All posts by BradleyCobb

The Story of Victor Cross–International Missionary (Part 4)

To get caught up, read part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Victor Cross wants to do more for Jesus.  There are so many lost souls out there that need the gospel, but how can I do it? Once again, Providence intervenes.

Victor took a job operating a crane, unloading cargo from ships that came into the bay near Houston, TX.  This job put him in contact with seamen from all over the world.  His first day on the job, he met some Germans who were bringing in a shipment, and he asked them about studying the Bible.  They were very enthusiastic about it, but not being fluent in English, a study would be difficult.

That very night, Victor wrote to Otis Gatewood, a preacher in Germany, asking for Bible material in German.  Within a few weeks, Victor started receiving tracts and Bible study materials in German, Finnish, Spanish, Swedish, and many other languages.  Victor went to work.

He invited some of the sailors to his house for fried chicken (these foreign seamens had never had fried chicken before), showed them the filmstrips, and then gave them some tracts in their own language.  He soon had Bibles, tracts and materials in 17 different languages.

Victor met with thousands of foreign seamen each year, giving them tracts, Bibles, and encouraging them to read them.  But sometimes the people aren’t so friendly.  One day, he went aboard a Greek ship, and every single person refused to talk with him.  So, he simply left three tracts on the ship and left.

It was over a year later that the same ship came into port, and Victor again went on to see if he could talk with anyone.  He entered the mess room where he saw a man reading something.  It was a tract!  It was one of the tracts that Victor had left over a year earlier!  As Victor said “hi” and sat down, the man spoke to him.

“The Americans are the most wasteful people on earth.  Over a year ago, when we were here, some American threw this little book away.  And it’s the greatest message I have ever read!  Three weeks after we departed from Houston last year, we docked in Japan where I got a Bible, and I checked all the references given.  And everything in it is true!”  The man continued, “I will be discharged soon.  And when I get home, I’m going to tell the patriarch in our church that he has been teaching us a falsehood all these years!”

Victor never told the man that it was he who left the tract.

The captain of another Greek ship was asked by Victor, “Do you read the Bible every day?”  The Captain said he had no Bible, so Victor gave him one, along with a tract.  Later that week, the captain invited Victor to dine with him on the ship.  He told Mr. Cross, “This book is the greatest thing I have ever read!  Why didn’t you come along 25 years ago?”

Curious, Victor asked why.  The answer was astonishing.

“My father was a Greek Orthodox priest, and said that it shouldn’t be a Catholic Church or a Greek Church, but Christ’s church.  My father said the Lord’s Supper should be observed every Sunday, and that it should be accompanied with prayers, and songs, and study of the Bible.  But he could never find anyone who would agree with him.  Now he’s gone.”  Then the Captain concluded with these words: “I’m going home to establish the church that belongs to Christ, and maybe someday we’ll send missionaries back to evangelize the United States.”

To be concluded tomorrow…

The Story of Victor Cross–International Missionary (Part 3)

If you missed it, here’s part 1 and part 2

Victor Cross is discouraged.  He wants to preach.  He wants to help bring others to Jesus.  But each time he tries, he runs into the same question: “What denomination are you with?”

It was late afternoon as Victor started to leave the doctor’s office.  He stopped before leaving, and asked the secretary if she’d be interested in studying the Bible.  And, as always, the question came, “with what denomination, Mr. Cross?”

After pausing for a moment in silent prayer, asking God, “How do I answer?” Victor turned and said, “Look at me.”

Confused, the secretary replied, “What do you mean?”

Victor turned again and said, “Look at me!  Do I look like a denomination?”

“You surely don’t.”

Victor quickly responded with a smile, “Then will you study the Bible, with me?”

She did, and later was baptized.

Victor has done the same thing with multiple thousands of people, and the success rate is amazing.  Others have followed his approach and found that it works for them too.  Why?  Because even people who aren’t willing to go inside a church building to save their lives are open to talking to an individual about the Bible.

It’s interesting that when you look in the Bible, you won’t see a single person converted by a sermon preached during the worship.  They’re all converted outside of the “church building.”

And though Victor Cross brought several people to Christ this way, his biggest impact for Christ—one that was felt world-wide—hadn’t even begun.

To be continued tomorrow…

The Story of Victor Cross–International Missionary (part 2)

See part 1 here

Victor Cross has left the church.  He has no intentions of ever going back.  He’s incredibly cynical and jaded because of the way he’d been treated by some preacher.  But let’s fast-forward a couple decades.

