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

School of the Prophets?

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The Bethel church in Redding, California is offering a weeklong seminar it calls “Bethel School of the Prophets.” The course costs $395, and states as its purpose, “Our goal for this one-week, intensive training is to help facilitate prophetic ministry in local churches and ministries. We hope to help develop prophets and prophetesses…”

This is an example of religious error taking advantage of the extremely gullible. Only a cursory reading of scripture is sufficient to expose the fallacy of those who would claim to be able to “develop” prophets.

First, the text of 1 Corinthians 12 reveals that the spiritual gift of prophecy (as the other gifts) was given by the Holy Spirit. “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:29-31). In verse 28 of that text Paul states that it is God who “has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.” You can’t teach someone to be a prophet!

Second, the scripture reveals that at the time God’s will is revealed in full, the gift of prophecy would cease! “For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:9-10). Now that we have the perfect (complete) will of God revealed, there is no more need for partial expressions of knowledge. Prophecy has ceased!

Never underestimate the willingness of men to take advantage of, and deceive the gullible! (Ephesians 4:14-15; Mark 13:22).

Who is a Christian?

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A recent senate hearing, intended to confirm or reject President Trump’s nominee for the Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, had an interesting exchange between the nominee, Russell Vought, and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Vought had written an article, defending the college from which he graduated, regarding their statement of faith. Concerning Islam, he wrote, “Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ his Son, and they stand condemned.”

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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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Our Caged Canary

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This past week I posted a short video about the use of profanity that came as close to going “viral” as probably anything I will ever submit to Facebook. Since Tuesday the video has been viewed about 2,200 times, shared by over 50 people, and liked and commented upon in much greater numbers than typical. It seems the article touched a nerve. I thought I would reprise the general message in this article, and offer a few more thoughts.

First, note that profanity is defined by Webster as “an offensive word” or “offensive language.” Cussing has become much more common in our society. This is a symptom of the coarsening of our culture, and does not excuse the use of such words. Any individual who considers himself polite and respectful should refrain from using profanity. When speaking in “mixed company” or in the presence of those you do not know well, it is very possible that profane words will offend.

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Think Before You Share!

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This past week I came across an article that was being shared on Facebook. It was a nice, “feel good” article. The article was reporting on a recent visit to the metroplex by movie star Kevin Costner. It seems that he had rented a car and was traveling west, when he had a flat on his rental car near Weatherford. He was grateful that several complete strangers stopped to help him change the tire. He noted that such friendliness is rare, and not to be found in Los Angeles.

Problem is, the story was a hoax, as many such posts are on the internet. Some such false reports are very destructive, as lies are told, retold and spread, often to bolster a particular political position or point of view. Too often, Christians participate (often unintentionally) in spreading such lies.

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Reading a Lump of Coal

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Bible believers have long defended the text of Scripture against the attacks of skeptics. For a long while this defense, specifically regarding the text of the Old Testament, was made more difficult by relatively recent manuscript evidence that formed the basis of the Hebrew text.

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“We are … the thought leaders”

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It is a bit disconcerting how far our world has strayed from the paths of righteousness. The wise man once wrote, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). These words are true wisdom, and the sinfulness of our society certainly is a reproach to our nation.

It is hard for the Christian to understand how the world has reached the state it is presently in. We are truly living in a time similar to that which existed during Isaiah’s tenure on earth, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21). How did we get here? Consider the following anecdote.

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The Bible View of Sexuality

Bible and Sexuality

We live in a promiscuous society. According to a 2008 survey reported by the Guttmacher Institute, 90% of single women between the ages of 20 and 44 are sexually experienced. 70% identified themselves as currently sexually active. Among teenagers for the past 15 years, the percentage of teenagers (15-19) who have had sex has remained fairly constant (44% of girls, 49% of boys, Resource Center for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention).

It should not be surprising that some churches are changing their teaching regarding premarital sex. One example of this is a recently published book by Bromleigh McCleneghan, a married mother of three, and “associate pastor for ministry with families” at the Union Church of Hinsdale in Illinois. The title of her book is, “Good Christian Sex”, with the subtitle, “Why Chastity Isn’t the Only Option—And Other Things the Bible Says About Sex.”

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Bona Fide Religious Purpose?

