Know Your Bible

VOL. 13                                                                                                                         October 19, 2014                                                                                                                            NO. 33



The gospel of community service, this is not the Apostolic gospel but another (cf. Gal. 1:6-9). Jesus’ Great Commission was not to go into all the world and perform "community service." It was to preach the gospel to every creature. The New Testament church never met, nor was commanded to meet for the purpose of volunteering for social community service. New Testament congregations met to praise and thank God in worship and to build each other up in the faith. Members of these congregations pooled their funds into a congregational treasury to defray the expenses of corporate worship, preaching the gospel (including edifying the church), and supplying the basic needs of destitute saints with no other means of support. Like their Lord, individual saints made it their work to "seek and save the lost." They were taught that they would have the poor with them always and as they had opportunity to do them good. It was not their mission to go into the world to "seek and feed" the hungry, or "seek and clothe the naked." In the course of their lives as Christians they would come across such unfortunate people and would have such come to them. They were to be compassionate and supply the needs of such people as they had opportunity and ability – but this was not their mission in life as Christians, it was to seek out the lost and offer them salvation through the gospel. Yes, Jesus had compassion on the hungry and fed 5,000 and 4,000 on different occasions. But, his purpose was much deeper than using these feedings as a "drawing card" to bring people to Him. Like, his other miracles, this was done to furnish objective evidence (signs) that he was who he claimed to be – the Son of God. In fact, shortly after feeding the 5,000 (John 6:5-14) he made it clear that it made a difference to him as to why they came to follow him. He rebukes them:

"Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." (John 6:26 KJV).

They had missed the point of the feeding. It was not "the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach" approach. In this case it was through his miracles that furnished additional evidence of his deity. Later in the chapter "many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him" (verse 66). If it makes a difference as to why one comes to Jesus, then it makes a difference as to what we use to draw people in. It is through a heart filled with evidence of the deity of Jesus and his work of redemption and not a belly filled with "meat that perishes."

But, aren’t we to let our light shine so that men will be drawn to Christ by our good works? Jesus did say, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16 KJV) But, is this the same as using our good works as the drawing power to bring people to Christ? Or, is it that men seeing our good works and knowing we are "God-fearing" will glorify God by recognizing his power to make us into the persons we are. It may even cause them to be more willing to consider the gospel message after seeing what it has done for us. But, that is a far cry from using good works (community service) as a tool to draw lost souls to the Lord. It might draw them to a group of "good people," but it will not draw them to the Christ. Only being taught of God through the gospel will draw people to Christ.

"No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." (John 6:44-45) 

—Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.

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For every individual who seeks to be a child of God, there is a continued need to "sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1 Pet. 3:15). In every situation of life, the Christian must be able to answer why he chooses to follow the path before him. The Christian must give an answer for his actions before men and before God. Col. 3:17 reads: "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." With this verse we understand that whatever we do, we must do so in the name of the Son of God. Such is the case of tobacco and the Christian.

What is your answer for those who ask why you use tobacco? If you smoke, dip or chew tobacco, what answer do you give to every man who asks you concerning your hope of Heaven? There has been a long standing practice of dipping and chewing tobacco bythose who profess to be Christians. It has become an accepted norm with our society for many years with only the most recent years    people turning away from its use. But why is it taking so long for God's children to finally admit the danger of using tobacco? Not the danger of dying of cancer - the danger of losing your soul. Do you consider the use of tobacco wrong? Do you think that smoking is    not a good idea? Do you believe that you will be allowed into heaven with a pack of snuff in your pocket or a bag of chew in your       hand? Do they have ashtrays in heaven for your cigarette habit? Seriously - is the use of tobacco a sin? 

We are so careful to attach the word SIN to anything anymore. It is either "wrong," "bad judgment," "maybe not a good idea" etc. But the truth is we must speak where the Bible speaks and accept the teaching of God. "Tobacco contains over 4,000 different gases,   particles and compounds including tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide. Nicotine is found only in tobacco. It acts as a mild stimulant to  the central nervous system and is what causes the addiction to tobacco products.” 

Take the tobacco test: (1) Can you use tobacco in the name of Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father? (Col. 3:17). (2) Can you fulfill the image of 2 Cor. 4:10 that reads, "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body" and load your mouth with snuff, chew, cigar, cigarette or any such thing? (3) When you light up or load up can you say you are holy? "As He which called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of living" (1 Pet. 1:15). (4) Do you     "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom. 12:1) when you use tobacco? (5) Are you being conformed to the world or transformed by the renewing of your mind to prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God when you use tobacco? (Rom. 12:2). (6) How can you justify the use of tobacco when 1 Cor. 6:19,20 reads, "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s." 

The Christian has no right to take the temple of God and defile it with tobacco. (or any other defiling substance really, ERH). The body of the Christian BELONGS TO GOD and if we dip snuff in it, load our mouths with chew and smoke tobacco we are taking the body that belongs to God and defiling it -- thus we sin! 1 Pet. 2:21,22 says, "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also      suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: who did no sin neither was guile found in His mouth." The        example of Jesus is that we should follow in His footsteps. No guile was found in His mouth and He will not allow His disciples to      have tobacco in their mouths either. 

Rick Lanning wrote, “What man or woman who wears that holy name, who 'imbibes His spirit and imitates His example,' who     seeks to walk even as He walked, and to be holy in all manner of living can in his wildest imagination picture the holy, harmless,         undefiled Jesus asking Peter for a light, or pulling a cigarette from His garment or putting a 'pinch between his cheek and gum'? I could as easily draw in my mind our Savior at a disco party or a poker game or seated at a bar as I can Him puffing on a rolled up cancer      stick or spitting before offering a 'holy kiss'! Any saint ('holy one') who can think otherwise, 'hath not seen Him, neither knows Him.'" 

---Kent E. Heaton, Sr.

—Kent E. Heaton, Sr.

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