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like me you sometimes find yourself becoming dissatisfield with your
personal prayers to God and want to do something about it, it would be
good to go to some of the psalms of David. Many of the psalms are
actually prayers that can be adapted to fit our own life situations.
Such is the case with Psalm 143.|
1 Hear my prayer, O Lord,
Give ear to my supplications!
In Your faithfulness answer me,
And in Your righteousness.
There are at least twelve New Testament passages
which assure us that God hears and answers prayer (i.e., 1 Jn.
5:14-15). Why then do we ask God for what He has already promised? It’s
not because we don’t believe God will keep His promise. It’s like a
child asking his parents to protect him even though they have assured
him time and again that they are there for him. Or it’s like a wife
asking her husband if he still loves her even though he vowed to do
so “till death do they part.”
2 Do not enter into judgment with Your servant.
For in Your sight no one living is righteous.
This is a confession of fault from “a man after
God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14). Like David, we must acknowledge that
none of us is able to prevail in front of a just judge. As it is
written: “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). It is true
that one day we will all have to stand before God in judgment (Heb.
9:27); but like David, I don’t seek justice; I seek mercy.
3 For the enemy has persecuted my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in darkness,
Like those who have long been dead.
4 Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me.
My heart within me is distressed.
This was likely a time when David was in exile, hiding from King
Saul. He felt as if he had been crushed. He was forced to dwell in
caves that are more suited as graves. He felt overwhelmed!
|How blessed we are by the lack of physical persecution. Not all
Christians in the world can say this. But keep in mind that we, too,
have no assurance that such persecution will not come to us in future
days. Are we prepared?
5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Your works;
I muse on the work of Your hands.
6 I spread out my hands to You;
My soul longs for You like a thirsty land.
Maybe David longed for the “good old days” when he was lauded as a hero
in Israel. You know, when he stood before a giant and said, “I come to
you in the name of the Lord...” (see 1 Sam 17:45-47); or when women
danced in the streets, singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and
David his ten thousands” (1 Sam. 18:7). Like David, we need to thirst
for God’s help and “spread out our hands” in prayer.
7 Answer me speedily, O Lord;
My spirit fails!
Do not hide Your face from me,
Lest I be like those who go down into the pit.
8 Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness
in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in
which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You.
When David felt his own spirit failing, he called on God not to hide
His face from him. He feared an untimely death and called on God’s
lovingkindness to take him through the night. He expressed trust in the
Lord and asked to know which way to walk. No matter the circumstances,
we need to trust the Lord and ask for guidance in the way we walk.
9 Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies;
In You I take shelter.
10 Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.
|David depended on God as his shelter and asked to be “led” in the right
way. King Saul was not David’s only enemy. Like us, he had a much more
formidable enemy in the person of Satan. Even if one is able to escape
his human enemies by his own wit and might, he would be foolish to
think he can defeat Satan by himself.
It is imperative to recognize who our real enemy is. Our only hope in
defeating him is to seek God’s help. We must take “shelter” in God and
rely on Him to lead us in uprightness.
11 Revive me, O Lord, for Your name’s
For Your righteousness’ sake bring
my soul out of trouble.
12 In Your mercy cut off my enemies,
And destroy all those who afflict
For I am Your servant.
David had confidence that God in His mercy would save him from his
enemies because he served God. For us, God has put an end to the force
of our enemy through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son
Consider David’s words in other psalms:
4 Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for You are the God of my salvation.
11 Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in your truth.
God will judge the world in justice, but He offers mercy to all who
serve Him. Let us serve God by being “doers of the word, and not
hearers only” (Jas. 1:22).
260 N. Aspen Drive, Cortland, Illinois 60112
By DAVID DIESTELKAMP
craved righteousness for his family so much that he regularly got up
early and sacrificed for each of them just in case they had sinned. If
they had, Job wanted them forgiven. If they had cursed God, Job sought
His mercy. If their hearts weren’t right, Job wanted to atone for it.
These are a lot of ifs. Job thought about God like the Psalmist: “For
You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all
those who call upon You” (Psa. 86:5). So in faith we pray and sing,
If I have wounded any soul today,
If I have caused one foot to go astray,
If I have walked in my own willful way,
Dear Lord, forgive!
