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By ANDY DIESTELKAMP
are not told how much time passed between God’s Day Six observation
that everything He had made was “very good” (Gen. 1:31) and the
conversation between Eve and the serpent (3:1-5). Suffice it to say
that it was a relatively short time from the beginning of the world to
the beginning of a problem.|
The world was of God’s making, and the problem was of man’s making.
This is not to excuse the serpent (a.k.a “the Devil and Satan” - Rev.
12:9). We, the created, are all to be blamed (Gen. 3:12-19; Rom.
Some are more inclined to blame God for creating the Tree of the
Knowledge of Good and Evil, its prohibition, Satan, or the world. These
inventive complaints are typical of a culture which demands
independence and autonomy but shuns personal responsibility or bewails
the consequences of its choices. We can’t have it both ways, but this
does not keep us from complaining either way.
Freedom of choice and self-determina-tion bring the inevitable demand
of responsibilities. Freedom from the constraints of responsi- bilities
relegates us to the status of animals under the constraints of
instincts or cages and oblivious to anything different. Having been
created in God’s image, we have freedom, including the freedom to
ignore God’s will and to reason for ourselves.
There is much to be learned from the beginning of the problem of sin
which still has application to us. Satan’s consistent mode of operation
is to take what is good and twist, sully, or otherwise pervert it into
ways to serve ourselves rather than God (cf. Rom. 7:8-13). He does this
through subtle emphasis on the negative (Gen. 3:1), distortion,
contradiction (3:5), and appeals to our flesh and pride (3:6).
|He does this not for our good but for himself (1 Pet. 5:8).|
We recognize the rationalizations Eve used to talk herself into
choosing sin because we have used them ourselves. We have felt the
strong appeal of fleshly appetites. We have been allured by something
attractive. We have desired greater knowledge and understanding. There
is nothing inherently wrong with any of these. Yet, when these wants
and desires trump God’s will, we sin.
Contrast the free but selfish attitude which rationalizes our sins with
Jesus’ equally free but selfless “nevertheless not My will, but Yours,
be done” (Lk. 22:42). Then stand in awe that those selfless words were
said in submission to His Father’s will to make “Him who knew no sin
to be sin for us” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Sin is an ugly word. Efforts to point out sin are often met with
derision and mockery. To many, sin is not ugly but to name something as
sin is ugly (mean-spirited, judgmental, intolerant, unloving, etc.).
This twisted, backward thinking results in the mislabeling of good and
evil which is the signature of Satan (Gen. 3:4,5). Isaiah warned, “Woe
to those who call evil good, and good evil” (Isa. 5:20). Yet, even
among professing believers in God there are those who are inclined to
diminish the seriousness of sin, forgetting the nature of sin and its
“Sin is lawlessness” (1 Jn. 3:4). It is transgression of the law of God. To sinners, sin may seem to be par for the course of
human life (“I’m only human” is the standard excuse for sin.), but to
God sin is offensive and no light problem. It is presented from the
beginning as the preeminent problem because of its end.
|Sin ends in death. God said as much from the beginning. “In the
day that you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Though the
word sin is not specifically used in this context to identify what Adam
and Eve did, it is later referred to as sin (Rom. 5:12-14). While some
are inclined to dismiss eating forbidden fruit as a relatively minor
infraction, God’s Word does not. It is this first sin which opens the
door to all future sin and is the basis of the remainder of God’s
revelation of grace. To diminish sin is to diminish its consequences
and to diminish the love and grace implicit in the solution to the
The word sin is first used in the story of Cain and Abel. As Cain’s
unjust jealousy and anger intensified, God warned him that “sin lies at
the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it” (Gen.
4:7). Sin is personified as a visitor to whom we should not give an
opening lest it rule over us. In disregard of that divine counsel, Cain
murdered his brother and revealed the ugliness of sin and its
association with death. Sin kills.
Sin is a problem common to all, not by inheritance but “because all
sinned” (Rom. 5:12). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of
God” (3:23). The end result is that our sins separate us from our holy
Creator (cf. Isa. 59:1-3). In the day that Adam and Eve sinned, they
were removed from the garden of God and from access to The Tree of Life
(Gen. 3:22-24). Sin “brings forth death” (Jas. 1:15). While death is
the end result of the problem of sin, thank God this is not the end of
the story. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God
is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).
