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).

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: 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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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?

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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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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“Behold, I give you the authority”

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In Luke 10, we read of Jesus’ sending 70 disciples out to preach, “The kingdom of God has come near to you” (9). When the disciples returned, they were rejoicing, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name” (17).

Consider the Lord’s answer. “And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.'”

There is much of interest in His words. For our short article, consider the words, “Behold, I give you the authority…” (19)

All authority rightly belongs to Jesus, and Jesus alone (cf. Matthew 28:18). The reason, the only reason the disciples were able to do what they did was that Jesus delegated the authority to them.

The same is true for us today. The reason, the only reason we are able to accomplish anything that pleases God is that Christ grants us the authority to do it. If what we do is not authorized by Him, it is without value. “And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).

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Sermon: Rejected in His Own Country

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The rejection of Jesus by his hometown of Nazareth serves to teach us important lessons about perseverence, respect for the will of God, and ridding ourselves of personal prejudices. (Lesson text: Matthew 13:53-58).

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The Patternists: Children, Obey!

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In Ephesians 6:1-3, Paul gives instructions to children:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’”

Consider the following truths about this text:

  • Children are commanded to obey their parents
  • Such obedience is “right” (as it should be)
  • Such obedience shows “honor” (a respect for their authority)
  • The commandment is accompanied with a promise of God’s blessings

Now, consider how this call for obedience parallels our responsibility to God. (After all, we are His children, cf. Romans 8:16-17):

  • As God’s children, we too are commanded to obey Him. (His will is revealed in the holy scriptures). There are dire consequences for those who do not obey! (cf. 1 Peter 4:17).
  • Such obedience to God is as it should be, considering that He is God! (cf. Psalm 50:6).
  • Such obedience shows honor to God. Conversely, disobedience shows great disrespect, bringing God’s judgment! (cf. Leviticus 10:1-3).
  • The command to obey God is accompanied with the promise of everlasting life! (cf. Hebrews 5:9).

Any argument or doctrine that denies the necessity of obedience to obtain standing with God is illogical and unscriptural. Children, obey your God!

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They Would Deliver Only Themselves

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In Ezekiel 14, the prophet received a word from God concerning the idolatry and other abominations of the land. Men were guilty of setting up “idols in their hearts”, and practicing abominations and lawlessness. In short, their actions mirror that of our own nation and land.

One interesting part of this text is Jehovah’s statement in verses 13-14, “’Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,’ says the Lord God.”

God is longsuffering in His dealings with men. He does not immediately bring to an end an ungodly nation. Time is given for repentance, but again and again nations have squandered such considerations by the Lord, and persisted in ungodliness. Finally, there is a time when God determines to punish nations for their ungodliness. Even the presence of the righteous in such times will not guarantee deliverance.

The righteous, however, can be delivered from judgment. That does not mean the righteous will not suffer. It does mean that they will be recognized and accepted by God, (like Noah, Daniel & Job), despite being surrounded by evil. Take the example of the church in Sardis, condemned by God as “dead.” “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy” (Revelation 3:4). The ungodly will not be saved from God’s judgment because there are a few righteous who remain. However, if we are faithful to God, we can avoid the condemnation of the world.

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Sermon: In the Name of…

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The phrase, “In the name of…” is used numerous times in scripture. It indicates a need for authority in all we do. The lesson is a discussion of the phrase and concept.

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The Patternists: The Limit of the Elder’s Authority

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God, in His Wisdom, designed the local church to be led by godly and qualified men (cf. 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).

These qualified men, appointed and serving, are limited in their authority in several ways. First, they have no right to legislate to the flock. It is Christ Himself who has established His will for His people (cf. Hebrews 1:1-2). Elders are to feed the flock (1 Timothy 3:2), convict the gainsayer (Titus 1:9-11), and watch out for the souls of their charges (Hebrews 13:17). But, they can not make laws.

Second, these men are limited in their domain. They are to “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you” (1 Peter 5:2; see also Acts 20:28). Their oversight is limited to the local congregation of which they are a part. This means they have no sway on any other congregation, which precludes any centralized oversight in the body of Christ. It also precludes their exercising authority over any man-made institution like a home for orphans, a hospital or a college.

Finally, they are limited in the nature of their superintendence. They are to serve, “not by constraint but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to [them], but being examples to the flock.” Dictatorial tendencies among elders are destructive, and sinful in the sight of God. Faithful elders do not dictate. They instruct, beseech, show, exhort and express their love and concern for those under their oversight.

May God bless the men who serve well in this office. May God spare His people from men who would abuse the position.

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The Patternists: Christ Does ALL the Work?

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A woman, in commenting on an article I had written, stated her belief that we are saved by grace (which is a given), then stated regarding her eternal salvation that yes, we need to follow Jesus, but that He does all the work. And, regarding her life, maybe Jesus hasn’t gone through all the steps as of yet.

This idea is a bit different from what is commonly stated by those who teach salvation by faith alone. They claim we do nothing, rather that we trust in the finished work of Christ.

To be clear, Jesus secured our hope for redemption when he shed His blood for our sins (cf. Matthew 26:28). After His resurrection, He ascended to the right hand of the Father. His work in redeeming men is finished. The gift of grace has been extended. But, if nothing else is clear in scripture, this is – God expects us to do our part!

Consider Hebrews 5:9, “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” If we want to be with Christ in eternity, there is work we too must do!

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Sermon: Jehoiakim’s Knife

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Even though Jehoiakim took a knife to God’s word, he couldn’t rid himself of God’s prophecy. However, he did bring destruction upon himself. We need to learn from his mistake!

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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:

Continue reading » The Rule of Law