The Necessity of Using Words

A very popular quote has been passed around which states, “Preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.” Many believe that it was Francis of Assisi who coined the phrase. Others doubt it. Who said it doesn’t really matter to me. I’d like to address the point it makes.

We’ve heard other pithy sayings intended to communicate the same thought. “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one…People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” and so on. Often the intent is to emphasize the importance of living the life we preach. And of course that must be done. But just as often the intent is to diminish the importance and necessity of the preaching. Many people have bought into the notion that the lost will be saved if the saved set the right example. Actually the idea of the world being lost is not part of the mindset of many sweet-natured example setters. The agenda is making the world a nicer place to live and fix its social ills. It’s really no wonder this is such a popular idea. Most all the world welcomes nice guys and gals who do nice things for other people. Much fewer are receptive to being told they are in need of a savior and that repentance is essential. When simply setting the right example becomes the agenda of the church, overlooked is the critical social ill from which the world suffers. That critical social ill is not hunger, drought, loneliness or nakedness. That singular social ill is sin. And until the weight of a person’s sin is brought to bear, all the smiling, serving and sweetness will fall short of God’s agenda—teaching people with words what they must believe and do to be saved. Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19). Did you get that? Jesus was anointed to proclaim, not to just be nice. Jesus didn’t just set a good example for people. He taught them. He preached to them. He used words.

God did not commission his church to take the gospel to the world by being a society of do-gooders. God commissioned his disciples, those who have learned, to teach those who have not. Christians are to be “an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). But the very next verse says, “devote yourself to the reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching”. Because to preach the gospel, you must use words.

Brad Fry

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 10:35 am  Comments (1)  
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“When We Meet In Sweet Communion”

The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt stands as a monument to the pride of Pharaoh Khufu. The pyramid’s base covers 13 acres. It is estimated to contain 2.3 million blocks of stone, each weighing from 2 to 15 tons. Some 100,000 men spent 20 years in its construction. But the elements have worn away at its surface and thieves have stolen its treasures.

How unlike the memorial Jesus instituted for his death. Instead of being located in a far off place that most will never see, it is always near. Instead of requiring tons of stone susceptible to erosion, it simply requires some unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine. Instead of thousands of men laboring years to build, it is commemorated by millions of men and women the world over each Lord’s Day. They devote their hearts and minds to the Man on the cross. They contemplate his love, his sacrifice, and his forgiveness. They commune, not only with him, but with all those who are his. They share a Savior who suffered and died for each one. They are reminded of what is truly important. For this time the disagreements and distractions, the egos and enticements are set aside. There is to be no recognition of rich or poor, black or white, male or female. Every eye is on him. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26).

When you meet in sweet communion this Lord’s Day and on those to follow, go back in your mind’s eye to that day on Golgotha (Matthew 27). No humble and honest heart that weekly visits the cross can remain haughty and hateful. Remember the One who loved you and gave himself for you. Remember the One who shed his blood for the cleansing of your sin. Remember the crown of thorns on his head, the nails in his hands and feet, the spear in his side. Remember the jeers he suffered from the crowd and the separation he suffered from his Father. Truly remember him and see if you can look at life and people in the same way as before.

It is sweet, it is simple and it is sure to change your life. “While we feast, Christ gently whispers, ‘Do this in My memory’ “.

Brad Fry

Published in: on December 30, 2011 at 8:29 am  Comments (1)  
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Interracial Marriage & Minding Our Own Business

The Associated Press has reported that, “A tiny Appalachian church in Pike County [Kentucky] has voted to ban interracial couples from joining its flock, pitting members against each other in an argument over race.”

As I read the article, three things stood out to me which require attention from Scripture.

Nowhere in Scripture does God frown on interracial marriage. Some folks have badly misused passages from the Bible to condemn that which God does not condemn. For example, Ezra 9:2 says, For they have taken some of their daughters to be wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy race has mixed itself with the peoples of the lands. And in this faithlessness the hand of the officials and chief men has been foremost.” Guess what folks? The “holy race” is not white people or black people or yellow people or brown people. The holy race was Israel and what was holy about the race was not the color of their skin or distinctive features of their faces. What was holy about the people was their faith. And it was that faith that God didn’t want getting mixed and muddled with the pagan religions that were practiced by the peoples around Israel. God is concerned about maintaining the purity of the faith! Study these other passages on your own to see if this isn’t the truth (Exodus 34:11-16; Deuteronomy 7:1-4).

Second, no church has any business voting on what is acceptable or unacceptable belief or behavior. God has seen to that very well, thank you very much. If a thing is sin, he has said so in his Word. And if he has said a thing is sin, all the wishing and twisting and voting won’t make that go away. If he hasn’t said a thing is sin, that inherently gives people the freedom to make their own personal judgments about those things. People may disagree about what others should or should not do. They may even have some good reasons to believe as they do. But the church belongs to the Lord. It is his body, his church. You and I have no say in the matter as to what’s right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable. The Bible says, “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12). One lawgiver; one judge. That means there’s not two. That leaves me and you out.

And third, the church has no business having a “local governing conference”. It is God’s will that the local church be overseen by qualified men (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9) whose primary responsibility is to see to the spiritual needs of the people they serve by shepherding their souls (Acts 20:28-32; Ephesians 4:11-16; 1 Peter 5:1-5). That model has worked quite well every time it’s tried. Conventions, conferences and boards of directors will fail to serve the Lord and his church. They indeed are corruptions of God’s grand design to grow and mature the church.

Christians will do well, in every facet of their lives, to go to the Bible, God’s Word, and see what he has to say. If it’s not a problem with him, it shouldn’t be a problem with me.

Brad Fry

Published in: on December 1, 2011 at 10:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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