The Way To Do Bible Class

Stick to the schedule.

Different congregations take different approaches to Bible class. Some use study books. Some do topical studies. I once heard an elder from another congregation boast that they had been  studying Revelation for three years and were only in chapter six. For many years the elders at Tolar have seen the importance of staying with a schedule which moves us through the New Testament regularly. In order to give attention to the whole New Testament, we must stick with the schedule. Teachers should not take it upon themselves to move at a slower pace. And if there is too much discussion in class it is the teacher’s responsibility to pick up the pace. Bible class is not enjoyable to most people when the class moves along at a snail’s pace and every word or phrase is parsed and debated. Teachers are given a schedule to teach a particular text of Scripture on Sunday morning and Wednesday night Bible classes. If you agree to teach a Bible class, it is your responsibility to keep that schedule and completely cover that portion of text each week.

 

Stick to the Bible

Bible class is no place for political posturing and pontificating. Whether you are Republican, Democrat or something else, leave it at home. Do not hijack the discussion so you can air a grievance you have against some office holder or political party. I have a copy of the United States Constitution in my bookcase at home. If we want to have a civics class, I’ll bring it. If we are having a Bible class, I’ll bring my Bible.

 Brad Fry

Advertisements
Published in: on February 1, 2017 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Remember the Days of Old

When I was growing up my grandfather, Bob Bradley would often come by the house for a visit, either on his way to, or on his way from a game of dominos that some of the older men in town worked up just about every day. As soon as he came in the door, my mother asked him the same thing every time, “Daddy, do you want a cup of coffee?” And he gave the same answer every time, “Don’t mind if I do.”  If you’re like me, some of the most precious memories we have of years gone by are not necessarily “big things”. They are the common things of everyday life. They are spontaneous, casual and real. They happen over a cup of coffee, a shared meal or a chance meeting at the store or post office.  Last year Shirley came up with an idea for an old dresser that belonged to my grandfather that has been in the garage for years. She decided to make a coffee bar out of it. So she did. For the crowning touch, she made a plaque for the top shelf which reads, “Don’t Mind If I Do”. That coffee bar is the material possession I value most. Because it not only serves my love for coffee, but because it reaches back and touches those days gone by. Next to the sign on the top shelf are coffee cups that belonged to our grandparents, a little coffee grinder, etc.

 “Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father, and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.” (Deuteronomy 32:7) 

Brad Fry

Published in: on January 23, 2017 at 8:46 am  Leave a Comment  

Reading & Thinking

The seventeenth century philosopher, John Locke wrote, “Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.”

Perhaps the reason some people get very little out of reading is that is all they are doing—just reading without thinking, processing and applying. Many have complained, “I can’t read the Bible for very long.” Some say, “I can’t understand the Bible”. Maybe they could if they took the time and thought through what they were reading.

Paul wrote, “When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, (Ephesians 3:4), But, to be sure, the man who reads glibly or who surrounds himself by distractions, will not perceive Paul’s insight. He is making no real effort to perceive.

The eunuch from Ethiopia was “reading the prophet Isaiah” (Acts 8:30), but needed help to understand what he was reading. That’s normal because some writings, like some of Paul’s, are “hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16). So when you’ve hit a wall, even after you’ve struggled with the text on your own for a while, get some help if you’re still unclear as to what the text means and/or how it applies. But wrestle with it on your own before you tap out and tag a partner.

Prayerfully reading, thinking and ruminating are intellectual and spiritual pleasures. But the sluggard will think them too hard.

Do yourself a favor and accept God’s invitation to think. “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) Sounds like a pretty good payoff, don’t you think?
Brad Fry

Published in: on November 30, 2016 at 2:45 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Faith Only Salvation”–a Devil’s Lie

Jesus said to those who rejected him and his word and instead held to their own prejudice and what they had always believed, You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

One of the devil’s most persistent lies is that justification comes through faith only. This false doctrine has been believed and taught by Martin Luther and by most evangelicals since his day. Luther felt so strongly about it that he added the word “only” after the word “faith” in his “translation” of Romans 3:28. As you can imagine, the book of James caused Luther much consternation, so to deal with it he declared it to be “a right strawy epistle” and wrote, “I will not have it in my Bible in the number of the proper chief books, but do not intend thereby to forbid anyone to place and exalt it as he pleases, for there is many a good saying in it.” When I read that the voice of Dana Carvey as the church lady rang in my ears, “Well, isn’t that special?!” He won’t have it in his Bible but he won’t forbid you having it in yours! This would be comical were it not so deadly. Who knows how many people have been lulled into believing that the only thing they have to do is believe?! They go to eternity with a false sense of security that, as long as they believe, nothing else matters! That nonsense ought to frighten us and anger us.

