All posts by BradleyCobb

NO, NO, NO!!!!

I am completely sick and tired of the constant barrage of sin being bandied about on TV, movies, and everywhere else you look.  The media, the politicians, and the court system are repeatedly pushing homosexuality in our faces.

Christians, it’s time to STAND UP and do something about it!

The latest attack is being thrown our way courtesy of a movie that the Cobb family HAD been anxiously awaiting.  How to Train Your Dragon 2 has been on our “must-see” list for months.

Then today we read that the director of the movie has decided that one of the main supporting characters (Gobber) is a homosexual.  It wasn’t initially planned that way, but the voice actor made a joking statement while recording his lines, and the director decided it was going in the movie, and has already begun making plans to further explore Gobber’s sexuality in the third movie.

The idea of a homosexual viking is stupid to begin with, but this is being done as part of a push to so normalize homosexuality (aka SIN) that our kids will think it’s acceptable.

The line in the movie goes like this, “And this is why I never married.  Well, that and one other reason.”

That, obviously can be open to interpretation, but the director has come out boldly proclaiming exactly what it means.  Here is the report from FoxNews.  A quick Google search will bring up dozens (if not hundreds) of identical reports.

Some might just shake their heads and say, “I’m not surprised.”  No, sin isn’t a surprise.  But is that an excuse for sitting on our backsides and doing nothing about it?

Friends, the homosexuals have the momentum, and if Christians keep shaking their heads, acting like nothing can be done, then they will keep making more headway.  This isn’t going to stop.  They’re already promoting this abomination in schools.  They’re putting it front of the kids at every opportunity.

WAKE UP!

Make your voice heard.  The only way to slow them down is for a massive backlash to come from those who stand for the truth.  We have witnessed this in the last year with the “Chick-Fil-A Day.”  We saw it with the massive backlash at A&E when they tried to get rid of Phil Robertson for speaking the truth about homosexuality.

Write letters.  Send emails.  Make phone calls.  Spread the word.

The movie is made by Dreamworks Animation, and their contact information  is below:

*100 Universal City Plaza Dr.,
Bldg. 5121*
Universal City, CA 91608
Phone: *(818)733-9300*

Bible Q&A – Lost Books of the Bible?

Question: I keep hearing about “Lost Books of the Bible.”  Should these books be in our Bibles?—anonymous.

Thanks for the question!  I, too, once had the same question.  I have a book in my library that claims to be “Lost Books of the Bible.”  It sounds sensational, but the title is misleading.  When you hear about supposed “lost books of the Bible” on TV, radio, magazines, or internet, that’s also quite misleading.  Here’s why:

First, these books were never part of the Bible to begin with.  Books like The Gospel of Peter, or The Gospel of Judas, or any of a hundred more with similar titles were never considered part of the Bible.  There is no historical record—none whatsoever—that these books were ever put on equal standing with the Bible.  No Christian in history ever believed these books were actually part of God’s word.

Second, these books were written far too late to be an actual part of the Bible.  With only a few possible exceptions, every one of these supposed “lost books of the Bible” were written in the mid-second century or later.  Jesus told the apostles that He would guide them (the apostles) into all truth by means of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13).  When we read what the apostles wrote, we will have the same knowledge that they had (Ephesians 3:3-5).  The apostles were all dead for close to 100 years before these so-called “lost books of the Bible” were written.  Any books written after the apostles died are not inspired by God.

Third, these “lost books” weren’t ever really lost.  They were known and mentioned by writers for hundreds of years after they were written.  The fact is, they weren’t really of any value, so people eventually stopped reading them or even mentioning them.  So, after a while people basically forgot they existed.  Then hundreds of years later, some archaeologists found some of these books in Egypt.  They were never “lost.”  They just got put away and never used again.

Something else you might find interesting regarding these no-so-“lost books” is this: One of the reasons Christians knew these books weren’t really from God is that a lot of them are ridiculous.  Take, for example, this quote from the book called The Gospel of Thomas:

Simon Peter said to them, “Mary should leave us, for females are not worthy of life.” Jesus said, “Look, I am going to invite her to make her male so that she too might become a living spirit like you males. For every female that makes itself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Women must become men in order to get to heaven?  Now you can see why it was never considered to be from God.

