May 20

“The Perfect Earth”

If, before the Earth had been created, God asked you how it should be designed, would you have not suggested some (or all) of the following?

1. It should not have death nor pain.
2. It should not have sorrow.
3. It should not contain any wickedness.
4. There should not be any darkness.
5. It should be a glorious place.
6. It should be a place of joy.
7. It should be a place of rest.

If these would have been your suggestions, then God would have been creating, not earth, but heaven. [Notice these verses which correspond to the above seven “suggestions: 1). Rev. 21:4; 2). Rev. 21:14; 3). Rev. 22:15; 4). Rev. 22:5; 5). Col. 3;4; 6). Mt. 25:21; 7). Rev. 14:13.]

We can see two points in this. First, God did not intend for the earth to be heaven. It was not designed to be a “bed of roses.” Rather, it was designed to be a place of testing souls. (Deut. 8:1,2; Rev. 2:10). Thus, we must not look for heaven on earth, but we must look for heaven while on earth!

Second, the above suggestions of the “perfect earth” indicate man’s longing for such a place. Such longings indicate that any who go there will thoroughly enjoy it.

Anyone can attain his “perfect earth” if he but only obey God while on this earth. (Heb. 5:9).

Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/the-perfect-earth/

Apr 23

Another 25 Things To Do For Church Growth

26. Get rid of soul endangering books. Acts 19:18-20.
27. Get rid of soul endangering TV programs. Acts 19:18-20.
28. Visit the widows. Jam. 1:27.
29. Visit the orphans. Jam.1.27.
30. Visit the sick. Matt. 25:36.
31. Send a card to the sick. Matt. 25:36.
32. Call the sick. Matt. 25:36.
33. Call the widows. Jam. 1:27.
34. Pray for the sick. Jam. 5:13,14.
35. Pray for the orphans. Jam. 1:17.
36. Pray for the rulers. I Tim. 2:1,2.
37. Pray for the evangelists. Eph. 6:19.
38. Pray for one another. Jam. 5:16.
39. Pray for open doors for the church. Col. 4:3.
40. Use care one to another. I Cor. 12:25.
41. Be kind one to another. Eph. 4:32.
42. Invite members into your home. I Pet. 4:9.
43. Serve one another. Gal. 5:13.
44. Bear one another’s burdens. Gal. 6:2.
45. Forbear one another. Eph. 4:2.
46. Forgive one another. Eph. 4:32.
47. Submit yourselves one to another. Eph. 5:21.
48. Comfort one another. I Thes. 4:18.
49. Love one another. Rom. 13;8.
50. Seek the other’s good. I Cor. 10:24.

Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/another-25-things-to-do-for-church-growth/

Apr 16

25 THINGS TO DO FOR CHURCH GROWTH

1. Teach the gospel to a lost soul. Acts 8:1,4.
2. Teach a brother out of an error. Jas. 5:18, 19.
3. Set up a Bible study with a friend and a teacher. John 1:41-49.
4. Contend for the faith when spoken against. Jude 3.
5. Admonish a heretic. Titus 3:10.
6. Charge false teachers to stop their teaching. I Tim. 1:3.
7. Read the Bible. I Tim. 4:13.
8. Study the Bible. 2 Tim. 2:15.
9. Teach what you know to other members. 2 Tim. 2:2.
10. Study what was preached to see if it is true. I Thes. 5:21.
11. Teach a Bible class.Eph. 4:11.
12. Prepare yourself to be an elder. I Tim. 3:1-7.
13. Prepare yourself to be a deacon. I Tim. 3:7-12.
14. Prepare yourself to be a wife of an elder or deacon. I Tim. 3:11.
15. Visit to restore a brother. Gal. 6:1.
16. Prepare yourself to be a preacher.Eph. 4:11.
17. Do your part to edify the body. Eph. 4:16, 9.
18. Reprove unfruitful works of darkness. Eph. 5:11.
19. Teach your children the Bible. Eph. 6:4.
20. Provoke a weakening brother unto good works. Heb. 10:26, 27.
21. Give someone a tract. Mark 16:15.
22. Invite someone to worship &/or Bible Class. John 4:27,29.
23. Encourage a friend to tune into a church sponsored TV/radio program. John 4.
24. Give an audio recording of a sermon to a friend. John 4:27-29.
Give a DVD of a sermon to a friend. John 4:27-29.

Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/25-things-to-do-for-church-growth/

Apr 08

Christis and Denomos On: Church(es)

Christis: Hello, Denomos. I came by to invite you to our Sunday Bible class. We’re beginning a new class today in which we will study about the church.
Denomos: I appreciate the invitation, but I have my denomination where I attend. And you know, it doesn’t matter which church you are in. One church is as good as another, and you can join the church of your choice.
Christis: Denomos, did it matter if the people in Noah’s day went into Noah’s boat or some other boat?
Denomos: Indeed it did matter. Noah’s boat was the only boat that made it through the flood.
Christis: Right. Since there was only one acceptable boat, then it did matter into which boat they were in. One boat was not as good as another. They could not get into the boat of their choice.
Denomos: Okay. But what does that have to do with going to church?
Christis: You see, just as God designated one boat for their physical salvation, and thereby nullifying the notion that one boat was as good as another, God likewise designated one church for man’s soul salvation, and thereby nullifying the notion that one church is as good as another.
Denomos: My old friend, I think you’ve gone too far. How can you possibly say that there is only one church? And furthermore, that salvation is only in it?
Christis: Denomos, it is not I who says that, rather this is the teaching of the Bible. Listen, “There is one body,” Ephesians 4:4.
Denomos: It says there is one body–not one church.
Christis: Denomos, the body is the church. Listen again, God “gave him [Jesus] to be the head over all things to the church which is his body” Ephesians 1:22-23. Thus, since the church is the body, and there is only one body, then there is but one church–just as there was one ark. Furthermore, when Jesus made that monumental statement, “Upon this rock I will build my church,” Matthew 16:18, Jesus, although He knew the future, and, therefore, the coming of numerous denominations, He still said He would build His church–not churches. Jesus used the singular, and Galatians 3:16 makes clear that this is a point of crucial significance. Denomos, in 1 Corinthians 1:10, God condemned religious division. It wasn’t God who gave us this religious confusion (1 Cor. 14:33), rather it was Satan. To say that one church is as good as another, is to be working against Jesus who prayed for oneness (John 17:21).
Denomos: I did not know that those verses were even there. And that is what they say. Perhaps I need to study this more. I certainly want to be sure I’m in the right “boat.” Christos, I will be coming to your Sunday Bible class. Let’s go!

Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/christis-and-denomos-on-churches/

Apr 01

To Parents of Teenagers

A few years ago I wrote some lines on this subject, prefaced by a confession of feeling inadequate, since I had no children who were teenagers at the time. I also noted that I would likely feel even more inadequate when I had some teenagers. That prophecy was certainly one of the truest I shall ever make! In spite of this, I want to suggest a few common-sense observations that might help us as parents to help our young people.
1. Be fair and honest. When you are wrong, apologize; your teenager deserves no less and will respect you for it.
2. Be sincere and consistent. Young people can size up a hypocrite from a country mile. Keep your words true and pure; it’s not nearly so distasteful when you have to eat them later. Make your life agree with your words.
3. Be firm when you need to be. Your teens need and even want the security of some limitations. Don’t let them grow up having their way about everything. They will push you as far as possible, but they expect you to say “no” sometimes.
4. Don’t expect more of them than you are willing to deliver. Why expect them to love the Lord, His Word, and His church supremely if you treat these like a worn-out shoe? If you never pray or read God’s Word in their presence, you should not expect such activities to come naturally to them. How can you afford to criticize your child’s disinterest in spiritual values if you put secondary things first?
5. Don’t attempt to transfer your own responsibility toward your teenager to the church. It can’t be done, anyhow. The home, not the church, is the God-ordained institution for God rearing children to be strong servants of. Parents, especially fathers, are primarily responsible for this awesome responsibility (Eph. 6:4). True, the church, through its worship and educational and fellowship activities, can greatly assist the efforts of parents. But for parents who are members of the church, church and family activities ought to blend into one whole.
6. Love, them, even when they are unlovable. After all, this is the kind of love our Heavenly Father has for us (Rom. 5:8). And isn’t this the kind of love we want our children to have toward us? Certainly, we dare not condone misbehavior and sin in them, but neither can we afford to quit loving them.

