Doing GOOD for Our Nation By Al Diestelkamp
God recognized the
need for men to be governed. Ideally, men should be ruled by
God's word, but He recognized that most would not submit to His
rule, and so he ordained civil government to maintain order in
this wicked world.
God revealed that governments
are "sent by Him for the punishment of evildoers and for
the praise of those who do good" (1 Pet. 2:14). Governments
that fulfill this mandate, will not be a "terror to to good
works, but to evil" (Rom. 13:3).
The Lord has even given
civil rulers authority to "bear the sword" in order
to "execute wrath" on evildoers (Rom. 13:4). Clearly,
capital punishment, is an option available to governments in
their attempts to maintain order.
Since governments are
ordained by God, "whoever resists the authority resists
the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment
on themselves" (Rom. 13:2).
However, governments sometimes
become corrupt, and violate God's purpose. Christians need to
be prepared with the right response should our government make
laws which ask us to violate God's word. It's easy for us to
see that if our government were to enact a law requiring Christians
to bow down to an idol, or prohibiting us from assembling on
the first day of the week, we would have to violate such laws.
Our first century brethren, when commanded by civil authorities
not to preach the gospel, cited the overriding principle: "We
ought to obey God rather than men" (Ac. 5:29).
Here in the United States
our government has had a history of trying to accommodate religious
belief, but there is a growing sentiment away from that practice.
We should not fool ourselves into thinking that we will always
be so blessed. Already we hear of secularists who want laws against
public teaching against homosexuality, classifying it as a "hate
crime." Then there are those who want to require churches
to allow women to preach, and if they don't, to revoke tax-exempt
In such situations it
should become clear that the command to "submit yourselves
to every ordinance of man" (1 Pet. 2:13) does not apply
to man-made laws which would cause us to violate a command of
Perhaps a more difficult
decision is what to do when the government steps beyond its authority
and "binds" where God has "loosed." Consider
what should be our response if the governing authorities imposed
any of the the following:
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FAITH COMES BY HEARING THE WORD OF GOD
By Steve Fontenot
According to an
article that was published in the New York Daily Times,
August 24, 2007, written by Helen Kennedy, "Mother Teresa,"
the famous humanitarian, had struggled with and lost her faith
in God. According to her own letters, she felt "unwanted,
unloved" by God, and instead of faith, had nothing "but
emptiness and darkness."
In 1946, when she was
a 36-year-old convent teacher, she thought "Christ spoke
to her directly" and she felt "a deeply personal bond
with Jesus" and recounted "conversations and visions"
she had with Him. However, the heavenly voices she thought she
heard, ceased, and "it was that loss that she mourned the
rest of her life," spending "her last 50 years secretly
struggling with doubts about her faith." "She felt
abandoned by Christ, referring to Jesus as 'the Absent One.'"
It seems her faith was built on hearing--hearing what she thought
were voices, rather than on "hearing the word of God."
When the voices ceased, so did the faith. How sad.
God intended for our faith
in Christ to be built on historical, objective, evidence.
"Go...preach the gospel... He who has believed"
(Mk. 16:15,16). "Therefore [based on the evidence
presented-sf] let all the house of Israel know for certain
the God has made Him both Lord and Christ Now when they heard
this, they were pierced to the heart those who received
his word were baptized" (Ac. 2:36,37,41). "Many
of those who heard the message believed" (Ac. 4:4).
This was the work given to the apostles, prophets, and teachers
of the 1st century--preach the Word. People were commended
for "examining the Scrip-turesto see whether these things
were so." Result..."Therefore many of them believed"
(Ac. 17:11,12). God's plan was, "Faith comes by hearing
the word of God."
Abraham told the rich
man, "They [the rich man's brothers on earth-sf]
have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them." Moses
and the prophets were long dead. His brothers had the writings
of Moses and the prophets--they were to hear their written word.
The apostles, prophets,
and teachers of the gospel in the 1st century are long dead.
But, we have their writings. And this is where our faith should
be based. "These have been written so that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ" (Jn. 20:31). "It seemed fitting
...having investigated everything carefully from the beginning,
to write it out for you...so that you may know the exact truth"
(Lk. 1:3,4). "By referring to this, when you read you
can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,"
(Eph. 3:4). "I will also be diligent that at any time after
my departure you will be able to call these things to mind
This is now...the second letter I am writing to you"
(2 Pet. 1:15...3:1). God's plan still is, "Faith comes
by hearingthe word of God"--the written word of God!
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LIKE NO ONE ELSE
By Al Diestelkamp
Syndicated talk radio
financial advisor, Dave Ramsey, urges his listeners to "live
like no one else, so you can live like no one else." His
message is to live frugally while
you rid yourself of debt so later on you can live comfortably.
For callers with overwhelming debt he often prescribes a "beans
and rice; rice and beans" budget.
Since Ramsey often peppers
his advice with scriptures, I trust he will not be upset if I
"borrow" his motto to make a spiritual point. After
all, our Lord does ask us to "live like no one else"
while in the world (Jn. 15:19).
As with every analogy,
we must be careful not to carry this one too far. Yes, we have
an overwhelming "debt" we cannot repay, even on a spiritual
"beans and rice; rice and beans" lifestyle. We cannot
work our way out of the debt of sin merely by right living, but
must throw ourselves on the mercy of God.
