Music Matters in the Lord’s Church

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I have recently reviewed the book by Aubrey Johnson titled, Music Matters in the Lord’s Church.  The review is listed under the Book Reviews page on my blog.  Just click on the page and then click on the title of the book.
Aubrey Johnson writes for members of the church of Christ primarily to instruct them concerning the various aspects of a cappella music.  Members of the church of Christ, for the most part, do not use instruments of music in worship to God.  The book consists of thirteen chapters, designed for one quarter of study, that addresses various issues with regard to the type of music the New Testament authorizes for use in worship to God.  This book provides a good explanation regarding why members of the church of Christ do not use instrumental music, solos, choirs, quartets, vocal bands, humming, and hand clapping in worship to God.  It also shows that singing fulfills the command to worship God in spirit and  in truth.

Parental Integrity

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How do you, as a parent, pass on your faith to the next generation? One of the reasons that the Lord’s church is not growing as fast as it once did, is the loss of our own children either to the world or to false religion.  Is there anything that can be done to change this?  Where would we begin?
Christian Smith and Melinda Denton, on the basis of their groundbreaking National Study of Youth and Religion data, say, “Contrary to misguided cultural stereotypes and frequent parental misconceptions, we believe that the evidence clearly shows that the single most important social influence on the religious and spiritual lives of adolescents is their parents” (Vern Bengtson, Familes and Faith, p. 7).
Parents have the responsibility to nurture the souls of their children for eternity with God in heavenly places.  Abraham is a good example.  God trusted Abraham in the parenting task. “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” (Gen. 18:19).  God knew that Abraham would command (lead, teach, train) his children to love, fear and follow God.  God knew Abraham would lead his family to do justice and judgment (what is right in the sight of God).
Parents must examine themselves.  Below are three questions to get started:
First, What do you know about God and His truth?  Your knowledge of God is the content of what you will teach your children about God.  If your knowledge is insufficient, what will you tell your children about God?
Second, What do you believe about God and the truth?  Knowledge and belief are not the same thing.  However, faith is based upon knowledge of God’s Word (Rom. 10:17).  My faith is my own acceptance of what God Himself has revealed in His Word.
Third, What is your character?  Does your character match God’s truth?  This is the beginning of integrity.  Integrity involves the integration of my faith (which comes from God’s Word) into every aspect of my life.
The opposite of integrity is hypocrisy.  If I, as a parent, do not practice what I know to be right, I will fail as a parent in guiding my children in the pathway of righteousness.
When we ask, “how do we pass our faith on to the next generation?”, we must also ask, “what type of faith do I have now?”
Is my faith weak or strong?  Is it authentic or fake?  Is it little or great?
Parental integrity demands that I embrace all of God’s will for my life and not just pick and choose what I think is appropriate.
Parental integrity demands that parents who know the truth apply it in the discipline of their children.  Parents who know the truth and then permit their own children to disobey it will fail.
Parental integrity demands that when we teach our children that God comes first, then, when conflicts arise with worldly activities, we say no to those activities and demonstrate that love for God is supreme.
Hypocrisy will defeat the very goal of parenting:  to nurture the souls of our children in the paths of righteousness so that they will come to know God and love Him and desire to be with Him forever.
The parenting task is a soul-winning task.  Parents must be converted to Christ and committed and consecrated to Him before they can be successful in leading their children to God.

Are You Smarter Than Eve?

