VIEWPOINTS

UpKeep! Seminar Topics

   We sure hope you are planning to join us for our upcoming spiritual enrichment seminar, UpKeep! It has been designed to be very uplifting and edifying for every Christian, by renewing and recharging your zeal for the Lord and His kingdom. Below we have listed some of the various topics and guest speakers that we will be hosting during the seminar. Looks like it’s going to be a GREAT event! Be sure and register today!
  • “Putting on the Armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-15) – Scott Shanahan, Missionary to Italy
    • Spiritual warfare! Let’s examine this descriptive passage anew and discern what the apostle Paul is implying.
  • “Arriving Back at Camp” (Joshua 10:40-43) – Cory Myers, League City COC
    • A soldier must fall back from time to time to prepare for re-entering the battle. We need to retreat from time to time from the spiritual warfare in order to regroup, repair, and recharge (Mk 6:30-31).
  • “Maintaining the Armor” (Ephesians 6:18) – Guyton Montgomery, Milestone COC
    • A soldier must fall back from the spiritual warfare in order to maintain his armor and prepare to re-enter battle.
  • “Removing the Rust” (Matthew 6:19) – Cory Myers, League City COC
    • We often get too bogged down in worldly affairs, how do we get back to center?
  • “Maintaining Our Spirituality” (James 1:2-4) – Cory Myers, League City COC
    • As we reenter battle, we will get distracted again. We should resolve to not lose what we have rebuilt.
  • “Suiting Up with Armor Anew” (Joshua 1:11) – Cory Myers, League City COC
    • A soldier does not just stay in camp. Once he is recharged, repaired, and renewed, he must return to battle. He is ready. It is all about attitude!
  • “Maintaining Our Servanthood” (Titus 3:8,14) – David West, Pace COC
    • Paul instructed Titus that Christians “should be careful to maintain good works” (Titus 3:8,14).
  • “Maintenance is Stewardship: Your Talents/Gifts” (1 Peter 4:10) – Chance Blackmer, Gulf Breeze COC
    • We all have gifts that we can use for His service. A look at the “Parable of the Talents”.
  • “Practicing Our Skill” (2 Timothy 2:15) – Preston Silcox, Avalon COC
    • Every soldier must learn how to wield his sword, otherwise he could injure himself, or someone else he didn’t intend to injure. Don’t we have a responsibility to use our sword (Bible) correctly when studying with others?
  • “Sharpening the Sword” (Hebrews 4:12) – Josh Holloway, Jay COC
    • Swords can become dull. Every soldier must sharpen his sword before battle. A look at developing study habits.
  • “Still Much to Do!” (Psalm 92:13,14) – Richard Rogers, Brewton COC
    • A breakout class designed especially for our older, wiser saints. The battle doesn’t stop just because we have aged. We may not be as fast, or as strong physically, but we are often much wiser than younger Christians. There is still much we can do in His kingdom.
  • “Maintaining Relationships: Adversaries and Critics” (Matt 5:44) – Ben Boyd, Avalon COC
    • Difficult Conversations and Conflict Resolution; everyone has those certain acquaintances that are difficult.
  • “Maintaining Relationships: That Special Someone” (2 Tim 2:22) – Casey Crawford, Scenic Hills COC
    • What might a Christian do to find a mate, or be involved in Christian “dating”?


Fun

CHRISTIANS HAVE NO FUN?

Fun
CHRISTIANS HAVE NO FUN?
by Troy Spradlin
    Has anyone ever said to you, “It’s no fun to be a Christian; you can’t do anything fun.” Perhaps, someone has told you, “Christians never have any fun.” Unfortunately, this notion has become increasingly prevalent among the unbelievers of our modern society. It stems from a false narrative that Christianity is somehow prohibitively restrictive, overly boring, and lacking any semblance of enjoyment. Yet, personally, I don’t know a single faithful Christian that actually feels that way. In fact, I know many Christians who have a great deal of fun, including myself! So, what are they talking about? Why do they say such a thing?

