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 Vol. 2, No. 12                                        Page 20                                              December, 2000

Since You AskedImage

No Right to
Be Married. Now What?

By Louis Rushmore

I read your article on divorce and remarriage. I am a born-again Christian and so is my husband. We have been married for 6 1/2 years and have a 5 month old son. We were married by a justice of the peace because I had been divorced after a brief marriage (also performed by a jop). We want to serve the Lord in all aspects of our lives. I now know that my divorce was a sin and we have both sinned by remarrying and thus committing adultery. My question is, what are we supposed to do now? We want to be right with the Lord. Any input you can give us will be appreciated. [identify withheld by editor]

Articles pertaining to marriage, divorce and remarriage that are currently archived on Gospel Gazette Online can be accessed at the following URLs. These articles present the biblical view to which mankind now living in the Gospel or Christian Age is amenable.

Too infrequently, people do not permit reason and biblical truth to prevail over their emotional investment in the marriage, divorce and remarriage dilemma. However, others like yourselves have objectively applied God's marriage instructions to themselves, though it can be a painful process. Your question, then, is not new and was addressed specifically in the article at the following link.

Honest souls such as yourselves must not only concern themselves with God's plan for their redemption (a Bible-based faith, Rom. 10:17; John 8:24; repentance, Acts 17:30; professing Jesus to be Christ, Acts 8:37-39; and immersion in water for the remission of sins, Rom. 6:3-5; Acts 22:16), but also with Christian living and service (Rev. 2:10; Titus 3:8). Like you, all of us need to routinely examine our lives in the light of God's Word (2 Cor. 13:5). When a course correction is needed, each of us needs to make that adjustment to ensure we walk in the narrow way that leads to eternal life (Matt. 7:14).

We wish you the courage and the wisdom to follow through with the hard choices necessary to be pleasing to God. This is sent with our heartfelt and sincere interest in your welfare. Our prayer goes with you.

typewriter typewriter How Do I
 Prepare for Death?

By Louis Rushmore

I too am dying, but I do not have the appearance, thank the Lord. I am dying, but people want to hear my words about abuse, thank the Lord. I was not a practicing Christian until I hear my prognosis three years ago. I live from cat scan to cat scan and from weekly chemotherapy. How do I prepare for death. I could list what I am doing, but there is one critical obstacle: "Doubt no morel." I believe, but I also think, "What really happens?" Is that so important. No, what is important is that something will happen. If you have any advice, I would be most grateful. I love God. I have accepted Jesus Christ. I acknowledge that I am a sinner. I pray. I study the Bible. I worship each Sunday. I have asked forgiveness for my trespasses. But yet, I am not in a state of grace; I cannot call myself righteous. ~ Roger MacNamara

We all must face the inevitable crossing of the threshold called death from this life to the next life. Most accountable souls, though, are in a state of denial and live with no more contemplation of their human frailty than pondered by small children and other unaccountable souls. Yet, the obvious passing from life is, of course, everywhere about us everyday. Further, the Bible affirms that death is one appointment that no one can miss. "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). Therefore, it is prudent for every soul to 'prepare to meet God' (Amos 4:12).

The first step in preparation to meet God is to acknowledge that our days on this earth are numbered and that comparatively soon we each will stand before Almighty God to answer for ourselves.

"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men " (2 Corinthians 5:10-11).

Next, we must seek God on his terms. Unfortunately, so many people expect God to accept their personal perceptions of how they should prepare for eternity and ignore what God has instructed us through his Word the Bible. Mankind cannot obligate God to accept, for instance, a redemptive plan of human origin. Nothing that humans can devise can either provide confidence this side of the grave regarding eternity or actually secure eternal bliss in the hereafter. However, by carefully studying God's Word, and especially the New Testament since all now living live under the scope of the New Testament, one can (1) know how to receive the forgiveness of past sins, (2) know how to remain saved, and (2) know that eternal salvation in heaven awaits him beyond the grave. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked" (1 John 2:3-6).

Summarized, we must obey God's will. Failure to obey the Gospel of Christ will result in a dreadful eternity.

"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Hebrews 5:8-9).

