Worshiping with a Renewed Spirit

by William J. Stewart

A midday break while walking from Judea to Galilee resulted in a significant conversation. So weighty were the matters discussed, that the Holy Spirit had John record it for all future would-be worshipers. “The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24) Continue reading

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Are Things In This World Inherently Sinful?

by William J. Stewart

It is important for us to walk in God’s way, to be in the world and not of the world. We do not want to practice or accept what is contrary to God’s will. Some, in their zeal for such, have subscribed to asceticism, defined by m-w.com as “practicing strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline.” The extreme forms of asceticism often involve flagellation and other forms of harm to the body. Less severe, but still strict, are those who refuse the use of modern technology (cars, electricity, telephones, etc.). Still on the asceticism spectrum, some oppose reading, watching or listening to any entertainment of this world and consider it a sin for a Christian to do so. Continue reading

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Could You Repeat That?

by Rusty Taylor | via bridgeviewchurch.com

We know well the importance of certain sayings that the biblical authors saw fit to state not once but twice. Paul says in Galatians 1:8-9, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Similarly, Jesus repeats himself word-for-word in Luke 13:3, 5, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

The Book of Proverbs is full of repetitions like these. In this article, we will give attention to some wise sayings that are worth repeating. Continue reading

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I Don’t Want To Grow Up

by Jim Mickells | via The Hickory Heights Messenger

Sylvia and I were watching America’s Funniest Home Videos on night a few years ago, when a teacher asked some of their students a question. There were two young boys, about five or six years old, who were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. One of the little boys thought for a few seconds and then said, ‘I don’t want to grow up.’ This was a very cute and funny video that made us laugh. Yet the more I thought about it the more it made we realize this is an attitude displayed by many Christians. They would not articulate such with words. Yet their actions or lack of is a clear indication it is their desire whether they admit it or not. They do not want to grow up spiritually. Continue reading

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How to Form a Good Character

by Dee Bowman | via The Hickory Heights Messenger

Character is the accumulation of qualities that distinguish one person from another. Character is not just one single trait, but the accumulation of all a person is, the sum total of all his traits.

Someone has suggested that reputation is what others think us to be, character is what God knows us to be.

How does a person develop and maintain a good character? Continue reading

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What About the Thief on the Cross?

by Keith Sharp

When faced with a Bible passage that plainly teaches the necessity of water baptism for salvation, many of our friends protest, “But what about the thief on the cross? He was saved forty feet above the high water mark! He never got his big toe wet! I want to be saved just like the thief on the cross!” Surely this unnamed malefactor must be the most popular criminal who ever lived!

The story of the thief on the cross is found in Luke 23:32-33, 39-43. “There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left… Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’ But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong. Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise.’”

Since Jesus promised him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise,’ the malefactor was indeed saved. Does his salvation nullify the necessity of water baptism for the remission of sins?

In order to answer affirmatively, one must answer “yes” to three questions. Please consider each one.

(1) Does this one case nullify the plain teaching of Jesus Christ and His inspired apostles? The Lord certainly taught that baptism is a condition of salvation: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

His apostles plainly proclaimed the same truth: “Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38)

Since the word of God is truth (John 17:17), it does not contradict itself. Does this case contradict the precepts of the Lord and the apostles?

(2) Can you prove the thief on the cross was not baptized? He was crucified in Jerusalem of Judea. “But when John preached in the wilderness and baptized in Jordan; all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan” (Mark 1:4-5). Might John have baptized the thief when he baptized “all the land of Judea”?

Furthermore, Jesus “made and baptized more disciples than John” in the same region (John 4:1-3). The thief knew Jesus was Lord (Luke 23:42). How did He know that if He had not heard John, Jesus, or His disciples preach? Why did he call Jesus “Lord” if he was not a disciple? Are you sure the thief was not baptized? The burden of proof is on the one claiming him as an example of salvation without baptism. Are you willing to risk your soul on it?

(3) Is the salvation of the thief on the cross a pattern for our salvation? We live in the New Testament age (Hebrews 9:13-15). The New Testament did not acquire force until after Jesus died on the cross (Hebrews 9:16-17). The Lord blessed the malefactor with the promise of paradise as they both hung on crosses, before the death of Christ. The conditions of salvation were different at that time. For example, we must believe in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ to be saved (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), but no one could believe these facts before Jesus’ resurrection.

The answer to all three questions is “No.” No, the salvation of the thief on the cross does not nullify the necessity of water baptism for the remission of sins.

But what if the Lord had made an exception for the thief on the cross? As the Master told Peter, when Peter asked about John, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me” (John 21:18-22).

Friend, stop quibbling about the Lord’s commands and obey Him. “But why do you call Me, Lord, Lord, and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). “And now why are you waiting Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).

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God Only Needs One Stone

by William J. Stewart

Goliath, the Philistine giant, challenged Israel to produce a champion to fight him one on one. The loser’s people would serve the victor’s nation (1 Samuel 17:8-10). Israel did not send out a man, rather they “were dismayed and greatly afraid” (1 Samuel 17:11). Continue reading

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Is Your House In Order?

by William J. Stewart

I’m not asking if your dishes are done, if the floor is swept, the carpets are vacuumed, the light fixtures are dusted, etc.. Our title refers to 2 Kings 20, where the prophet Isaiah was sent to an ailing king Hezekiah. He had a very short but vital message for the king, “Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live” (20:1). Continue reading

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Peaks & Valleys of Faith

by William J. Stewart

Peaks and valleys in life is a common thing. Whether we are talking about our relationships, career, health, finances, emotional well being, or faith, there will be high and low moments.

A survey of what we know about the apostle Peter’s life shows that he experienced these peaks and valleys in the faith, just like you and I. It is interesting to notice that most of the low or difficult times came on the heels of a spiritual high or occasions of growth. Let’s notice this pattern from Scripture. Continue reading

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The Samuel Complex

by William J. Stewart

When he was an old man, the elders of Israel approached Samuel, who served as a prophet, priest and judge among his people, and said, “make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5). The prophet was broken up (Strong’s 03415) over their demand. The LORD assured Samuel, “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me” (1 Samuel 8:7). Continue reading

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