Sep 30

“Take Up His Cross”

If you are a disciple of Jesus, then certainly you would want to know the meaning of “take up his cross.” Why? Because these words “said Jesus unto His disciples.”
What does it mean, then, to take up your cross? A glimpse of history during the life and times of Jesus will cast some light on this subject. J.W. McGarvey, in his commentary, mentions that the cross was not only a means of criminal execution, but also a symbol of dishonor. Barnes adds that part of their sentence was to carry the cross to the place of execution. In doing such, it was burdensome, disgraceful and trying to the feelings.
Thus, “to carry the cross” is a figurative expression of which denotes that we must endure whatever is burdensome, or trying, or considered as disgraceful in following Jesus. It consists of simply living the Christian life and doing our Christian duty. No matter what others may think, say or do to us, we must bear these things and continue on.
The context of this passage (vs:24-27) bears this out. Jesus said that if any one will come after Him, he must deny himself. When one falls under the weight of the ridicule of the world, he has not denied himself and, thus, did not bear his cross. The next verse (:25) describes the end result of those who could and those who could not carry the cross or the “shame.“ The one who tries to “save his life” (:25), that is, tries to “save face” in the eyes of the world (:26) by dropping the cross and forsake the following of Jesus, shall lose his life (:25), his soul (:26) and his good reward (:27).
God knows that there is and always will be pressure, ridicule, mockery and tribulation placed upon Christians from the people of the world. When we refuse to take part in some unwholesome activity, they ridicule us. When we preach the resurrected Christ, they mock us (Acts 17:32). When we follow Christ, they inflict tribulations upon us (Acts 14:22). This is one reason why Jesus told us to count the cost of following Him (Luke 14:28). The price of that cost is to forsake all (Luke 24:33) which includes, as our text says, denying ourselves and bearing up under these burdens.
If we wish to overcome this pressure, then let us ever keep on our minds that there is a God (Heb. 11:6), that the Bible is written by His inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16), that the Bible teaches that there is a coming Judgment (Heb. 9:27), that those who believe, love and obey God will be saved (Gal. 5:6) and those who “take up his cross” shall have his reward (Mat. 16:24-27).

Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/take-up-his-cross/

Sep 24

THE HEART SURGEON

The heart surgeon is an amazing physician. Many benefit from such a one’s knowledge and ability. Jesus, upon one occasion, likened Himself to a physician (Mat. 9:12). Yes, Jesus is a surgeon—not upon the physical heart—but upon the spiritual. Consider some similarities of the two:
The heart surgeon can repair damaged hearts. Hearts, and therefore the body, will die when the arteries which supply blood to the heart become clogged. Years ago, there was no way for repair. But, due to the devotion of the surgeon’s life to study, the method of repair was attained. Now the surgeon can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves; he gives us that which once was not possible—a repaired heart.
Our spiritual heart sins (Rom. 3:23) and therefore dies (Rom. 6:23). Centuries ago, there was no way for repair (Heb. 10:4). But, due to the giving of His life (Rom. 5:8), the means of repair was attained (Rom. 5:9). Now, Jesus can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves (Eph. 2:8-9); He gives us that which once was not possible (Mat. 19:25-26)—a repaired spiritual heart.
It is only the surgeon—not the nurses—who can perform the surgery. Likewise, it is only Jesus who can save the spiritual heart (Acts 4:12), and it is only His Words to which we can go (John 6:68; 12:48). There were those (although they did not recognize they were doing such) who were going to mere men by following what they taught in religion, resulting in an unrepaired heart (Mat. 7:21-23; Gal. 1:6-8). Tragically, the same is happening today when men (although they do not realize they are doing such) go to Luther, Calvin, Smyth, etc. by having church creed-books and manuals.
The patient must receive the proper surgical procedure in order to be repaired. If a portion of the surgery is ignored, the surgery will not be successful. Likewise, when Jesus tells us what one must do to have his spiritual heart repaired, one cannot ignore any portion of what we are to do. What is the “surgery”? We are to believe that Jesus is the Son of God (1 Cor. 1:21), repent of sin (2 Cor. 7:10), confess that Jesus is the Son of God (Rom. 10:9-10), and be baptized (Acts 2:38) —all of which are to be done in order to be saved.
The patient must recuperate according to the surgeon’s instructions. Likewise, Jesus tells His patients how to walk (Rom. 6:4). They are no longer to walk in sin (Rom. 6:6), but rather in the light (1 John 1:7). They are to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh (Gal. 5:16-26). They are to live faithful to His instructions until death.
Yes, we are grateful for (and must take advantage of) the heart surgeon who can prolong our life. But how much more grateful ought we to be for (and ought to take advantage of) the Heart Surgeon who can save us eternally!

Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/the-heart-surgeon/

Sep 17

TEACHERS

One day when my youngest daughter was in the third grade, she came home with two activity charts. One chart was from her teacher at school It contained a list of the various parts of a plant: root, stem, leaf, fruit. She was to put a mark in the appropriate column each time she had one of those for a meal. This chart would teach her the different parts of a plant and how each part was an important source of nourishment for her physical body. I am thankful to her teacher for educating my daughter with such information. Her teacher (including the previous and the subsequent teachers) will help my daughter live a better life.
The second chart was from her Bible class teacher. The list of things which she was to mark off (if accomplished) each day for one week were these: (1) Read my Bible, (2) Pray, (3) Obey the rules at home, (4) Obey the rules at school, (5) Be helpful to others, and (6) Be kind and polite. This chart would instill within her basic godly characteristics. Such instructions will make her wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15), will help her to walk correctly so that she may be granted an entrance into the everlasting Kingdom (2 Pet. 1:10,11) and will help her to come to a knowledge of the truth to be saved (1 Tim. 2:3,4).
I am truly most thankful for both teachers. Any person who helps a man’s loved ones will be greatly appreciated. Yet, I will be eternally grateful for the Bible teacher, because, as the Scriptures put it, “For bodily exercise [in general, things not permanent in nature (GH)] profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Tim. 4:8).
May the Bible Class Teacher be exhorted because of the truly great nature of his/her work and of the profound and everlasting effort which he/she has upon the student’s precious soul.

Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/teachers/

Sep 09

BY WHAT AUTHORITY?

Jesus made it clear in Matthew 21:25 that everything that men do in religion is done either by the authority of God or by the authority of men. He said, “The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men?” Jesus was referring to the well known religious practice and teaching of John the Baptist’s baptism. John came teaching and practicing a religious work, and Jesus asked by what authority did he do this. There were only two possible sources of authority: (1) God told him to teach and practice the baptism; or (2) man (either John himself, or some other man or men) told him to teach and practice the baptism.
However, when Jesus was teaching that everything that men do in religion is done either by the authority of God or by the authority of men, He was not giving us some meaningless information which was empty of any significance. Rather, the implications of His statement are immensely crucial to a man’s acceptance before God in regard to his religious practices and teachings. Jesus was pressing the fact [which his opponents correctly understood (see v:25b, 26)] that man must obey the laws of God, and, man must not obey (in religion) the laws of man. Further implications of this are: (1) Man must not dismiss any law of God (as not needing to be obeyed); and, (2) Man must not make laws of religion. [Note: Expediencies, as decided by the elders, are not of this category (Acts 20:28; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:2,3).]
There are other verses which enforce the point that Jesus (in Matthew 21:25) was not giving us meaningless information. Notice: those who teach and engage in religious practices which are based upon the authority of man, are those who transgress the commandment of God (Matt. 15:3), practice such in vain (Matt. 15:9), shall be rooted up (Matt. 15:13), and shall fall into the ditch (Matt. 15:14). Yet, those who teach and engage in religious practices which are based upon the authority of God, are those who shall be given eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9).
Truly, everything that men do in religion is done either by the authority of God or by the authority of men. There is no middle ground! Everything is done by the authority of one or the other. To do a practice by the authority of man is to be condemned and lost. To achieve salvation and to maintain salvation, one must apply the question of Jesus to his practices–”This practice, whence is it ? from heaven, or of men?”

Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/by-what-authority/

Sep 03

GOD IS…

God is the Being who has always existed (Psa. 90:2), created all things (Col. 1:16), gave man a spirit (Eccl. 12:4), and, thus, is sovereign over all (Deut. 10:14, 17). There is nothing that God does not know (Psa. 147:4), and there is nothing that He cannot do [which is subject to accomplishment and is according to His nature] (Gen. 18:14). God knows about events before they happen (Isa. 46:10), and there is no place where He is not (Psa. 139). God is perfect (Deut 32:4) in His attributes of goodness (Psa. 118:29), mercy (Psa. 119:64), righteousness (Psa. 97:2), holiness (Lev. 19:2) and love (1 John 4:9-10).

He never makes a mistake in judgment (Psa. 19:9), and always does what He says He will do (1 Thes. 5:24).

With such a God as this, surely all men should be compelled to honor and worship God without even being told—and those who do worship and serve God, surely do so, not out of necessity, but desirously.

Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/god-is/

Aug 27

John 3:36 + I John 2:25 = The Truth

Upon one occasion, I received a letter challenging my belief concerning the possibility that a Christian can fall from grace. He was asking how it could be that I could read John 3:36a and still claim that a Christian does not presently and actually possess eternal life while living on earth. The following is my response. I hope it may be of help in your discussions.

Dear ___________,
John 3:36a reads, “He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life.” That is what it says. Now, the crucial question is: Does this mean that the Christian has actual, literal possession of eternal life right now while on earth–or –does it mean that the Christian has the promise to be given eternal life at the second coming of Christ?
These are the only two alternatives that can possibly be the meaning of this verse. Only one can be correct. Both cannot be true. If the first is correct, then a Christian cannot fall from grace. If the second is correct, then a Christian can fall from grace and lose his promise of eternal life, and thus, lose eternal life.
The Bible is its own best commentary. What does it say elsewhere about eternal life? Does one have it as an actual present possession, or does one have it as a promise?
I John 2:25 states, “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” First, notice that He is talking to Christians (I John 2:12). Thus, it was a promise made to Christians. Second, notice that he is talking about eternal life. Last, notice he tells us that it is a promise.
A promise is something that we do not actually and presently possess, but we are assured to get it at a future date.
An example of this found in the Bible is in Exodus 12:25. Here, as in I John 2:25, it is God making a promise (to give the land of Canaan) to His people. Did they have actual possession of the land right then and there? Were they actually in Canaan the moment He made the promise? No. Another 40 years passed until the promise was realized. In like manner, God made a promise to us (eternal life) which will not be obtained until some future date.
Another thing to notice is that while all those in Exodus 12:25 received the promise, not all received the fulfillment of the promise. Why? The answer is found in Numbers 14:20-25. It was because they had not followed His commands. Likewise, if Christians (who have received the promise of eternal life) do not obey God, they too will not receive actual possession of eternal life. “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: On them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, If thou continue in His goodness: Otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” (Rom. 11:22).
In John 3:36, we find that we have eternal life; in I John 2:25, we find that we have the promise of eternal life; when these two verses are harmonized (for they cannot contradict), we find that we have eternal life in promise–a promise which the fulfillment of is dependent upon our obedience to God’s Word.
I hope that this has been of help

Sincerely, Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/john-336-i-john-225-the-truth/

Aug 20

“DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!”

