Heb. 12:25-29

Hebrews 12:25-29

“Our God is a Consuming Fire”

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”  This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.

There is this simple, sobering truth. When God speaks, everybody ought to listen. When God spoke to Moses on the Mountain, he trembled. When God spoke to the prophets, like Isaiah, he said, “Woe is me, for I am lost.” When God spoke to Abraham, he listened and obeyed. When God speaks, everybody ought to listen.

Now, when you open the Bible and read, think of that as God speaking to you. You’ve got mail from God? Will you read it? Will you take it seriously? Will you follow His directions?

In this passage, the writer is clear. If, under the Old Covenant, refusing to listen to God was serious – how much more serious, to refuse to listen to God, who sent His Son to die for us!

God has established a kingdom that cannot be shaken. John 3 teaches, we are born into that kingdom. In that kingdom, we are to be faithful citizens, living under the rule of the King, Jesus Christ.

It is this serious – Our God is a consuming fire! Therefore, let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.

Responsibilities of Women

titlepageAFResponsibilities of Christian Women

By Annie Laurie Wolfum

Reprint 2020

{This tract was given to me by Loyce Rogers in 2019. I scanned it for current reprint, without revision or edits; only formatting changes. Annie Laurie Wolfum lived from 1900 to 1978, a noted English Teacher at Mission High School and member of the Laurel Heights Church of Christ.}

Immediately before the ascension, Jesus gave his apostles the great commission (Mt. 28:18-20; Mk. 24:44-48; 1 Cor. 15:1-4). In Jerusalem, on the day of Pentecost following, the gospel was first preached in its fullness. Three thousand obeyed that day. It is reasonable to suppose that the number included women. All three thousand believed, repented, and were baptized (Acts 2:37-41). Today men and women do the same things when they obey the gospel. The Lord has had only one plan of salvation — the gospel (Rom. 1:16-17). It is His plan now.

However, Christians must grow in grace and knowledge of the truth so long as they live (Acts 2:42; 20:32; II Pet. 1:5-7). It is a shame for Christians not to grow (Heb. 5:12-14). Indeed it is a sin not to grow. Christians must also practice in their daily lives the principles of truth as detailed in apostolic teaching and recorded by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament (1 Cor. 15:58; Gal. 5:16).

Both Paul and Peter give special admonitions to men, to women, to children. Without making God a respecter of persons, these instructions vary according to the needs of the group addressed. Of God’s wisdom there is no lack. He knows all men and their utmost need and has given them all things pertaining to life and godliness. This article is a study of Scriptures that teach women’s responsibilities as Christians.

DAUGHTERS

First a woman is a daughter. She may also in the course of her life be a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and perhaps a widow. You know how God made woman from a rib of the man Adam, whom he had already made. Adam called her woman because she was taken out of man (Gen. 2:23). He also called her Eve because she was the mother of all living (Gen. 3:20). These facts are important in the man-woman relationship (I Tim. 2:11-13). 

The world scoffs at the truth in these matters, but Christian women obey God rather than follow public opinion. Let us investigate God’s will for those women who wish to serve him. Continue reading “Responsibilities of Women”

We Need More Confidence

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Can we get just a little over-confident?

I read the other day about a little girl, working on a homework assignment. Working diligently and with confidence. Her father said, “what are you working on?”

She said – “I’m writing a report on the condition of the world and how to bring peace.”

The father said, “Isn’t that a pretty big order for a young girl?”

She said, “Oh no . . . there are three of us in class working on it!”

Holy, Holy, Holy

Isaiah Insights #11

Warren E. Berkley – wberkley.podbean.com

Holy, Holy, Holy

Isa. 6:1-3

With this podcasts, we move into Isaiah chapter 6. Isaiah’s vision of the Lord and His commitment to respond to the Lord’s call.

First, who is He responding to? “The Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up,” and identified by this declaration: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.”

