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

“In Him All Things Consist”

universe

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:15-17).

Paul here discusses the preeminence of Jesus Christ. As a part of this praise he states, “in Him all things consist.” This statement is a part of Paul’s contention that Jesus Christ is the means through which the universe was created, and the reason why the universe was created. In other words — big picture — it is all about Him.

The phrase, “He is before all things” indicates His eternal nature. The phrase “in Him all things consist” indicates the means by which the universe continues to exist! This is an indication of His unlimited power. As the Hebrew writer put it, “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). Without Jesus Christ, this universe would cease to be!

The world sees Jesus as a man. All of the representations of Jesus, seen in movies and books, make Him out to be smaller than He is. As Paul put it, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15). And, that is why we worship and adore Him!

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Righteous Compassion

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I ask that you consider an interesting and important characteristic of God’s word. Time and again there is the call for fairness and honesty — an appeal for what most recognize as being simply right!

The book of Proverbs supplies a good example of this:

“He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord” (17:15).

God is appalled at both the mistreatment of the just, and the coddling of evil doers. It is amazing how often men are concerned about one of the two, but not the other. This can be illustrated by the political discourse of our time. Advocates of one party champion a toleration of that which God calls abominable, but is rightly critical of a lack of compassion that might be shown to the innocent by their opponents. The other party will rightly call for a respect for the rule of law, but in many instances will show little concern for the plight of those who need protection in our country.

Why can’t it be that we practice both righteousness and compassion? Abiding by law and being compassionate are not antithetical concepts. Jesus drove out the money changers, yet spoke with tenderness to the adulterous woman, even as He said, “go and sin no more” (John 8:11).

The phrase, “Love the sinner, but hate the sin” is defensible, and doable. God demands nothing less!

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“Things which angels desire to look into”

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In 1 Peter, the apostle begins his epistle by discussing the salvation which comes from Jesus Christ. He noted that this salvation was preached from old by the prophets, though they did not have a full understanding of that which they foretold. He wrote:

“To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things which angels desire to look into” (1:12).

How blessed we are to live in the fullness of times! Jesus has come, and His shed blood affords us the means to obtain the forgiveness of sins. His resurrection from the dead gives us a “living hope” (1:3).

The prophets dearly wanted to know what today has been revealed to us! How sad it is that so many men, in contrast, have no interest in the most sublime and important revelation to all mankind.

What about you? Are you interested in “things which angels desire to look into”?

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Now I See!

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Luke 18 records a conversation between a blind man and Jesus. Think about the miserable existence of such a man in the first century, begging beside the road as an uncaring populace walks by. When some told him that Jesus was in the multitude passing by, he cried out for mercy.

Some admonished him, but he cried out the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (39). The compassionate Savior asked of the man, “What do you want Me to do for you?” (41). When the blind man asked for his sight, Jesus said, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well” (42). Upon receiving his sight, Luke records that the man began to follow Jesus, “glorifying God” (43).

Can you imagine his joy? He was blind, but now could see! No wonder he glorified God.

What about me? Haven’t I received a much greater gift from our Lord? True, the blind man received his sight, but I have received the forgiveness of my sins! The blind man was aware every day of the gift given him by the Son of God. While I may not have such an overt reminder, as I look through the eyes of faith, the favor He has shown to me is clearly seen!

Let me, then, give praise to God! Because of His amazing grace, “I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.” (John Newton)

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Singing with Grace in your Hearts

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“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).

The word grace, found in this text, comes from the greek word (charis), defined by Thayer, “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech.”

We know that singing has the potential to lighten our hearts. It is one way that we express our joy and thankfulness to God. However, it should be noted that this verse is in the form of an admonition or instruction. We are commanded to sing with grace in our hearts. This requires a number of things:

  • A proper type of song. Not all songs bring “grace” to mind. The intent of the song is to sing with grace, and the style or melody can impact the success of that intent.
  • A proper sentiment in the song. Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs teach God’s will. They should be scriptural in their sentiment to bring edification. We can’t sing with grace in our hearts if the words we sing do not accord with God’s will.
  • A proper heart when singing. As Paul wrote in Ephesians 5, “making melody in your heart to the Lord” (19). We must not be going through the motions when we sing. It is only when we worship God “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24) that our worship is acceptable to God.

By singing with the intent to bring something pure and lovely to our brethren, we admonish and teach each other, and are mutually edified by our efforts. It brings such joy to sing to God!

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FB: The Promised Mercies of God

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“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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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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FB: Blessed is the nation who God is the Lord

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“The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance” (Psalm 33:11-12).

In the verses previous to our text, the Psalmist notes, “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing…” (10). Men (and nations) have long sought to establish their will without regarding the will of the God of heaven. Such efforts are foolish. Regarding the nations, Paul said that God, “has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.” He does so, “that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).

The Psalmist notes that if God has chosen a people, they are blessed. That was certainly the case with Israel, who obtained and gloried in God’s protection, so long as they were obedient to His will.

In these last days, Christians are the people of God. As such we are blessed and protected by our God. This is important to know and to meditate upon, as we face opposition from the world around us. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32).

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FB: “Her Arrogant Strength”

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Even in the face of Jerusalem’s ruin, some in Judea persisted in their belief they would be delivered from the Chaldeans. They said, “Abraham was only one, and he inherited the land. But we are many; the land has been given to us as a possession” (Ezekiel 33:24).