So, the things that people claim as the “Lost Books of the Bible” weren’t ever really lost, and they were never part of the Bible to begin with.

—Bradley Cobb

Sermon Thursday – Stay in the House!

Stay in the House!

There are sounds of gunfire and screaming coming from outside his window.  The man slowly moves the curtain aside and peers through the glass to see what’s happening. His kids are worried, “Dad, what’s that noise?” “Is somebody hurt?” The man barks at them, “get back!” He makes his way to the front door, and the kids start begging, “Dad, don’t go! Stay here with us.”  The dad opens the door and steps out onto the porch. He turns around and sternly says, “Stay in the house!”  The door shuts, and the children don’t see their father anymore. They run to the window and look as their father falls to the ground dead. And through the crying and tears, they are haunted by the question that they can never answer: Why didn’t daddy stay in the house?

Why would a man tell his children to “stay in the house!”? 

Because there is safety in the house. There is security in the house. There is protection in the house.  Because there is danger outside. It could cost them their lives.

In the Bible there was a strict command given to “stay in the house!”  It’s found in Joshua 2.

The Israelites—almost 3 million of them—are camped next to the Jordan River. Across the Jordan stands the city of Jericho, surrounded by its two protective walls.  From the top of Jericho’s walls, you can see the Israelite camp, their tents, their campfires, and more people than you’ve ever seen in your life—and they’re about to attack.

Then, two of them show up in the city; on the walls; in your house!  Scared for your life, you don’t dare turn them in—you don’t want to anger their God. You quickly hide them on your roof, and when the soldiers come to your door, you send them on a wild-goose chase—because you don’t want to anger the powerful Jehovah of the Israelites. You send the spies out safely, but beg them to spare you and your family when they finally attack.  The spies agree, but give you the stern warning: “stay in the house!”

If you want to be safe, get in the house!

For Rahab and her family to be safe, they have to get in the house (Joshua 2:18).   The spies said “when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household home unto thee.” Literally, they said, “into your house.”  The only way that anyone in the city of Jericho was going to be saved was if they got in the house.

So, Rahab found her family, and brought them into the house with her—because she wanted to be saved, and she wanted her family to be saved too.  To refuse to come into the house was to refuse salvation.  To refuse to come into the house was to bring death on themselves.

For anyone today to be saved, they have to “get in the house” (Acts 2:47).   The house of God is the church (I Timothy 3:15 – “the house of God, which is the church”).   All saved people are in the church (Acts 2:47)—there are no saved people outside of the church.     Christ’s blood is required for salvation, and it only covers those who are in the church (Acts 20:28).   You’re surrounded by enemies who are ready to destroy you—and the only way to be safe is to “get in the house!

Salvation is only found in the church, because it is the house of God, the body of Christ.   To reject the church is to reject salvation!   To reject the church is to bring destruction upon yourself!  If you’re not in the house yet, GET IN IT!  And if you are in the house, why aren’t you trying to get other people in it with you? Do you want them to be destroyed? Are you content to think, “Well, I’ll be saved, so it doesn’t really matter about anyone else?”

If you want to be safe, stay in the house!

For Rahab and her family to be safe, they have to stay in the house (Joshua 2:19).  “And it shall be that whosoever shall go out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be upon his head and we shall be guiltless.” Basically, “if they leave the house, they’re dead. And it’ll be their own fault.”

Rahab and her family get all their belongings, and they all huddle together in the house. They look out the window, scared for their people, but also confident that God would keep His promise. They see hundreds of thousands of soldiers march around their city once a day for six days—and the soldiers don’t say a word. It is eerie, disconcerting, and frightening.  But through it all, they stay in the house because they know that they are only safe if they stay in the house.

For anyone today to be saved, they have to “stay in the house!”    Almost every letter in the New Testament contains warnings about losing your salvation.  But this is nowhere more clearly stated than in Revelation.  Jesus walks among the seven golden candlesticks, which are his church (Revelation 1:20).   A church who ceases to follow Christ will have its candlestick removed—that is, they will no longer be part of the church (Revelation 2:5).  In fact, Jesus describes the process as vomiting them out of His mouth, His body—vomiting them out of the church (Revelation 3:16).  Those who returned to the Law of Moses willingly left the church of Jesus Christ—and had “fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).