Two Sides to Every Coin

    If we consider this from a more carnal perspective (Romans 8:5-8), then we start to see where this false narrative originated. Ask any worldly person, “What does ‘having fun’ mean to you?” They will most often respond with answers like, “hanging out with friends; playing sports/recreation; partying; going to a show/concert; dancing; getting drunk; doing drugs; having sex; getting away with something illegal; etc.” These are real answers and engaging in these activities are what constitutes “fun” to them. Hollywood and other entertainment sources commonly portray these things as the definition of fun, also. Not all of these are bad, of course, but they’re certainly not all good either.
    Immediately, a spiritually minded person should recognize their definition of “fun” sometimes equates to sinful behavior. What is truly sad, is that some of these so-called “fun” activities can be extremely detrimental to one’s health and longevity. Just as there are things one can eat that are not good for you, it is the same with some of these things deemed as “fun.” Some “foods” may look appealing and even taste good, but could also be completely synthetic, lack any nutritional value at all, and/or be extremely carcinogenic. That’s how it is with worldly thinking, “those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh,” (8:5). From their point of view, they see Christianity as nothing more than imposed restrictions upon enjoyable things. All they hear is, “You can’t do this and you can’t do that.” They’re not considering that other things exist which equate to “fun” activities.

Joy Equals Fun

    So, what constitutes real “fun”? What enjoyment does a Christian experience? Considering the Bible mentions “joy; joyful; rejoice” some 135 times in NT, it would seem there are certain instances where a Christian has much enjoyment, or delight. It becomes clear that what is considered what is enjoyable is simply a state of mind. For example, shopping is “fun” to many woman, but not so much for a man. Using power tools might be “fun” for a man, but not necessarily for a woman. It depends upon who’s defining what is fun, or not. Since, Paul said we should “not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), then, how we define what is enjoyable could be affected, as well.
    The fact is, Christians have just as much fun, if not more, as anyone on earth. Personally, I enjoy going to worship, even though it’s a more pensive event. I have fun fellowshipping with my brethren. I engage in numerous, enjoyable activities and hobbies that are wholesome and good, just like many brethren do. But, until one has experienced true joy and the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) of being an obedient disciple of Jesus, then someone outside of the church will never truly understand how a Christian can certainly have fun, too.


A MAN WITH NO EARS?

A MAN WITH NO EARS?
by Troy Spradlin
    Seven times in the New Testament and only from the mouth of Jesus Christ, do we read the words, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15, 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; Luke 8:8, 14:35). He who has ears? Does that imply that there is someone out there who does not have ears? Well, yes, it actually does. Not in a physical sense, of course. But certainly in a spiritual sense. The word “has” in that sentence is a word that means “to hold; to possess; in a sense of wearing.” In other words, it implies that there are some who do not possess, or wear the very thing that Jesus is declaring necessary for understanding, that being “ears to hear.”

Ears in Figurative Language

    We certainly comprehend this type of figurative language. We show it when we say, “You may be hearing me, but you aren’t listening.”  It indicates someone is not paying attention. They are not absorbing what is being said. Or, they are simply choosing to ignore the words being spoken to them. This is what Jesus means by this statement. Perhaps, another way to express it might be, “Those who are paying attention and understand, listen up!”
    Jesus typically used this phrase in conjunction with a parable or prophecy. His disciples noted the implication and asked Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”  He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. … Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand,” (Matt 13:10-13).  Jesus knew those who opposed Him were not paying attention to the Scriptures correctly. He knew they certainly were not absorbing His teaching. He knew they simply chose to ignore His words. The very words He said “that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life,” (John 6:63) and that His word would judge them (12:48) fell on deaf ears!

Truly Hearing 

    I find it rather interesting the way Jesus sometimes expressed prophecy. In Luke 9:44, He uses the same “ear” analogy predicting His death before the disciples, “Let these words sink down into your ears, for the Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.” In other words, “Listen carefully to what I am saying!” Hearing Jesus is critical to salvation and understanding truth. He affirmed this to Pilate, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice [emphasis added],” (John 18:37). We must hear Him!
    It is a rather disturbing image to think about a man without physical ears. Think of the handicap, or disadvantages he would have in understanding and hearing important things. He could get himself killed if he couldn’t hear a car coming when crossing a street, or a multitude of other dangers! It is just as disturbing to think about a man without any “spiritual ears” also, because his soul is in grave danger for not hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Do you have ears for hearing God’s word?


