Category Archives: Sermons

For God’s Sake, for Christ’s Sake, and for Pete’s Sake…

James says that “faith without works is dead, being alone.”  That is, the only real faith, the only living faith, is one that is working, that is doing, that is active.  Are you an active Christian?

I once heard a man say about his home congregation, “I like our church just the size it is.”  That’s one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard, because what that says is “None of these lost souls in my town matter to me,” or “I don’t feel like saving any souls,” or “I’m perfectly content to let them all go to hell.”

No matter how you want to phrase it, that attitude is wrong.  No matter how many people you have in the building on a Lord’s Day morning, it isn’t enough!  There are literally hundreds or thousands of people in your hometown who are alone, living without Jesus, without salvation, without hope.  And as Christians–active Christians, we need to start doing a better job of bringing them to Christ.

This week you have a certain amount of people in attendance.  Next week, top that number.  Be realistic, but do your part to plant the seed and trust in God to do His part.  “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gives the increase”!  When you do your part, God will do His and you’ll be amazed at the results.

An active Christian is one who is out doing the will of the Lord.  But why be an active Christian?

For God’s sake, be an active Christian.

Read John 3:16.  He sent Jesus Christ for your sake.  Read that verse again, but this time, instead of the phrase “the world,” put your own name there.  Read it out loud.  “For God so loved [your name] that He gave His only begotten Son…”  God did that for your sake.  And all He asks in return is that you serve Him and tell other people about Him and what He’s done for them.

Remember, you can put your name in that verse, but you also need to put other people’s name in that verse.  For God so loved Bob, my next-door neighbor, that he gave His only begotten Son.  For God so loved my teacher, or my cousin, or the cashier at the grocery store, that He gave His only begotten Son.

For God’s sake, be an active Christian.

For Christ’s sake, be an active Christian.

Jesus had you in mind when He was dying, hanging on the cross, blood dripping down, being mocked by the people around Him.  He was thinking about you.  “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

“Greater love has no man than this: that he should die for his friends.”  Jesus spoke those words the night before He died–the night before He died for you. John 15:13.

Since Jesus did that for your sake, is it really asking all that much for you to tell others about Him?

For Christ’s sake, be an active Christian.

For the church’s sake, be an active Christian.

Look, let’s be honest.  We need you.  Each and every person in the pews is needed.  Jesus said that the fields are ripe, ready to be harvested, but there’s a lack of workers.  Pray to the Father to send out workers! (Luke 10:2).  There are people out there, wanting to know the truth, ready to follow Jesus, but they need someone to tell them about Him.

I’ve been reading a book, written by a brother in Christ back in the 1960s.  In that book was a very thought-provoking line that … well, let’s just say it hit me pretty hard.

What would Jesus do if he were a member of the congregation where I worship?

Would Jesus leave any person of your acquaintance out of His efforts to save if He physically lived here on earth today?  If so, which person would He omit? (Ideas for Bible School Growth by Alan M. Bryan, page 10)

Of all the people you know, that you work with, that you live near, that you go to school with, that you’re related to, whatever the case may be–which ones do you think Jesus would ignore?  Which ones do you think Jesus would walk by without a word?  Which ones do you think Jesus would say, “He’s not worth my time”?

You know the answer to that question.  So, “Go ye and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).

For the church’s sake, be an active Christian.

For Pete’s sake, be an active Christian.

Every time I hear people say “for Pete’s sake,” I want to say, “I only know one person who goes by the name of Pete, and he lives in England.  So what exactly does he have to do with this?”

Thousands of lost souls are in this town, and we need to reach them all.  Let’s call them all Pete.  Not to their face, mind you, but let’s just think of each of the lost souls in this town as people in need of the gospel.  They are people who are in desperate need of an active Christian to touch their lives and help them come to Christ.

This helps bring people to Christ, but it also has the glorious side benefit of encouraging yourself and the whole congregation.  You make yourself happier, you bring joy to other Christians, you bring Pete to the Lord.  Really, the only one who loses in this whole scenario is Satan.

There are a lot of Pete’s in the world who are going to die without Christ, without hope unless someone teaches them about Jesus.  Be an active Christian for their sake.

For Pete’s sake, be an active Christian.

For your own sake, be an active Christian.

Faith without works is dead.  And a dead faith won’t get you very far when Jesus returns.

Who needs to come to Jesus?  It’s your friends.  It’s your neighbors.  It’s your co-workers.

Maybe it’s you.

“No,” you say.  “I’m good with Jesus.”  Are you really?  Are you certain?  Would Jesus agree with your assessment?

“Not all who say to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

Jesus said it requires doing God’s will.  It means being active and obeying God’s commands.  Jesus describes a judgment scene in Matthew 25, and if you’ll notice the judgment was based on who was active and who was not.

It’s a wonderful thing to serve the kind, merciful, loving God of heaven.  Don’t you think it’s time you get right with Him?

For your own sake, be an active Christian.

A growing church starts with you.

-Bradley S. Cobb

“If You REALLY Loved Me, You Would … “

a.k.a. “How to Have a Great Marriage (part four)”

There’s a game that gets played at church camps and other youth gatherings on occasion, and here’s how it’s played:

All of the kids, except for one, will sit on chairs in a circle. The person who is “it” stands in the middle of this circle, and he looks for a place to sit down—someone whose chair he wants to take. In order to do this, he has to go up to one of the people sitting down and—without touching them—get them to smile by only saying the words, “Honey, if you love me, you’ll smile.” The person sitting down has to reply—with a straight face—”Honey, I love you, but I just can’t smile.” If they crack a smile at all, they have to give up their seat.

It’s funny to watch them struggle against smiling, and it’s also just as funny to see how dramatic the person can get who is asking them to smile.

But there’s something I’d like for you to think about…

People try to make demands of love all the time.

  • IF you love me, you’ll smile.
  • If you REALLY loved me, you wouldn’t complain about visiting my parents.
  • If you REALLY loved me, you’d take me out to eat.

Those might seem kinda funny. But how about these:

  • If you REALLY loved me, you’d become a Baptist (this happens)
  • Or when a couple is dating—before they’re married—if you REALLY loved me, you’d have sex with me.

And you want to know what most of this boils down to? Someone being self-centered and saying, “You don’t really love me if you don’t do what I want to do.”

YOU DON’T REALLY LOVE ME if you don’t give in to my demands!

Talking like that is hypocritical. It is egotistical. It is mean-spirited. It is emotional warfare. And it is something that can destroy your marriage.

Why? Because most of the time when people use this phrase, they’re trying to manipulate their spouse. Because most of the time, when people use the “If you love me…” they are demanding something that has nothing to do with love at all! Because most of the time, when someone says, “if you really love me…” they’re showing that they don’t really love the person they’re talking to.  Because many times, when people say “If you love me…”, they’re trying to get the other person to sin.

They’re asking you to prove your love by doing something that doesn’t prove love at all!

Satan used this tactic when talking to Jesus. (Matthew 4).

  • If you’re REALLY the Son of God, prove it by jumping off a building.
  • If you’re REALLY the Son of God, prove it by doing a selfish miracle.

These things wouldn’t have proven Jesus was the Son of God. It would have proven quite the opposite, because He would be sinning.

God says there are things that you will do if you really love your spouse.

It’s not wrong to say, “if you REALLY love me you will _____.” That is, so long as you fill in the blank with something actually that the Bible says about love.  After all, Jesus said, “If you love me, you will KEEP MY COMMANDMENTS.”

If you REALLY love me, you’ll be patient with me (I Corinthians 13:4).

“Charity [Love] suffers long.”

