Feb 17

HOW MANY WAYS CAN ONE BE SAVED? (3)

Just how many questions are more important than those that deal with salvation? You can count on one hand with four fingers missing and get the right answer! Keep in mind the thumb is not a finger. Many people fail to understand what they are really saying when they address the subject of salvation. In this life there is nothing more important than the subject of salvation. With this in mind; let us take look at the question: “How many ways can one be saved?
Some people speak of “grace only,” meaning that salvation is by “grace only.” First, if salvation is by “grace only,” then, would not all people be saved? Grace coming from God to mankind, then, all mankind would be saved. That is, unless one believes in Calvinism. As Calvinism teaches that God predetermined that some would be saved, and all others would be lost. Keep in mind that this would limit the number of people who would be saved to those chosen by God. However, Paul wrote: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). Here the “grace of God” teaches us certain things, as Paul continued: “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (verse 11). Just for learning sake, and we should all be eager to learn. The word “teaching” is the Greek “paideuo” and means “to train children” but there is more. This Greek word is also translated “to chastise” and “chasteneth” in Hebrews chapter twelve, verses five and six. Therefore, the phrase “grace of God” refers to “the teaching of Christ.” So, how does this relate to our subject? It means “the grace of God,” which is “the gospel of Christ,” had at that time “appeared to all men!” Now, what is the point in having “the grace of God” appearing to all men, all mankind, if those who are to be saved by “grace only” and the number had/has been determined already? It is a wasted effort and God does not waste anything!
But, there is another thought just here. If man is saved “by grace only,” and it had/has appeared to all mankind, then, would not all mankind be saved? Yes, indeed! This would also prove the doctrine of “Universal salvation!” However, those who believe in “grace only” do not believe in “universal salvation!” “Universal salvation” would remove the need of teaching/preaching the gospel of Christ to anyone!
It is not uncommon to hear those who believe that we are saved “by grace only” also believe man is saved “by faith only.” The word “only” does not allow for anything else! The word “only” is an adjective:
1) “lone(a), lonesome(a), only(a), sole(a), solitary(a).” “It means: being the only one; single and isolated from others.” Therefore, it is “lacking companions or companionship.” No room here for anything else.
2) “lone(a), lonely(a), solitary (adj) characterized by or preferring solitude,” as in “a lone wolf”; “a lonely existence”; “a man of a solitary disposition”; “a solitary walk.” No room for another!
3) “lone(a), lonesome(a), only(a), sole(a), solitary(a) (adj) being the only one; single and isolated from others, “the lone doctor in the entire county”; “a lonesome pine”; “an only child”; “the sole heir”; “the sole example”; “a solitary instance of cowardice”; “a solitary speck in the sky.” No room for anything else!

Therefore, if salvation is “by grace only,” then, there is no room for “by faith only!” And if salvation is “by faith only,” there is no room for “by grace only!” Therefore, if these things were true, they negate each other!
There remains just a few questions. First, why did Jesus command his apostles: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15)? Second, why did the inspired Peter answer the question, by those who believed his preaching: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” in the manner he did: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37-38)? Neither Jesus nor his inspired aposltes believe nor taught that salvation was “by grace only” nor “by faith only” as a means of being saved!

Frank R. Williams

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Feb 10

HOW MANY WAYS CAN ONE BE SAVED? (2)

