All posts by BradleyCobb

The Beatitudes–a Freebie!

Since its publication, The Beatitudes: A Sermon Collection has quietly been one of the most popular books I’ve written (The Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts being the most popular).

And as my gift to you, you can download the digital version at no cost.  The link is at the end of this post.

This book contains eight detailed sermon outlines, each dealing with one of the Beatitudes, showing how they all work together, and showing how ultimately, the Beatitudes answer the question, “What must I do to be saved?”

Now, here’s where I ask one small favor of you.  If you read through this book, and you like it, please take a minute to leave a review for it on Amazon.com.

Thank you!

Beatitudes e-Book

Insights from Seasoned Ministers: Stafford North

This interview, conducted by Jim Mitchell, originally appeared in our magazine, The Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 1 (January 2017).  We hope you enjoy it!

Dr. Stafford North has been a part of Oklahoma Christian University as a teacher and administrator since 1952. Though he has stepped out of the role of full-time instructor, he is still very much involved with the university and continues to teach several classes. He has been preaching since 1948 for congregations in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Florida. Through the years, he has specialized in studies of: Evangelism, Daniel, Revelation, eschatology, church doctrine, and church leadership.

What changes have you seen in the Lord’s Church in Oklahoma over the years.

SN: I moved to Oklahoma City in 1958, when Oklahoma Christian College moved to the city from Bartlesville. Back then, there were somewhere between 10 to 15 congregations in the area, and they seemed to work well together. The church has grown a lot since then. I think that’s partly due to the influence of the university over the years. There have been a lot of students who have graduated and stayed in the area. Along with the positives, there are challenges we face. In 2003 we had 605 churches in Oklahoma with 63,581 members. That has since gone down to 566 churches, with 56,528 members. Things are changing where rural congregations have had a hard time continuing. There have also been studies indicating that not as many young people are staying with the church they grew up in. I think one of the things we need to work on is finding ways to help them stay faithful. As a whole, I think the relationship among the congregations here in Oklahoma has been positive. That’s not true everywhere else.

In terms of some of the things going on in the church generally, there are things that have developed elsewhere that have not affected us very much in Oklahoma. I counted the other day the number of churches in the states around us – OK, NM, KS, AR, TX (those states around us) – who have started using instruments. In those states, there are 36,000 churches and 36 have gone instrumental. There are two such congregations in Oklahoma, and they have not thrived with such a decision. I think that says something about Oklahoma churches wanting to be faithful to the word and it speaks well of the churches in Oklahoma. Some churches have begun to use women in more ways in worship, but I don’t know of any churches in Oklahoma where that is the case (that’s not to say that no one has done so, but that I’m not aware of any), so that trend doesn’t seem to be infiltrating Oklahoma churches either.

I think there are a lot of things that speak well of Oklahoma churches. The spirit is positive and we continue to be staying with what the Bible teaches about all of these things. I will say, though, that we don’t seem to be evangelizing as much as we ought to. There are more and more congregations who are recognizing their need to be more evangelistic and we need to do whatever we can to help them do that. That’s something at which we can all be better.

As you think over the time you’ve spent in the state, what strikes you as some of the most unusual or most humorous experiences you’ve had.

SN: Early in the history of Oklahoma Christian, back in 1955, when the college was in Bartlesville, I drove to Grove, Oklahoma to preach. It was about a 100 mile drive and I would drive over Sunday morning and drive back late Sunday night. I remember staying up late, working a musical we did titled “Songs America Sings.” It was a three act show and a big deal for the school as nearly the entire the student body (of 150 or so) was involved. After staying up late one Saturday night and driving to Grove the next morning I had, in the middle of the sermon, the kind of moment you have when you’ve been driving down the road and all of a sudden realize you’re not quite sure where you are. I had that moment during the sermon. For a moment, I didn’t know where I was and didn’t know where I was in the sermon outline. I went to sleep in my own sermon! I quickly just picked a point on the outline and started from there to finish the message. I want to be very clear that that’s the only time I’ve ever gone to sleep in my own sermon!

