Volume 37 July-August-September, 2006 Number 3
Confession is Good for the Soul - Rick Liggin
The Gospel's Dependency on Man - Andy Diestelkamp
You Can't Judge an Apple by Its Peeling - Al Diestelkamp
The Seeker Friendly Fad - Al Diestelkamp
Unchanging Principles - Leslie Diestelkamp
By Rick Liggin
You've probably heard the old expression, "Confession is good for the soul." And of course, if you've ever been in a situation where you did something wrong and made it right, you know that this old expression is true. "Coming clean" about some crime or sin we have committed--confessing it openly--feels good. It opens the door to being forgiven, and enables us to get a fresh start.
But what I want you to know is that this old saying--"confession is good for the soul"--this is not just some silly "pop-psychology" or "feel-good-psycho-babble." This wise old adage really expresses the truth! It's a simple way of saying what God first said in His Word.
Forgiveness Through Confession
Consider, for example, King David, a man who had committed both adultery and murder, but who ultimately found God's mercy when he finally confessed his sins and admitted his fault (Psa. 32:1-5).
David begins this Psalm by saying, "How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit" (32:1-2). In these first verses, David describes the joy of salvation and of being forgivenbut it wasn't always that way.
He says, "When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fevered heat of summer" (32:3-4). Initially, David had tried to hide and cover up his sin; but deep down, he knew he was being deceitfuland he felt awful! He felt guilty and all sick inside. He felt as if God's heavy hand was pressing him down and burdening him with his guilt.
So what would he do? What could he do to escape the guilt and feel again the freedom from sin?
Here's what David did: he said, "I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord'; and You did forgive the guilt of my sin" (32:5). As soon as David took responsibility for his own sin and confessed it to God: that's when he found relief!
That same thing is true for every one of us! If we will but confess our sins to God and turn away from them, we will know the joy of salvation and the relief that comes from forgiveness--but not until we truly "come clean" about it altogether.
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What do you know about God? The Apostle Paul argues that people are without excuse for failing to reason that God exists and that He is supernatural and eternal (Rom. 1:20). These basic conclusions arrived at by mature and sound minds observing the course of nature leave little room for idolatry and none for atheism. Yet, while the existence and design of the natural world demands a preexistent Designer, nature is virtually silent about the specific purpose and will of God for humanity.
What do you know about God? Nature exists, but it does not specify what is right and wrong. It does not identify sin. It does not prescribe a remedy for evil. Without specific revelation from the mind of God, we would know nothing about such matters of the spirit (1 Cor. 2:9-14). Yet, how do we come to know the mind of God?
Some people imagine that each person can have his own spiritual connection to the mind of God. Indeed, it is popular to emphasize the personal relationship that each person can have with God. This concept is then extrapolated to reason that connecting with the mind of God is dependent on no one else. "Faith is personal. It is just between you and God." That sounds so warm, mystical, and comfortable; but is it true?
Ah, truth; "What is truth?" Pilate derisively asked Jesus before condemning Him (Jn. 18:38). Jesus had claimed to bear witness to the truth and declared that, "Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice," (vs. 37). He claimed, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," (14:6). Of all people, professing Christians ought to believe in objective truth. Instead, much of "Christendom" is mired in a self-loving, better-felt-than-told subjectivism that idolizes personal experience and on its altar sacrifices any truth that does not validate the feelings of the worshiper.
The truth is that God determined to communicate His will to mankind, not by means of personal encounters with Him, but through the message preached by humans. God made the communication of this message dependent upon the efforts of men (1 Cor. 1:21).
Atheists and other unbelievers guffaw at such foolishness and ask...
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Many times I have picked up a beautiful red apple, hoping that when I bite into it it will be crisp and sweet, only to find out it's sour or mushy. I've come to the conclusion that you can't judge an apple by its peeling.
Christians should understand that, in like manner, one cannot judge a congregation by its sign out front. You might be able to determine that a church is not the Lord's church if their sign betrays that fact with a description that is unscriptural, but having a scriptural designation doesn't mean what's inside is necessarily good.
Too many brethren, when trying to locate a place to worship, are simply content to find a congregation which claims to be a church of Christ, without investigating as to whether it's living up to its billing.
P.O. Box 891, Cortland, Illinois 60112
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The emergence of the "seeker-friendly" church, popularized by Rick Warren's book, The Purpose-Driven Church, has become quite a fad in religious circles. "Seeker-friendly" is a term which sounds good on the surface, but what is usually meant is anything but good. Keep in mind that the word "friendly" in this context is not referring to being cordial. Here it is being used as a suffix in a similar way as it is in the term "user-friendly" when claiming ease of use of some product. Thus, a "seeker-friendly" church is one that adapts to those seeking a church.
It's not unusual to be asked, "Is your congregation seeker-friendly?" Who would want to say, "No" to that question? Certainly, every congregation of the Lord's people ought to be very friendly toward anyone seeking the truth, but unfortunately that's not what is meant when the question is asked.
Churches which bill themselves as "seeker-friendly" are usually groups which have adopted a market-driven approach to church growth. Following the lead of mega-church founder, Bill Hybels, these churches survey the population to see what kind of church they want, and then form (or reform) a church to fit the desires of the people.
Of course, this is not a new concept, but one that was employed by Aaron back in the foothills of Mt. Sinai, resulting in Israelites dancing and playing in "The Church of the Golden Calf" (see Ex. 32). Later, King Jeroboam, claiming "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem" (1 Ki. 12:28), established a "seeker-friendly" religion boasting two convenient worship centers. Both of these attempts were numerically successful, but led Israel into sin.
It should be no surprise that a good portion of the sectarian world, having long ago abandoned any claim to following the New Testament as a pattern, has embraced this concept. Unfortunately, it is also not surprising that even some of our brethren, after gradually eroding away their loyalty to scriptural authority, have been caught up in the numbers game and have embraced some of the "seeker-friendly" tactics. One of the claims made by "seeker-friendly" advocates is that they stress the need for spiritual renewal without the negativity. I suppose that means that they preach the principle, but stop short of making the application....
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Morality pertains to that which is right and wrong, and for the Christian this is determined by God's attitude, and not by the changing customs of men and women. But there seems to be a tendency for us to accept something as right after it has been practiced so much that it is accepted by society, regardless of what God says about it.
I can remember when almost everyone opposed smoking by women (though many, inconsistently, upheld it for men), the wearing of scanty clothing, mixed bathing, etc. But today few oppose any of these on the basis of morality.
If one will take the time to study the morals of the children of Israel, from the days of Jacob until the time of Christ, he will find that God never did smile upon immorality. In fact, when Israel became immoral God withheld his blessings. When Israel repented and became moral people God blessed them abundantly. Furthermore, almost always when Israel became immoral they became idolatrous and conversely when they became idolaters they always became immoral.
In this day of grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:17), the generic, basic foundation principles of morality are the same as they were in the days of Adam or in the days of Israel.
There are four areas of immorality that not only seem to prevail in the world, but also seem to be prevailing among many of God's own people today. Each of these are soul-destroying. Each will render one's influence null and void for righteousness, and I believe they will cause God to withhold His blessings from His church, regardless of other areas of fidelity, such as purity of worship, organization, work, etc. The four areas are as follows....
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