Google+ Followers

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What About All Those Mistakes in the Bible?

It is quite amazing to me that a common complaint made about the Bible is that it has so many contradictions and mistakes. It is not surprising that such a charge would be made by some unbelieving scholar who will investigate the Bible's pages and turn logic on its ear in order to force a mistake into it here and there. The surprising part is that so many will use such alleged mistakes as an excuse not to obey its teachings, but when asked for an example simply do not have a single one.

Most want you to think that they have made a careful examination, and only after months of painstaking search have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the Bible is not reliable because of all the mistakes they have found. But when asked to show one, it is quickly apparent that no such examination has taken place, no specific error is in mind, and it is all an excuse. "Oh, I just heard that mistakes are in there...."

But what of the "scholar" who has investigated and does have a list of contradictions? Well, each alleged mistake has to be treated individually. We have to consider whether it has merit, or is just an unfair attack on the Bible by an unbeliever who is either ignorant or malicious.

I have several books in my library that deal with such matters. If it were not so serious a matter, some of these "mistakes" would be funny. For example, a passage which says God dwells in heaven (Psalm 123:1) and another which says He dwells in Zion (the mount upon which the temple was built in Jerusalem) (Psalm 9:11). He can't dwell at both places, can He? Contradiction! But only if one ignores the omnipresence of God, a characteristic that is taught throughout the Bible. "'Do I not fill the heaven and earth?' Saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 23:24). Yes, God can dwell in both places, and many more.

Concerning the execution of Christ, John records the words of Jesus' enemies. In one passage, they say, "We have a law, and by our law he ought to die" (John 19:7). But just a bit earlier, they are recorded as saying, "It is not lawful for us to put any man to death" (John 18:31). Another contradiction! How could the same people say both things? They could easily do so if they were talking about two different laws, which they were. The first law they are referring to is the law of Moses. They considered Jesus a blasphemer which was a sin for which the Law of Moses prescribed death. However, Judah was not an independent nation at the time Jesus was crucified. By Roman law, the Chief Priests did not have the authority to execute those they deemed as criminals. For this reason, they had to secure the Roman governor's permission, which they did. Once Pilate granted the permission, the roadblock of civil law was overcome and Jesus was crucified.

There are others, but you get the picture. Rather flimsy, weren't they? How sad that so many have heard that there are some "discrepancies" in the Bible, and use that as an excuse not to believe, but never take the time to investigate the charge. One must not let Satan win the victory so easily. Examine the Scriptures daily! (Acts 17:11)

~Jon Quinn~
(La Vista Church of Christ)


Question: Is the conscience a sufficient guide for man?

No. Conscience, using the word in the sense of the moral intuition that every person possesses that right is right and wrong is wrong, and that each of us ought to commit to following wherever it leads us, is sufficient to lead us to an absolute surrender to do what is right, whatever it may be. However, then there comes the question of what is right. Conscience, in the sense of moral judgment as to what is right or wrong, is certainly not a sufficient guide for man. Many people conscientiously do things that are utterly wrong because their moral judgment has been improperly educated. Conscience needs to be enlightened by divine revelation and by personal illumination of the Holy Spirit as to what is right.

If we surrender ourselves to doing what is right, wherever it leads us, and if we make an honest search for what is right and true, we will be led to see that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and a Teacher sent from God (Matthew 16:16; John 3:2; 7:16-17). Then we will bring our moral judgment to Him for education. Having accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God and a Teacher sent from God, we will logically be led by the study of His Word to accept the entire Bible as the Word of God, and we will consequently take it as our guide in conduct. Furthermore, we will be led to see that it is our privilege to be taught by the Holy Spirit and to be guided into right conduct by Him.

~R. A. Torry~

Monday, March 30, 2015

Arguing with Atheists

I work at a university.

That's something I thought I'd never say. 

I guess I'd better clarify. I'm not a professor, a graduate student getting paid to do research, a university official...or even a janitor or landscaper. I'm actually just an evangelist who happens to carry out some of my work on the university campus 1.5 times per week. My work involves having conversations with the students about God, religion and the Bible. Every Wednesday, from 10-2, I "table" at Hilliard Plaza on the campus of the University of Nevada in Reno, and every other Tuesday, I attend a two hour meeting of the Secular Student Alliance where we discuss matters of science and philosophy. Neat stuff.

As you can imagine, I talk to a lot of folks on campus who are self-proclaimed atheists, agnostics and skeptics. While I believe that this world was created by an omnipotent God, they believe that everything came from nothing about 13.7 billion years ago, that life came from non-living material about 3.5 billion years ago, and that life has been evolving ever since. You know the story.
I've kept up with the 'evolution vs. creation' debate for the past ten years and have even preached a few sermons on topics related to the debate, but it's been in the last year - as a result of my work at the university - that I've come to truly understand the issue. I'd like to share with you my conclusions.

We can debate the merits of carbon dating, the 'distant starlight problem,' cosmic-microwave background, polystratic fossils, the formation of coal and diamonds, vestigial organs, etc. We can list the scientific evidence for a young earth. And while these may be valid arguments, and while some skeptics may be slightly surprised by your knowledge, even impressed, it is very unlikely that you will make any serious progress with them because these are all symptoms of a greater problem. It's like fighting a forest fire with a garden hose.

In the end, skeptics believe that it's a matter of science vs. faith. They believe that they have all the facts on their side and that Christians and other religious people are just clinging to old, dying superstitions. I've talked to many atheists on campus who argue that the universe can be explained scientifically to the point that there is no need to believe in supernatural causes. It's their facts versus your faith.

And this is where I have taken my stand.

You see, it's not a debate between facts and faith, science and superstition. It's a debate between two different worldviews based on two different interpretations of the same evidence. And both involve faith. Yes, you heard me. Naturalism (the belief that we're here because of natural, not supernatural causes), abiogenesis (life from non-living material) and Darwinian evolution (molecules to man evolution) ALL involve faith.

