Know Your Bible

VOL. 12                                                                                                                          October 6, 2013                                                                                                                            NO. 32



Going to church is not like it used to be. Church services have turned into places of entertainment and frolic and high pitched computer generated displays of excitement, energy and temporal feelings of self worth. Auditoriums are filled with choral groups arrayed in splashing displays of sparkling gowns with sound systems that generate twenty-seven million decibels of sound reverberating through the expanse of overflow crowds riveted with spiritual fervor. Bands fill the sanctuary with guitars, drums, brass, string and a host of instruments gauged with the onslaught of entertaining the masses. Power enthusiasm is the order of worship.

Going to church is not like it used to be. Church services have turned into places where you can come as you are. The dress code for worship is whatever makes one comfortable. Bare feet are now acceptable, shorts and tee-shirts and casual apparel as if one is going to the ball park, fishing or relaxing around the house. Church services are created to be as dressed down as possible. 

Going to church is not like it used to be. Church services have turned into places of social fellowship where one can find spaghetti, cake, hamburgers,hot dogs, fried chicken, sweet tea, pies, fruitcakes and pizza. The incense of coffee wafts through the halls with enticing appeal to doughnuts and sweet rolls. Crowds are appealed to through conversion of the stomach with fork in hand. 

Going to church is not like it used to be. Church services have turned into places where preaching the Bible is replaced with preaching the feel good about yourself and no one sins anymore kind of sophistry lacking conviction and devotion on any level. The grit of scripture is replaced with a veneer of soothing enticements to indulge the peaceful hearts filled to the brim with worldliness and covetousness. In the days of Jeroboam king of Judah, "the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold and said to them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem” (1 Kings 12:28). What Jeroboam was afraid of was the people of the Northern tribes would go to Jerusalem to worship at the Temple, their hearts would turn against him and the people would rise up and kill him. To keep the people under his rule, he set up two calves of gold in Bethel and Dan for them to worship. It became convenient and more appealing to the people. Who wants to trudge all the way to Jerusalem? This religion of ease was to make the people happy and enjoy worship to God. How convenient they would not have to be bothered by anything as tedious as going all the way to Jerusalem. They wanted to enjoy life and have fun and be entertained.  

The spirit of Jeroboam abounds today in modern religion. Everyone wants to have things convenient for them. Power enthusiasm, come-as-you-are dress codes, food in abundance and feel good religion has turned the Bible into nothing more than a dusty library of sixty-six books out of date and out of time with modern man.

Leaving the Bible, modern religion worships at the altars of Bethel and Dan. We need prophets like Ahijah who will declare the pure message of God (1 Kings 14). “Anything less is rebellion. But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of My people Israel” (Jeremiah 7:12). “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord! Lord! shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

---Kent Heaton

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In Matthew 12:41, Jesus said, "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here." According to Jesus, the men of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah. 

You remember the story, don't you? God had commanded Jonah, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me" (Jonah 1:2). Now Nineveh was not only a city filled with wickedness, it was also the capital of the Assyrians, hated enemies of the Israelites. Jonah didn't want to go.  He fled from God's presence. However, after being given some quality time in the belly of a fish to reflect and pray, Jonah decided to obey God.  Jonah walked through the city proclaiming the judgment of the Lord upon these pagan people: "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" (Jonah 3:4).

The people of Nineveh repented. They "proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them" (Jonah 3:5). When word came to the king of Nineveh, "he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes." He decreed that "neither man nor beast, herd nor flock" were to eat or drink and that "every one" was to "turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hand" (Jonah 3:7-8). 

The text says that, "God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them" (Jonah 3:10). God can read men's hearts. He knows more about what is going on in our heads than we do ourselves. But He did not need to read the minds of the Ninevites to know that they had repented.  He "saw their works, that they turned away from evil". When the men of Nineveh repented, nobody was left to wonder whether or not their repentance was genuine. Nobody was left guessing about their intention to stop committing evil. Nobody would have doubted they had actually repented of their sins.

We really need to learn this lesson from the men of Nineveh. We need to learn how to act when we repent.  Repentance isn't just saying "excuse me," "my bad," or "forgive me," and then going on with our lives as if nothing happened.  Repentance should produce real change in our actions.  We are to "bear fruits worthy of repentance" (Matthew 3:8). I am afraid that too many of us think that our repentance should go unnoticed. We are incognito repenters!  And while God hardly asks us to don sackcloth and ashes today, He does ask us to "do works befitting repentance" (Acts 26:20).

Let's resolve to turn away from sin in our lives, and make sure that we behave in such a way that folks can tell that's what we've done! 

---Steve Kline

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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.

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