Being LIKE God

drl

David Lemmons

WHEN are WE Most Like God? Could it be We Are Most Like God: AS SOON AS WE ARE BORN?

When are we most like God? Not sure that there is a definitive answer to this great question, but I would like to consider it briefly in this article. I suspect one correct answer would be as soon as we are born. At that particular point in our development and growth, we have not sinned. God and sin are not compatible! God can’t even be in the presence of sin according to Isaiah 59.1-2. Even though our Calvinist friends consider that little baby to have inherited Adam’s sin and that the baby has sinful blood running through the veins, they CANNOT sustain that presumptuous idea with book, chapter, and verse. Also, if this Calvinist position were true, how is it that Jesus could make the following statement: SUFFER LITTLE CHILDREN AND FORBID THEM NOT, TO COME UNTO ME: FOR OF SUCH IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (Mt 19.14)? Obviously, Jesus does not consider little children to be mired in sin!

Could it be We Are Most Like God: WHEN FORGIVING SOMEONE?

When are we most like God? If we search for another point in time when I am most like God (not exactly, but most like), perhaps we would suggest: THE TIME WHEN I AM FORGIVING SOMEONE. Isn’t that a fairly obvious answer? Isn’t the entire Bible about forgiveness. Searching for a theme or purpose line for the Bible, it would be hard to beat the one I was taught at the Brown Trail Preacher Training School. I think the original source of this statement might have been Roy C. Deaver. The purpose line that runs throughout the Bible from Genesis 1.1 through Revelation 22.21 is: The glory of God and the salvation of man through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Yes, we serve a God who loves us and who wants every single one of us to be saved. He actually wants to forgive us of our many sins. Can we substantiate that claim? Yes, of course we can. Notice 2 Peter 3.9… The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Notice here that the inspired Apostle Peter wrote that God does NOT will that any of us should perish! The Apostle Paul wrote—1 Timothy 2.1-4… I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. Through the writing of the Apostle John we are informed that WHOSOEVER WILL can come and take of the water of life freely (Rev 22.17).

God is willing to forgive; God desires to forgive. How can we conclude anything except that from these three passages, and then added to them, statements that we find on just about any page to which we might casually open up our Bibles?

Matthew 18 is a great chapter about FORGIVENESS. It is the chapter where Peter asks the important question of Jesus: HOW OFT SHALL MY BROTHER SIN AGAINST ME, AND I FORGIVE HIM? TILL SEVEN TIMES? (Mt 18.21).

Does God REALLY CARE if I AM LIKE GOD–FORGIVING?

In the study guide for Matthew 18 which I sent to the website today, I have included a rather lengthy discussion about the question: Are we to extend this forgiveness without limit and condition as some claim? The answer to that question is NO, but I will let you read that discussion on your own (You can find it by clicking H-E-R-E). What Matthew 18 is chiefly concerned about is getting you and me to understand how very important it is for us to be working to develop a FORGIVING ATTITUDE. Does God really care all that much if we are  forgiving of others?

There is no way to read and study carefully Matthew 18 without coming up with a resounding YES as answer to that question. I would just challenge you to open up your Bible to Matthew 18 when you get home from the assembly and read these 35 verses.

After Jesus gave Peter an answer to his question (UNTIL SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN), He presented The PARABLE of the Unforgiving Servant (Mt 18.21-35) as a further magnification of that answer.

How crystal clear Jesus was as He presented this parable to His precious disciples! Do we think enough about forgiveness? Do we understand it well?

If we are lacking in our understanding of the importance and value of forgiving others, one great place to begin a study is Matthew 18.21-35.

As I was studying this great chapter this week in preparation for the radio program, I came to appreciate more fully a certain fact revealed in this parable about forgiveness. That is: what the REAL PROBLEM was that was plaguing the unforgiving servant. His real problem was that he lacked understanding of HOW VERY MUCH HE OWED. Burton Coffman, in his commentary on Matthew put it this way: “The fault of the unmerciful servant was his failure to realize the enormity and absolute hopelessness of his debt. His earnest promise to repay it showed that he did not have the slightest conception of how much he owed.”

In another reference I included in the study guide, there was an attempt to put into focus how great that debt owed by the unmerciful servant really was. If we put it in years of work it would take to repay the debt, one estimate has it as: 273,973 YEARS! In other words, Jesus was telling us we owe a debt that we cannot pay for being able to get forgiveness of our sins.