That being said, when
God extends His grace to us by paying off our debt with the blood
of His Son, Jesus Christ, He requires we "live like no one
else" (cp. Rom. 12:1-2). When we think we have it hard,
living righteously while the world endulges in sinful pleasures,
we need to remember Jesus promises if we "overcome,"
we will live "royally" in eternity (Rev. 3:21).
P.O. Box 891, Cortland, IL 60112
Is This A New
Office in the Church?
By Karl Diestelkamp
Recently, a Christian
pointed to a man, saying: "He is one of our leading brothers.
We don't have elders, but we do have leading brothers."
When I inquired how the men became "leading brothers"
I was told, "The minister in charge selected them."
It was clear that these men are separate from the rest of the
men in the congregation in reference to their role.
Reading my New Testament,
I have somehow missed the passages referring to "leading
brothers" and their qualifications. The apostle Paul refers
to "the office of bishop" (or overseer--1 Tim.
3:1), and uses the words elder and bishop interchangeably
(Tit. 1:5-7). And while there is reference to deacons, the scriptures
are silent about "leading brothers" as opposed to "non-leading
I ask, "Just who
put 'the minister in charge' of anything?" A preacher has
"charge" of nothing by reason of the fact he preaches
and as such he is not "over" anyone and has "oversight"
of nothing in the church--he preaches the gospel! Only
elders have authorized "oversight" (1 Pet. 5:2; Ac.
20:28). By what stretch of his imagination does any preacher
presume to "select" certain men and appoint them to
be "leading brothers?"
Perhaps one who considers
himself officially "The Minister" of a congregation
will come forward and, from his Bible, instruct us as
to both his official title and his authority to select "leading
brothers" from among the other "brothers" and
tell us what the difference is between them. While he is at it
he can tell us what the scriptural qualifications are to become
a "leading brother."
No one objects to capable
men filling roles that need to be filled and doing work that
needs to be done in cooperation with all the brethren. No doubt
in the process of this they "lead" others, but that
does not make them "officers" with a title. This may
be an effort to fill the hole where qualified elders cannot be
found, or are not wanted. It is just one more thing borrowed
from false religion and false teaching that takes brethren farther
and farther from the truth. Wake up brethren!
8311 - 27th Avenue, Kenosha, WI 53143
By Rick Liggin
I never cease to be amazed
at some people's knowledge of the Bible. It seems like some folks,
no matter how ignorant they are about God's Word, always know
certain verses of Scripture--and often they know these verses
for all the wrong reasons. They know, for example, that the Bible
teaches that "God is love" (1 Jn. 4:8), but usually
because they want to "love" someone in an immoral way
(like a live-in girlfriend, or a gay or lesbian "lover").
They also know about the verse that teaches: "an eye for
an eye and a tooth for a tooth," but again, it's usually
for selfish reasons--they want to take revenge (with God's approval)
on someone who's mistreated them.
And of course the one
Bible verse that everyone knows is: "Judge not that you
be not judged" (Matt. 7:1). Worldly folks want to quote
this verse every time you try to point out some error in their
lives that needs correcting.
Now, I have to admit that
after all these years of preaching, I'm no longer surprised or
even disappointed when a worldly person tries to throw this text
up at me as I try to help him see the error of his way. But I
do get disturbed when my own brothers or sisters in Christ try
to use this text to get me "off their case" for the
Jesus does warn
us about judging others (Matt. 7:1); but if you read further
in this context, you will see that Jesus more specifically is
condemning one who is hypercritical and hypocritical in his faultfinding
(7:2-5). When we go looking for a "speck" (or minor
fault) in a brother's "eye" (life), we are being hypercriticaland
that's wrong. And worse: when we do this while having a "log"
(or major fault) in our own eyethat's hypocritical. And this
is the kind of judging that Jesus so strongly condemns.
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NOW THAT I AM
By Robert Speer
In the Volume 37, Number
1 issue of Think (January-February-March 2006), the editor
expressed both encouragement and warning to "older gospel
preachers." Being of that order, I commend the article,
accepting both the encouragement and the warning. Further, the
article put me in a reflective mood, now that I am "old."
My own father was "touchy"
about his age. In fact, I don't recall anyone who was more sensitive
about growing "old" than my father. This is not meant
a criticism; it is simply an observation. One simply grows old
one day at a time, a natural process for which one need not make
apology. I don't mind, for instance, telling people I am 73 years
of age. (Well, actually, at this writing I am only 72 years,
ten months, one week and five days old.) And from that platform
I have witnessed some good--and some bad--things.
One of the privileges
and joys of the view from my platform is to see young men and
women I knew when they were but children, some even from birth,
who are now ones who have obeyed the gospel, having chosen mates
who will help them go to heaven, who are helping bring up their
children in the Lord, and who are faithfully serving His cause.
Some have become elders or married men who became elders in the
Lord's church. From my aged platform I see many who have themselves
become grandparents, grandparents who have grandchildren who
have obeyed or soon will obey the gospel.
My family and I lived
in Nigeria for two years (1965-1967). In addition to preaching
there it was my privilege to have a number of training classes
for young preachers. Since leaving that country I have returned
four times, again preaching and working with younger preachers.
On my last trip (1993), while in a series of classes with preachers
and others, one of my former students stood and said, "We
older preachers must recognize and fulfill our responsibilities
in training the young preachers among us, and set the proper
example before them."
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