and show proper care for brothers and sisters in Christ "in a manner worthy of the saints" (Rom. 16:1,2). "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I (Paul) come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries..." (Phil. 1:27,28).

Holy lives are becoming to the saints.  Good works, adorning oneself in modesty "with propriety and moderation, or becoming of women professing godliness” (1 Tim. 2:9,10). The same things may be said of men, who are to lift up "holy hands, without wrath and doubting (dissension, NASB)" (1 Tim. 2:8). All saints are to be holy in all manner of life (1 Pet. 1:13-16). Older  men and older women are charged by Paul, as proper for sound doctrine, to "be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, and in patience...not slanderers, not given to wine, teachers of good things" -- a way of life that is becoming of saints (Titus 2:1-7).  So Titus was instructed to teach them.

Holiness adorns (becometh) the house of the Lord (Psa. 93:5).  Jesus said that "it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness" (Matt. 3:15), and in this declaration He Himself set the standard for all of His saints.

Pure speech becometh saints: -- "Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers" (Eph. 4:29). Careless talk, careless use of words, profanity, cursing, filthy communication, and lying are not becoming for those set apart to God in purity and holiness. If saints follow Paul's instruction (and true saints will do that), then their conversations will reflect godly thinking, for "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Matt. 12:34). Paul said:  "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things" (Phil. 4:8).

Industriousness, diligence in work to supply needs, becometh saints. Honest toil is approved of God. Working when the opportunity occurs is fitting (gathering in time of harvest -- Prov. 6:8; 10:5). By such labor, we are able to provide for our own, to share with others, and to give to the poor. All of these actions are befitting and necessary. By diligence we are able to show hospitality -- a rewarding action of generosity (Rom. 12:13; 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8; 1 Pet. 4:9; Heb. 13:2). Industry discourages and prevents being busybodies (1 Tim. 5:13; 2 Thes. 3:11).

Our being the salt of the earth and the light of the world is dependent upon our being faithful, living as becometh saints in all aspects of life. This is a lifestyle, a continual responsibility, a day by day kind of conduct, a good foundation for the time to come -- even to eternal life (Lk. 6:47,48; 1 Tim. 6:17-19). "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" -- God's people (Rev. 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). 

---Gilbert Alexander

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Much has been said in recent years concerning the self-proclaimed "change agents" among churches of Christ. Biblically, we have already shown that they do not have a leg to stand on and that the Bible is not one of the legs on which they are attempting to stand. 

My purpose, here, is not to fully deal with their ideas on the basis of the Bible, but to make some observations about the internal logic of this party's platform. 

Plank #1 seems to be that the church must make drastic changes because culture is constantly changing and we must become more relevant for the sake of our children in coming generations. With the new millennium looming on the horizon, this idea seems to be especially significant to those who press it. This thinking was widespread at end of the last century but it may be even more so as we approach a year with three zeros. 

Go back and read some old magazines. Popular Mechanics would be a good choice. Look at all of the predictions about how we were supposed to be living and thinking by now. They supposed that we would be living like the Jetson's, care nothing about birds, flowers, and trees, and have robots doing our every bidding. We laugh at what they thought our dress and fashion would be like. We are amused, fourteen years later, at the predictions that George Orwell made concerning 1984. The truth is that culture changes, styles change, people change, and even styles of thinking change among large populations within a culture, -- but almost never in ways that are very predictable. The "change agents" of the last century ("progressives") were quite certain that the church needed to change so that future generations would flock to it. They divided the church over it and started the "Christian Church." Those who failed to see their great vision for the future continued trying to simply be the church revealed in the New Testament. Contrary to the predictions of the "progressives," those who remained with simple New Testament Christianity became the fastest growing religious body in America by the middle of our current century. The "progressives" -- who felt certain that they knew what the next generation would need and want -- experienced no such growth. 

Would it not be more honest for "change agents" to simply say, "WE want to make changes now because WE want them now"? Those who project their own desires onto the next generation may feel honorable and unselfish for expressing their own wishes in this way. Unless, however, their ability to predict the future far surpasses that of all previous generations, they are likely mistaken every time they anticipate the needs and movements of future generations. Since culture continuously changes, it is not reasonable to demand changes today to satisfy our children tomorrow. 

Brethren, let's stick with the old plan. If there are changes that need to be made in individual Christians and independent local churches, they need to be made in order to conform to the will of God as expressed in the Bible. No reasonable man alive denies that such flaws exist and need mending. But to try to remodel the Lord's church with human hands to prepare it for the next generation to move in is both rebellious and unreasonable. Let's never forget that "his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation" (Luke 1:50). 

---Tim Nichols

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