"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

Simplified, obedience relative to the forgiveness of one's past sins begins with digesting the Word of God (Gospel), which is the evidence under girding biblical faith. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Examining ourselves by the Word of God (2 Corinthians 13:5) leads honest hearts to repent of sins (Acts 17:30) and profess confidence that Jesus is the Christ and Savior (Romans 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-39). The obedience of faith (Romans 1:5; 16:26) culminates in immersion in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12; 1 Peter 3:21). Appropriately, that is the time for rejoicing (Acts 8:39), not before. Then saved, Jesus adds one to his church (Acts 2:47). In this way, one can know the truth and be made free from past sins.

Continued obedience or "walking in the light" (1 John 1:7) keeps Christians saved. As fallible beings, even sometimes Christians sin, but we have an advocate with the Father. "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous"(1 John 2:1). A Christian named Simon sinned and was instructed to repent and pray (Acts 8:22). Many non-Christians sincerely but mistakenly suppose that they can apply what God would have erring Christians do for forgiveness to themselves, circumventing God's plan for their initial forgiveness from past sins. Only if one becomes a Christian and continues to be faithful can he know that he is in a saved condition now and know that a crown of life awaits him (Revelation 2:10).

There is little that one's friends, other well-wishers and even our closest family members can say or do to dispel the painful aspect of death, irrespective of whether we mourn departed loved ones or anticipate our own untimely demise. The greatest consolation respecting the death of our friends and family or even our own deaths is to know that they or we have sought God on his terms and obeyed him. God is faithful and can be trusted to reward his faithful children (2 Timothy 1:12). Thereby can we know and have unshakeable confidence regarding that threshold of death each of must cross, sooner or later.

I was once acquainted with a very religious lady who spent her entire days trying to lift the spirits of the old, the sick and the dying. Finally, she lost her health, became incapacitated and no longer enjoyed the ability to think clearly. This lady who before attempted to cheer others, lie crying all her waking moments, audibly fretting that she did not know if she were saved. In her state of mind, it was too late for her to make her calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). It is a matter of extreme urgency that each accountable soul prepares to meet God now while opportunities remain (Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). Death is certain (unless Jesus comes again first), followed by judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Your friends from the churches of Christ (Romans 16:16) have a keen interest in you spiritual welfare in this life and in the life to come.

typewriter typewriter Must an Elder Have
 Children in the Home?

By Louis Rushmore

Dear Bro. Rushmore, could you please clear something up for me? Does a brother have to have children living in his house to be in compliance with the qualifications of and elder? I know he must have children who are faithful, but do they have to be living in his home? Thank you for your consideration of this question. I enjoy the Gospel Gazette and will pass the web address on to other members of the Lord's body. Again, Thanks, Mrs. Airdean Russell

Thank you for your kind words regarding Gospel Gazette Online. We hope that you continue to find it a useful tool and that others to whom you recommend GGO will also find it edifying.

Naturally, one would ordinarily expect one to meet the qualifications of an elder, including having faithful children (Titus 1:6), while his children are yet in his home. Obviously, from the time his children first obeyed the Gospel (really it starts before this) through the remaining adolescent years while they continue to live at home, one who would be an elder learns (through on-the-job-training) to rule his house. Learning how to guide the home was determined by the Holy Spirit to prepare an elder to help guide the family of God -- with other elders (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).

Imagine for a moment if it were the case that the window of opportunity for a man to be an elder was limited to the period between the time his children became Christians and graduated from the home (maybe at age 18). If the oldest child obeyed the Gospel at 12-years-old and if either the elder or others expected two or more children to become Christians before the man became an elder, just how many years do you suppose one could possibly serve as an elder? From a pragmatic perspective, it appears that this scenario would greatly hinder the appointment and ongoing activity of an eldership. Further, neither the qualifications indicated in Scripture nor additional information regarding elders that may be gleaned from the pages of inspiration teach that one's qualifications for guiding the family of God, which he learned from guiding his own family, somehow evaporate once those children leave the house. Common practice among the churches of Christ, which is indicative of common understanding of the applicable passages regarding elders, does not interpret qualifications of elders in such a way as to embrace such a narrow window of opportunity for one to serve as an elder. As far as I can ascertain from Scripture, it would be unwarranted and without biblical support to limit the service of an elder to the three or four years his children may continue to reside in his house after two or more of them became Christians.