Dub McClish

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/to-parents-of-teenagers/

Mar 25

Josiah’s Example

“…make all things according to the pattern….” – – HEBREWS 8:5

By the time Josiah became King of Judah, God’s people (to whom He gave the Law) had drifted step by step until their religious way of life was quite foreign to God’s instructions. A factor which added to the falling away was the misplacement of the book of the Law.
During Josiah’s reign, the Temple was being repaired, and the book of the Law was found. Upon reading the book the King became greatly distressed for they were worshipping and living in contrast to what God had earlier specified (2 Kings 22).
Immediately, Josiah set out to go back–back before the falling away–and do things the way they used to be done as specified (and as pleasing) to God (2 Kings 23). He taught the people the truth (v:2), they agreed “to keep His commandments” (v:3), they eliminated from their religious practices that which was not according to the will of God, (vv:4-20), and they began doing those things in religion which they had not been doing but should have been doing (vv:21-23).
Truly Josiah restored the Jewish religion as God had ordained it to be. As a result, Josiah was spared of Jehovah’s wrath (22:18-20).
Just as there had been a restoration of the Jewish religion during the Old Testament times, there has also been a restoration of the Christian religion within the New Testament times.
As with the Jews, God gave the church a law (Gal. 6:2), a pattern to follow (2 John. 9; 1 Cor. 4:6; Rev. 22:18-19); and , like the Jews, the church drifted away (2 Thes. 2:3). Such resulted in denominationalism and great confusion–something of which God did not ordain (1 Cor. 14:33) nor of which does He approve (Matt. 15:13).
Following the example of Josiah, several men in the 1800’s saw the problem and began to teach this restoring principle, that is, to go back–back before the falling away, back before denominationalism–and do things in religion the way they used to be done as specified (and as pleasing) to God. They sought to build all things according to the pattern (Heb. 8:5), speak only as the oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11), and whatever was done had to be authorized by the Lord (Col. 3:17).
We at London & Macomb [Barnes] strive to follow the God-given example of Josiah’s restoration, and we beckon all to do the same, for men will not be saved by merely being religious–but by being religiously right (Mt. 7:21-23).

Gary Henson

 

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/josiahs-example/

Mar 19

HOW CAN WE BE SURE WE ARE RIGHT?

While the above question is one of which we might have asked ourselves in matters pertaining to religion, it is certainly a question that others have asked of us. How CAN we be sure we are right? Consider the following:
First, there IS that which is right (truth, God’s Word, the Gospel), and there IS that which is wrong (error, falsehood, false doctrine). Acts 13:10 speaks of one who would cease not “to pervert the right ways of the Lord.” Thus, there is that which is right. These “right ways” are the Word of God” (v: 7).
Also, 2 Peter 2:15 speaks of those “which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray.” Thus, there is that which is right, and that which is wrong. That which is right is described in verse 21 as “the holy commandment.”
Second, human beings CAN come to know that which is right. One verse will suffice: “Then said Jesus…If ye continue in my word…ye shall know the truth…” (John 8:31,32. Compare: Eph. 3:3-4). Young’s Concordance lists some 1600 verses which teach about things that can be known. 1 John 2:3 even states that we can “know that we know.” Thus, human beings can come to know what is right (that is: the truth, the commandments, the Word of God).
Third, HOW can we come to know the truth? One can come to know the truth on any Bible question by following the divinely approved example of Acts 15. The brethren had a question, they gathered all the relevant evidence of God’s revelation to them, then they drew only the conclusions which were permitted by the evidence.
This is the inspired principle put forth in Psalms 119:160 “The sum of thy word is truth.” In taking the sum of a census (Num. 1:2), all are to be counted.
Revelation 22:19 teaches the same principle. We are not to take away from the Word. Thus, for example, in studying the topic of prayer, since we cannot take away from God’s Word, we must gather and consider all the relevant verses on prayer, then harmonize their teachings and come to the conclusion of the teaching on prayer. Granted, it is easier said than done, but God makes clear that it can and is to be done (John 8:31-32).
Fourth, there are ways to check our conclusions. (1) If our conclusion is altered by the clear teaching of another verse, then our conclusion is in error (Mt. 4:6,7). (2) If our conclusion is involved in absurdities, then our conclusion is false (eg., The contention that the book of Revelation is literal, Rev. 1:14,20). (3) If our conclusion necessitates the knowing of that which cannot be known, then our conclusion is unsubstantiated (Consider God’s questions to Job). (4) If our conclusion implies that which is false, then our conclusion is in error (1 Cor. 15:12-20). (5) If our conclusion is involved in self-contradictions, then our conclusion is false (1 John 2:21). (6) If our conclusion involves a denial of major undisputed facts, then our conclusion is wrong (Mark 3:22-23).
Conclusion. Yes, we can be sure we are right. God expects us to be right, and He would not have us attempt that which is impossible (1 Cor. 10:13).

Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/how-can-we-be-sure-we-are-right/

Mar 12

HOW TO HEAR

There are many How To… books, telling how to do various jobs. However, one of the most important “how to’s” is found in the Bible. When Jesus spoke the parable of the sower, He was illustrating the different ways in which a person hears and responds to the preaching of the Gospel. After giving the parable’s lesson, He warns, “Take heed therefore how ye hear.”
A warning pertaining to our hearing?! Seeing as how three of the four hearers were lost (two of them being Christians), yes! –a warning pertaining to our hearing. How then, must one hear and not hear?
One must not be an indifferent hearer. The tragedy of the Laodicians was their lukewarmness (Rev. 3:16). Upon hearing the Gospel, they heard what they were supposed to do, but they did not take it seriously. They were half-hearted, lukewarm, indifferent. Because of this, they were to be spewed out of the body of Christ, that is, out of the Church (Eph. 1:22-23). They were lost because they were indifferent hearers. Of such, we must not be. We must take heed.
One must not be a forgetful hearer. James warns against a hearer who hears only casually. He doesn’t take seriously what he has heard. He goes on his way and as other matters gain his attention, he forgets what he had heard. In contrast, God is pleased with those who “looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (Jas. 1:25).
One must not be a hearer with itching ears. To be a hearer with itchy ears, is to be a hearer who, in disregard for the truth, seeks and receives only that which he wants to hear (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Of this, we must not be!
One must be a receptive hearer. We all need to have the attitude of Cornelius who said to Peter: “Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God” (Acts 10:33). Truly, each of us must be ready and willing to receive what God has spoken to us through His holy Word.
Yes, we must “Take heed therefore how ye hear” (Luke 8:18). Let us then not be hearers who are indifferent, forgetful and those with itching ears. Rather, may we all benefit ourselves and be pleasing to God by being a humble receptive hearer.

Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/how-to-hear/

Mar 05

CHEAP CHRISTIANITY

The distinction that must exist between Christianity and the world is blurred and harder than ever to see. Many churches are becoming like the world around them.
Churches are lowering the standards of Christian living. Today, many are confused about morality, purity, and righteousness. From various denominational quarters comes a cry to modify long held teachings concerning homosexuality, divorce, premarital and extramarital affairs. While some give lip service to Bible teaching on moral issues, the practice is often to “look the other way.” Shouldn’t we be more concerned with pleasing the God of Heaven than in accommodating the world around us?
Churches are explaining away the law of God. Some do not believe the Bible can answer the problems of modern man, while others think that their churches ought to keep up with societal trends. This is alarming but not surprising, for God Himself predicted that people would change His law to suit themselves (2 Timothy 4:1-6). Some tamper with the Scriptures by making laws God did not, while others ignore laws, God has made, apparently not caring or thinking He doesn’t really mean what He says. But, the gospel is not to be changed by men or angels (Galatians 1:6-9). And, it is the Word of God rather than the word of men that serves as the standard of judgment for all (John 12:48).
God still says to His people, “Come out from among them and be separate” (2 Corinthians 6:17). It is not the time for Christians to be, as Norman Wilson said, “cozying up to culture-attempting to convince the world we are just like them.” This “cheap Christianity” is apostasy, and apostasy is not Christianity.

Mark Hanstein

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/cheap-christianity/

Feb 24

Beatitudes In The Book Of Revelation

“Blessed are…”
MATTHEW 5:3-11; REVELATION1:3; 14:13; 16:15; 22:14.

1. “Blessed is he that reads” (Rev. 1:3). The one who reads and understands (Mark. 13:14) will gain soul-saving knowledge (John. 8:32). Those in Antioch rejoiced after reading the epistle (Acts 15:31). We walk by faith (2 Cor. 5:7) which comes by hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). So yes, “Blessed is he that reads.”
2. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord” (Rev. 14:13). We are comforted by the words of 1 Thessalonians. 4:13-18 in which we learn that those “which sleep in Jesus” and are “dead in Christ shall rise first” “to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:52 adds, “the dead shall be raised incorruptible.” Truly “blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.”
3. “Blessed is he that watches and keeps his garments” (Rev. 16:15). Jesus admonishes us to watch for the second coming (Matt. 24:42). Then, in the verses following that warning (:45-51), He speaks the parable of the unwise servant who thinks that his tarrying master delays. Thus, the servant, with spotted and blemished garments, is caught by the master’s quick arrival. Jesus continues (and thereby stresses the point) in chapter 25 with the parable of the Ten Virgins. Five were slack in watching and were unprepared–and were left. The other five were ready–and were taken. “Blessed is he that watches and keeps his garments.”
4. “Blessed are they that wash their robes” (Rev. 22:14). One washes his robes (i.e., washes away his sins) in baptism (Acts 22:16). After this, one continues to wash his robes by walking in the light (truth) (1 John. 1:7) and confessing his sins (1 John. 1:8,9). Since sin separates one from God (Isa. 59:1,2) and will cause one to be cast into hell (Gal. 5:19-21), then “blessed are they that wash their robes.”

Truly, blessed are they who read, who die in the Lord, who wash their robes and who watches and keeps his garments. Are you one who is blessed?

Gary Henson

Permanent link to this article: https://okcsbs.com/beatitudes-in-the-book-of-revelation/

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