Doing GOOD to Those Lost in Sin By Al Diestelkamp
Not all preaching
is done in pulpits. In fact, since it is so difficult to get
people to come to our assemblies or Bible classes, perhaps the
most effective "preaching" takes place when one shares
his or her faith with someone else.
The "live, and let
live" philosophy so prevalent in our time makes it more
difficult to confront those lost in sin. They don't think it's
any of our business to teach them what they need to do to be
saved. They don't perceive
our concern for them as "doing good" to them.
It's easy for us to see
that if their physical lives were in jeopardy, that we would
be remiss not to warn them about it, but for some reason we hesitate
when it comes to their eternal safety. Whether they realize it,
or not, the most good we can do for "all men" is to
direct them to the gospel of Christ, which is found only in God's
Jesus said His purpose
in coming to earth was to "seek and to save that which is
lost" (Lk. 19:10). As disciples and followers of Jesus,
this also should be our "mission" in life. He told
His disciples that He would make them "fishers of men"
Jesus gave what we call
the "great commission" to His apostles just before
His ascension. He said "All authority is given to Me in
heaven and on earth. Go, therefore and make disciples of all
the nations..." (Matt. 28:18-19). Lest we think that this
commission was given exclusively to the few men who heard it
on that occasion, Jesus went on to say, "teaching them to
observe all things that I have commanded you..." (v.20).
That makes this commission applicable to all of us who have been
"baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of
the Holy Spirit."
It is quite clear that
the gospel is not always received well by those who hear it.
Christians in the first century, when faced with extreme persecution
for their faith, "went everywhere preaching the word"
(Ac.8:4). I doubt that this aggressive evangelism was viewed
by others as "good," but indeed it was.
The apostle Peter describes
us as "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
His own special people" (1 Pet. 2:9). This description is
not to inflate our egos, but is our divine calling to "proclaim
the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous
light." In order to be effective proclaimers of Christ,
Peter goes on to beg us to have honorable conduct so that when
those in the world think we are evildoers, they may by our "good
works which they observe, glorify God" in the end (vs. 11-12).
This same message was
conveyed by the apostle Paul as he urged us to "become blameless
and harmless children of God without fault in the midst of a
crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights
in the world, holding fast the word of life..." (Phil. 2:15-16).
In teaching His disciples
of the urgency of their mission, Jesus, in the parable of the
great supper said: "Go out into the highways and hedges,
and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled"
(Lk. 14:23). Though we cannot actually "compel" people
to obey the gospel, we must convey the message as compelling
as it really is.
We must resist any temptation
to make the gospel more attractive to men by appealing to the
carnal man. We do people no favor by withholding truth from them,
even though it may be unpleasant to them. The apostle Paul's
effort to "become all things to all men" (1 Cor. 9:19-23)
did not include compromise of truth. No matter how "acceptable"
sin or false doctrine becomes in the world, we still have an
obligation to "contend earnestly for the faith which was
once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).
Who will do good to the
lost? Solomon, in his wisdom, wrote: "He who wins souls
is wise" (Prov. 11:30). Think about it! If we don't take
the gospel to the lost, who will? Like the prophet Isaiah, our
response to this calling should be, "Here am I! Send me"
P.O. Box 891, Cortland, Illinois 60112
By Rick Liggin
It is not uncommon
in some churches (both in denominational churches and in those
that supposedly belong to Christ) to hear folks complain about
"doctrinal" sermons. "We don't want all that theological
preaching!" they will say. "Just tell us what we're
supposed to do!" Said differently: "We don't need to
know all the right doctrines; just give us practical teaching."
Of course, this isn't
altogether a bad thing! Sometimes "theology" has very
little to do with what the Bible actually teaches. It often confuses,
clouds, or even corrupts Bible doctrines, instead of accurately
But in a very real sense,
there can be no correct practical teaching without correct theology.
