Tag Archives: worship

The Role of Women in the Church (Part Three)

Introduction

Easily one of the most confusing passages in the New Testament regarding the role of women in worship is found in 1 Corinthians 11.  Some people avoid it like the plague.  Others, however, flock to it to try to make it prove their side of the argument.  The funny part about it is that those who go to one extreme (women preachers) will hold this passage up as evidence; while those who are on the other side (women can’t speak, and they also have to have their heads covered) also hold this passage up as evidence.  What are we to make of this?

Turn to 1 Corinthians 11, and we will look to see what this passage has to say for us today, as well as how it fits into the question about the role of women in worship.

I Praise You…But (1 Corinthians 11:2-3)

Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things, and (that you) keep the ordinances as I delivered them to you.  But, I desire you to know that the head of ever male is Christ; and the head of the female is the male; and the head of Christ is God.

Ordinances

The word “ordinances” is usually translated “traditions,” and while it usually refers to the traditions of men, Paul uses the word to refer to the things taught by the apostles.  But in every case, it describes an act that was done for a religious purpose.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have been taught, either by word or by epistle (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

We command you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother that walks disorderly, and not after the traditions which he received from us (2 Thessalonians 3:6).

Though it probably didn’t need to be said, we’ll say it anyway: Paul is speaking to Christians in 1 Corinthians 11, describing the things which he taught them to observe in religious service to God.  So, the context that we are looking at has to do with obeying that which is taught by God through the apostles in religious service to God.  This is why it is pretty much universally agreed that the context here has something to do with worship assemblies.

But…

Even though the Christians in Corinth (for the most part) were keeping the ordinances, there were some things that they didn’t understand.  The biggest problem with the Corinthian Christians was not lack of knowledge about the actions they were supposed to engage in, but the attitude behind it (see their treatment of the Lord’s Supper, and their desire to brag because of certain spiritual gifts).

The head of every man is Christ

Paul here immediately puts all the men (literally, males) in their place by saying that it is not up to them on how things are to be done in worship to God.  All Christian males are under the authority of Jesus Christ, and must answer to Him.  Just because a man may lead in an aspect of worship does not mean that he has the authority to change God’s divine pattern.

Paul is appealing to a higher authority than man—He is appealing to Jesus Christ.

The head of the woman is the man

One person told me that this is a universal law to be applied everywhere.  The conclusion to that doctrine is that, men, the most depraved man in the penitentiary is the head of your wife and daughters.  Not only does that violate the context, it also violates common sense.

It has been argued that this phrase should be translated “the head of the wife is the husband.”  And while that expresses a truth, it doesn’t fit the context.  And in addition to that, the same word “man” (Greek aner) is used twice in this verse.  If we are supposed to translate it as “husband” in one part, by what logic does the exact same word get translated differently in the exact same verse?  Look at the verse.  If we insert “husband,” then we would have to make the verse say, “The head of every husband is Christ…” which means that Christ isn’t the head of unmarried Christian men.  This cannot be the right interpretation, either.  And if we make this say “wife,” then we are forced into the conclusion that nothing in verses 3-16 applies to an unmarried woman or a widow—and by extension, that there is nothing in this passage that speaks to an unmarried man or a widower.

Remember the context in which this is spoken: in keeping the “ordinances” (religious directions) that had been delivered to them.  Thus, this is in the context of the church, when the religious directions were being observed.  In other words, this is during the worship assembly.  The Christian woman, in the worship assembly of the church, is to be in submission to the Christian males who are leading (1 Corinthians 14:34, 1 Timothy 2:11-12).

The head of Christ is God

Just in case there were those in Corinth who wanted to question Jesus’ authority to make commands regarding the worship of His people, Paul informs them that the authority which comes from Christ originates with the Father.  In other words, these points are not up for debate or discussion—they come from the ultimate Judge and Lawgiver, God.

Praying and Prophesying (1 Corinthians 11:4-5)

Most sermons and studies on this passage focus on the head “covering,” and often the writers and speakers gloss over (or completely ignore, in some cases) the idea of “praying and prophesying.”  But it must be addressed, for this is one of the passages that those who wish to promote women preachers cling to.  Are they right in saying this passage authorizes women to lead in public worship?

Every man praying or prophesying with his head covered dishonors his head.

Literally, Paul says “having down (from) head,” but it is not specified whether it is his hair or if it is a veil.  The purpose, though, for Paul mentioning this is that if he has his head covered (in whichever way it may be) in worship, it is a sign that he has a different spiritual head (authority) than Christ.

I believe there is enough evidence to conclude that the head covering was something cultural for the Christians in Corinth, and since the focus of this lesson is not on the head-covering, but on the “praying and prophesying” aspect, we aren’t going to dwell a lot on the covering in this lesson.

The word “praying” is the general word for such, and is the same word found in 1 Timothy 2:8—”I desire that males pray everywhere…”

The word “prophesying” is the same one used in chapter 14, and is a reference to miraculous speaking for God, or speaking words from God.

But every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaved.

Before we get into this, it needs to be said up-front that the exact same words are used for “prays” and “prophesies” in this verse as in the last verse.  In fact, this verse should be translated, “But every woman, praying or prophesying…”  So there’s nothing in these words themselves that make a distinction between the male and female.

But note that Paul tells the Christian women in Corinth that they are required to have their head covered so that they do not dishonor her head (the man/men leading in the worship).  This is a symbol of submission, of being under the authority of someone else.  I used to think this was talking about husbands and wives, and that a wedding ring was the same kind of thing, but I do not believe the context supports that conclusion.

So, how exactly is the Christian woman to engage in “praying and prophesying” while yet being in submission to the one leading in worship?  Let’s make some specific points very clear:

  1. The Bible does not contradict itself, for it is inspired by God.
  2. If an interpretation of a difficult passage of Scripture clearly violates the teaching found in an easy-to-understand passage of Scripture (in the same covenant), then that interpretation is false.
  3. This is even more clearly true when it is the same writer dealing with the same issue—and even more abundantly true when it is written to the same people…in the same letter.

There are those who point to this passage and say “women have the right to pray and preach in the public worship assembly, based on Paul’s words here.”