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In Genesis 3:1-7, we are given the biblical narrative concerning the fall of man.  The characters are:  Eve, Adam and the serpent (Satan).  The transition that takes place involves the relationship between Eve, Adam and God.  It is a transition from a spiritual state of innocence to a state of guilt before God due to sin.  Satan is the tempter.  By a series of seductive appeals and direct contradiction of God’s Word, he appeals to the mind and flesh of Eve (Eph. 2:3).  The Bible indicates that Satan is subtle, i.e. crafty, deceitful.  Eve is drawn away by her own lusts and enticed.  Satan uses the avenues of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life.  Satan’s nature and methods have not changed for over 6,000 years!  Eve was the first to sin and then Adam followed Eve, who became a temptress, in disobedience to God (Gen. 2:17).
Eve sinned against her own soul.  She sinned against God.  She sinned against her husband (by tempting him).  She failed to be morally responsible.  She believed a lie.  She rejected God’s Word and by doing so, she rejected God.  She permitted her own thoughts and desires to guide her instead of God’s Word.  She made a choice to act while disregarding the consequences of her actions.
Eve shows us that there is a fundamental difference between human beings and animals.  Human beings are created by God.  They are created in the image of God.  Human beings have free will (the power of volition and so free moral agency); intellect (rational thought and a conscience); emotion (feelings such as guilt); and a soul (a spiritual aspect to their nature).  Human beings are dualistic.  Each person has an “outward man” (physical aspect of his/her being) and an “inward man” (spiritual aspect of his/her being).  The fact of sin in human beings means that there is a fundamental difference between humans and animals.  Animals are never charged by God with sin.  There is no moral law that restricts the conduct of animals.  However, human beings are responsible to God’s laws and God holds them accountable for disobedience to those laws.
There were consequences to Eve and Adam’s sin against God.  They both felt shame and guilt.  They both came to know sin by experiencing it.  They both feared God and hid themselves from God.  Both were separated from the tree of life in the midst of the Garden of Eden and were banished from the Garden of Eden.  Both began to die physically.  Both dies spiritually at the time of their sin.  Both lost the intimacy of fellowship with God.
The consequences the serpent suffered involved: (1) a curse by God involving a change of form; and (2) enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of Satan whereby the seed of the woman would destroy the power of Satan (Heb. 2:16).
Eve suffered the following consequences:  (1) she was placed in subjection to her husband; (2) she was told that she would have pain in child birth; and (3) condemnation due to sin and death entered the world, Rom. 5:12).
Adam suffered the following consequences:  (1) God cursed the ground so that it brought forth thorns and thistles; (2) Adam’s work would be more demanding and (3) he would die physically (from dust thou art, unto dust thou shalt return.
Are you smarter than Eve?
Do you know the enemy?   In John 8:44, we are told, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”  Satan lied to Eve, but Eve did not discern the lie and reject it.  How about you?  Are you smarter than Eve?
Do you know yourself?  Every temptation is a lie.  Temptation is the enticement to sin either by the external presentation of evil allurement or the internal desire to participate in that which is forbidden by God or both.  James states that we are tempted when we are drawn away by our own lusts and enticed (James 1:14). Temptation to sin involves appeals to the mind and the body.  Eve did not practice self-control in the face of temptation.  How about you?  Are you smarter than Eve?
Do you know God?  God knows all and sees all.  We cannot sin without God knowing about it.  We are accountable to God.  God will punish the evil doer.  God means exactly what He says.  We sin when we disobey God.  Eve disregarded God and God’s Word when she sinned.  How about you?  Are you smarter than Eve?
It is possible to be smarter than Eve.  James states, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12).

The Importance of Love in Parenting

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Researchers have discovered that one of the most important elements involved in transmitting one’s faith to children is emotional bonding or love.  Within tight-knit religious traditions, the chances of passing on faith are highly dependent on the quality of parent-child relationships.  This may run counter to advice about effective religious socialization in these communities that emphasize parental piety as the crucial factor–setting a good example, teaching the right beliefs and practices, and keeping strictly to the law.  Without emotional bonding, this is not sufficient for transmission.  A distant or non-affirming parent-child relationship–particularly with the father–is a catalyst for conversion to another faith or dropping out of religion altogether (Families and Faith, pp. 78-79).
Emotional bonding involves feelings of love and warmth.  A child must feel connected to his/her parents in a meaningful way.  Cold, distant, authoritarian parenting or ambivalent or mixed-messaging parenting (sometimes cold sometimes warm) is not sufficient.  Strained or preoccupied parenting won’t work either.  This occurs when parents are distracted by marital, financial, health or substance abuse problems.  The bond of love must be real and must be felt strongly in both the parent and the child.  Parents should read I Cor. 13:1-13 to learn how to love in a dynamic and effective way.  Authentic love must be shown in a personal and impactful way in the home.
The gender of the parent also plays a significant role in religious transmission.  Having close emotional bonds with the father is strongly associated with transmission of one’s faith to the next generation.  Fathers must lead spiritually in the home.  “And ye fathers provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).  Fathers must take the lead in demonstrating love for mom and for children in the home.  Love must be more than lip-service.  Love must be communicated both verbally and through concrete actions that leave no doubt about the strength of the emotional connection.  Through authentic love and fidelity to God parents have the greatest opportunity to transmit their faith to the next generation.

Evolution –Not A Salvation Issue?

