Cork Church of Christ
This used to be the Cork Church of Christ website during the time Doy Moyer was the minister. The church is located in Plant City, Florida. I moved from the Washington DC area to Florida when I was offered a new job. There were two memorable events surrounding our move. One: My wife had hired local house Baltimore movers who were great, making our move a good experience. We had used them for a local move several years before. The Von Paris team of professional movers worked with us from the beginning to the end of our moving process ensuring that the move was tailored to our individual needs. Since Von Paris is a full service agent for northAmerican Van Lines, the actual long distance move was done in conjunction with northAmerican Van Lines. What my wife especially appreciated was they provided all of the packing materials and moving supplies that we needed such as boxes, newsprint, bubble wrap and tape and they offered an optional full service packing service. They even (at an additional cost, mind you) have an optional debris removal and the unpacking of all professionally, carrier packed boxes service. Two: Once we were settled in at our new Florida house, we discovered Cork Church of Christ. What a find. FYI: This happened to be the church's website when we attended the church.
Doy Moyer, who was the minister, eventually left moving on to the Vestavia Church of Christ, which is located in Vestavia, Alabama. The CorkChristians.org's domain apparently expired and their website along with all information including the articles by the evangelist, Doy Moyer disappeared from the web. By that time we had moved again, this time to California. Occasionally I would check to see if a new website was built for our former church in Florida, but none was forth coming.
Recently I discovered that the domain was available, so I bought it with the goal of recreating as much of its original content as possible from its archived pages. I did not want someone else to purchase the domain and re-purpose the site for something that had nothing in common with the original corkchristians.org website.
The Cork Church of Christ is still located in Plant City, Florida.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS PAGE CONTAINS SELECTIVE ARCHIVED CONTENT FROM THE ORIGINAL SITE.
Since the site will not be exactly as you remember it, please be forgiving.
Welcome! Here you will find information regarding the Lord's church in Cork, Florida. You will also find biblical material.
Cork Church of Christ
3211 Cork Rd
Plant City, FL 33565
Phone number (813) 752-1521
Bible class: 9:30 am
General Assemblies: 10:30 am and 6:00 pm
Bible class: 7:30 pm
Singing: 1st Wed. of month, 7:30 pm
Who are we?
We are a group of Christians who meet in Cork, FL, on the west side of Plant City and not far from Tampa. We strive to be Christians only. We are an autonomous group, not affiliated with any denomination or larger universal structure. Why are we this way? Simply because we believe that this is what the Bible teaches.
Our goal is to glorify God and help each other go to heaven. Consequently, we are committed to the authority of the Bible as God's inspired word. The Bible is our source of faith and practice. We have no creeds but the Bible and seek to act only upon what God's authority provides us.
We have no gimmicks up our sleeves, no plea but the Bible's plea, and nothing to offer but Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). There is nothing fancy about us. We are simply a church that belongs to Jesus Christ.
You are welcome to browse around our website. Here you will find some explanations about what we do, what we don't do, and why. You will also find articles and links that focus on biblical studies. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.
Sunday and Wednesday Bible Classes
Classes are available for all ages. Classes up through High School are studying systematically through the Bible.
The adult Bible class in the auditorium on Sunday is studying through the Old Testament. The Wednesday night class is studying through various doctrines and questions that are prominent in the religious/denominational world.
What can you expect if you visit?
You can expect to meet friendly people who care about your soul. Our building is simple, the people are friendly, and the services are uncomplicated. We will not ask you for money, as the contributions taken up are for members. We will respect your privacy and will not be intrusive on your time. However, if you do wish to study further, we will be very happy to arrange Bible studies with you at your convenience in both time and place.
What do we do in our worship services?