What makes you the most optimistic about the direction of the Lord’s church and the direction of Christian education?

SN: In the years I’ve been teaching at Oklahoma Christian, I’ve met a lot of very fine young people, who want to serve. That seems to be a characteristic of this generation and we need to capitalize on that. They go on campaigns and help with local evangelistic outreach (the Capitol Hill church of Christ is a great example of that with the medical outreach they have and the way they talk to people in line about the Gospel). The inner city work in both Oklahoma City and in Tulsa are good examples of being evangelistic in meeting the needs of others. We’ve also been blessed with a lot of great preachers here in Oklahoma throughout the years, and that has also helped strengthen the cohesion we have among the churches.

Insights from Seasoned Ministers: Loren Gieger

The following interview was conducted by Jim Mitchell, and was featured in our magazine, The Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 1 (January 2017).  We hope you enjoy it!

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with two men who have been a part of Oklahoma Christian University for decades and have had a positive impact on thousands of students over the years. Both are still very active in the Lord’s work, and their insights on how things have grown and changed carried both encouragement in things which have been positive as well as concern for the challenges the Lord’s church faces.

Dr. Loren Gieger served as a Professor of Biblical Studies at OC for 31 years before retiring from the University classroom. He continues to teach the Early Bird class on Wednesday evenings at the Memorial Road church of Christ in Edmond, OK – which he has done for over a quarter of a century, and he preaches for the church of Christ in Stroud, OK. Dr. Gieger is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society and the Near Eastern Archaeological Society. He has done archaeological studies in Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt.

What changes have you seen within the Lord’s church through the years?

LG: The first change I see is a decline in numbers. Small congregations in rural areas continue to decline as smaller communities dwindle and people migrate to the cities. It seems like congregations that are doing well are the larger congregations as people become more attracted to congregations with huge numbers. The strength of the leadership within many congregations is declining as membership in general is “graying.”

My second concern is with the soundness of the church. I think that younger ministers have not fought the battles a previous generation did with denominationalism. Younger ministers in general seem unaware of the dangers of the vocabulary used where there are non-Biblical terms frequently used in the religious world. Generally, as I listen to younger preachers, they don’t seem to know the book or how to exegete passages properly. They endeavor to appeal to a wider diversity of members and as a result, the distinctiveness is losing ground. I do think we need to turn some of these trends around.

What things do you see happening today which are encouraging?

LG: Our preachers are more formally educated than ever before. They tend to be very sharp, eloquent and good communicators. They are much better at illustrating lessons, stories are interesting, the lessons they give include lots of examples. However, as a result of that emphasis, there is a lot less Biblical proclamation in their preaching.

There are more opportunities and ministries for local congregations which is fantastic. Visual presentations (utilizing things such as power point) make lessons interesting and memorable more than ever before. The internet gives us opportunities which are unparalleled as we can communicate with Christians and missionaries around the world. Generally speaking, members of the church are more prosperous (at least in this country). We have finer homes, but may actually use them less in Christian hospitality than previous generations. The younger generation in the Lord’s church are very service oriented and take advantage of multiple mission trips, camps, and campaigns around the globe.

Within the younger generation, the commitment to the restoration of New Testament Christianity is not something which I see today as much as in the past.

What can you share from your ministry which was unusual or humorous?

LG: When I was in Fort Worth, one of the elders gave me a call late at night about the death of one of our members and told me he would come by and pick me up to go visit the family. I dressed hurriedly and slipped my shoes on (I had two pairs of shoes sitting by the couch). When we arrived at the home and rang the doorbell, one of the two elders with me said “Hey preacher, look down at your feet.” I had put on one white shoe and one black shoe. I tried to hide one foot behind the couch, but finally just brought both feet and told them that I have on one black shoe and one white shoe as you can see, but that I had another pair just like it at home. When I arrived back home, the front porch light was on, and my wife had set the other white and black shoe out on the porch. Later, the congregation took up a special contribution to give me a trip to the Bible lands. They rented a banquet room and had a dinner to see me off on the trip. Every man who came to that dinner came wearing one white shoe and one black one. The story made the front page of the local paper in Fort Worth.

