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

FB: Edification – A Shared Stewardship

Paul took seriously God’s call for him to preach the gospel of Christ, saying, “Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).  While that passage specifically references Paul’s stewardship as Christ’s apostle, the principle regarding stewardship is valid, not matter the responsibility given.

One responsibility we all have is to edify (cf. Ephesians 4:16).  Every part must do its share in the work of edification. It is only in this way that the body of Christ can grow in the way God intends.

Consider this truth in light of the Holy Spirit’s call to assemble.  “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

While it is personally beneficial to attend worship services consistently, that is not the Hebrew writer’s point. Rather, he is referring to the stewardship of edification. We have a responsibility to encourage and build up our brethren! God has supplied the assembly to help us to accomplish this task. To forsake the “assembling of ourselves together” is to be unfaithful in that stewardship.

Let’s say that you are a part of a congregation that has 100 members.  When you come to assemble, you do so with the primary purpose of edifying the other 99.  The wonderful part of God’s plan is that while you do so, you have 99 brothers and sisters in Christ whose primary purpose is to edify you!

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Spiritual Navalwatching

I came across a quote from 1970 by a denominational writer that indicates a problem that, in my opinion, is applicable to the Lord’s church today. The quote is below, with some of my own comments after.

“…(We) of the late twentieth century contribute to the falsifying of the church’s proper function through our subjectivism … (The present) is possibly the most subjective period in all of church history. Today everybody talks in psychological terms. We enjoy nothing better than to probe our inner life and its real or imagined frustrations. We wallow in our misery. We go to psychologists, we go to psychiatrists, we go to counsellors. This predilection has been called “navelwatching” by some people; that is, we enjoy nothing better than to sit down narcissistically and look at our own psychic navels. This delightful activity allows us to become completely involved in ourselves. We enjoy our problems. Someone has called our epoch “the Age of Analysis” . . . and it is that, for we want to solve all our problems by subjective concentration upon them.”

John Warwick Montgomery

So much of the Christian’s responsibility is focused outward. We can become so entranced by our own spiritual “navels” that we leave the greater commands to “love God” and “love our neighbor” undone. It seems to me important to focus on God’s commandments, and our responsibilities to Him and others, and spend less time focused inwardly – “paralysis by analysis.” Now, I am not objecting to examining ourselves (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:5), but rather noting the destructive tendency to focus on self rather than others.

Are your insecurities, feelings, musings, captivating your attention? Does they lead to missed opportunities to do the Lord’s work? Does your faith consist predominately of introspection – whether of your failings or your strengths? If so, perhaps you need to look outside of yourself, and get busy doing “the work” (cf. James 1:25).

Some thoughts that came to my mind while reading the quote above:

  1. Truth is objective, not subjective.
  2. Selflessness is seen in our actions toward our fellow man.
  3. The spiritual works of evangelism and edification are indicators of a faithful, zealous Christian.
  4. Intellectualism does not equate to strength in faith (“…and the common people heard Him gladly” Mark 12:37).

 

The Patternists: Rebuke With All Authority

elephant rebuke

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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Invitation: Let Each Please His Neighbor

Image Invitation delivered by: Stan Cox

Paul, in Romans 15:2 admonishes each of us to please our neighbor. However, the context indicates that pleasure to be by way of edification, exhortation and even needed admonition.

Audio

FB: Epaphras – Example of Encouragement

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Little is known about the man Epaphras. He was a Christian in Colosse describe by Paul as “a faithful minister of Christ” (Colossians 1:7). He also is mentioned in chapter 4, and Philemon 23. Colossians 4:12-13 states:

“Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis” (4:12-13).

The terms “servant”, “minister”, “bondservant”, and “fellow prisoner” are used to describe the man. Also, words such as “dear”, “faithful”, “laboring”, “fervently”, and “great zeal” indicate his desire to serve the Lord.

Finally, the phrases “on your behalf” and “for you”, “one of you”, indicate that his labors in the Lord were personally beneficial to his brethren.

One of the most important benefits of serving Jesus is the blessings such labor brings to our brethren and others. May we all be so giving, humble, and concerned about the welfare of all men. This is a true indication of a diligent servant of Jesus Christ.

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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).

Continue reading » Praise your brothers and sisters!

Sermon: Exhortations from Hebrews

Image Hebrews 13:1-17 gives a number of miscellaneous moreal and religious exhortations to the Hebrew Christians.

Audio

Attending to Exhortation

Image “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

The preceding text is often used to emphasize the importance of being present at the worship assemblies. While such a use is legitimate, the 24th verse best expresses the writer’s intent in the exhortation — “let us consider one another.”

