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

“After you have suffered a while”

Image

“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).

Stan signature

The Power of God to Salvation

Image

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?

Stan signature

“He who receives you receives Me”

Image

In Matthew 10, Jesus sent His disciples to preach to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. In verse 40, He said to them, “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent me.”

This is an interesting truth as it relates to hospitality. By being hospitable to those who belong to Christ, it is as if we are receiving the Lord Himself (and by extension, His Father). Our Lord will appreciate and deal kindly with those who care for His own.

Going further, Jesus then said, “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward” (vs. 41). In order to understand this sentence, the phrase “in the name of” must be explained. Albert Barnes wrote,

“To receive in the “name” of a prophet is to receive “as” a prophet; to do proper honour to his character, and to evince attachment to the cause in which he was engaged.”

So, both with a righteous man, and with a prophet (or preacher), when you receive them because they are righteous or because they preach the truth, you please God just as they do!

Hospitality is important. Hospitality expressed because of our common faith and love for our brethren is a selfless act that pleases God, and elicits His favor!

Stan signature

Overcoming Obstacles

Image

When an obstacle impedes progress, one of two possibilities emerge. The obstacle either prevents success, or the obstacle is defeated, with success realized despite its challenge.

Many serious spiritual obstacles can be defeated through determination and persistent effort. Josiah, the young king of Judah serves as a wonderful example in this. His challenge was to overcome the evil influences of his father and grandfather. Those men were evil idolaters, who led Judah in rebellion against God. Josiah ascended to the throne at the age of 8 years. Scripture reveals that he “did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2). He removed the idols his predecessors had put into the Temple, and restored true worship to the Lord. And, as ruler of Judah, he “made all who were present in Israel diligently serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not depart from following the Lord God of their fathers” (2 Chronicles 34:33).

Josiah was a unique king. “Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him” (2 Kings 23:25). However, we too can overcome any spiritual obstacle that may beset us, if we “turn to the Lord” with all our heart, soul and might.

Stan signature

God Reigns in the Kingdom of Men

nations

In Jeremiah 51, Jehovah proclaimed the ultimate destruction of the kingdom of Babylon. Though it was yet to happen, that judgment of God was sure. “‘Therefore behold, the days are coming,’ says the Lord, ‘That I will bring judgment on her carved images,
And throughout all her land the wounded shall groan. Though Babylon were to mount up to heaven, and though she were to fortify the height of her strength, yet from Me plunderers would come to her,’ says the Lord”
(vs 52-53).

It does not matter how powerful the nation may be, how large the army, how explosive the arsenal, God’s will is done. In every age and in every place, when men trust in their own might to stand against the righteous God of heaven, they are doomed to destruction. Paul said, “And He [God] has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings” (Acts 17:26).

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). God judged Babylon because she was an idolatrous and evil kingdom. “Thus Babylon shall sink and not rise from the catastrophe that I will bring upon her. And they shall be weary” (Jeremiah 51:64). This is an important lesson that our own nation needs to hear and learn to avoid the same fate.

Stan signature

From the Preacher’s Pen: Dishonest Scales

Image

“Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight” (Proverbs 11:1).

Dishonesty and theft are unacceptable to Jehovah. In the same context, the wise man wrote, “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them” (11:3). It is telling that honesty in a person is indicative of personal integrity, and that dishonesty indicates perversity and unfaithfulness.

The characteristics of honesty and integrity would go a long way to fixing the moral problems of our day. While all will claim that personal integrity is very important, our culture is rife with liars, thieves and politicians (sorry, couldn’t resist).

God demands honesty from His children. Jesus said, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man’s, who will give you what is your own?” (Luke 16:10-12).

Stan signature

Become a Fool

Image

“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:18-19).

Human “wisdom” that denies God or His word is described by Paul here as only illusory, (“seems to be wise”). Interestingly, he also refers to being wise “in this age.” It seems that every generation believes itself to be wiser than the one before. There is an arrogance of time that leads the current generation to disregard the accomplishments and knowledge of the previous one.