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Please consider the following quote from John Clayton. “Help your child realize that religious issues surrounding evolution are not generally salvation issues.  I have had the opportunity to work with Dr. Ralph Gilmore who is a professor at Freed-Hardeman College (sic) in Henderson, Tennessee.  Both he and I have had a long history with the school.  We disagree on questions about the age of the earth, and both of us are animated about this issue.  At the same time, we agree that the age of the earth is not a salvation issue.  We can support each other and work together without our opinions causing division or diluting our message” (Does God Exist? vol. 44, no. 1, First Quarter, 2017, pp. 12-13).
I would like to make the following observations concerning this quotation.  First, macro-evolution –the notion that human beings evolved from  lower life forms –is a false theory because it contradicts plain biblical teaching that human beings are the result of the creative power and work of God.  “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:26-27).  Any theory that contradicts a plain passage of scripture is false!  Truth saves, but lies damn.  Paul states, “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.  And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (II Thess. 2:10-12).  Liars will not be in heaven! (Rev. 21:8)
Second, the theory of evolution including the false notion that the universe and the earth are billions of years old is a contradiction of the doctrine of Christ.  Jesus said, “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6).  The creation of man occurs “at the beginning of the creation.”  According to Genesis one, Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day after God created the heaven and the earth.  “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.  He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (II John 9-11).  Jesus was present at the time of the creation (Col. 1:16).  He tells us exactly what He did.  Why can’t we believe the Lord Jesus Christ regarding what He did to create all things?  This rejection of Jesus’ words amounts to unbelief.  Unbelief will cause one to be lost (Heb. 3:12; John 3:18).
Third, God’s word is truth (John 17:17).  We can know the truth about the beginning of the universe, the earth, biological life and human life by studying God’s Word (John 8:32).  To say that one cannot know with certainty the truth about these things is the equivalent of being an agnostic.  There is no neutral position regarding the false theory of macro-evolution.  Consider this plain statement from God’s Word, “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11).  The evolutionists and the Bible cannot both be right because each affirms what the other denies.  There is no middle ground.  Every precisely stated proposition is either true or false!  God’s truth is not man’s opinion!
The statement made by John Clayton, that evolution is not a salvation issue is a man-made doctrine that sets aside the Word of God and makes it of no effect (see Mark 7:9-13).  Who will you believe–God or John Clayton?

Clarity of Scripture

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The doctrine of the clarity of Scripture, also called the perspicuity of Scripture, teaches that the meaning of a biblical text can be clear to the ordinary student of God’s Word.  God uses the text of the Bible to communicate His nature and His will to man.  The mind of God is revealed to the mind and heart of man through the inspired Word of God.  The human mind is fully capable of knowing and understanding God’s Word.  In John 8:32, Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.”  In Eph. 5:17, the apostle Paul wrote, “Be not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
While some passages of Scripture are more difficult to understand than others, these more difficult passages are also capable of being understood (II Pet. 3:16).  Peter recognizes that Paul wrote some things that are difficult to understand.  However, he did not say that they were impossible to understand.
Satan used various means to obscure the truth.  For instance, he is the father of lies (John 8:44).  He uses false doctrines and false ideologies to deceive men (Matt. 7:15; II Tim. 4:1-5; II Pet. 2). Knowledge of the truth is the only way to distinguish the lies of Satan from the truths of God’s Word.  We must study God’s word and interpret it correctly in order to understand it properly.
Consider the following passages that affirm the clarity of the Scriptures.  Moses states, “For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?  But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it” (Deut. 30:11-14).  “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Psa. 119:18).  “Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:17-18).  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:16).  Other passages for your consideration are: II Cor. 4:6; Phil. 3:15-16; and II Pet. 1:3-4; 16-21).
The doctrine of the clarity of Scripture is a safeguard against the Roman Catholic Church which asserts that Scripture is unclear apart from the interpretive framework of the Catholic Church and its traditions.  It also safeguards against Postmodernism which asserts that subjective experience should be preferred over knowing the originally intended meaning of Scripture.  We do not create our own reality as postmodernists affirm.  God defines reality both by His creative work and His special revelation given in the Bible.

Points of Similarity Between Nobie Stone and John Lennox

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There are several points of similarity between Nobie Stone’s book, Genesis One and Lessons From Space (c. 2014) and John Lennox’s book, Seven Days That Divide The World (c. 2011).  Stone does not mention Lennox or reference his book in his own work.  However, many of the concepts and even vocabulary words that Stone uses come from Lennox.
1.  Both men argue for a new look at Genesis 1.
2.  Both men speak of creation as a sequence involving a process.
3.  Both believe that the Big Bang Theory is an explanation of Gen. 1:1.
4.  Both accept the Gap Theory.
5.  Both accept the Cosmic Microwave Background theory.
6.  Both believe that the days of Genesis may be 24 hour periods separated by long periods of time.
7.  Both call for humility on the part of Christians that most certainly would disagree with their interpretations.
8.  Both argue that it doesn’t make any difference if you interpret Gen. 1 as 24-hour periods or long periods of time.
9.  Both argue that the geocentric view was a false view and that the mistake was made by theologians.
10.  Both argue that the interpretation of Genesis 1 is sophisticated.
I have uploaded a pdf under the page Biblical Articles for readers to explore the comparisons in detail with quotes.  Please read my book reviews of each of these authors.  You will find the reviews under the Book Review page on this website.

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