The word “charity” is AGAPE, or love.  It’s the love we are commanded to have for each other (John 13:34).  As we mentioned last week, we are all supposed to have this kind of love for our spouse.

So, in order to have a God-honoring marriage, a marriage that is pleasing to God, a marriage that is happy and enjoyable and GREAT, we will “suffer long” with our spouse.

The phrase “suffers long” is the same word which is also translated “endured” and “patient” in other verses.  In order to have a God-honoring marriage, you have to be patient with your spouse.  You have to be long-suffering with your spouse.

What’s that mean? It means you may have to suffer for a long time with your spouse.  People don’t change overnight. Bad habits take time to overcome. Love is a learning process. People make mistakes.

As a spouse, you MUST exercise patience. You HAVE TO give them time to get things right. You may have to endure a lot, but if you do, your strengthened marriage will be worth it.

A woman confessed to a marriage counselor, “I love him, but I can’t stand it. He’s always messing up. I’ve been after him for years to improve himself. He still says things sometime without even thinking. I’ve had it up to here with him!”

The marriage counselor shook his head and said, “You don’t really love him.” Shocked, she said, “Of course I love him!” He repeated, “You don’t really love him. You said yourself that you constantly criticize him because he hasn’t changed enough for you yet.”

“So? I still love him.”

“You’re not patient with him. And love is patient. No patience? That means you don’t love him.”

If you aren’t patient with your spouse, it means you don’t really love him/her.

Now, I understand, it’s easier said than done. But do you really think God’s going to accept your excuse of “he keeps messing up” when he asks why you weren’t patient with your spouse?

After all, YOU keep messing up too, and God is patient with you.

A comic strip I read a couple years ago had two women talking to each other. One of them says, “What’s that smoke?” The other one says, “Well, Ole Ben burned dinner.” “And what’s that big stain on your shirt?” “Well, Ole Ben spilled grape juice one me.” Why didn’t you get it cleaned?” “Well, Ole Ben cleaned it for me. And then he dropped it in the mud when he was hanging it out to dry.” “Sounds like your husband messes up everything he touches. I’d be furious!” “Naw, I love him.” “How could you love someone who keeps destroying your stuff?” ” I love him because no matter how much he messes up, he keeps trying.”

When YOU keep trying, regardless of how much you mess up, God will forgive you.  When YOUR SPOUSE keeps trying, you should have patience with them.

Even when it seems like your spouse ISN’T trying, you need to have patience with them.  You can’t expect him to become a perfect husband overnight. If you start trying to change everything he does, you know what message that sends to him? I don’t like you the way you are. If there are things that need to be changed, you need to be patient, realizing it may take years before it finally takes hold; before he finally “gets it.”

And husbands, if you want your wife to change the way she does some things, you have to be patient too. It takes time to change and to get used to doing things differently. BE PATIENT.

“If you love me, you’ll be patient with me.”

This is true, because “Love is patient.”

How to Have a Great Marriage (part three)

A couple posts ago, we mentioned that love is not a requirement for God to recognize a marriage as valid.  And that’s true. Love isn’t a requirement for God to join two people together (Matthew 19:4-5).

However, it IS a requirement for your marriage to be pleasing to God, to be a God-Honoring marriage.

Love your spouse.

What kind of love?

Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you that I love pizza. They’ll also tell you that I love my kids. But obviously these aren’t the same kind of love.

Even in the Bible, there are different kinds of love.

  • The Pharisees LOVE to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners (Matthew 6:5).
  • Thou shalt LOVE the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind (Matthew 22:37).
  • Beware of the scribes which LOVE to go in long clothing, and LOVE salutations in the marketplace (Mark 12:38).

Three different verses, three different Greek words that are translated “love.”

In the New Testament, there are generally two different words for “love.”

Agape – This is the most common word which is translated LOVE in the New Testament. It means a conscious decision to put someone else first. It is sacrificial. It is what God has towards us (John 3:16) and what we are to have towards God (Matthew 22:37).

Phileo – This word shows friendship. It shows enjoying something. It might be better translated as “like”, as in “I like this.” We sing, “I’ll be a friend to Jesus,” and that is exactly what is commanded of us (I Corinthians 16:22 – If any man does not love [LIKE–phileo] the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema). It is what Jesus is to us, if we obey Him (John 15:14 – Ye are my friends [LIKED ONES–philos] if ye keep what I have commanded you).

But what kind of love are you supposed to have for your spouse? The answer may surprise you!

You must show agape love towards your spouse.

Husbands are commanded to AGAPE their wife (Ephesians 5:28).

Husbands must stop thinking about themselves and put their wife’s needs first. That means her physical needs (provide food, shelter, clothing). That means her emotional needs (which falls under showing her “respect”). That means her spiritual needs—many women are not being led spiritually by their husband.

How can a husband show this love?

Lots of ways—but it’s not the one-time acts that matter. It’s the constant, day-in and day-out acts that show you truly have AGAPE for your wife.  Changing diapers. Carrying the groceries. Helping with housework. Turning off the TV and just talking with her. Taking care of the kids so she can rest.

And it’s doing these things with no strings attached.

John spent a couple hours cleaning the kitchen and living room of his house. Then his wife comes home, and he helps her carry in the groceries. She smiles, and he says, “I’m going to the ballgame with the boys.” She objects, “but we were going to have a nice quiet night at home.” He says, “Look, I cleaned the living room and the kitchen. What else do you want from me?”

He did those things, not out of love, but because he expected something in return.

Wives must show agape love towards their husband (John 15:12).

Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”  This applies to everyone, including wives.  This means that wives are to show AGAPE to others—including her husband.

It is interesting that there is no direct command “wives, AGAPE your husband.”  We can deduce that it’s necessary from other passages (love thy neighbor as thyself, for example). All the “love one another” passages prove that a wife must show AGAPE to her husband.

God made a specific command for husbands to AGAPE their wife. In fact, it’s stated point-blank multiple times in the Bible (Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33, Colossians 3:19).

A marriage where both spouses show this love for each other will grow, and it will be a blessing to both of them.

“The Gift of the Magi” is a great story about a man and his wife. It’s Christmastime, but they are very poor. They want so desperately to get a gift—a meaningful gift—for the other, but neither can afford it. The husband has an old gold pocket watch that he got from his father. It’s the most important possession he has in the whole world. But he takes it and pawns it so that he can buy his wife a new hairbrush to use on her long hair. A bit later, the wife comes into the house. He presents her with the brush and she begins to cry. She takes the scarf off of her head, and he sees that her long hair is gone. She had cut it off and sold it so she could afford to buy him a gift—a gold chain to use for his pocket watch.

Love is putting your spouse first.

You must show PHILEO love towards your spouse.

God commands that you be friends with your spouse. God commands that you enjoy their company. God commands that you LIKE them.

Wait a second, how can God tell me to like them if I don’t like them?

You know, if you become the spouse YOU’RE supposed to be, it’s likely that they will be more like the spouse THEY’RE supposed to be. And liking them will come naturally.

And honestly, especially in America, if you’re married to them, that means you like them—or at least you did at one point. God’s just telling you to keep liking them.

Wives are to LIKE their husbands (Titus 2:4).

The older women were to teach the younger women to love (PHILEO) their husbands.

In a society that encourages women to complain about their husbands, to stand up to them, don’t take no garbage from them, women’s lib and all that stuff…it’s important that we teach our girls that they are supposed to love their husbands—to like their husbands. To enjoy their company. To be friends with them.

Sometimes that’s a hard thing to do. More than once, you’ve probably heard (or maybe even said) the words, “I still love you, but I don’t like you right now.”

If you don’t like your husband, then repent and start being his friend again.

Acts 28:2 translates this same word as “kindness.” It means showing kindness—being a friend.