An example. Many of the most accomplished Presidents of our nation believed in God, and in the Bible’s inspiration. However, to many today, such a belief in and of itself makes a man unqualified to serve in the office. Such arrogance is disturbing.

The problem is that knowledge is equated with wisdom. Because men gain more and more understanding of technology, science and medicine, they think themselves to be more capable than their predecessors in other realms as well. However, there is nothing in those disciplines that either disproves or invalidates the words of the great apostle Paul, “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things” (Acts 17:24-25).

To gain actual wisdom rather than the illusory wisdom that has its origin with men, we must turn to God and His will. We are fooling ourselves if we don’t. As our text states, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”

Stan signature

Sojourners & Pilgrims

Image

“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12).

  • Sojourners (a foreigner or stranger), and pilgrims (a resident foreigner) describe the Christian’s presence on earth. Your citizenship is elsewhere, though you labor on this earth for a short while before going to the eternal kingdom to which you rightly belong.
  • This world is characterized by ungodliness. This ungodliness is destructive to the eternal soul, and should be avoided. As a Christian, you are in the world, but you are not to be of the world.
  • By living righteously, you serve as a wonderful influence to those who are not Christians. While enemies of the cross will speak evil of you and your faith, a righteous life will win many converts to God’s way. Jesus said you are to be “the light of the world.” “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14,16).

Like Timothy, you are to take heed to God’s will for you. As you live righteously before Him, you will be able to “save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).

Stan signature

You Are All One!

Image“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).

This passage is among the most abused in the entire Bible. It does not give authority for women preachers or elders, nor does it give any comfort to those who claim homosexuality is given God’s tacit approval by the words. Such views do great violence not only to the immediate context, but also the greater context of the Bible as a whole.

What the passage does is validate the worth of every soul. The Jew can not justly claim the Gentile is denied “repentance unto life” (cf. Acts 11:18). Men can’t deny that the souls of women are as precious and valuable to the Lord as their own. Slaves can’t be considered mere chattel, less than human. All men and women, no matter their social standing, culture or race are precious in the sight of God. They are given the opportunity by the Almighty to appeal to His mercy and grace for their redemption.

God is no respecter of persons. The apostle Paul affirms that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). As such, He sent His Son, “who gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6). There are no second class citizens in the kingdom of God. Every creature can come to Him, and “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16).

Stan signature

A Prophet Without Honor

ImageMatthew 14:53-58 records Jesus’ rejection by the citizens of Nazareth. This led Him to say, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house” (57). They thought they knew Jesus. They had watched Him grow up, knew Him to be “the carpenter’s son”, and could not reconcile the miracles and teaching of Jesus with their own flawed perception of the man.

Interestingly, they acknowledged Jesus had “wisdom” and had performed “mighty works.” But, they were unwilling to accept the obvious, that Jesus was the Messiah as He claimed to be. They instead insisted that their existing perceptions of the man were correct, despite the evidence to the contrary. So, “they were offended at Him” (57).

After Jesus explanation as to why they were not accepting Him, Matthew records, “Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (vs. 58). They saw sufficient proof, but it had not swayed them. Further efforts to establish His credentials would be futile (cf. Luke 16:31), and so He did not try.

The same is true today. People reject Jesus as the Messiah, not because of a dearth of evidence, but because of their own preconceptions. Some believe religion to be mere superstition; others place their trust in science; many deny the possibility of a supernatural resurrection from the dead. The proof matters not, they will not believe. Regardless, the proof that Jesus is the Christ is abundant and sure!

Jesus and His Kingdom

ImageThe typical Premillennialist believes that it was Jesus’ intent while here on earth to establish His kingdom, and reign on a physical throne in Jerusalem. They believe that He was thwarted in His intent by the rejection of the Jews leading to His death. Therefore, He will not be able to establish His kingdom until He comes again. The truth is far different:

First, Jesus came to the earth to die. He knew He would die, and that death was a part of God’s plan. This is clearly seen in His own words. After Peter declared Him to be the Christ, He said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day” (Luke 9:22).