How does that match up with those three points we mentioned just a second ago?

  1. The Bible does not contradict itself—so if this passage teaches that women can lead in prayer and preaching in the worship assembly of the church, then we shouldn’t find anywhere in the New Testament that says otherwise.
  2. The Bible teaches plainly that it is only male Christians who are to lead in prayer in the church (1 Timothy 2:8); and that Christian women are not permitted to teach (this would include preaching) or to exercise authority over a Christian men in the church (1 Timothy 2:11-12, 3:15). Therefore, the interpretation that “women have the right to pray and preach in the public worship assembly” is false, because both points are contradicted in easy-to-understand passages of the same covenant.
  3. That passage (1 Timothy 2:8-12) is written by the same author, making it even clearer. But let’s make it abundantly clear by looking at not only the same author, but the same letter!  1 Corinthians 14:34, in the context of speaking miraculously (prayer and prophesying are both mentioned in this chapter), says: “Let your women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted to them to speak; but to be under obedience, as also says the law.”

Therefore, if our passage (1 Corinthians 11:5) permits women to pray and prophesy in the worship assembly, then the Bible contains contradictions and cannot be trusted.

But suppose you don’t want to go that far; then how about this: If this passage permits women to pray and prophesy in the worship assembly, then Paul was wrong (thus, uninspired) when he wrote 1 Timothy, as well as just a few chapters later in 1 Corinthians 14; thereby throwing everything Paul wrote into question and leaving us with the impossible task of determining which letters are inspired and which parts are not.

But suppose you aren’t willing to even go that far (though those are the required conclusions to this doctrine).  If this passage permits women to pray and prophesy in the worship assembly, then you can’t even know which parts of even this one letter are inspired—especially when Paul himself said that the command for women to keep silent was “the commandment of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37).

To take that interpretation of the passage destroys the entire credibility of the Bible.  But let’s, for a moment, pretend that such an interpretation is accurate.  Pretend for a moment that it isn’t a contradiction of other Bible passages.  Look at the verse again and see what would be required for the women to lead in prayer or to prophesy (preach) in the worship assembly.

Every woman, praying and prophesying with her head uncovered, dishonors her (spiritual) head: for that is even all one as if she were shaved.

If we pretended that their interpretation is correct, then the text requires that the woman only does it when her head is covered, showing her submission to the Christian men who are leading in the “ordinances” … or else she is supposed to be shaved bald (a symbol of shame).  No one who argues for women to be able to preach and lead prayer in the assembly would ever suggest that she is supposed to show a sign of submission to the Christian men leading in the worship—How dare you even suggest such a thing!  You note the hypocrisy there, I hope, that they want to take half of the verse and shove the other half as far away as possible.

I would love to see someone try to explain how one can be in submission to someone during the teaching, yet still be the authoritative teacher over that person.  It cannot be done!

So what does this verse mean/permit?

There are some different interpretations regarding these two verses that attempt to reconcile Paul’s wording (praying and prophesying) with the specific commands regarding Christian women keeping silence in the church (in regards to leading in worship).

The first interpretation is that Paul is speaking about women praying and prophesying, but not in a mixed assembly, that is, in a women’s-only gathering (ladies’ day, ladies’ class).  Some might claim there is no historical precedent for these kind of assemblies, but turn your attention to Exodus 15:20-21:

And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dances.  And Miriam answered them, “Sing out to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously!  The horse and his rider has He thrown into the sea!”

There, the prophetess went with the women only and spoke with them, leading them in worship to God.  That was around 1500 years prior to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, so there is indeed historical precedent for a women-only assembly worshiping God.

The problem with this interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11 is that the context shows the men and women together (“the head of the woman is the man,” verse 3).  And what is the purpose of describing submission to the male Christians leading in worship if Paul’s describing a setting where no male Christians are present?

The second interpretation is that Paul is using the phrase “praying and prophesying” as a way to describe the worship service.  In other words, that all Paul is saying is, “But a woman, participating in the worship service…”  Most authors agree that “praying and prophesying” isn’t an exhaustive list, but includes everything that is done in the worship assembly—otherwise, you’d have the strange requirement that women in Corinth cover their heads only during certain parts of the worship (praying and proclaiming), but not others (like singing and the Lord’s Supper).

The idea, then, would be that Paul isn’t saying that the women lead in prayer or in prophesying (which would violate other passages), but that they participate in the worship by listening and assenting to the prayer and actively paying attention to the proclamation of God’s message.

David Lipscomb made a good point, which goes along with this idea (this is my paraphrase): Man cannot come to God without submitting to the authority of Jesus Christ (John 14:15).  In the same way, The Christian woman during the assembly cannot offer acceptable worship without submitting to the authority of the male Christians leading the worship.

Obviously, if there are no men present, then that no longer applies.

There may be other interpretations of which I am not aware, but this second one, I believe, is rational, logical, and in perfect agreement with what is said on the topic elsewhere in Scriptures.

Conclusion

This is somewhat reminiscent of the issue of “baptism for the dead,” in that once we know what it can’t be (by process of elimination, Bible-style), we are left with what it must be.

God’s word does not contradict itself.  God does not permit something in one part of the New Testament, only to forbid it in another.  That would make God a liar—something which is impossible.  Instead, we must take the totality of what Scripture says, and interpret in a way that harmonizes all of the passages dealing with any given subject.

There is nothing more important to which this applies than in salvation.  We have all messed up in our lives.  We’ve ignored the commands of God, we’ve sinned, and as a result, we’ve aligned ourselves against Him and joined with His enemy, Satan.  Satan, however, isn’t as powerful as he lets on.  In fact, he’s already lost the war, even though he’s still trying to take down as many people as possible in the process—like a kamikaze.  My job, and the job of Christians everywhere, is to invite people to join the winning side, to avoid the destruction that will come as a result of being God’s enemy.  We are to tell them about Jesus Christ and Him crucified, so that they might have faith (Romans 10:17).  But though there are verses that talk about believing as a prerequisite to salvation, there are other passages as well—passages that do not in any way contradict the ones about belief—that show belief is just the first step in a proper response to the gospel.