Our worship is very simple. On Sunday mornings, we typically begin with congregational singing (acapella) and prayer. After some singing (see Ephesians 5:19-20) we participate together in the Lord's Supper (on the first day of the week, see Acts 20). This is served to everyone (Christians, members and visitors) and consists of partaking of unleavened bread (the body of Jesus) and fruit of the vine (the blood of Jesus) in memory of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross (see Matthew 26:26-29). Usually after this we provide a time for members to give to the common fund of the group so that we can take care of the work we have to do (see 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 as an example). We may sing some more, which is then followed by a sermon from the Bible. The order in which we do these things is based primarily upon what works well for us as a group, since God did not specify in Scripture exactly the order of singing, praying, etc. However, the reason we do these things is based upon the authority of God's word. He did specify that these are activities He wants Christians to engage in together. This is not complicated and is intended for everyone to be able to participate together.
What do we teach about salvation?
God created mankind (male and female) in His image (Genesis 1:26). He placed Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, but they sinned against God (Genesis 3). Since that time, all but Jesus have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Because of sin, mankind was unable to do anything to take care of the sin problem -- we all need God. God did step in to take care of the problem by bringing about the conditions by which Jesus Christ would come to this earth and die as a sacrifice for our sins. This is how much God loves us (John 3:16). By dying for our sins, we have an opportunity to enter back into fellowship with God through being forgiven. God's grace is available to all people. At the same time, the gospel of God's grace shows us how to respond. By hearing the gospel, we are brought to faith (Romans 10:17). God commands all men everywhere to repent of their sins (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), and be buried with Christ in baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-4). Once our sins are forgiven by God's grace, this same grace teaches to continue living godly (Titus 2:11-14).
Where is our kitchen and gymnasium?
God has given local churches very specific, limited work. We believe that the home is responsible for general feeding and recreational activities (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 11:18-22). We do eat and engage in recreation together away from the church building, but we believe it is inappropriate for the church, out of its treasury, to supply these things in general. Why? Because God's authority shows that the activities of a local church, as a church, are centered around four areas: 1) worshipping and glorifying God together; 2) edifying and strengthening each other spiritually through teaching God's word (Acts 20:32); 3) providing for needy Christians who cannot provide for themselves (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; we cannot do this generally); and 4) providing for the preaching of the Gospel to the lost (1 Corinthians 9, for example, shows that preachers can be supported to teach God's word). Christians are not opposed to doing other things as individuals. For example, all Christians should try to help others in need (Galatians 6:10), and Christians enjoy many recreational activities through the home. But as a church we are limited in the work we do (much like a hospital is limited in doing the work associated with their field). Our focus is a spiritual one, and we really have nothing to offer but Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2)
Why don't we have a piano or musical group?
The reason for this is very simply that the New Testament, which serves as our pattern for being a New Testament church, tells us that God wants us to sing in our worship to Him, but gives no indication that we should accompany our singing with instrumental music (see Ephesians 5:19-20 and Colossians 3:16-17). We understand that this goes against what is usually accepted, but historically Christians in the first few centuries worshipped God without using instruments. For most groups and denominations, the introduction of instrumental music in worship is relatively recent (the last couple hundred years). The bottom line is that we believe that the Bible teaches us to sing our praise to God without bringing instruments into it.
But what about the instruments in the Old Testament? God had His people do many things in the Old Testament that He has not authorized in the New Testament. First, the instruments for worship in the Old Testament were primarily used for the Tabernacle/Temple services. By the New Testament era when synagogues were in common use, there is little evidence to indicate that Jews used instruments in the synagogues. Nevertheless, the point is simple. God told them He wanted them to worship Him in a particular way under the Old Covenant. This included the burning of incense, animal sacrifice, a levitical (Aaronic) priesthood, etc. If we use the Old Testament as our authority for using instrumental music, why not the rest of it? We don't believe that we can just pick and choose what we like or don't like. Therefore, we believe we are restricted to acapella, congregational singing when we worship as a church of Christ.
Pen Point Blogs
Come Away to a Secluded Place
September 16, 2012 – 7:36 am
Faith has many challenges. Striving to maintain a strong faith in the midst of a difficult world is one thing, but there will also be times that we do not fully understand how events or situations play into God’s purposes. And I can just imagine that the disciples of Jesus felt that way occasionally.