One of the first steps one takes out of sin and into salvation is – recognition of who God is. He is holy. That means, He stands apart, “high and lifted up.” He is different, separate from man – absolutely powerful and perfect; deserving of man’s highest regard. Later in the book of Isaiah – this statement: “To whom they will you liken Me, that I should be his equal? Says the Holy One,” (Isa. 40:25).

Isaiah was tremendously impacted by the presence of the Holy One, distinquished in His spendor. And, not just holy – but for emphasis: “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

When one obeys the gospel, the person is not just complying with conditions, submitted to commands and changing his or her life. We must think of responding to the Holy and Almight God.

Reverence is, therefore, a part of conversion; an essential part. We are fearing God and keeping His commandments – when we first step out of sin into Christ through repentance and baptism

Like Isaiah, we are stimulated by His holiness and responsive to who He is. We will put Him first now; we will be mindful of Him day after day; we will be daily disciples of His Son; we will embrace His people and reach the lost.

Because, we know who we are responding to. The Holy, Almighty God.

I like this quote from Ray Ortlund.

The holiness of God distinguishes him absolutely, even from the sinless angels. The Bible speaks of the splendor of God’s holiness (Psalm 29:2), the majesty of God’s holiness (Exodus 15:11), the incomparability of God’s holiness (Isaiah 40:25). His holiness is simply his God-ness in all his attributes, works, and ways. And he is not just holy; he is “holy, holy, holy,” each word boosting the force of the previous one exponentially.

Please take time to reflect on this and make certain your life is founded on your reverence for who God is.

Ortlund Jr., Raymond C.. Isaiah (Preaching the Word) (p. 77). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

Biblical View of Sex

From Christianity Magazine archives, documentation below.

The Biblical View of Sexuality

by Steve Patton

CHRISTIANS HAVE avoided few subjects as much as that of sex. To even say the word makes a lot of Christians very uncomfortable. Yet the sexual act is a frequent topic of discussion in the Bible and those discussions are not always negative. During a time when sex is being perverted and abused on every hand, it is time for Christians to emphasize, both publicly and privately, God’s stated views regarding sex. If we don’t, we will raise a generation that has little idea of the beauty and wholesomeness of true marital sexual love.

The basic principles of sexual relationships are clear from Scripture. First, sex is to be shared only between a male and a female. This is how God created mankind in the beginning. He taught Adam and Eve to cohabit when He said, “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Few sins are pictured as repugnant to God as homosexuality. Homosexuals were to be put to death under the law of Moses (Leviticus 20:13). Paul pictured male and female homosexuals as the vilest of sinners (Romans 1:26–27). They will be lost eternally (1 Corinthians 6:9–10). The second important biblical principle is that sex is to be shared only in marriage. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled.” Here is the only approved place for sexual relationships: a husband and wife sharing this wondrous experience only with each other. “Fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4).

It seems, though, that these strong scriptural prohibitions of illicit sex have caused many Christians to believe that there is something wrong with all sex. They believe the Bible teaches that marital act is only for propagation of the race. Such an attitude has caused serious marital problems for many and limited proper discussion of this most important part of the marital relationship. Let’s get a clear understanding of God’s positive attitude toward sex.

God designed and made male and female. He pronounced them “very good.” Adam and Eve had the same capacity for sex (including the powerful sexual urges) that we have today. God meant for it to be that way. When God presented Adam with his wife, both Adam and Eve were naked and were not ashamed (Genesis 2:25). That is the way God intended for it to be. In the innocence of a perfect state in the garden, God intended the man and woman to fully enjoy each other. Regrettably, Satan has twisted and corrupted attitudes toward sex so that even Christians have trouble appreciating what God originally intended.

God also meant sex to be a very pleasurable and guiltless experience in marriage. He commanded Adam and Eve to engage in sex (Genesis 1:28). The wise man wrote in Proverbs 5:18–19: “Let your fountain be blessed; And rejoice in the wife of your youth.” How was he to do this? “Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; And be ravished always with her love.” Solomon was extremely frank about such matters (see Song of Solomon 4:1–16). His figurative language was not intended to cover up his picture of his mutual enjoyment of each part of his bride’s body. What a man and woman do together in the marriage bed is honorable (Hebrews 13:4). Christians should learn to view the marital act with the same wholesomeness and beauty as does their God.

