Jesus asked His disciples “Who do men say that the Son of man is?,” (Matthew 16:13-18). The reply: “Some say, John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets” (16:14). Then Jesus asks “But who say ye that I am?” (16:15). Peter gave this response “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (16:16). Now notice how Jesus responds to the statement Peter just made in answer to the question “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (16:17-18). Paul in his writing to Timothy, made known it was God’s plan to save men through Christ even before the foundation of the world (2 Timothy 1:9). Jesus made it known He would provide escape through a plan that would result in the establishment of His church, His body, bride, the elect, etc. Christ stated there would be one church. Paul in his writings stated that Christ “is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18). In Ephesians 1:22, he stated concerning Christ that God “gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body.” I don’t believe for a moment there is any misunderstanding that the body is the church. In Ephesians 4:4, Paul stated: “There is one body, one Lord, one faith and one baptism. Christ is the Savior of the body (Ephesians 5:22) not many bodies. The body is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians1:18,24). The body, Christ’s church, would be known as “the church of the Lord” (Acts 20:28), “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2; Galatians 1:13), “the house of God” (1 Timothy 3:15), “the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10), and “the kingdom of God” (Acts 28:23, 31). All of these names are scriptural and designate one church / body, the one which Christ purchased with His blood. Christ stated “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Having such authority from His Father, He alone possessed the right to be Head of the church, His singular body of believers (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18). Until next week this is the Scriptural Truth. Tommy O’Kelley Minister Subligna Rd. Church of Christ (706) 638-1129 or (423) 413 – 5319, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The ever popular nursery rhyme “Humpty Dumpty” and its first recorded versions of the rhyme date from late eighteenth century England. The rhyme is about an egg which sat on a wall and fell off. As one might expect, when Humpty Dumpty hit the ground he broke into pieces. Efforts were made to repair Humpty Dumpty but to no avail. The outcome of this rhyme could be applicable to many people today. In a metaphorical sense, people sit / straddle a fence / wall when it comes to a daily walk with Christ. Individuals will lay claim to being converted to Christ, yet their commitment shows otherwise. Perhaps this statement may seem harsh to some or I am being judgmental but what does the scripture state? In Matthew 6:24 we read No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. The word mammon refers to riches, which can be, power, prestige, popularity, possessions and of course money. In Luke 6:43-46 the scripture speaks of good and bad fruit and in verse 46 Christ asks why call ye me Lord Lord and do not the things which I say? In other words, where is the commitment? We also see this in Mat 7:18 & 20 A good tree can’t bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit, one can be identified by their fruits (works). In the rhyme of Humpty Dumpty ones attention is focused on the broken egg on the ground but what if he never sat on or straddled the wall? Would the outcome have been the same? When one straddles the fence with their commitment and life to Christ they too will have the same outcome as Humpty Dumpty. In the book of James we read that faith without works is dead and work requires commitment. Christianity requires commitment, thus it requires work. Christ said to take up our cross daily and follow after him. Are you really living the life you should if you claim is to be a follower of Christ or are you simply straddling the fence? The lesson learned from Humpty Dumpty is not to straddle the fence when it comes to our service to the Lord. Until next week this is the Scriptural Truth. Tommy O’Kelley Minister Subligna Rd. Church of Christ (706) 638-1129 or (423) 413 – 5319, email email@example.com
ow often do we really consider the fact that God is everywhere? When we look around us we see his handiwork and the awesomeness of His great power. When we take for granted the joys this life offers, such as the change of seasons, we take for granted the ever presence of God. We as humans many times try to flee from God and from His presence, especially when we mess up and fall short. A man by the name of Jonah tried to flee from God and was unsuccessful. The flight which he took brought trouble to him and others. In Psalm 139, David penned the words “Where can I flee from thy presence,” certainly David had an understanding that his lies, adultery and murder could not be concealed from the Almighty. The words of Christ shall judge each of us one day and despite our efforts of trying to run from the words there will be no escape. The choices we make today will affect our obedience to God. In the book of Hebrews at chapter ten the scripture states “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” meaning, when our life upon this earth is over the ever present God will hold our eternal fate in His hand. The surrendering of ourselves in obedient love and faith will help keep us from trying to flee from God. Many today strive to find a “workable” means or way of serving and obeying God which does not interfere with their own selfish desires. No man can go before God except through Christ and there is specified in scripture the way in which one is able to be in Christ Romans chapter 6. If you find yourself attempting to flee from God and your life is in a mess try running toward God and submitting yourself to His will. The man Jonah found out quickly the wrath of God can be brutal, as he was thrown overboard from a ship and swallowed by a great fish. The wrath Jonah received is nothing compared to hearing the words depart you workers of iniquity I never knew you. Now is the time to stop fleeing away. Until next week this is the Scriptural Truth. Tommy O’Kelley Minister Subligna Rd. Church of Christ (706) 638-1129 or (423) 413 – 5319, email firstname.lastname@example.org
