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

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

“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  
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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  
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It’s Not Just About Time

Set your clocks back 1 hour before you go to bed Saturday night. While you’re at it ask yourself if you need to repent of some selfishness in regard to punctuality. If you’re in the habit of being late, make the following promises to yourself. The person who is habitually late has allowed at least one of these character flaws to hang around in their life for way too long: negligence, arrogance, ignorance. It’s time to show them the door. In fact, it’s past time.

Make up your mind right now that you will repent of the selfishness of being habitually late by making and keeping these three commitments:

  • I will not be negligent. I will get ready first and relax second.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 10Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.

James 4:17 17So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

  • I will not be arrogant. I will consider others more important than myself.

Philippians 2:3–4 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

  • I will not be ignorant. I will make sure I know how long it takes me to get ready. I will make sure I know the correct time and location of the appointment and know how long it takes me to get there.

Ephesians 5:15–16 (NLT)

15So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.

Brad Fry

Published in: on October 30, 2013 at 3:55 pm  Comments (2)  
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Why I Love Fall

As I write this, on Tuesday, the forecast for this weekend is a bit cooler with a good chance of rain. So as you are reading this, I pray it is to the sight and sound of rain falling outside your window. I love fall. It is my favorite time of the year. Football is in full swing. October brings candy corn and great, old black & white “horror” movies on t.v. I’m not a fan of the slasher movies of the last few decades. I prefer my scary movies with Hitchcock, Karloff or Lugosi. A misty ambience beats guts & gore in my opinion.

Then in November we have the time change, when we set our clocks back an hour (November 3rd this year, in case you’re wondering). I welcome the time change both in the spring and fall. In the spring setting our clocks forward ushers in longer days to enjoy the outside a bit longer. In the fall, eating supper with the people you love when it’s already getting dark outside just seems cozier to me.

Then comes the greatest holiday of all, Thanksgiving. It was my dad’s favorite holiday. I’m sure that’s one reason it is my favorite as well. A time when we acknowledge our God as the giver of all good things (James 1:17).

Do you love fall? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Brad Fry

Published in: on September 24, 2013 at 2:11 pm  Comments (3)  
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Almost 2013 and We’re Still Here

Well, 2012 is winding down and the earth didn’t end because the Mayan calendar struck midnight. Imagine that. My favorite piece of humor on that subject showed, I suppose, a Mayan calendar and an Oreo Cookie, side by side. They look a lot alike. The caption reads, “According to the Mayan calendar, the world is ending this month. Fortunately the Oreo Cookie says not to worry.”

It’s amazing that so many people keep on predicting the end of the world at specific times and it keeps on not happening. Just know this. The Bible says, “Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.(1 Thessalonians 5:1–3). God doesn’t tell us when the end will be, only that it will be. So be ready. Our attitude should be “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15). Everything is under his control.

Get yourself right with God. Keep yourself right with God. Have a Happy 2013. And have a cookie.

Brad Fry

Published in: on December 29, 2012 at 7:02 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Seduction of “Everything’s All Right”

“…And they all lived happily ever after.” We’ve all heard that line since we were knee-high to a duck. As we grow older, wiser and perhaps a bit more jaded we come to understand that life is seldom such a fairy tale existence. While some may take comfort in such a Pollyannaish approach to life the truth is that God chastised Jerusalem’s priests and prophets who persuaded the people, “everything’s all right”. Jeremiah prophesied, “For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,” says the Lord (Jeremiah 6:13-15). Instead of rooting out evil and requiring repentance they prescribed a placebo. The people had a compound fracture and the spiritual “doctors” as they were, put a bandage on the hurt, kissed it and “made it all better.” Superficial healing says everything’s all right when much is all wrong. Superficial healing says, “Go back to business as usual” when God or life or God through life have issued a wake-up call to repent from “business as usual”.
I won’t pretend for a moment to know what God is or is not doing in the affairs of men and women and nations and kingdoms. Such speculation is folly. But I do know that Scripture teaches the importance of learning eternal lessons from temporal tragedies, setbacks and sins be they isolated or nationwide. James writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:2-8). I do know that Scripture teaches that we are more receptive to wisdom in times of mourning than in times of giddiness. Solomon writes, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth” (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4).
Does God want us to enjoy life? I’m persuaded he does. The apostle John wrote, “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” (3 John 2). But he clearly wants us to see this life as a precursor and preparer to the next, not as a stand-alone free-for-all party where everyone does what is right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25; Hebrews 9:27). Only through Jesus Christ can we be fitted for eternity. But fitted or not that’s where we’re headed. And for those who don’t trust and obey him, it will be anything but “all right.”
Brad Fry

Published in: on May 30, 2012 at 10:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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