Allow me to break this down for you...
Let's begin with the Big Bang theory, the atheists explanation of the origin of the universe. Consider this quote from page 362 of  HBJ General Science: "If the universe is expanding, then it must have once been much smaller. If you could run the life of the universe in reverse, like a film, you would see the universe contracting until it disappeared in a flash of light, leaving nothing. In the realm of the universe, nothing really means nothing. Not only matter and energy would disappear, but also space and time. However, physicists theorize that from this state of nothingness the universe began in a gigantic explosion about 16.5 billion years ago. This theory of the origin of the universe is called the Big Bang theory."

Of course, the atheist who affirms this theory wasn't there to observe it. No one was. But more than that, this belief contradicts known scientific laws, specifically, the law of the 'conservation of energy' which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only transferred. When I asked an atheist recently about how he could believe in the Big Bang when it contradicts this known scientific law, he basically argued that just because we haven't yet observed "something coming from nothing," it could still be scientifically possible. In other words, that may just be a gap in our knowledge, a mystery of the universe yet to be resolved.

So the atheist cannot explain scientifically how something came from nothing, or even how the entire universe came from an "infinitesimal point." But it's a fact? No, it's faith. 
Now consider abiogenesis, which is the belief that life sprang from non-living material. Has this ever been observed? No. Does the atheist have any proof that this happened 3.5 billion years ago? No. But the atheist will once again argue that just because we haven't proven that life can come from non-living material, it could still be possible. Again, we just haven't made the discovery yet. So the atheist has no factual, provable, scientific explanation for the origin of life from non-living material, but he affirms it wholeheartedly. Sounds like faith to me.

Finally, consider Darwinian evolution, or macroevolution, which is the belief in evolution on a grand scale (molecules to man evolution). Ask the atheist if there is any evidence that one kind of animal can change into another? They will give you examples of bacteria, fruit flies and Darwin's finches. But in all of these cases, the results were simply different varieties of bacteria, fruit flies and finches. You see, Christians accept what is often called microevolution. There was a time when chihuahuas didn't exist. Through selective breeding and even adaptation, a species can change over time, but a dog will always be a dog and a finch will always be a finch. But again, ask the atheist for evidence that one kind of animal can change into another kind. Don't give me an example of a fruit fly becoming a different kind of fruit fly. The atheist's only answer will be that we've not been around long enough (as an advanced species) to observe macroevolution. "That would take thousands of years of observation and research," they'll say. Okay, then come back to me in a few thousand years with your evidence. Until then, it's faith, not fact.

Oh, but wait - the fossil record proves Darwinian evolution! Right? No, it doesn't! You see, atheists will point to a fossil and say that it's the intermediate, evolutionary link between two other fossils. But they cannot prove it. There's no tag on the fossil that identifies it as an intermediate link. All we can learn from a fossil is that this animal once lived. Nothing more. Nothing less.
So let's recap:
  1. It takes faith to believe that everything came from nothing (Big Bang theory).
  2. It takes faith to believe that life came from non-living material (abiogenesis).
  3. It takes faith to believe in molecules-to-man evolution.
These are the three pillars of the atheists' view of origins, and yet none of these can be observed, tested, repeated or proven by scientists today.
Which brings me back to my original point. 
It's not a debate between science and faith, but between two different worldviews based on two different interpretations of the evidence. Christians look at the very same evidence and interpret it in light of a Creator.

As an example, an atheist recently used the genetic code in an attempt to prove evolution. He pointed out that all living things share the same genetic code and used this as proof that we all share a common ancestor. My response was twofold. I first of all pointed out that I interpreted the evidence to mean that we all share the same Designer! Then I asked him who wrote the code.
The point in all of this is not to win an intellectual debate with an atheist, but to weaken their pride and sense of intellectual superiority and most of all, to illuminate the inevitability of faith. They don't have all the answers, so the question is: where will they put their faith? Which interpretation of the evidence is more reasonable? 

Is it more reasonable to believe that everything came from nothing, that life came from non-living material, and that we are here because of random, unguided mutations over the course of billions of years?

Or is it more reasonable to believe that this incredibly ordered and complex universe was designed by an omnipotent Creator, and has been sustained by Him ever since?
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1).
 "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork" (Psalms 19:1).
I don't know about you, but this makes a lot more sense.

~Pastor Casey Head~


Question: Should we invite to the Lord's Table all who believe themselves to be Christians, whether or nor they have previously been received into the membership of the church?

Jesus Christ commands all believers, "Do this in remembrance of Me" (1 Corinthians 11:24). Therefore, all believers should have the privilege of doing this, whether or not they have previously been received into the membership of the church. But the importance and necessity of church membership should be urged upon all believers. 

Confession of Sins

Question: Should we confess our sins to man or only to God?

First of all, we should confess them to God. David said in Psalm 32:5, "I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,' and You forgave the iniquity of my sin." In 1 John 1:9, we read, "If we confess our sis [and it clearly means, "to God"], He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

However, if we have sinned against someone, we should confess our sin to the person against whom we have sinned. We should be reconciled to our brother who has something against us (Matthew 5:23-24). It is well also to confess our sins to one another so that we may pray for one another (James 5:16). There is not the slightest hint, however, that this means we should confess our sins to a priest any more than to any other brother. The verse says, "Confess ... to one another" (v. 16). There is not any more reason why we should confess our sins to ta priest than that the priest should confess his sins to us!

If we have sinned publicly, we should make public confession of our sins. But there is nothing in the Bible to indicate that one should make a detailed public confession of all his transgressions, or even that he should confess to any man every sin that he has committed. Religious impostors often require this of their disciples, and, in this way, they gain control over their disciples and rule them by fear of exposure. I know of one religious impostor who gained control over his people in this way. He made them confess everything base and vile that they had ever done; then he terrorized them, got their money from them, and made slaves of them. There are some things that a man should keep to himself and God!