ARE YOU PREPARED?

ARE YOU PREPARED FOR THE STORM?

by Troy Spradlin
    Florida residents are no strangers to hurricanes. Just a quick glance at the historical list dating back to the late 1700’s, one quickly realizes that the Panhandle has had more than its fair share of destructive storms. Everyone in this area certainly still remembers the devastating effects of Hurricane Ivan. Some can remember Camille and even further back. The mere mention of the names Andrew, Katrina, Harvey, Florence, and now Michael, are enough to bring up tears and strong emotions as those names are now associated with pain, trauma, and loss.

 Improving for Preparations

    Did you know hurricanes weren’t named before 1953? Until then, a storm was referred to only by the year in which it had occurred. In 1979 the World Meteorological Organization started using short and easily remembered names for storms in the Atlantic. The intention was to reduce confusion in communications when two or more storms occurred at the same time. Without the names, radio stations had often created panic and chaos when broadcasting storm advisories that might be for an entirely different storm located hundreds of miles away. Thus, a list of male and female names was adopted. If a storm becomes deadly or so costly that any future use of its name for a different storm would be inappropriate, then the name is retired from the list. Since the practice began, there have been 78 Atlantic tropical storm names retired, according to the National Hurricane Center.
    Research and technology have greatly improved our warning systems and communications networks. It would be impossible to calculate how many lives have been saved over the years thanks to all of these improvements. This is evidenced by the fact that most Floridians will now quickly jump to the call to prepare for a storm. Everyone shows concern for everyone else. A common conversation that occurs among neighbors and even among strangers revolves around a question of concern, “Are you prepared for the storm?” Advice is then freely given and openly welcomed on what one needs to purchase, on how one can safeguard a home, or where one might seek refuge. Most everyone is concerned about not only their own safety, but the safety of others! What a blessing!

The Spiritual Application

    Oh how I wish people had the same level of concern for spiritual matters! When all is said and done, property damage by a hurricane can easily be repaired or replaced. But the destruction of a soul is a much greater loss. For many people, there is a day coming that will be far worse than any hurricane. It’s a day described as having “flaming fire, punishment, and everlasting destruction.” It also has been given a name, it is called Judgment Day (Matthew 12:36; 2 Peter 3:7). Just like hurricanes, there are advance warnings and advisories about this impending disaster (2 Thessalonians 2:7-10; Revelation 20:12-15). Advice is readily available on how one can prepare and be saved from it, (Matthew 25:31-46; Mark 16:16). There will be no excuses for “riding out the storm” or “hunkering down” because everyone will either face the fury, or escape it, depending on how they have prepared (Romans 14:11).
    Hurricanes will continue to come and they will continue to be just as deadly and destructive. We must always be prepared. Judgment Day is still coming and it’s going to be very destructive to some. We must be just as prepared. Are you prepared for the next storm? More importantly, are you prepared for Judgment Day?


WE ARE NOT UNDER THE TEN COMMANDMENTS?

WE ARE NOT UNDER THE TEN COMMANDMENTS?
by Troy Spradlin 
    One subject at the heart of much religious confusion is a deficiency of fully comprehending the distinction between the Old and New Testaments. If you don’t believe it, just try making this statement to one of your religious friends, “Did you know Christians are not under the Ten Commandments?” and wait for their reaction. Most will become rather upset with you, very quickly. In fact, some of our own brethren within the church get upset! Expect to hear something like, “What do you mean we aren’t under the Ten Commandments!? Are you saying it’s okay to murder?” Of course, murder is still wrong, but not because the Ten Commandments say it. Why do people get so upset? It is usually because they don’t understand the Biblical concept of Old versus New Covenants.