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In 2007, the state of Iowa updated the state’s Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The statute prohibits “unfair or discriminatory practice” in any public accommodation. However, it contains an exemption for religious organizations. A provision in the law states that the law does not apply to “any bona fide religious institution with respect to any qualifications the institution may impose based on religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity when such qualifications are related to a bona fide religious purpose.” The term “bona fide religious purpose” is nebulous.

In fact, a brochure published by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission interpreted the law in a broad fashion. The brochure stated:

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Cultural Newspeak

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In George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 , the government sought to limit freedoms, and influence thought, by introducing a variation of English called “Newspeak.” The idea was for the government to establish words with specific meanings, and to eliminate words that contained thoughts that were possibly antagonistic to the government’s purposes.

I find it interesting in our day that something similar is occurring. Definitions of words are being changed as a means of promoting new ideas and values while at the same time discouraging values that society no longer considers acceptable. Since those unacceptable values are often held by Christians, those who hold their faith dear are being marginalized by society. Let me supply a few examples:

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Baptists Fire Football Coach!

ImageBaylor University, (a university associated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas), is the largest Baptist University in the world. The university football team competes in the Big 12 conference, and finished last season with the 13th ranked team in the nation.

On Thursday, a scandal broke, when reporters uncovered institutional efforts to squelch the investigation of sexual assault claims made against players on the football team. Art Briles, the head coach of the football team, was allegedly aware of the cover-up, and was summarily dismissed from his position.

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Our Nation is a Mess!

ImageSetting aside the different views regarding economic policy, and questions regarding the proper response to terrorism, immigration and climate change — it is obvious to those who hold Christian values that our nation has lost its way. The wise man wrote, “Righteousness exalts a nation, But sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).

Politically, for a while now our nation has adopted a two party system for governance. And, for a while now, both parties have advocated policies and practices that are characterized by greed, immorality and inhumanity. This is seen in party platforms, and more egregiously in the personal lives, practices and positions of our national leaders. Even those who give lip service to Christian values are quick to compromise those values when it suits them.

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Racism and the Christian

ImageRacism has always been a problem in the United States of America. Slavery in America was a racist institution. Today, the problems in dealing with militant Islamic terrorism, and illegal immigration are compounded by racist overtones.

I disagree with the view that if one emphasizes the rule of law, or if one opposes Islam as a false religion, he is a racist (as is sometimes claimed in the national discourse). However, it is obvious that the rhetoric being used by many is indicative of racial prejudice. It is also obvious to me in my observations of God’s people that racism is present in the church. This is shameful.

There are a number of scriptures to which we might refer that clearly teach racism is sinful. We might note James’ condemnation of personal favoritism in James 2:1-13. While the specific prejudice of the chapter is a preference for the rich over the poor, the principle can clearly be applied to preferences for one race above another. “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:8-9). In fact, any scripture calling the Christian to love his fellow man, by principle, condemns racism.

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Why I Oppose Abortion

ImageI oppose abortion for one simple reason, I believe it to be the killing of an innocent human being. The premeditated killing of another human is murder. I believe abortion is murder.

I base my view that abortion is murder on two things. First, my understanding of how God views the unborn. There are numerous instances, some subtle, some overt, where God identifies the unborn as a child. For example, consider Luke’s description of the as yet unborn John, a cousin of Jesus, “And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb” (Luke 1:41). Second, my own senses. I have seen sonograms of unborn children, both static images and video. I have heard the heartbeat, I have felt the kicks of a child in the womb. It is obvious the babe in the womb is human, and alive.

I am disheartened and disgusted by the recent exchanges on the issue that have been reported in the media. Consider the following:

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In the News: Should We Watch? (Deadpool)

ImageThere are many moral issues that have cropped up in the news this past week. Some of these concern the politics of our day, but one in particular is certainly appropriate for this space.

Many younger Christians thoroughly enjoy superhero comic books, and lately, the movies that are being adapted from the material. CGI and other sophisticated special effects make for a much more believable Superman and Batman than cinematic treatments of previous decades.

Marvel has been especially successful in bringing superheroes to the big screen. Characters such as Captain America, Iron Man, Spider Man, the Hulk and Thor have captured the imagination of a new generation, and made hundreds of millions of dollars for the Marvel company.

Continue reading » In the News: Should We Watch? (Deadpool)