Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 24 Number 11 November 2022
Page 5

Beware of Being Overly Religious

Thomas Baxley

A man had two sons. He told the first to work in the vineyard, and the son said he would, but never did. The father told the second son to go work in the vineyard and the son said no, but later he repented and went to work. Which did the will of his father? Jesus explained this parable (Matthew 21:28-32) by telling the chief priests and the elders of the Jews that tax-gatherers and harlots would enter into Heaven before they would. John came to the people in righteousness, and the sinners heard John and repented, but the religious leaders refused to take heed, even after seeing the sinners repent. The warning stands today, 2000 years later. Don’t count on your own piety and righteousness to save you. Be humble, be teachable, and trust in Jesus and His power to save (Mark 16:15-16; Romans 1:16).

We Must Not Allow Our Family
and Friends to Adversely Affect
Our Faith in God and in His Word!

Raymond Elliott

Raymond ElliottOur faith is foundational in order to have fellowship with our Heavenly Father. In Hebrews 11:6, we read, “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” (NKJV). This is also true regarding the Son of God. Jesus said to the scribes and unbelieving Pharisees, “Therefore I said you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). The apostle John wrote in his Gospel record 20:30-31, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

A sincere and unswerving faith will cause our hearts to love God and the Lord Jesus Christ. In answering a question from a certain lawyer, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). What is true about loving the Father can also be said about His Son because they are one. In John 10:30, our Lord said, “I and My Father are one.” Jesus later said to His disciples, “As the Father has loved me, I also have loved you” (John 15:9) and “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). He also said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15) and “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me…” (John 14:21). We manifest our love for God by being in submission to His will for our lives.

There are several requirements of the Lord that are very difficult to obey because they involve our loved ones who are members of our immediate family. Jesus said:

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. (Matthew 10:34-38)

There are many lessons in this passage, but the primary one is that we are to love God more than others, including members of our families. To speak of this declaration is one thing and to practice it is truly a test of our faith in His Word and our love for God!

One of the hardest things in life that face Christian parents is when a son or daughter leaves where they have been worshiping in congregations of Christ, where brethren have endeavored to follow the Word of God regarding faithfulness in what is taught and practiced, and then, for the son or daughter to join another congregation that teaches doctrines and practices that are not according to God’s Word. We have seen this take place many times, and such actions break the hearts of the parents. Yet, as parents, our course in life should not be determined by what our adult children may do but by what the Lord requires of us to do in such matters. Our love for God must come first in our lives –  no matter how difficult it might be.

One of God’s richest blessings is to have Christian friends. In Proverbs 27:17, we read, “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Benson, in his Commentary on this verse writes, “Iron tools are made sharp, and fit for use, by rubbing them against the file, or some other iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend — Quickens his ingenuity, enlivens his affections, strengthens his judgment, excites him to virtuous and useful actions, and makes him, in all respects, a better man.” So, as Christian friends, we are to “…consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). However, what if a Christian friend is led astray by the influence of someone or by reading articles that teach false doctrines? Then, this friend endeavors to influence us to follow him where he joined another congregation that is in error on some biblical teaching. At that point, a decision has to be made. As Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:14, “That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting [schemes, ESV].” It is tragic that some members, especially young people, will affiliate themselves with a congregation because of the influence of Christian friends without considering what is being taught by the leaders of that church. As children of God, we must always place the Lord first in our lives, rather than our family members and friends. We must endeavor to be faithful in what is scriptural and right. Let us pray to God that He will grant us strength to do what is right in this matter.

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