In this second article under the above heading, we shall return to the thought of time and context. The passage under review is: “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). The time is the Jewish age and the context is that of Jesus teaching the Jews and addressing their spiritual state, as seen in verse 23: “And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.” They were lost and Jesus is identifying their present need!
As is the case in much of the four gospel accounts, Jesus is addressing their failure to believe that he is the Christ! They needed to repent and believe! This truth has been confused by many today as they read the gospel accounts. If we read the gospel accounts without understanding the time and context of what is written, we are sure to miss what is being taught. Remember Jesus was born, lived, and died under the law of Moses! No one living today is in such a spiritual state! Once the old law was removed, as God had promised, it can never be restored! Here is God’s promise as written by Jeremiah: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:31-34). These verses are quoted in Hebrews two times: Hebrews 8:8-12 and 10:16-18. With this is mind, let us read, and notice that these words appear as the writer concluded with his quote of Jeremiah: “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13). There is the promise God made with Israel about the end of the old law and the beginning of the new! Why anyone would desire to be under the old, is beyond my ability comprehend! Yet, a good number do just that! When God made the first covenant old, and it was as the Hebrew epistle was written; for God made it old when Jeremiah wrote the words! Thus, as John, the one who baptized, Jesus, and the twelve taught, calling the Jews to repent, into the old law and believe that Jesus was the Christ and prepare to receive the gospel.
This now brings us back to John 8:24! Once the time context and the age context and those to whom Jesus is speaking are identified, then, one is ready to understand the words! It is wrong to take the words of Jesus in John 8:24, and just apply them to those living today! However, having gained the above knowledge, it can easily be seen that it is impossible for one to be saved today without first believing that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ! Therefore, it may be said that the lost must believe that Jesus is the Christ, but no one is saved today by believing that Jesus is the Christ alone! John wrote of some who believed but would not confess: “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue” (John 12:42). It just naturally comes to mind, why would they not confess Jesus? Let John answer the question: “For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (verse 43). Therefore, believing is not enough to be saved, but no one can be saved without believing that Jesus is the Christ. Hear James: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). So, faith only is not the answer as to how one is saved but without faith no one will be saved!!
Telling one that he must repent and believe is a failure to know the time context in which the words were written; as these words pertained to the Jews who were still under the old law; and this is not the way to be saved today. Folks, we live in the age of Christ, the age when he as all authority (Matt. 28:18); a person today must respond differently than did the Jews of Jesus’ time.
Faith only is not away to be saved today! Neither is repent and believe away to be saved today! So, how many ways are there for one to be saved? There is only one way to be saved today!

Frank R. Williams

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Feb 03

HOW MANY WAYS CAN ONE BE SAVED? (1)

It is amazing how the mind works for we humans. In the mind of many, and I mean many; it is believed that no one is lost, and everybody will go to heaven at death. In the mind of these folks, there is no way to be lost! Therefore, the question which serves as our title is a most useless question.
Yet, in the mind of others, they believe there are several ways to be saved. Some believe: 1) that there is nothing that a person must do, to be saved; 2) some believe that a person must do somethings, but they are not sure just what; and 3) still others believe there are certain things that a person must do to be saved. Of course, there is no authority in what people believe or don’t believe. This question can only be answered correctly by a study of the New Testament! We must follow the “ambassadors for Christ” of whom Paul wrote: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, …” (2 Cor. 5:19-20). The pronoun is in this verse refers to the apostles and not to us of today! Many make the mistake of taking the pronouns “us” and “we” as referring to “us” today, which is used in several verses; therefore, they come away believing incorrectly. This is one of the problems the Pentecostal people make; but it is not limited to them! This is a problem within the churches of Christ! If it is wrong for one, it is wrong for all of us! The “ambassadors for Christ,” preached the word of “reconciliation” and this is the word of salvation; or in other words, the word of “reconciling!”
“The word reconciliation” is the word that brings the lost to God, through Christ. One of the problems in “Christendom” is that they take one verse, as though it has all the information about how one is saved and they believe it is the total of the subject. It is dangerous to take just one verse on any subject. Look at this verse, as it is one used to teach that all one has to do is “believe.” Before looking, let me ask, do they ever tell us just what one must believe? Generally, it is said: “You must believe that Jesus is the Christ.” But look at one of the verses used: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9). Did you see it? Did you see the words, “Jesus is the Christ?” No, you did not! This verse says, “shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Also, notice that the verse says: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth, the Lord.” We have gone, now, from believing to “confess with thy mouth.” We now have two necessary things that one must do to be saved!! Yet, we do not have: “You must believe that Jesus is the Christ!” However, the verse does give us two things necessary, and they are: 1) “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus” and 2) ““shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead.
Another verse used to teach that one must believe that Jesus is the Christ: “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). At least we are getting closer to the words some require that the lost must believe to be saved. The word “he” in the text would appear to imply, that the lost must believe that Jesus is the Christ. These words were spoken before Pentecost and to the Jews. What difference does this mean? Jesus is preparing the Jews, as well did John who baptized, for the end of the old law and the beginning of the gospel; thus, moving the Jews from the Law of Moses to the Law of Christ. This never crosses the mind of many, if not most.
Some may never think about “time,” and “context” as they read the four gospel accounts. John, who baptized, Jesus, and the twelve, did their teaching in what I call, “the period of transition,” as the teaching was to call the Jews to repentance as it related to the Law of Moses and prepare the for “the age of Christ,” meaning the time Christ has “all authority (Matt. 28:18). This information, “time” and “context,” can make a difference of knowing what to do to be saved or continuing to be lost!