Laws, Covenants, and Pacts

    Look at the words of Jesus, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you,” (Luke 22:20). We should also consider Galatians 3:13,24-25. This illustrates that the “law” (that is, the Old Testament) has fulfilled its purpose and we are no longer under it. Several more verses, such as Colossians 2:14-17; Romans 7:6, 8:1-2; and Hebrews 7:22 explain that the Old Covenant, or pact, which is another word for Testament, has been replaced with the “Law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). If Jesus has replaced the Old Law (Testament, Covenant) with a new one, then why hang on to things of the old?
    God gave the Law to Moses for guiding the children of Israel. He didn’t give it to Adam, Noah, or even Abraham. He gave it to the Hebrews, the nation of Israel. Today however, God’s people are known as Christians – those who are of Christ, His Son. We are not Hebrews, or Jewish, nor Israelites. Therefore, we are not obligated or subject to that law – their law – in any way. The Old Testament (Covenant) was given specifically for them. Why then, would anyone want to use and apply things from that old law, such as tithing, or priestly clothing, or anything else that is not commanded of the Christian?
    It’s interesting that many will appeal to the Old Testament as “approval” for their religious practices, such as musical instruments, keeping the Sabbath, or various ceremonial rituals. Yet, they don’t keep all of the law, which also includes practices such as animal sacrifices, returning to Jerusalem three times a year, and keeping all the Jewish holidays! Are these not reason enough that law is called the Old Testament?

What About Us?

   The fact is, Jesus brought all of the laws from the Ten Commandments over into His new covenant, except one – keeping the Sabbath. Christians are not permitted to kill, to steal, to commit adultery, or to covet just as the Ten Commandments say. We must still worship God and only Him and we must still honor our parents. However, a Christian’s obedience must come from the heart, “You shall love the lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ this is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ there is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30,31). Christians are not under the Ten Commandments, a part of that Old Law. We are under the Law of Christ.


BIZARRO WORLD

BIZARRO WORLD
by Troy Spradlin
    Ever had a strange dream where everything was backwards or completely the opposite of what it was really supposed to be? Perhaps, you may have heard of an old DC Comics called, “Bizarro World” which depicts such a place. I remember the characters of Seinfeld referring to that place when something was very odd or strange to them. The term itself has become synonymous with any situation or setting which is weirdly inverted or that is the opposite of expectation. According to UrbanDictionary.com, Bizzaro World is a realm where everything is reversed. Up is down, first is last, good is bad, wrong is right, white is black, logical is illogical, giving is taking, insanity is sane, liberty is tyranny, and vice versa. It’s a place where literally, the sky is forest green and the trees are sky blue. That is a pretty strange place, indeed!
    Though Bizarro World may be a fictitious universe invented by comic book writers, it still has its roots based in reality. What is meant by this is that we human beings sometimes do just the opposite of what one might expect. Sometimes scenarios are completely reversed from what they should be. For example, how many times have you heard a politician say one thing and then turn around a few years later and say the exact opposite, all the while appearing to believe they had never contradicted themselves? How often does someone choose to do just the opposite of what they know they should have done? Has anyone ever told you they would do one thing but then did the reverse of what they had promised? I’m sure the answer to all of these is, yes, many times. The truth is, we live in a world where people are calling good things evil and evil things good. It’s now acceptable to be crude and hedonistic while being prudent and wholesome are rebuffed. What was once considered taboo has now become the norm. It would seem that Bizarro World isn’t as uncommon a place as one might have thought. How has this happened?
    Consider what a prophet wrote some 2,700 years ago, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20). Doesn’t that sound exactly like what we are talking about here? What we are facing is not a new problem! Modern man’s conscience has simply been twisted and distorted so badly that it is difficult for him to tell what is genuine and what is false. However, no matter what the majority might say or think, God has not changed and never will. His standards have not been lowered and He still calls immorality a sin. The real truth of the matter is that man needs God in his life. Without God, man is simply a walking, talking contradiction compared to what He intended. Without God, man is a strange, confused and bizarre being!
    The apostle Paul came to understand this about himself and wrote, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death,” (Romans 8:2). He went on to say, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God,” (Romans 12:2). Bizzaro World is a product of man’s own mind. The only way to escape it is through the life-changing, soul-saving power of the blood of Christ that puts everything in its rightful place, with God being at front and center.