Husbands are to LIKE their wives.

Just as there is no direct statement that wives are supposed to AGAPE their husbands, there is no direct statement that husbands are to LIKE their wives.

However, if both are Christians (which is how it should be), the following verses settle the matter:

  • Be kindly affectioned one toward another with brotherly love (PHILEO for your brethren in Christ) in honor, preferring one another. (Romans 12:10)
  • Let brotherly love continue (Hebrews 13:1).

The Scriptures specifically say that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25).

The Scriptures also tell us that Christ is a friend to His people—the church (John 15:15).

If you love your spouse with AGAPE love, true love with no strings attached, your marriage will be happier and healthier.  If you make it a point to be a friend with your spouse, your marriage will be stronger for it.

Now don’t go home today and say, “honey, you need to read this article on TheCobbSix.com. You need to start loving me better and being a better friend.”

DON’T DO THAT!

It all starts with YOU. YOU do your part. No strings attached. YOU do it. YOU be the one you’re supposed to be.  If you do that, you may be very surprised at how much they start to change as well.

Almost all troubled marriages are missing something. Respect has gone AWOL. Love—both kinds—has been replaced with anger and hatred. And if those things aren’t changed—if love and respect aren’t brought back into the marriage, it will fail.

A man and woman are sitting at the kitchen table. On her plate is a piece of toast—the end piece. She hates the end piece, and finally, after years of her husband giving it to her, she erupts. “Why do you hate me? You give me this stinking end piece of the bread every time. I HATE the end piece, yet you insist on giving it to me for the whole ten years we’ve been married. Why? WHY?!?” After the initial shock subsides, he looks over at her and says, “I didn’t know you didn’t like it. You never told me. I wish you would have. The end has always been my favorite.”

Jesus loves you. And He expects you to show that same love to others—especially your spouse.

How to Have a Great Marriage (part two)

I was 7 years old when I heard some people talk about a local preacher.  They had been over to his house, and apparently he decided to tell some stories. Now, these weren’t just any stories. These were stories that made his wife look ignorant. And he laughed and laughed, even though no one else did.

And I’ll never forget what they said next in this conversation: She looked like she wanted to crawl under the table and hide.

Of course, when I was 7, I was trying to figure out why she’d want to play hide and seek during dinner. But as I got older, those words stuck with me, and I came to understand that she was embarrassed by the stories, ashamed by her husband’s behavior, and hurt that he could laugh while tearing her down.

My friends, that is not a God-honoring marriage.

Last week, we examined some requirements for a God-honoring marriage.

  • You have to leave your mommy and daddy and be joined to your spouse.
  • You have to be committed—100% to your spouse and your marriage.
  • You have to be faithful—and not just physically. Be faithful with your eyes and your thoughts.

When you do these things, divorce should never come up in the conversation.

This week, we’re continuing the same theme.  In order to have a great marriage, and a marriage that is pleasing to God, this ingredient must be present.

Respect for your spouse.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard people bad-mouthing their husband or wife.  It’s nothing but complain, complain, complain to everyone. It’s like they can’t do anything right. All you hear is about how awful their spouse is ALL THE TIME! He’s a lazy jerk. She’s a horrible cook. She doesn’t clean. He won’t help with the kids.  And what’s worse is when they say those things in public while their spouse is right there.

That is not showing respect to your spouse AT ALL.  And let me assure you, the Bible commands that you show respect to your spouse.

Husbands, give honor to your wife (I Peter 3:7).

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

That word honor means to value them. It means to show deference to them. To reverence them. To esteem them. To treat them with dignity. In short, it means to RESPECT them.

Husbands, show respect to your wife! Treat them like the weaker vessel.  Fine china is precious, expensive, and you have to be careful with it or it will break.  In the same way, your wife is precious, valuable, and you must treat her with the kindness and respect that she deserves, otherwise she can break.

Her self-esteem can be broken by a husband who doesn’t treat her with respect. Her will to work can be broken when she’s treated like she’s nothing special. Her desire to try to make the marriage better can break when the husband lets her know he doesn’t respect her.

Husbands, treat your wife kindly. Treat her with respect!

That means that you don’t treat her like she’s stupid—especially in front of other people!  That means you don’t mock her or ridicule her.  It means that you treat her like the gift from God to you that she is.

You should show her respect because she is also an heir of the grace of life.

What does that mean? It means that she has been given the gift of life by God, just like you have. She’s made in God’s image.  She is someone for whom Christ died.  And if you treat her like she’s unimportant, then you’re saying that you’re also unimportant–you can’t have it both ways. Ultimately, if you treat God’s creation disrespectfully, you can expect the same treatment from Him.

You should treat her with respect because if you don’t, you can’t get forgiveness of sins.

This goes hand-in-hand with what we just finished saying.  If you don’t treat her with respect, God will not hear your prayers. If God won’t hear your prayers, then you cannot have your sins forgiven. If you can’t have your sins forgiven, you’re going to hell. DO I HAVE TO MAKE IT ANY CLEARER?

Treat your wife with respect or you go to hell. Period. No exceptions. You have no hope—AT ALL.

Wives, reverence your husband (Ephesians 5:33).

Let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and that the wife see that she reverences her husband.

The word reverence means to show them honor. It means to show deference to them. The Greek word (phobos) actually means to fear them—as in show them respect. In fact, the NKJV, NIV, NAS, ESV all translate this word as respect.

This means that the wife isn’t going to go around bad-mouthing her husband. She won’t be complaining about everything he does. Even if there are things that her husband needs to work on, she’s not going to make that public knowledge. She’s not going to berate him for his mistakes. She will show him respect.

Thayer defines the word here as showing reverential obedience.

You should respect your husband because he is the God-ordained head of the household (Ephesians 5:23).  God has given him the responsibility of leading the family. Of providing for the family. Of caring for the family’s spiritual and physical needs.  These are heavy responsibilities, and he deserves your respect for taking them on.

You should respect your husband because God said so.  Regardless of how you may feel towards your husband, this is a command of God. And if you refuse to obey it, you have just forfeited your soul. Intentional disobedience is an automatic ticket to hell (Hebrews 10:26-31).

Whether you are the husband or the wife, RESPECT YOUR SPOUSE!  It may be hard, but if you want a happy marriage, you’ll do it. If you want a marriage that helps you grow as a person and as a Christian, you’ll do it. If you want to go to heaven, you’ll do it.

Trust me, it’s worth it.

But, if you want a mediocre marriage filled with yelling and screaming and constant complaining–one that makes you feel stifled and trapped–then go ahead. Don’t respect your spouse. If you want to go to hell, feel free to ignore God’s commands.

How to Have a Great Marriage (part one)

It’s amazing when you consider that God’s commands for marriage are all ones that–when followed–improve your married life.  So, by following God’s commands, you are making your marriage better!  So, we could call this “Requirements for a God-Honoring Marriage” and it would be absolutely true, but it is also just as accurate to call these next four articles “How to have a Great Marriage!”

Over half of all marriages are ending in divorce. These messes leave sadness, broken hearts, hurt, anger, frustration, distrust, and disaster all around. These messes ruin the lives of children who often times cause the same messes in their own marriages later on. People shake their heads and wring their hands—what can you do?   You know that God doesn’t approve of all these rampant divorces, because God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16).

In the last post, we talked about the things that were absolutely required in order for God to recognize a marriage as valid. It must be between a male and a female, and the parties must be eligible to be married. Any marriage that doesn’t meet God’s definition and pre-requisites isn’t a valid marriage, it’s nothing more than “shacking up.” God calls it fornication, which is a sin that will keep you out of heaven (Galatians 5:19-21).