Victor has been without the grace of God for twenty years, despite his wife’s best efforts to encourage him to come back.  One day, as providence would have it, Victor met a couple men.  These men were kind, sincere, and godly.  They also happened to be elders in the church.  After learning Victor’s story, they said they understood why he would make that decision, from a human standpoint.  But they also encouraged Victor, and told him, “Don’t give up on Jesus just because someone else treated you that way.  Jesus didn’t do that to you.”

And Victor came back to the Lord.

His desire to work for Jesus came back fiercer than ever before.  And in his very first prayer after coming back to Christ, Victor uttered these words: “Lord, make me a fisher of men.”

Because Victor knew that he had to help be the answer to his own prayer, he began to study the Bible, and collected a modest library.  He wanted to preach, but knew that he would also need to work a “regular” job to pay the bills.  He bought a film projector and a set of filmstrips, and showed them to anyone who would watch.

But again discouragement struck.  He tried many times to get people to take a Bible correspondence course, but every time he did, the same question was asked, “what denomination?”  He learned quickly that regardless of how he said it, as soon as the words “church of Christ” left his lips, the door was shut, and people’s minds became closed.

To be continued tomorrow…

The Story of Victor Cross–International Missionary (part 1)

Quick!  Who is Victor Cross?

Here, I’ll give you a hint: He’s a powerful evangelist whose influence has been felt around the entire globe.

Still don’t know who he is?  That’s just how he’d prefer it.  You see, Victor Cross doesn’t want to be a big name.  He wants Christ to be the focus.

But the way that Victor has gone about it—the way he has influenced people all over the world—is something incredible, because it is so simple.

And you can do it too.

Victor came from a family of Christians.  Both of his grandfathers were gospel preachers, and he wanted to follow in their footsteps.  When he was 18, he was baptized into Christ and in less than a week, he announced that he wanted to preach for Jesus.

But then discouragement hit—and it hit hard.  The local preacher laughed at him for wanting to preach.  Laughed in his face!  This same preacher (who was also the one who baptized Victor) later accused him of stealing the typewriter that Victor had loaned to the church.  Then Victor had to watch the drama unfold when it came to light that the preacher had actually sold Victor’s typewriter so he could buy himself a better one.

As a result of these constant discouragements, and seeing this poor example of a preacher, Victor left the church, and therefore left Jesus too.

As Providence would have it, Victor got married.  He started going to church with her, and when she decided to be baptized, he went forward to publicly repent for being unfaithful to the Lord.  But the preacher demanded that Victor itemize all the sins he’d committed while he was away from the Lord.  This didn’t sit well.  Victor left the church, and this time it was for good—so he thought.  He was bitter.  He was angry.  He was resentful to all things related to the church.

To be continued tomorrow…

Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?

A year ago today, I wrote this article.  The message is still timely.  I pray that it is encouraging to you.

Who’s gonna fill their shoes?  Who’s gonna stand that tall?   Those words were made famous by George Jones, the legend of country music who died Friday morning.  The song was written mourning the passing of many classic country singers.  It was also written mourning the fact that the “new country” of the time was becoming more and more like pop music instead of country.

When the song was first released, there were people who were up and coming in country music who still held to their musical roots.  There were people like Alan Jackson, George Strait, Randy Travis, and others who kept more traditional county music alive.  If the question were asked today, however, the answer might well be “none.”  Real “country” music has just about disappeared from the airwaves, and all that is left is pop/rock music with an occasional fiddle or steel guitar.

Those country singers who truly play country music have been ostracized and rejected.  Even though the soundtrack to “O Brother, Where Art Thou” sold over a million copies, it was deemed “too country” for country radio.  Two of the most popular country artists of the 90′s (Alan Jackson and George Strait) accused the record companies of killing country music in their song “Murder on Music Row.”  Brad Paisley gathered together some legends of country music and recorded a song in protest called “Too Country.”

But George Strait and Alan Jackson are rarely heard on the radio anymore and Brad Paisley has defected to the synthesized pop side.  And again, the question lingers, Who’s gonna fill their shoes?

What does this have to do with the Bible and Christianity?

As more and more preachers, elders, and other faithful Christians pass on, we need to seriously consider the question of Who’s gonna fill their shoes?  Who is going to step up and continue to carry the banner of true Christianity?  It seems that a lot of Christians think that somehow the church will just keep on going strong without them—so they do nothing.

Jesus pointed out to a group of disciples that there is much work to be done, telling them “The harvest is truly great, but the laborers are few.  Because of this, pray to the Lord of the harvest that He will send laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2).  Jesus was concerned about who was going to carry on when He was gone.

Today, there is a massive push to leave real Christianity behind and go with a man-made imitation.  The ones who stand for the truth are labeled with such epitaphs as “legalists,” “boring,” “outdated,” and even “dead.”