They were wrong. Why? Because their confident assertion was given despite a lack of repentance on their part. God’s judgment was visited upon Judea wholly as a result of her sin. The prophet reminded them of this. “Thus says the Lord God: ‘You eat meat with blood, you lift up your eyes toward your idols, and shed blood. Should you then posses the land?” (vs. 25). He further noted their reliance upon the sword, their abominations and infidelities.

Finally, God proclaimed, “For I will make the land most desolate, her arrogant strength shall cease, and the mountains of Israel shall be so desolate that no one will pass through” (vs. 28).

Today, many show the same “arrogant strength” in their unwillingness to place their trust in the Almighty God. God rules in the affairs of men. He determines the rise and fall of nations (cf. Acts 17:26). Any people who persist in “arrogant strength,” opposing the will of God, will not stand. We pray our nation will learn this truth sooner rather than later.

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FB: Paul’s Fear

Saint Paul, Rembrandt van Rijn (and Workshop ), c

“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).

Paul noted instances of corruption during his ministry. They included:

  • Judaizing teachers who sought to impose circumcision upon the Gentiles (cf. Acts 15:1).
  • A sectarian spirit at work among fellow Christians (1 Corinthians 11).
  • A corruption of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20-21).
  • A denial of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12).
  • A contention that the resurrection was already past (2 Timothy 2:16-18).

Consider first Paul’s fear. Consider second that his fear was not unfounded. Do not be deceived by any who would seek to minimize or explain away any departure from truth in our time.

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FB: Dry Bones Come to Life!

Dry bones

In Ezekiel 37, the prophet passed by a valley full of dead men’s bones, “and indeed they were very dry.” The Lord directed Ezekiel to that valley to demonstrate two very important points.

First, He instructed Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones, “Thus says the Lord God to these bones: ‘Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live'” (5). His stated purpose for bringing the bones of these dead men back to life? “Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”

Second, He taught Ezekiel that this miracle was a metaphor for His intercession for Israel. “Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.” As Israel was “dead” in captivity to Babylon, Jehovah stated, “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel” (vs. 11-12).

Consider:

  • God brought a remnant back from captivity (Ezra 1:1-3).
  • God brought Israel to spiritual life through Jesus (Acts 2:36).
  • God has promised life after death to spiritual Israel (1 Corinthians 15:51-57).

How true the sentiment, “Then you shall know that I am the Lord.” “Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the Lord Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other” (Deuteronomy 4:39)..

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FB: Actions and Consequences

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In Jude’s epistle, he wrote of God’s interaction with Israel. “But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (5). He also noted the rebellion of some angels, “the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (6).

A “cause and effect” relationship is evident in these words. God’s pleasure and acceptance (the effect) are predicated upon the obedience of His created beings (the cause). Conversely, the rejection of His subjects (the effect) comes about because of their rebellion (the cause).

Put simply, our actions have consequences. Good actions (as defined by Him) result in good consequences. Disobedience brings ruin.

“But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die” (Ezekiel 18:21).

“But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die” (Ezekiel 18:24).

Something to think about…

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FB: The Worst Decision Ever!

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In Mark 10, Jesus spoke with a young man who had many possessions. The man was obedient to the law, but his material goods held too much sway in his heart. Jesus promised the young man treasure in heaven in exchange for his giving up all he owned. It seems hard to believe, but the man chose to keep what he had rather than take what Jesus offered. Mark reveals that he “went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (22).

There are a few things peculiar things here. First, the man was dedicated to serving the Lord, but he wasn’t willing to serve Him with all his heart, soul and mind. Second, his specific question was, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” When he was told what it would take, his interest waned, despite the value of the prize.

The question is, “Why?”

Perhaps he didn’t understand that the soul was of more value than his possessions (cf. Matthew 16:26). Perhaps he didn’t have the spiritual maturity to keep his eye on the prize (cf. 2 Peter 1:9). Regardless, his choice was unwise and shortsighted.

Actually, his choice is the same choice that the majority make today. While all theoretically like the idea of inheriting eternal life, when it comes down to a choice between now and eternity, now too often wins out!

May we all heed the words of Peter, “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11).

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Have You Ever Asked, “What Does God Think?”

What does God Think

The United Church of Canada has been in the news of late, as the institution is trying to figure out what to do with one of its pastors. Gretta Vosper was ordained by that church in 1993. She has been, for a number of years, an avowed atheist! She has declared that it is time for the Christian church to give up on “the idolatry of a theistic god.” While some in the denomination wish for her to remain a pastor, others are not so sure. I wonder if anyone ever thought to consult the Bible to find out what God thinks?

“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none who does good” (Psalm 14:1).

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FB: A Broken Spirit

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“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (Psalm 51:1-2).

This text from David’s psalm shows his truly penitent spirit following his adultery with Bathsheba. Though it took a direct admonition from Nathan to bring him to his senses, there is no doubt that David felt remorse for his sin.

He said, “I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me” (3). This confession, accompanied with his godly sorrow provoked God’s tender mercies.

The Christian too, if he is truly sorrowful for the sins he commits, can receive forgiveness from God. He must acknowledge his sins, repent, and pray God’s forgiveness.

May each of us remember, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
a broken and a contrite heart — These, O God, You will not despise”
(17).

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