One must also make the decision to change sides, to join Jesus Christ.  The person who makes that decision must state his belief in the Lord, and be immersed, baptized, by the authority of Jesus.  When that is done, the person has become a Christian.  Then comes the command to grow, to “study to show thyself approved to God,” to “walk in the light.”  We want to help you be right with Jesus Christ.  If we can help you, please let us know as we stand and sing.

-Bradley S. Cobb

The Role of Women in the Church (Part Two)

Introduction

A Christian woman is a blessing to her family, to her friends, to her brethren, and to her Lord.  In the Bible, we can read of Christian women like Lydia, who showed hospitality to fellow-Christians (Acts 16); like Phoebe, who is called an “assistant” (Romans 16:2, MLV) or a “patroness” (Thayer) of the brethren; like Priscilla, who is called a “fellow-laborer” who had risked her own life for another Christian (Romans 16:3-4); like Lois and Eunice, who passed on their faith to a young man who became a missionary named Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5); and countless others whose names are not recorded in the Bible, but whose work helped to encourage and strengthen the saints, while also helping to convert sinners to Jesus Christ.

If not for the influence of Christian women, many of us in this room would not be here, meeting together, serving the Lord.

There are some, however, that would say, “That’s not good enough!”  Like Aaron and Miriam of old, there are those who try to argue that the ones leading have taken it all on themselves, and that they are just as qualified to lead.  These people run to Galatians 3:28 and say that “In Christ, there are no more male and female distinctions!”  Let’s take a look at that passage, and we’ll also look at some others as we consider the role of women in the church of Jesus Christ.

“Neither Male Nor Female…”

As is often the case, verses (or even phrases from inside a verse) are pulled from their context and applied to things that they were never meant to apply to.  We could mention several examples, but for the sake of staying on-topic, we’ll just stick with the point at hand.  Look with me at Galatians 3:26-29.

For you are all children (literally “sons”) of God by the faith in Christ Jesus, because as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you be Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Again, note verse 26, which literally says “sons” instead of “children.”  Under the Old Testament, it was the son—not the daughter—who received the inheritance.  Slaves did not receive inheritance.  Gentiles definitely did not receive the inheritance.  Yet, in Christ, all these groups have access to the inheritance through Jesus Christ.

Those who try to rip “there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus” in order to “prove” that both genders are authorized to perform any and every role/function in the church miss the point.  Male and female absolutely still existed, literally, in the church.  Jew and Gentile absolutely still literally existed in the church.  Free men and slaves absolutely still existed literally in the church.  Therefore, Paul isn’t speaking about the literal distinctions being done away with.

What he’s saying is that in Christ, EVERYONE can be an heir of the promise made to Abraham.  He’s not talking about roles in the worship—otherwise he completely contradicted himself 10 or so years later when he told Timothy that God placed the leadership in worship upon the shoulders of male Christians (1 Timothy 2).  He’s not talking about roles in the family—otherwise he contradicted himself 10 or so years later when he told wives to “submit” to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24).  Just like becoming a Christian didn’t make a slave no longer a slave—see the book of Philemon—he still had a specific role to fulfill, being in submission to his owner (who might or might not have been a Christian).

When we consider the context in which Paul says “there is neither male nor female,” we are required to come to the conclusion that it means there are no class, gender, or race distinctions of any kind that would keep someone who has truly put on Christ in baptism from receiving the inheritance from God through Jesus Christ.

There is nothing at all in the context about worship roles in the church.

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted for them to speak;

Turn to First Corinthians 14.  I realize that it’s 40 verses long, but read along with me through the whole chapter.

(Read entire chapter)

Now I want you to take notice of three main points throughout this text.  First, I want you to look at the context—what is it that Paul writes about here?  He writes about spiritual gifts (miraculous gifts) including prophecy (v 1 and others), speaking in tongues (v 2 and others), interpreting tongues (v 5, 13), revelation (v 6), miraculous knowledge (v 6), inspired teaching (v 6), praying in tongues (v 14), and leading a song (v 14, 26).  These are all roles of speaking in the worship assembly.  They are what is generally referred to as leadership positions in the worship.  This is the context.

Second, take special notice that it is specifically in reference to the assembly of the church, when it comes together for prayer, singing, teaching, and encouragement.  Verse 4 shows that the purpose of prophesying was to “edify the church.”  Verse 5 says that speaking in tongues, when there is an interpreter to relay the message, is so that “the church may receive the edifying.”  Verse 6, Paul says “brethren (Christians), if I come to you,” that is, to them all gathered together.  Verse 19 says “In the church…”  Verse 23, “if the whole church comes together in one place…”  Verse 26, “Brethren, when you come together…”  Verse 28, “if there is no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church…”  Verse 33, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”  Verse 34, “Let your women keep silence in the churches.”  Verse 35, “It is a shame for a women to speak in the church.”  The context is when Christians are gathered together for worship to God and receiving instruction from His word.

Third, I want you to, even more so than the others, pay super-special attention to this next point.  Paul says that the women are not permitted to “speak” in the church.  That word translated “speak” appears a whopping twenty-four times in this chapter.  Let’s look at them:

  • (verse 2) He that speaks in an unknown tongue does not speak to men, but unto God: for no man understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks
  • (verse 3) He that prophesies speaks
  • (verse 4) He that speaks in an unknown tongue…
  • (verse 5) I wish that you all spoke with tongues, but rather that you prophesied: for the one who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues…
  • (verse 6) brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, unless I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
  • (verse 9) unless you utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? For you shall speak into the air.
  • (verse 11) If I don’t know the meaning of the voice, I shall be to him that speaks a barbarian, and he that speaks a barbarian to me.
  • (verse 13) Let him that speaks in an unknown tongue…
  • (verse 18) I thank my God that I speak with tongues…
  • (verse 19) In the church, I would rather speak five words with my understanding…
  • (verse 21) In the Law it is written, “With other tongues and other lips will I speak to this people…saith the Lord.”
  • (verse 23) …and all speak in tongues…
  • (verses 27-28) if any man speak in an unknown tongue…if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church, and let him speak to himself and to God.
  • (verse 29) Let the prophets speak
  • (verses 34-35) Let your women keep silence in the churches, for it is not permitted for them to speak, as also says the Law…it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
  • (verse 39) covet to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.

