All posts by JT

Christian. Husband. Dad. 911 dispatcher. Baseball fan. Horror nut. Music nerd. Bookworm. Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year.

Gatlinburg fires destroy church building and members’ homes

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)

Gatlinburg church of Christ

Fire has destroyed the meeting house for the Gatlinburg church of Christ (above). According to the congregation’s website, all members are safe and accounted for. The following was posted on Facebook by a friend of Rod Rutherford, who preaches for the church in Gatlinburg:

“Since last talking on the phone with you I have learned the three members have lost their homes. A friend called a friend in the Gatlinburg fire department to ask about the church building. He was told that everything on Reagan Drive was destroyed, either burned down or badly damaged beyond use. This would include our church building. We plan to worship with the Sevierville church Sunday and then have a congregational meeting to discuss our future. Our building was fully insured. If anyone wants to help those who lost their homes, we ask them to send a contribution to the Gatlinburg church of Christ and mark it For Fire Relief. We will use it to help our members first and then others as funds permit. The address is: Gatlinburg church of Christ, P.O. Box 361, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. Thanks for your interest, prayers and concern.”

Personal Responsibility in Evangelism

2 Timothy 2:2

I. BRINGING OTHERS TO JESUS

    A. Andrew brought Peter to Jesus (John 1:35-42)
    B. Andrew brought the lad with loaves and fish to Jesus (John 6:5-9)
    C. Andrew (and Philip) brought the Greeks to Jesus (John 12:20-22)

II. EXPLAINING THE SCRIPTURES

    A. Apollos was: (Acts 18:24-28)
            1. Eloquent and mighty in the Scriptures
            2. Spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord
            3. He only knew the baptism of John
    B. Aquila and Priscilla demonstrated gentleness in correction
    C. Aquila and Priscilla demonstrated patience in teaching
    D. Aquila and Priscilla understood the audience

III. KNOWING THE SCRIPTURES

    A. Take what you have learned, and teach others, so that they can teach ohers, who will teach others, and so on (2 Timothy 2:2; Matthew 28:19-20)
    B. Know how to rightly divide/handle aright (2 Timothy 2:15; Ephesians 6:17; Romans 1:16)
    C. Give Christ a special place—the HIGHEST place—in your heart (2 Peter 3:15; Colossians 3:1)

IV. NEVER GIVE UP!

    A. In due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart (Galatians 6:9)
    B. The example of David Lipscomb, J. W. Shepherd, and the mother of the Douthit brothers
    C. You don’t know what kind of seed you are planting

Prepare Yourself to Lead (Lessons from Joshua)

Joshua 1:1-9

I. Good leaders are humble

    A. Joshua first made himself a servant (Exodus 24:13; 33:11)
    B. Even as a leader, Joshua was willing to serve
            1. He was exalted by God (Joshua 3:7; 4:14)
            2. He still served One who was greater (Joshua 5:13-15)

II. Good leaders put their faith and trust in God

    A. Spying out the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:27-28, 31-33; 14:6-9)
    B. The fall of Jericho (Joshua 6:1-5; Hebrews 11:30)

III. Good leaders are men of God’s Word

    A. One can only follow the Word if he knows the Word (Joshua 1:7-8)
    B. Joshua’s commitment to God’s Word is shown:
            1. When he reminded the 2 ½ tribes of their responsibility (Joshua 1:12-15)
            2. When he renewed the covenant at Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim (Joshua 8:30-35)
            3. When he encouraged the people to obey God, even at the end of his life (Joshua 23:6,14-16)

IV. Good leaders put God first

    A. Following God’s command is more important than following human wisdom (Joshua 8:1-2, 30-35; 9:1-2)
    B. Care about what God thinks about us more than what people think about us (Joshua 24:14-16)

A Study of Revelation

This morning, we completed a twelve-lesson study of the book of Revelation in our middle school class. It was a challenging study, but the kids were up to the challenge and encouraged me the whole way.