SILENCE OF THE SCRIPTURES

SILENCE OF THE SCRIPTURES
by Troy Spradlin
   As almost any parent will attest, when there is silence in a house full of playing children, that is usually a sign of trouble! As children become teenagers, they sometimes give their parents “the silent treatment.” This, too, is not usually a good sign. Well, the Bible is also silent in some areas and when people begin to manipulate that silence, it is not usually a good thing. Silence within the Scriptures is a common argument many like to use to justify various doctrinal beliefs. It is essentially the idea that if the Bible does not explicitly prohibit something, then it must be permissible. This faulty thinking can be easily exposed as error with just a few, rather simple, logical refutations and examples.
    Perhaps, the most popular example of using silence of the Scriptures as permission is in connection with worship. It has often been stated, “The Bible does not prohibit the use of musical instruments in the worship of the church, so there is nothing wrong with having them.” While this is a true statement, we must remember that the Bible doesn’t specifically prohibit the use of cake and milk in the Lord’s Supper either, but no one would suggest that should be acceptable. Jesus clearly stated what should be used. If God tells us what he wants, then it is not necessary to list everything and all that He does not want. To do so would be extremely difficult just in the printing alone for it would require thousands upon thousands of pages to be added to the Bible. God says very clearly what His will is and that is sufficient. That is why Noah only used gopher wood to build the ark and not pine, or cedar, or some other type of wood (Genesis 6:14). God did not say he was prohibited from using other wood types, He simply stated what the only acceptable material would be, gopherwood.
    We certainly understand this kind of thinking. To say otherwise is rather foolish. Consider an everyday occurrence where this same logic can be applied. Suppose a mother gives her child money to go to the store to buy milk and bread, what is that child supposed to do? Buy milk and bread. Does he understand that he can buy only those items and nothing more? Does that child have the right to buy anything extra that they want, because after all, mother did not say they couldn’t? You know the answer. You also know that the child would suffer consequences if they disobeyed by not following the mother’s commands to the letter. Or, what about a waiter in a restaurant? Does a waiter have the right to change your order since you didn’t say he couldn’t? You order steak and potatoes and he decides to bring you beef jerky and chips. They are the same thing, just in a different form. Do you see where we are going with this? Silence, or the lack of explicit prohibition does not equate to permission. Silence of the Scripture does not equate to Permission!
    The Bible states very clearly that singing is to be used among Christians and examples are given (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 14:15; Matthew 26:30; James 5:13). The question of does silence equate to permission can be answered by looking at the Bible itself. God has not been silent regarding the silence principle. In Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 22:18,19 He said, “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” – TS