This week, we’re going to take a look at what is required for a God-honoring marriage—a marriage that pleases God.   These are things that—if done—will guarantee a happy home life, and will keep divorce from happening.

Leaving Father and Mother (Matthew 19:4-5).

“Haven’t you read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female? And He said, ‘For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh?'”

The people Jesus is speaking to claimed to be experts in the Law, yet He says to them, “haven’t you read?” It’s like he’s saying to them “It’s right there in the Bible—you know, the one that you claim to be experts in? Haven’t you read it?”

He said that a marriage involves leaving father and mother behind and clinging to your spouse. But one of the biggest causes of marriage problems is when one or the other (or both) have never actually left mom and dad.

Constantly saying, “well, my mother says this,” or “my dad does it this way,” is guaranteed to cause resentment. It also shows that you haven’t left mom and dad behind. And people wonder, “Why do you hate my parents so much?” It’s because the parents have been brought into the marriage. It’s because the husband is always running to his mommy to complain about his wife. It’s because the wife is saying, “that’s not how my daddy does it.”

God, from the very beginning, said that a marriage involved LEAVING mother and father and CLEAVING (clinging) to your spouse. When you get married, you must start your own family unit. This doesn’t mean that you have nothing to do with your parents, but it must be made clear that your spouse is the most important person in the world to you.   It must be made clear that when there are problems that arise in the marriage, arguments or whatever, that you deal with it with your spouse—don’t go off running to mommy and daddy. That shows an incredible lack of maturity. If your spouse doesn’t respect you very much, this may well be the reason why.

If you want to have a marriage that honors God—a marriage that will make you happy—then make your spouse the focal point of your love and attention. The marriage should be a safe haven in the midst of a troubling storm. And frequently, that storm is called “Hurricane In-laws.” If your parents talk bad about your wife, stand up for her. If they talk bad about your husband, stand up for him. Many marriages are doomed to failure because one or the other still wants to be daddy’s girl or momma’s boy instead of being a good husband or wife.

A God-honoring marriage is one that obeys God’s command to leave the father and mother and cleave to your spouse. And if you haven’t done it yet—do it now! It is a violation of a direct command of God if you don’t! It is a sin to remain tied to your parents when you’re supposed to be tied to your mate!

Parents, this is something that you need to keep in mind as well. Because immediately after Jesus mentioned the whole “leaving parents” and “cleaving to the spouse,” He said, “what God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6). Far too many parents are trying to run their kids’ marriages. Telling them where to live. Telling them what job to get. Telling them that they aren’t doing enough. Telling them that they need to start having kids. Telling them that they need to stop having kids. I know of one man who basically told his son and daughter-in-law that they needed to have an abortion when she got pregnant.

Some parents try to drive a wedge between the man and wife. The mother doesn’t think the daughter-in-law is good enough for her little boy. The dad doesn’t think his son-in-law is good enough for his little girl. And so they try to tell them what to do. They try to pit one against the other.   They bad-mouth them. Fight, fight, fight, fight, fight. And it brings horrible stress on a marriage, because they won’t let their kid obey Jesus by leaving the parents and cleaving to the spouse.   Unless you see them engaged in sin, then don’t be telling them what to do. Be there for them if they ask for advice, but don’t let them come to you complaining about their spouse. That’s gossip. And that’s sinful.

Commitment to Each Other.

A man and woman were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.   There was a big party for them. And one of the people in attendance asked them, “What’s the secret to staying married for 60 years?” And the wife gave a very deep, profound answer: “don’t die.” This answer represents commitment.

Years ago, people actually meant it when they said, “I take you to be my lawfully wedded wife, for richer or for poorer, through sickness and in health, FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE, until death do we part.” For them, their attitude was that they were going to stick together no matter what!

The Bible teaches that marriage is a life-long commitment. Matthew 19:6 – What God has joined together, let not man tear apart (that command is for the husband and wife just as much as it is any outsider who might try to break up the marriage). God hates divorce. In fact, God commands “Let not the wife depart from her husband…and let not the husband put away his wife” (I Corinthians 7:10-11). One way that God describes divorce is “dealing treacherously” with your spouse (Malachi 2:16). It is when the spouse dies that the marriage ends (Romans 7:2).

If both the husband and the wife lived out a life of commitment to each other, there would be no danger of divorce at all. The husband loving the wife (Ephesians 5:25). The wife loving the husband (Titus 2:4). This “love” is the conscious decision to put your spouse ahead of yourself. To put their needs first. To put their wants ahead of your wants. To show them kindness, respect, and compassion. It is a decision that you make.

If you don’t go into marriage with a firm commitment to your spouse, then you are sinning. Prenuptial agreements (If this doesn’t work out, here’s how we’ll split things) are just planning in advance to fail.

If you’re married, and you’re not committed, then you’re sinning. A man who was tired of being married to the same person went to the preacher and said, “I just don’t love my wife anymore. We don’t get along. We fight all the time. And I’m ready to quit.” The preacher looked at him and said, “Well, I guess there’s only one thing to do, then.” The man’s eyes lit up—the preacher was about to tell him to go ahead and get a divorce…at least, that’s what he thought. The preacher looked him in the eyes and said, “Yes, only one thing to do. You get yourself home and repent. Pray to God for forgiveness and beg your wife for forgiveness for not being the husband you ought to be.”

If you’re married and you aren’t committed to your spouse, then you have some heavy duty repenting and begging for forgiveness to do.

Faithfulness to Your Spouse.

Both cleaving to your spouse and being committed to your spouse involve being faithful to your spouse. God designed marriage to be the place where sexual desires can be satisfied (I Corinthians 7:1-9). Any sexual activity outside of a God-authorized marriage is sinful and can cause you to lose your soul eternally. When you get married, God joins you and your spouse together, and you two are to become one flesh (Matthew 19:5-6). No one else is allowed in this union.

Sexual activity outside of the marriage is condemned by God, and has always carried a very harsh punishment. In the Old Testament, both the man and woman were to be put to death (Leviticus 20:10). It is called “adultery,” and Galatians 5:19-21 states very clearly that those who commit adultery will go to hell. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was described as God’s bride, but they had gone after other gods. God describes what they did as adultery. And as a result of what they did, God utterly destroyed them.

Not only is adultery sinful, Proverbs 6:32 says, “he who committeth adultery with a with a woman lacketh understanding. He that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.” ISV says, “Whoever commits adultery with a woman is out of his mind!” The CEV says, “But if you go to bed with another man’s wife, you will destroy yourself by your own stupidity.” Basically, God says if you go sleeping around, you’re stupid! I didn’t say it, God did!

Sexual unfaithfulness is so wicked that it is the only reason that God allows someone to get a divorce and then get remarried (Matthew 19:9). When someone has sexual relations with someone other than their spouse, they have destroyed the union that God joined together. This, and this alone, gives someone the right to leave their spouse and get married to someone else. And according to Jesus, if you cheat on your spouse—they can divorce you, and you can never get married to anyone else again.

But, let’s dig a bit deeper—what about the whole argument of “well, I never CHEATED on my spouse”? Does the fact that you never physically cheated on your spouse mean that you are faithful in your marriage?

The Bible demands COMPLETE faithfulness to your spouse—or you will burn in hell.

  • The Bible demands faithfulness with your eyes (don’t even stare or lust after another person—Job 31:1, Matthew 5:28).
  • The Bible demands faithfulness with your thoughts – same verses.
  • Pornography is a sin! Having sexual conversations with someone other than your spouse is sin! That includes conversations in person, conversations on Facebook, “Sexting,” sending pictures, etc—all of them are sin.

And if you’re doing any of them, STOP IT! For crying out loud, STOP IT! You’ll go to hell because of it, so just STOP IT!