Let’s all think seriously about the matter of forgiveness. Isn’t it truly the case that when we are willing to forgive a brother or sister or a neighbor or friend, that this is the very time that we are MOST LIKE GOD?

–by David Lemmons

Balance

Balance

Balance can be a real challange! “It was Friday night, 15 June, 2012. Millions watched the ABC television network as 33-year old Nick Wallenda (largest of the two falls that make up Niagara Falls) on a two-inch cable. Though others had crossed the Niagara River in a similar way, he was the first to cross directly over the falls. The mist and winds about halfway across were Wallenda’s biggest challenge in completing the historic event” (*Gromstyn). Wallenda’s effort was an amazing feat requiring incredible balance, among other things. One has to be amazed at the determination and focus necessary to complete such an enormous undertaking. New Testament Christians are called upon by Scripture to live lives that are balanced.

It is not an easy thing to remain balanced in following the Savior’s example and being guided by the inspired Scriptures. It is the delight of Satan to cause Christians to become unbalanced or out of balance as he hurls his fiery darts toward them (Eph 6.16). Satan’s challenge must be used as motivation for faithful Christians to seek, with great zeal, to be balanced. Paul gives assurance that the necessary equipment to stand the onslaught is available (Ephesians 6.11-18), but will it be used? One of the more difficult matters of seeking balance is the task of understanding just exactly what balanced living is. Christians have not been given impossible expectations to achieve. Jehovah God is not a God who tantalizes, but One who expects from His people that which is indeed possible.

The word BALANCE is found in the King James Bible eighteen times, but only one of these is a New Testament text (Rev 6.5). All of the occurrences of the English term pertain to a device for measuring weight. In none of the uses of the word in Scripture does the word refer to a quality of life or state of being which New Testament Christians are to seek. This latter fact does not mean that balance is undesirable or unnecessary for success in living the Christian life. Balance, as being used here, is somewhat difficult to define. In one dictionary, the fourth of fourteen definitions of the noun form is as follows: “A state of equilibrium or equipoise; equality in amount, weight, value, or importance, as between two things or the parts of a thing.” Without a proper understanding of the meaning of “balance,” the term becomes a source of much confusion. It is possible that someone who is entirely out of balance may conceive of himself as being perfectly balanced. Some may thing of balance as a vital and positive attribute while others might deem it to be just another descriptor for compromising the truth. When Christians speak about balance, there is a need to communicate clearly what is intended in using the term.

Is there another way of thinking about the kind of balance that New Testament Christians are to be seeking? The general concept of balance seems to have a lot to do with a reaction to the tendency of ranking certain commands or teachings as being more important or vital than others. When a given command or attitude is ranked above others, normally there will follow the response of specializing in that particular command or attitude. Often this specializing results in neglecting other parts of God’s will for faithfulness. Sometimes this develops into “riding a hobby” or more often simply failing to realize what has been done. Ultimately, this latter course leads to becoming unbalanced, perhaps all the while claiming perfect balance. Is not the better plan to be a generalist with regard to applying Scripture to life? What about considering the weighted end of the balance scales as the ENTIRETY OF GOD’S WORD and placing application of that word on the side to be measured? To this model for balance, the words of Jesus conform: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12.48). On Judgment Day, having rejected NONE of the Savior’s words will be the ground upon which the saved shall stand by the grace of God.

* Gromstyn Alice and James Michael S. “Nick Wallenda Walk.” ABC News. ABC News Internet Ventures. 16 June, 2012. Web.

Part of a sermon David Lemmons preached at MSOP Lectures in 2013.

Acts Study Guides

ActsActs is the history book of the church. In June of 2013, we studied this great book on our radio program, WALKING IN TRUTH. At that time, we uploaded study guides for each chapter as we considered the 28 chapters on the radio. Scroll down to find these individual PDF files listed and linked.