MEET THE SHANAHANS

MEET THE SHANAHANS
 
    Scott and Rebecca Shanahan have been serving as foreign evangelists since 2005. They spent twelve years serving the Lord and preaching the Gospel on the Pacific islands of Pohnpei, Kosrae and Chuuk. With the Lord’s help they baptized more than one hundred souls and planted two congregations. Scott and Rebecca speak the Pohnpeian language fluently. The vast majority of their teaching was done in the local language. The Shanahans preached the Gospel through: Gospel meetings, one on one in home Bible studies, a weekly radio program, Bible college classes, Vacation Bible Schools, and regular church meetings. While it would be impossible to state the exact number, it is safe to say that through their efforts thousands of people in Micronesia have heard the Gospel and been introduced to the church of Christ.    
    Scott was born in Nashua, New Hampshire, but grew up in Massachusetts. After serving three years in the United States Navy, he moved to Georgia where he was first invited to worship at the Forest Park church of Christ. Some of the members studied with him for a few weeks and he was baptized into Christ. He decided to become a full time missionary after going on a mission trip to Fiji. In July of 2002, he enrolled in the East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions in Karns, TN. He married Rebecca (nee Wesson) while attending school and almost immediately after their wedding, they were contacted by the McDonough GA congregation to see if they were interested in working in Micronesia. They took a survey trip in October of 2003 and then decided to move to Pohnpei.
    Rebecca was born in upstate New York to Jim and Dianne Wesson. She lived in Tennessee from the time she was five until she and Scott moved to Georgia to raise funds for the Pohnpei work. Her father has been a Gospel preacher for over forty years. He currently preaches for the LaFollette TN congregation where he has preached since 2002. Rebecca is a graduate of Freed-Hardeman University receiving the Bachelor of Arts in Child and Family Studies, with honors.
    The Shanahan’s welcomed their daughter, Violet, into the world in 2013. After the birth of Violet they committed to the work in Pohnpei for an additional four years. While thinking about what the future held they heard that Ryan and Kelly O’Rourke were leaving the field in Galway, Ireland and were looking for replacements. Because of Scott’s Irish ancestry (all of his great-grandparents, except one, were born in Ireland) he was very interested in the work there. After much prayer the Shanahans decided that they would leave Pohnpei in 2017 and move to Galway in January of 2018. The Shanahans arrived in Ireland in January of 2018 and were blessed to conduct several Bible studies with: Irish, American, Brazilian, Nigerian and German non-Christians. They saw the worship attendance rise from an average of 8 upon their arrival to consistently over 20. They were blessed to baptize one individual into Christ.
    Just after their arrival, the Irish government released new regulations governing immigration for ministers of religion which disallows churches the size of the church of Christ to have foreign workers. The Shanahans were heartbroken by this news, but fully trusted in God’s providence to help them find a new work where they can share His word with the lost. God provided with a possibility of working in Italy! They began researching the work in Italy to answer two questions: Is there a need for the Shanahans in Italy? And, can they get a visa to live and work there? A trip to Italy answered both questions with a resounding, yes! There are some congregations of the Lord’s church in Italy, but by and large they are very weak and are on life support. In the city of Rome, which has a population of nearly four million people, there is only one congregation. They have a membership of about forty people and, most shocking, there were no children in attendance! How long can a congregation with no children continue to exist? Other cities in Italy have similar situations when it comes to congregations of the Lord’s church. The Shanahans are very excited about the work in Italy and believe that their experience, zeal for the lost, and ability to work with other cultures will enable them to help the desperate situation that exists in the country. The Shanahans have already begun a study of the Italian language and are confident that they will be able to share the Gospel with others in the language very soon. All they are lacking is an overseeing congregation to send them to the field. They are hopeful that Margaret Street will answer the call and help them to get to the field as soon as possible.


ARE YOU CALLING GOD A LIAR?