There are people who really do believe that the Bible teaches that you’re saved by faith alone. Yet here is the one place in God’s Holy Word where those two words are side by side:

You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. (James 2:24)

One might be tempted to think that if the devil were going to try to pull the wool over peoples’ eyes in the arena of false doctrine, he would at least word that false doctrine in a way where it is not clearly and diametrically opposed by a statement of Scripture. Yet people have bought it lock, stock and barrel.

Does the Bible teach elsewhere that there is something more than faith that is necessary to be saved? You tell me.

Mark 16:16 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

 Luke 6:46 46“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?

 James 1:22 22But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

 Romans 8:12–13 12So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

 Acts 10:34–35 34So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

 Revelation 20:12 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.

Brad

Published in: on December 16, 2015 at 3:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

A Simple Message for a Simple Salvation

First Things, First The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). The Bible is a marvelous book which answers many of the questions that people have asked for centuries. But every other question and every other concern pales in comparison to “What must I do to be saved?” In the passage of scripture we just read Paul said of “first importance” was that Christ died for our sins. The Bible makes clear that God holds all people accountable for the lives they live and the choices they make (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:5-11). When we do the things which displease God we sin, literally “miss the mark”. Everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23). If we are going to be right with God we have to be first saved from our sins. That’s why Jesus died on the cross, to save you and me from our sins. God, since He is holy and just, demands that the ultimate price be paid for our sins. But it is also true that God, since He is loving and merciful, has provided the payment for our sins. Both of these truths are found in one verse. Romans 6:23 states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” When Jesus was crucified He paid the price for my sin and yours. Please take a few minutes now and read the Bible’s account of Jesus’ death in Matthew 27:33-54. On that cross and in His death He bore all the sins of all people for all time. He paid the price so that we could be right with God (2 Corinthians 5:21). After Jesus died His body was taken down from the cross and placed in a tomb belonging to a man named Joseph (Matthew 27:59,60). If the story stopped there it would be another sad ending like so many others. But what happened next was God’s crowning achievement. At the point when Jesus’ followers felt their deepest despair, when they thought they had seen all of their Lord’s work and words slammed shut behind a slab of stone, when Satan surely must have thought he’d won–God did something amazing. He raised Jesus from the dead. Not “spiritually” or “symbolically” or “in a sense”. He raised Him. His silent heart started beating. His blood that had stopped cold started running warm. His lungs filled with air, His eyes opened and He rose! He rose to show us that death is not the end. His resurrection is a promise to you and to me that what God did for His Son, He will do for you and me. He rose to show us the power of God. If God can raise the dead (He can, He has and He will again) what problem or crisis do you and I have that He cannot handle? More than anything else, God wants you to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). He gave His Son, Jesus, so that would be possible. There is no other way (John 14:6). Your Part, And You Do Have A Part God has taken the initiative to save us from our sins. The message of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, otherwise know in the New Testament as the gospel, is the “power of God for salvation,” (Romans 1:16). But is there anything that we have to do in order to receive the gift of salvation? First of all let’s look at two passages in the Bible. One gives us Jesus’ words just before he left this earth to be with His Father. There He answers the simple, yet all-important question, “What must I do to be saved.” And He gives it a simple, yet all-important answer. In Mark 16:15 Jesus commands His apostles to go and preach the good news to the entire world. Then in verse 16 He tells His apostles what our response must be to that gospel. He states simply “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but He who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” When we do what He tells us to (believe and be baptized) He does what He said He would (save us from our sins). It is no more complicated than that. To believe in Jesus and the facts of His gospel is to trust Him completely. It is to leave behind the days when you thought you could get to heaven by being “good enough”. You can’t. Salvation is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-10). It’s not something you earn or deserve by compiling a certain number of points. But believing in Jesus is also leaving behind living your life your way. When we come to God through faith in Christ we surrender our will to God’s will. That, too, is a matter of grace. Because we’ve all made a mess of our lives doing things our way or the world’s way. One thing God saves us from is ourselves. Then in Acts 2 we have the record of Jesus’ gospel first being preached. The apostle Peter is preaching the message given to him from God when those who heard him were convicted of their sin and anxiously ask, “What shall we do?” Peter’s answer is simply this “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38). To repent is to turn away from our old life of sin and turn to serving God. This new life is what God wants for you. And He has made it free to you if you will trust Him and obey Him. What About Baptism? What is the truth about baptism? Is it, as some say, unnecessary for salvation? Is baptism a work of merit that earns us anything before God? Is it merely a symbol that points to what has already taken place? To find the answer, the correct answer, we need to go to the Bible. Let’s see what Jesus and His apostles taught and what the first century church believed. Jesus said that before one can enter the kingdom of God he must be “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5). Then, in a passage we’ve already looked at He said, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Much of the religious teaching today changes up the order of Jesus’ words. Some believe “He who believes shall be saved and then he is baptized.” Who shall we take for our authority, man or God? The rest of the New Testament, where it addresses the purpose of baptism, makes clear its significance. Please take your Bible and read these passages for yourself: Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Romans 6:1-7; Galatians 3:26,27; Colossians 2:11,12. In the book of Acts when someone believed the gospel they were baptized then (Acts 2:41; 8:12; 8:36-38; 16:14,15; 16:33) not at a baptismal ceremony a few weeks later. Let’s look at some of the things that are said by sincere people about baptism and see if Scripture supports them. 1. Some say that baptism is “an outward sign of an inward grace”, that it merely symbolizes what has already taken place. Wouldn’t you think that if that were true, that such a description could be found somewhere in the New Testament? But it cannot. Baptism does not symbolize what has already happened, it portrays what is happening. When we are baptized we are dying to our old self, contacting Jesus’ death, and being united with Him in His resurrection (Romans 6:1-7). The Bible tells us that when we are baptized we are clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:27). The Bible tells us that “Baptism now saves you– not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience– through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 3:21). We earn nothing when we are baptized. It is God’s work that saves us at the point of baptism, not our own. Most people who teach that baptism is not necessary for salvation teach that to be saved you need to “pray the sinners prayer and ask Jesus to come into your heart.” Again, if such were the case, don’t you think we would be able to find a Bible passage that teaches that? Yet none exists. The verse that is usually used is Revelation 3:20 where Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.” But when you read the context of verses 14-22 you see that Jesus isn’t talking to people who have never been saved but to a sinful church that has shut Him out. 2. Some say that having water sprinkled or poured on an infant is baptism. While the desire of parents to dedicate their child to the Lord is admirable, this act is of men and not of God. Biblical baptism is for people who are aware that they are sinners, who believe in the gospel of Jesus and who can make a decision of their own to serve God (Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16). It is also important to note here that the English word “baptize” is derived from the Greek word “baptizo” which means “to dip, plunge or immerse”. Sprinkling or pouring simply isn’t biblical baptism. Only immersion of those who believe the gospel is biblical baptism. God Wants You To Be Saved God’s message about salvation is really simple. It is the teachings of men through the ages that have made it complicated. Do you believe that Jesus died for your sins and that He was buried and raised to give you an eternal hope? Are you ready now to make Him the Lord of your life and be clothed with Him in baptism? May God bless you as you think about the most important decision of your life. Brad Fry