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/how-many-ways-can-one-be-saved-1/

Jan 27

LOVING GOD, WITHOUT LOVING RIGHTEOUSNESS? (7)

Here are a few words I am sure you are glad to read, this will be the last article in this series; “Loving God, without loving righteousness?” The purpose of these articles is to allow you to see that we have some and a growing number who are set out to change the churches of Christ! They play on words, like using “rightness” and not “righteousness!” Please understand, “rightness,” is in “righteousness!”
Therefore, we ask the question: “What is the writer’s purpose in using the word “rightness?” He writes that we are too concerned about our “rightness;” then, he tells us what he means by “rightness.” It is that we, members of the body of Christ, teach too much on points of teaching that make us different from denominations! Of course, if the members of the churches of Christ do not fully know the points of teaching and practice that make us different, we might just become another denomination! This is their aim!
The writer tells us that “the teaching (doctrine) of Christ,” somehow takes us away from Jesus. Get this please, no one can know Jesus without knowing “the teaching of Christ!” It may be that some preachers, do not teach enough on Jesus as revealed in the New Testament, but this would be a failure of some preachers, and not “the churches of Christ!” It is like saying, some members of the body of Christ, have not grown spiritually as they should; but please do not condemn the whole body for the weakness of some! After all, we are a people with failures that we are trying to correct!
One of the points the writer makes is this, when writing about fellowship: “Finally, it looks like an ever-shrinking window of fellowship. The more emphasis we place on rightness, the less room we leave for grace to cover misunderstandings or disagreements on the finest points of the faith.” Allow me to say, the writer has a point here! The finer, we shave off points, in our efforts to get down to a point of teaching, which others do not understand or sometimes which may not even be there at all; we are in danger of dividing the body of Christ. If a point in teaching does not change the nature of the body of Christ, if it does not change us to leave “the teaching of Christ;” it should not be a cause of disfellowship! It is so true today, that the body of Christ may have an attitude like our writer makes a point, as he writes: “As one of my preaching school instructors joked, ‘As far as I can tell, the only people who are getting into heaven are me and my wife – and I’m not so sure about her.” Well, I too have heard this joke, and it is just that, a joke! Next, on the same subject, the writer says: “Making every last issue a ‘salvation issue’ and refusing to fellowship anyone who may believe differently on even the tiniest area of interpretation shows an unhealthy emphasis on or own rightness.” If this is truly done, it should not be so! However, to my knowledge it is not true, but if it is done by some, it only shows their own wrong attitude! Allow me once more to point out, “our rightness” is not the real subject just here. Because the writer is trying to make “our rightness” equal to our efforts to stay within “the teaching of Christ,” for he believes, per his article, that following “the teaching of Christ” somehow is different from having Jesus in our lives! Jesus is in “the teaching of Christ” and if we are following “the teaching of Christ” we have fellowship with Jesus (the Son) and the Father (2 John 9)! The writer fails to understand this point!
Finally, the writers says: “It (our efforts of rightness, frw) keeps us shallow. When we’re constantly covering baptism, the instrument, and the other doctrines that set us apart from the denominational world, growth comes to a halt.” Now, get the following point the writer makes: “As Hebrews 5:11-14 discusses, there comes a time when we need to move beyond the fundamentals and onto the meat of the word.” Here it appears to me that he should have used another text! The writer of the Hebrew letter is addressing weak and immature Christians! In fact, they were near the point of leaving “the teaching of Christ” and going back to Moses (the old law) and it is pointed out that, they were in deed of returning to “the first principles:” “ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” (Heb. 5:12). Brethren, “first principles,” which some assume are baptism and musical instruments are the “first principles” of the text, this is simply not true! Then, “the first principles” as used in this text, relate to these Hebrew Christians and the reasons they gave up the law of Moses and became Christians!
A lot more needs to be written on the article we are reviewing but as promised in the opening of this article, this is the last article. One thing I trust is true, is that I have been honest in my review of the article. If you would like a copy of the article, please let me know and I will do my best to see that you get one.
Finally, I pray and trust that you will always do your best to grow in “your own rightness!” “Rightness” includes having Jesus in your life, which means in your being, but understand, it cannot be done, if you fail to follow “the teaching of Christ!” There are things in the article in which I agree! But I see in the article an attitude of looseness, that God’s grace will forgive and an attitude that one should not be concerned about the distinctive nature of the body of Christ!

