Jackson Drive Church Of Christ
Preacher: Scott Richardson
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"But exhort one another daily, while it is called To-day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:13
WHO WANTS TO BE LIKE JESUS?
Such a question seems to have an obvious answer. I doubt that a single reader of this paper would answer with a confident, “not me!” What person, who wants to do right, would not want to be like Jesus? He is the epitome of righteousness.
All who are Christians (disciples of Christ) are called by His name. Christ-ian simply means adhering to or following Christ. Adhere means to stay attached; stick fast; cleave; cling; to be devoted in support or allegiance; to be attached as a follower or upholder. The faithful Christian is stuck to Christ in support and allegiance to Him.
Sometimes our actions do not show our support and allegiance. Even the apostle Peter had trouble with this at times. Remember the occasion in which Peter flatly denied the Lord three times (Matt. 26:69-75). Jesus had been brought before Caiaphas the high priest, and the scribes and elders and the chief priests assembled seeking false witness against Jesus. Peter certainly did not support Christ in denying that he even knew Him. Is there an application for us in this account of Peter's actions? Although we will never be questioned about physically being with Jesus, we will have many opportunities to stand up for Jesus and answer for our relationship with Him. Rather than cowering away in shame and embarrassment, we should gladly show our support for Him and speak of our kinship with Him. What if Jesus, when faced with that terrible persecution and knowing that He was about to be nailed to a cross, had said it's just not worth it. I'm afraid of the pain, I'm afraid of the unknown, I just can't do it. We would have been left to wander aimlessly through this life with NO HOPE. Thank God that He did not run from it! This is the one who gave His life for us! When so much love has been extended to us, how can we justify any less than total conformity to Him?
So, who want's to be like Jesus? We often sing songs in which we proclaim our desire to be 'More Like Jesus.' In fact, that is the title of one such song. The words are as follows: “I want to be more like Jesus, and follow Him day by day; I want to be true and faithful, and every command obey. (Chorus) More and more like Jesus, I would ever be; more and more like Jesus, my Savior who died for me” (More Like Jesus, written by J.M. Stillman). Do you want to be more like Jesus? Do you want to be true and faithful and obedient to every command? That is what Jesus is like. Even when facing death He prayed to the Father saying ”thy will be done” (Matt. 26:42). While praying in John 17:4 Jesus said, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” Jesus had left nothing undone that the Father expected of Him. That is faithfulness. Phil. 2:8 says, “...He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Jesus, although being God, had the choice of whether to obey or not. The text says that He humbled Himself and became obedient. In spite of all the hardships that He faced, He chose faithfulness and obedience. We may think that because He was God, He was automatically obedient and faithful to the Father. But the scriptures indicate that “the child (Jesus) grew, and waxed (became) strong in spirit,” “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:40,52). As Jesus grew up physically, He grew spiritually.
As we sojourn in this physical life, we are wise to meditate continually upon the life of Jesus and mirror Him in our lives. He is our friend, our High Priest, our Mediator, our King, and our Savior. He is our example that we should follow in His steps (I Peter 2:21). “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked” (I John 2:6). ~D.S.
SOLDIERS OF CHRIST, ARISE!
Not long ago I was asked by a young Christian, “Do you think the church is dying?” Such a question should make us pause and consider the seriousness of this concern. It should also make us diligently work to see to it that this does not happen. The church is the people, and the people are responsible for the growth or decline of the church. The church will not grow without work being done, and the church will decline if we fail to do the work that God has commanded us to do.
As we consider this question, it would be good for us to look at some statistics relevant to the church. The following information was compiled by Matt Dabbs using data from Kairos and the US Census. This data relates to the church in the United States.
1980 – 1,239,039 members in churches of Christ in the U.S.