323 E. Indiana Avenue, Pontiac, Illinois 61764
By DAVID DIESTELKAMP
are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be
hidden” (Matt. 5:14). Like it or not, want it or not, as Christians we
radiate. Jesus Himself says our role is illumination, and it does not
make sense to think we can or should turn that light on and off when we
feel like it. His darkness-dispelling brilliance in us cannot be hidden
anytime or anywhere.
Never have these words of Jesus been more needed than in our age of the
internet and social media. The internet teems with promises of apparent
anonymity, celebrity, relationship, information, entertainment, and
influence. That we are Christ’s light of the world can easily get lost
in the confusion. We must not forget that Christ in us should be
visible in our online presence. Here are some things to shine:
“You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14)
means that we can impact a wide audience. What we say and post online
is rarely private. Think of everyone— friends, enemies, unbelievers,
people you hope to influence someday—seeing what we post and assuming
it is a reflection of Christ. Generally, the internet is a hill on
which what we post cannot be hidden.
“Do all things without complaining and disputing…” (Phil. 1:14). We
cannot shine light through a filter of darkness. If we are set on a
hill and hate our lives—our bodies, our weather, our jobs, our enemies,
our government, our finances, our families, our church, the DMV—what
darkness are we dispelling? Christlikeness changes us in practical,
daily-life ways which enlighten rather than depress others.
Second Thessalonians 2:9-12 describes those who perished “because they
did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” Our
love of truth begins with Scripture and might be saved.” Our
love of truth begins with Scripture and spreads to everything in our
lives. Urban legend, gossip,
unsubstantiated claims, pseudo-science,
and ancedotal evidence are not
| adequate proof on any topic for lovers
of truth. Sharing or liking falsehoods on any topic can dim the
confidence of others in the light of truth we project to the world.
Speak Truth in Love
“…speaking the truth in love” is one of the goals of letting our lights
shine (Eph. 4:15). There is a time for strong rebuke, mocking, and even
ridicule, but social
media paints with a broad brush and reaches a wider audience than those
deserving of a tirade. This does not mean being silent or politically
correct. It means replacing position statements with Biblical arguments
and flippant rhetoric with strong Scripture used in context. Our
responses to our world should radiate the fact that we love God and
others enough to show them the gospel.
God is All
It has never been easier thanit is now to forget Jesus during daily
life. Does what we post and “like” ever hint that “All things were
created through Him and for Him”? (Col. 1:16). Social media offers us a
sense of popularity, even celebrity if we get enough friends or
followers. And people care about what we eat, drink, and wear! Do our
pages shine self-centeredness, materialism, or even narcissism, or do
they reflect thankfulness to God for all we have from Him to use in His
We are not invisible or neutral online. When we go on the internet we
need to remember: “You are the light of the world. A city that is set
on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matt. 5:14). We don’t have to only post
Scriptures and Bible lessons, but our comments about everything from
politics to the weather should reflect a different mindset, a different
light, from that of the world. With my apologies to James 1:19—may we
be swift to hear, slow to wrath, slow to post.
940 N. Elmwood Dr., Aurora, IL 60506
By AL DIESTELKAMP
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|Having grown up using the King James Version of the Bible, I
continued to rely on it in my study and preaching for several years.
Then I tried some of the more modern translations for a while, but I
was not with satisfied until I bought a New King James Version in 1983.
I have been using this translation ever since.
After a few years, normal wear-and-tear demanded that I replace it.
Because I had learned to find passages based on where they are on the
page layout, I wanted a new copy of the exact same edition. However, as
is the practice of Bible publishers, the Thomas Nelson company had
discontinued this edition, so I began searching for “used, but not
abused” copies. This has become almost an obsession for me as I
purchase every copy I can find and afford.
|Just recently, I was able to purchase a copy online that was
advertised as “used, but in excellent condition”—and indeed, it is.
When it arrived, I immediately noticed that the genuine leather cover
was pristine, the gilded edges of the pages unworn, and the ribbon
tucked in just as one would expect of a brand new Bible out of the
What I found next made me sad. I opened it to the “presentation” page
which read, “This Holy Bible presented to Kimberly by Mom and Dad,
December 1983.” Clearly, loving parents had given this Bible to their
daughter, but it remained unread in the intervening 30+ years.
Kimberly’s parents had given her what could have been her most valuable
possession in the world, but it appears that she received no benefit from it.
|I suppose it’s possible that Kimberly already had her own
Bible and—like me—just preferred a different edition. We can only hope!
If my worst fears are true, Kimberly’s failure to use the gift her
parents gave her is not unlike Esau who “despised his birthright” (Gen.
