|Volume 18 Number 8 August 2016||
Gary C. Hampton
The headline was shocking. “More than 5,000 Mississippi third-graders could be held back this year for low reading scores” (Skinner). There is nothing trivial about this problem. Virtually everything we do in life requires the skill of reading.
The church may well be facing a reading problem of its own. Teachers urging students to turn to a particular book, chapter and verse are far too often met with blank stares. This is sad when one considers that even some four-year-olds can memorize the books of the Bible. The problem is not in a general lack of ability. Young people and adults easily learn the vital statistics for each player on their favorite teams, full recipes for dishes and intricate shortcuts for reaching that special fishing hole or getting to another level in their favorite game. The real causes must be found elsewhere.
True growth in knowledge of the Bible begins at home. Paul commanded, “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4 NKJV). The word translated “and” at the beginning of this verse “suggests that both children and fathers have God-given responsibilities in the relationship” (Lockhart 308). Children are to obey and honor, while fathers are responsible for training. Timothy’s grandmother and mother must have felt this was a similarly important task for mothers (2 Timothy 1:5).
Teaching at home needs to be subsidized by solid Bible classes. The spread of the church to Antioch led the Jerusalem church to send Barnabas to them. “When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord” (Acts 11:19-23). There is great potential strength to be found in an alliance of parents and Christian Bible class teachers. This alliance can pay eternal dividends!
Lockhart, Jay and David Roper. Truth for Today Commentaries: Ephesians and Philippians. Searcy: Resource Publications, 2009.
Skinner, Kayleigh. “More than 5,000 Mississippi Third-Graders Could Be Held Back This Year for Low Reading Scores.” The Hechinger Report. May 7, 2015. <https://hechingerreport.org/more-than-5000-mississippi-third-graders-could-be-held-back-this-year-for-low-reading-scores/>.
We Shall Assemble on the Mountain!
Mark N. Posey
We worship God because He is worthy (Revelation 4:11; 5:12). Man is not worthy of worship nor are the things man invents deserving of worship. Yet, man invents many things that occupy his time and energy in praise, love and affection. Man must worship the right object. What are the types of worship, either right or wrong, revealed in the New Testament?
When we follow the commandments of men instead of God’s instructions, our worship becomes vain. Vain worship is empty, hollow and useless; it will do us no good. If it is vain, it would be as though we had not worshipped God at all, and we will be lost. When we worship in the way “we want,” then God is dishonored and insulted (Matthew 15:7-9; Mark 7:7). The word “vain” is an adverb from maten, meaning, “fruitlessly.” Vain worship is unacceptable.
When the apostle Paul was in Athens, he encountered people who were worshiping all kinds of false gods, as well as One whom they called “the Unknown God.” He took the opportunity to tell them about “the One whom you worship without knowing” (Acts 17:16-31). While preaching to them, he let them know that “these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (v. 30). Ignorant worship is unacceptable.
The Creator is self-existent, unconditioned and unlimited in power and knowledge. The creature owes its very existence to the Creator. To substitute the worship of the creature for that of the Creator is the height of perverseness and folly, meriting the retribution of the wrath of God, thus resulting in the “lie.” Paul used the definite article in Romans 1:25; it is not a lie, but the lie. The lie is essentially idolatry, which puts us in the place of God; it is the lie you will be like God (Genesis 3:5). Creature worship is unacceptable.
To the Colossians, Paul talked about doctrines and commandments, which though appearing wise and godly, nevertheless originated with men. He referred to this as “self-imposed worship,”or as in the KJV, “will worship” (Colossians 2:20-23). Thus, God is not pleased with those that “will worship”or self-impose upon themselves that which is not allowed. Self-imposed worship is unacceptable.
True worship is God-centered! True worshipers worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). This means worship is from the heart and in the way God has designed, and which is reserved only for God. Only He is worthy, and not any of His servants are worthy of being worshipped (Revelation 19:10). We are not to worship saints, prophets, statues, angels, any false gods or Mary the mother of Jesus. Worship is to glorify and exalt God – to show our loyalty, respect, appreciation and admiration to our Father. True worship is the only worship that God will accept and approve.
The highest form worship is obedience to God and His Word. We must obey Him instead of man.