Do you notice the trend there?  The same word is used over and over in this chapter, and it is a reference to speaking in front of the congregation by inspiration (tongues, prophecies, songs, revelations, etc.).

Now, it is quite possible God had given some of the female Christians in Corinth the ability to prophesy (perhaps referenced in 1 Corinthians 11:5, which we will deal with in another lesson), and Philip had four daughters who prophesied as well (Acts 21:8-9).  But even though they had the miraculous ability to do those things, God stated plainly that they were not permitted to use those gifts when the church was gathered together.  And if God was that strict on women speaking in the assembly when they had miraculous capabilities to do so, how can anyone possibly think that He’s lifted that restriction now that they don’t have the miraculous gifts?

Though the context is miraculous, the principle still remains (and fits perfectly with what Paul said in 1 Timothy 2, that we looked at last week), women are not permitted to speak (that is, to lead in any aspect of the worship) in the church.

Now, look again with me at verses 27-28 of this chapter.

If any man speaks in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course (or, one at a time); and let one interpret.  But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God.

Other than the him/her, this is the exact same wording as for the woman in the original.  Whatever it means for the man here, it means for the woman in verse 34.  This man is commanded to keep quiet from speaking in tongues if there is no interpreter.  It doesn’t mean he’s not permitted to lead a prayer in the normal language of the people at the close of the service; it’s talking about the speaking in tongues.  In short, THERE IS A CONTEXT!

So, when Paul says, “Let your women keep silence in the churches,” he’s got reference to leading in worship.  The chapter gives all the different “speakings” that are under consideration—praying, preaching, teaching, interpreting, speaking in tongues, leading a song.  “Speaking” in the assembly is a role that God has placed upon the shoulders of male Christians.

But it’s almost as though Paul expected that statement about women exercising their gifts in the assembly to be taken badly by his readers, because right after saying it, he says:

What?  Did the word of God come out of you?  Or did it only come to you?  If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I am writing to you are the commandments of the Lord. 

Then he says, (KJV) “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.”  A more literal translation might be, “If any man is actively ignorant (in this matter), do not recognize him.”

My brethren, those are some incredibly strong words from God.  Those who reject God’s commands regarding who is permitted to lead in the worship aren’t really spiritual; they are actively ignorant, rejecting the commands of the Lord; and they are not to be recognized as being right with God.

Invitation

Being right with God isn’t just something nice to be, it is absolutely essential to our holiness and happiness and hope.  You can’t be wrong with God here and expect to be right with God at judgment!  My friends, a home with God Himself is there for you if you will submit to His authority and do your best to follow His commands.  That might sound domineering, but it’s like saying “just obey the law, and you’ll be fine.”  The law of God says that those who believe in Jesus have the power to become children of God (John 1:12).  These believers have to put their belief into action by repenting of their sins, confessing that Jesus is the Christ, and being baptized in submission to His will.  Only those who have done these things are made citizens of that heavenly kingdom!  And after you become a citizen, “just obey the law, and you’ll be fine.”  When you mess up, when you sin, when you fall away, God is merciful and will forgive you when you go to Him in prayer, confessing your sin and repenting of it.

God loves you and wants you to be saved. He’s giving you an opportunity right now to do it.  Won’t you do it now?

-Bradley S. Cobb

Both Sides of the Music Question Discussed

We’re going to be gone for close to three weeks, but we want you to know that we haven’t forgotten about you.  In fact, most of the posts while we’re away are going to show our appreciation to all of you for taking the time to read what we’ve written.

Today’s post starts it off by giving you a FREE download, not available anywhere else!

This book is called “Both Sides of the Music Question Discussed,” and is a written debate between Robert Bunting (church of Christ) and J.D. Marion (Christian Church) dealing with the issue of instrumental music in the church.

We hope you find it educational, interesting, and worthwhile in your studies.  Just click on the link below to read it (or right-click and “save target as” to download it).

Both Sides of the Music Question Discussed

Special thanks to Edwin Walker for taking the time to proofread this one for us.

Is the Lord’s Supper the most important part of worship?

 

Question: Is the Lord’s Supper more important than the other actions in the worship service? –B.C., Indiana.

Thanks for the question. There are many sincere brethren who believe that the Lord’s Supper is the central element of our worship, and there are many other sincere brethren who believe it is exactly of equal importance with the other areas of worship and dedication to God that take place in the assembly. But the question is this: What does the Bible say?

First, notice Acts 20:7. The apostle Paul had spent a full week in Troas just so he could assemble with the saints on the Lord’s Day. But Luke describes the assembly this way: “The disciples came together on the first day of the week to break bread.” This isn’t talking about a common meal. Paul could have had a common meal with the saints any day of the week. Especially consider that during Paul’s time, Sundays were work days. This verse is a reference, not to a regular meal, but to the Lord’s Supper.

According to Luke, the inspired historian and writer of Acts, the main reason the disciples came together was to take the Lord’s Supper. Was it the only reason? Of course not. Paul preached to them all night long, and though the text doesn’t say it, we can safely surmise that they also sang and prayed as well.

Second, Christians in the Bible were criticized because they weren’t focusing on the Lord’s Supper when they came together. Look at 1 Corinthians 11: “…I am not praising you, because you are not coming together for the better, but for the worse. … When you come together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.”

The inspired apostle Paul told the Christians in Corinth that they were sinning, coming together for the worse, because their coming together wasn’t to eat the Lord’s Supper. Sure, they literally ate the unleavened bread and drank the fruit of the vine, but they didn’t treat it as the sacred, Jesus-instituted meal that it was meant to be.

Other passages in the same book show us that they also prayed and sang when they came together, as well as exhorted and instructed one another with preaching (see chapter 14). The Lord’s Supper was not the only reason they were to come together, to be certain. But Paul uses soul-condemning language in regards to their lack of focus on the Lord’s Supper (see 11:29), but doesn’t use that language when talking about their improper singing and speaking in the assembly.