When you leave the church, you leave the protection of the blood of Christ—and you bring it on yourself!  You’re surrounded by an enemy that is ready to destroy you. You’re in the one safe place where they can’t harm you. And then you open the door and walk out—into the destructive hands of the enemy.   It’s stupid! It’s like being in a storm cellar in the middle of a tornado, and then getting out as it goes right over you. You’re dead!  Instead, stay gathered with your family—your brothers and sisters in Christ—stay safe in the house (the church).

Conclusion:

On the seventh day of the siege, the hundreds of thousands of Israelite soldiers marched around the city seven times. The people in Jericho knew something was coming. As they looked out over the wall and through windows, they could see nothing but soldiers—silent soldiers—being led by God Himself.

Then, without warning, trumpets blast and six hundred thousand voices scream all at once. The ground shakes and the walls of the city crash to the ground. And through the dust they see the screaming soldiers running straight into the city with their swords swinging. Blood splatters and pools on the ground and person after person falls lifeless to the ground. Then comes the fire, destroying the city and everything in it.

But one section of the wall never fell.

One small section of the wall still stood, with a house sitting on top of it. Inside that house was a woman who wanted to be saved. Inside that house was her family. Inside that house was a group of people who trusted in God’s promise.

What made that house different? Why did it stand when all the others fell?

There were plenty of other houses. There were plenty of other people huddled in other houses. What made this one different? This house had a window. Out of that window hung a cord—a scarlet cord. That cord is what made that house stand out. That cord is what marked that house for salvation. That scarlet cord saved the spies, and now it saved Rahab and her family.

And Joshua saved Rahab…and her father’s household” (Joshua 6:25).

On the final day, destruction will come upon this entire world. The trumpet will sound and Jesus will shout (I Thessalonians 4:16). No one will be able to stand in the face of His fierce destruction. And then comes the fire—the eternal fire (Mark 9:43-48).

But one house is spared.

Inside that house are people who wanted to be saved when destruction came. But what made that house different? What makes this CHURCH different? After all, there’s plenty of other churches out there.   This church is different because of scarlet—the scarlet of Jesus’ blood. It is that blood which sets this church apart. It is that blood that makes this church stand out. The scarlet marks this church—this house—for salvation.

The people in this house are also saved by Joshua—of course, we know this Joshua by His Greek name, Jesus.

Jesus said He would build HIS church (Matthew 16:18). There is only one church that Christ recognizes. There is only one church that God adds to (Acts 2:47). Christ only built one church. Man has built many. Only Christ’s church—the one protected by the scarlet—will be saved.

The question now is this: how do you get in the house? How do you save yourself from the destruction? How do you get covered by the blood of Jesus?  Those who are baptized into Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:27) are the ones who are added to the church (Acts 2:47)–God puts them into the house!

Are you in the house?

–Bradley Cobb

The Angels Pecked on Me?

One of the funnest things to hear is a child reciting song lyrics, because you know that inevitably they will have misunderstood some of the lines.  And honestly, which one of us hasn’t ever misunderstood the words of one song or another?

In the 70′s there was a song called “Drift Away,” and when I was a kid, I thought the guy was saying, “Give me the Beach Boys and free my soul, I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away.”  It took a long time before I realized it said “Give me the beat, boys.”  One of the most famous examples is Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising.”  You know the line, “there’s a bathroom on the right,” except it actually says, “there’s a bad moon on the rise.”

This misunderstanding of song lyrics isn’t confined to popular music.  I knew a little boy who was scared of angels because of the song which said, “the angels pecked on me from heaven’s open door.”  Some people have wondered why we sing “peas, perfect peas.”  Others question “Who is Father Along, and why will he know all about it?”  The list of misheard hymn lyrics is actually quite extensive.

When children misunderstand things, it is cute.  When adults misunderstand things, it’s not.

If you are married, then you have had this discussion:  “I told you ___________.”  “Wait.  I thought you meant ____________.”

I guarantee that the response from your spouse wasn’t, “Awww, that’s so cute that you misunderstood.”  Many times, the response is “No, I said this,” or some other such thing that shows they don’t find your misunderstanding cute, humorous, or anything remotely like it.