There are Christians who speak out, but their voice is being marginalized.  Even when “big name” preachers speak out for the truth, their words are given little attention.  And more preachers and Christians continue to defect to the imitation Christianity that is supposedly more “popular” with people.

So, the question again rises and smacks each of the faithful in the face: with more preachers, elders, and Christians passing on, Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?

Are you willing to stand up and say, as the great prophet Isaiah did, “Here am I, send me!”? (Isaiah 6:8.)

Who’s gonna fill their shoes?

I am.  And I pray that you will too.  You are needed.

Bible Q&A – Disciples and Apostles

Here’s a brand-new question from the question box!  Let’s get straight to it!

What is the difference between a disciple and an apostle?—Anonymous

That’s a question that I’m sure lots of people have.  Thanks for asking it!

A disciple is someone who learns from someone else and studies under them.  They follow that person’s teachings.  When Jesus was on earth, He had lots of disciples.  People followed Him around everywhere, wanting to learn from Him.  Of course, some of the ones following Jesus were just in it for the free food.  Those weren’t really disciples.  Those were moochers.

However, there were several people who were dedicated to studying under Jesus’ teaching.  They wanted to know everything they could from this great Master Teacher.  These were the disciples of Jesus.

One evening, Jesus spent all night on a mountain praying.  The next morning, He met with His disciples.  From among those many disciples, Jesus chose twelve men to be His primary messengers (Luke 6:12-13).  These men were named Peter, Andrew, James (the son of Zebedee), John, Philip, Thomas, Matthew, Bartholemew, James (the son of Alphaeus), Simon, Thaddeaus, and Judas.  These are the men who Jesus called the apostles.

So, a disciple is a follower, or a learner of someone else (John the baptizer had disciples, too—John 3:25).  The apostles were a special selected group of Jesus’ disciples.  All of the apostles were disciples of Jesus.  But not all of the disciples of Jesus got to be apostles.

But what is an apostle?

The word apostle means “one who is sent out on a mission.”  Jesus was called an apostle because He was sent by God with a mission (Hebrews 3:1).  Paul and Barnabas were called apostles because they were sent by the church in Antioch (Acts 14:14, see also Acts 13:1-3).  The twelve men that Jesus selected to be apostles were men who He was sending out on a mission.  That mission was to spread the gospel to the whole world, starting in Jerusalem (Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:47).  All of Jesus’ apostles were given special abilities—miracles—so that they could prove that what they were saying was true (Mark 16:20, Acts 1:26-2:4).

An apostle of Jesus Christ was a special disciple, selected by Jesus and sent on a special mission.  Today, we can be disciples of Jesus Christ, learning from Him through His word, but no one today can be an apostle.

–Bradley Cobb

To submit your own question, contact us.

Next Week

We are excited about next week!

Starting on Monday, we will be presenting “The Story of Victor Cross.”  This five-part series will encourage you.  It will make you smile.  It will probably frustrate you, too.  But hopefully, it will also make you say, “Wow!  I didn’t realize spreading the gospel was so easy!”

Who is Victor Cross?  You’ll just have to wait and see.  Not even Google can help you on this one (trust me, I checked).  It is a true story of the influence one man can have for Christ.

Because we will be presenting this special series, there will be no Bible Q&A on Friday, May 2nd.  That Friday feature will resume on the 9th.

…Without Works is Dead

Most of my life, I’ve heard sermons on “faith without works is dead.”  In case you’re unaware, that’s found near the end of James chapter two.  One can have all the faith in the world, but if it is not exhibited in works, that faith is useless.  However, in a recent Bible class, I heard a man make the point that faith isn’t the only thing that “without works is dead.”  Needless to say, my interest was piqued.

LOVE without works is dead.

Imagine a man telling his wife “I love you,” but never showing it to her.  Is she going to believe it?  There was a song back in the 90′s called “More than Words.”  In it, the songwriter said, “more than words to show you feel that your love for me is real.  Then, you wouldn’t have to say that you love me, ’cause I’d already know.”

We can sing the song “Jesus Love Me,” and know that it is true, because Jesus showed His love for us by His works of living a perfect life, undergoing ridicule, and dying the ultimate shameful death on the cross.  My friends, THAT is love!

MERCY without works is dead.

Some people have actually said these words, “I’ll forgive you, but I won’t forget.”  Truly, this attitude means that forgiveness has not actually been given.  If we forgive someone, it means we no longer hold that thing against them–we no longer take it into account.  But many times, people claim to forgive others, but are not willing to do the works that prove it.  That kind of mercy is dead–of no value whatsoever.