What concluding thoughts do you have as we bring this interview to a close?

LG: I am afraid that the restoration mindset may be fading away, and I’m not sure how to stop that from happening. I also think there are some things we have taught we need to continue to revise, we never want to get away from scripture, but there are some things that are problems in today’s society that we really haven’t faced as well as we should. We have taken a [prohibitive] stance in churches of Christ (you can’t do this and you can’t do that) but we have not taken a redemptive stance, that is, how do you handle people that are in certain situations. I think we need to take another look at how we conduct funerals. We can do a better job ministering to the family of the deceased in times of grief. I think we need to teach people how to give. I think we have converted people (even on the mission fields), but we don’t teach those people to give like previous generations have given. I don’t want to sound negative, but I do think that along with the positives taking place, there are problematic areas we need to continue to address.

Luke the Historian

Did You Know?

Luke has been called a “first-rate historian” by a man who was an atheist.  This atheist (Sir William Ramsay) set out to prove the Bible false by traveling the same route that the Apostle Paul traveled.  However, he found that everything Luke said was 100% accurate, even down to the names and ranks of various Roman officials at the time Paul went through (though those officials may have later changed roles).

Perhaps the most contested part of Luke’s writing, from a historical standpoint, was his statement about a census during the governership of Cyrenius over Syria.  It was stated that (1) Cyrenius was never governor over Syria—he held a different role; and (2) there was no record of a census (“taxing”, KJV) during the time under consideration.  Sir William Ramsay, an archaeologist himself, discovered inscriptions in Syria, dating from that same time period, describing Cyrenius as “governor.”

Never once has archaeology found anything that disproves the biblical record.  Not once.

-Bradley S. Cobb

The “Wiles” of the Devil

Did You Know?

In Ephesians 6:11, God inspired Paul to alert us to the “wiles” of the devil.  Some translations render it “schemes” of the devil.  It is because of the wiles or schemes of the devil that we are to wear the whole armor of God.  But why exactly is the word “wiles” or “schemes” used to describe the attacks of the devil?

Well, first off, we need to remember that as God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5), Satan is the opposite—a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).  Because his very nature is sin, everything he does is opposed to God and God’s people.  The word translated “wiles” or “schemes” in Ephesians 6:11 is the Greek word methodeia—methods.  All of Satan’s methods are evil, they are parts of his attempts to devour the followers of God.  And since all of his methods are evil, we need to be constantly on guard.  NOTHING that Satan says or does will help us or do us anything but harm.

Satan, by nature, is wiley, a schemer, a creature with only evil methods designed to harm us.  Praise God that He has provided us with His armor to protect us!

-Bradley S. Cobb

Paul’s Past Hubris

DID YOU KNOW?

When relating his former life as a persecutor of the church of Christ, the Apostle Paul describes himself as “a blasphemer…persecutor…injurious” to the cause of Christ (1 Timothy 1:13).  The original word translated “injurious” (KJV) or “insolent” (NKJV) is hubristes.

In English, the word hubris means “the excessive pride and ambition that usually leads to the downfall of a hero in classical tragedy.”  It is interesting that Paul’s hubris as an enemy of Christ led to his downfall as a Jewish hero.  He spoke boldly against Christ, and Christ triumphed.  Is it any wonder that Paul said that he counted his past life as rubbish? (Philippians 3).

-Bradley S. Cobb

Our Recent Silence Explained

Perhaps you’ve noticed (and then again, perhaps you haven’t), but we’ve not posted any new articles for the past several weeks.