~R. A. Torry~

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Man of Sorrows # 1

"He was despised and rejected by men — a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth." Isaiah 53:3-7
It has been supposed by many, that the sufferings of our Lord were rather apparent than real; or at least that his abundant consolations, and his knowledge of the happy consequences which would result from his death, rendered his sorrows comparatively light, and almost converted them to joys. But never was supposition more erroneous. Jesus Christ was as truly a man as any of us, and, as man, he was as really susceptible of grief, as keenly alive to pain and reproach, and as much averse from shame and suffering, as any of the descendants of Adam. As to divine consolations and supports, they were at all times bestowed on him in a very sparing manner, and in the season of his greatest extremity, they were entirely withheld. And though a knowledge of the happy consequences which would result from his sufferings, rendered him willing to endure them — it did not, in the smallest degree, take off their edge, or render him insensible to pain.

No, his sufferings, instead of being less — were incomparably greater than they appeared to be. No finite mind can conceive of their extent; nor was any of the human race ever so well entitled to the appellation of the Man of Sorrows, as the man Christ Jesus. His sufferings began with his birth — and ended only with his death.

In the first place, it must have been extremely painful to such a person as Christ — to live in a world like this. He was perfectly holy, harmless, and undefiled. Of course, he could not look on sin — but with the deepest abhorrence! It is that abominable thing which his soul hates. Yet during the whole period of his residence on earth, he was continually surrounded by it, and his sensibilities and feelings were every moment tortured with the hateful sight of human depravity. How much sorrow the sight occasioned him, we may in some measure learn from the bitter complaints which similar causes extorted from David, Jeremiah, and other ancient saints. They described, in the most striking and pathetic language, the sufferings which they experienced from the prevalence of wickedness around them, and often wished for death to relieve them from their sufferings.

But the sufferings of Christ from this cause were incomparably greater than theirs. He was far more holy than they, his hatred of sin incomparably more intense, and the sight of it proportionably more painful! In consequence of his power of searching the heart — he saw unspeakably more sin in the world, than any mere man could discover. We can discover sin only when it displays itself in words and actions. But he saw all the hidden wickedness of the heart, the depths of that fountain of iniquity, from which all the bitter streams of vice and misery flow! Every man who approached him was transparent to his eye. In his best friends — he saw more sin than we can discover in the most abandoned reprobates!

He saw also, in a far clearer light than we can do — the dreadful consequences of sin, the interminable miseries to which it is conducting the sinner — and his feelings of compassion were not blunted by that selfish insensibility which enables us to bear with composure the sight of human distress. On the contrary, he wasall sympathy, compassion, and love. He loved others as himself, and therefore felt for the sufferings of others as for his own! If Paul could say, "Who is weak — and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin — and I do not inwardly burn?" — then much more might Christ.

In this, as well as in a still more important sense, he took upon himself our griefs, and bore our sorrows. As he died for all, so he felt and wept for the sufferings of all. The temporal and eternal calamities of the whole human race, and of every individual among them — all seemed to be collected and laid upon him. He saw at one view — the whole mighty aggregate of human guilt and human wretchedness; and his boundless benevolence and compassion made it by sympathy — all his own.

It has been said by philosophers, that if any man could see all the misery which is daily felt in the world — he would never smile again. We need not wonder then that Christ, who saw and felt it all — never smiled, though he often wept.

We may add, that the total contrast between the Heaven which he had left, and the world into which he came — rendered a residence in the latter, peculiarly painful to his feelings. In Heaven he had seen nothing but holiness and happiness and love. In this world, on the contrary, he saw little but wickedness and hatred and misery — in ten thousand forms! In Heaven he was crowned with glory and honor and majesty, and surrounded by throngs of admiring, adoring angels. On earth, he found himself plunged in poverty, wretchedness, and contempt — and surrounded by malignant, implacable enemies!

My friends, think of a noble prince, educated with care and tenderness in his father's court, where he heard nothing but sounds of pleasure and praise, and saw nothing but scenes of honor and magnificence — sent to labor as a slave in a rebellious province, where himself and his father were hated and despised! Think of a person of the most delicate and refined taste, going from the bosom of his family and the magnificent abodes of a polished city — to spend his life in the filthy huts of the most degraded and barbarous savages, and compelled daily to witness the disgusting scenes of cruelty and brutality which are there exhibited! Think of a man endowed with the tenderest sensibilities — compelled to live on a field of battle, among the corpses of the dead and the groans of the dying, or shut up for years in a madhouse with wretched maniacs, where nothing was to be heard but the burst of infuriated passions, the wild laugh of madness, and the shrieks and ravings of despair! Think of these instances, and you will have some conception, though but a faint one . . .

of the scenes which this world presented to our Savior,
of the contrast between it and the Heaven he left,
of the sorrows which embittered every moment of his earthly existence,
and of the love which induced him voluntarily to submit to such sorrows.

Another circumstance which contributed to render our Savior a man of sorrows, and his life a life of grief — was the dreadful reception he met with from those whom he came to save! Had they received him with that gratitude and respect which he deserved, and permitted him to rescue them from their miseries — it would have been some alleviation of his sorrows. But even this alleviation was in a great measure denied him. Some few, indeed, received him with affection and respect, though even they often grieved him by their unkindness and unbelief; but by far the greater part of his countrymen, he was treated with the utmost cruelty and contempt! Many of them would not allow him even to remove their bodily diseases, and still greater numbers were unwilling that he should save them from their sins. Now to a noble, sensitive, pure mind — nothing is so cutting, so torturing as such conduct.

To see himself despised, slandered, and persecuted with implacable malice, by the very beings whom he was laboring to save; to see all his endeavors to save them, frustrated by their own incorrigible folly and wickedness; to see them by rejecting him, filling up to the brim their cup of criminality and wrath, and sinking into eternal perdition within reach of his vainly-offered hand — to see this, must have been distressing indeed! Yet this Christ saw all this. Thus he endured the contradiction of sinners against himself; and how deeply it affected him, we may infer from the fact, that though his own sufferings never wrung from him a tear — he once and again wept in the bitterness of his soul over rebellious Jerusalem, exclaiming, "O if you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes!"

