|Volume 22 Number 6 June 2020||
Ernest S. Underwood
A lady a few years ago actually stated to me at the funeral of her father: “If my daddy is in hell, then I want to go there because I love my daddy and want to be with him.” Consider four thoughts about her statement: (1) I didn’t conduct the funeral. (2) She was a member of the church where I preached. (3) She knew that the Scriptures teach that “…those who know not God, and that obey not the gospel shall suffer punishment even eternal destruction from the face of God, and the glory of His might” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). (4) Her father was not a Christian, though he knew what the Scriptures taught about the need for and the way to become a child of God. This brings forth the question: “Does or will ancestral religion save the believer of it? In short, will such a religion put one into an acceptable relationship to Almighty God?” Notice the following.
A few years ago, Mr. Tiger Woods had some sort of problem in his marriage that caused quite a stir among those who followed him in his golf career. In an attempt to explain some things to those who were evidently encouraging him to “Read the Bible and ask God to forgive him and become a Christian,” he stated in a speech before the television cameras something to the effect that he was a worshiper of Buddha and that he was not a Christian. This leads to a couple of questions. “Can one be right in the eyes of the God of the Bible, the Creator of all things, if he is a Buddhist?” “Can one follow his ancestors who were members of the Hindu religion and still expect the God of whom they are not even acquainted to save them?” Neither of these religions believe in the God of Christianity.
Let’s get closer to home in a personal way. One of my grandmothers lived and died believing in the false doctrine of the Presbyterian Church. As far as I know, she never once in her life heard a true Gospel sermon. The church of which she was a member taught and still teaches many things that are contrary to the Word of God. Concerning such doctrines Jesus said, “In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). Thus, as far as the Scriptures teach, the Lord could not have added her, my dear grandmother, to a religious institution which He did not establish, nor for which He did not shed His blood to purchase. That religious system did not come into existence for more than fifteen hundred years after Jesus had died and shed His blood to purchase His church—His eternal kingdom. Do I pronounce my judgment on my grandmother? Absolutely not! I neither have nor want that authority—authority that belongs only to God.
Some may remember that old hillbilly song in which some of the lyrics was, “Give me that old time religion.” The lyrics would then rattle on about “It was good enough for my momma; it was good enough for my papa; and it is good enough for me.” It had a rather “jumpy” little tune that would make one tap a toe along the way, but there wasn’t a word of truth in its sentiment. The religion of which it spoke was that devised and practiced by man—not by God.
What shall we say about Abraham? If one is no more than a casual reader of the Old Testament, he or she is probably well acquainted with the call of this grand old patriarch. In Genesis 12:1, we are told, “Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get thee out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.’” Then, in Joshua 24:15, Joshua called on the people to choose between God and the gods that their fathers worshiped on the “other side of the River.” Abram’s (Abraham’s) fathers worshiped idols. Would God have been pleased with Abraham if he had stated to God, “My kinfolks worshiped idols, and that is good enough for me”? We all know the correct answer to this.
Some folks’ kinfolks taught and still practice the religion that states that one “is saved by faith alone.” Others teach their kinfolks to “just say the sinner’s prayer to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior.” It would take volumes upon volumes to list all of the false doctrines that have been followed by one’s ancestors. I have one complete shelf in my bookcase filled with the creed books of these false organizations. Yet, in somewhat less than 500 words, God tells one in His Book—the Bible—what He requires one to do to be saved from his sins.
God told those in Micah’s day, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). In the New Testament, ratified by the blood of Jesus Christ, we are told, “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18).
Jesus commissioned His apostles to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). If your ancestors or mine, whether close or distant, did not do what Jesus commanded one to do to be saved, then we must follow Him instead of them.