Third, the Lord’s Supper is the only part of the assembly that was actually ordained specifically by Jesus Christ. Think about it for a moment: singing, praying, preaching, and giving were all things done throughout the Old Testament. But the Passover was a special event, one with great depth of meaning; one that was a memorial of what God had done for Israel; one that held a place of prominence over the regular temple worship.

In the same way, the Lord’s Supper is a special event; one with great depth of meaning; one that is a memorial of what God (through Jesus Christ) has done for us. It is given prominence by God through His inspired writers. It is the part of worship that Jesus Himself commanded His followers to practice to remember Him and His death.

Don’t misunderstand me.  Singing and praying, preaching and giving, they are all commanded by God, and are therefore important.  But there is a focus, an emphasis given to the Lord’s Supper that puts it above the rest.

Final Thoughts

Christians have been done a disservice by hearing preachers, elders, and members talk of the Lord’s Supper as “an important part, but not the most important part of our worship.” The Lord’s Supper has been relegated to a five-minute snack with little to no spiritual reflection offered by the ones serving at the Lord’s table.

If you were to ask most Christians what they remembered about the worship period last Sunday, they’d probably tell you about the sermon, perhaps the song leading, and maybe a prayer that stuck out in their mind.

The Lord’s Supper was the primary reason the early church gathered together. Don’t you think it’s time we got back to doing that?

-Bradley Cobb

Sermon Wednesday – God’s Family

This week, we continue our theme of “Singing with the Understanding.”  We will be looking at different songs in our songbooks, and looking at the biblical ideas behind them.  When we do this, then we can truly “sing with the understanding also” (I Corinthians 14:15).

Our introductory lesson can be found here.

Introduction:

Some of the most memorable lessons we can learn come in the form of songs—if we are willing to learn from them.  How did you learn the alphabet?—I’m willing to guess that you learned it from the song.  How about the books of the New Testament?—I’d guess that you learned it the same way.

Open your songbook to the song “God’s Family.”

This song teaches some of the most basic doctrines of the Bible.  It teaches of the family of God, the church, the saved people.

Today we will look at the lessons we can learn from this song.

  • Verse 1 – Becoming part of God’s Family.
  • Verse 2 – Life in God’s Family.
  • Verse 3 – Destiny of God’s Family.

Verse 1 – Becoming part of God’s Family.

You don’t just instantly become part of someone else’s family.  You have to join it in some way—through birth, through adoption, or through marriage (interestingly, the Bible describes joining God’s family in all three ways).

The Bible says that we are children of God by the faith, in Christ Jesus, because as many of us as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:26-27).  Jesus says that unless a man is born again, he cannot enter into heaven (John 3:3-5).  This “new birth” is the first resurrection (Revelation 20:6), being raised to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).

We become part of God’s family by being baptized.

“We’re part of the family that’s been born again…”

A family shares a common bond.  When someone becomes part of your family, you love them, right? (with the possible exception of some in-laws—haha).  You’d do anything to help and save your family, right?  What would you call that bond?

“Love one another, for those who love one another are the ones born of God” (I John 4:7)

“We’re part of the family whose love knows no end.”

A family shares a common relation.  At a family reunion, people may have different last names, but they’re all related to each other through a common relative.

The family of God is composed of those who are saved by the blood of Christ.  The family of God is composed of those who “saved themselves” by obeying the command to be baptized (Acts 2:38, 40-41).

“Cause Jesus has saved us, and made us His own.”

God’s family shares a common journey.  The members of God’s family are to be walking in the light (I John 1:7).  The members of God’s family are on a journey—looking for the heavenly dwelling promised by Christ (John 14:2—mansions).

The members of God’s family know that this world is not our home, we’re just a-passing through.

“Now we’re part of the family that’s on its way home.”

Verse 2 – Living in God’s Family.

Families should be support groups.  When one member is going through a hard time, he should be able to share that struggle with others in the family and receive comfort and support.

The same thing is true in God’s family.  If you are going through struggles—physical, emotional, or spiritual—you should feel like you can go to your spiritual family and lean on them for support.

In the same vein, brothers and sisters in Christ should feel their pain and share their grief (Romans 12:15).

“When a brother meets sorrow, we all feel his grief.”

Families should rejoice together.  When someone successfully comes through surgery, the family rejoices with the one who needed it.  When someone finally finds a job after a long time of searching, the family rejoices with him.  When a Christian (part of God’s family) makes it through a difficult time, we should all rejoice with them.

“Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15).

“When he’s passed through the valley, we all feel relief.”

Families stick together through good or bad. A villain in a movie recently said, “I have no problem destroying people to take over the world…but nobody messes with my family.”

When times are great, you should be able to rejoice with family—the ones who know you best and are sincerely excited for you.  When times are bad, you should be able to lean on your family for help and strength—because they need you and you need them.  God’s family must stick together (Hebrews 10:24).

The armor of God in Ephesians 6 doesn’t have anything to cover your back—but don’t worry, because your family has got your back covered for you.

When God’s family sticks together, they gain the victory!

“Together in sunshine, together in rain, together in victory through His precious name.”

Verse 3 – God’s family reunion.

Sometimes family gets separated, but they look forward to the reunion.  

Many families have annual family reunions.  The family members haven’t seen each other in months—sometimes years—but they look forward to that family reunion to renew their relationships.

We look forward to gatherings like that, don’t we?  Times when you get to see friends you have lost touch with?

Some folks get there earlier than others.  My aunt Earline was always the first one to show up at family events (I thought her name was “early” for the longest time because of this).

God has a family reunion scheduled.

Some may have left to get there before others, but all of God’s faithful family will be there.  And in that reunion, all the saints will be gathered together—a joyful family reunion.  I Thessalonians 4:13-18, II Timothy 4:7-8.

“And though some go before us, we’ll all meet again.”

The family reunion is held at a specific location.

Could you imagine getting an invitation to a family reunion, but it never says where it was going to be held?  You’d probably think someone didn’t really want you coming!

All reunions take place at a certain location.  Some take place at the park, others at someone’s house.  My mother’s family has an annual reunion at the cemetery—no joke.

The location must be suitable for the purposes.  There must be plenty of room.  It must be a location that can be accessed (you wouldn’t be able to have a reunion at the bottom of the sea).