ARE YOU CALLING GOD A LIAR?
by Troy Spradlin
   In a recording I heard from 2006, a well-known preacher of a Church of Christ in North Texas claimed that the Holy Spirit had spoken directly to him while he was preaching a sermon. Could that be true? Is that even possible? Many denominational preachers make that claim all the time. Are they being honest? I have friends and acquaintances who have told me plainly and with all sincerity that God has spoken to them. Really? I’ve also read in the Bible where God or Jesus has, indeed, spoken directly to people, such as Samuel in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 3:9-11) and Paul in the New Testament (Acts 9:4-6). So, is it possible that God might speak to me one day? Is Jesus going to appear before me? Will the Holy Spirit guide me somehow, by speaking directly to me? How will I know?
   If you have been a Christian for any length of time, no doubt you have heard these claims. Perhaps, you’ve even asked yourself some of these same questions. What is the answer to all this? Let me share another experience with you. During a Bible study one evening, a very nice and chatty lady told me that God had spoken to her. She explained that He had revealed to her the true meaning of the Book of Revelation and other things. My eyebrows raised on my forehead, I smiled and simply said, “Interesting. Would you turn to Hebrews 1 and read verses 1 and 2 for me, please?” She agreed and proceeded to read the verses. But, before she finished the last few words, she suddenly stopped and said very sternly, “Are you calling me a liar!!” I was startled at her response, but then calmly replied, “Ma’am, I’m not calling you anything. But, I’m certainly not going to call God a liar.” Sadly, she ended the study right there and decided to leave. Perhaps, I could have handled the scenario better, but I simply took her to the Bible (her own Bible that she held in her hand) and let it speak for itself. She drew the conclusion for herself. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do when we read the Bible for ourselves?
   Consider carefully the words of the verse, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,” (Hebrews 1:1). The word “spoke” is in the past tense meaning it is a completed action, while “times past” confirms when it was completed. It is not written in the present tense nor the perfect tense which would both indicate that God continues to do this today. Instead, it very plainly conveys that it is something that God used to do. The sentiment is further clarified by the following clause, “but in these last days has spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things,” (1:2). The presence of the conjunction “but” indicates a contrasting scenario. He no longer does that, or we might say, “He used to do it that way, but He has since done it this way.” The past tense used in the second clause, “has spoken,” is also a completed action, signifying God not only has ceased speaking to man by prophets, but is also finished speaking to man through His Son.
   Add to the fact that the Bible also states that our faith “was once for all delivered to the saints,” (Jude 3) which affirms Peter’s statement that we have been given “all things that pertain to life and godliness,” (2 Peter 1:3). Those verses express the finality of Scripture. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 includes the end of miraculous gifts. Therefore, if we have everything we need within the Bible, then there is no longer a reason for God to speak directly to us. We have the Bible, so we need nothing more. No additional prophecy or special revelation is necessary, it is fully complete.
   Considering that Titus 1:2 says God cannot lie, aren’t we calling God a liar if we say He has spoken to us (directly or by Spirit) after it has been stated very plainly in the Bible that He no longer does that?


GOD HAS A PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE?

GOD HAS A PURPOSE FOR YOUR LIFE?
by Troy Spradlin
   Most of us have heard the phrase, “God has a purpose for your life.” Sometimes, we even question or try to discern exactly what God intends for us. Perhaps, a loved one, a friend, or even someone on television has stated that everyone has a purpose in this world, so we need to find it and adhere to it in order to please God. In reality, this quest for discovering our “purpose” stems from the age-old question of man asking himself, “Why am I here on this earth?”
   Have you ever considered if there actually IS a specific reason, or purpose you are here? If so, what is it? Is it true that each individual has a determined purpose that they alone must fulfill? To add to the confusion, a wildly popular book titled, “The Purpose Driven Life” was published in 2002 by Rick Warren. It sold more than 30 million copies within the first few years and has had a major influence on beliefs of not only our denominational friends, but also the mindset of members of the Lord’s church. Unfortunately, it has had a negative influence because it espouses an ideology not completely consistent with the Bible. I’m not going to use this space to go into a deep theological critique of Warren’s book, (see me personally if you need more details) but suffice it to say he quite often incorrectly cites verses from the Bible to justify his erroneous doctrine. In other words, he does not “rightly divide the word of God,” (2 Timothy 2:15). Instead of listening to what some man has to say, why not just consider what God says, directly from His word?
   First of all, there is no verse anywhere in the Bible that says God has a singular plan or purpose for each and every individual on the planet. In fact, what is said is “there is no partiality with God,” (Romans 2:11). This would certainly indicate that God expects the same from every single person and not some unique objective for every human being. That is why the apostle Paul said, “God commands all men everywhere to repent,” (Acts 17:30) and went on to write that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” (1 Timothy 2:4). So, instead of an exclusive purpose for each individual, there is a specific expectation for the entire human race.
   Second, the wisest man that ever lived stated this, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all,” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 – NKJV). The last part of that verse has been translated in other versions as, “for this is the duty of all mankind,” (NIV); “this is the whole duty of man,” (ASV, ESV, KJV); “because this is all that we were created for,” (GNB); and “This is what life is all about,” (CEV). Is that not perfectly clear enough for us to understand? We were created for one very specific purpose and nothing more – to bring glory to God. His intention for you, the reason why you are here, and your purpose on this earth, is to simply, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself,” (Mark 12:30-31).