Another circumstance that threw a shadow of gloom and melancholy over our Savior's life, was his clear view, and constant anticipation of — the dreadful agonies in which it was to terminate. He was not ignorant, as we happily are, of the miseries which were before him. He could not hope, as we do, when wretched today — to be happier tomorrow. Every night, when he lay down to rest — the scourge, the crown of thorns, and the cross, were present to his mind! And on these dreadful objects, he every morning opened his eyes, and every morning saw them nearer than before. Every day was to him like the day of his death — of such a death too, as no one has ever suffered before or since. How deeply the prospect affected him, is evident from his own language: "But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!" Luke 12:50
Such are the circumstances which prove that our Savior was, during life — a man of sorrows.

Of the sorrows of his death — we shall say nothing. The bitter agonies of that never-to-be-forgotten hour, the torturing scourge, the lacerating nails, and the racking cross — we shall pass in silence. Nor shall we now bring into view the tenfold horrors which overwhelmed his soul — rendering it exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death. These we have often attempted to describe to you — though here description must always fail. Enough has been said to show the justice of that exclamation which the Prophet utters in the person of Christ: "Behold and see, all you who pass by — if there is any sorrow like my sorrow! Reproach has broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness. I looked for some to pity — but there was none; for comforters — but I found none!"

What was our Savior's conduct under the pressure of these sorrows? "He was oppressed and afflicted — yet he opened not his mouth. He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent — so he opened not his mouth." Never was language more descriptive of the most perfect meekness and patience! Never was prediction more fully justified by the event, than in the case before us. Christ was indeed led as a lamb to the slaughter. Silent, meek, and unrepining — he stood before his butchers, as innocent and as patient as a lamb. No murmurs, no complaints, no angry recriminations escaped from his lips. If they were opened, it was but to express the most perfect submission to his Father's will, and to breathe out prayers for his murderers!

Yes, even at that dreadful moment, when they were nailing him to the cross — when nature, whose voice will at such a time be heard, was shuddering and convulsed in the prospect of a speedy and violent death; when his soul was tortured by the assaults of malignant fiends, and his Father's face hidden from his view — even then he possessed his soul in patience to such a degree, as to be able to pray for his murderers!

~Edward Payson~
(Grace Gems)

A Man of Sorrows # 2

We must attempt to bring the scene more fully to your view. Come with us, a moment, to Calvary. See the meek sufferer, standing with hands fast bound in the midst of his enemies; sinking under the weight of his cross, and lacerated in every part by the thorny rods with which he had been scourged. See the savage, ferocious soldiers seizing with barbarous violence, his sacred body, forcing it down upon the cross, stretching and extending his limbs, and with remorseless cruelty forcing through his hands and feet — the ragged spikes which were to fasten him on it! See the Jewish priests and rulers watching with looks of malicious pleasure the horrid scene, and attempting to increase his sufferings by scoffs and blasphemies! Now contemplate attentively, the countenance of the wonderful Sufferer, which seems like Heaven opening in the midst of Hell, and tell me what it expressed. You see it indeed full of anguish — but it expresses nothing like impatience, resentment, or revenge. On the contrary, it beams with pity, benevolence, and forgiveness. It perfectly corresponds with the prayer, which, raising his mild, imploring eye to Heaven, he pours forth to God: "Father, forgive them — for they know not what they do!"

Christian — look at your Master, and learn how to suffer! Look at your Savior, and learn to admire, to imitate, and to forgive.

But why, it may be naturally asked: Why is this patient innocent sufferer thus afflicted? Why, in his life, in his death — is he thus emphatically a man of sorrows?To this question, our text returns an answer, and an answer which ought to sink deep into our hearts; for in it we are all most deeply interested: "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all!" Isaiah 53:4-6.

Here, we see the true cause of our Savior's unparalleled sufferings. He was cut off, says the Prophet — but not for himself. He knew no sin — but he was made sin, made a curse for us. We have all strayed from the path of duty. Yes, you and I, and all our race, have forsaken the God who made us, and chosen the path that leads to Hell. God's violated law condemned us to die. Justice demanded the execution of the sentence. There was apparently no remedy. It is true that God, as our Creator and Father, was sufficiently inclined to spare us; but his holiness and justice forbade him to do it, unless a suitable atonement could be found. There was but one individual in the universe who could make such an atonement, and that being, prompted by infinite compassion, offered himself for this purpose. The Father, with equal love, accepted the offer.

To carry it into effect, the Son assumed our nature, and appeared on earth; and the bitter cup, which the divine law condemned us to drink — was put into his hand, and he drank it to the last drop! We were condemned to live a life of sorrow and pain — and therefore he lived such a life. We were condemned to shame and everlasting contempt — and therefore he hid not his face from shame and spitting. We were condemned to die under the curse — and therefore he died the accursed death of the cross. We were condemned to lose the favor and endure the wrath of God — and therefore Christ was forsaken by his Father in the agonies of death. We were condemned to perish without mercy — and therefore Christ had no mercy, no pity shown him in his last moments. We were condemned to remain under the power of death, until by satisfying divine justice, we could restore ourselves to life — and therefore Christ remained in the grave until he had made full satisfaction, and then resumed the life he had laid down. Thus he bore our sins, or, what is the same, the punishment of our sins in his own body on the tree — that we being dead unto sin, might live unto God.

What was the manner in which Christ was treated, when he thus came as a man of sorrows to atone for our sins? "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." How literally this prediction was fulfilled, we have already seen. Yet who but an inspired prophet would have predicted that such would be the reception of such a person, coming from Heaven on such a design? We would naturally expect that he would be received with the most lively emotions and demonstrations of grateful joy, by the beings whom he came to save.

Even after we were told that, instead of thus receiving, they rejected and condemned him — we would have expected that when they saw his lamb-like patience and meekness, and heard him praying for his murderers — they would have relented and spared him. And when this could not prevail, we would have hoped that themiracles which attended his crucifixion, and especially his resurrection from the dead — would convince them of their error, and cause them to relent. But none of these things, nor all of them united, could conquer the inveterate malice of his enemies!