Our enemy is Satan (Eph. 6:12), his weapon is temptation (Mat. 4:3; Jas. 1:14) and his chain is sin (Rom. 6:23). Since a priority of man is to abstain from sin (Mat. 5:27-30), then all who know about God and the Judgment Day would want to have all the help, hints and information available to overcome sin.
However, there really is no secret. God, who is very desirous for all to overcome temptation (2 Pet. 3:9) has revealed the means of overcoming temptation. It has to do with upon what we think. Proverbs 23:7 tells us “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Thus, when a person thinks upon things, it effects him. Proverbs 4:23 tells us that out of the heart comes forth the issues of life. Thus, if a person contemplates evil things in his heart, then the issue of life which comes from such a heart will be evil (sin). James 1:14-15 words it this way, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then, when lust hath conceived, it brings forth sin.” Thus, the way to overcome sin is to refrain from entertaining temptation in your mind; that is, “Don’t even think about it.”
Compare the difference between Eve and Jesus during the time of temptation. They were tempted in the same way, but Eve (upon being tempted) contemplated, and thought how it would be if she did take of the fruit (Gen. 3:6), whereas Jesus did not entertain the thought. He knew it was wrong, and responded with “It is written,” and even Satan knew he had been defeated. Again, the difference was that Jesus “Didn’t even think of how it would be.”
For sake of illustration, let us say that the Bible still teaches that is sinful to eat pork. However, you like pork very much and have a great weakness for pork. So how do you refrain from falling into the temptation and sin of eating pork? You help yourself by avoiding situations which would get you thinking about it. If a television program was airing pork, you’d change the channel. If there were a cookbook on pork, you’d avoid reading it. If a store had pork on its shelf, you’d look the other way. If you went to an establishment where the smell of pork was strong, you’d leave and go elsewhere. If, despite your efforts to avoid all contact with pork, an incident involving pork still “pops up,” then have your course of action predetermined-turn away (Job 31:1, “I made a covenant with mine eyes; how then should I look upon a virgin?”) Yes, the help to overcome temptation is to refrain from thinking about it. (Of course, one should apply the above illustration by substituting the pork with any weakness one may have.)
Instead of thinking upon the things of the world, God tells us to seek and set our minds on the things that are above (Col. 3:1-3). “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, THINK ON THESE THINGS” (Phil. 4:8). It is by this that we will overcome Satan, his weapon and his chain.
Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/dont-even-think-about-it/

Aug 13

HOW MANY TIMES DOES IT TAKE?

A parent, after making it clear that a certain action was not to be done, fails to discipline when the child transgresses that parental law. “It must not really be wrong, nor of any consequence,” learns the child. The child then continues such action with ease of conscience. A policeman fails to stop a speeder. “It must not really be wrong, nor of any consequence,” he is lead to think. A boss does not correct an employee for breaking company rules. “It must not really be wrong, nor of any consequence,” he concludes.
Has this thought rubbed-off on Christians? Indeed. The book of Romans speaks of those who had passed the point of their first sin and were now continuing to practice their sin (Rom. 2:1,2). Why? Because they “despise[d]…the riches of his [God’s] goodness, and forbearance and longsuffering…” (v:2). They had obviously thought, since God had not punished them for their sin, “It must not really be wrong, nor of any consequence.”
They had missed the point! True, no harm had come to them from the hand of God. But it was not because they were not sinning. Rather, they were sinning, but due to God’s goodness and patience, He was holding back His wrath in hopes that they would repent.
One act that is in transgression of God’s Will is sin (1 John 3:4). Sin is sin. It does not matter if the act was done one time or ten-thousand times. That one act by Adam and Eve brought them death (Gen. 2:17). That one transgression of Moses kept him out of the promised land (Num. 20:12). That one act of Nadab and Abihu brought upon them a consuming fire from heaven (Lev. 10:1,2). That one act of Achan brought death by stoning (Jos. 7:25). That one act by Ananias and Sapphira cost them their lives (Acts 5:1-11). That one act of Simon made him lost again (Acts 8:20).
Brethren, it does not take a “build-up” of actions to finally make you or I guilty of sin. One murder (Rom. 1:29), one thief (Eph. 5:28), one lie (Rev. 21:8), one evil word (Eph. 4:29), one breaking of civil law (Rom. 13:1-7), one false teaching (Gal. 1:8), one lust (Mat. 5:28), one word of gossip (Rom. 1:29), one act of adding to or taking away from God’s Word (Rev. 22:18,19), one act not authorized by God’s Word (Col. 3:17), one act of omitting what ought to be done (Mat. 25:41-46) and, yes, one willful absence of the assembling of the saints (Heb. 10:25) – – is sin.
Brother or sister, if you have transgressed the Will of God once or numerous times and have not encountered the punishment of God, it is not because “It must not really be wrong, nor of any consequence,” rather, it is due to God’s goodness and patience which holds back His wrath, hoping you will repent.

Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/how-many-times-does-it-take/

Aug 06

“REJOICE IN OUR TRIBULATIONS” ?!