The mutual obligations that a husband and wife share are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7. There Paul teaches that to withhold sex from your partner is a sin. Each is to recognize the power they have over their partner in this area and not abuse this power. No Christian uses the marital act as a reward for getting his or her way or withholds it as a punishment. Sex is not a tool. It is a gift of God for good to be shared in a loving and caring manner.

One other principle that I believe is being abused today is that of sex for procreation. It is obviously a God-given teaching. That does not mean that the act can only be engaged in for the purpose of producing offspring. Passages already examined clearly indicate it is also intended for pleasure. However, the narcissistic world we live in has produced people who marry but want no part of having children. They totally separate the marital act from procreation. I am convinced that such a practice is wrong. One of the purposes of marriage is to propagate the race. Christians who marry should want children. If ever there was a time when more godly children were needed, it is today. However, even among Christians, there are some who would be so selfish that they would want the pleasures of marriage but not the bother of children. I believe such people need to reexamine the purposes of marriage and see if they are not being selfish and ungodly in their attitudes and goals. Let us, however, not be too quick to judge a childless couple, for often they do desire children but have been unable to have them.

When God gave the capacity for sexual love, He gave us one of life’s most wonderful blessings. Let Christians proclaim the beauty of this blessing while also teaching its proper use. Even in a perverted and corrupt world Christians can enjoy such a blessing just as God intended.[1]

 

 

[1] Patton, S. (1992). The Biblical View of Sexuality. (D. Bowman, Ed.)Christianity Magazine, 9(8), 17.

Adultery

Guest writer from Christianity Magazine Archives

Adultery—“A Heinous Crime”

Sewell Hall

If you were asked to name a “heinous crime,” what would you think of first? Cyanide in Tylenol? A recent senseless assault on some innocent child? The murder of a million Jews in Germany? Surely all of those are “heinous crimes.” How many of us, however, would identify adultery as “a heinous crime?” Job called it that in Job 31:11.

We have seen so much evidence of adultery around us that we have become anesthetized to its seriousness. It is dramatized on the screen, glamorized in music and immortalized in print. It has become a way of life for multitudes of otherwise respectable people, so much so that many have come to believe that anyone who abstains is abnormal.

Job’s designation is still accurate. Consider some things of which one is guilty when he commits adultery.

Breach of Contract. When we marry we promise before God and witnesses to keep ourselves to our spouse alone “so long as we both shall live.” Does our word mean nothing? We would be incensed if our companion should break that covenant; what right have we to break it? If we do not have the honor and integrity to keep this promise, what promise can we be expected to keep?

Grand Larceny. Nothing my companion in marriage possesses is so valuable to her as the trust she has in me that I am keeping our marriage contract. No amount of money I might take from her could possibly hurt as much as to take away that trust by proving to be unfaithful. To rob her of that is to rob her of the security and stability to which her own sacrifices and investments clearly entitle her.

Unlawful Trespass. Webster says, “Trespass implies an unlawful or unwarranted entrance upon the property, rights, etc. of another.” If the person with whom one commits adultery is married, then the right to the body of that person belongs to his or her spouse (1 Corinthians 7:4) and anyone else is trespassing. Even if the person is not married, the charge of trespassing still holds, for the only one who has a right to anybody is a marriage companion.

Treason. Christians are citizens of the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13). Adultery is one of Satan’s devices in his war against God. If a Christian engages in adultery, he is giving aid and comfort to the enemy and allowing himself to be used for his purposes. The figure is different but the message is the same in 1 Corinthians 6:15. “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!”

Desecration of a Place of Worship. The argument against sexual immorality in 1 Corinthians 6 is continued in verses 19 and 20. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Contempt of Court. Contempt of court is “any willful disobedience to, or disregard of, a court order or any misconduct in the presence of the court” (Compton’s Encyclopedia). God is “Judge of all the earth” (Genesis 18:25) and “there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). Every act of adultery, therefore, is “in the presence of the court” and is a direct violation of His injunction: “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Romans 13:9).