The Bible demands COMPLETE faithfulness to your spouse—in who you sleep with, who you look at, who you think about—it had better be your spouse!

Conclusion:

If you want a good marriage, a happy marriage, a marriage that honors God, a marriage that will never be destroyed by divorce, then you have to do what God has commanded: Leave your parents and cling to your spouse. Be 100% committed to your spouse and your marriage. Stay faithful exclusively to her/him.

And if you aren’t doing these things, then START doing them now! Don’t wait! If you refuse to do them, you make yourself an enemy of God, and He will destroy you (Hebrews 10:26-31). Do it for your soul. Do it for yourself—be selfish about it. You want to be happy, and the easiest way to be happy in your marriage is for your spouse to be happy with you. So, make things easier on yourself by being the spouse God wants you to be. Do it for your spouse—they deserve it. Whatever reason you want to use for doing it, just do it!

Calling on the Name of the Lord

When kids misunderstand things, we think it is cute.  In fact, people share these adorable misunderstandings with their friends and anyone else who wants to know (look at Facebook for a few days and you’ll see them).

But when adults misunderstand things, it’s not the same, is it?  Adults are rightfully expected to put some effort into understanding things.  A wife isn’t going to post on Facebook about how cute it was that her husband misunderstood what she wanted.  Instead, it’s often times the basis of a (ahem) “discussion” (if you’re married, you know what I mean).

Today, we will consider one of the biggest misunderstandings in the religious world today: Calling on the name of the Lord.

The majority of so-called “Christian” denominations teach that to call on the name of the Lord is to ask Jesus into your heart, praying for salvation from sin.  It’s interesting that if you just take the sheer number (not groups, but individuals) of people claiming to be Christians, the overwhelming majority actually REJECT this doctrine.  However, it has been popularized by televangelists and others who twist God’s word to their own destruction (II Peter 3:16).  Salvation through prayer is “another gospel”, and all those who bring such doctrines will be cursed by God (Galatians 1:8-9).

But what does “calling on the name of the Lord” actually mean?

What is calling on the name of the Lord?

Though this phrase appears in the New Testament, it also appears in the Old Testament.

Seth had his son, Enos, THEN men began to call on the name of the LORD (Genesis 4:26).

This is generally referred to as the “Godly line.” This isn’t saying that no one prayed to God until Enos was born. But it was this line that obeyed God (see Enoch and Noah for examples).

Abraham built an altar and “called on the name of the LORD” (Genesis 12:8).

This “calling on the name of the LORD” could have included prayer, but that isn’t all that it entailed.  It involved praise to God, worship to God, and doing what was acceptable to God – in short, it was obedience.

Isaac built an altar and “called on the name of the LORD” (Genesis 26:25).

This is not an instance of Isaac praying, because in the previous verse, GOD APPEARED UNTO HIM.

Calling on the name of the LORD was the expression of a life lived for God in thankfulness and obedience.

Elijah, on Mt. Carmel, made the challenge to the prophets of Baal,

“you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD. And the God that answers by fire, let him be God.” (I Kings 18:24).

As you will well remember, the prophets of Baal cried out long and loud and nothing happened.  Elijah then prayed,

“LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.” And of course God answered him (I Kings 18:36-38).

So, see, calling on the name of the Lord means praying! Not so fast…

It is true that Elijah prayed, but notice that in his prayer, the answer was requested completely based upon Elijah’s obedience.  His calling on the name of the LORD was turning to God for help based on his–Elijah’s–obedience.

Psalm 116:12-19 describes calling on the name of the Lord.

What shall I render unto Jehovah For all his benefits toward me?  I will take the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of Jehovah.  I will pay my vows unto Jehovah, Yea, in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of Jehovah Is the death of his saints.  O Jehovah, truly I am thy servant: I am thy servant, the son of thy handmaid; Thou hast loosed my bonds.  I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of Jehovah.  I will pay my vows unto Jehovah, Yea, in the presence of all his people, In the courts of Jehovah’s house, In the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye Jehovah.

As you read through this passage, you will notice that calling on the name of the Lord is the equivalent of living right before God, taking the salvation that God offers, and keeping your vows to God.

In short, calling on the name of the Lord is a life of obedience and thankfulness to God.

That they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent (Zephaniah 3:9).

Here, calling on the name of the Lord is described as serving God.

In the New Testament, the concept of calling on the name of the LORD only appears three times.

Two of those times (Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13) are quotations from Joel 2:32.

Acts 2

In Acts 2:21, Peter mentions it at the beginning of his Pentecost sermon (those who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved).  In 2:38, Peter tells the people there to “repent and be baptized.”  In 2:41, those who gladly received his words were baptized and added to their number.  In 2:47, Those who were being added were the ones being “saved.”  Therefore, calling on the name of the Lord involved obedience to His word (including repentance and baptism).

Romans 10

In Romans 10:8-18, Paul discusses salvation.  10:17 – faith comes by hearing.  10:10 – belief and confession = salvation.  10:13 – Calling on the name of the Lord = salvation.  10:16 – but some have NOT obeyed the gospel. Therefore, hearing, belief, confession, and calling on the name of the Lord are requirements for salvation.

Acts 22

The other passage in the New Testament that discusses “calling on the name of the LORD” is Acts 22:16.

And now why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the LORD.

Calling on the name of the Lord is NOT baptism.  Let me say that again, calling on the name of the Lord is NOT baptismIf it were, then Abraham, Isaac, David, and Elijah all got baptized…and more than once.

Calling on the name of the Lord means the same thing in the New Testament as it did in the Old Testament – OBEDIENCE to God.

The “name of the LORD.”

In Matthew 28:18-20, we read Jesus instructing the eleven apostles to baptize people in the NAME of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  When something is done “in the name of” someone, it means it is done by their authority.

There is a big argument in some religious circles about whose name you are to baptize in.  Some say you have to recite the three names (citing Matthew 28:18-20).  Others say that we are only supposed to baptize in the name of Jesus (citing every example in the book of Acts).  People are having massive arguments over this, and it is all because they don’t understand what “in the name of” means.  If something is done by the authority of Jesus Christ, then BY DEFINITION it is by the authority of the Father, as delivered by the Holy Spirit.

The “name of the Lord” is the authority of the Lord.  Just like “stop in the name of the law” means “by the authority of the law.”

How do we call on the name of the Lord?

When a doctor called on someone (back when they did that kind of thing), they went to where the patient was.  When a boy went to call on his girl, he went to where she was.  It involved action and a need to be where the one being called on was.

Calling on the name of the LORD is going to where God is.  Calling on the name of the Lord is doing what is necessary to be with Him.

For Abraham and Isaac, this involved living properly under the laws God had given them.  For David and the Israelites, it involved living properly under the Law of Moses.

It is interesting to note that all of the Old Testament examples of people calling on the name of the Lord WERE ALREADY children of God.  They weren’t calling on the name of the Lord to become a child of God.  That didn’t take place until the New Testament.

Calling on the name of the Lord is this:

Turning yourself over to God’s authority in faithful obedience.

For those on the Day of Pentecost, and everyone since then who want to be saved, calling on the name of the Lord involves hearing the gospel, believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, repenting of their sins, confessing Christ with their mouth, and being baptized.

Calling on the name of the Lord isn’t baptism, but is sure includes it!

Turn your life over to God, submit yourself to His authority, and enjoy the blessings of salvation!

There’s a Great Day Coming

It’s real. It’s big. It’s coming. And there’s nothing you can do to stop it!  Some will welcome it with open arms, screaming salvation! Others will try in vain to escape it, crying for mercy. But it is still going to come.