It must be suitable for the people who will be attending.  You wouldn’t choose a place that had no seating or shelter.

God’s family reunion is held in a specific location: heaven!  It is the place prepared by Jesus Christ for our reunion (John 14:2-3).  It has plenty of room for all of God’s family.  It is the heavenly city

“Just inside the city, as we enter in.”

Family reunions must end.

As fun and enjoyable as family reunions might be, they do have to end at some point.  And as each year comes and goes, there are some people who won’t make it back to the reunions.  Perhaps they’re busy.  Perhaps they’re too frail to make the trip.  Perhaps they’ve passed away.

But God’s family reunion is different.  It is a PERMANENT reunion.  All the faithful family will be there, never to die, never to part again.  It is a joyful, forever reunion!

“They’ll be no more parting, with Jesus we’ll be, together forever, God’s family.”

Conclusion:

Take the time right now to think about the family reunion that will take place in heaven.  Who is it that you’ll be looking forward to seeing again? (names___)  And now realize that once you get to see them again, they’ll never be taken away from you anymore.  You will get to always be with them in heaven.

But here’s the catch—this reunion is only for those who are in God’s family.  If you’re not a Christian, you can’t come to the reunion.

Sermon Wednesday – Singing With Understanding

For the next several weeks, our “Sermon Wednesday” feature will focus on Singing with Understanding (I Corinthians 14:15).  We will take the time to examine the words of some of the songs we sing, and look at the Biblical ideas expressed in them so that when we sing them, we will truly “sing with the understanding also.”

Introduction:

In the church, most of the sermons you hear regarding singing are either about the use of instrumental music, or about singing unscriptural songs.  I have preached on those topics, and they absolutely need to be preached on.

However, it has been my experience that far fewer sermons are preached on the positive aspects of proper singing.  I’ve not heard many lessons on the importance of trying to improve the quality of your singing.

I know a man named Jay Rix who made it a point almost every time he lead singing to tell people to lift their songbooks up in front of them so that their voices could be heard (instead of it being sung to the floor).

I’ve not heard many lessons on the importance of trying to understand the notes and beats in our songbooks.  Have you ever been completely thrown off-track when singing a song because the song leader is singing it one way, and no one is singing the same notes or the same speed, or in the same key?

I’ve been places before where the song leader didn’t lead very loudly, and so there were three or four people in the congregation who tried to take over the lead from their pews—all at the same time, and all in different keys.  And you can picture the scene, each one sings progressively louder and louder, trying to drown out the others and make them change to the key HE (and sometimes SHE) singing in.

This inhibits proper worship—because it keeps people from focusing on WHAT they are singing.

It has happened to me more times in my life than I’d like to admit that the singing was so out of unison that I couldn’t concentrate at all on the words I was singing.  It would be beneficial if we all could take a little time now and then and learn a bit more about the music and how notes work.  After all, bad singing can be a distraction to proper worship.

In Midway, KY, back in the 1800’s, it is said that the singing in the Lord’s church there was so bad that it was called audio warfare.  It was so bad that they brought in an organ—not to help the congregation learn the notes better, but to drown them out.

I’ve not heard many sermons about the importance of “singing with the understanding.”  Of all the things involved with our singing of praises to God, this is the most important.  Paul says, “what is it then? I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the understanding also” (I Corinthians 14:15).  This is the idea of singing with the proper attitude, and knowing what you’re singing—and why you’re singing it.

Today we will be looking at what is involved in proper singing as worship to God.

Proper singing involves:

  • The proper songs (psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs)
  • The proper attitude (I will sing with the spirit)
  • The proper understanding (I will sing with the understanding also).

The proper songs (Ephesians 5:19).

The only songs authorized in praise and worship to God are: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

Psalms – possibly a reference to the Old Testament book of Psalms, but it would also include any inspired song of praise to God (see I Corinthians 14:26).  For example, The Lord’s My Shepherd (there are three different versions of this song in some songbooks).

Hymns – This word is also translated “sing praise” in Hebrews 2:12, and basically just means a song of praise. Some of the Psalms fit this category.  For example,  Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah!

Spiritual Songs – These are songs sung for the uplifting and edification of the members.  For example,  Are You Coming to Jesus Tonight?

Some songs can fit into more than one category.

There are songs in some songbooks that do not fit the description of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

Precious Memories—though I like the song, it is a song about memories of your mother and father from when you were a child—not about God, Christ, the Bible, salvation, or heaven.

America the Beautiful is in more brotherhood songbooks then you might realize.

The Star-Spangled Banner is even in some of the songbooks.

As nice as these songs are, they have no business being sung during worship to God, because they are not what God has authorized in His word.

The songs we sing must be Scriptural.

These songs are supposed to be used to teach each other (Colossians 3:16).  If the songs aren’t Scriptural, then by definition we are teaching unscriptural things when we sing them!

The most popular example of this is the song Jesus is Coming Soon.  It has a great melody and a really fun bass-line to sing, but it’s not teaching the truth.  It was written in 1942, and people have been singing it for over 70 years—yet Jesus still hasn’t come.  It speaks of signs that will come to pass (the “troublesome times” from verse one) before the end comes—but Jesus said that there would be no signs before the end comes (Matthew 24:35-39).  We could say “we need to live as though Jesus could come at any moment,” but that’s not what the song says.

Our singing must also involve…

The Proper Attitude (I Corinthians 14:15)

I will sing with the spirit (the proper attitude).

Some say that this is speaking of miraculous songs (songs directly inspired by the Holy Spirit), and that is possible in the context.  But at the same time, we are commanded to worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24) and that applies long after the miracles ended in the first century.

When we sing, what kind of attitude are we showing?

Some people sing because they want to be heard—to show off their singing voice.  They are sometimes loud, sometimes they intentionally add notes to their singing, and their purpose in doing so is to get attention for themselves.  But where should the focus be?

Some people sing in a mumble, just doing enough so that they can say they were singing.  Others sing half-heatedly, occupying themselves with their phone or something else.  And still others sing loud and clear—but without giving a thought to the words they’re singing.

