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

Mining the Scriptures: Colossians 1:15-18

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Here Paul gives us an accurate and fully developed picture of the Messiah. He is the very image of God. God’s perfect character, wisdom and glory are seen in the Christ. His is a place of preeminence as the firstborn of God. All that is exists by His word, and persists through His power. (It is important to note here that the term “firstborn” has reference to His place, not His origin. The Creator of all things was not Himself created, cf. John 1:1).

His creative work covers not only what can be seen, but also what cannot be perceived by man. It is arrogant to assume that what exists is only that which can be measured or observed. The materialist is short-sighted, and ignorant of the Lord’s power and the extent of His reign.

His preeminence extends to His church. His victory over death affirms His Person and place as our Redeemer.

Mining the Scriptures: Philippians 1:15-18

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The gospel of Christ is God’s power of salvation (cf. Romans 1:16). When it is preached, it convicts the hearts of those who are honest and sincere. In the preaching, the message is what is important, not the messenger. That is not to say that God will not hold accountable those who preach, but are hypocrites. He will. That is not to say that when a messenger is personally unworthy of the message that it may not have a negative impact. I very well may.

However, whenever the gospel is preached it is a good thing! No matter if the motivation is impure or pure, no matter if the messenger is unworthy or worthy. Paul understood this, and rejoiced, though the preaching of the gospel may have impacted his own comfort and safety. Preaching the gospel will not save the preacher if his heart is not right, but it certainly has the ability to save the one who hears it. Praise God for His word!
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Mining the Scriptures: Ephesians 1:11-14

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The context affirms our reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ. It is through His shed blood that we obtain redemption, and as stated in verse 11, an inheritance.

The text also indicates that we obtain that inheritance as those who are “predestined according to the purpose of Him…” This refers to God, and it was His plan before the creation of man to redeem (our “adoption as sons”, cf. verse 5) through Jesus Christ.

In other words, God chose before the foundation of the world those who would go to heaven. His choice was that those who believe would be redeemed (cf. Mark 16:16). Predestination here refers to the group God chose to save. It is your choice whether you wish to be a part of that group.

For those who are predestined, those who are a part of that group, salvation is surely promised by our God.

Mining the Scriptures: Galatians 2:1-5

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Paul was continually embroiled in conflict with Judaizing teachers, who he here refers to as “false brethren.” Their view of the Christian faith nullified the grace of God. They viewed Christ as continuing the covenant between Jews and God, and viewed any Gentile Christian as a proselyte.

Circumcision, as a token of the covenant between God and Israel became the point of contention, and Paul was not going to compromise the gospel to appease these evil men. He protected Titus (a Gentile) by refusing to allow him to be circumcised. Paul’s correct understanding of the covenant of grace was that both He (a Jew), and Titus (a Gentile) were spiritual Jews, whose circumcision was not of the flesh, but of the heart! (cf. Romans 2:28-29).

We have liberty in Christ. Our appeal is to God’s grace. An appeal to the Old Law brings men into the bondage of sin.

Mining the Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 1:12-14

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Paul’s words in this text consist of a defense of himself to the church at Corinth. He protests his honesty, that “we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity.” The word “simplicity” indicates purity and integrity. Paul was not attempting to manipulate or “double deal” the Corinthians. In his dealings with that church, he always conducted himself with proper actions and motives.

Paul’s teaching was not by “fleshly wisdom”, but by the “grace of God.” As such, he treated the Corinthians justly, and could with confidence and a clean conscience proclaim that he had done what was right. A truly honest person can legitimately claim to be a friend because of the way he treats others. Motivated by love, he will always seek what is best for them. It is upon this basis that the apostle made his “boast” with regard to his relationship with the Christians in Corinth.

Mining the Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 1:10-13

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With this text, Paul gives his first of many admonitions to the church at Corinth. The Corinthians were acting carnally (cf. 3:1-4) in that they were fomenting strife within the congregation.

Division is an unacceptable condition among those who name the name of Christ. Those who cause it are to be quickly rejected by godly men (cf. Titus 3:10). Interestingly, in this situation, the Corinthians were dividing over men who themselves were godly and unified. The exaltation of men over truth is a common problem, causing division even today.

The present denominational view of unity is not advocated by Paul. While those today call for compromise, the abandonment of doctrine and an “agreement to disagree”, Paul calls upon the Corinthians to “all speak the same thing” and to be “perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Christian unity must aspire to the same standard practiced by the Son and the Father (cf. John 17:20-23). Nothing less will do!

Mining the Scriptures: Romans 1:16-17

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Paul was extremely dedicated in the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ (15). The reason for this is stated clearly in our text. God chose to save mankind through the preaching of the gospel message! (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:21-25).

The power of the gospel is found in the fact that it is true! The gospel is the message of Christ’s life, death and resurrection from the dead. The fact that His life was sinless, His death was vicarious, and His resurrection is certain means that belief in Him brings salvation to mankind. The reference to both Jew and Greek indicates that salvation is available to all men, no matter their nationality!

The phrase “from faith to faith” is difficult. Consider the fact that our faith emanates from the revelation of God’s will, referred to as “faith” in scripture (see Acts 6:7; Romans 10:17). The righteous man lives by the dictates of God’s will for him.

Mining the Scriptures: Acts 1:12-14

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These verses immediately follow Jesus’ command to His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem, and wait for the “promise of the Father” (4). He ascended to Heaven, and the disciples returned to the city to wait as instructed.
Consider the difference in their outlook. After Christ’s crucifixion, the disciples were despondent. Their understanding was flawed, and they despaired that their Lord had been killed.