typewriter typewriter Small Groups
 in the Assembly

By Louis Rushmore

I am having a big problem with praying in our congregation. They are asking us to break up into small groups during worship and pray between ourselves. I do not think that this is biblical for various reasons. What if the groups are all same sex, or even mixed groups? I have not seen women praying in the groups. I have been told that they are praying with men present. I am really confused. ~ Will and Donna Ferrell

New Testament Scripture defines the worship assembly as the whole church coming together at one time in once place. "If therefore the whole church be come together into one place . . ." (1 Corinthians 14:23). "When ye come together therefore into one place . . ." (1 Corinthians 11:20). To break into small groups for prayer during the worship assembly is counter to what the biblical record reveals regarding the nature of the assembly of the local church. Further, such an activity may parallel the conduct of the Corinthian church, which divisive conduct was condemned in 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, and certainly could contribute to a non-cohesive fellowship. (However, Bible studies or classes observable in the New Testament do not require the entire local church to assemble in one place at one time.)

Women, of course, may pray and lead prayers in the presence of other women without violating any biblical principles. Mixed groups including men and women, though, fall under biblical restrictions where male Christians may lead prayers, whereas female Christians must not lead prayers in the presence of men. This is not an issue of self-worth, etc., but simply a matter of different roles respectively assigned by God to male and female Christians. "But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God" (1 Corinthians 11:3). God assigned those respective roles at creation and again following the sin of Adam and Eve.

"For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man" (1 Corinthians 11:8-9).

"For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression" (1 Timothy 2:13-14).

Women are to be silent in the assembly, including praying, leading singing, preaching and interpreting (translating).

"I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. . . .Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence" (1 Timothy 2:8-12).

"Let your women keep silence in the churches [assemblies]: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church [assembly]" (1 Corinthians 14:34-35).

For a more in depth treatment of the biblical role of women in the church and the home, please review the archives of Gospel Gazette Online (http://www.gospelgazette.com/archives/index.shtml) under the topic of "Women."

typewriter typewriter Recognition in Heaven?

By Louis Rushmore

Dear Louis, I've heard both yes & no to this question [will we know each other in heaven?]. What do you think? Do you know any good material that would give a conclusive Biblical answer? Thanks, Chuck Boerner, member at East Alameda C of C.

There may be material of which I am not presently aware that addresses this inquiry. Yet, the Bible appears to take for granted that there will be recognition in heaven. This is also the approach, for instance, with which the Bible introduces the existence of God (Genesis 1:1). In both instances, the fact is assumed, for which there is subsequent evidence.

For example, King David presumed that he would see his baby that died after this life is over. "But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me" (2 Samuel 12:23). Somehow, also unexplained in the Bible text, departed souls will recognize other souls whom they never met in life. The rich man recognized Abraham (as well as the beggar, Lazarus), though Abraham had lived and died about 2,000 years before him.

"There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame" (Luke 16:19-24).

typewriter typewriter Public Funding for
 the Church's Work?

By Louis Rushmore

Sir, may I ask your help in resolving and issue of faith which has recently appeared in my home congregation. One or more of our ministry leaders caused to have published in the local newspaper an article that solicited funds from the public to pay for a church ministry. Specifically, our congregation gives oversight to a retirement center as a local ministry. The retirement center is proposing to construct additional rooms/apartments for future growth. Approximately two months ago it was announced at a Sunday service that an entry garden was being designed with a focal point being a brick wall. This wall of brick will be some 4' high by 8' in length. The wall will be constructed of brick which can contain a person or family's name and be dedicated to their "memory" or "honor". About 3 weeks after this announcement the newspaper article appeared. It identified the brick being available for anyone to purchase. Within the article was a clear statement that the church was selling these brick to help fund this construction. In a private conversation with one of my elders I was informed that (1) there is no scriptural prohibition against soliciting funds outside the church, (2) such solicitations have occurred the benefit the benevolent center (clothing and food) and mission campaigns (shoes for Mexico) (3) for some time "others" have made gifts to the church for various works. I am bothered by this event and the elder's response for a number of reasons. The chief being, "Where is the scriptural authority to solicit funds from the public to support a church ministry?" Our brotherhood has long sought to understand scripture by command, example and/or necessary inference. I understand scripture to give us clear examples where Christians help Christians, where local Christians supporting the local work, where Christians cooperate with other Christians to meet a need, etc. I find no example or command or inference to any congregation of the New Testament seeking funds from any source outside its ranks to support a church ministry! A call for the public to help fund the church's work is unscriptural! If not, may we next advertise for public support when our young people need a new van or when we need to add new classroom space to the church building? If advertising for public aid is acceptable then when will we begin seeing advertisements for the church's garage sale or bazaar or, dare I say it, a church raffle!? If the line has not already been drawn where are we to draw it? Am I being legalistic? Is my education on scripture flawed? Thanks so much for your help. I am really troubled over this. As I told my elder, "I see this as a matter of faith, not of opinion." ~ Charles E. Rainey