There are so many areas in which we need to work harder to understand.

Most importantly, we need to work harder to understand God’s word.  Most of the religious division in the world comes from people misunderstanding parts of God’s word—sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally, and sometimes it is just because they don’t bother to try.  But wouldn’t it be great if the religious division disappeared and we all began to unite with a proper understanding of God’s word?

We need to work harder to understand our spouses—what they think, what they are saying, what they mean, what they need.  A large number of the arguments between spouses are because they weren’t on the same page [aka didn’t understand where the other was coming from].  Wouldn’t it be great if the arguments in your marriage began to disappear?

We are going to misunderstand things from time to time.  Let’s do our best to make sure that it isn’t for lack of trying.

–Bradley Cobb

Restoration Moments – The Conversion of Blue Dick

A miserable drunk.  A congregation who wanted nothing to do with him.  And the power of the gospel.

Today’s Restoration Moment comes from the book, The Life of Knowles Shaw: Singing Evangelist (by William Baxter).  This book is available as a free download from the Gravel Hill church of Christ (scroll down to “Biographies”).  Enjoy!

Knowles Shaw was holding a meeting at some point on the Ohio River, where it was necessary for him to cross frequently. The first night of his meeting, he went down to the river, but found the only ferryman to be a poor, ragged, besotted wretch, no hat on his head, his hair matted, his whole person filthy in the extreme, and giving evidence that he was even then under the influence of drink. His appearance was so forbidding, and his condition such that Shaw was doubtful as to whether it would be safe to entrust himself in a frail skiff with such a ferryman. And had there been any other and safer means of getting across he would have availed himself of it. But there was no other chance, and with some misgivings as to the result, he entered the boat. He soon found that, though under the influence of liquor, the ferryman knew how to manage his skiff, and feeling at ease on that matter, he began to talk with him. He asked him his name.

“Blue Dick,” was the reply.

“But,” said Shaw, “that is not really your name.”

“Well,” said he, “if I have any other, it has been so long since I heard it, I have almost forgotten what it is.”

Changing the subject abruptly, he asked, “Why don’t you quit drinking?”

“I can’t,” said the poor wretch.

“Yes, you can,” replied Shaw.

Wondering that a stranger should take any interest in him, he said, “Mister, do you think I could?”

“Of course you can,” said Shaw, in a kind and assuring manner.

The poor fellow sat for some time in silence. It was long since any word of sympathy, interest or encouragement had fallen upon his ear, and the kind words of the stranger reached the heart which all his neighbors thought had ceased to feel. Deeply moved, he looked up and said, earnestly:

“Mister, do you really think I could quit drinking?”

“Have you a wife and children?”

In a voice choked with emotion, and weeping bitterly, he said that he had. The way was now open. Shaw told him he was a preacher, and asked him to come and hear him.

“Why,” said he, “you would not let such a one as me come; and if you were willing, others would not like to see me there.”

Shaw urged him to come, assured him that he should be welcome; that instead of being out of the reach of mercy, that it was such as he that Jesus came to save. Tenderly and earnestly he besought him to change his course, until the poor ferryman began to think that there might be hope even for him. On reaching the other side, Shaw paid him his fare, and, as he did so, he pointed to a saloon that was near, and said, “I do not like the idea of this money going to such a place as that; can’t you promise me that you will not drink any tonight, and I will come back, and you shall take me over the river again.” Blue Dick gave the required promise and they parted; the preacher going to the house of God, and the ferryman, with emotions such as had not stirred in his heart for years, standing in deep thought by the rapid river under the watching stars.

After meeting, Brother Shaw went down to the river, found Blue Dick waiting for him, showing by his manner that he had kept his promise not to drink. He gave him a few words of encouragement, and obtained his promise that he would come and hear him preach the following night.

Great was the astonishment of many to see Blue Dick at church, and greater still to see the preacher, who had seen him come in and drop into the first empty seat that he found near the door, come up to him, take him by the hand, speak a few kind words to him, and ask him to come again. Night after night he came, and the warm hand of the preacher never failed to give that of Blue Dick a friendly grasp, and the fitting words spoken did not fail to strengthen the new purposes that were beginning to take shape in his mind.

