|Volume 19 Number 1 January 2017||
In the last year, we have watched a number of riots take place and are now hearing people say that our country is falling into chaos. They say we have lost control, and our country is too far gone to mend or to save it. Some believe that ethnic backgrounds and poverty are to blame for the majority of the problems concerning violent behavior towards law enforcement. I believe they are incorrect on both counts. While poverty may be an issue of frustration, and ethnic background may be used to fracture communities, the breakdown of the home and the lack of respect for authority is the true story behind the violence. I have never been shot by law enforcement. Then again, if a police officer gives me an order, I do as he says. I was raised to respect my parents (Ephesians 6:1). From there I learned to respect teachers, officers of the law and ultimately God.
The problem of rebellion in the church today is very real. While not manifested by throwing rocks and burning down buildings, its destruction is far worse in that congregations split and souls are lost. When one speaks about authority of the Word of God or of elders, many do not understand what that means. I have been asked, “What do you mean by authority?” This is why congregations are falling into sinful practices. There is no longer a desire to find authority for what we do, but rather, we have replaced authority with a rebellious “I want to do this or that.” This anarchist spirit regarding God’s authority will be the ruin of many souls. Consider God’s view of authority and obedience.
Saul was punished for his disregard for authority when he chose to obey only part of God’s commands concerning the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15). His disobedience led to this statement by Samuel, “Has 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 heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the Word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king” (22-23).
We need to get back to teaching authority in the pulpit, in the classrooms and in the home (Ephesians 6:1-4)! Hebrews 13:17 reads, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls as those who must give account…” The only exception to the rule concerning obeying the authority of any person (be it parents, teachers, elders, police officers) is if they command you to do something that is against the Word of God (Acts 5:28-29). Teaching on authority and respect for those in a position of authority is how we can take back our homes, congregations and impact this country.
Who Believes in God?
T. Pierce Brown (deceased)
There is a very interesting statement made in 1 Peter 1:21 about which I never remember hearing anyone comment. It says, “Who through Him are believers in God, that raised Him from the dead, and gave Him glory; so that your faith and hope might be in God.” Have you ever considered the implications of that statement? It is only through Jesus that you can have the proper understanding of God and thus have the proper faith in Him. If you do not believe in the God that Jesus revealed, you do not believe in God in the Bible sense.
It is amazing to discover the number of persons who claim to believe in God, but they have very little concept of the God that Jesus revealed. There are those who believe in a god who overlooks sin. He would not allow anyone to be lost eternally. Many believe in a god who either has not given a revelation of his will, or he made it too difficult to understand. Others think he does not really mean what he says. For example, when he says, “Baptism doth also now save you” (1 Peter 3:21), he really means that baptism has nothing to do with salvation.
The God Jesus revealed is a God of grace. He graciously provided the way to be saved for every sinner who is willing to forsake his sin. The God that Jesus revealed is One who loves mankind enough and hates sin enough that He allowed Jesus to die to solve that problem. The God that Jesus revealed is a God so just that He cannot lie, and thus, He must allow the unrepentant, disobedient sinner to choose his own destiny and be separated from Him forever.
Of course, it would take many books to begin to do justice to the nature of God, but the purpose of this article is simply to emphasize that probably no one has ever had a proper concept or belief in God except as revealed in Christ. My judgment is that this includes even Moses, Job and Abraham. What the Holy Spirit revealed to them about God was true, but it was not as complete as that which “in these last days was spoken to us in His Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). As Jesus put it in John 1:18, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” If your belief in God is such that you are willing to take Christ as your full authority in all things, repent of every sin, be immersed in water for the remission of your sins and then so live that the life of Christ may be manifest in your mortal flesh, you have the kind of belief in God that will save you.