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

From Where Do Wars Come?

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James wrote, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” (James 4:1). Commentators differ on what “wars” James refers to — big ones, or little ones. However, the motivation for is typically the same — Lust!

Selfish desire is at the root of most strife, whether disputes between nations, or petty squabbles among individuals. James wrote, “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war” (4:2).

One nation covets the land or resources that are owned by another. One ruler wants riches he sees beyond the borders of his own land. Lust and covetousness is the root of war!

The same is true in religion. Wars have been fought because of sectarian jealousies. The continual war between Jews and Muslims is fueled in part by claims made on the old city of Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount. Each faction covets the same plot of land.

Strife was caused in Corinth because each faction wanted exalted status (1 Corinthians 1:10-15). Conflict existed between two women in Philippi, presumably for the similar reasons (Philippians 4:2). Paul’s remedy? “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3).

Selfish desires bring war and conflict. Humility brings unity and expressions of love and peace.

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!

God’s Provision

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After leaving Egypt, the Israelites found themselves trapped on the shore of the Red Sea. With the sea at their backs, and Pharaoh’s army rapidly approaching, the people complained to Moses, saying that it would have been better for them to remain slaves “than that we should die in the wilderness” (Exodus 14:12). Moses responded, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today” (13). Since God was with them, victory was assured. The Egyptians were wiped out.

In contrast, Joshua and the people were routed by the weak and small denizens of Ai, as recorded in Joshua 7. Why? Sin was in the camp, and God said to Joshua, “Neither will I be with you anymore, unless you destroy the accursed from among you” (12). Since God was against them, they were defeated.

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Man Can’t Do It…But God Can!

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Early in Nebuchadnezzar’s reign he had a dream. The dream made him anxious, and he sought it’s meaning. His astrologers, sorcerers and magicians were more than willing to provide an interpretation, but Nebuchadnezzar obviously did not trust their powers of divination. So, he created a test. Before giving him the interpretation, they had to describe the dream itself. They replied, “There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean” (Daniel 2:10). Their explanation did not impress Nebuchadnezzar. He became angry, and commanded that all the wise men of Babylon be killed!

Nebuchadnezzar’s disgust was understandable, even if his murderous response was not. These dream interpreters were not claiming psychological insight. They claimed to be able to “divine” the interpretation. That is, they claimed a supernatural ability to determine a dream’s meaning. Logically, if one possessed such supernatural powers, “divining” the dream itself would be as simple as the interpretation. By their inability, they showed themselves to be charlatans.

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True Wisdom

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In 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 Paul made a simple but compelling argument:

“However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory .”

Simply put, if those of the world are as wise as they claim to be, they would accept the Lord of glory rather than oppose Him!

Notice that Paul did not argue whether Jesus truly is the Son of God. To Paul, that was an established truth. His faith in His Lord would not waver… he was an eyewitness of the resurrected Lord.

We too believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. And so, when we consider the philosophies of men — the secular influences that hold sway in our society — we have confidence that they are not as wise as they believe themselves to be. If they were wise, they would acknowledge the truth. Jesus is the Son of God, and the Lord of our lives.

So, the Lordship of Jesus is commonly rejected in the world today. Paul rightly predicted that the powers that be “are coming to nothing.” The truly wise among us will acknowledge Jesus as Lord, and submit fully to His will.

It’s Cold Out Today!

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The weather has changed, and it is cold out there today! Thankfully, here in North Texas the winters are relatively mild, so the cold temperatures will probably not hang around very long. It is also fortunate that this front did not bring in sleet or snow, making it dangerous to drive.

It is in winter that we expect snow. It comes with the season. The writer of Proverbs used this truth to make an important point:

“As snow in summer and rain in harvest, so honor is not fitting for a fool” (26:1).

The phrase “is not fitting” is an interesting one. It indicates that honor does not properly belong to the fool. Such a situation is the direct opposite of that declared by the Psalmist, “Your testimonies are very sure; holiness adorns Your house, O Lord, forever” (93:5). Where holiness makes sense and is a proper adornment for God’s house, there is nothing natural or appropriate in a fool being honored.