The coming of this one, and the marked attention shown him by the preacher, led some of the brethren to fear, yes fear, that this poor outcast might offer himself for membership. They even expressed their fears to Brother Shaw, and predicted that it would ruin the church if one such as he should attempt to enter the fold. Brother Shaw, however, did not fail to show, in their loveliest colors, the tenderness and compassion of Him who came to give hope to the hopeless, to seek and to save the lost. The lost sheep, and the wayward, wretched, ruined prodigal seemed to point to Blue Dick, and Blue Dick himself began to think they meant him; and one night, when the preacher, with even more than his wonted earnestness, urged the despairing and lost to come to Christ as their only hope, Blue Dick rose to come forward and accept the gospel offer. The preacher went half-way down the aisle to meet him; angels doubtless, too, at that moment gave expression to their joy in glad song, and He who died to save the lost was, doubtless, glad to see that the lost was found.

But, alas! while there was joy in heaven, the coming of poor Blue Dick to confess his Lord, to strive to lead a better life, did not send a thrill of joy through the church; some there were who, like the elder son in the parable, thought that the returned wanderer would never be other than a disgrace to the family, thought that Blue Dick had gone too far to retrace his steps, and that his newly-formed resolutions would be broken on the very first invitation to take a drink, and that he would soon sink to even a lower depth, if possible, than before. Such was the feeling of opposition with regard to him that Brother Shaw did not take his confession and baptize him for several days, feeling, doubtless, that until he could change their views on the subject, that their coolness would repel and discourage, rather than help and save.

Before the meeting closed, to the wonder of the whole community, Blue Dick made a public confession of his faith in Christ, was baptized, and by his consistent life soon disarmed whatever of objection remained, and was regarded as a standing proof of the power of the gospel.

Years passed by; the faithful evangelist revisited the same place. Blue Dick was no longer there; he was transformed into Brother George M., one of the best members of the church.  He was living in a comfortable home, surrounded by a loving and happy family, with every mark of neatness and thrift about them. As soon as Brother Shaw had entered this happy Christian home, the one who had been Blue Dick said: “Brother Shaw, kneel down and thank God for what he has done for me, that I, who when you met me was a poor, miserable, drunken sinner, have been lifted up, and, by the mercy of God, am what I am today.” Down they knelt; preacher, husband, wife, and children, all, all wept; but they were tears of joy; and when they parted it was in the glad hope of meeting in that blessed land where no partings shall be.

James Bales – The Prophet Like Unto Moses

The second book in the Official James D. Bales eBook Collection is now available!

bales prophet like Moses

This book of 117 pages goes into great detail showing that Jesus Christ–and only Jesus Christ–is the fulfillment of the prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:15-19.

If you like types/antitypes, this book is for you, because it shows the many different ways that Moses was a “type” of Christ.

If you like reading about fulfilled prophecy, this book is for you, because it shows the overwhelming evidence that Christ fulfilled this prophecy that God gave through Moses.

A quote about the book:

I was blown away by the content.  I especially thought the proof of Moses’ foretelling of the destruction of Israel connected with Jesus’ foretelling of the same event was well-presented and extremely convincing. –-A preacher from Oklahoma.

 

  1. The Prophecy and the Claim.
  2. A Prophet Like Moses.
  3. The Two Mediators.
  4. The New Covenant.
  5. Predictions By Moses.
  6. Predictions By Christ
  7. Required of Them.
  8. The Prophet Like Unto Moses.
  9. A Host of Likenesses.
  10. A Line of Prophets?

This eBook is being made available with the permission of the copyright holder for only $5.99.  It is well worth that and more!

Bible Q&A – God is Very Pitiful?

Why does the Bible say that God is “very pitiful”? (James 5:11).  Doesn’t “pitiful” mean “pathetic”?—T.P., from Oklahoma.

Thanks for the question!  As I’m sure you’re aware, over time, some words can change meanings.  The word “pitiful” originally meant “full of pity.”  That means, you took pity, or compassion on someone’s condition and circumstances, and helped them.