 Curtis A. Cates wrote the following about the wonderful Book of Acts… “The Acts of the Apostles is very informative and is of great significance. Furthermore, the position it occupies in the New Testament is unique. The second work addressed to Theophilus by Luke (the first being Luke’s record of the Gospel), Acts, carries history from the ascension of Christ to Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, following up the book of Luke, which is a narrative of things concerning Jesus the Christ. Acts is an invaluable and indispensable historical link, or bridge between the life of Christ, as recorded in the Gospel records, and the New Testament

Epistles. The information was necessary to give a divinely inspired account of the establishment and phenomenal spread of the primitive church. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John build faith in the Head of the church, Jesus Christ; Acts records the continuing in the apostles’ doctrine and the identity, the organization, the discipline, the persecution, and the endurance of the church. It is truly the capstone, the pivotal book of the New Testament. It is tragic that a lack of understanding and study of this book has led the religious world, for the most part, to fail in their understanding of how to enter the kingdom. The tremendous influence of Christ continued after His terrestrial life was completed. Following His ascension to glory, Christ sent the Holy Spirit, who empowered the apostles with the Gospel and with the ability to confirm the message. Christ had now begun His reign over His kingdom, and the apostles were exercising the keys of entrance thereinto, beginning on Pentecost of Acts 2. The apostles were beginning their task under the great commission, which task was to preach the Gospel to every creature, beginning at Jerusalem (Mt 28.18-20; Mark 16.15-16; Luke 24.47; John 20.30-31). They revealed the answer to man’s universally critical question, “What must I do to be saved?” What tremendous assistance is this book of conversion when the New Testament church in the 21st century labors under the same universal mandate!” [Curtis A. Cates, “Acts—An Introduction,” in Studies in Acts, Editor: Dub McClish, 1985, p. 11ff].

 Study Guides are available for each chapter of Acts:

Chapter 1…  Chapter 2…  Chapter 3…  Chapter 4…  Chapter 5…  Chapter 6…  Chapter 7…  Chapter 8…  Chapter 9…  Chapter 10…  Chapter 11…  Chapter 12…  Chapter 13…  Chapter 14…  Chapter 15…  Chapter 16…  Chapter 17…  Chapter 18…  Chapter 19…  Chapter 20…  Chapter 21…  Chapter 22…  Chapter 23…  Chapter 24…  Chapter 25…  Chapter 26…  Chapter 27…  Chapter 28

Check out this article: Are There Modern-Day Apostles, by Dave Miller

Mark Study Guides

MarkMark, the second book of the New Testament, is the shortest of the four accounts of the Gospel of Christ. The book of Mark is a historical record of the life of Jesus of Nazareth with an emphasis on His works more so than on His words. Mark contains a record of nineteen miracles that Jesus worked, but only four parables are recorded. ‘Of the miracles two are peculiar to Mark, of the parables only one.’ The events found in this book are in rapid succession. There is a sense of swiftness and urgency in the activity of Christ. Twice in the book we are told that the disciples had no time to eat (3:20; 6:31). One Greek word is used forty-one times to express the idea of rapid activity in the book; in English that word appears in seven ways: ‘immediately,’ ‘anon,’ ‘forthwith,’ ‘by and by,’ ‘as soon as,’ ‘shortly,’ and ‘straightway.’ Jesus is portrayed in Mark as hastening with energy from one task to another. … We cannot determine the date of the writing of this book with precision. It is certain that this book was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, which occurred in A.D. 70. This is true because of the prophetic warning of Jesus recorded in Mark 13 concerning this event. There is general agreement that the book was written somewhere between A.D. 50 and A.D. 68, probably around A.D. 65. … Omitted from the record of Mark are the birth of Jesus, His genealogy, and His childhood. The Sermon on the Mount is also not mentioned. Though Mark’s book is brief, it is nonetheless full of vivid details not given in the other accounts of the life of Christ  [Lester Kamp, “Mark—An Introduction,” in Studies in Mark, Editor: Dub McClish, 2002, p. 18ff].

Study Guides are available for each chapter of the great Book of Mark:        Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9Chapter 10Chapter 11Chapter 12Chapter 13…    Chapter 14Chapter 15Chapter 16

For a little QUIZ about the writer of this book, go H-E-R-E.

White Already to Harvest

by David Lemmons

WheatFieldWhiteSmall

What a useful, important, beautiful word picture Jesus paints for you and for me in John 4.35ff. Surely this passage needs to be our source of deep meditation and challenging motivation to be involved in, to the greatest extent possible, the PRIMARY work of harvesting souls.

Please read more by clicking H-E-R-E.