25:34). Esau’s decision to trade something as valuable as his
birthright changed the whole course of his life, which an inspired New
Testament writer described as “profane” (Heb. 12:16). Esau “found no
place for repentance” (v.17), but we can only hope that such is not the
case with Kimberly.
260 N. Aspen Drive, Cortland, Illinois 60112
By MATT HENNECKE
Word of God is an amazing, life-changing tool. Consider for a
moment the apostle Paul. When we are first introduced to him, he is
described as “young” (Ac. 7:58). His youth may have contributed to what
seems to be a certain cockiness. He seems to have been a self-assured
young man who seemingly “knew it all.” It is not unusual for young men
(and women, too, I guess) to see everything as black and white, right
and wrong. Paul (or Saul as he was then called) was certain that
Christianity—like Christ—had to be eliminated. Acts 9:1-2 reveals
Saul was obsessed with threats and murder: Self assured. Cocky. A
know-it-all. And flat out wrong.
As he journeyed to Damascus, he had his first dose of humility. A light and a voice cast doubt
where before there had been none. For three days he ate and
drank nothing. His journey of humility had begun. He was baptized into
the very Body
which he had sought to destroy. Talk about eating
crow. Imagine the shame and the dawning realization of just how wrong
he had been.
But Paul’s journey of humility had only begun. His own writings reveal
the transformative power of the Word. The Word is amazing, for it first
convicts us and then lifts us. Paul’s trans- formation—indeed, his
journey of humility—is seen in his writings. Note the progression: In 1
Corinthians, 15:9, written about 56 AD, he calls himself the “least of
the apostles.” This was still an elite group of men. The least of
twelve is still pretty good company. It would almost be like saying,
I’m the least of the Super Bowl champion team.” But, then note what he writes
five years later in Ephesians 3:8. He says he is “the very least of all
saints.” The circle of comparison has gotten larger—much larger—but is
still comprised of a minority. Then two years later he writes,
came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all”
(1 Tim 1:15).
In his own words, we learn that Paul has been completely humbled. How
did this journey of humility come to be? By exposure to the Word. By
the constant contact with the inspired Word, Paul was changed. If we
will let it. Such is the transforming power of the Word. Paul was
transformed by the Word and the Word will transform us so that we will
have our high self-opinion replaced with total gratitude for
Christ; and thus humbled we will
become, as Paul did, vessels of
18410 Standwick Drive, Louisville, KY 40245
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By KARL DIESTELKAMP
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mourn the death of a Christian, a fellow laborer in the kingdom of
Christ, a gospel preacher, and my friend and brother. The loss of
association is ours to bear; he has finished his course and departed
from this world into the care and keeping of Almighty God to await the
Dave Girardot was born October 6, 1943, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and
died February 12, 2016. Early in the 1970’s, Dave was having some
concerns about the Roman Catholic doctrine in which he had been raised
when he met Clifford Sheffield, a gospel preacher. Sheffield referred
him to me since Dave and his wife lived in West Allis, Wisconsin. Dave
and I began to study the Bible together, and it was immediately
apparent that he was eager to find the truth he had missed out on in
his upbringing. It wasn’t long until his wife Annette joined our
studies around their kitchen table. After a number of studies he obeyed
the gospel. Annette was also baptized into Christ a short time later.
They were members of the West Allis church, and from that time forward
they were a team to teach the gospel and to be examples to others. Six
months after Dave obeyed the gospel, my wife and I moved from Milwaukee
to Kenosha but kept in touch with the Girardots.
At that time, the West Allis church experienced a series of trials which included being without a preacher part of the time and the
|who moved away or chose to worship with other
congregations. Two years after obeying the gospel, Dave Girardot began
working full time with the West Allis church. He faithfully continued
this work for forty years until just prior to his death.
Dave’s Catholic background did nothing to prepare him for this work;
but he prepared himself by diligent study of his Bible. He was
determined only to teach and stand for that for which he could give
scripture. He possessed an excellent recall of what he learned and had
the ability to cut through discussion of some position being advocated
to focus on a critical point someone was missing or had overlooked.
Dave did not seek the limelight but patiently did the work of an
evangelist. Over time he became well known throughout Wisconsin and the
upper Midwest and was appreciated for his humble, kind, and thoughtful
manner of life. He was easy to get to know, easy to get along with, and
easy to talk to; he had a strong sense of compassion for lost souls. He
travelled out of the country to preach in Romania, Slovakia, the Czech
Republic, Jamaica, Turkey, The Netherlands, China, and last of all,
Tanzania in eastern Africa.