How to Show Our Children
that We Respect Them
T. Pierce Brown
Having just returned from a meeting in Florida, and preparing to leave for one in Alabama, I found a request from Brother Warren to have this article on his desk in about 20 days. So, I suggested to my wife, Tomijo, that she write it, and I would review it and take credit! I thought that would be appropriate, since most of the credit I have received over the years is due to her anyway! She declined but did suggest most of the points herein discussed. My invitation to her was actually an illustration of our first point.
In Matthew 25:14-30, we find a principle that illustrates how to show our children (or wives) that we respect them. That is, ask for the accomplishment of a difficult or challenging task, commensurate with their ability or talent. Have and express to them a “you-can-do-it” attitude. When we expect the best from them, we not only show them respect, we teach them God’s will regarding work and help them to have a good self-image.
Second, give special privileges on special occasions, when special efforts are made or as goals are achieved. One needs to be careful not to do this in such a way that it seems to be a bribe to do good or to be good. Yet, it is important to show proper respect and appreciation in this way.
Third, in Matthew 25:23, the lord in the parable says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” We need to praise work well done or even an honest effort to do it well. We find Paul using this principle in almost every epistle. We need to teach the child that he is not a failure, although he will fail at something.
Fourth, ask for their input, impression or advice in decisions that affect them. Since they may have some fresh and useful ideas, do so with genuine interest. How much weight you give that opinion may depend on how mature or sound it is, but you should listen with care. If you cannot use the advice, try to explain why, for if one asks for advice, and then does not pay any attention to it, more harm than good may result.
Fifth, never ridicule any serious question, no matter how immature it may sound. This is not to be confused with Paul’s admonition in Titus 3:9, “Avoid foolish questions.” A question is not foolish if it is important to the child to find the proper answer. In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul said, “Let no man despise thy youth.” If you ridicule or show lack of respect in this regard, you may leave serious doubts or moral problems hidden until too late to deal properly with them.
Sixth, a very broad principle is found in Ephesians 6:4, which reads, “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.” This includes “talking down” to them, implying that they are second-class persons. We have heard parents talk about their children in their presence as if they were not there or as if they were pieces of furniture. Simply having courtesy, practicing the “golden rule,” would prevent a parent from provoking his children to wrath by telling an embarrassing fact about them.
Seventh, 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:15; Deuteronomy 6:7; Proverbs 22:6, and many other such passages indicate the value of having them participate regularly in family devotionals—reading, praying, studying and making comments about Bible principles. As in most other suggestions given, this has a greater effect than simply showing respect for them. It develops spiritual insight, encourages growth, teaches self-respect and increases godliness.
Eighth, Solomon suggested a principle in Proverbs 13:24; 23:13 and other places we need to include. We need to discipline properly, including punishment under some circumstances. There are many testimonies of children that show that they appreciate their parents and teachers respecting them enough to discipline them.
Although personal examples may not always be fitting, we think this one is, for the principle is found in God giving His Son as a vicarious sacrifice, taking punishment for our sins. We had told our oldest son, when he was about 5 years old, not to ride his tricycle down the hill. He disobeyed and was corrected. The third time, I took my belt and said, “Frank, I love you very much. Someone has to suffer when a person does wrong. I do not want to spank you again, so you must spank me.” He cried out, “No, daddy, please!” I replied, “Yes, you have to learn that wrong demands punishment.” He hit once and began to cry. I said, “Twice more.” He hit me the second time, then threw the belt across the room and screamed, “Oh, please, daddy, I will never do it again!” I took him in my arms, cried with him, but did not have to correct him again for a long time. The point is that discipline must be done, but in such a way that they know it is not in mere anger, resentment or frustration but love and respect for them and their character that causes it.
Ninth, James 5:16 also applies with parents and children. “Confess your faults one to another.” When you are wrong, even when you discipline your child improperly, admit it, ask for forgiveness and pray with and about the child regarding that mistake or wrong.
Tenth, you cannot show your children you have respect for them unless you have shown them you have respect for yourself. Show them that you know that both you and they were made in the image of God (1 Corinthians 15:49), and thus have respect for both your body and mind, for your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).