If you don’t think this can happen, I ask: have you ever sung along with the radio?  Did you give much thought to the words of the song you were singing, or were you just singing with it because you like the tune and have heard it enough times that you have it memorized?

So many songs on the radio (and it’s been this way for decades) are about drinking and sex—yet often Christians are guilty of singing along with them, not even thinking about what the words are actually saying.

We can rattle off things that we’ve memorized without difficulty, but does that make us mean it?

We need to be giving thought to the words that we are singing.  If you wrote a song for your one true love, and you then sang it to her, would you sing it with meaning? With feeling? With understanding?

When you sing a song to God, shouldn’t you sing it with meaning? With feeling? With understanding?

The Proper Understanding (I Corinthians 14:15).

I will sing with the understanding.

The Ethiopian Eunuch was reading the Bible—a great and noble thing to be doing—but Philip came up to him and asked, “do you understand what you’re reading?” (Acts 8:30).  If Philip came into our worship service sometime, he might go up to one of us and ask “do you understand what you’re singing?”

Do you understand the words you’re singing?

Richie Valens was a famous singer from the late ’50’s whose biggest hit was a song he sung in Spanish, called La Bamba.  The only problem? Richie Valens didn’t know Spanish.  He sat and listened to the song being sung over and over until he memorized the words—the syllables—even though he didn’t know at all what the words meant.  And I’d be willing to guess that more than a few of you have sung along with that song as well, having no idea what the words mean.

There are some great poets who have written songs…but many times those poets use words and phrases that make no sense to us.  For example:

  • Night with ebon pinion, brooded o’er the vale.
  • the panoply of God

We’ve sung these phrases for years, but if a visitor came in and asked you, “what does that mean?” could you answer them? And if you can’t explain what it means, doesn’t that mean you aren’t “singing with the understanding”?

There are some songs that are steeped in Bible references, but some of them are unfamiliar.  And the best example of this is O Thou Fount of Every Blessing, which says…

Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come

What is an Ebenezer? Isn’t that the Scrooge guy from Charles Dickens’ book?  I Samuel 7:12 says that after God had secured the victory for the Israelites, Samuel raised up a stone (made a monument) and called it Ebenezer, which means “The stone of the help” or “the stone to remind us of God’s help.”

So when we sing “Here I raise my Ebenezer,” we are saying “God has helped me, and I am setting up a monument in my mind to remind me of the one who has brought me this far.”

How do we make sure we are singing with the understanding?

Part of that falls on the song-leader, because he is the one who chooses the songs.  He needs to make sure that the songs he leads are either easily understandable or that he explains the possibly confusing parts.  Sometimes a song can be given a wealth of meaning and the congregation can focus on the words so much more with just a few words of explanation before the song begins.

One person said, “any time we sing this song about heaven, I think of _______ who lived her life always looking forward to her home up there.”

Another person said (about a closing song) “remember that this song is the one we’ll sing together to get us through the rest of the week” (it was “God be with you till we meet again”).

One song-leader would occasionally announce that the closing song was actually a prayer, and so that would also serve as our closing prayer.  When he did that, it caused me to look more at the words and I came to realize that it really was a prayer.  And then I had to focus on what was being said, because it was a prayer that I was saying to God!

Part of singing with the understanding falls on the one singing.  If you don’t understand what the song is saying, then you need to do some asking or some investigating on your own.  My kids have asked me on more than one occasion what something means in a song (“panoply” being the most recent one).

There’s no shame in asking someone “what does this mean?”  It wasn’t until someone explained it to me that I finally figured out what “be of sin the double cure” was referencing (in Rock of Ages).

Conclusion:

Let’s take the opportunity to put more thought and feeling into our singing.  Let’s remember that proper singing involves the proper attitude and mindset—stop singing on auto-pilot.  Let’s remember that proper singing involves the need to understand what you’re singing.

-Bradley Cobb

Sermon Thursday – Assembling With the Saints

This week, we continue our look at the Fundamentals of the Faith and look at the topic of assembling with the saints to worship.

Introduction:

I’ve been saved, why do I need to come worship with the church?  I mean, I can think of quite a few reasons not to come:  I’m tired; I’ve got other things to do; I don’t like the preacher; I don’t know the songs; if I go, they’ll expect something out of me; I just don’t like church.

Some people teach that gathering with the saints isn’t necessary, others teach that it is.  The truth of the matter is that coming together with other Christians is an outgrowth of what’s in your heart.  If you don’t come, then that shows where your heart is.  If you do come, but you complain about it or are unwilling to participate, that also shows where your heart is.  If you come, and you actively join in, then that shows where your heart is as well.

We all would (I hope) agree that the Bible is our standard of right and wrong.  So today, let’s look at what the Bible says about gathering with the saints.

When was it done?  Where was it done?  Why was it done?  Must it be done?

When did the saints meet for a specific time of worship?

There are several religious groups who claim that the church met on the Sabbath (Saturday), and that meeting on Sunday is from Satan.  But we’re not interested in what they have to say.  We’re only interested in what the Bible has to say about it.

Jesus rose on the first day of the week (John 20:1-ff). This obviously isn’t proof in and of itself, but it is evidence that points in a certain direction.  Christianity is completely based on the fact that Christ rose from the dead, it would make sense that the church would gather on the same day of the week.  This is circumstantial evidence, proving nothing by itself, but it does help point the way.

The disciples gathered together on the first day of the week after the resurrection (John 20:26). In this passage, it says “after eight days…”  The Jews counted time by including whatever day it happened to be at the time, so they would have counted the Resurrection day as day 1, so the eighth day would have been the next Sunday.  “After” would place it on Sunday evening.  This, as well, isn’t definitive proof, but it is noteworthy nonetheless.

The church was established on the first day of the week (Acts 2). Pentecost literally means “fifty days.”  It took place fifty days after the feast of Passover.  This places the first sermon in the church, the first meeting of the church, on the first day of the week.

But, let’s look further.

The disciples came together to “break bread” on the “first day of the week” (Acts 20:7).  This is talking about the Lord’s Supper.  But even if it wasn’t, it is noteworthy that the apostle Paul waited an entire week in the city of Troas so that he could meet with the saints there (20:6-7).  This shows us—without any doubt—that there was a specific gathering of the saints on the first day of the week, at least in Troas.