(Charles H. Gabriel, An Evening Prayer)
wondering if we show the character of God in forgiving
others—especially in the area of ifs. What do we do when someone says
to us, “If what I did was a sin against you, I apologize.” “If I
offended you, I’m sorry.” “If I showed hate in my heart toward you,
forgive me”? The
often is, “IF!? Do you realize what you did? Do you see how much pain
and suffering you produced!? How can you say, ‘If’? There’s no IF about
Ephesians 4:31-32 has a lot to say about forgiveness: “Let all
bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from
you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Sometimes it
is hard to forgive because bitterness, wrath, anger, and malice are
being savored in our hearts because we feel the offender deserves
punishment rather than mercy. Clamor (fighting) and evil speaking
(slander) are how the world naturally responds when people do terrible
things, but we are not of the world. We are to respond in a radically
“…forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph.
4:32). We do our best in our service to our Lord, but we still aren’t
perfect —imperfect faith, imperfect obedience, imperfect
repentance, imperfect confession. We are drawn to God’s
perfection, but we still have to join David in pleading to God, “Who
can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back
Your servant also from presumptuous sins…” (Psa. 19:12-13). Do we
forgive others in the same way we ask God to forgive us? Does the
apology have to beworded
precisely as we think it should be? Must it be the first and the last
time to merit our forgiveness? (Matt. 18:21-22) Can there be no ifs
Jesus asked if we only love those who love us, only do good to those
who do good to us, and only lend to those who can repay us, how are we
any different from the world? (Lk. 6:32-34) Following Christ makes us
radically different, and that includes forgiving as He forgives. Is how
we forgive any different from how the world forgives? Are people amazed
when they see how we forgive, get past relationship problems, and
maintain fellowship and unity? God’s grace is amazing! His children’s
grace should be amazing too!
940 N. Elmwood Dr., Aurora, Illinois 60506
|Sailors in Foxholes
By STEVE FONTENOT
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do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the
discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). I am a
“father”—would you allow me to discipline your child as I deemed best?
Why not? Because I am not the “father” of your
boy or girl? Granted. Now, suppose I was a boy scout troop director and
your boy was in my troop. Would you agree that I would then have some
authority over that boy—based on this relationship?
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands” (Eph. 5:22). I am a
“husband”—would you allow me to tell your wife how to spend the grocery
money, what clothes to buy, etc.? Why not? Because I do not sustain the
relationship of “husband” to that
woman? Agreed. However, if I owned a business and your wife worked for
me, you would agree I then would have authority over her based on the employer-employee relationship? And my
|authority would begin and end on the basis of that relationship, right?
“I exhort the elders among you...shepherd the flock of God among you”
(1 Pet. 5:1,2). This oversight would include the members of that flock
desiring to have fellowship with a preacher by supporting him (Phi.
1:1; 4:14-16), or the members of that flock needing relief and
receiving funds from other Christians (Acts 11:27-30). Money sent from
that flock for the work of Christ, or received for that flock for the
work of Christ would fall under these elders jurisdiction. However,
what about money that neither came from that flock nor is for that
flock? Are “elders” given jurisdiction over brotherhood projects? Is
not an elder’s oversight based on his relationship to a particular
church—the one “among you”? And does not his authority as a “shepherd”
begin and end in the sphere of that
|relationship? When elders “assume”
the oversight of anything beyond the local church of which they are
shepherds, are they not “assuming” without Divine authority?
Fathers are not functioning as “fathers” when they exercise authority
over children other than their own. Husbands are not functioning as
“husbands” when they rule women other than their own wives. Elders are
not functioning as “elders” when they exercise authority over the funds
of churches other than the flock “among them.”
To call men “elders” when exercising oversight over anything but “the
flock among them” is somewhat like speaking of “sailors” in foxholes.
Both belie the true situation. One is a departure from God’s plan.
18542 Crestline Rd., Humble, TX 77396
Are Only Members of The Church of Christ Saved?
By ANDY DIESTELKAMP
would you answer the title question above? Admittedly, it is a loaded
question. How it should be answered depends, in part, on what the
questioner means by “The Church of Christ.” A typical answer to the
question often involves pointing to scriptures that emphasize that the
church is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22,23) and that there is only one
body (4:4). This is a fair answer if the questioner means to ask, “Are
only those who are members of Christ’s body saved from their sins?”