Gambling. One who commits adultery is putting at risk everything of value in his life. He is gambling with his honor, his wealth, his health, his conscience and his ability to control his thoughts (Proverbs 5:9–14). He is gambling with church relationships, family relationships, and even with his right to be married. I know of no passage which gives a person divorced for adultery the right to marry anyone else.

Murder. Adultery murders something good in a person that is almost impossible to restore. This must have been what the Holy Spirit was saying in 1 Corinthians 6:18. “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.” This is not to question that adultery can be forgiven; it can be (1 Corinthians 6:9–11). But one thing is certain: if it is not forgiven, the soul is murdered. Revelation 21:8 warns that the “sexually immoral … shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

What other sin involves so many offenses against God, man and self? We must agree with Job that adultery is a “heinous crime; yea it is iniquity to be punished by the judges.” Even if human judges overlook it, “the Lord is an avenger of all such” (1 Thessalonians 4:6).[1]

[1] Hall, S. (1986). Reminders: Adultery—“A Heinous Crime.” Christianity Magazine, 3(5), 5.

Heb. 12:18-24

Hebrews 12:18-24

“Which Mountain?”

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. – Heb. 12:18-24.

As soon as this is read, first you see two mountains: Sinai and Zion. Then your next thought is – the first is associated with the Old Covenant; while Zion represents the New Covenant of Christ.

Next, we look further into the details. And when we add to this the Old Testament narratives about the giving of the law in Exodus, something else comes to our attention. The event on Mt. Sinai conveyed fear and distance; all the people didn’t have access to God. In fact, they were told not to come near and Moses was terrified.

Contrast that scene with what is taught in Hebrews about the access we can have to God through Christ. One statement of this truth is back in Heb. 4:16, after the affirmation that Christ is our great High Priest: “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

God is to be feared and respected. Yes. But we have access to God through Christ, which is depicted as Mt. Zion, “the assembly of the first born, enrolled in heaven.” Yes. Jesus is our faithful high priest and our Mediator, the Mediator of the New Covenant.

Running in the wrong direction

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair
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Running in the Wrong Direction

The story of “Wrong Way Riegels” is a familiar one, but it bears repeating.

On New Year’s Day, 1929, Georgia Tech played UCLA in the Rose Bowl. In that game a young man named Roy Riegels recovered a fumble for UCLA. Picking up the loose ball, he lost his direction and ran sixty-five yards toward the wrong goal line. One of his teammates, Benny Lom, ran him down and tackled him just before he scored for the opposing team. Several plays later, the Bruins had to punt. Tech blocked the kick and scored a safety, demoralizing the UCLA team.

The strange play came in the first half. At half-time the UCLA players filed off the field and into the dressing room. As others sat down on the benches and the floor, Riegels put a blanket around his shoulders, sat down in a corner, and put his face in his hands.

A football coach usually has a great deal to say to his team during halftime. That day Coach Price was quiet. No doubt he was trying to decide what to do with Riegels.

When the timekeeper came in and announced that there were three minutes before playing time, Coach Price looked at the team and said, “Men, the same team that played the first half will start the second.” The players got up and started out, all but Riegels. He didn’t budge. The coach looked back and called to him. Riegels didn’t move. Coach Price went over to where Riegels sat and said, “Roy, didn’t you hear me? The same team that played the first half will start the second.”

Roy Riegels looked up, his cheeks wet with tears. “Coach,” he said, “I can’t do it. I’ve ruined you. I’ve ruined the university’s reputation. I’ve ruined myself. I can’t face that crowd out there.”

Coach Price reached out, put his hand on Riegels’s shoulder, and said, “Roy, get up and go on back. The game is only half over.”

Riegels finally did get up. He went onto the field, and the fans saw him play hard and play well.

All of us have run a long way in the wrong direction. Because of God’s mercy, however, the game is only half over.