Living and dying, rising and reigning, he was still despised and rejected by men. Neither his miracles, nor his sorrows, nor his meekness, nor his patience — could shield him from hatred and contempt.

But what was his crime? What had he done? I answer, he was good — and went everywhere doing good; he dared to speak the truth; he reproved men for their sins, he testified to the world that its deeds were evil. Above all, he bore the image of God — of that holy God whom sinners hate. These were crimes never to be forgiven; crimes, for which nothing but his blood could atone; crimes, which in their view rendered him unworthy of that commiseration which men usually feel for the vilest malefactors when in the agonies of death.

Nor were those who treated him in this manner, worse than the rest of mankind. As in water face answers to face — so the heart of man to man. The truth of this assertion is abundantly proved by the manner in which all succeeding generations have treated Christ. He has always been despised and rejected by men — and he is so still. It is true, he has long since ascended to Heaven, and therefore cannot be the immediate object of their attacks. But his gospel and his servants are still in the world — and the manner in which they are treated, is sufficient evidence, that the feelings of the natural heart toward Christ are not materially different from those of the murderous Jews!

To sum up all in a word, it is certain that all who do not receive the instructions of Christ with the temper of a little child — reject him as a prophet. All who do not trust in his merits alone for salvation — reject him as a Savior. And all who do not habitually and sincerely obey his commands — reject him as a king. This being the case, the conduct of multitudes among us fully justifies us in asserting, that Christ is still despised and rejected by men.

~Edward Payson
(Grace Gems)

A Man of Sorrows # 3

Was Christ a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief? Then we need not be surprised or offended, if we are often called to drink of the cup of sorrows. We will find the world to be a valley of tears. This is one of the ways in which we must be conformed to our glorious Head. Indeed, his example has sanctified grief, and almost made it pleasant to mourn. One would think, that Christians could scarcely wish to go rejoicing — through a world which their Master passed throughmourning. The path in which we follow him — is bedewed with his tears and stained with his blood.

It is true, that from the ground thus richly watered and fertilized — many choice flowers and fruits of paradise spring up to refresh us, in which we may and ought to rejoice. But still our joy should be softened and sanctified by godly sorrow. When we are partaking of the banquet which his love has spread for us — we should never forget how dearly it was purchased! "There's not a gift his hand bestows — but cost his heart a groan!"

The joy, the honor, the glory through eternity shall be ours — but the sorrows, the sufferings, the agonies which purchased them were all his own.

Was Christ wounded for our transgressions; were the iniquities of all his people laid upon him — then, surely, our iniquities shall never be laid upon us. He has borne and carried them away. He was made sin for us — that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Away then, with all guilty unbelieving fears. Whatever your sorrows or trials may be — he knows by experience, how to sympathize with you.

Has your Heavenly Father forsaken you, so that you walk in darkness and see no light? He well remembers what he felt, when he cried, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me!"

Has Satan wounded you with his fiery darts? He remembers how sorely his own heart was bruised when he wrestled with principalities and powers, and crushed the head of the prince of darkness.

Are you pressed down with a complication of sorrows, so as to despair even of life? The soul of Christ was once exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.

Are you mourning for the danger of unbelieving friends? Christ's own brethren did not believe in him.

Does the world persecute and despise you, or are your enemies those of your own household? Christ was despised and rejected by men, and his own relations stigmatized him as a madman.

Are you suffering under slanderous and unjust accusations? Christ was called a gluttonous man, and a drunkard, a friend of publicans and sinners.

Are you struggling with the evils of poverty? Jesus had nowhere to lay his head.
Do Christian friends forsake or treat you unkindly? Christ was denied and forsaken by his own disciples.

Are you distressed with fears of death? Christ has entered the dark valley that he might destroy death.

O, then, banish all your fears! Look at your merciful High Priest who has passed unto the heavens, and triumphantly exclaim with the apostle, "Who shall separate me from the love of Christ!"

"He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities." Isaiah 53.

~Edward Payson~
(Grace Gems)

The Church # 7

Question: What is the scriptural way of raising money for church or other Christian uses?

The scriptural way of raising money is by the freewill offerings of saved people, each one setting aside on the first day of the week a definite proportion of his income (1 Corinthians 16:2). Certainly, it is not the scriptural way of raising money to raise it by fairs, bazaars, or any other method that reduces the church of Christ to the level of vaudeville entertainment. These methods are unwise even from a business standpoint, and they are certainly dishonoring to Jesus Christ. The successful churches are those that step out in obedience to the Word of God and depend upon the freewill offerings of the people. They soon find that they have more money for their own work and more money for missions than those churches that stoop to dishonor their Lord by raising money in such a way that it makes the church a reproach even among people of the world.

Question: Would you ask an unsaved person to contribute money or goods for the support or benefit of church work?

No, I would not. God is not dependent upon His enemies to help Him carry on His work. God's work should be supported  by the joyful freewill offerings of His own people, as explained in the previous answer. Furthermore, when unsaved people contribute to the support of God's work, it frequently acts as a salve to their consciences, and it makes them harder to reach. They say, "I am supporting the church," and many of them hope to get to heaven in that way.

Of course, if some unsaved person, of his own volition, should see fit to put money into the collection, or something of that kind, I would hesitate to insult him by refusing his money. However, when offerings are taken, I would let it be clearly understood that it is not the money but the souls of the unsaved that we are  seeking, and that men should first give themselves to the Lord before they give their money.

~R. A. Torry~

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Church # 6

Question: Is it ever right to ask unconverted though moral people to teach a Sunday school class or do other definite Christian work in the church?

"Ever" is a pretty comprehensive word. The ideal way is to have only thoroughly regenerated and spiritually-minded people teach a Sunday school class or sing in a choir. The church with which I connected takes the position that the very first condition of admission to membership in our choir is that the person applying must give good evidence of being born again. The second condition is that they have a good singing voice. But I can think of situations in which it would be warranted to have an unconverted person teach a Sunday school class. For example, suppose I were to go into a town to hold evangelistic meetings where there was no Sunday school and no religious work of any kind. If I could start a Sunday school there before I left, and get some moral person to teach the Bible - if there was no regenerated person available - I believe I would start the school and trust that the Spirit of God would use the Scripture as a blessing to both the teacher and the students. I would take the appointment of this person as a teacher as an opportunity to urge upon him the necessity of a personal acceptance of Christ.