Mark 6 records the death of John the Baptist. John had been such a strong, faithful servant of God. He had done everything God had asked of him. Then he gave his life. Imagine that you were one of the disciples hearing about this. Think of the questions you might have. How can this happen to John? How can God allow it happen? Is this what the kingdom of God really allows? Is this really what we were expecting? Could this kind of thing happen to us if we are faithful to the Lord’s commands?
Little did they know at this point that this kind of thing is exactly what would happen to them. And yes, the kingdom of God does allow for it.
There is little doubt that the disciples had to do some changing in their views about the nature of God’s kingdom. They will have to reconcile in their minds how God can be ruling over all, in charge of all, and yet how He allows the imprisonment and death of His servants. In truth, they should not have been all that surprised. The prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures endured similar mistreatment, persecution, and death. In one sense, John was simply following that same pattern. Still, it would have been a hard pill to swallow.
The work of the disciples was arduous. They faced rejection, difficulty, and personal discouragement. It would have been exciting at the same time. They were witnesses of great miracles. They were in the very presence of Jesus–God manifested in the flesh! And Jesus knew what they needed. He knew what they could take and when they needed rest.
“Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).
They came to Jesus and told them what they were doing and teaching. Because so many people were coming and going, the disciples hardly had time to eat. So now it was time to rest. They needed it. They needed some peace. They needed to regroup.
The world is busy, and if we let ourselves, we can get so caught up in what’s going on in the world that barely take time to rest a while. This is not simply rest from hard physical labor. This is not just sitting down for ten minutes to eat. This is about taking real rest. Calm your mind. Think on God’s peace and forgiveness. Get away from the hustle of the world and relax. The Lord knew the disciples needed it, and I believe He knows we need it today, too. Lest we overload ourselves with the cares and worries of this world (Luke 8:14), lest we become distracted, worried, and bothered about the lesser matters that may cause us to be choked (Luke 10:41), we need time to rest in order to refresh and regroup.
Of course, there is always the danger of going too far in the other direction. Too much rest may mean that we are just being lazy. For our present culture, the danger seems even more to be our distractions with the mundane–recreation and entertainment can become our gods. There is irony even in this, for while, on the one hand, the recreation and entertainment can be forms of getting away from the stresses of other aspects of life, these, in themselves can become the source of stress. Just see how adamant and stressed out sports fans can get about their teams! Yes, we even need rest away from this. I suppose it is a good thing that sports come in seasons so that there is a break.
But what I’m talking about here is much more peaceful and quiet. Get away from the crowds. Turn off the TV. Lower the volume of life. Go away to a secluded place, wherever that is for you, and rest once in a while. Read your Bible. Think about God. Pray. Let God’s peace fill you up. Then, when you get back out into the world, you’ll be more equipped mentally to deal with the pressures.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7)
He Has Lost His Senses
August 11, 2012 – 11:02 pm
“And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. 21 When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, ‘He has lost His senses.’ The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul,’ and ‘He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.’” Mark 3:20-22
Do you notice a similarity in the responses of these two groups toward Jesus?
The first group is his own kinsmen. They said Jesus had lost His senses. He’s gone crazy, we might say. This is one of those check points in historical authenticity, called the principle of embarrassment. If later Christians were just making this up, why would they make up the idea that Jesus’ own family thought He was crazy? The best explanation for this account is that this is what happened. His family thought He had lost His senses.
The scribes from Jerusalem are the second group. Their response to Jesus was not all that different from what His kinsmen said. They upped the intensity, though. “He is possessed by Beelzebul” or “an unclean spirit,” they said (see also 3:30).
Why were so many talking of Jesus like this? Why would they think He had lost His mind or that He was possessed by the devil? Jesus was casting out demons. He was healing on the sabbath. Crowds were always around Him, pressing Him, making it difficult even to eat. They had seen nothing like this before. What else were they to think?