The Wonder Remains

by David Lemmons

DRL Note: This article was written a while back, but on a Saturday night, it might help us prepare for worship tomorrow. I also recommend going to THE LIGHT NETWORK to listen to or view the program READY TO WORSHIP

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My Source: North Marshall Messenger, Volume 4, #42, August 15, 1999

Author: David Lemmons

File Under: Worship; Drama Groups
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The Wonder REMAINS
by David Lemmons

In a book entitled, In Search of Wonder, A Call to Worship Renewal, edited by Lynn Anderson and published by Howard Publishing Company in 1995, there is a chapter written by Rubel Shelly. Brother Shelly’s chapter has a long and very revealing title, “Where Has All the Wonder Gone? A Responsible Challenge To Our Traditions.” According to Ron Harper, who reviewed the book in the 1997 Freed-Hardeman Lectures, the major concern of this chapter is contemporary worship.

Of course the title under which brother Shelly writes speaks volumes about his own idea and evaluation of worship in churches of Christ. He is convinced, and is desperately waging war against the Lord’s church to try to convince as many others as he can, that our worship is LACKING. I would like to express an opposing view under the heading, “The Wonder REMAINS.”

As he calls for contemporary worship, Shelly is in favor of the use of drama. As an example of it consider the account of a communion service at Woodmont Hills. Worshippers closed their eyes as twenty people acted out the sounds of the crucifixion. Sounds heard at Woodmont Hills’ communion service included: people screaming out CRUCIFY HIM; the sounds of the lash on His back; nails being driven through His flesh.

I have always preached about the beauty and simplicity of the memorial which Jesus left for us to observe each Lord’s day. Have we some defect of mind in the 20th century that we must have dramatic assistance to accomplish that for which Jesus gave us a reminder? Does anyone doubt that drama existed and was important in the culture of the first century? Why do we not read of any such communion service as was held at Woodmont Hills in the New Testament?

Of course, the implication that is inescapable for those who participate in a service similar to that at Woodmont Hills, is that the pattern given in the New Testament is not sufficient for our modern time. We must ADD drama to make our worship full of wonder. I totally reject the heretical idea that the Lord’s Supper needs to be propped up with man’s drama!!!

How often have we pointed out that religious people in general fail to respect the authority of Christ? Where is the respect for Christ’s authority demonstrated in the cry for the addition of drama to worship? It is a most unfortunate circumstance that even among churches of Christ there is this same lack of respect for the teaching of Colossians 3:17.

In view of what my Lord has endured for me, I surely believe that I have enough power of concentration to go back to that scene at Golgotha minus the aids of the sounds made by twenty actors! To defend such foolishness on the basis of bringing back the wonder of worship is the silliest sort of silliness.

Where is the authority of Christ for the use of drama groups in our worship to God? It is a fact indisputable that the world loves entertainment and that crowds of people can be drawn by it. However, do we disregard the will of the Lord just to draw a crowd? Surely we can remember the statement of our Lord regarding which way the crowd is headed.

Matt 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Why then should it appeal to us in any way whatsoever to have unauthorized drama in worship? What difference ought it to make to us that a crowd can be drawn by drama?

Oh, but there is the argument (?) that people can be reached by drama in ways that traditional teaching methods sometimes fail to do. Perhaps this is true–however I am not convinced. I do know this–PREACHING WAS A PART OF FIRST CENTURY WORSHIP (Acts 20:7; 2 Timothy 4:1-5). This is the God-approved method of dispensing His truth. Where is His stamp of approval for using actors to do so? Please consider these words from Dave Miller in Piloting the Strait…

The Bible everywhere represents God communicating
His word through preachers–not actors. God wants
His word presented very simply through oral
proclamation without the distractions and inventions of
man (1 Cor 2:1-5). Those pushing for drama in the
worship are essentially declaring to God that His way
of communicating His will is inadequate, defective, and
culturally obsolete. The ultimate effect of this alteration
will be a devaluing of preaching.

Certainly, as a preacher, you might expect me to value preaching, but any faithful Christian ought also so to value God’s chosen means of communicating His will.

I am truly saddened that attacks have been made on God’s plan for worship. Brethren, let’s get away from the concept that those who sit in the pew are the AUDIENCE for worship. It is only God who is The Audience for our worship. He has told us in His word that which He desires us to do.

May I make a suggestion for study for any who have a problem seeing the WONDER of worship as God ordained it–STUDY MORE ABOUT THE GOD WHO IS THE AUDIENCE FOR OUR WORSHIP. How can we know what God has revealed about Himself in His written word, the Bible, and fail to be awe-struck with tremendous wonder that He should seek us to worship Him (John 4:23-24).