1990 – 1,280,178 members (41,139 increase since 1980)
U.S. population growth 1980-1990 = +9.78%
Projected Church of Christ growth based on population growth = 121,178
Actual growth = 41,139 (3.32%)
Difference = -80,039
2000 – 1,262,445 members (-17,733 decline since 1990)
U.S. population growth 1990-2000 = +13.15%
Projected Church of Christ growth based on population growth = 168,343
Actual growth/decline = -17,733 decline
Difference = -186,076
The Association of Religious Data Archives states that in the ten year span between 1990 and 2000, churches of Christ decreased by seventy congregations and by 35,429 members. Statistics vary depending upon the source, but the declining trend seems to be consistent. Not only are we not growing in proportion to the population, but we are loosing people.
Some may say that we have had a lot of members die in recent years. Did people stop having children during those years? Some may say that people do not have as many children as they used too, and that would be a true statement. But to make that statement would seem to say that we are only converting those who “grow up in the church.” Remember the population has increased. People may not have as many children as they did sixty years ago, but the population has increased dramatically while the number of Christians is shrinking.
The fact is, we are not converting as many people to Christ, and one of the reasons is because we are not working at it like many Christians did forty or fifty or sixty years ago! For that matter many are not working at it like Christians did twenty years ago. I do not say this with any thought of self-righteousness. To the contrary, it is self-incriminating. My Dad was much more diligent than me, and I fear that is the case with many of us. The challenge for us is to repent from our weakness and stand up and do our duty.
Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men” (Matt. 5:13). The profit of salt is to season and enhance other things. If salt looses it's taste, what good is it? Christians who are not able to season the ones with whom they contact are good for nothing but to be trampled on by other men. Another point we might make from this thought is that in order for salt to produce results it has to be on the food. Christians will not produce any results, bear any fruit, convert any souls, if they are not attached to other people and using their seasoning influence.
Is the church dying? Can Christians still teach and convert people? It depends upon you and me. We can offer all kinds of excuses for why we think we can't teach, but the fact is we are commanded to teach. And if we teach, God will give the increase.
The time is at hand for the Soldiers of Christ to ARISE and be strong in the LORD! “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2). Ephesians 6:10-11 says, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” The devil is the enemy! Not the preacher or the elders or those who staunchly try to live right. The devil is the enemy and we must be strong in the Lord in order to resist the evil devices of Satan. Exercise yourself to become strong, and then do your duty and season the world with the gospel of Christ. We are not trying to convert people to an organization. We are not trying to convert people so that our numbers will look good or keep up with another religious body. We are trying to convert people because we love them and because their souls are in grave danger; danger of departing this life in a hopeless condition, separated from God and domed for eternity in hell. Would you want someone to leave you in that condition if they could tell you how to get out of it? The most urgent thing in my life is my salvation! And the most urgent thing in the life of every other person is their salvation, whether they realize it or not. Jesus died for all of us, not just the ones that have obeyed Him. Shouldn't they know that? But how can they if someone does not tell them? ~D.S.
THE POWER OF GOD'S WORD
Jeremiah recorded, “Is not MY WORD like as a fire? Saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jer. 23:29) Again, God declared, “So shall MY WORD be that goeth forth out of my mouth, it shall not return unto me void” (Isaiah 55:11). Still another writes, “The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12).
God's word has in it the power to save the souls of men. The apostle Paul declared, “For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved and in them that perish; to the one we are the savor of death unto death; and to the other the savor of life unto life” (II Cor. 2:15-17). There is in, or connected with, the gospel of Christ a power sufficient to save or condemn. For this reason Paul was not ashamed to preach the gospel (Rom. 1:16-18; Acts 20:26-27). The gospel of Christ is the ONLY means set forth by God to save sinners (I Cor. 1:18, 21-25). Human wisdom and eloquence cannot save. Plain preaching of the word of God is needed above all things else (I Cor. 2:1-14; II Cor. 4:3-5).
The power that can resist the master tempter (Matt. 4:3-10); that can cause the dead to come forth (John 5:28-29; 11:41-47); that can calm the tempest (Mark 4:36-41); that can cause the earth to be no more (Heb. 1:3; II Peter 3:10-11) is the power that belongs to the word of God. Thus, with Paul, “I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all them that are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).
~The Jackson Drive Admonisher, November 3, 1974, Author unknown