Remember that Mark’s purpose is to demonstrate that Jesus is the Son of God (Mark 1:1, 11). Looking at it from the outside, we know that the miracles and works of Jesus were intended to demonstrate that He is, indeed, the Son of God. But the people then weren’t quite so sure yet. They weren’t gullible afterall. They just didn’t yet know how to process the idea that the Son of God had actually come into the world. It didn’t make sense to them, so their response was to project their uncertainty back onto Jesus.
Three possibilities are before us in the text.
- He is crazy.
- He is possessed by the devil.
- He is the Son of God.
Which is it? Jesus responded to the charges in a way that showed He was neither crazy nor possessed.
“And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.” (3:23-27)
Jesus’ response was rational, showing that He had not lost His mind. It was logical, demonstrating that it would not make any sense to think that He was possessed by the devil. Why would the devil defeat himself? That’s the last thing he would try to do.
Jesus then turned to show how foolish their claims were really were. Such ungodly claims carried great consequences: “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin — because they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’” (3:28-30)
These were people who knew better. They saw the miracles, and they knew the only One powerful enough to do what Jesus was doing was God. But even knowing this, they accused Jesus of having an unclean spirit. This is why it was blasphemy, and once someone could see Jesus perform the miracles, know what the miracles implied, and then make such an accusation, their attitude would not permit forgiveness. What else could Jesus show them to prove that His identity? They were intent on rejecting Him. There was nothing else to do.
If Jesus was not crazy and did not have an unclean spirit, this leaves us with one option from the text: He is the Son of God! This was Mark’s point all along.
Searching for Answers in a Broken World
July 22, 2012 – 8:16 am
The world is broken, and once again the evidence for this has shocked our nation. While a crowd was trying to enjoy a movie, a young, lost soul came into the auditorium with guns blasting. Dozens were shot; at least a dozen are dead from it. How can this happen?
What I notice anytime something like this happens is that people immediately start trying to figure out answers. Why did this happen? The media presents story after story about the shooter, trying to understand his background and what might have made him do this evil. Personally, I’d rather focus on the victims. Why make the madman so famous?
But here we are searching for answers. The truth is that such answers are likely multifaceted, yet not really all that complicated. I’m not talking about this from some pop-psychology point of view. I don’t know what factors lead a young man like to this commit such evil. I’m talking about recognizing some of the following:
1. Sin has broken this world. When sin first entered the scene in Genesis 3, the consequences were immediately felt. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), and death will continue in this world, by whatever means, so long as it stands.
2. People do commit evil. Sin has many faces, some fairly subtle and some not so subtle. When has there been a time since Adam and Eve that there haven’t been evil people committing horrible atrocities? The Bible tells us of people like Cain, Ahab, Jezebel, Athaliah, Manasseh, Herod, and others who had no respect for God or man. History is filled with the violence of evil people whose personal ambitions were greater than their respect for human life. People commit evil, and they will continue to commit evil. It’s hard to be surprised anymore.
3. The fact of moral evil underscores free will and responsibility. Actions do not occur in a vacuum, of course. This young man made a series of choices that culminated in the death of several. The movie didn’t make him do it. No one was forcing his hand. He acted deliberately and willfully. The responsibility for this rests squarely on his shoulders. And this is important because our society has long been trying to avoid personal accountability. We don’t accept the blame for anything. Yet if we follow such a course, we’ll excuse the most heinous of crimes. From the beginning, the responsibility for sin rests with those who commit sin. That includes all of us.
4. Yet God is still there. Every time a moral tragedy like this occurs, the public discussions will virtually always turn to the question of God. As is to be expected, atheists will use the events to argue against God’s existence, or at least against the idea of a God who is loving and powerful. Believers will turn to God to find comfort.
Just remember that if there is no God, then speaking of events like this as “evil” would be pointless. Without a standard by which to define evil, evil could not exist. People cannot miss a target that isn’t there.