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/loving-god-without-loving-righteousness-7/

Jan 19

LOVING GOD, WITHOUT LOVING RIGHTEOUSNESS? (6)

The question may come to the readers’ mind: Why so many articles on this subject?” It is because we have some within the churches of Christ who are leaving “the teaching of Christ;” that is, if they have not already departed from the churches of Christ! In so doing this, they are trying to make the churches of Christ into a denomination!
How are they doing this? First, as the title article of the reveals, they are trying very hard to convince us that we are trying to be “too rightness!” Second, allow me to once more to call attention to the words in the article under review: “What does an over-emphasis on our rightness look like?” Let the writer answer his own question: “It looks like a constant dwelling on the doctrines that set us apart from others, like baptism, music, women’s roles, and the like.” These are some of the teaching (doctrine) that separate “the churches of Christ” from denominational churches. When these teachings are removed, we are fully on our way to becoming a denomination. Here is a thought that some miss when addressing these subjects. No man, who teaches the gospel of Christ or anything else for that matter, knows the mind and the understanding of those who are seated before him. Is it not the case, that some, who were baptized in their youth, have concluded that they were too young and did not understand what they were doing? Yes, we have seen such cases! Then, there are visitors who have never obeyed the gospel and who have never heard the gospel in its truth. It is a same that any preacher, who calls himself a preacher of the gospel, who fails to understand these two points and not give God’s plan of salvation! One more thought just here, just how much time does it take to cover God’s plan of salvation? A minute or two?
When the writer questions: “What does an over-emphasis on our rightness look like?” He continues: “It also looks like condescension toward outsiders who disagree.” First, there is no room for “condescension” in the heart of any Christian! Here is what the word means: “an attitude of patronizing superiority; disdain.” No Christian should have any problem understanding that “an attitude of patronizing,” (Which means: “to adopt an air of condescension toward”) superiority” toward others has any place is the heart of a Christian, or among Christians as they worship God “in spirit and in truth”! But, to teach the truth is not showing “an attitude of patronizing superiority!” If so, then Jesus did it and so did the apostles of Christ! Who can believe such? Certainly not a Christian! Before leaving this subject, let us look at the word “disdain” which is the word “condescension.” It means: “a feeling of strong dislike or disapproval of someone or something you think does not deserve respect.” Once more there is no place in the heart of a Christian for sure. It should be remembered, that God loves all of us, Christian or not! Finally, to teach the truth is not showing “an attitude of patronizing superiority!” Jesus taught the truth and he was not showing “an attitude of patronizing superiority! Though he was superior!
The writer continues the same subject, as he wrote: “Additionally, it looks like unfriendliness and unwelcomeness toward any one who dare to question.” As one who has preached the truth for forty-nine years, I resent anyone who would call my preaching sounding “like unfriendliness and unwelcomeness” toward anyone! But the writer did not stop here, but wrote: “The implication is fairly common in the church today that all of the major doctrines (and minor ones, for that matter) were decided once and for all decades ago and we don’t need to revisit or discuss them anymore beyond a memorized defense.” Let me say here, that the writer did not go back far enough; as Jude wrote: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). It may be true, and more than likely is, that some among us stopped their studying and learning at some point! I also freely write, that some preachers are lazy and refuse to learn and all such are a danger to the body of Christ!
In conclusion, all this, written by the writer of the article, is an effort to destroy the teaching that separates the churches of Christ from denominational churches! Call it whatever you like, but the churches of Christ are built upon the truth! We are not perfect, that is, without our faults! But, teaching the truth in love of God and for the lost, is not one of them!