Second, the Kingdom of Christ is not a physical kingdom. Again note the words of our Lord, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36). The Premillennialists claim that when Jesus comes again, He will come with an army to fight a physical battle. They are wrong.

Third, the Kingdom of Christ has already been established. Paul asserts that truth. To the saints in Colosse he wrote, “He [God] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13).

Fourth, when Christ comes again, that is it! There will be no 1,000 year reign, as He is reigning now. Peter described His future arrival, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).

Idolatry – Don’t Be a Proverb!

ImageIn Ezekiel 14, the prophet shared with the elders of Israel God’s displeasure at the idolatry practiced by the nation. “I the Lord will answer him who comes, according to the multitude of his idols, that I may seize the house of Israel by their heart, because they are all estranged from Me by their idols” (4b-5).

God called upon them to “Repent, burn away form your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations” (vs. 6). If they would not, He warned, “I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of My people. Then you shall know that I am the Lord” (vs. 8).

This prophecy has been fulfilled. The Jews who were unfaithful to God were judged by Him. The judgment they suffered is a proverb to us. We learn from their unfortunate example! “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

But, many of us refuse to learn the lesson. We erect our own idols (things to which we give primacy rather than God). We don’t consider the fact that we may be as guilty as the Israelites: “these men have set up their idols in their hearts, and put before them that which causes them to stumble into iniquity” (Ezekiel 14:3). Always put God first in your life, and avoid being a sign and a proverb to future generations.

Stan signature

A “Leap” into Temporal Rumination

ImageThe title is a fancy way of saying that tomorrow’s addition of an extra date to the calendar (this is a leap year) got me thinking about time.

The insertion of an extra day into the calendar for corrective purposes was an innovation of Julius Caesar 2000 years ago. It was modified a bit when the “Gregorian” calendar was adopted in the western world in 1582. But, this article is not about that…

We are creatures bound by time. We mark the day of our birth, each year in turn, and finally, the day of our death. Our physical existence is measured by decades, years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds. Our written history will add centuries, and perhaps a few millennia, but ultimately the span of our temporal existence is greatly limited.

Perhaps this is why the concept of God is met with such resistance. The skeptic is certainly challenged by the evolutionist’s hypothetical “billions of years”, but is absolutely unable to grasp the idea of a Being without beginning or end.

Even Christians struggle with the scope of eternity. The goal of eternity in God’s presence, while desired, is too often a remote concept. We live in the here and now, and sometimes our focus strays (to our detriment) to what this life has to offer. Let us never forget the only question of importance, as asked of Jesus by the young ruler, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17).

Stan signature

How to Kill Gossip!

ImageGossip is one of the most diabolical and destructive of sins. It is extremely common, it is often accompanied by disavowal and rationalization, and it can and does lay waste to relationships of all types. “A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends” (Proverbs 16:28).

It is for this reason that gossip is condemned in scripture. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).

Gossip dies when it hits the ears of a wise person

The way to kill gossip is to refuse to participate in the ritual.

The wise man wrote, “A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter” (Proverbs 11:13). May each of us heed the words of the Psalmist, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

Stan signature

From the Preacher’s Pen: From You? Or Another?

ImageIn Esther 4:14, Mordecai, Queen Esther’s older cousin and father figure told her, “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

This question was the culmination of Mordecai’s exhortation to Esther that she petition the king to save the Jews, who were targeted for perdition. Esther was initially resistant, fearing the wrath of her husband. However, at Mordecai’s words she said, “And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (vs. 16).

Regarding God’s providence, His will shall be done in all things. This is clear from the true statement uttered by Mordecia, “relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews.”

Consider that Mordecai was more concerned about the personal salvation of his younger cousin. While God’s will would be accomplished, it was important for her that she seek to assist God in His work.

The same is true for us. God has chosen to save the world through the preaching and influence of His people. Souls will be saved, and God’s will shall be done. The question is, will you be a part of that work? Your own salvation may depend upon it! “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).

Stan signature