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.

FB: Paul’s Fear

Saint Paul, Rembrandt van Rijn (and Workshop ), c

“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).

Paul noted instances of corruption during his ministry. They included:

  • Judaizing teachers who sought to impose circumcision upon the Gentiles (cf. Acts 15:1).
  • A sectarian spirit at work among fellow Christians (1 Corinthians 11).
  • A corruption of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20-21).
  • A denial of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12).
  • A contention that the resurrection was already past (2 Timothy 2:16-18).

Consider first Paul’s fear. Consider second that his fear was not unfounded. Do not be deceived by any who would seek to minimize or explain away any departure from truth in our time.

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The Patternists: “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?”

Elijah Ahab

1 Kings 18 records a conversation between Ahab, the evil king of Israel, and the prophet Elijah. Elijah was a thorn in Ahab’s side. Elijah told Ahab that a drought would afflict the land beacuse of his sin, and it came to pass. The drought was God’s way of chastising Ahab and the nation for their sins. But, Ahab blamed Elijah for the drought, and sought his life.

Elijah ran for his life, and evaded the king for the three years of the drought. God then instructed Elijah to go to Ahab. When they met, Ahab said, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17). Elijah’s response is instructive, “And he answered, ‘I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals'” (vs. 18).

Too often religious people criticize those who stand for truth as being divisive. To contend for a standard, and fidelity to God’s commands brings charges of “judging”, “intolerance” and “sectarianism.” In fact, standing with truth is not the problem. The problem is, as Elijah so eloquently said, with forsaking “the commandments of the Lord.”

Fortunately, Elijah stood tall against the king. His victory over the prophets of Baal led the people of Israel to proclaim, “The Lord, He is God” The Lord, He is God!” (vs. 39).

In the same way, we must stand for truth in the face of those who would lead God’s people astray. Hear and heed the words of Jude, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, 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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Sermon: Evil Suspicions

Image The sin of evil suspicion, or evil surmising (KJV), as listed in 1 Timothy 6, is divisive, destructive, and to be refused by faithful Christians.

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Sermon: Fighting Against God

Image Conflict both within and without the church is unable to thwart God in His purpose. It is futile to fight against God!

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Powerpoint Slides

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!

From the Preacher’s Pen: Truth Does Not Divide!

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It is a fundamental concept worthy of constant affirmation: “Truth does not divide!” It is common for people today to count the Lord’s church among the many denominations that populate the religious landscape. They make no distinction, other than to charge God’s people as being sectarian simply because we seek to differentiate between truth and error!

It is error that brings division between seekers of Christ. In contrast, Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). The claim we make of being simply followers of the Word of God, unwilling to deviate to the left or the right, is one worthy of examination. When it is put to the test, if it is found to be a false claim, then we acknowledge that we are no better than any other religious person who seeks to teach “as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). However, if our claim is true, then all should seek to be part of that which “came through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12).

Religious people clamor for diversity, freedom and change. In contrast we offer unity, bondservice to the Lord, and “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (cf. Jude 3). The appeal may not be popular, but it is the basis of our standing with God. Remember the words of the Lord, “If you love me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).

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Mining the Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 1:4-9

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In this text, the apostle expressed thanks for the blessings the Corinthians had received from Jesus. These blessings to which he referred were the spiritual gifts such as tongue speaking, prophecy, etc. With these, the “testimony of Christ was confirmed” in them (vs. 6). This is a primary purpose of such spiritual gifts. They not only equipped each one who received them, they also confirmed the teaching that each one imparted to others.

Paul, as did the rest of the New Testament writers, commonly looked forward to the coming of Jesus Christ (7). From His departure, recorded in Acts 1:9-11, the emphasis has ever been upon his eventual return. The angels affirmed that He, “will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

In these introductory words, we see a foreshadowing of admonitions to come. Paul’s mention of spiritual gifts as blessings that enrich in verses 4-7 presage his admonition of their abuse of such gifts in chapters 12-14. His continual references to Jesus (9 times in the first 9 verses) serve to center the Corinthians minds upon the Christ, rather than their own divisive tendencies to inappropriately elevate mere men (cf. 1:10-15, 3:1-6).