I have held evangelistic meetings around the world, and the committees that organized the choirs for these meetings often received people who I do not believe were really converted. I have used the fact that they were in the choir as an opportunity of presenting the Gospel to them, and hundreds of people have thus been converted to God.

Question: What authority is there for or against women being prominent in the work of the church?

There is no authority given in the Bible for a woman to have the place of supremacy in the church. When she takes it, she steps out of her right place. She goes against the plain teaching of the Bible when she takes the place of the authoritative teacher in the church. "And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence" (1 Timothy 2:12).

However, there is abundant authorization in the Bible for a woman being active and, in that sense, prominent in church work. Women were the first divinely commissioned preachers of the risen Christ. Jesus Christ Himself sent them to declare His resurrection to the men disciples (John 20:17-18' Matthew 28:5-10). Women were endowed by God with prophetic gifts (Acts 21:9). It is significant that in the very book in the Bible in which women are forbidden to do idle talking and ask questions in the church (1 Corinthians 14:33-35), there are directions as to how a woman should prophesy, that is, how she should speak in the power of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 11:5). The apostle Paul spoke of the women who had labored with him in the Gospel (Philippians 4:3). There is clear indication that Priscilla was more gifted than her husband Aquila. She was associated with her husband in taking the preacher Apollos aside and expounding to him the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:24-26), and her name is mentioned first.

~R. A. Torry~

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Church # 5

Question: What do you think of the institutional church? Is it not detrimental to the real work of the church as set forth in the New Testament?

I understand the term "institutional church" to mean a church that not only does the direct work of preaching the Gospel and building Christians up by teaching the Bible, but one that also looks after the physical and mental welfare of its members and congregation by various institutions. Such work is NOT necessarily detrimental to the real work of the church as set forth in the New Testament. It may be a valuable auxiliary, provided the physical and intellectual are kept in thorough subordination to the spiritual.

The apostolic church was, in a measure, an institutional church. It looked out for the physical welfare of its members (Acts 6:1-5), all property was held in common (Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-35), and the Word of God increased and prospered under these circumstances (Acts 2:47; 4:4; 5:14; 6:7). Of course, the institutions were not many, nor where they very largely developed. In a similar way today, the church can have various institutions for looking after the physical and intellectual welfare of its members. If a church is located among the poor, it can offer financial counsel and assistance and can help people to heat their homes in the winter; it can provide libraries, educational classes, and so forth, accomplishing a vast amount of good, and making all this subservient to the preaching of the Gospel. All these things can be used as means of getting hold of men, women, and children and bringing them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

However, there is always a danger in an institutional church. The danger is that the institutions will become the main thing and the Gospel will be put in a secondary place or will be lost sight of altogether. This has been the history of more than one institutional church in this country, and it is always a danger. In such a case, the institutional church becomes detrimental to the real work of the church as set forth in the New Testament. The first work of the church is seeking and saving the lost (Luke 19:10; Matthew 28:19-20). Its second work is the spiritual care of the congregation (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2-4), and its third work is training the membership for intelligent service (Ephesians 4:11-12). If the institutions connected with the church are allowed to put any one of these three things in the background, they do more harm than good. But if the institutions are carried on in the spirit of prayer and with the intention - never lost sight of for a moment - of winning men for Christ, and if everything is made subordinate to the preaching of the Gospel and the salvation of the lost and the edification of the saints, then the institutions may be very helpful.

~R. A. Torry~ 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Church # 4

Question: Do you believe in having different denominations? Do sects do more harm than good in the cause of religion?

Undoubtedly, sects do more harm than good in the cause of religion, for the very idea of a sect is of something that causes division. The animating spirit of the sect is division.

However, a denomination is not necessarily a sect. The different denominations have arisen because different people saw some truths very clearly that others did not see, and around these people other people have gathered to enforce that particular aspect of truth. For example, the Congregationalists and the Presbyterians arose in England and Scotland to stand for the truth of the liberty of the individual believer. Many other truths were associated with this truth in the development of these denominations. The Quakers arose to stand for the truth of he illumination and guidance of the Holy Spirit for the individual believer today. The Methodists arose to stand for the truth of a definite personal experience of regeneration and the necessity of a holy life. Afterward, other truths, such as the freedom of the will, became prominently associated with these truths in the teaching of the Methodist denomination. By standing strongly for some neglected truths that needed to be emphasized, the denominations have undoubtedly done good. In the present imperfect state of man, where no individual is large enough to take in the whole scope of God's truth, and where one man sees one line of truth strongly and another man another line of truth, denominations have been necessary. But it is fitting that denominational lines are now less defined and that each denomination is coming to understand and accept the truths which other denominations have stood.

~R. A. Torry~

Why Did Judas Betray Jesus?

The most mysterious, and perhaps the most misunderstood, of the twelve disciples is Judas Iscariot. His very name is synonymous with evil and treachery. Judas is the traitor's traitor, ending his life in suicide after he sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. But there is more to Judas than that.

I think if we could travel back in time to the first century and actually see Jesus and His disciples, we wouldn't be able point out Judas. I don't think he would be the sinister man we would suspect—at least outwardly. In fact, Judas might even appear to be relatively compassionate.

For example, when Jesus and the disciples were at the home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary in Bethany, Mary brought out some expensive perfume and began to wipe Jesus' feet with it. Jesus was deeply touched by this sacrificial act, but it was Judas who pointed out that this costly perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Those listening may have thought, That is a good point. You know, Judas is a good steward. He is frugal. He is thoughtful. Let's give Judas a round of applause.

But John gives us a little insight into why Judas said this: "This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it" (John 12:6). Some have portrayed Judas as someone who got caught up in the drama, and things just sort of backfired. But Judas did what he did because of his greed. He could have changed his course had he chosen to. He certainly was given opportunities.

