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

Invitation: Rejoicing in Tribulation

Image Invitation delivered by: Stan Cox

This short lesson uses the text of 1 Peter 1:3-6 to note that our living hope is cause for rejoicing despite the suffering we may experience in this life.

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Refreshing the Spirits of the Brethren

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One of the fundamental responsibilities of a Christian is to love his brethren. “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” (1 John 3:10-11). It is an imperative, and as Christians we should be mindful of obeying it.

One of the most effective ways to show your love for the brethren is through the practice of hospitality. It is one of an impressive list of characteristics which indicate a faithful child of God. “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality (Romans 12:10-13).

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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).

“In Him All Things Consist”

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“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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Let Your Conduct be Worthy

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In his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul gave them this charge, “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (1:27). He also noted of what that worthy walk consists.

  1. “That you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” This was important to Paul, and he wrote about it often. In 1 Corinthians, he made the same call to the brethren there, “that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1:10).

    This unity of mind has the common purpose of serving the Lord. We work together for the faith. This is why unity can only be based upon God’s revealed will. This is why the concept of unity in diversity (agree to disagree) is so misguided. Our one mind must be centered on the gospel of our Lord.

  2. That you “not in any way [be] terrified by your adversaries” (28). Such fear of those who oppose right can discourage and even defeat our will to walk in a worthy way. Jesus said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Put simply, a worthy walk is found in working together with other Christians in obedience to God, no matter the obstacles and enemies that might seek to prevent it. To do this is to secure salvation!

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Sermon: The Benefits of an Increasing Faith

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As our faith grows, and with it we mature spiritually, it enables us in various ways. It gives us the ability to: 1) Discern good and evil; 2) Resist temptation; 3) Forgive; 4) Deal with those who oppose the truth; 5) Cope with physical decline; and 6) Face death.

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Sermon: Engaging the Community

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In the first century the church did not pander to the community, desperately seeking relevance or acceptance. Instead, the church proclaimed the gospel, infuriating some and saving others.

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Powerpoint Slides

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.”

Continue reading » Who is a Christian?

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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Negative Examples

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We contend that the examples we find in scripture serve to establish authority. When we see Christians in the New Testament engaged in an activity with God’s approval, we know the activity to be authorized by God. We can do it as well.

An example, Acts 20:7. The disciples ate the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week (Sunday). So, we are authorized to do the same.

Similarly, we are to learn from negative examples. Paul affirmed this in 1 Corinthians 10. He noted the sinful actions of the Israelites during their time in the Wilderness, saying, “But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness” (5). He then wrote, “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted (6).

Four things are mentioned specifically: idolatry, fornication, tempting Christ and complaining.

Taking fornication as an example, we note that any sexual activity outside of marriage (heterosexual, as defined by God, cf. Genesis 2:22-24) is condemned (cf. Hebrews 13:4). As Paul wrote, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (12).

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Sermon: The Christian’s Responsibility to God

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The most important of our responsibilities is toward the eternal God of Heaven, our creator and the author of our redemption. We should worship, fear, obey & love Him with all our heart, soul, strength and mind.

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Sermon: Do We Know How to Blush?

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The Jews of Jeremiah’s day had no shame, they had forgotten how to blush (cf. Jeremiah 6:11-15; 8:8-12). God’s people need to know how to blush. A sense of shame will help to protect and correct in areas such as conduct, speech and appearance.

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Lessons Learned from the Remnant

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The book of Ezra records a remnant of Judah returning to the homeland after 70 years spent in Babylonian captivity. The reason they had been conquered by the Babylonians was their rejection of God. As Jeremiah put it, “Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number” (Jeremiah 2:32).

However, after 70 years (prophesied in Jeremiah 29:10), God stirred up the heart of King Cyrus to allow the Jews to return to their homeland (cf. Ezra 1:1). Not all were interested in leaving the place where they had lived for two generations. But, a remnant was moved by God (1:5), and returned to the land. Here the Jews reestablished their worship to God, and ultimately rebuilt the temple.

Continue reading » Lessons Learned from the Remnant

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.

A Pattern of Mercy

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Paul, in his letter to Timothy, revealed himself to be an egregious sinner. He had been guilty of persecuting Christians. He described himself as “formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man” (1 Timothy 1:13). God, though, extended His grace to all men, including Paul. Paul wrote:

“However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1 Timothy 1:16).

Note the words of Paul. By his example, Jesus Christ has established a “pattern.” We look to the example of Paul, and from it we are assured that no matter how horrible our sins may be, we can be saved. If Paul could receive forgiveness, so can we.

Many deny that we can look to scripture as a pattern. Most commonly, it is because they desire the freedom to live as they like, and do not want to be constrained by God’s revealed will. But, it works both ways. We better hope that Paul is right, and that his example establishes a pattern! That way, we can be confident that we too can obtain mercy, no matter how horrible our sins!

“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1:15).

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