What is it, you might ask?

It’s the judgment.

It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this, judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

Regardless of whether someone died two thousand years ago, or if it’s someone who won’t die until two thousand years from now, every person will have to stand and be judged after their death.  For some people, it will be a wonderful day. For others, it will be a day of horrible sadness.

We’re all familiar with the song, “There’s a Great Day Coming” and it conveys these ideas well.  So, let’s take a few moments to look at how people will view this judgment when it comes.

Verse 1 – It will be a great day.

The word “great” has suffered a lot of misuse, to the point where its meaning has almost been forgotten.  Most people in the United States use the word “great” as though it means “better than good.” But that’s not the meaning of the word. It actually means something large, noteworthy, or powerful.

In the first Harry Potter movie, the wand-seller Olivander speaks of the evil wizard Voldemort, and says “he did great things, yes. Terrible. But great.”

Acts 2:20 speaks of the destruction of Jerusalem as “that great and notable [or terrible] day of the Lord.”  The people in Jerusalem sure didn’t think that this meant it was a “better than good” day.

There’s a great day coming, a great day coming, there’s a great day coming by and by.

This is a large, important, noteworthy, powerful day here. It’s the day that everyone will see. It’s the day that each one will meet Jesus—the righteous Judge (II Timothy 4:8). It’s the day that each person will hear the words “guilty” or “not guilty.”

It’s also a day of separation. Up to this point, the righteous and the wicked have lived side-by-side, but on that day, there will be a separation. The righteous will go into life eternal, and the wicked shall be sent into the fires of hell for eternity (Matthew 25:31-46).

Truly, this is a great day.

There’s a great day coming, a great day coming. There’s a great day coming by and by; when the saints and the sinners shall be parted right and left.

Verse 2 – For some it will be a bright happy day.

In my office is a very large dictionary published in 1964. My grandfather would go to the grocery store each week and buy this dictionary in sections. After purchasing all sixteen sections, he was given the cover that goes with it. It was part of my inheritance when he died. In it, under the word “bright” is this definition: “Characterized by cheerfulness and gaiety, pleasant, lively.” Another definition is “giving promise of prosperity or happiness, favorable.” And of course, there’s also this one: “Illustrious, glorious.”

These are the ideas, the meanings of the word “bright” that we need to keep in mind.

There’s a bright day coming, a bright day coming, there’s a bright day coming by and by.

This judgment day is a day of happiness and cheerfulness. It is a day that promises eternal prosperity and happiness. It is a glorious day to be sure!

The apostle Paul looked forward to this judgment day. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (II Timothy 4:7-8).

It is a day where we will be with the Lord, which is far better (Philippians 1:23).

It is a day where we will be reunited forever with loved ones who died in the Lord (I Thessalonians 4:17-18).

But that promise is only to those who are faithful (Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life—Revelation 2:10).

God doesn’t hold a spiritual lottery. He doesn’t reward people who don’t show true love for Him with obedience. You won’t accidentally make it into heaven when you’re judged.

There’s a bright day coming, a bright day coming, there’s a bright day coming by and by. But its brightness shall only come to them that love the Lord.

Verse 3 – for others, it will be a horrible day.

For the people who have not given themselves to God; for the ones who haven’t submitted to the commands of Jesus Christ; for the ones who have intentionally sinned; for the ones who have not remained faithful to the Lord, this judgment day will be one of sadness and misery.

There will be sadness for wasted opportunities to obey the gospel.

There will be sadness for time spent in sin.

There will be sadness for rejected pleas to come back to God.

There will be sadness because they know what the judgment is going to be.

There’s a sad day coming, a sad day coming, there’s a sad day coming by and by.

“Cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 25:30).

“You serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell?” (Matt 23:33).

“Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15).

“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his messengers” (Matthew 25:41).

“Many will say unto me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many marvelous works?’ And then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity’” (Matthew 7:22-23).

There’s a sad day coming, a sad day coming, there’s a sad day coming by and by, when the sinner shall hear his doom, “Depart, I know ye not.”

Are You Ready?

The day is coming. Make no mistake about it. “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this, judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

The question for you is this: what kind of day will it be for you? Are you prepared?

Are you ready? Are you ready? Are you ready for the judgment day? Are you ready? Are you ready for the judgment day?

Please, make yourself ready starting right now.

-Bradley Cobb

O, Come Angel Band

It’s time again for another Sermon Wednesday, and we’re still continuing our theme of “Singing with the Understanding.”  The song we’ll be looking at today is one that isn’t as familiar with most Christians.  It’s called “My Latest Sun is Sinking Fast” or “O, Come Angel Band” depending on which songbook you might use.

Intro:

The apostle Paul stated that he was torn. He wanted to die so he could go to be with the Lord, which is far better; but at the same time, he knew that he was still needed to fulfill his mission here on earth.

It seems like many Christians today aren’t really all that torn. By that, I mean that they’re really tied to this earth and just plain want to stay. When you talk to them, they say, “I’m ready to go to heaven, I just hope it isn’t any time soon.” Or “I’ve got a lot of work to do. But if God decides it’s my time to go, then I guess that’s okay too.”

Do you see a difference between the two attitudes? One longs for heaven, but realizes that he might have to stay here on earth longer to keep working for the Lord. The other longs to stay, but reluctantly agrees to go to heaven if it’s his time.

There’s a song in our songbooks called “My Latest Sun is Sinking Fast,” and in it, the idea is I’m ready to go home. I want to go home. I know where my home is.  It was written by an older man whose days were coming to an end, but I think this is an attitude that we all can and should have all the time.

Verse 1

Jesus said he had to work during the day (while he’s still alive), because the night is coming in which no man can work (death)—John 9:4.

Work for the night is coming.
Work through the morning hours.
Work while the dew is sparkling.
Work ‘mid springing flowers.
Work when the day grows brighter.
Work in the glowing sun.
Work, for the night is coming
when man’s work is done
.”

We must work with the realization that this may indeed be our last day. Our final sunset may be just on the horizon.

We must be like the apostle Paul who was able to say “I have finished my course” (II Tim. 4:7), but you know he was still working when he wrote those words.  “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1).

My latest sun is sinking fast, my race is nearly run.

Look back in your life and contemplate all the difficulties that you’ve made it through. Look at all the trials that God has seen you through—ones that you didn’t know how you were going to endure. Yet God’s helped you through each and every one of them. You made it. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).

Sure, there may still be some difficult times ahead, but realize that God’s with you. God will help you through them all. And when you realize that, these “strong trials” lose some of their bite. When you’re truly relying on God, you’ll be like our friend and sister Linda Foshee, who calls the trials of life “life’s little speed bumps.”

My strongest trials now are past, My triumph is begun.

Verse 2

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day. And not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing” (II Tim. 4:7-8).

For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thes. 4:16-17).

King David said of his son who had passed away, “I shall go to him” (II Sam 12:23).

One of the great promises in these passages is that we will be reunited with friends and loved ones who died faithful to God. That’s why the song says:

I know I’m near the holy ranks of friends and kindred dear.

The Promised Land is within eyesight. The Israelites are gathered on the banks of the Jordan River looking over into the land that God has promised to give them. They see it. They ache for it—it’s home. But between them and their new home is the Jordan River. And they cannot cross it until God decides it’s time. But they know it’s coming.

In the same way, we need to be looking beyond, seeing heaven, longing for our new home, and being ready when God opens the way for us to be there.

I brush the dews on Jordan’s banks, the crossing must be near.

Verse 3

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that you may KNOW you have eternal life. And that you may believe on the name of the Son of God” (I John 5:13).

Then the King shall say unto them on His right hand, ‘Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (Matt. 25:34).