Published in: on October 22, 2015 at 2:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

The Christian as a Sports Fan

The new school year has started and with it a new year of football, volleyball and other sports as the year goes on.

Do you consider yourself a Christian? If you do, what does that look and sound like at the workplace? Are you mindful to control your temper, to refrain from speaking evil of others, to simply do your best to manifest Christ in your attitude and actions?

What about your behavior in the stands, cheering for your team? Is your faith shown then? Or does it really matter? Here’s what the Bible says,

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’”(1 Peter 1:14–16). God calls us to be holy—in all our conduct. That includes how we conduct ourselves either as participants or spectators at ball games.

Our conduct toward officials. Are you one of those fans who screams at refs when calls don’t go your way? If you are, what does that accomplish? Have you ever known a call to be reversed because of your outburst? Do you convince yourself that they favor the other team and just have it in for “our kids”? Let’s suppose that is true. Does a fit from a fan in the stands, sway the official to be more fair? And what are we teaching children when we do that? What’s the answer when you don’t get your way? Scream and stomp?

Our conduct toward opponents. If your love for any sport or any team compels you to feel or express hatred for another, you are so out of line. Hatred for a player, coach or team because they’re not one of your players, coaches or teams? How is that line ever intelligently and conscientiously crossed?

Our conduct toward our team. Some parents and other fans poison the air with their constant berating, belittling and otherwise insulting the intelligence and effort of coaches and players they are allegedly supporting. Your kids and your team deserve better than that.

So again, are you a Christian? Do others see and hear Christ in you in the bleachers as well as the pews?

Brad Fry

Published in: on August 24, 2015 at 10:19 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

What Are You Going To Do Next?

It has been a hard week to be Pete Carroll, the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. He has had a lot of success in his career as a football coach but one call he made in last Sunday’s Super Bowl will forever be etched in NFL history as a colossal blunder. We all blunder from time to time, but when your mistake is made on the biggest stage in the world, it can be especially hard to bear.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not losing any sleep over Mr. Carroll’s plight. I’m sure his millions of dollars have comforted him satisfactorily in the midst of his embarrassment.

