Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

God is Our Protector!

Protection

King David was not a perfect man. Some time after taking the throne of Israel as God’s king, he sinned grievously against Him. Sins of adultery and murder are not trivial, and yet it is acknowledged that David was a man after God’s “own heart, who will do all My will” (cf. Acts 13:22). The second book of Samuel notes of David’s reign, “So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered judgment and justice to all his people” (8:15).

Despite the documented failings of David, he can rightly be described as a righteous man. As such, he enjoyed God’s favor and protection, even as he was compassed about by his enemies. We are familiar with examples of the providential care shown Him by Jehovah.

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The Patternists: Children, Obey!

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In Ephesians 6:1-3, Paul gives instructions to children:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’”

Consider the following truths about this text:

  • Children are commanded to obey their parents
  • Such obedience is “right” (as it should be)
  • Such obedience shows “honor” (a respect for their authority)
  • The commandment is accompanied with a promise of God’s blessings

Now, consider how this call for obedience parallels our responsibility to God. (After all, we are His children, cf. Romans 8:16-17):

  • As God’s children, we too are commanded to obey Him. (His will is revealed in the holy scriptures). There are dire consequences for those who do not obey! (cf. 1 Peter 4:17).
  • Such obedience to God is as it should be, considering that He is God! (cf. Psalm 50:6).
  • Such obedience shows honor to God. Conversely, disobedience shows great disrespect, bringing God’s judgment! (cf. Leviticus 10:1-3).
  • The command to obey God is accompanied with the promise of everlasting life! (cf. Hebrews 5:9).

Any argument or doctrine that denies the necessity of obedience to obtain standing with God is illogical and unscriptural. Children, obey your God!

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“After you have suffered a while”

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“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”

1 Peter 5:10

Peter’s letter acknowledged the existence of persecution at that time. He noted that his readers had been “grieved by various trials” (1:6). He told them, “do not think it strange concerning the fiery trail which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (4:12). His words in (5:10) summarize the truth regarding persecution. It is inevitable that we will suffer for our faith, (“all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution,” 2 Timothy 3:12); but, that persecution is momentary. In the end, we will be called to “eternal glory”!

So, as we accept the inevitable, but temporary nature of our suffering on earth, how should we handle these efforts to destroy us and our faith? Consider Peter’s admonitions…

“Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:13).

“…But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God” (2:20).

Considering how our response should mirror that of our Lord, Peter wrote, “when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten” (2:23).

Truly, it is “better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (3:15). If we suffer for the cause of Christ, it is reason to rejoice, for we “are blessed” (3:14).

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They Would Deliver Only Themselves

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In Ezekiel 14, the prophet received a word from God concerning the idolatry and other abominations of the land. Men were guilty of setting up “idols in their hearts”, and practicing abominations and lawlessness. In short, their actions mirror that of our own nation and land.

One interesting part of this text is Jehovah’s statement in verses 13-14, “’Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,’ says the Lord God.”

God is longsuffering in His dealings with men. He does not immediately bring to an end an ungodly nation. Time is given for repentance, but again and again nations have squandered such considerations by the Lord, and persisted in ungodliness. Finally, there is a time when God determines to punish nations for their ungodliness. Even the presence of the righteous in such times will not guarantee deliverance.

The righteous, however, can be delivered from judgment. That does not mean the righteous will not suffer. It does mean that they will be recognized and accepted by God, (like Noah, Daniel & Job), despite being surrounded by evil. Take the example of the church in Sardis, condemned by God as “dead.” “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy” (Revelation 3:4). The ungodly will not be saved from God’s judgment because there are a few righteous who remain. However, if we are faithful to God, we can avoid the condemnation of the world.

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The Power of God to Salvation

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Paul wrote in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

His words are an interesting contrast to those of Jesus in John 5:39-40, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”

There is no contradiction here. The gospel is powerful in that it is the means by which a sinner comes to Christ. We are saved by grace through faith (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9). There is no magic in the incantation of words. The Bible is not to be confused with the magician’s abracadabra.

Paul wrote, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). The purpose of messianic prophecy, and the four gospels of the New Testament is to bring us to a knowledge of, and acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We must be noble as the Bereans (cf. Acts 17:11), and accept the truths that are contained in scripture. As Jesus notes, the scripture testifies of Him, and we must be willing to come to Him that we “may have life.”

Belief in Jesus requires belief in his virgin birth, sinless life, sacrificial death, resurrection from the dead, and His ascension to God’s right hand. Will you come to Him?

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Social Media Guidelines

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Social Media in our day and time is ubiquitous. In December of last year, Facebook boasted an average of over 1.23 Billion daily users. That is about 4 times the entire population of the United States, every day! Other popular Social Media sites include Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
With such ubiquity comes the danger of abuse and sin. Christians need to be aware of the potential pitfalls of using these sites, lest we “fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:7).

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Graceful Speech

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“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6).