But the same divine standard showing that senseless acts of murder are evil also shows the evil of other actions. Part of our cultural problem lies right here. Our culture defends abortion on demand, sexual promiscuity of all kinds, lying, and other forms of sins, then balks at those who would call these things evil. We have denied the standard for so long that we cannot tell up from down. As in Isaiah’s day, we call evil good and good evil (Isa 5:20). We support the teaching that God had nothing to do with our existence and that we are products of chance, accidental processes. We have taught that life has no ultimate purpose. Not understanding that ideas have consequences, we then wonder why people commit senseless acts of evil. I realize that different sins carry different kinds of consequences, and I’m not saying that because a person commits one type of sin that he will therefore commit all types of sin. But at the root of the problem is a disrespect for God and His standard. Once the Lordship of Jesus is denied, and no ultimate standard is accepted, then why should we be surprised when people do whatever they want? We can’t pick and choose with God’s will. The same standard that condemns murder also condemns fornication.
5. God has and will deal with all evil. The story of Scripture is the story of the cross, and the cross is God’s ultimate answer to the problem of evil. He suffered more evil against Himself than we can begin to imagine. By His taking evil upon Himself, He has provided the greatest of answers to the problem. Christ is the answer. Through Him, evil has a day of reckoning. Through Him, the enemy of death is destroyed. Through Him, salvation from evil is secured.
Don’t lose heart. We know there is evil in this world, but we know it because there is a God who gives us the ability to make choices. If we choose not to submit to the Lord, then we choose the same side that we have grown to detest. Don’t choose the side of evil, then complain that there is evil in the world. Choose to follow the Lord so that you, by faith, will overcome the world, “for whatever is born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4).
June 17, 2012 – 8:02 am
Fathers — without them, where would we be, right? But not everyone has the same experience when it comes to their fathers. Some have remained close to their fathers, others have been alienated from their fathers, and many have been raised without fathers at all. Consequently, how we identify with the concept of a heavenly Father, in Scripture, may also differ. The key, however, is not to try to equate the heavenly Father with your earthly father, but to understand the Father in heaven on His own terms, as He has revealed Himself in Scripture. The following is brief overview of some of the principles and ideas related to this.
God is not really referred to as “Father” in the early chapters of Scripture. He is, of course, the “Father,” since He is Creator (the originator, through whom all things are begotten). But the following passages clearly identify the Father/son relationship between Yahweh and Israel:
- • “Israel is My son, My firstborn” (Ex 4:22-23).
- • “Is not He your Father who has bought you” (Deut 32:6)
- • “But now, O LORD, You are our Father” (Isa 64:8).
- • “Have you not just now called to Me, ‘My Father, You are the friend of my youth?’” (Jer 3:4)
- • “Out of Egypt I have called My son” (Hos 11:1)
- • “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect? says the LORD of hosts…” (Mal 1:6)
So even though we don’t find them calling God “Father” often, God still expected them to think of Him as a Father who deserved honor and respect.
The New Testament concept of God as Father is even stronger. From Jesus’ baptism, Jesus is identified as the “beloved Son” (Matt 3:17). You might notice in the Sermon on the Mount how Jesus uses the concept (Matt 5:16, 45, 48; 6:1-9, 14-18, 26, 32; 7:11, 21). Jesus continually refers to His Father, which is one of the issues that offended His detractors (John 5:17ff).
For us as Christians, we often think of God as our Father, and for good reason. We are tied to Him in intimate fellowship. He is “our Father” (1 Cor 1:3), through whom all things exist (1 Cor 8:6). He is the “Father of mercies” (2 Cor 1:3). Our relationship is set in these terms: “I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty (2 Cor 6:18). He is the Father who has blessed us with ever spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3). So we bow our knees to the Father (Eph 3:14) who is over all (4:6).
The language of adoption is also used in Scripture. Note particularly Galatians 3:23-4:7. Having been brought out of sin and baptized into Christ, we are adopted as sons and made heirs of His inheritance. So we may cry out, “Abba, Father!” Surely this hightlights for us the close relationship we are to have with God. He is not aloof, standing off in the distance. He is, rather, pictured as a loving Father who runs to those who return to Him (cf. Luke 15:20). God be praised for being such a Father who blesses us beyond measure to call us His sons and daughters through Christ!