However, if the questioner means, “Are only those who are part of a local
‘church of Christ’ that is sound in doctrine and practice saved?,” then
the foregoing answer is misleading because it uses scriptures
pertaining to the “universal church” to answer a question asked about
the necessity of having a relationship with a “local church” for
Indeed, what many who ask such a question may really
be asking is, “Are only members of the Church of Christ denomination
saved?” In this case, the answer requires the correction of some
misunderstanding. First, it must be noted that—relative to Jesus
Christ—the word church is
used in two distinct ways in Scripture: 1) the body of all saved in
Christ, 2) a group of professing disciples of Christ who assemble
together to edify (1 Cor. 14:1-5), motivate (Heb. 10:24,25), and submit
to one another (Phil. 2:1-5). Second, neither of these two distinct
usages of the word church support or imply any kind of denominational organization.
A denomination is most simply defined as “a religious organization
uniting in a single legal and administrative body a number of local
congregations” (Webster’s 7th New Collegiate Dictionary). No such
“body” is revealed in Scripture. Denominations are the invention of
men, not the design of God. This is why they should be opposed.
The church of Christ is
pictured as a body (as already noted), but this one church is not
pictured as “a body made up of a number of local congregations.” If we
picture the church of Christ as being a religious organization uniting in a
| single body all the
scripturally-sound, local congregations, then we have a picture that is
just as unscriptural and unsound as any other denominational structure.
In Scripture the body of Christ is consistently pictured as being
comprised of individual saints as members (Rom. 12:4,5; 1 Cor. 12:12)
and never local churches. This distinction may seem like a minor
technicality; yet its disregard has led many to justify denominational
structures and led others to oppose those denominations with bad
answers that essentially amount to teaching that Jesus‘ promise to
build His church (Matt. 16:18) was actually a promise to build His
Some who identify themselves with “The Church of Christ” have left the impression that only
those who faithfully attend a “sound Church of Christ” are saved. Does
Jesus have churches (plural) which belong to Him? Most assuredly, as is
evident from the oft-cited “the churches of Christ salute you” (Rom.
16:16). However, if some think this warrants the picture of the one
church of Christ being the uniting in a single body of a number of
local congregations, then they are more denominational than they will
admit, and this contributes to the confusion. It is no wonder then that
the impression has been left with many that members of the Church of
Christ denomination think they are the only saved.
Salvation is only found in Jesus Christ. We do not get into Christ through the church much less a church. Quite the opposite, we get into the one church through
Jesus Christ. When we respond to the gospel of the grace of God in
faith and repentance and submit to being buried into Jesus’ death in
baptism (Rom. 6:3) and into His name for the remission of sins (Ac.
2:38), we become sons of God (Gal. 3:26,27), are raised to walk in
newness of life (Rom. 6:4), and are added to the one group of those who
have done likewise (Ac. 2:41,47).
Are only members of the one church of Christ saved? Yes, because the one church of Christ is the body of those saved in Christ Jesus. This one church of Christ is not a denomination comprised of local churches of Christ.
all those who are part of a local “church of Christ” also members of
the one church of Christ? No. Indeed, like Sardis and Laodicea of old,
there are some among churches of Christ who imagine they are
spiritually alive or rich simply because they are part of a group that
has “the right name,” “the right doctrine,” and “the right forms of
worship.” But we do not connect with God by connecting with churches.
We connect with God only through Jesus Christ. It is important that we
understand and appreciate this.
Are only those who are a part of “sound churches of Christ” saved?
Again, the answer is no. This is demonstrated to be true by Jesus‘ own
words to the dead church in Sardis. “You have a few names even in
Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me
in white, for they are worthy” (Rev. 3:4). For this we can all be
thankful. Salvation is not based on connection to a local church, a
group of churches, or a particular restoration movement. Salvation is
based on one’s connection to Christ.
Does this mean that it is of no importance as to what local church one
joins himself? No, it means that one’s relationship with God is through
Christ and is not inherently dependent on the congregation to which one
joins himself. Still, we must
beware to what local church we join ourselves because “evil
companionship corrupts” (1 Cor. 15:33). This stern warning was written
to the same local church that was also told earlier that “a little
leaven leavens the whole lump” (5:6) and was admonished in a later
letter to “not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Cor. 6:14).