Continue reading » Attending to Exhortation

Mining the Scriptures: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-19

Shovel4

Late in his letter, Paul strings together a number of concise exhortations. These exhortations are typical examples of what God requires of his children. They are clear, and need little comment.

In the list, Paul enjoins them to: love and esteem those who labor for the Lord, especially in the realm of oversight; be at peace; admonish those who would disturb that peace; supply the special and peculiar needs of each of the brethren; return evil with good, always seeking the best for all men; rejoice; pray; be active in doing the Spirit’s work; respect God’s word; study to discern that word; and abstain from every form of evil. A single glance at the list affords the reader a clear picture of what God expects of us. We are to be loving, peaceful, godly people who insist upon and heed the truth revealed by God.

It is important to note that this list is far more than a list of “thou shalt nots”. Not only is the man of God to refrain from sinning, he is to be diligent and active in service to the Lord.

Mining the Scriptures: 3 John 13-14

Shovel4

As John closes his epistle, he notes that there is much more he could write to Gaius, but it was his preference to share those things “face to face.” This no doubt was in part a result of his relationship with his beloved friend, but there are also advantages to a “face to face” conversation.

We can learn much from this expressed desire. In our time we communicate not only through written letters, but also through truncated social media posts, email, telephone and video calls. None of these methods of communication are as effective as “face to face.”

Human beings communicate through body language and inflection almost as readily as through the words themselves. Whenever possible, be it exhortation or admonition, such sentiments are best expressed “face to face.”

As John closed his letter he expressed the hope that he would have that “face to face” meeting with his friend. He prayed God’s peace upon Gaius, a welcome respite considering the conflict he was experiencing with the contentious Diotrophes. What a wonderful comfort to know the concern that faithful brethren have for one another. Such expressions of love are always beneficial and appreciated.

Sermon: Exhortations to Philippi

The Apostle Paul sprinkled various exhortations throughout his espitle to the Philippians. This sermon examines those exhortations.

Sermon Powerpoint: Click Here .

Sermon Audio: Click Here .

Sermon: Appealing to Our Better Nature

The apostle Paul’s appeal to Philemon on behalf of the slave Onesimus serves as an object lesson in this textual study of that book.

Sermon Audio: Click Here .

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Watchmen for God

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me” (Ezekiel 3:17).

“Ezekiel … was appointed a watcher over the exiled nation of Israel, and was in this capacity to continue the work of the earlier prophets, especially that of Jeremiah, with whom he in several ways associates himself in his prophecies; to preach to his contemporaries the judgment and salvation of God, in order to convert them to the Lord their God.”

Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament
Volume 9 (Ezekiel & Daniel), page 2

Ezekiel, as a prophet of God and preacher of righteousness, lived and served his God in the darkest of days of the kingdom of Israel. The people were in exile, chafing under Babylonian rule, and looking for relief. There were false prophets in the land who were willing to tickle the ears of a desperate people. Jeremiah recorded the people’s unwillingness to listen to the message of God’s prophets in Jeremiah 29:19, “because they have not heeded My words, says the LORD, which I sent to them by My servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; neither would you heed, says the LORD.” He then pronounced God’s judgment against the false prophets in verses 20-23, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD, all you of the captivity, whom I have sent from Jerusalem to Babylon. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning Ahab the son of Kolaiah, and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah, who prophesy a lie to you in My name: Behold, I will deliver them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he shall slay them before your eyes. And because of them a curse shall be taken up by all the captivity of Judah who are in Babylon, saying, ‘The LORD make you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire’; because they have done disgraceful things in Israel, have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and have spoken lying words in My name, which I have not commanded them. Indeed I know, and am a witness, says the LORD.”

Continue reading » Watchmen for God

Sermon: The Church in Philippi

The Church in Philippi is introduced in Acts 16, then aspects discussed in the lesson from the Paul’s epistle to that church. The discussion includes:

  • The possible faults of the congregation
  • The congregation’s virtues
  • Paul’s admonitions to the brethren
  • Paul’s final admonition from 4:8-9


Sermon PowerPoint: Click Here .

Sermon Audio: Click Here .

Sermon: “Stir You Up By Reminding You”

In his second epistle, Peter (1:12-15) emphasizes the need to stir up the brethren by reminding them of things they knew. There is the same need today to remind the brethren of things known, to equip and strengthen them in the faith.

Sermon PowerPoint: Click Here .

Sermon Audio: Click Here .