I, too, believe very strongly in the biblical hermeneutic (which incidentally, is the same way instructions are communicated from person to person daily). I, too, am troubled by occasions in which the church solicits funding from non-members of the church, even for good works. Yet, no one refuses non-solicited money gifts, services or material things that are otherwise not wrong themselves (Acts 28:1-10). Incidental interest on bank accounts and proceeds from the sale of property (e.g., church bus, church building) may also benefit the church, though neither strictly conforms to the ordinary prescription for funding the church according to Scripture. However, the church is not proactive in its attempt to fund the church by these incidentals as it is following the Bible's plan for church finance (1 Corinthians 16:1-2) or would be if it resorted to commercial sales to finance itself.

The lone biblical remedy for financial support for the church and its work is freewill giving by Christians (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

"Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come" (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).

Obviously, the church has the obligation to solicit its members to comply with the divine directive of purposeful, freewill giving. Beyond that, the Lord's church lacks biblical authority to solicit or otherwise compel non-members to contribute anything to the work of the church (other than their souls via conversion by the Gospel). To solicit money or goods from non-members or to engage commercial sales for the purpose of funding the church (e.g., car washes, bake sales, bricks, etc.) also sets a bad precedent by mimicking denominationalism, whereby some denominational evangelists and their denominations amass enormous wealth.

However, I am personally reluctant to make this sole principle a test of fellowship (i.e., refuse to recognize as faithful brethren those who differ with me in this regard). It may be that I personally would be uncomfortable enough about the degree to which what you mention is practiced that I would, as you did, talk with the elders and, if necessary for one's conscience, consider worshipping with another local congregation where I would not experience that conflict of mind. If the decision were to move one's membership to another congregation, it should be done peacefully and with cordial communication with the eldership of the church in which you are presently a member.

Doubtless, there are few congregations with which any of us could worship wherein every facet of belief and activity would conform completely to our understanding of Scripture. In some instances, our understanding is faulty or incomplete, whereas it may be sometimes that other brethren with whom we worship are wrong on a few things. Probably, we and they have room from improvement regarding some biblical matters. We must exercise some tolerance where we can if we hope to be the recipient of tolerance from others. This is not to say that we should embrace compromise concerning redemption, worship, Christian living, etc. Yet, if we divide over every matter of non-agreement, each one of us will suppose ourselves (erroneously) to be the only faithful church of God.

Usually, a church that has adopted a general disregard for biblical authority will manifest multiple, obvious departures from Scripture. For instance, worship may be modified to be more charismatic, entertaining and politically correct (e.g., introduction of non-biblical roles for women in the public worship, use instrumental music, clapping, swaying). The biblical plan of redemption may be compromised (e.g., practice of open fellowship, baptism for the remission of sins de-emphasized). Ultimately, you will have to decide: (1) whether in your opinion your congregation exhibits a general disregard for biblical authority or you and it disagree on this single principle, (2) whether this single circumstance over which you are concerned (in my opinion, rightfully) is significant enough for you to place your membership at a sister congregation (if one is available).

I hope this helps. My intention is to 'speak the truth in love' (Ephesians 4:15) and speak where the Bible speaks (1 Peter 4:11), but to encourage a balanced, biblical stance as opposed to 'devouring one another' or pursuing hasty reactions (1 Timothy 5:22). "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another" (Galatians 5:15).

Copyright 2000 Louis Rushmore. All Rights Reserved.
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