Know Your Bible

VOL. 8                           May 31, 2009                           NO. 19

The Picnic

    It was a gorgeous day in May, and a family from church had invited everybody over for a get-together. Carl, who had only been baptized a few months earlier, was looking forward to socializing with the other young people. So, juggling some grocery bags, and with a camera around his neck, he rounded the corner of the house and entered the backyard.

    What he saw caught him slightly off guard. At one end of the driveway, on a makeshift basketball court, eight of his brothers in Christ were already heavily into a game. Several had their shirts off, and some in shorts some in tank tops and jeans, were obviously having a great time. A number of the females had also dressed for the warm weather. In shorts of varying lengths and low cut, breezy tops, they were mingling and talking, some sitting, some standing.

    Carl blushed instinctively, and his eyes awkwardly moved away. He was not used to seeing these Christians not fully clothed. And he wasn’t sure why it bothered him. Oh, he had heard 1 Timothy 2:8-9 mentioned in passing, about women dressing modestly, and he knew it had something to do with women who claimed to be godly. And he had heard Jesus’ statement about looking on a woman to lust (Matthew 5:28). But in his brief Christian life, he could quote neither passage. And besides, what little he had been taught about clothing from the pulpit had generally emphasized that the whole subject was a matter of opinion, and a scruple that mature Christians had outgrown. Still, something didn’t seem quite right. Maybe it was the vague remembrance of God having clothed Adam and Eve in the beginning. Maybe it was his own desire to look, or the less-than-pure thoughts fighting their way into his mind. Carl didn’t know...all he knew for sure was that looking at some of his sisters in Christ made him uncomfortable.

    But everybody seemed to be having such a good time. Carl soon assured himself that he was overreacting, expecting Christians to be too different, and he relaxed. He even took the pictures of his new friends that he had intended to take, to show his parents.

    But the next week while showing the pictures, the uneasiness returned. The photos didn’t lie. There they were, caught in all sorts of positions; a mixed company of disciples who looked like they’d left their discretion at home. Did these Christians really realize how much of their bodies they were revealing? They were good people. Surely they wouldn’t let their mere comfort or the culture override their concern for being a stumbling block to others. Maybe if they saw the pictures, how they really looked, it would make them think. Just how far could they go and still believe the way they dressed was ok? Carl wondered.

---Jim King

"In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works."

(1 Timothy 2:9-10)

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Can We Have Too Much "Positive" Preaching?

    We readily acknowledge the importance of positive preaching. Brethren need the "comfort of the Scriptures" (Romans 15:4). Paul sent Tychicus to the Ephesians so that he could "comfort your hearts." Timothy was dispatched to Philippi (Phil. 2:9) and Thessalonica (1 Thess. 3:2) in order to comfort the brethren. Clearly, this kind of positive encouragement is essential. The Bible has much to say about it. No one denies this.

    There are, however, some among us who are determined to only preach positive things. They want to specialize in positive preaching and to emphasize only those things which (they claim) are designed to "build up" the hearers. They will not deal with controversial topics, and they refuse to spend time rebuking the sins and weaknesses that exist in people’s lives.

    This "positive" approach fails to present the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), and at least two serious consequences will follow:

1) Christians will not be admonished to root out the evil that is in their lives. We must "put off the old man" (Colossians 3:9). We will never become the "new man" that we ought to be (vs. 10) until we have been instructed adequately in this regard.

2) Christians will become conditioned to only want this sort of teaching and preaching. After having a steady diet of positive emphasis, brethren will lose all tolerance for forceful preaching on important doctrinal and moral issues. The apostle Paul anticipated such a scenerio: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears" (2 Tim. 4:3).

    We are not at liberty to be "specialists" in only one aspect of the work. If we emphasize the positive while neglecting the negative, we have not done "the work of an evangelist" (2 Tim. 4:5). Our job involves both the positive and the negative. We are to "reprove, rebuke, and exhort" (vs. 2).

---Greg Gwin

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The Kind Of Church The World Loves

    The church and the world have always been, well, worlds apart! They have always been "at odds". The church is not exactly what the world is looking for to satisfy its pleasures. And to attract the world, so many churches have given into the demands placed there by the world it is at odds with! But to clear up any confusion let me give you a number of suggestions at the type of church the world loves.

1. A church with an honorable reputation, but inside is dead. A church that gives in to the world’s demands is dead in the sight of God! Rev. 3:1-6.

2. A church untroubled by heresy or outward opposition. One where compromise in all things reigns. One who is afraid of offending sinners. Mark 16:15,16; Gal. 3:26,27; 2:4,5.

3. A church that is well spoken of by outsiders. Luke 6:26.

4. A church that winks at moral evils in the community. One that accepts gambling, drinking, drugs, homosexuality as normal and good. See Rev. 3:1-6 again.

5. A church that has the preacher hold back on preaching on sin preferring to give the attendees a warm and fuzzy feeling when they leave the worship services. 2 Tim. 4:1-4.

6. A church whose members live with one foot in the world and the other in the church. 2 Cor. 6:17,18.

7. A church who does not practice discipline and refuses to withdraw from those who walk disorderly. 1 Cor. 5:1-13.

    Of course this is the church the world loves but it is not the church that Christ built (Matt. 16:18).

---James R. Dunigan

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