We approached the study from the understanding that Revelation was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem. I relied heavily on Foy E. Wallace’s commentary as well as Paul R. Blake’s study. Other resources consulted included James Burton Coffman’s commentary and Arthur Ogden’s The Avenging of the Apostles and Prophets.

My class notes are not as in-depth as any of the above sources, as mine were designed to be studied in twelve class sessions that lasted about 35-40 minutes each. I offer my notes here as a study aid, but encourage those who are not limited by time to investigate the resources listed above for deeper study.

Click here to download A Study of Revelation: Class notes compiled by Jason T. Carter (PDF format).

The Responsibility of the Hearer

The listener has a great responsibility in preaching. Observe the attitude and action of the Bereans in Acts 17:10-11: “Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”

We are to consider how our lives compare to the Word, not resisting the preaching by making excuses or rationalizing sinful behavior. We must prepare our minds and hearts for the lesson, ready to apply it so that we can serve God more faithfully. It is not enough to just sit quietly and listen to the sermon; we must act accordingly based on what we learn. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22-25).

We also have a responsibility to make sure the preacher is staying on track, that he is not preaching doctrine that contradicts the revealed Word. We should study along with the lesson, not just accepting what the preacher says, but verifying that his message is in agreement with God’s inspired Word.

Men who commit their lives to gospel preaching take on an important work; we should be as supportive of them as we possibly can. As long as they preach the truth we should encourage them at every opportunity. Show them that we are listening by turning to the Scriptures during the sermon, by taking notes, by putting their words into action in our everyday lives. Tell them how much we appreciate the sacrifice they have made to serve God.

The Value of the Old Testament

We recognize that we are no longer under the Law of Moses today. We do not keep the Sabbath or offer animal sacrifices; rather, we do the things we do because we were commanded by Jesus and the inspired writers of the New Testament, which supplants the requirements of the Old Law.

Have you ever stopped to consider, “What makes the Old Testament old?” The answer is quite plain and simple: “God did!” The Scriptures verify this. In Hebrews 8:13, Paul writes, “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,’ He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” No longer are we subject to “the handwriting of requirements that was against us” (Colossians 2:14).

Although we no longer obey the ordinances of the Old Law, there is great value found in the pages that precede the New Testament of Christ. The examples recorded from us allow us to learn from the mistakes of others, so that we don’t have to suffer the consequences and pain of disobedience (if we are wise). Paul says, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).

The old adage is true: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” A casual glance at the rise and fall of nations throughout secular history offers proof of this statement, but a study of the Old Testament shows it even more clearly. So don’t stop listening when the preacher starts to quote from the books of the Kings and Chronicles, or references the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, or Jonah. We can and we must learn from the inspired Scriptures that have been providentially preserved for us!

Should a Christian Give to the “Salvation Army”?

Each December, department stores are packed with holiday shoppers, bedecked with Christmas decorations, and at nearly every entrance will be a red kettle next to a person ringing a bell. The Salvation Army seems to be as much a part of the Christmas season as Santa Claus. This raises the question: “Should a Christian give to the Salvation Army?” This is a good question that should be carefully considered by every member of the Lord’s church as they decide how to use the money with which God has blessed them.

William Booth (1829-1912), a New Connection Methodist minister, organized the Salvation Army in the late nineteenth century. Brother Owen D. Olbricht, in his 1972 class booklet, Studies in Denominational Doctrine Book Two, says that one of the original purposes of the Salvation Army was to “help those in poverty”, and that they “provided boarding-houses, orphanages, maternity hospitals, and settlements in the poor quarters of the city” (p. 25). However, the Salvation Army is more than just a benevolent society. It is a religion with a well-defined body of doctrine, including much error.

While this denominational group holds to some of the more common errors, including total hereditary depravity and the direct operation of the Holy Spirit, there are some other religious errors that may come as a surprise to those who have never researched the group.

Not only does the Salvation Army believe baptism is unnecessary to salvation, they refuse to practice it. The same is true of the Lord’s Supper. “As it is the Salvation Army’s firm conviction that these ceremonies are not necessary to salvation nor essential to spiritual progress, we do not observe them” (The Salvation Army Handbook of Doctrine, p. 160). These words are a far cry from the teachings of the New Testament (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 20:7). They assert, “Water baptism was evidently not intended to be perpetually observed” (p. 163) and that the reference to the Lord’s Supper by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 “should be interpreted spiritually” (p. 165).