Enter into the joy of thy Master” (Matt. 25:23).

We read of a place that’s called heaven,
It’s made for the pure and the free.
This truth in God’s word we are given.
How beautiful heaven must be.

I’ve almost gained my heavenly home, My spirit loudly sings.

And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, who was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:20-22).

There was a song many years ago about the beauty of the death of God’s faithful. It went:

Gathering flowers for the Master’s bouquet,
Beautiful flowers that will never decay.
Gathered by angels and carried away,
Forever to bloom in the Master’s bouquet.

And our song today says it this way:

Thy holy ones, behold they come, I hear the noise of wings.
O come angel band,
Come and around me stand.
O bear me away on your snowy wings to my immortal home.
O bear me away on your snowy wings to my immortal home.

Conclusion:

Is that your attitude? Are you ready to go right now? Are you ready for that day to come? If you’re not ready—truly ready—then you won’t make it.

But what a wonderful thought—that God loves His faithful people so much that He send His angels to bring them to their eternal home. God takes care of us in this life. He takes care of us in the next. And He takes care of us as we’re going from one to the other.

Don’t you want that wonderful blessing? God has offered it to you through the death of His Son, Jesus the Christ. Come to Him, believing in His Son and His resurrection from the dead. Leave your sins behind as you confess His wonderful name and are baptized into glorious forgiveness.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – Seeking The Lost

Seeking the Lost

A child is lost, alone, and starving on the side of a mountain. He doesn’t know how to get home. He doesn’t have anything. He needs help.  Would you try to help him? Would you make the effort and spend even just a day looking for him?

Now, imagine you’ve found him. What kind of effort would you put in bringing him home? Would you try to lead him by the hand? Would you carry him? Would you encourage him to come with you to safety? If he was unsure, would you lovingly, continually assure him that you are there to help him and that you know how he can get to safety?

Would you do the same thing for someone who is lost in sin, without Christ, and astray on the mountain of sin?

Today, we will be looking at the Biblical principles behind the song, “Seeking the Lost.”  Hopefully, this will help us to better sing with the understanding, but also encourage us to actually be out seeking the lost!

Verse 1

Most people aren’t just going to come knock on our door and say, “I want to know the gospel!”  No, we have to go find them.

Jesus Christ came to “seek and save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).  We must follow His example, (trying to walk in the steps of the Savior, striving to follow our Savior and King…), and that includes seeking the lost.  We aren’t going to find them if we don’t go looking for them. (“seek and ye shall find” – Matthew 7:7).

It’s time to start Seeking the lost.

So many people have the idea that we need to beat people over the head with the Bible until they finally open their eyes to see the gospel truth.  But what we need to remember is that the word “gospel” means GOOD NEWS! We’re supposed to be out sharing good news!

If you find a little boy lost on the side of a mountain, you don’t grab your map or GPS and berate him for not following what the map said. Instead, you try to help him.  You can use the map or GPS to guide him back, but being harsh with him isn’t going to help, and isn’t going to make him want to follow you at all.

Love is kind (I Corinthians 13:4). And we are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Seeking the lost, yes kindly entreating wanderers on the mountain astray.

But when we find lost people, what are we supposed to say?  While our words are important, Jesus’ words are what matters.  Jesus is the one who invites all lost souls to come to Him. He says, “come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden [bearing a heavy burden] and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

We need to tell these lost souls that Jesus has an open invitation to them. He invites them to come to Him.  We need to let them know that there is safety awaiting them in Jesus.

“Come unto me,” His message repeating, words of the Master speaking today.

Verse 2

Far too often, Christians try to make evangelism about themselves instead of about JesusI don’t know what to say. I can’t evangelize. I might mess things up. I’m scared.  Or maybe we start giving our opinions about things in the Bible when what we should be doing is pointing to Jesus!

The good news isn’t that the church of Christ doesn’t use instruments; the good news is that Jesus died for our sins—for their sins!  The good news is that even though these people are lost, they can be led to safety and brought home!

There’s plenty of time to deal with doctrinal issues and how to worship God acceptably, but first we have to get them to Jesus!

Seeking the lost and pointing to Jesus

A lot of people have gone through some horrible times in their lives.  They’ve been betrayed, they’ve been hurt, they’ve struggled—and still do.  Many of them think that there’s no hope for them.  Many of them think that no one cares.  But it’s our responsibility to show them that we care because Christ cares!

souls that are weak and hearts that are sore.

When a person is lost, they want to know how to get somewhere.

A man comes across the lost boy on the mountain. The boy desperately wants to go home to his father. So, the man says, “keep heading up the mountain.” The problem is, the boy’s father doesn’t live up the mountain. He lives down in the valley.  That boy is going to boy overjoyed because he thinks he knows the way now. But eventually, he’ll find out that the man wasn’t telling the truth.

Oh, that man may have thought he was telling the truth, thought he knew what he was talking about, but the fact still remains that the little boy will never find his father that way.

How incredibly sad! And it makes it that much harder for someone else to find that little boy, because he’s headed in the wrong direction. And it makes it that much harder to convince the boy that he’s going the wrong way. And even if you beg and plead with him, the boy may decide not to trust anyone’s directions anymore because he was led astray.

My brethren, there are thousands of people who are out looking for lost people and then giving them wrong directions that take them even further from God.  They say, “Oh, the direction to Christ is the path called the Sinner’s Prayer.”

They say, “To get to God? Well, you can’t. You’ll just have to wait for Him to find you, and if He picked you, He’ll find you. If He didn’t pick you, you’re lost forever anyway.”

And that makes our job even more difficult. It’s not impossible to bring these misled people to Christ, but it’s difficult.  That’s why we need to be out there, actively looking for people. Showing them the right way—the Bible way—before someone else gets a hold of them and sends them the wrong direction!

The more work we do now, the easier it will be!

Leading them forth in ways of salvation, showing the path to life evermore.

Verse 3

Because we have good news, because we have been given a mission by Jesus Christ, because we know the Bible way of salvation, we must spread it!

We must take pity on people who are lost and help them.  We must show mercy to them, kindly showing them the error of their ways.  After all, this is what Jesus did. Those people who had been neglected and rejected by society were the ones that Jesus seemed to spend the most time teaching.

And we need to be the same way. We need to go to these people who know they need help, who know they need Jesus.

Thus I would go on missions of mercy, following Christ from day unto day.

We need to give people hope by showing them that Jesus died for them.  We need to show them that the gospel really is good news—it’s GREAT news.  And when we see Christians who have stumbled, we need to help them back up and help them on that glorious path to heaven above!

Cheering the faint and raising the fallen, pointing the lost to Jesus the way.

Chorus

Jesus gave a parable about a man who had 100 sheep, and one of them got lost.  That man left the other 99 sheep to go search for that one lost lamb.  We might say, “he’s still got 99% of his sheep, why worry about that one?” It’s because that one sheep is important. That one sheep is valuable.

We must realize that all people are important and are valuable. Until we take this seriously, we’ll never grow.

We have to be willing to go out of our way to seek the lost. We have to be willing to give up our comforts (and our comfort zone) to seek the lost.

If there really was a boy who was lost on a mountain, or in the woods, would you stop what you’re doing to help?  Then you should be willing to stop what you’re doing and try to help find the lost souls out there who are searching for home.  We need to find them, and guide them to Christ.

Going afar upon the mountain, bringing the wand’rer back again into the fold of my Redeemer: Jesus the Lamb for sinners slain.

Conclusion:

If you’re not a part of the body of Christ, having put Him on in baptism, then you are one of the lost.  Jesus died for your sins, and He wants you to come home to Him. He says “come to me, you weary ones. I’ll give you rest.”