Indeed, many other first century churches were imperfect groups of
saints and sinners who needed to repent and were duly warned to do so
or perish (Rev. 2 & 3). Interestingly, not one of those churches of
Christ remains today, but the
one church of Christ does. Therefore, our loyalty must always be first
to Christ and His body to which we have been added by His grace and not
to the local churches to which we temporarily join ourselves during
323 E. Indiana Ave., Pontiac, Illinois 61764
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|Speaking Truth 'With Grace, Seasoned With Salt'
By AL DIESTELKAMP
of us can testify that there are certain foods that are not very
palatable without adding some salt. Even the scriptures quote Job’s
rhetorical questions, “Can flavorless food be eaten without salt? Or is
there any taste in the white of an egg?” (Job 6:6).
The Holy Spirit guided the apostle Paul to use our knowledge of this to
illustrate the need to use wisdom, gentleness, and tact in our
conversations: “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming
the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt,
that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:5-6).
While Paul’s primary focus in this text is on our conversations with
“those who are outside,” I doubt that anything less would be expected
when speaking with brethren. In fact, he makes this clear in another
epistle, urging Christians to “keep the unity in the bond of peace”
(Eph. 4:3) by “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). The wisdom of
Solomon testifies that “The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious”
(Eccl. 10:12), and “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word
stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1).
are some foods that I hate, and no amount of salt is going to change my
mind about it. Similarly, most of the world does not love truth. Jesus
declared Himself to be “the truth” (Jn. 14:6) and, as such, “the light
of the world” (Jn. 9:5). But He warned that men “loved darkness rather
than light” (Jn. 3:19). Our task is to try to change people’s “taste”
from “darkness” to “light.” In doing this our speech must “always be
with grace, seasoned with salt,” all the while realizing that
gentleness and tact will not make truth palatable to those who love
Unfortunately, even some whom we may call “brethren” don’t care much
for truth. Paul wrote of an approaching apostasy causing people to
“perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they
might be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10). They who did not receive the love of
the truth had actually refused the truth in exchange for a lie so they
could have “pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:12).
To love the truth is to regard it, which does not always equate with liking it. Truth is not always likeable. Truth sometimes hurts. It sometimes saddens. It may disappoint or discourage. But even so, it is still to be loved.
with truth comes responsibility, and love of the truth demands change.
If while trying to reach a destination, I find that I have been
misguided as to the route I must take, or I have mistakenly taken a
wrong turn, learning the truth may be unpleasant; but it benefits me if
I regard it. In spiritual terms, this is called repentance. There’s no
virtue in being unyielding.
Too Much Salt
Dieticians often warn about the dangers of the overuse of salt.
Regardless of the health risks, we know that too much salt defeats the
purpose of making food palatable. In our pluralistic society which has
taken political correctness to the extreme, there is the danger of our
speech becoming so gentle and tactful that the power of truth is missed
altogether. We do people no favor by altering truth in an effort to
avoid hurt feelings and also risk causing genuine truth-seekers to gag
at our lack of conviction. We can
“contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3) without being contentious,
by speaking the truth in love and using speech with grace, seasoned
260 N. Aspen Drive, Cortland, Illinois 60112
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|'He Could, If He Would'
By LESLIE DIESTELKAMP
when one fails to reach a goal, others say of him, “He did what he
could.” It is indeed praiseworthy if a person has done that much, even
though more was needed. If one truly did all he could, he deserves
Regretfully, we notice that more often it is said, “He could have done
it if he would.” Most of us just don’t nearly measure up to our
abilities. There are those who could make the Bible classes better by their attendance and attention, but they don’t. Some could improve the effectiveness of the Sunday night assemblies by coming as they do in the morning, but they don’t.
|Many people could improve the ability of the church to send out the gospel message to lost humanity, but they don’t, and as a result there isn’t enough money to support all the workers who would go into the fields.
Some churches could help send a preacher into a needy field, but they don’t because they are too concerned about buildings, carpets, and the physical things, forgetting the true significance of the spiritual nature of the house of God (1 Pet. 2:5).
This article was first published in The Aurora Bulletin, October, 1964
|Springfield Congregation Begins Meeting
June 7th, marked the first worship assembly for the new congregation in
Springfield, Illinois. Initially, the house pictured here (located just
a few blocks away from the state capitol) will serve as the
meetingplace for the church as well as the home of Ken & Penny
McDaniel. A cordial welcome is extended to area residents and travelers.
Bible study 9:30 a.m.
Worship 10:30 a.m
1035 S. 2nd Street Springfield Illinois 62704 • 217-761-9442
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