The Salvation Army has corrupted the worship revealed in the New Testament as well. Christians are commanded to sing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), but the Salvation Army adds instrumental music to the worship service. Women preachers are accepted within the Salvation Army, dating back to the founder’s wife, Catherine Booth. The Scriptures clearly state that women are “not…to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man” (1 Timothy 2:12). Additionally, the Salvation Army finances its work in ways not authorized by the Scriptures, including those red kettles you find outside department stores during this time of year. In the New Testament, the church financed its work through the contributions of its members (1 Corinthians 16:2).

Returning to the question, “Should a Christian give to the Salvation Army?” I would counter with the question, “Should a Christian support an organization that teaches religious error?” What saith the Scriptures? Ephesians 5:11, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”

A Christian has no more business giving to the “Salvation Army” than he does to any other humanly-originated false religion or denomination.

Thanksgiving

We focus a lot on gratefulness on this day, and rightly so. We have been blessed with so much in this life, and have been promised so much more in the next if we are faithful.

Paul was thankful, not only for the church at Rome, but for their faithfulness. Romans 1:8, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” How exactly was their faith made known? It was through their “obedience leading to righteousness” (Romans 6:16-18; 16:19).

He was also thankful for the congregations in Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:4), Ephesus (Ephesians 1:6); Philippi (Philippians 1:3), Colosse (Colossians 1:3), and Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 1:2). Again, note that the thanks is based upon their actions through faith: “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

Paul commands us to be thankful. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17; cf. Ephesians 5:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Hebrews 13:15). Should we need such a command? Perhaps we shouldn’t, but we are weak and forgetful people, so it serves as a good reminder that we should frequently count our blessings.

The greatest blessing, of course, is the sacrifice of Christ. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15). May we never forget His love for us!

Saving Faith

There can be no denying that faith is essential in God’s plan of salvation. Jesus says, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Paul writes, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

The Hebrews writer identifies the marks of the faith that saves in Hebrews 11:6: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

Before anything else, we must believe that God exists. This is the very foundation of saving faith. We can be certain of His existence through the evidence of His creation (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20; Hebrews 11:3), as well as through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Second, we must believe that God is a rewarder (Hebrews 10:35-39). Peter calls it “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4), and that the “end of your faith” is “the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 3:9).

Who does God reward? The Hebrews writer says that “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” God desires men to seek Him and find Him (Acts 10:26-27). The Savior said that we are to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

The logical result of these things—believing in the existence of God, believing in a rewarding God, and seeking Him—is obedience. If we truly believe what He has revealed, we will submit to Him. We will not try to make excuses or find loopholes, but quickly do what is necessary to please Him. We can avoid struggling with submission and obedience by spending more time in His Word, further developing and strengthening our faith.

Attributes of Apollos

Acts 18:24-28

I. APOLLOS’ LOVE FOR GOD’S WORD

    A. “Mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 2:15)
    B. “Instructed in the way of the Lord” (Acts 18:25)
            1. John’s baptism (Mark 1:4; 11:30; as opposed to Matthew 28:19)
            2. Re-baptism in Ephesus (Acts 19:1-5)

II. APOLLOS’ ATTITUDE WHEN HE LEARNED THE TRUTH

    A. He humbly accepted correction
    B. He believed that those in error should change (Galatians 1:6-9; Acts 18:26)

III. APOLLOS’ TREMENDOUS ZEAL

    A. “Being fervent in spirit” (Acts 18:25; Romans 12:11)
            1. zeo – “to boil with heat, be hot…metaphorically, used of ‘boiling’ anger, love, zeal for what is good or bad”
            2. Zeal must be based on truth (Romans 10:1-3)
    B. “Vigorously refuted the Jews publicly” (Acts 18:28)
    C. The teacher is not the thing to put your faith in; put your faith in God (1 Corinthians 13:1-7)