But was this just a local custom, or was it something that took place in all the churches?

The church in Corinth—by apostolic authority—met on the first day of the week.  In Acts 18, Paul went to Corinth, and he is the one who planted the church there.  He stayed for 18 months, teaching them the doctrine of Jesus Christ, and how God is to be served in the Christian era.  He later wrote to them, and said, “Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store” (in other words, take up a collection), I Corinthians 16:2.

But notice that this is something that was to take place on the first day of the week—the day that Paul obviously told them was their day to come together and worship God.

But there’s more—the verse before it says that Paul made the exact same command to the churches in Galatia; that is, to take up a collection on the first day of the week.

When did the church in the Bible gather together for worship? On the first day of the week!  By inspiration of God, Paul commanded it.

It is also significant that there is not one passage in the New Testament that shows Christians gathering for worship on the Sabbath.  There are passages where Paul went to the synagogue on the Sabbath to teach the Jews—because that’s when the Jews would meet.  But not one passage that says the church ever gathered on the Sabbath.

It’s true that especially at the beginning of the church, the Christians met together daily for food, encouragement, and support (Acts 2:46).  But meeting specifically for worship (specifically the Lord’s Supper and giving) was expressly stated to be on the first day of the week.  Is it any surprise that it has been known as “The Lord’s Day” for almost 2,000 years?

Where are the saints to gather together?

The city doesn’t matter.  We have records in the Bible of Christians meeting in Jerusalem (Acts 2:46).  But also in Corinth (II Corinthians 1:1), Ephesus (Ephesians 1:1), and many other cities.

The churches met in different types of places.  The church in some locations apparently met in synagogues (James 2:2 – the word “assembly” is the Greek word “synagogue”).  The church in Troas met in an “upper room,” but nothing is specified as to whether this was on top of a house or above a merchant’s shop, or perhaps even a community building (Acts 20:6-8).  The church in Laodicea met in the house of Philemon (Philemon 1-2).  It is possible that the Christians in Jerusalem met at the temple for a time (Acts 5:12).

What can we take from this?  That the physical location is unimportant.  The important thing is to actually meet with the saints, wherever they are meeting.

Why should the saints gather together?

God never gave a command that was arbitrary—every command has a benefit for us.  So, what is the benefit of gathering together with the saints?  To the Bible for the answer!

To take the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7).  Judging by the biblical testimony, it appears that the Lord’s Supper was the centerpiece, or focal point, of the early Christian worship.  Acts 20:7 says that they came together in order to break bread (take the Lord’s Supper).  Paul severely chastised the Christians in Corinth because when they came together, it wasn’t for that purpose (I Corinthians 11:17-20).  In fact, he called it heresy! (v 19).

This isn’t to say there weren’t other things that took place (as we will see), but that was to be the main reason—remembering Christ’s death through the memorial feast.  The saints should gather on the first day of each week to take the Lord’s Supper and honor Jesus Christ through it.

To give as they have been prospered (I Corinthians 16:1-2).  In the context, Paul was specifically telling them that they needed to start taking up a collection each week so that the poor Christians in Jerusalem could be aided.

But we can easily take this principle and apply it to other financial needs that may arise, such as assisting others (Galatians 6:10), paying those who proclaim the gospel and do other work for the church (Luke 10:7), purchase food for feeding the members of the congregation (Acts 4:37; 6:1), and helping out Christians who had need (Acts 4:34-35).  Is there ever a time when there is not a need?

But what benefit do we get from this?  It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).  It is a time to remind ourselves of the blessings that God has given to us.  It’s an opportunity to show our love for others and for God by sharing some of what we’ve been blessed with.

To sing praises to God (I Corinthians 14:15-19, 23).  Singing songs of praise to God was to be done “in the church” and when “the whole church is come together in one place” (these are phrases used in the context of verse 15).  Thus, they were to be done when they church comes together.  They were to be intelligible songs (sing with the understanding).  These songs are to teach (Colossians 3:16).  These songs are to be sung to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19).  These songs uplift and edify us.

To encourage one another (Hebrews 10:24).  “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.”  Coming together as a family shows support, encouragement, and love for one another.  This is one of the many blessings that come with assembling with the saints.

To study God’s word (Acts 20:7).  When the Christians of Troas came together, Paul preached to them.  When the Corinthians were gathered together, it was understood that someone would be bringing a message from God (I Corinthians 14).  What better time than this to study God’s word deeper?

Must the saints come together?

We’ve seen when, where, and why the saints came together in the Bible; now the question is “Must the saints come together?”  Is it required?  Is it mandatory to get to heaven?  Again, let’s go to the Bible for the answer.

“Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching. Because if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin” (Hebrews 10:25-26).

The inspired writer here says that if you sin willfully, your sins will not be forgiven.  In fact, he goes on to say that the only thing you will have to look forward to is judgment and fiery indignation reserved for the enemies of God (10:27).

But look at what his example of willful sin is—verse 25 – forsaking the assembling of yourselves together.  This isn’t missing a service here or there because you’re sick or otherwise physically unable to come.  This is willfully deciding that you aren’t going to worship with the saints.  And this is the example of willful sin that makes you an enemy of God!

Must the saints come together? If they want to go to heaven, they do.

I don’t like hearing people say “I have to go to church.”  Our attitude should be “Ain’t it great? I get to go to church today!”  Skipping services isn’t the problem, it’s just a symptom of a spiritual problem.

Conclusion:

I’m glad you made the decision to gather with the saints to worship God today.  It is my prayer that you have been blessed by being here.

Jesus Christ gave His life for you, and is it really asking all that much that you devote a few hours of your week to coming together with His people?

If you truly appreciate Jesus’ sacrifice, then you’ll want to devote your entire life to Him.  If you’re not a Christian, then what are you waiting for?  You’re lost in sin, surrounded by the fiery pits of hell on all sides, but Jesus is reaching out to save you!  All you have to do is take hold of Him by believing that He is the Christ, the Son of God; repenting of your sins, confessing His name, and being baptized—the water saves you from the fire!

If you are a Christian, and your priorities haven’t been where they should be, why not make it right today?