And yet, we do it all the time! Such adoration and honor is heaped upon our entertainers, our athletes, our politicians. By honoring them as we do, we encourage and enable their foolish actions and values.

Concerning the fool being honored, Keil and Delitschz noted the following: “he will make unjust use of it, and draw false conclusions from it; it will strengthen him in his folly, and only increase it.” Proverbs 19:10 says, “Luxury (“delight” KJV) is not fitting for a fool.”

Instead, foolishness should be discouraged, both in others and most importantly in our own lives. Praise for foolishness is as incongruous as snow in summer!

“But When Jesus Was Glorified”

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In John 12, the apostle recorded Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem before the Passover. This entry into the city set in motion the events which would lead to His death, recorded in chapter 19. While the population of the city was eventually guilty of His blood, having been goaded by the corrupt Jewish leaders, on this occasion they received Him as royalty. “The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!” (12:12-13).

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The Importance of Assembling

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When God created man, he made him to be a social being. Throughout history, men have typically gathered together in communities. In fact, the institution of marriage was established by God as He determined “It is not good that man should be alone.” So, God said, “I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:28).

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Video Transcript: The Christian Faith is Under Attack!

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The national elections are less than two months away. While it is not my place as a preacher to tell anyone who to vote for, it is my place to defend the Christian faith against attack. In fact, all Christians have that same imperative!

Remember the words of Jude. He wrote to his brethren, “…I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

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Video Transcript: 6 Traits of a “Dateworthy” Man

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Relationships are hard. Lots of women are looking for love. Hopefully, Christian women are searching for a man who is worthy of a possible lifetime commitment.

While some care about whether a man is athletic, good looking, funny or educated, hopefully a Christian woman is more interested in finding a man who will represent, (as closely as possible), the ideal for a potential future husband and father.

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Vainglorious

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The American Standard version uses an interesting and appropriate word to translate the Greek term kenodoxos in Galatians 5:26. It is a term that is rarely used in our day, vainglorious.

“Let us not become vainglorious, provoking one another, envying one another.”

The King James translation is similar though it translates the word with a phrase “desirous of vain glory.” More modern translations such as the ESV, NKJV and NIV use the term “conceited.” While the word conceited is certainly an accurate translation, it is not nearly as evocative as the more antiquated vainglorious.

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How to Succeed in Sharing the Gospel

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Recently, in doing some reading about evangelism, I came across a sermon outline by Mark Copeland titled “Perspectives for Success in Evangelism”. The lesson pointed out that even diligent Christians can reach a point where they become discouraged or apathetic with regard to teaching the lost. As this is an important duty for the child of God, it is important to avoid that trap. Mark points out certain perspectives that will help a person maintain enthusiasm and persistence in seeking opportunities to teach others. I want to share and discuss them in this short post.

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Praise your brothers and sisters!

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Upon Paul’s imprisonment in Rome, the church in Philippi, concerned about him, determined to send help to him. They sent a man named Epaphroditus, who was faithful to his task, and arrived in Rome with their gifts for the beloved apostle.

His trip to Rome was an eventful one. He had become ill, “almost to death”, causing great concern not only for Paul, but also for the church in Philippi who had heard of his sickness. But, he recovered, and Paul sent him back to his brethren in Philippi, that they might rejoice at seeing him alive and healthy.

Paul had great respect for Epaphroditus, and wrote of him in glowing terms. Of him, Paul wrote, “my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need” (Philippians 2:25).

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Heaven

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As is true with just about every other spiritual matter, people have their own unique concept of heaven. A little child asks their mother, “What is heaven like?” The response is, “Well sweetheart, to me heaven is…”

No wonder that atheists ridicule the Christian faith. To them the eternal concepts of heaven and hell seem to emanate from man’s imagination. “I like to think of heaven as a place where the flowers are always blooming!” Well, you might want to think that, but hopeful thinking is a far cry from reality. And so, the skeptic lumps Christianity in with the myriad false religions that had their origin in the imaginations of men.

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