In other words, there is no right practice without doctrinal
"Why is that?"
you may ask. Simply because all doctrinal teaching is practical;
it all has some kind of application! Doctrine is supposed to
affect a person's conduct--how he acts or behaves. And so, one
cannot know what he's supposed to do until he correctly understands
the doctrine of Christ revealed in the Bible. It is precisely
that--the doctrine of Christ--that motivates and gives power
to practical application. Without doctrine, there is no practical
application! In fact, it is often a misunderstanding of Bible
doctrines that leads men to disagree over what the correct practice
ought to be. The point is that some people disagree about what
they're supposed to do, because they don't correctly understand
the doctrine of Christ.
At the root of the problem is an artificial distinction that
we sometimes make between "doctrine" and "teaching."
What do we normally think of when we hear the expression, "doctrinal
sermon"? I would venture to say that most folks probably
think of some theological explanation of some Biblical topic
that has little or no real practical application. But folks,
that, in and of itself, demonstrates a misunderstanding of the
word, "doctrine" or "doctrinal." Let me be
absolutely clear about this: there is no Biblical distinction
between "doctrine" and "teaching." Doctrine
is teaching! The truth is: all "teaching" is "doctrinal."
And that means that all of our sermons had better be "doctrinal"
or else they are not correct.
What we really need are
"doctrinal" sermons that accurately explain what the
Lord wants us to know and how that information is supposed to
practically affect our conduct. We need sermons that accurately
explain God's Word and at the same time help us make the application
to our lives. Doctrinal sermons will be practicaland practical
sermons must be doctrinal!
So, don't you dare let
yourself get bored with "doctrinal" sermons! Listen
carefully to every sermon. To learn what the Bible teaches...listen
for the doctrine! And then listen for practical application of
the teaching...listen for that part of the doctrine too!
315 Almond Drive, Washington, Illinois 61571
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I listened to
the radio as a political analyst lamented the fact that many
people have made a decision concerning who they will vote for,
yet almost every one of them he spoke to did not have any idea
what the politician was advocating or what qualified him for
He concluded that most
Americans were being swayed by what he called "slogan politics."
The example he gave was one politician's mantra: "Change."
It says a lot, but at the same time it says almost nothing. Change
what? And how? It raises questions, but answers none.
My point is not to criticize
the politician, but to point out that people they interviewed
on the radio who favored this politician all spoke of "change"
and how he was the one who would bring change and how wonderful
change would be. When asked for details of the what the changes
would be, how they would be accomplished, or whether the politician
was qualified to bring them about--every one that was interviewed
admitted they had no idea--they just liked him and his idea of
The analyst pointed out
that this was a dangerous national mindset--that the politician
with the best marketed slogan would win without having to prove
himself to be best qualified and possessing a workable plan.
He strongly urged investigating if there is anything behind the
slogan before voting.
I am not writing about
the election. All the above sounded very familiar to me. That's
because "slogan politics" is also used in "slogan
religion." People make decisions about religion based on
who has the best sounding lines, or what is most appealing to
them, not on a studied comparison with the truth of God as revealed
in His word.
As in politics, many if not most, people have strong ideas about
religion (for or against)--yet most cannot give the facts as
presented in Scripture. They may be attracted to a warm "God
is love" slogan, but have little idea what that means. Others
cling to the "bad things shouldn't happen if God is good"
motto, but many have never really investigated whether God really
is good or if evil is His fault.
People often choose churches
to worship with based on externals--buildings, choirs, music,
entertainment, childcare, social programs, eloquence of the preacher,
etc.--rather than if the church is the church Christ built (in
organization, worship, teaching, and service).
The same is true for morality.
"Right to life" and "pro choice" are mottos
to rally around--but they don't prove anything. "I was born
this way" and "safe sex" are debated, but we need
to set aside the slogans and emotion and simply ask what God
in His word says about it.
See, slogans and mottos
appeal to us because they tell us what we want to hear and we
can interpret them to suit our situations. "Change"
is nice in politics--I want change in healthcare, you want change
about the war, your neighbor wants tax changes, while another
wants change in social security. We are all divided--but one
word makes it look like we are together. In religion words like
"love," "faith," and "forgiveness"
are used, but interpreted and applied in widely diverse ways.
The religious world is terribly divided, but some wrongly assume
these misused words bring us together.