But I bring this up simply to point out what we all already know. That we all make decisions that, in hindsight, we know we should not have made. We all mess up, sometimes very publicly. Making bad decisions, saying stupid things, etc., failing to notice what is glaringly obvious to others, make us all wish that we had a do-over button.

As I was typing just now, I had a notification from a sports app on my phone quoting J.J. Watt, commenting on today being National Signing Day when high school football players determine where they will play their college football. These high school kids are ranked with stars as a gage for how good some “experts” believe they are as prospects. Mr. Watt said, “It’s not all about how many stars you have or how many cameras show up at your signing. It’s what you do next.”

Mr. Watt knows whereof he speaks. He was a two-star player coming out of high school, not very high. Today, he is widely regarded as being one of the best players in the NFL. So the question speaks to us all who have failed embarrassingly, miserably, repeatedly, maybe even publicly. What are you going to do next?

Brad Fry

Published in: on February 4, 2015 at 1:54 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , ,

The Other Self-Righteous

There are at least two manifestations of self-righteousness. The first is the “religious” self-righteous, the one most people think of, exemplified by the Pharisee of Luke 18: 9-14.

But often people fail to take note of the worldly self-righteous. This is the man who attempts to justify his aversion to the church by pointing to some hypocrisy, real or imagined, in one or more of its members. Since he sees himself as “just as good as that guy”, he has fooled himself into thinking “that guy’s sins and shortcomings” somehow mitigate his own. So he ignores the Lord, the church and the Bible. He may pray from time to time when he gets in a jam. Whether he acknowledges it or not, he has a need to be confronted with the gospel, he has a responsibility to assemble with the church to encourage others and to worship God. He fails to realize that just as he is “just as good” as the church-going hypocrite in this life, in eternity he will be just as lost.
Brad Fry

Published in: on December 10, 2014 at 11:16 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: ,

If Soldiers Did Not Sacrifice

If soldiers did not sacrifice
The blood within their veins
If true loves were not left at home
To never see again
If armies were not marshaled
To meet an evil foe
Then right would lose and wrong would win
Our freedom then would go.
If men and women, black and white
And every other hue
Did not put on the uniform
And to their pledge be true
To “defend the Constitution…
Bear allegiance to the same”
And live their lives with honor
Not causing any shame.
Then terror would continue,
Of that you can be sure
And all that seems so certain
Would be so insecure.
We take our lives for granted
We’re used to all our rights.
We work our jobs, we kiss our kids
Then sleep comfortably at night.
The things we count so precious
Would scarcely more remain,
If soldiers did not sacrifice
The blood within their veins.

“Give honor to whom honor is due”
(Romans 13:7)

Brad Fry

Published in: on November 11, 2014 at 9:38 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Has it come to this?

Fox News reported last week that, “the city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.” The Houston Chronicle had a similar report. See the text of the subpoena here: http://www.adfmedia.org/files/WoodfillSubpoenaRequest.pdf
See page 11, item 12.

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Same Sex Marriage, I said then that this was less about homosexuality and more about the freedom of speech. Most anyone paying attention can see what’s trending as far as public opinion goes. Today most Americans support a man being able to marry another man and a woman being able to marry a woman. That is not only tolerated but celebrated.

What is not to be tolerated or celebrated, as far as our enlightened society is concerned, is for someone to say that they believe homosexuality is wrong, that it is sin and that marriage should be exclusively between a man and a woman. And if you do, and especially if you’re a celebrity, you may suffer the wrath of the liberal left. Welcome to the new homophobia. I’ve always thought that the term homophobia was a bit strange. Webster’s Dictionary defines phobia as “an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation.” I am not afraid of homosexuals. I am afraid that the hyper-tolerant spirit of our age has swayed many people to believe that any behavior is acceptable. What won’t be tolerated is saying that homosexuality is sin. Just ask Phil Robertson. It seems to me that the true homophobia that exists today is present with those who are afraid of offending gay and lesbian men and women, hello A&E.

The biblical truth is that homosexual behavior is, has been, and always will be sin (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Cor.6:9-11). A man lying with a man as a man lies with a woman is an abomination. Those who “practice homosexuality” will not inherit the kingdom of God. Nor will fornicators, idolaters, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers or swindlers. That is simply the biblical teaching. No person, no group of persons have the authority to change that. The Supreme Court of the United States is not as “supreme” as many think it to be. The Supreme Court, the Supreme Judge, the Supreme Lawgiver, gave his ruling long ago. And he really has given no indication that he desires our input.

Just in case the metropolis of Tolar ever follows Houston’s example, I’ll make this easy. Just ask R.C. Medcalf for a copy of my morning sermon from July 22, 2012.
Brad Fry

Published in: on October 22, 2014 at 9:00 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,