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/loving-god-without-loving-righteousness-6/

Jan 12

LOVING GOD, WITHOUT LOVING RIGHTEOUSNESS? (5)

As we continue this series of articles, that we are reviewing an article entitled, “A dangerous trend in the churches of Christ.” In the article the writer is questioning our “rightness,” as though we have too much “rightness!”
Here is the jest of the article, as stated in the writer’s own words: “… but if we’ve come to the place that our rightness outranks Jesus in terms of where we direct our attention (and I believe we have), we have a problem.” Allow me to make a critical point in this whole series of articles: “Just where does this writer and a growing number of others, think we find Jesus?” It is true that some, though not generally among churches of Christ, think they have seen Jesus; let me just say, they are delusional! So we have come back to the question: “Just where do we find Jesus?” The only place we will ever, in this life, locate Jesus, it will be in “the gospel of Christ,” it will be in “the teaching of Christ, it will be in “The New Testament!” Thomas asked Jesus a question: “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? (John 14:5). Jesus answers Thomas in these words: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (verse 6). Therefore, it is clear that if we are to know “the way,” “the truth,” and “the life,” we must understand it will be through Jesus! Thus, we must know Jesus!
However, this brings us back to the original question: “how do we know Jesus,” or “how and where do we find Jesus?” Friends, if it is not in “the teaching (doctrine) of Christ,” we will never know Jesus! To minimize “the doctrine (teaching) of Christ,” is to minimize Jesus! Here the apostle John: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 John 9). Just how important does John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, put “the doctrine (teaching) of Christ?” John points out, the person who does “abideth not in the doctrine of Christ,” “hath not God!” On the other hand, John also points out, “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” Now, allow me to ask, is there one of the inspired writers of the New Testament who minimizes “the doctrine of Christ?” No, no not one!
Most us have sung the song: “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me;” the words to this song are most interesting as they relate to the point we are making. Here are the words to the first verse: “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me, All His wonderful passion and purity, My His Spirit divine all my being refine, Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.” (Written by Albert Orsborn). Now, here are my questions: 1) Just where to we learn about the beauty of Jesus? 2) Just where do we learn about his wonderful passion and purity? And 3) Just how does His Spirit divine all my being refine? Each of these questions are answered in the words: “the teaching (doctrine) of Christ!” It is our deepest wish, that the words of the song be true of each of us! But, they never will be true, unless we first fill our spirit/mind with “the teaching (doctrine) of Christ!” No one can be filled with the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5), thus, be filled with Jesus unless, until he is filled with the New Testament; for there is the only place we can be sure we have Jesus!
It is my trust, that each of those who read this series of articles, will understand at least this truth: Jesus is in “the teaching of Christ,” the New Testament! If we are looking elsewhere to find “the mind of Christ,” we are looking in the wrong place! It is truly a blessing to “see the beauty of Jesus” in each of us but it will always be less than the perfect “teaching of Christ!” At the same time, this only shows us how important to others that we be filled with “the beauty of Jesus” let the beauty of Jesus be found in each of us!
Therefore, I ask: “Can others see the beauty of Jesus in each of us?”

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/loving-god-without-loving-righteousness-5/

Jan 06

LOVING GOD, WITHOUT LOVING RIGHTEOUSNESS? (4)