On the other side of the coin, if you were that person who was in a horrible situation, you were to be “pitied.”  You’ve heard people say, “I don’t want your pity”?  They’re saying they don’t want to be viewed as someone who’s having a rough time who’s needing help.

Over the 400+ years since the King James Version came out, the word “pitiful” has come to be used to refer to the person who is to be pitied instead of the one who has pity on them.  In fact, people would think you were quite strange if you used the word properly and announced to the world, “I am very pitiful!”

So, while it is common for people to use the word “pitiful” as a synonym for “pathetic” or “to be pitied,” that’s not what the word actually means.  And that’s not what it meant in James 5:11.

If you want to know something really cool about this verse, then you’ll love this: The Greek word that’s translated “very pitiful” literally means “much-hearted”, or to say it in a more modern way, “has a big heart.”

Isn’t it great to know that God has a big heart when it comes to His people?

–Bradley Cobb

Miracle-Gro Evangelism

The idea for today’s lesson came from a statement by Jamie Beller.

Introduction:

A lot of people take a “Miracle-Gro” approach to evangelism.  They don’t do any work, and then pray to God to make the church grow—asking for “Miracle-Growth.” And then they wonder why the church doesn’t grow.

What they don’t realize is that—just like with “Miracle-Gro”—there are other steps involved. You can’t just go get Miracle-Gro and spray it on your lawn and expect to have a garden. You have to till the ground, choose your seeds, hoe the rows, fertilize the ground, plant the seeds, water the seeds, and then you use Miracle-Gro on a semi-regular basis. There’s a lot more work involved, and Miracle-Gro is only part of the equation.

In the same way, you can’t just pray for the church to grow if you’ve not done any of the other stuff that’s necessary. I Corinthians 3:6 – I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. Today we will be looking at the way that the church can grow, both here and throughout the world.

But before we get into that, I want you to briefly consider the question, “why should we evangelize?” The goal of evangelism is NOT so we can have a bigger congregation here. The goal of evangelism is NOT so we can build bigger buildings. It’s not about numbers or prestige. We should be evangelizing because souls are lost in sin, and Jesus has given us the tools to save them! We should be evangelizing because that is the mission that Jesus left us with (Matthew 28:18-20). We should be evangelizing because we love other people and we don’t want them to suffer eternal torment!

How does the Bible teach that we are to evangelize?

Plant the seed (“I planted”)

  1. When you plant a garden, you have to decide what crops you want to get from it.  If you want lettuce, you plant lettuce seeds; if you want okra, you plant okra seeds.   But make no mistake about it, if you expect to get certain crops, those seeds have to be planted.       It does no good to buy the seeds and then leave them in a bag or sitting on the shelf somewhere.
  2. The purpose of evangelism is to create Christians.   Because of that fact, the seed that must be used is that which will produce Christians.     To quote Jesus: “the seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11).   The word of God—without any subtractions, additions, or changes—will produce Christians. The word of God does not produce Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, or any of the thousand other denominational groups.  The word of God only produces Christians.  The only way to produce those other groups is to change the seed.
  3. But make no mistake about it, just like with a garden, there will be no Christians grown without planting the seed!   Jesus gave the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:3-9.  It began with a sower scattering the seed (the word of God), and showed how the seed fares in different soils (types of hearts). The seed took hold and grew (Christians began to grow), and in some of those soils (hearts) the plant (Christian) flourished.    But there would be no plant without the seed being put in the soil.   There can be no Christians without the word of God first being taken to them.
  4. Why isn’t the church growing like we want it to?   Reason #1 – The seed isn’t being planted enough.  “Are you sowing the seed of the kingdom, brother?

