Home | Archives | Guest Book | Links | churches of Christ | Contact Us
Plan of Salvation
 | Correspondence Course | Daily Bible Reading | Store | World Evangelism
Gospel Gazette Online logo

Serving an international
readership with the
Old Jerusalem Gospel
via the Internet.

Vol.  10  No. 8 August 2008  Page 12
powered by FreeFind
Current Issue: Go to Page 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20

T. Pierce BrownTo Be or Not to Be

By T. Pierce Brown

    Shakespeare had Hamlet say, “To be or not to be.” He was talking about whether he should commit suicide or, as he put it, “shuffle off this mortal coil,” or “his quietus make with a bare bodkin.” When we look in the Bible we find many expressions that have to do with what we should be or not be. They are not talking about suicide, but about what we should be or not be in life. We think it appropriate to examine some of them in more detail. If we had space for a small book, we might examine those in the Old Testament, for there are many powerful and profitable admonitions, such as Joshua 1:6, “Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.” Many of them would apply to us as well as to them. We need strength and courage for our fight just as they did, but we shall confine our examination and remarks to just a few in the New Testament.

    Matthew 5:12 says, “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” He is specifically talking about the times when they were to be persecuted, but the admonition applies to us at all times. Whatever circumstance in life confronts us, if we are living as Christ would have us live, we should be exceeding glad. The reason given here is only one of the reasons, but it is enough. “Great is your reward in heaven.” Although each of us should be aware that in the strict sense of the word we cannot “earn” our reward, we can be assured that we will get it by the grace of God when we constantly live in such a way that we glorify God.

    Matthew 5:48, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Although I respect brother J.W. McGarvey above almost any scholar whose works I read, I think he was wrong in his comments on this verse. He thinks this is the ideal, but none of us can reach it. If you will read carefully what Jesus is talking about, it is that we are to love our enemies and do good to them that persecute us. Can we do that, or is it merely an ideal for which we should strive? When we have done that, we have reached the perfection (maturity) Jesus is talking about. It has nothing to do with whether we can sin, and certainly does not imply that we are as good or as loving as God is. However, a circle that is only one inch in diameter is just as perfect as one that is one foot in diameter. When one has done exactly what God says do, we leave you with this challenge: If that is not perfection in that area, what would be? If God says, “Stand up” and I stand up, who can properly say, “That is not perfect with respect to that command and is only an ideal to which we should strive?” That does not suggest or imply that when one has done exactly what God says in one area that means he has done it in all other areas, or is without weakness or fault. Nor does it imply that even if he did all that God wanted in every area that God is therefore in debt to him in some way, or owes him something. Luke 17:10 says we would still be unprofitable servants.

    Matthew 18:3, “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Closely related to John 3:3, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” In John 3:5, “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” John 3:7 reads, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” All of these go together, for they involve what we should be and must be if we are to enter the kingdom of God. Many times we have pointed out that the expression translated “born again” in the KJV does not mean “born again,” but means “born from above.” I do not raise any particular objections to “born again,” for if a person is “born from above” he is certainly “born again,” for his first birth was “from below” or a natural fleshly birth. Yet, the expression, “born from above” would have been more expressive and meaningful, for it would automatically express the idea that the new birth is from the Spirit of God. Since Jesus tells us that the “seed of the kingdom is the word of God” (Luke 8:11) and 1 Peter 1:23 tells us, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever,” it should be easy for any thoughtful, studious person to realize that when the Gospel message falls into good and honest hearts and the person obeys it, he is born from above, and can now enter the kingdom of heaven. However, we have no doubt that there are many who have been baptized who have not been converted and become like little children.

    Romans14:5 reads, “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” Sadly, there are some in the church today, or connected thereto, who teach that one opinion is as good as another, and one has no right to insist that the doctrine he teaches is any better than any other doctrine. In fact, they usually teach that doctrine is not important anyway. I would suggest to them that if doctrine is not important, they should quit teaching it, for what they are teaching is false. What is the meaning of this passage? The Jew was accustomed to doing no work on the Sabbath. If he felt like taking off, let him. If he does not eat pork, let him do without. We are not to bind on others what God did not bind. This does not mean that the Jew or any other had the right to bind the Sabbath on Christians as a day they must observe, or that they were to bind on Christians the prohibitions of the Law of Moses. It does mean that if a person does not want to do secular work on the Lord’s day and devote it wholly to doing things of a religious nature, he has a right to that option. However, if he should see a fellow Christian helping his sick neighbor by mowing his lawn on the Lord’s day, he should not condemn him for so doing.

    There are many other important statements about things we should do and not do. We suggest that every preacher might do well to preach a series of sermons on these important commands of God.

Current Issue: Go to Page 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20