The title of the article which provoked this series of articles is: “A dangerous trend in the churches of Christ.” First, let me give the writer credit for using a small “c” in the word “church.” Some of our most “highly” educated have failed to understand that the word “church” is not a proper noun! However, he appears to be willfully unaware that what he writes is not new! In getting right to his point, he wrote: “we put far too much emphasis on our own rightness.” Then, he continued with these words: “Right doctrine that leads to right actions is critically important, BUT (capitalized and bold, added, frw) if we’ve come to the place that our rightness outranks Jesus in terms of where we direct our attention (and I believe we have), we have a problem.” It should not take one with a Doctorate Degree to understand that there is no “rightness” without Jesus and no Jesus without “rightness!” Here is a good place to recall the words of God through Samuel to King Saul: “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken (The Hebrew, kaw-shab’, which is, “A primitive root; to prick up the ears, that is, hearken: – attend, (cause to) hear (-ken), give heed, incline, mark (well), regard.” (Strong) than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22). “Rightness” comes through obeying the commandments of God! Worship while disobeying God is enmity, it is unacceptable and vain!
The writer wrote this: “We’re saved by God’s grace as long as our faith is continually placed in Jesus.” May I point out that Paul wrote: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Here one needs to understand that the word “hearing” is a noun, not a verb; and it comes from the Greek word “akoē” and means: “report;” and is so translated in verse 16: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report (akoē)?” Therefore, I state, if our “faith” is not built by the “report,” “the gospel of Christ,” “the teaching of Christ,” It has no saving power whatsoever! We must not forget Paul’s words: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Rom 1:16). We are saved, as Paul wrote, by “the gospel of Christ,” “for (the Greek, gar, “A primary particle; properly assigning a reason,” Strong) it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; …” Now, notice with me, Paul’s next words: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed …” (verse 17). Once more attention is called to the word “for” and that it is the Greek “gar.” So, why is “the gospel of Christ” God’s power unto salvation? It is because within it, is “the righteousness of God revealed.” Now here is a simple question: “Is Jesus not in “the gospel of Christ,” which is “the teaching of Christ” (2 John 9)?” Give thought to this question: “Is Jesus not in “the gospel of Christ?” Then, if Jesus is within “the teaching of Christ,” “the gospel of Christ,” wherein is “the righteousness of God” is revealed;” can a person have “too much righteousness?” Remember, “rightness” is within “righteousness!” So, how can we have “too much rightness?”
The writer continued with these words: “How do we know if this (Having to much rightness, frw) is a problem? What does an over-emphasis on our rightness look like?” We shall allow the writer to answer the question, himself: “It looks like a constant dwelling on the doctrines that set us apart from others, like baptism, music, women’s roles, and the like.” Let it be known, that the subjects, the ones the writer pointed out, are indeed, some of and may be the major teachings “that set us apart from others!” There have always been those who would destroy the marks of separation; as they try to remake “the churches of Christ,” as they try to denominationalize the churches of Christ! It takes another gospel/teaching to make a denomination; as Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6-7).
Friends, there is no salvation, there is no rightness, in another gospel! So, the question to each of us: “Where do we stand?” Is it within “the gospel of Christ;” within “the teaching of Christ?” Do you think you have “too much rightness?”

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/loving-god-without-loving-righteousness-4/

Dec 30

LOVING GOD, WITHOUT LOVING RIGHTEOUSNESS? (3)