From the Preacher’s Pen: God Hates the Sower of Discord

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Among the seven things the Lord hates, as recorded in Proverbs 6:16-19, is “…one who sows discord among brethren.” The word hate is a strong one, a word that many do not want to attribute to God. But, it is accurate. It is defined as we use the term today, and is also translated in the American Standard Version using the term “detest.”

It is important to consider what our text reveals — that God is extremely unhappy with anyone who sows discord. While God counsels patience with many who are guilty of sin, there is little forbearance shown for this class of sinner. The apostle Paul exhorted Titus, “But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless. Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned” (Titus 3:9-11).

Strife is antithetical to Christian unity. It has no place among those who profess to follow the “Prince of Peace” (cf. Isaiah 9:6). Instead, may we emulate the example of Abraham. Because of his and his nephew Lot’s possessions, the land was not sufficient to support them both. As a result, there “was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock” (Genesis 13:7). This was untenable to Abraham. His plea to his nephew is touching, and a worthy example to us: “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren (8). Abraham’s willingness to accommodate and sacrifice is an attitude worthy of imitation, and will help secure for us God’s love and acceptance.

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Sermon: The Carnal Man and Division

The Apostle Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 3:1-11 that division of any type is an indication of a carnal man and unacceptable to God. We have been called to holiness, and such purity requires we work together in unity and love.

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Fomenting

ImageA couple of years ago I sought to admonish a brother in Christ for mistreating another brother. The man thought his brother was teaching error, and in his interaction with the man, acted in an inappropriate manner. When I pointed out the mistreatment, this brother was very cavalier in his treatment of his fellow Christian. Here is an exact quote from his pen:

“When the apostles dealt with error, they did not consider what the errorists felt about fairness. … I try to act in such a way to ensure fairness to truth, whether those who oppose me deem that as fair or not.”

Continue reading » Fomenting

Mining The Scriptures: Titus 3:9-11

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Titus 3:9-11

In our text the apostle Paul counsels his charge to avoid divisiveness. He obviously makes a distinction between contending for the faith, and being contentious. While one difference may be attitude or demeanor in the midst of controversy, in this case Paul refers to the content which brings about the division.

“Foolish disputes, geneologies, contentions, and strivings about the law” are named as “unprofitable and useless” by the apostle. Whatever these things are, Titus was not to engage in any dispute about them. Some things we are not to fight about!

What things? Simply put, silly stuff of no consequence that serves no purpose other than to create fussing and fighting among Christians. When men seek to promote and elevate their opinions and speculations to the level of faith, they are guilty of causing strife.

Paul says such men are “self-condemned.” We are not to be patient with such individuals. What they do is obviously wrong, and after the “first and second admonition”, they are to be rejected from the fellowship of God’s people.

Sermon: Pitfalls !

Pitfalls are traps set by Satan, that are not always immediately evident. Satan makes his enticements seem sometimes innocent, and always enticings. We must be on Guard, because:

  • Strong Drink is a Pitfall
  • Dancing is a Pitfall
  • Evil Companionship is a Pitfall
  • Fault Finding is a Pitfall


Sermon PowerPoint: Click Here .

Sermon Audio: Click Here .

Sermon: Instruments Opposing the Church

The Lord’s church has many enemies, some without, and more damaging, others within. The lesson details 7 “instruments” opposing the church.

  • Persecution
  • The World
  • Mammon
  • Discord
  • Division
  • False Doctrine
  • Lukewarmness

Sermon PowerPoint: Click Here .

Sermon Audio: Click Here .

Elijahs and Obadiahs

In 1 Kings 18, we have the record of a conversation between the prophet Elijah and a steward of King Ahab named Obadiah.

Obadiah

The name Obadiah is a common one in the Old Testament. We know nothing of the man other than what is revealed in this text. From the text we can state with confidence his faithfulness to Jehovah, even though he was “in charge of his [Ahab’s] house” (vs. 3).

Verses 4 and 5 of 1 Kings 18 reveals that Obadiah “feared the Lord greatly”, and had personally secured the safety of 100 prophets by hiding them from the murderous actions of Jezebel.

Continue reading » Elijahs and Obadiahs