Slogans are generally
easy to understand on the surface. They are nicely packaged and
repeated a lot. We are comfortable with them because they don't
require a lot of thinking or effort, and they become very familiar.
This is exactly what the advertising industry is banking on.
But the religious world has tapped into this as well.
A nicely professionally
packaged church attracts a lot of people. I was recently told
that there is now a shortage of music and play directors in communities
because denominational churches are hiring them for their professional
productions. And the preachers' sermons are filled more with
pop psychology and self-help than Scripture. One very successful
denominational "pastor" makes no apologies for not
using the Bible in his lessons. But the messages are simple,
catchy, all positive, nicely packaged, and repeated a lot.
Jesus sent His disciples
into all the world to preach His gospel to everyone. He said,
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded
you" (Matt. 18:19-20).
True disciples are not
made with slogans and mottos. Disciples, real followers of Jesus,
come from being taught "all things" that have been
commanded by Jesus. It requires the listeners to look beyond
the surface to learn what God says and what He really means in
His word. Only then will we be ready to cast our vote: "Jesus
Christ is Lord!"
940 N. Elmwood Drive, Aurora, Illinois 60506
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Do You Have Any Enemies? By Al Diestelkamp
In a call from the local
fire department in the middle of the night, I was told that the
storage shed at our church building was on fire. When I arrived
there was nothing left but a few smouldering remains. When the
fire chief examined the site, the most likely cause was that
the fire was intentionally set. One of his first questions to
me was, "Do you have any enemies?"
After I answered, "No,
not any that I'm aware of," I soon felt somewhat embarrassed
having to admit that. Jesus said, "If the world hates you,
you know that it hated Me before it hated you" (Jn. 15:18),
and the apostle Paul wrote, "Yes, and all who desire to
live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Tim.
Is it possible that our
lack of enemies is because we aren't godly enough? Or are we
just too timid to count as "accursed" those who would
preach "any other gospel"? (Gal. 1:8-9). A few years
ago I wrote a tract with the title, Is Your Preacher Telling
You the Truth? In it I pointed out that preachers who are telling
people that they were born sinners, or that baptism is not required
for salvation, or that once they are saved they cannot fall from
grace, are not telling the truth. More than one Christian criticized
the message as too blunt. Perhaps we have succumbed to our pluralistic
After the fire was out,
and I reflected on the chief's question, I was actually relieved
that he didn't ask if we have any disgruntled members. Though
I'm sure that we don't have any who would stoop to arson, I couldn't
have honestly answered that question without risking an investigation.
P.O. Box 891, Cortland, Illinois 60112
about Church Socials
By Leslie Diestelkamp
are asked of me: (1) Why doesn't the church have more socials?
and (2) Why can't we have parties in the basement of the church
The New Testament authorizes
every act and activity of the church. It provides us with all
that pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). It completely
authorizes us in "every good work" (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
In worship and work, all that God wants is made known by the
"oracles of God" (1 Pet. 4:11). We must not add to,
or take from the word of God (Rev. 22:18-19), and we must not
"go beyond what is written" (1 Cor. 4:6).
Social activities are
not included in the authorized acts of the church. It is very
good to have social functions, but they are "home activities."
If there are not enough of such, then the homes are failing.
Let us not push upon the church that responsibility which belongs
to the home. If it is advisable that Christians associate more,
then let us not fail to provide such association, but let us
keep it independent of church functions.
But some ask, "Since
the church building is not sacred, and since our homes are not
large enough to accommodate large groups, why can't we use the
Actually the church building
is not sacred. On the other hand it is not a carnal, worldly
place either. Money for the building
was given to be used in spiritual work. Remember, we do not object
to eating in the church building, but we do object to making
the church building an "eating place." It is not wrong
to laugh in the church building, but it is certainly wrong to
make it a "house of laughter." The church house is
not "the house of God" (1 Tim. 3:15), but it is God's
house (Jn. 2:16).
The house in which I live
is not sacred, but some things are not appropriate there. A doctor's
office is not sacred, but who would say it would be a good place
to repair automobiles? A hospital and sheet metal shop don't
belong in the same building. So the church and the world should
not be housed from the same treasury.