This reminds us that things are not always as they appear. And Judas' covert greed ultimately destroyed him.

~Greg Laurie~

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Church # 3

Question: What should an earnest Christian do in a day when the churches are so full of worldliness and error as they are today? Should he join the church?

Yes. I fully recognize the worldliness that is in many churches today and the error that is taught from many pulpits. But after all is said, the church is the best organization there is in the world. What would the world be today if it were not for the churches that are in it?  The churches, even with all their present imperfections, are the institutions that are saving society from utter corruption.

Any Christian can accomplish more for the salvation of souls and the upbuilding of Christian character and the good of the community by uniting with some church than he can by trying to live a Christian life all by himself. There may be times when a person has to voice his protest against sins of a glaring nature in some individual church, and, if his protest will not be heard, it may be necessary for him to withdraw as a testimony against that church. But these occasions are comparatively rare.

Great corruption - unspeakable immorality, in fact - had crept into the church in Corinth, and yet Paul did not hint for a moment to any of the members of that church that they should withdraw from it. He did write to them that they should judge the person who had committed sexual immorality with his own father's wife, and to put him out of the church, but he never suggested that they should withdraw from the church. (see 1 Corinthians 5:1-13). Even Jesus did not withdraw from the synagogues of His day until He was put out of them. (Luke 4:15-30). Synagogue worship had become full of formality and error, and yet it was the custom of our Lord to attend the synagogue on the Sabbath day (v. 16). The apostle Paul followed His example in this matter. (Acts 17:2). There are many earnest Christian men and women today who have lost all power and influence for God and good in the community by abandoning their fellowship with other believers who were not as well instructed as they, and by giving themselves up to harsh and condemning criticism.

Some Christians justify their actions by saying that the Book of Revelation tells us to "come out of Babylon." (Revelation 18:1-4). Th word "Babylon" is used in this context to symbolize the  spirit of immorality and idolatry that will culminate in the antichrist. While it is true that the Bible says to "come out of Babylon," Babylon, in this ultimate sense, has not yet been formed. Everything in the Book of Revelation after the first verse of the fourth chapter describes the time after the Rapture of the church, not the present time. To apply this command to "come out of Babylon" to the present time and the present state of the churches is to handle the Word of God deceitfully and not rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

~R. A. Torry~

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Church # 2

Question: What does Matthew 16:19 mean: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven"? Does this teach that Peter had the power to admit anyone to the kingdom of heaven or shut him out, and that therefore the Roman Catholic Church, built upon Peter, is the true church?

No! It does not teach anything of the kind. When anyone studied under a Jewish rabbi, it was the custom of the rabbi to give him a key when he had become perfect in the doctrine, signifying that he was now able to unlock the secrets of the kingdom. Christ's words refer to this custom. Peter, by his confession of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, had proved that the Father was revealing the truth to him (v. 17), and Jesus looked forward to the day when, filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter would be guided into all the truth (John 16;13-14) and thus be competent to unlock the kingdom to men. Every Spirit-filled person, everyone taught by he Holy Spirit, has the keys of the kingdom of heaven. He has spiritual discernment and is competent to unlock the kingdom to men.

"Binding" and "loosing" were common expressions in Jesus' day for forbidding and permitting. What a rabbi forbade, he was said to "loose." Peter and the other disciples, as Spirit-filled men, would have discernment to know what God permitted and what God forbade. Whatever Peter, as a Spirit-filled man, forbade on earth would be forbidden in heaven, and whatever he permitted would be permitted in heaven.

We see Peter, on the Day of Pentecost, using the keys to unlock the kingdom to the Jews, and three thousand people entered into the kingdom that day. In Acts 10, we see Peter now using the keys to unlock the kingdom to the Gentiles, and a whole household entered into the kingdom that day.

Every time anyone preaches the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit, he is using the keys. Not only did Peter have the keys, but we may have them today. Since we are taught by the Spirit, we may have discernment as to what God permits and what God forbids. Then, what we forbid here on earth will be the thing that God forbids in heaven and what we permit will be the thing that God permits in heaven.

~R. A. Torry~

The Path to Maturity

1 Peter 5:10 provides a very critical principle for those times when we are going through trials, a principle that is easy to miss,

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

You need to realize that even though God did not initiate your trouble, He can still use it to work something good in you.  What the devil means for evil, God can turn into something good.

Even though the devil's purpose is to destroy you, if you will respond correctly, God can work good things.  Notice the verse says after you have suffered a short season, God will perfect.  It brings maturity to you.

While we might hate it, how we respond in times of trial makes us who we are—and it fits us to accomplish God's will.  I hate some of the things I have gone through!  But you know what?  I would not be who I am had I not experienced those things.  It has fitted me to do the will of God.

And while it may not seem like it, your present difficulty may be instrumental in your future success.

It reminds me of the guy who was shipwrecked on a deserted island.  One day he decided to go across the island for food.  When he got to the other side he looked back and saw a plume of smoke in the sky.  He ran back only to find that his shack burnt to the ground!

It stung him to the core!  Except the next morning a ship arrived and rescued him.  When he asked the sailors, "How'd you know I was here?" they said, "We saw your smoke signal."

Your present trials just may be fitting you for something you would never expect! 

~Bayless Conley~

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Church

Question: What are the conditions of entrance into the church?

The word "church" in the New Testament is used, first, of the whole body of believers in Jesus Christ. (Matthew 16;18; Acts 2:47; 20:28; Ephesians 5:24-25; Colossians 1:18, 24). Second, it is used of the body of believers in any one place - for example, the church of the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:1). Third, it is used of the congregations meeting regularly for worship, teaching, and the breaking of bread - for example, the church that met in Rome in the home of Priscilla and Aquila (Romans 16:3-5).