Paul’s instruction here is coupled with the previous exhortation, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside” (vs. 5). So, the graceful speech under consideration here has special application to interaction with those who are not Christians. Consider the instructions…

  • “Let your speech always be with grace.” The word “grace” here is defined by Thayer, “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm.” The Christian is to be inoffensive in his manner of speech. That does not mean that the gospel of Christ will not offend. What it does mean is that such offense, if it comes, is the fault of the hearer, not the speaker. Our purpose is not to win arguments or to tell people off – it is to plant and water that God may give “the increase” (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:6).
  • “Seasoned with salt.” Albert Barnes makes a good point about this. He notes that although we don’t always talk about religion and our faith, piety should always be “sprinkled” in our conversations. In other words, our faith should always be the spice of our communication with others. They hear what we say, and see Christ in us.
  • “That you may know how to answer each one.” Three things to note here. 1) We can’t “know” unless we have studied. 2) We can pray for wisdom (cf. James 1:5) with the confidence that God will supply us with what we lack. 3) Practice leads to proficiency. In order to get good at our spiritual communication with the lost, we have to share the saving gospel with them.

So, let’s get to it!

The Patternists: The Limit of the Elder’s Authority

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God, in His Wisdom, designed the local church to be led by godly and qualified men (cf. 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).

These qualified men, appointed and serving, are limited in their authority in several ways. First, they have no right to legislate to the flock. It is Christ Himself who has established His will for His people (cf. Hebrews 1:1-2). Elders are to feed the flock (1 Timothy 3:2), convict the gainsayer (Titus 1:9-11), and watch out for the souls of their charges (Hebrews 13:17). But, they can not make laws.

Second, these men are limited in their domain. They are to “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you” (1 Peter 5:2; see also Acts 20:28). Their oversight is limited to the local congregation of which they are a part. This means they have no sway on any other congregation, which precludes any centralized oversight in the body of Christ. It also precludes their exercising authority over any man-made institution like a home for orphans, a hospital or a college.

Finally, they are limited in the nature of their superintendence. They are to serve, “not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to [them], but being examples to the flock.” Dictatorial tendencies among elders are destructive, and sinful in the sight of God. Faithful elders do not dictate. They instruct, beseech, show, exhort and express their love and concern for those under their oversight.

May God bless the men who serve well in this office. May God spare His people from men who would abuse the position.

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FB: The Promised Mercies of God

West Side on FB

“I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 89:1).

The poet’s proclamation was made within the specific context of the promises made by God to King David. “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn to My servant David: Your seed I will establish forever, and build up your throne to all generations” (verse 3).

God is certainly faithful concerning His promises to man. He always has, and always will do as He says. The “Son of David”, Jesus the Christ, reigns in Heaven today.

Consider this truth, and remember the promise of mercy that God has given to us. As Paul wrote:

“Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8)..

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Sermon: The Benefits of a Life Lived for Christ

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A life lived for Jesus Christ brings blessings, both while we live upon the earth He created, and most importantly, in eternity!

Part 1 (AM) Audio – 1
Part 2 (PM) Audio – 2

Powerpoint Slides

The Patternists: Christ Does ALL the Work?

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A woman, in commenting on an article I had written, stated her belief that we are saved by grace (which is a given), then stated regarding her eternal salvation that yes, we need to follow Jesus, but that He does all the work. And, regarding her life, maybe Jesus hasn’t gone through all the steps as of yet.

This idea is a bit different from what is commonly stated by those who teach salvation by faith alone. They claim we do nothing, rather that we trust in the finished work of Christ.

To be clear, Jesus secured our hope for redemption when he shed His blood for our sins (cf. Matthew 26:28). After His resurrection, He ascended to the right hand of the Father. His work in redeeming men is finished. The gift of grace has been extended. But, if nothing else is clear in scripture, this is – God expects us to do our part!

Consider Hebrews 5:9, “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” If we want to be with Christ in eternity, there is work we too must do!

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FB: Wicked Fools!

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“An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes, when he finds out his iniquity and when he hates. The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit; he has ceased to be wise and to do good. He devises wickedness on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not abhor evil.” (Psalm 36:1-4)

The Psalmist refers to the sins of the wicked, that they speak to him. It may be that the transgressions harmed him personally. He expresses an intimate knowledge of the evil done.

How can a man do wickedness, and flatter himself? How can he think highly of himself when he hates others? When he deceives? When he rebels against his Creator?

While it seems incredible, the debased mind is commonly found in every nation and in every age. Paul knew why, because men “did not like to retain God in their knowledge” (Romans 1:28). It is foolish, but does explain the current state of our society. In contrast, the righteous fear the Lord! (cf. Proverbs 3:7).

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Depending Upon the Word of God

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There are consequences to men who do not understand their place in relation to God. Too often men seek their own counsel, and pay no respect to the One who made them. “Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the Lord, and their works are in the dark; they say, ‘Who sees us?’ and, ‘Who knows us?’ Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; for shall the thing made say of him who made it, ‘He did not make me’? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding’?” (Isaiah, 29:15-16).

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The Rule of Law

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The phrase, “rule of law” is bandied about in political discussions in our time. It is an interesting phrase, and an understanding of it has some interesting spiritual implications:

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Sermon: Faith & Friendship

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Principles such as love, trustworthiness, empathy and honesty are discussed as we seek as Christians to deepen our friendships with one another.

Audio

Powerpoint Slides