How could anyone teach that we are to rejoice in our tribulations? Isn’t it the case that “rejoice” means to be overly happy, to exult? Doesn’t “tribulations” denote the various afflictions of life, yea, all the afflictions one may encounter during his lifetime? One might understand the rejoicing at the birth of a child, a wedding announcement or one’s achievement; but it goes beyond the wisdom of the world (1 Cor. 1:19, 20) to claim rejoicement in illness, accidents financial stresses and heartaches. What, then, could this possibly mean?
Does it mean that pain itself should be enjoyable? No, it could not mean this because Paul fled from the afflicting aggressors (Acts 9:23-25). Does it mean that we are not to take tribulations seriously; that we are to laugh off these situations? No, for Jesus prayed fervently that His crucifixion would pass from Him (Mat. 26:39), and He gave us approval and an example to weep with those that weep (John 11:35). What, then, does “rejoice in our tribulations”: mean?
The explanation is found in the words which follows that statement. We are to rejoice in tribulations because we know that tribulations can work patience. Thus, when we are going through the path of life and we encounter a tribulation which tries our faith, we, at that point, have the option of taking the way of righteousness or the way of unrighteousness. For example: If one is traveling down the road and the tire goes flat, then he may do, say or think that which is contrary to God’s Will, or he may handle the situation in a sober, mature and godly manner. If he chooses the latter, then his tribulation has worked patience or steadfastness to God’s Will.
If one was steadfast, he is then considered approved. God is all-knowing. He knows the result of every trial. If, during the tribulation, one chooses the way of unrighteousness, then he is not approved. Yet, if one chooses the way of righteousness, he is approved. Then, the verse continues, he who is approved, has hope. We have the hope of finally escaping the toils of this life, the hope of avoiding hell, and the hope of eternal life (Titus 1:2; 3:7).
Thus, we are to rejoice in our tribulations, not because the pain and heartaches are desirable, but because we have the opportunity to prove to our Maker that we are faithful, that we will stand approved and that we are worthy of entering into heaven.
Rejoice in our tribulations?–how could anyone teach otherwise? “We also rejoice in our tribulations: knowing that tribulations worketh steadfastness; and steadfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope” – – Romans 5:3,4.

Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/rejoice-in-our-tribulations-2/

Jul 30

LIGHTS! CAMERA! ACTION!

Upon returning from an out-of-state job assignment, a member of the church (of another congregation) showed me a brochure from a congregation which he had attended. It was a program of the church’s drama which they were presenting. It rivaled a commercial production, complete with seven full scenes and a lengthy acknowledgment list of actors, stage crew, construction workers, lighting, sound, scenery, make-up, costume, printing, etc. However, I wasn’t surprised at this (and neither was my brother who gave me the brochure)—because many in the church have been doing things without Biblical authority for a long time.
It must be remembered, in matters of religion, one can only do that which has been authorized! (Col. 3:17). We cannot add to nor take away from what God has said! (Rev. 22:18-19).
What, then, is it that God has specifically told us to do regarding the proclamation of His Word?
He told us to “preach” (kerusso) meaning, “to be a herald; to officiate as a herald; to proclaim after the manner of a herald” (Thayer’s Lexicon, p. 364). Matthew 10:7 states, “And as ye go, preach, saying…” –not dramatizing.
He told us to “preach” (dialeg-omai) meaning, “to converse, discourse with one, argue, discuss” (Thayer’s, p. 139). “Paul preached unto them… and continued his speech…” –not drama (Acts 20:7).
He told us to “preach” (euange-lidzo) meaning, “to proclaim glad tidings; specifically to instruct (men) concerning the things that pertain to Christian salvation” (Thayer’s, p. 256). “…when they were come unto Antioch, spake [not dramatized] unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus” (Acts 11:20).
He told us to “preach” (kata-gello) meaning, “to announce, declare, promulgate, make known; to proclaim publicly, publish” (Thayer’s, p. 330) — as was done in Acts 4:1-2. Also, carefully notice the preaching of Peter (Acts 2:14-40; 3:19-26; 10:34-43), Stephen (Acts 7:2-53), and Paul (Acts 13:16-42; 17:22-31).
The conclusion is obviously obvious, God has specifically authorized preaching by oral discourses. The addition of dramas in our worship is going beyond the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9); it is a forbidden addition (Rev. 22:18); it is that of which those who both know and love the truth will not do. May we always only do that which God has authorized.

Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/lights-camera-action/

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