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

Sermon: God’s Pattern For Our Whole Life

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God is our Creator, and deserves our respect and obedience. His revealed will impacts us in every aspect of our lives.

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The Patternists: Let No One Deceive Himself

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“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.’” (1 Corinthians 3:18-20).

Any man who presumes to speak where God has not is foolish. To boldly claim that God is pleased with actions that are not authorized in scripture is to be self-deceived.

“For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:11-12).

The only way to know God’s will is to study what He has revealed to us. The only safe way is the way that is revealed in the Bible.

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“These Do”

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Paul exhorted the Philippians:

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9).

From this text we learn that Paul had supplied them, through teaching and example, with those things that are true, noble, just, pure and lovely. He instructed them to meditate on these things. To meditate is to reckon, to deliberate, to take into account. The idea is to consider what is righteous for the purpose of making application to our lives.

Of those things, Paul wrote, “these do.” Obedience to what God has ordained as right and good is necessary for the “God of peace” to be with us. We don’t approach God on our terms. We approach God on His terms! Jesus said, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).

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The Patternists: Rebuke With All Authority

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Paul told Titus, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11). For this we rejoice. We acknowledge that our salvation is wholly dependent upon God’s extended favor. If Jesus had not come to earth and died on the cross, we would be without hope.

This we know, but what does this teach us? What truth does God want us to derive from that extended grace? It teaches us that “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age” (Titus 2:12).

When men are exhorted to be obedient to God, they often respond with cries of “legalism”, and “salvation by works.” They object to being “judged” and proclaim that they are “trusting in the finished work of Christ alone.”

But, Titus was told to speak these things. He was told to exhort and to rebuke. He was told not to let anyone despise him. Titus, in his rebuke, had the authority of His Lord. When we call men to an obedient life, submitting to the pattern of God, we speak with the same authority!

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The Practice of Discipline

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In Romans 16:17, Paul wrote, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.”

Some would take this as a mere suggestion, that can be heeded or rejected at our whim. However, we note that Paul was writing this by inspiration. As such this is the urging of the Holy Spirit, not to be taken lightly.

Others had rejected Paul’s instructions regarding disciplining the unruly. The Corinthians had ignored Paul’s admonition to withdraw themselves from a sexually immoral brother (cf. 1 Corinthians 5). In response, Paul wrote, “And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you” (vs. 2). Later in the text, he wrote, “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (vs. 6).

When we reject the Holy Spirit’s admonition to discipline the disorderly, we are prideful. Such pride is sinful, and such action is willful. We are not at liberty to disregard God’s instructions on this or any other matter!

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“Him who ought to be feared”

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“You, Yourself, are to be feared; and who may stand in Your presence when once You are angry? You caused judgment to be heard from heaven; The earth feared and was still, when God arose to judgment, to deliver all the oppressed of the earth. Surely the wrath of man shall praise You; with the remainder of wrath You shall gird Yourself. Make vows to the Lord your God, and pay them; let all who are around Him bring presents to Him who ought to be feared” (Psalm 76:7-11).

Fear of God is sadly lacking in our day. Men have forgotten previous judgments, and a generation has arisen that scoffs at the Almighty. They really shouldn’t do that. It is not in their best interest to anger the Divine. And yet they rage in their ignorance, and secure for themselves the eventual, eternal judgment of God.

When that day comes, no man will stand before Him. All will be brought to their knees, “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10-12).

If we confess Jesus today, it will bring us the salvation He offers (cf. Romans 10:10). If we wait until judgment, it will be a confession of His power and authority over us, and the justness of our condemnation. Regardless, the Almighty God of heaven “ought to be feared.”

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Whly Is It?

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Why are people who ridicule the idea of a Bible pattern of authority to be followed so quick to advocate for the authoritative nature of a select few passages? They contend loudly and strongly for verses like:

  • (John 3:16), “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
  • (Matthew 7:12), “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
  • (Philippians 4:13), “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
  • (1 John 4:7-8), “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

If the scriptures that show how to worship, how to practice religion, how to make disciples, how to organize, what to teach and how to work together as a church can not be considered authoritative, then why are the scriptures above accepted as true and binding?

Integrity demands a more consistent hermeneutic than that, wouldn’t you say?

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Sermon: Some Facts about the church of Christ

some facts about the church of Christ

The Lord’s church is very different from the religious denominations you typically see in America. This sermon discusses some of the things that makes the church of Christ unique.

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Sermon: God’s Mirror

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The text of James 1:21-25 supplies thoughts regarding the 1) Importance of knowing how we look to God; 2) Importance of improving our spiritual appearance; and 3) God’s word is the only reliable mirror to determine how we appear to God.

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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).

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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