A drinking fountain, a
rest room or a nursery are made to expedite a spiritual service.
But a social hall is to give vent to a social urge. Pews, classrooms,
lights and fans are purposefully paid for by the church because
of their usefulness in aiding us to do what God said for us to
do, but for the congregation to provide recreational facilities
does not contribute to the doing of that which God directed.
Paul wrote: "What? Have ye not houses to eat and drink in?"
(1 Cor. 11:22). He was condemning the practice of making a feast
with the Lord's supper, but at the same time he gave us the necessary
inference that there is a difference between homes and meeting
places provided by the church.
Let us keep the church
in the "church business." It is always safe to do that
which we know is right, without addition or subtraction. Let
us use every facility we have to expedite the Lord's work, and
let us avoid anything that would minimize its nature, which is
This article first appeared in
Truth Magazine, November, 1962
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Duties are based on relationships.
"Love your neighbor" is a duty we have, not because
we are Christians, but because we are "neighbors" (Lk.
10:27,29,36--"Which...proved to be a neighbor...?").
All men, whether believers or unbelievers, sustain this "neighbor"
relationship and therefore have this duty.
Only those who sustain
a relationship to a wife have the duty to "love your wife"
(Eph. 5:25--lit., "men love your women") Which one?
The one you sustain a relationship to as a husband. Christians,
though they are Christians, who sustain no relationship to a
wife do not have this duty.
Citizens are to "be
in subjection to the governing authorities" (Rom. 13:1).
Which one--U.S. or Canada? The one to whom they sustain the relationship
to as citizens. The relationship begets and circumscribes the
Christians, because they
sustain a relationship to Christ, partake of the Lord's Supper
(1 Cor. 10:16,17). They may happen to be neighbors, parents,
and citizens, but that is not why they have this duty. It is
because they are "in Christ." So with singing in the
name of Christ (Eph. 5:19,20), praying through Christ (1 Tim.
2:5), growing in the knowledge of Christ (2 Pet. 3:18), and giving
to have fellowship in the gospel of Christ and to relieve those
who are saints in Christ (Phil. 1:5; 4:15; 2 Cor. 8:4,5).
As individual duties are
based on relationships, so are the organizations these individuals
form. As the relationship begets and circumscribes the individual's
duty, so with the organizations these individuals formed based
on those relationships.
A group of neighbors may
form an organization to provide for duties that arise out of
that relationship, e.g. the Cancer Society. While Christians
may be part of this organization, so may atheists. The organization
grows out of the "neighbor" relationship, is composed
of people who--whether Christians, Jews, or atheists--are members
of this organization because they are "neighbors,"
and is designed to provide for duties that grow out of that relationship.
A group of citizens may
form an organization to provide for duties related to their government,
e.g., the Democratic Party, or, Republican Party. While Christians
may be members of that organization, the organization does not
grow out of their relationship to Christ but their relationship
to a government. One would not expect that organization to use
its funds to preach the gospel of Christ, but that would not
mean the individuals in that organization were opposed to gospel
preaching. That duty is based on a different relationship.
Now, if Christians band
together to form a group to provide for responsibilities they
share--not because they are citizens, parents, or neighbors--but
because they are "in Christ," the New Testament calls
that a church "of Christ." I would no more expect it
be engaged in cancer research or political activism than I would
the Cancer Society or the Democratic Party to preach the gospel.
It would be foolish to accuse the individuals who compose such
a group as unloving toward those who have cancer or anti-government
just because none of the group funds and activities further cancer
research or a political agenda.
If this reasoning is correct,
it should be supported by the historical facts of what churches
under apostolic direction did and were told to do. Not one statement,
example, or implication can be cited where churches of Christ
in the New Testament engaged in any activities but those "in
Christ"--preaching the gospel of Christ, acts of edification
in Christ, and benevolence to those in Christ (needy saints).
Duties individuals have
are based on relationships they sustain, and the organizations
they form are designed to provide for the peculiar duties growing
out of these respective relationships. This helps us to understand
why a church "of Christ" exists and to understand its
unique "in Christ" activities.
Road, Humble, TX 77396