The fact that God is our Father means that we have responsibilities toward Him as sons and daughters. Primarily, we are to honor God (cf. Mal 1:6). Being a son or daughter is not just about receiving an inheritance, but is also about showing due honor and representing the Father’s name properly. Remember Jesus’ words: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matt 5:44-45). Being children of God, we must do all we can to represent Him with honor and not to bring reproach upon Him and the rest of the family. Being God’s children is a responsibility as well as a blessing.
So much more could be said, of course. For now, understand that no matter what your experience has been with an earthly father, you can know that we have a Father in heaven who reaches out to us, makes us His own people, and blesses us as His children. “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).
Progress and Standards
June 14, 2012 – 3:52 pm
Those who speak of “progress” (politically and socially) are often (not always) the ones who also claim to be atheistic or agnostic. But they have a problem. “Progress” implies movement toward a goal or standard that is “better” or even perfect. Now what standard is that? Without God, who defines such a standard to which all of us should be moving closer? Is that standard based merely on human wisdom and achievement? Is it based on mere preference? True progress can only take place when a real standard exists, and when we understand clearly what that standard is. A real standard cannot be based whim, preference, or “because we say so” dictums.
Grace Through Faith
June 9, 2012 – 3:35 pm
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8-9)
One of the fundamental truths about salvation is that we don’t earn it. Salvation is not as a result of our works (as if we do a bunch of things and the result is that we are saved). If salvation is earned, then grace is nullified.
Most are aware of the controversy surrounding “faith vs. works.” Some think that since salvation is by grace, then works have absolutely nothing to do with salvation. I’ve seen and heard statements to this effect: salvation is by faith alone, through grace alone, in Christ alone. Yes, it is in Christ only. But does no one see an inherent problem with saying “faith alone” and “grace alone”? Which is it? By faith? or By grace? The answer is both. “By faith through grace.” Why not just use the words of Scripture? Faith without grace grants us nothing; grace without faith is a spurned offer. Neither are “alone.”
There is a difference between saying that one is not saved as a result of works, on the one hand, and that works have nothing to do with salvation on the other hand. The first simply recognizes that the works in themselves are not what saves. The latter de-emphasizes the significance of the works that God Himself has assigned. If “doing the will of God” has nothing to do with salvation, then what in the world did Jesus mean in Matthew 7:21? Doing the will of God may not be what causes our salvation, but it is certainly connected to our salvation.
While I’ve heard it argued, I have not really met the person who believes, in the fullest sense, that all one needs is mentally to have faith and then do absolutely nothing about it. The same one who argues against the necessity of baptism will turn around and argue the necessity of confessing Jesus. Yet they stand or fall together as doing the will of God. If confession and repentance are necessary by the authority of God, so is baptism. None of these actions are what directly cause our salvation in some meritorious sense, but this does not make them unnecessary. The connection between baptism and salvation is not getting wet or physically clean, but in the appeal to God for a good conscience, which itself is tied to the blood of Christ (1 Pet 3:21; Heb 9:14; Matt 26:28; Acts 2:38). We’ve earned nothing. Yet in doing the will of God, we receive what God, by His grace has promised: forgiveness. Thus while grace is “free,” it certainly is not “cheap.” A great price has been paid by none other than God Himself. To diminish the works that God has tied to grace is to diminish His grace. This does not make grace something to be earned (a contradiction), but it does make grace something that should never be taken for granted.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).
God is the only one who can set the parameters of His own grace. If we try to change those terms, then it is no longer God’s grace we are seeking. If we think that grace is somehow a license to do our own will, then we must think again (see Rom 6:1-2 and Jude 4). We are saved by God’s grace. Make no mistake about that. Yet it is that same God of grace who instructs us to do His will. We’ve earned nothing. We must be grateful for all God has done. But do not mistake that for thinking that we need not obey Him, for “He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Heb 5:9). “By faith” does not imply merit, but it surely does imply action. (5/12)
The Value of a Memorial
June 9, 2012 – 8:12 am
There is a reason for Memorial Day, and it is not foremost for the purpose of BBQing. While that sounds overly simple, the irony is that we sometimes forget the reason for memorials. In America, Memorial Day is there for giving due honor and respect to those who have given their lives for the freedoms we continue to enjoy. That’s not something we should ever forget.