And why is that important?  Because we are told in various places that we will be forgiven by God in the same way that we forgive others.  So, if we forgive in word only, but still hold those things against others, then we can expect God to still hold our sins against us.  See Matthew 6:12, 18:34-35, and James 2:13.  My friends, this is a matter of eternal importance!

REPENTANCE without works is dead.

John the baptizer called out the hypocritical Pharisees for pretending to be righteous.  In his indictment against them, he said the words, “bring forth fruits [works] appropriate for repentance” (Matthew 3:8).  The apostle Paul said it this way, “repent, and turn to God, and do works appropriate for repentance” (Acts 26:20).

We can tell people, “I’m sorry.”  But if you’ve been around people very long, you find that many times what they mean is, “I’m sorry you found out.”  You know that because the person shows no signs of change.  If you truly have repented, then you will be showing the works of repentance.  That includes working harder to not mess up in that area.

When we ask God for forgiveness, are we putting in the works necessary to prove we are truly sorry for what we have done?

May your life be blessed as your works match your words!

–Bradley Cobb

James Bales – Romans

We announced last week that we had reached an agreement to make many of the James D. Bales books available in digital format, and now the first one is ready!

Bales-Romans

Designed to be used when teaching a 13-week class, Romans is informative, instructive, and encouraging.  Within the 108 pages, you will find a great overview of the grand themes of this great epistle!  This is a great way to study through the book of Romans while keeping the whole book in context.

Each chapter contains several questions: some for remembering the text, and others that cause you to give deeper thought to the application of the text.  They are sure to spark some good discussion in the class.

  1. The Gospel in Romans
  2. Why the Gospel is Necessary
  3. The Law of Faith
  4. Peace Through Christ
  5. Why Christians Should Not Continue in Sin
  6. The Wretched Man
  7. The Delivered Man
  8. Not all of Israel is Israel
  9. Paul’s Desire for Israel
  10. Israel and the Gospel
  11. Therefore, Brethren
  12. Love Seeks to Please Its Neighbor
  13. The Gospel for Both Jews and Gentiles

This fantastic book is only $2.99!

Bible Q&A – Lord of Sabaoth

This is the first of what will (Lord willing) be an ongoing feature of TheCobbSix.com.  We plan on posting a new Bible Q&A each Friday.  Now, on to the question!

Why is God called “The Lord of Sabaoth” (James 5:4, Romans 9:29)?  I’m sure it means something, but I’m not sure what.–Anonymous

That’s a great question, and the answer may not be what you expect.  The word Sabaoth only appears twice in the Bible, James 5:4 and Romans 9:29.  Many people look at the word Sabaoth, and assume it is another spelling of the word Sabbath.  And so, most people just think that this is another way of saying “Lord of the Sabbath,” like in Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, and Luke 6:5.  But just because the words look similar doesn’t mean they’re the same thing.

The word Sabaoth means armies.  The best way to show this is to look at one of the places where it is used.  Romans 9:29 says, “And as Isaiah said before, ‘Except the LORD of Sabaoth had left us a seed, we’d been like Sodom and made like Gomorrah’.”  Here, the apostle Paul quotes from Isaiah 1:9.  Except that, in Isaiah 1:9, it says “the LORD of hosts.”

“The Lord of Sabaoth” in the New Testament is the same as “the LORD of hosts” in the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament, the phrase “the LORD of hosts” appears 245 times.  This phrase describes God as the one who has the power to destroy anyone who gets in His way.  It means He’s the military God who can control the armies of heaven and earth.  When you understand this, and understand what was meant when God is called “the LORD of hosts,” it helps you get a better picture of what’s going on in the Bible.

“For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘As My anger and My fury have been poured out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so will My fury be poured out on you when you enter Egypt. And you shall be an oath, an astonishment, a curse, and a reproach; and you shall see this place no more.’” (Jeremiah 42:18).

Do you see there how God identifies Himself as “the LORD of hosts” right before He promises to bring destruction?  Now, let’s go back to the New Testament and look at the other place where “the Lord of Sabaoth” is mentioned: James 5:4.

“Behold, the wages of the laborer who have reaped down your fields (which you have kept back by fraud) cries, and the cries of the reapers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.”

Here, God is telling the ones who were oppressive to the poor that the God of destruction is coming.  He’s heard the cries of the poor.  And if you read the whole chapter, you’ll see that it was going to be bad.  Just a few years after this was written, Jerusalem was destroyed, and the people who had been oppressing the poor Christians were killed or made into slaves by the Roman armies, led by God.

–Bradley Cobb