We must water the seed (“Apollos watered”)

  1. If a seed does not receive any water while it is in the ground, it will not grow.    This is why it is extremely important in drier climates to water the garden regularly.    If you don’t water it, you’ve just wasted your time in preparing the garden and planting the seed.
  2. When we teach the word of God to others (planting the seed), we must water it as well.    (a) This is done through lovingly teaching people and guiding them back to God’s word.   (b) This is done by placing the emphasis on only what the Bible says, and not on man’s opinions and theories.   (c) This is done by encouraging people to act on the information that is contained in the word of God.  Acts 2 records Peter’s sermon on Pentecost, but notice that after proving Jesus was the Christ, it says “and with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying save yourselves from this untoward generation” (2:40).  He planted the seed with his sermon, then he began to water it—to encourage them to let the seed take root and grow in their hearts.  (d) This is done by helping them along to the point of becoming a new creature. It’s no coincidence that the Bible connects becoming a new creature with water.  John 3:5 – Jesus answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” – being born is a becoming a new creature.  Romans 6:3-4 – know ye not that as many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. – new life comes from being baptized into Christ.
  3. It seems that many times, those who take the word of God to others just say “this is what it says” and then they leave it at that.  We need to not just be seed-planters, but be those who water it as well!

We must seek God’s help (“God gave the increase”).

  1. Sometimes, regardless of how hard you work to get a garden to produce, it fails.  Two years ago, there was a total of three tomatoes grown from all the gardens belonging to members of this congregation.  From this alone, we should realize that our own efforts can only get us so far.  God is the one in control, and as such, we should always seek His aid with everything we do.
  2. This is the part of the equation that we might call “Miracle-Gro.” Miracle-Gro is something extra added to better the chances that the crops will grow and thrive.  Miracle-Gro is added while you’re watering the garden.
  3. When we have done our part to share the gospel with others, we should be seeking God’s assistance.  We must constantly remind ourselves that it is not about US.  I cringe when I hear preachers say “I’ve baptized ____ people.” It doesn’t matter how many people YOU have baptized—because it isn’t about YOU at all. The focus should be on God.   I Corinthians 3:6-7 – I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither is he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.  Pray for God’s aid that you plant the seed properly.  Pray for God’s aid that you water correctly (not too much, not too little).   Pray for God’s aid that the seed will take root and create a new creature.

But wait! There’s more to do!

  1. When you have a garden, it is successful as soon as the first green sprout appears, right?    WRONG!  You consider your garden a success when you have full-grown plants which are producing—That’s the goal of having a garden in the first place!  If your seeds never get past the initial sprouting stages, then they’re no good.
  2. So, what happens if you stop watering your plants when they first sprout?   They are going to die. They will not grow, and they will never be of any use.  Instead, gardeners continually water their plants as it is needed, and continue to add Miracle-Gro regularly.   Gardeners must tend the garden, remove the weeds and do everything they can to give the plants an environment where they can grow and thrive.
  3. It’s not enough to get people to let the word of God take root in their heart and produce a new creature. If we get thousands of people to become new creatures, but they all fade away without producing fruit, we’ve failed. This is the problem of trying to get numbers in the church instead of trying to save souls. Just as new plants require constant attention, so do new Christians.  Some are more hardy than others from the get-go and require very little attention.  But others need frequent care and attention to help them grow.
  4. Christians must be encouraged regularly (just like a plant needs water) to grow.  I Thessalonians 5:11 – …edify one another.  Hebrews 10:24 – Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works.  We must show our love and care for new Christians, constantly encouraging them.
  5. Christians must be fed the proper nutrients in order to grow.  Acts 20:32 – And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.  We must continue to help new Christians in their study of God’s word.
  6. And we must also go to God in prayer on their behalf (keep God involved).  How many times have you prayed for a new Christian, and said, “Lord, please be with _______ as he’s facing the devil’s onslaughts against him. And Lord, please help me to help him grow into a strong, faithful servant of you”?
  7. Keep the spiritual “Miracle-Gro” applied by keeping God involved.

Conclusion:

The goal of evangelism is to produce Christians who will bear fruit and who will be able to spread the word of God to others (II Timothy 2:2). The goal of evangelism is to save souls and teach them how to save others. The goal of evangelism is to make heaven the most crowded place it can be!

Here’s the catch – you are a failure as a gardener if you refuse to even try. You are a failure as a gardener if you refuse to plant the seed. You are a failure as a gardener if you refuse to water the seed. You are a failure as a gardener if you refuse to tend to the plant after it has sprouted. Those are all things you can control.

Spiritually speaking, how good of a gardener have you been? Have you been planting the seed? Have you been watering it? Or have you simply been looking at the weed-covered field of the world and said, “well, if they want to grow, they know where to find me”? Imagine a real gardener saying that—it’s preposterous!