The path to Jesus is easy, just believe in Him, leave your sins behind and confess Him as the Christ, being buried with Him in baptism, and being raised up from the waters as a new creature—saved!

Perhaps you’ve already followed that path, but somewhere along the way you’ve lost your footing and fallen off the trial to heaven. We beg you to come back now—we’ll help you!

-Bradley S. Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – Ten Thousand Angels

They bound the hands of Jesus in the garden where he prayed.
They led him through the streets in shame.
That spat upon the Savior, so pure and free from sin.
They said “Crucify him. He’s to blame.”

We all know those words of that song. And we know what comes next in it.  The song contains some great thoughts, and helps us focus our minds on what is really important. But before we get into the song, let me tell you about how it was written.

Ray Overholt was a musician with his own TV show, “Ray’s Roundup,” for a time. But in 1958, something changed. He had left the TV show and started playing in nightclubs.  He was drinking heavily.  He said, “I began thinking there must be a better life than the nightclub, show-business whirlwind. I was so intent on changing my lifestyle that I went home and told my wife that I was quitting all of the smoking, drinking and cursing. I wanted to cleanup my own life.”

One day I thought to myself: I’ve written secular songs, I’d like to write a song about Christ. I opened the Bible, which I knew very little about, and began to read the portion of Scripture that describes Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane telling Peter to put away his sword. I read where Jesus told Peter that He could ask His Father and He would send twelve legions of angels. I didn’t know at the time that would have been more than 72,000 angels.”

I thought a good title for a song would be He Could Have Called Ten Thousand Angels. I didn’t know what happened during the life of Christ, so I began doing a little research. The more I read about Jesus, the more I admired him for what He had done. I then remembered that He did this all for me.

“I was playing in a nightclub in Battle Creek, Michigan, when [I started] to write the song. I wrote the first verse and put it in my guitar case. I then gave the club my notice that I was quitting. As I opened my guitar case to put my instrument away, one of the other musicians saw the music written out and he asked, ‘What are you doing there?’ I told him I was writing a song about Jesus. He asked the title and I told him. He said, ‘It will never go.’ I asked why? He said, ‘I don’t even like the title.’ But I finished the song and sent it to a publishing house, which reluctantly agreed to publish it.”

And the rest is history. The song has become one of the favorites of Christians all over the world.

Let’s think back to the time described in the words of this song.

The Arrest of Jesus

It’s late at night, and after spending several hours with His disciples, Jesus goes off alone to pray. He looks at Peter, James, and John, and says, “you guys stay awake and keep a lookout while I go pray.”  Then Jesus goes further into the garden, falls on his knees, and agonizes in prayer. He is incredibly stressed to the point where he is sweating as it were great drops of blood (Luke 22:44).  He gets back up and finds that His disciples sleeping. He wakes them up, and it’s not much later that a large group of soldiers, led by Judas, comes and arrests Jesus. “Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus and bound Him” (John 18:12).

Jesus, the innocent man was arrested and chained as a common criminal, and led away for trial.  The soldiers shove Jesus through the city on the way to the high priest’s home. People hear the noise and begin to look out their window and see Jesus in chains.  The man who had—just days earlier—been greeted with cries of “Hosannah” as He rode down the street in Jerusalem as a King, was now being led down the street in the early morning hours as a prisoner.

Again, the high priest asked Him, and said unto Him, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest rent His clothes, and saith, “What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye?” And they all condemned Him to be guilty of death. And some began to spit on him.” (Mark 14:61-65).  The sinless Savior stood there while the crowd condemned Him to death and spat on Him.

And Pilate said again to them, What do you desire then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him! Then Pilate said unto them, Why? What evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him!” (Mark 15:12-14)

They bound the hands of Jesus in the garden where He prayed.
They led Him through the streets in shame.
They spat upon the Savior, so pure and free from sin.
They said, “Crucify him! He’s to blame!”

The Mockery of Jesus

Jesus has been dragged from one mock trial to another. The Sanherdrin condemned Him to death, and spat on Him. Herod rejects Him because Jesus wouldn’t speak against the accusers. Pilate showed himself as spineless and washed his hands of the whole situation. Then Jesus is scourged—whipped across the back until the muscles and bones in his back are clearly visible. Then he’s turned over to the soldiers for them to do whatever they want before they kill Him.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and the whole band of soldiers gathered around Him. And they stripped Him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit upon him, and too the reed and smote him on the head. And after they had mocked him, they took the robe off of him, and put his own rainment on him, and led him away to crucify him” (Matthew 27:26-31).

They put a robe on his bleeding back. They twisted up thorn vines and put them on his head. They mocked him in fake worship. They took the reed and started hitting him on the head, driving the thorns deeper and deeper into his head.   And during this whole time, there was no one there defending Him. He was by Himself.

Upon His precious head, they placed a crown of thorns.
They laughed, and said “Behold, the king!”
They struck Him and they cursed Him and mocked His holy name.
All alone, He suffered everything.

The Crucifixion of Jesus.

Jesus is beaten and bloody. His face is unrecognizable. And they nail his hands and feet to the cross. Jesus is hurt, exhausted, dehydrated, sleep-deprived, mentally spent, but still determined. He is still thinking clearly. But as He’s raised up on the cross to begin His final torture before dying, He looks at the crowd that’s gathered. Through the blood that’s run into His eyes, He sees Mary, His mother. As He’s on the cross, struggling for every breath, He makes sure His mother is taken care of.

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary of Clophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith to His mother, “Woman, behold thy son!” Then saith He to the disciple, “Behold, thy mother.” And from that hour, that disciple took her into his own home.” (John 19:25-27).

Everything had been taken care of. It was all about over. The last request of Jesus on this earth was a drink.  “After this, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, “I thirst.” Now there was a set vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon the hyssop, and put it to His mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished.” And he bowed His head and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:28-30).

The wicked work of the Jews in killing Jesus had finally accomplished their goal.

When they nailed him to the cross, his mother stood nearby.
He said, “woman, behold thy Son.”
He cried, “I thirst for water,” but they gave Him none to drink.
Then the sinful work of man was done.

The Other Side of the Story

The sinful work of man was done, but this was also in the plan of God—it was God’s grand plan to bring about redemption.  Jesus didn’t fight the mob. Jesus didn’t resist the authorities that falsely arrested, accused, and condemned Him. He refused the drink that would have helped to deaden the pain. He took the full force of His death. He was taking on the full punishment for sins, and nothing was held back. The entire world’s sins were on His shoulders while He was on the cross, and He had no helper. No one to help shoulder the burden. It was all on Him. And then He died, and His death made salvation possible for all men.

And Jesus cried with a loud voice” (Mark 15:37) “He said, It is finished: and he bowed his head and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30).

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

For the preaching of the cross is, to them that perish, foolishness. But unto us which are saved, it is the power of God” (I Corinthians 1:18).

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to all those who believe, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).

To the howling mob He yielded. He did not for mercy cry.
The cross of shame He took alone.
And when He cried “It’s finished,” He gave Himself to die.
Salvation’s wondrous plan was done.

The Self-Control of Jesus.

Peter, the impetuous sword-wielding disciple of Jesus Christ, tried to stop these events from taking place. In the garden, when the soldiers came to take Jesus, Peter stood up for His master and attacked.

And behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, “Put up again thy sword into his place. For all they that take up the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou not that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:51-54).

He could have called ten thousand angels
to destroy the world and set Him free.
He could have called ten thousand angels,
BUT…He died alone, for you and me.

Conclusion:

He could have avoided it all, but He died alone for you and for me.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38)

Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

Behold now is the accepted time, behold NOW is the day of salvation.”

-Bradley Cobb