Being a man with strong faith and convictions, Dave was not a
“rubber stamp” for anyone. If someone questioned or challenged him, he
would state his position, giving scripture, and then ask
challenger, “Where does the Bible authorize what you are teaching and
practicing?” He and I travelled together a lot in efforts to establish
churches or encourage new congregations. Altogether, over the years, we
urged for and planned for ten different “unity meetings” among divided
brethren. I knew when we discussed a point of scripture that Dave would
give it his “best shot” with a straight, reasoned, thoughtful response.
Stricken with rapidly-spreading pancreatic cancer did not lessen his
faith or dim his desire to share the gospel and his confident hope. On
the day of his first surgery for cancer, a doctor spelled out in
graphic detail the dangers, possible complications, uncertainty of
success, and its consequences. Dave’s response was, “Whatever happens,
I’m okay.” Some of us heard him express this three times. That is
“hope.” “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints,”
He is missed by his faithful wife Annette who not only was at his side
throughout their life together but was his dedicated caregiver right up
to the end, by his children, grandchildren, and by a host of us who
counted him our fellow worker in the kingdom, our brother in Christ,
and our true friend
8311 - 27th Ave., Kenosha, Wisconsin 53143
By LESLIE DIESTELKAMP (1911-1995)
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people think, “What will be, will be.” By this they mean that God has
predestined what will happen in our lives. For instance, some say,
“I’ll not die until my time comes,” meaning that God has set a date and
time for each person’s death. However, the Bible does not teach a
doctrine like that. In fact, it teaches the very opposite.
“The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of
strength they are eighty years…” (Psa. 90:10). Notice that seventy
years was given as a typical lifespan, but if one is stronger he could
expect to live another ten years. A definite date is not set by God.
Solomon wrote that “time and chance happen to them all” (Eccl. 9:11).
In other words, various circumstances affect length of life. A decree
from God has not been made. We may do various things to alter the
length of our lives. Many proverbs advise wisdom, but if everything is
already predetermined there is no purpose at all in attaining wisdom. God may providentially guide our lives and He will hear our
prayers, but He
|leaves much of life entirely in our hands to do with it
as we will. He grants every advantage, and all opportunities are ours
because of His goodness, but life on this earth is still what we make
it. It is up to us to choose the Lord’s way.
Some people think that God has chosen certain people to be saved, and
others to be lost. Actually, the Lord has indeed foreordained that only
the obedient will be saved. Furthermore, He has predestined that all
the obedient will be saved. This is the extent of the doctrine of
predestination as taught in the Bible.
The apostle Paul refers to some who were predestined to adoption into
the family of God (Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:5). He has also said “God from the
beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit
and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel…” (2
Thess. 2:13-14). From these passages we can see that those who are
chosen by God are the ones who are called by the gospel, who believe
it, and are thus sanctified by the Spirit.
|God does not pick out certain individuals to save regardless of their
condition. He receives all who come to Him through obedience to truth.
That is, He saves those who hear the gospel, believe it and become
obedient so that they may be pardoned.
Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk.
16:16). Of course, no one will be baptized properly unless he first
hears the gospel and believes it.
Peter said, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name
of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Ac. 2:38). Peter also urged
diligence “to make your calling and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:9). Yes,
salvation is a gift of God, but salvation is also conditional. It is
for the obedient. God has predestined that He will surely save those
who hear His call through the gospel, believe and submit to it.
This article first appeared in
the Aurora Bulletin, February, 1965
By AL DIESTELKAMP
Brother Yater Tant once reported that in a Bible
class the teacher asked if anyone could explain why Paul was chosen to
be an apostle when there were an even dozen men (counting Matthias)
filling that office. After thoughtful deliberation, one
brother (an older man and longtime member) opined that it was probably
so there would be an uneven number, and Paul could break the deadlock
“in case of a tie.” Brother Tant wondered if such a brother had
adequate mental capacity to be accountable before God.
It reminds me of how some brethren are reluctant (and sometimes refuse)
to appoint elders in a congregation when there are two men who
qualify—unless a third is found “in case of a tie.” This attitude is
likely an outgrowth of church business meetings patterned
after Robert’s Rules of Order instead of applying principles
found in the Bible. God never intended for a church to function by
Qualified elders will come to a consensus and
make no decisions strictly on how many favor something. In
congregations lacking elders, the same attitude ought to
exist—consensus ought to take place. Of course, when referring to
congregational decisions, we are referring to those which have not
already been made by the Lord as revealed in the New Testament.
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