But, after His resurrection from the dead they had a much better idea of what the future held for them. The text names each of the remaining eleven apostles by name, and describes their anticipation as they waited with “the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.”

We are told they continued in prayer and supplication. In only a few days, events would unfold on Pentecost that changed forever every man’s relationship with His God.

Mining the Scriptures: John 1:15-18

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In the previous verse, the apostle John affirmed that Jesus, the Word, came to earth and lived among us. He now states that John the Baptist testified that Jesus is indeed the Son of God (cf. vs. 34).

John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus, prophesied about in Isaiah 40:3, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’” (vs. 23). His ministry heralded the coming of the Christ.

The apostle now affirms that we have received the unmerited favor of God in the sending of that Christ, Jesus (16). Just as Moses was the means through which God gave Israel His law, Jesus is the means through which God grants salvation by Grace (17). It is through Jesus that God is manifested to man. Without Jesus, we can not know God. With Him, all things are made clear, including His plans for our redemption.

Mining the Scriptures: Luke 1:18-25

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Zacharias and Elizabeth were childless and older (1:18), but had received a promise from the angel Gabriel that they would have a son who would “make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (1:17). This child was named John (John the Baptist).

Zacharias, incredulous, asked for a sign, showing a lack of faith in the angel’s promise. The sign was punishment for his unbelief, he was struck mute until the promise was fulfilled.

God fulfilled his promise to Zacharias and Elizabeth (as He is always just and faithful to do), and Elizabeth conceived. She hid herself for the first 5 months of her pregnancy, and her words of rejoicing are interesting, saying that the Lord had taken “away my reproach among people” (25). To be barren was a great burden and shame for her. How wonderful for her to be granted a son with such an important part to play in God’s great scheme of redemption for mankind (cf. Luke 7:28).

Mining the Scriptures: Matthew 2:1-6

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Our text describes a group of men called “magi,” or wise men, from the east who had observed astronomically a sign which led them to believe the King of the Jews had been born. We can only speculate concerning the nature of that star. It is evident that the sign convinced both these wise men and Herod the Great that the promised Messiah had come.

Herod was a usurper of the throne of Judah, and no doubt this event caused him great anxiety. He was “troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (3). This was the first, but not the last time that the Savior would experience the opposition of men who were more concerned with their status than with the truth.

The place of Jesus’ birth was predicted by Micah (5:2). It was Bethlehem of Judea, the home town of Jesus’ earthly father Joseph. Herod’s inquiry of the scribes was for the purpose of locating and killing the child he perceived to be his rival (cf. 2:13).

Mining the Scriptures: Revelation 4:1-8

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In his salutation to the seven churches of Asia, identified by name in chapters 2 & 3, he pronounces blessings upon them from the Father “Him who is and who was and who is to come”, the Holy Spirit “the seven Spirits who are before His throne”, and the Son “the firstborn from the dead.”

(Note: some believe the phrase “seven Spirits” refers to the spirits of the seven churches, but it seems the context is referring to each person of the Godhead, in turn. As such, the number seven would have symbolic significance as a reference to the Holy Spirit).

Regardless, John affirms Jesus as our Lord and Savior (6), and promises His second coming (7). The central theme of the book is our victory through the power of God. He is the “Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End… who is and was and who is to come, the Almighty” (8).

Mining the Scriptures: 2 John 12-13

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John had an important and urgent message to share with the elect lady and her children. As such, he wrote this short epistle to warn of the deceivers who would lead them to forfeit their reward.

However, in the final few lines of his letter, he wrote of a preference to communicate with them “face to face.” Letters could not adequately express either his love for them, or the urgency of his warnings.

Each of us know the truth of Paul’s words. We read fondly the letters of love and devotion sent my family and friends. However, our “joy” is full when we see them in the flesh.

Too, the electronic correspondence of our generation is a pale facsimile of personal communication. “LOL” is an inadequate imitation of the laughter and love we share when we are together. Speaking “face to face” is the better way.

Mining the Scriptures: Jude 16-19

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Jude describes the false teachers he warns about as individuals who are severely lacking in character. This is characteristic of the self-willed. First, they grumble and complain. This shows a lack of respect for authority. They are governed by their own lusts. This indicates selfishness and a love of sin. They use flattery to gain advantage, which indicates a deceitful spirit.

These evil individuals had been predicted by the Lord’s apostles. One example of this is found in Acts 20:28-30, in the warning Paul gave to the Ephesian elders at Miletus.

The overriding characteristic of these men was their sensuality. It seems that both Jude and Peter (2 Peter 2) refer to men that are either similar to, or perhaps are the originators of what would become known as Gnosticism. Regardless, the pursuit of carnal passion is always troublesome and divisive, and must be warned against with regularity.

The Gospel of Mark (Witness of the Christ)

Image The first three gospels are known as synoptic. The term is defined: “of or forming a general outline or synopsis.” Each of these gospels contain a generally chronological snapshot of the life of our Lord. They are not exhaustive. Though similar, they are written from different perspectives. As would be expected, they emphasize different aspects of Jesus’ life, ministry and teaching.

It would be improper to refer to the gospels as either biographies or histories, though there are elements of each in all four of the books. Too often the works are criticized because they do not make a formal and verifiable effort to document the life of the Lord. Such attacks are unfair in imposing modern standards upon ancient writings, and in failing to recognize the theological motivations of the writers. As John wrote in John 20:30-31, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

Continue reading » The Gospel of Mark (Witness of the Christ)