Jesus Christ came to this earth and voluntarily took on our punishment so that we wouldn’t have to endure it. You must let that truth take root in your heart and believe it. Allow it to cause you to change your ways by repenting of your sins. Make the confession of Christ, and then apply the water—become a new creature by being baptized into Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.

-Bradley Cobb

Paul’s Self-Portrait

The inspired apostle Paul wrote thirteen letters that are preserved for us in the pages of the New Testament.  In them, he gives various details about his life.  These are like pieces of Paul’s autobiography.   In writing to the young preacher Timothy, Paul took the time to explain just why he was so thankful to Jesus Christ.  In doing this, Paul (with words) painted his self-portrait.

He first was thankful to Christ for counting him as trustworthy and making him a preacher (Timothy 1:12).  Since Paul is writing to his “son in the faith,” it is obvious that he is trying to impress on Timothy the great blessing of being a preacher.  How beautiful are the feet of those that preach the gospel of peace (Romans 10:15)!  Paul’s thankful that he’s been given the opportunity to teach others.  He painted himself as a man who knew the blessing of proclaiming God’s word.

After expressing his thankfulness, he explains some of the reasons why he is so thankful.  Previously, Paul was a blasphemer, one who spoke against Christ and, by extension, God.  He was also a persecutor of both Christ and the church (Acts 9:1-5).  In addition to those, he was also injurious to Christ and the church, causing them untold harm and speaking evil of them.  But even after having done all of these things, Paul received mercy from the Lord.  He says that the grace of the Lord was “exceedingly abundant.”  This shows that not only is the grace of our Lord plentiful, but that it is far more than we could ever conceive.  The mercy shown to him made him extremely grateful to the Lord.  He painted himself as a man unworthy of being a preacher, but also painted himself as a man blessed by God’s forgiveness and mercy.

Paul then explains the reason he received that mercy and grace: Christ came into the world was to save sinners.  Paul declared himself to be the chief (or greatest) sinner (I Timothy 1:15).  Paul here paints himself as a humble man, knowing the terribleness of the deeds he had committed.  He expresses that this grace was extended to him to show others the exceedingly abundant mercy of God and Christ (I Timothy 1:14).  It was to show the longsuffering of Christ (I Timothy 1:16).  It was done to be a pattern or example for all future believers: If Christ could forgive Paul–the chief of sinners–and show mercy on him, they could receive mercy as well.  Timothy was reminded of this so that he could then proclaim this truth to others.  Paul painted himself as a man blessed by the mercy of God.

Paul’s self-portrait becomes clear in this passage.  He paints himself as a thankful man, blessed to preach the gospel.  He also paints himself as one who knows he was unworthy because of his sins.  This shows the humility with which he described himself.  He then brightens the picture, painting himself as a recipient of  God’s monumental grace.  Paul’s self-portrait shows an extremely thankful man who knows the importance of the mercy and grace shown to him by God.

That is the apostle Paul.  On multiple occasions, however, he told people to follow the example he left (I Corinthians 11:1, Philippians 3:17).  Are you following the example of Paul?  You have been given the opportunity to teach others.  Are you thankful for those opportunities?  The more important question is “Are you taking advantage of those opportunities, or wasting them?”  You have been shown mercy by the Lord.  Are you continually thankful for it as you should be?  Thank God for His mercy and His gospel!  Thank God for allowing us to teach others!

–Bradley Cobb

Restoration Moments

Beginning next week, we will be starting a series called Restoration Moments.  These are stories taken from the lives of men who lived for Christ, and struggled to bring about the restoration of New Testament Christianity.

However, these stories aren’t about the work of people leaving denominationalism behind to just be Christians.  These aren’t about doctrinal struggles.  These true stories are about people who lived for Christ, and how that affected their thoughts and actions.

For example: next week’s Restoration Moment is about a drunken wretch, a compassionate preacher, and what happened when the congregation made it clear they didn’t want him as part of the church.

A later Restoration Moment tells about the moment that a prominent preacher let go of any feelings of racism.

These Restoration Moments are meant to be informative, encouraging, and helpful to you.  They also happen to make really great illustrations.

We are confident that you will enjoy them.