Any Bible student should be familiar with the concept of a memorial. For example, we might recall the following memorials:
- • God’s name (Ex 3:15).
- • The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread (Ex 12:13-14).
- • The Stones in the Priest’s Ephod (Ex 28:12, 29; 39:7).
- • Various offerings (Lev 2:9, 16; 5:12; 6:15; 24:7; Num 5:15, 18, 26).
- • Spoils of War (against Midian, Num 31:54).
- • Stones piled upon crossing the Jordan River (Josh 4).
- • Prayers (Acts 10:4).
Christians also recognize the memorial known as the Lord’s Supper: “Do this in remembrance of Me,” said Jesus (Luke 22:19). Through this act, we remember what Jesus did for us; we are reminded indeed why we are Christians.
What is the value of a memorial? This is not meant to be a psychological explanation, but I do think there are a few important matters to keep in mind. As you think about these, make the primary application to Jesus and our need to remember Him who gave His life for us.
A memorial is a way to remember the significance of an event or person. It pays respect to and gives honor for the people and events that help shape who we are as a culture. As Christians, we are our own unique culture, shaped by the Person of Jesus and the events of the cross.
A memorial is a way to keep a continual connection to the persons and events associated with it. This includes both the ones who are initially involved and those who participate in the memorial. A memorial is a form of communion. The Lord’s Supper is a fellowship with both Christ and His people (1 Cor 10:16). This creates a unity in the culture, an overarching idea that binds the community together as they participate in a common remembrance.
A memorial is a statement to others, a proclamation of why the persons and events are so important. There is a need to “talk it up” and tell the story of what happened. This is beneficial not only for the ones remembering, but so that others may also learn. Partaking of the Lord’s Supper is a proclamation of the death of Jesus (1 Cor 11:26). We make a statement about our beliefs and convictions when we partake in the memorial.
A memorial is also for posterity’s sake. The children need to learn the story, so a memorial is a way to preserve the persons and events for future generations (note how this is specifically given as a reason in Josh 4:6; see also Deut 6:6-9 and the idea of the signs). In America, we want our children to know of the sacrifices made by generations before so that they can enjoy the freedoms they now have. More importantly, in taking the Lord’s Supper, our children learn the importance of the death of Christ (if properly respected and told).
While some may pass off memorials as superficial, the fact is that we all need them to keep before us what is truly important. Forgetting would be the greatest tragedy of all. As Winston Churchill said about his country’s perseverance in war:
“What kind of people do they think we are? Is it possible they do not realize that we shall never cease to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson which they and the world will never forget?”
May Christians have such tenacity as they live out their convictions and strive to tell the story of Jesus to a lost world!
Repent and Confess
April 22, 2012 – 7:26 am
Repentance and confession are fundamental to the Christian’s relationship to God. These are not merely one time “steps” in a plan of salvation, but are necessary components in an ongoing fellowship in which God’s grace grants forgiveness and hope. They are responses to the recognition of at least two vital facts: 1) the problem of sin as it relates to God’s nature, and 2) the Lordship of Jesus over our lives. There is a connection between the two.