It is time to get the words from the article that provoked this series of articles. We need to see the author’s own words, so those who read this series of articles, will see that we are handling his words in honesty! It is never the intent of this writer to deal with any article written by another, in any way but with honesty!
In this series of articles, we have, first, proven that no one can love God and not love righteousness! Righteousness is in the breathed-out words of God. Here is what Paul wrote: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Notice with me, the words: “inspiration of God” which is translated from the Greek word “theopneustos.” This Greek word means: “divinely breathed in” (Strong). It is most often said that the Greek word, “theopneustos”,” means “divinely breathed out.” There is no problem as it may be expressed either way; as “divinely breathed in,” is viewing it as God breathing the word into the mind of the one who is to speak or write; while “divinely breathed out” is seeing the word coming out of the mind of God. The point being, that “all scripture,” both the Old and the New Testaments, come to the mind of man from the mind of God! Peter put it this way: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20-21). Here let us notice the words that are so often misunderstood. The words are these? First, the word “private,” which is the Greek “idios” and means: “pertaining to one’s self, one’s own, belonging to one’s self.” Second, the word “interpretation” which is the Greek, “epilusis,” means: “a loosening, unloosing.” This verse teaches that the “loosening” of the “prophecy” was not done from the mind or the tongue of man, but men “in old time” wrote and spoke as “they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
Second, notice the little word “for” the first word in verse 21. It is the Greek “gar,” which may be the most unnoticed word in the inspired scripture! This little word is: “A primary particle; properly assigning a reason (used in argument, explanation …” (Thayer). In other words, the word “for” is “assigning a reason” to what has just been written. So, what had just been written? Peter had just written: “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation;” and the reason this is true, is that “prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” In short, the prophecy did not come from man but was given “to holy men of God,” who “spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit!” This is not a passage that teaches, that we (humans) have no divine right to interpret the meaning of the inspired scripture. If so, I just committed sin, but I did not do so! This passage is teaching that “holy men of God” “spake (the prophecy) as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” and it was not their own interpretation! They were not “loosing” from their own minds but the “loosing” was done “by the Holy Spirit!”
Get this please, it is impossible to love God and not love righteousness! Rightness is within the word righteousness, therefore to teach that we have “too much rightness,” is to teach that we have “too much God!” Here is our first quote from the article that we are using from which we get the term, “rightness:” “Right doctrine that leads to right actions is critically important, BUT (capital, added, the word “but” generally negates what was just written. frw) if we’ve come to the place that our RIGHTNESS (capital, added, frw) outranks Jesus in terms of where we direct our attention (and I believe we have), we have a problem.” If you study the history of the churches of Christ in America, then, you have heard words like this several times! Why it is that some believe you can have Jesus outside his teaching (doctrine) I have no idea! Think on this, can Jesus be located outside “the teaching of Christ?”

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/loving-god-without-loving-righteousness-3/

Dec 23

JESUS IS THE SWEETEST NAME I KNOW

Songs sometimes say it better than most of us are able. It appears a few years before 1925, Lela B. Long took pencil in hand and wrote words to a song that thrills our hearts even today. There was another who had the same thought but expressed it differently. They had the same central thought. It was, “Jesus is the Sweetest Name I Know.” Lela Long wrote her song using the following words, under the title, “Jesus is the Sweetest Name I Know.”
“There have been names that I loved to hear – But never has there been a name so dear – To this heart of mine, as the Name divine – The precious, precious Name of Jesus. – Jesus is the sweetest name I know – And he’s just the same as his lovely name – And that’s the reason why I love him so – Oh, Jesus is the sweetest name I know. – There is no name in earth or Heav’n abov – That we should give such honor and such love – As the blessed name, let us all acclaim – That wondrous, glorious name of Jesus. … And some day I shall see him face to face – To thank and praise him for his wondrous grace – Which he gave to me, when he made me free – The blessed son of God called Jesus – Jesus is the sweetest name I know – And he’s just the same as his lovely name – And that’s the reason why I love him so – Oh, Jesus is the sweetest name I know.”
Not much is known of Lela B. Long but the words to the song, “Jesus is the sweetest name I know!” This may have been the way she wanted it. What better way to be remembered, than, “Jesus is the sweetest name I know?” If you could choose how you will be remembered after death; just what would it be? Friends, you are now writing the words to your song, the way you will be remembered!
There is another song, written by Bart Millard, with the same thoughts: “Sweetest Name I Know.” The words are: “There’s within my heart a melody – Jesus whispers sweet and low – Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still – In all of life’s ebb and flow – Though sometimes he leads through waters deep -Trials fall across the way – Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep – See his footprints all the way – Jesus, Jesus, Jesus – Sweetest name I know – Fills my every longing – Keeps me singing as I go – Feasting on the riches of his grace – Resting ‘neath the sheltering wing – Always looking on his smiling face – That is why I shout and sing – All my life was wrecked by sin and strife – Discord filled my heart with pain – Jesus swept across these broken strings – And stirred these chords again – Jesus, Jesus, Jesus – Sweetest name I know – Fills my ever longing – Keeps me singing as I go.” I was not able to find information about Bart Millard.
Both of these songs express the thoughts that should be on the minds all those who are celebrating this time of year. As the words thrill the heart and express such beautiful truths! Yet, it never enters the mind of those today, that the followers of Jesus, believing and obeying “the teaching of Christ,” never, no, not one time ever celebrated the birthday of Jesus. No effort was given to the time of Jesus’ birthday, outside the gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke; and John does not even write of the birth of Jesus. Yet, the modern worshippers of “the day,” Christmas, of which no one even knows; will stand and debate and call you an unbeliever, if you should be so brave to say it has nothing to do with Christianity, “the teaching of Christ!”
These same folks will tell you the New Testament does not teach that the Christian must take of the Lord’s Supper every “first day of the week!” So, what do we have? We have a day, “the first day of the week,” which rests in the authority of Christ and a manmade day, Christmas; to which do most folks adhere to? Better yet, which day to you adhere to: the day which rests in the authority of Christ, or to the man-made day?