The conditions of entrance into the church in its first and deepest meaning are acceptance of Jesus Christ as one's personal Saviour, surrender to Him as Lord and Master, and open confession of Him before the world (Romans 10:9-10). the conditions of entrance into local churches are determined by the churches themselves. Most churches receive members upon satisfactory evidence that they have really forsaken sin, accepted Christ as their personal Saviour, and surrendered their lives to Him. Some churches require subscription to a creed, more or less detailed. For example, it might include general affirmations of faith or also more detailed beliefs of the church's denomination. Some evengelical denominations require water baptism on the part of the applicant for membership (See Acts 2:38, 41, 47).

Question: What does Matthew 16:18 mean: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church? Does this verse teach that Peter was the rock upon which Christ would build His church, and does it prove that the Roman Catholic Church, as built upon Peter, is the only true church?

The passage does NOT teach that Peter was the rock upon which Christ would build His church. Peter's name in Greek is "Petros", meaning "a piece of rock." The word translated "rock" in the above verse is "petra", which means "rock." Peter had just made a confession of Jesus as "the Christ, the Son of the living God" (v. 16). Jesus, as the Christ, the Son of the living God, is the Rock upon which the church is built. "No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11). Peter, by his faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, and by his confession of Him as such, became a piece of the Rock. Every believer, by believing in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, and by confessing Him as such, becomes a piece of the Rock and, in this sense, a part of the foundation upon which the church is built, "Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20; see also verses 21-22)

Question: Was Peter the first Pope?

No, he was not. There was no pope until long after Peter was dead and buried. The papacy was a later outgrowth of the church of which there was not even an apparent seed in the days of Peter. Peter was far from being a pope. Consider the fact that the apostle Paul rebuked him openly (Galatians 2:11-14).

As I explained in the previous answer, there is no proof that Peter was ever bishop of the church in Rome; there is no decisive proof that he was ever in Rome. However, even if he was, he certainly was not a pope in any sense that the word now carries. There is nothing in the Bible that warrants such an office as that of pope. In fact, Jesus Christ expressly forbids any man from holding such an office. He said in Matthew 23:8-10, "Do not be called "Rabbi"; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ." Now, the pope claims to be a "father" in the very sense used here, in the very sense that Jesus forbids any man to be called father.

~R. A. Torry~

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Christian Life, continued

There are three things for which the person who wants to make a success of the Christian life must especially pray. First, he must pray for wisdom: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God" (James 1:5). Second, he must pray for strength: "Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31). Third, he must pray for the Holy Spirit: "Your heavenly Father [will] give the Spirit to those who ask Him" (Luke 11:13). If you have not yet received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, you should offer definite prayer for this definite blessing and definitely expect to receive it. If you have already received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, you should, with each new emergency that you encounter in your Christian life and ministry, pray to God for a new filling with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 4:18-31).

Fifth, go to work for Christ. "For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away" (Matthew 25:29). The context of this verse is that those who use what they have will get more, and those who let what they have lie idle will lose even that. The working Christian - the one who uses his talents, whether few or many, in Christ's service - is the one who does well in the Christian life here, and who will hereafter hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many tings. Enter into the joy of your lord" (v. 21). Find some work to do for Christ, and do it. Look for work. If it is nothing more than distributing tracts, do it. Always be looking for something more to do for Christ, and you will always be receiving something more from Christ.

Sixth, give generously. "The generous soul will be made rich" (Proverbs 11:25). "He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully... And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:6, 8). Success and growth in the Christian life depend on few things more than on generous giving. A stingy Christian cannot be a growing Christian. It is wonderful how a Christian begins to grow when he begins to give.

Seventh, keep pushing on. "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

Forget the sins that lie behind you. If you fail anywhere, if you fall, don't be discouraged, don't give up, don't brood over the sin. Confess it instantly. Believe God's Word: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). Believe that the sin if forgiven, forget it, and press on. satan deceives many of us in regard to this. He keeps us brooding over our failures and sins.

In addition, forget the achievements and victories of the past, and press on to greater ones. Here, too, satan cheats many of us out of the abundant life. he keeps us thinking so much about what we have already obtained, and he makes us so contented with it and so puffed up over it, that we come to a standstill or even backslide. Our only safety is in forgetting the things that are behind and pressing on. There is always something better ahead, until we "come ... to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).

~R. A. Torry~

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Christian Life # 1

Question: What advice do you give for having a consistent and abundant Christian life?

The Bible gives us seven steps to an abundant Christian life:

First, begin right. John 1:12 tells us what a right beginning is: "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name." Receive Christ as your Saviour who died for your sin. Trust the whole matter of your forgiveness to Him. Rest upon the fact that He has paid the full penalty for your sin. "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Take Him as your Deliverer who will save you from the power of sin, who will give life to those who are dead in trespasses and sins. Don't try to save yourself from the power of sin; trust Him to do it. Take Him as your  Master. Don't seek to guide your own life. Surrender unconditionally to His Lordship over you. The life of entire surrender is a joyous life all along the way. If you have never before received Christ as your Saviour and surrendered you life to Him, and if you wish to make a success of the Christian life, get alone with God and say, "All for Jesus."

Second, confess Christ openly before men. "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32). "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:10). The life of confession is the life of full salvation.

Third, study the Word. "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). The Word of God is the soul's food. It is the nourishment of the new life. A person who neglects the Word cannot make much of a success of the Christian life. All who do well in the Christian life are great feeders on the Word of God.

Fourth, "pray without ceasing" ( Thessalonians 5:17). The one who wants to succeed in the Christian life must lead a life of prayer. This is easy enough if you just begin to do it.

Have set times for prayer. The rule of David and Daniel, three times a day, is a good rule. David wrote, "Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice" (Psalm 55:17). The book of Daniel records, "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed [which decreed that no one could pray to any god or man except the king of Persia], he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days" (Daniel 6:10). Begin the day with thanksgiving and prayer - thanksgiving for the definite mercies of the past, and prayer for the definite needs of the present day. Stop in the midst of the bustle and worry and temptation of the day for thanksgiving and prayer. Close the day with thanksgiving and prayer.

Then there should be special prayer in special temptation - when we see the temptation approaching. Keep looking to God. It is not necessary that we be on our knees all the time. However, the heart should be on its knees all the time.

~R. A. Torry~

(continued with # 2