To repent is to turn away from something wrong and to turn toward what is right. It is corrective action. Inherent in the concept of repentance is a recognition of sin in one’s life. If we never see that we are sinners, then we will never see the need to repent. This was a basic problem with the Pharisees, as Jesus pointed out (Matt 9:10-13). Because the Pharisees didn’t know they were sick, they didn’t realize how much they needed a physician. Repentance starts with an awareness of sin. From here, we see:
a. Repentance is an intentional decision of the mind. Until we decide to change in obedience to the command (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30-31), we will continue to do wrong.
b. Repentance comes from the heart. One can change for the wrong reasons, in which case true repentance has not occurred. Sorrow is tied to repentance, but there are different types of sorrow. “Godly sorrow” is what God looks for (see 2 Cor 7:8-11). The heart, as well as the mind, is affected.
c. Repentance is seen in the change of action. John’s message was, “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt 3:8). Paul preached that the Gentiles should “repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance” (Acts 26:20). Saul and David make a good case study. Both engaged in terrible sins. Both recognized this and confessed that they were guilty. But the real difference came in how they acted afterward. Saul continued in his sins, and even become more and more twisted and hardened. David repented and showed by his continual devotion to God that he meant it. Perhaps this is why he was a man after God’s heart. God doesn’t want us merely to say we are guilty. He wants us to show Him that will love and serve Him with the whole heart. Because of this, we see that repentance is not a one time act for salvation, but continual course correction through a life of service to God.
Confession is outward admission. At its heart, confession means to agree with something. The question is, what exactly are we agreeing with?
1. We confess our guilt of sin. This is where confession is first tied to repentance. If we are repenting, then we are recognizing that we are guilty of sin of which we must repent. So there is an inherent confession of sin built into the concept of repentance. This, as Christians ought to know, becomes part of our ongoing relationship with God (1 John 1:9; Jas 5:16).
2. Just as fundamental is our confession of the Lordship of Jesus. Once again, this is not a mere step to be done once in order to be saved, but actually becomes a way of life. To be sure, we confess with the mouth that Jesus is Lord, which is also based in the heart (Rom 10:9-10). This confession is an extension of the fact that we are sanctified Christ as Lord in our hearts and are thus ready to defend our hope (1 Pet 3:15). Confessing Jesus before men (Matt 10:32-33) is a lifetime process and is born out in the way we live. Herein is the real tie to repentance. Bearing fruit appropriate to repentance means living a life of confession to the world that Jesus is our Lord, and no other has such a claim to our hearts and lives.
Repentance and confession are intertwined in a way of living before both God and men. Are we so living?
Failure of Philosophy
March 28, 2012 – 11:00 am
So much of philosophy fails because of roots in a system that begin in the acceptance of 1) non-intelligence as an ultimate foundation, and 2) the non-certainty of truth. People who accept these premises have given up any right to tell others how they ought to think, for their own thinking is also subject to the two premises. Philosophy, so rooted, becomes self-defeating.
March 26, 2012 – 8:38 am
The command not to touch something is associated with holiness, and it worked in at least two ways: 1) Don’t touch what is holy, lest it be defiled (e.g., Num 4:15) ; 2) Don’t touch what is unclean, lest you be defiled (e.g., Lev. 11:8; Isa 52:11). A holy object or place, as defined by God, may be that way because it is a representation of God Himself. For example, when Israel came to Mt. Sinai, they were not to touch it (Exo 19:12-13). God was about to meet with Moses (vs. 18). Uzzah died when he grabbed hold of the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam 6). So with that in mind, I am intrigued by Eve’s understanding of her relationship to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil: “You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die” (Gen 3:3). Sometimes we assume simply that the tree was there to test whether or not they would obey God. But I submit, though it is not explicitly stated, that maybe a better understanding is that the tree was itself a manifestation of God’s presence. It was holy. Therefore, to reach out and touch it, and then even to eat from it, was a grasping after godhood. It wasn’t just a matter of putting an arbitrary tree in the garden to see if they would obey. It was God showing His presence among them, and they disrespected God’s holiness and glory by touching and eating from what was to be holy to them. Verse 5 seems to confirm this, as Adam and Eve’s grasp at godhood was essentially a denial of God’s authority over them. To paraphrase the idea: “You don’t need God telling you what to do. You can be your own God. You can determine right and wrong for yourself.” And so it is with all of us. We choose God’s authority or our own. We attempt to grasp at godhood ourselves or we submit to the real God of heaven and earth.