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/jesus-is-the-sweetest-name-i-know/

Dec 16

LOVING GOD, WITHOUT LOVING RIGHTEOUSNESS? (2)

John, the apostle who is called, “the apostle of love;” wrote: “All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death” (1 John 5:17). Our challenge now is to find out what is “righteousness;” as we know that “all unrighteousness is sin!” Here we turn to the Psalm, where we read: “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.” (Psa. 119:172). No person who claims to love truth, would never encourage anyone to disobey, even one commandment of God! To do so would be encouraging this person to sin! Even in this short introduction, we know of the importance of “righteousness!”
In looking at the word “righteousness,” the following words were found as part of what the word “righteousness” means: 1) virtue, 2) morality, and 3) justice. How sweet are these three words that fit within the word righteousness! To discourage righteousness, would also be discouraging virtue, morality, and justice. It is not hard to see, just in these three words, how important righteousness is! Read this: “To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice” (Pro. 21:3). Why is it “more acceptable to the LORD” to “do justice and judgment?” Is it not that to fail “to do justice and judgment” negates our sacrifice? Our “sacrifice” today is our worship; read the words of Peter: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet.2:5). Our “spiritual sacrifice” starts with the giving of ourselves to God, in believing the gospel, repenting of our sins, confessing the Lordship of Christ, and in being baptized into Christ. Then, being “in Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27) we can offer up “spiritual sacrifices” (worship) “acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” As in the Old Testament time, so in the age of Christ, the New Testament age, our failure to do virtue, morality, and justice, which is part of “righteousness,” negates our “spiritual sacrifices!” Therefore, it is not hard to understand the importance of doing righteousness, which consists of God’s commandments!
Now, here is our question: Where would you look for “rightness?” Would “rightness” be found outside of “righteousness?” If we think, that too much attention is being paid to “rightness,” in all honesty, is this not saying that too much attention is being paid to “righteousness?” Keep in mind, all of God’s commandments are righteousness (Psa. 119:172). Another important question: Just which commandment or commandments of God are we putting too much importance? Generally, it is the case, the charge is made that we spend, teach/preach, too much on: 1) mechanical music, 2) baptism, and 3) taking the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week. For us “old” preachers, who have studied the history of the churches of Christ in America, there is nothing new in any of these charges! Yes, different words have been used through the years; as there has been the debate over the subject of the “silence of the scripture” giving authority to act, which is at least as old as Martin Luther; therefore, to preach/teach on this subject is giving too much attention too “rightness!” Then, we are hearing that we, the churches of Christ, are trying to be to “rightness” in regard to those with whom we disagree! Take the subject of what one must do in order to be saved from past sins. The New Testament clearly teaches that a person must: 1) hear/understand “the teaching of Christ” as it relates to the fundamentals of this teaching; 2) believe the gospel, which includes that God exists and that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ; 3) repent of sin, having a change of mind about the manner of living; 4) confessing that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God, which is making a covenant with God; 5) that one must be baptized with a view to having sins forgiven; and 6) determining to live faithful to God through Christ until death. Yes, these may be worded differently, even as the inspired writers did; but the basics are necessary to be saved and to remain saved. These fundamental truths cannot be changed, and to preach/teach them is not being too “rightness!”
So, in concluding this article, to charge us with preaching/teaching too much “rightness” is also to charge the inspired writers of the New Testament with being too “rightness!” Who among us can know the mind and the needs of those who are assembled on the first day of the week?

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/loving-god-without-loving-righteousness-2/

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