Today’s post is to let you know why, and to give you an idea of what to expect from us in the new year.

First, I’ve been doing a lot of editorial work for brethren, preparing several new books for publication.  That includes a book on why one man left Catholicism, a book of sermons, and even a sci-fi novel which helps to teach truths about God.

Second, I’ve taken on a second job (well, I guess it’s more of a third or fourth job), loading trucks early in the mornings for UPS.  Needless to say, it has messed with my schedule a bit, but it has also proven to be a place with opportunities to evangelize.  One man I work with is an agnostic, but he is very excited to read the Bales-Teller Debate on the Existence of God which I gave him.  Another man is religiously minded, but unsure of salvation.  He’s presently reading Muscle and a Shovel.

Third, I’ve been working hard on the next issue of the Quarterly, trying to get it ready for publication.  It should be shipping around the middle of January.

So, there’s my excuses.  🙂

So what can you expect from us in the new year?

Our goal as of this moment is to have at least one new article each week (not counting any updates or announcements).

  • Historical research articles on Restoration Movement personalities (some of which you may never have heard of).
  • Continuing the popular sermon commentary series on Mark from last year.
  • Finishing the series on the apostles (which have been used as Bible class material and sermons by people in four different states that I know of).
  • More “Did You Know?” articles.
  • A series of articles on various aspects of elders.
  • Lessons on the Lord’s Supper.
  • and more!

So, stick with us as we bring you sound and interesting articles for your enjoyment, edification, and encouragement!

Happy New Year!

-Bradley S. Cobb

Michael the Archangel

Michael the Archangel

Angels!  They have fascinated the mind and imagination of believers for millennia.  Elaborate schemes of angelic hierarchy are popular in some denominations.  One of these beings in particular is mentioned by name multiple times in the Scriptures.  His name is Michael.

  • He is called “the archangel” (the word “archangels”—as in more than one—never appears in the Bible. There is only one). (Jude 9).
  • He is called the great prince [ruler] of Israel (Daniel 12:1).
  • He is the one who would defeat Satan (Revelation 12:7-9).
  • He is the one whose victory over Satan would bring about the kingdom of God (Revelation 12:10).
  • Since there is only one archangel, when Jesus comes in judgment, it is with Michael’s voice that He will speak (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
  • He is probably “the Angel of the LORD” from the Old Testament (compare Jude 9 and Zechariah 3).
  • The word “archangel” means “highest messenger.”
  • The name “Michael” means “who is as God” (and it should be noted that this name could have come from none other than God Himself).

Putting all this together, Michael is the highest messenger of God, who is as God, who is the great ruler of Israel, who would defeat Satan and bring about the kingdom of God, whose voice will be heard when the judgment comes.

He’s a lot more important that we might usually think!

-Bradley S. Cobb

The Jehovah’s Witnesses and “a god”

Perhaps the most striking fact about the religious group calling themselves “Jehovah’s Witnesses” is that they believe Jesus is not God/deity, but that He was created by God.  As a way of trying to bolster their doctrine, they created their own version of the Scriptures, The New World Translation.

In the NWT, in John 1:1, they made a slight change that makes a big difference.  “…the word was with God, and the word was a god.”  If you question them about this, they will say something about a Greek rule that say when the word “the” (the Greek form of it, at least) doesn’t appear before the word “God” (theos in Greek), it is not talking about THE God, but only A god.

Here’s the problem with that reasoning…well, a couple problems—(1) It’s not true, and (2) they don’t follow their own supposed rule anywhere else in their translation—including the other four times it appears in the same chapter!  John 1:6, 12, 13, and 18 all have the word “God,” but the Greek word for “the” is absent.  In the NWT, each one of these verses is translated “God” (with a capital “G”).

In short, they made the whole thing up in order to “support” their false doctrine.  But Jesus is God in the flesh, He is the creator, the defeater of Satan—He is not “a god.”

-Bradley S. Cobb