A great memorial known as “The Vietnam Memorial Wall” is a reminder, to all who view it, of the ultimate sacrifice made by American Soldiers. As one reads the names of those who gave their life during this conflict it sends a chilling effect over the body along with tears to the eyes. The sacrifice was made by many but to a parent who lost their child during this time it becomes a personal and individual testament. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 the apostle Paul reminds us of the words of Christ “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” The Lord wanted his disciples to always remember His sacrifice of love. In the book of Acts 20:7 the scripture states the disciples came together on the first day of the week to break bread. This breaking of bread was not an ordinary meal but that which Christ had instituted himself. The early disciples carried out this remembrance by partaking of these emblems upon the first day of every week. Some today do not follow this apostolic teaching and example and choose to observe this remembrance at special times of the year or special occasions. Notice with me 1Co 16:2 “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” Many understand or see the need to give every week but struggle to see the necessity to observe the “Lord’s Supper,” when in fact, the same wording is used, “upon the first day of the week.” If you are not partaking of the “Lord’s Supper” the first day of every week I ask you why not followed by “why then do you place your offering in the collection plate the first day of every week?” Until next week this is the Scriptural Truth. Tommy O’Kelley Minister Subligna Rd. Church of Christ (706) 638-1129 or (423) 413 – 5319, email email@example.com
As I write this article a squirrel scurries about in search of food, a cool breeze blows across the mountain top while I enjoy the warmth of a fire at our campsite. Some of the simplest things in life bring about the most peaceful times. When I think of true peace the text of Matthew 11:28-30 comes to mind, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Christ wants each of us to have a peace that surpasses all understanding Philippians 4:7. A true peace which Paul describes can only be found in Christ Romans 6. The apostle Paul knew of this perfect peace as he stated in Philippians 1 and the prophet Isaiah described in Isa 26:3 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” How many times is peace sought after with material things of this world which will pass away? The warmth of a fire and nature can truly remind one of the almighty God who created all things. The same God who so loves the world He gave His only begotten son to die in our stead. Do you seek peace which makes life worth living? When one gives them self in obedience to the Gospel true peace is obtained. In Acts 2 we read of those who were obedient to the Saviors call as Peter and the other inspired apostles preached to them. As they obeyed, the Lord added them to his church and then we see a peace like no other as they gathered together in a newness of life seeing to the needs of one another. The Eunuch in Acts 8, after Philip preached unto him Jesus and baptized him for the remission of his sins, went on his way rejoicing because of the peace he now had. You too can have a true peace even in the most troubled times of your life. The book of James states life is short but we know eternity is everlasting. Until next week this is the Scriptural Truth. Tommy O’Kelley Minister Subligna Rd. Church of Christ (706) 638-1129 or (423) 413 – 5319, email firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s that time of the year when new movies are released at the theatres and thousands of folks line up to enjoy some down time and entertainment. One of the new movies ,which has been released, is called “Noah.” This particular movie is supposed to be about Noah from the bible and the Genesis flood which God used to destroy the wicked world of Noah’s time. As people enter into the theatre, it is almost like sheep walking into a den of lions. They are going in under the presumption that what will be viewed on the big screen is basically what really took place. Many will say they know Hollywood will “spice things up” but because of a lack of bible knowledge they will have junk placed in their mind and walk away not knowing any different. It is kind of like the old saying “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” which many believe is truly in the bible when it isn’t. When one fails to see the falsehood in movies such as “Noah” or the foolishness of old sayings which simply are not biblically, it gives satan a strong foothold in an individual life. In the text of 1Peter 5:8 we read “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.” The devil is not going to present himself in full open view but will gradually creep in for the kill much like a lion will do in the wilds of Africa. Movies such as Noah allow such cunning ways. It happened in the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis as satan tempted Eve and gave her just enough of truth so she could not see a bold face lie and recognize the fall it would be. One can guard themselves from satan by means of putting on the armor of God Ephesians 6. To be victorious one must wear the armor daily and be diligent in the studies of God’s holy word 2 Timothy 2:15. For those considering the viewing of the movie, please think twice. The best way to avoid the snare of satan is to stay away from his traps.Until next week this is the Scriptural Truth. Tommy O’Kelley Minister Subligna Rd. Church of Christ (706) 638-1129 or (423) 413 – 5319, email email@example.com
There is an old saying which states. “April showers bring May flowers,” indicating that warmer weather has arrived. As the winter months make their way out and spring pushes its way in, we can be assured the rains will surely follow. In the book of Matthew, chapter 7, we read of two men who built their houses. One man built his house upon a rock foundation and the other built his upon a sand foundation. The rains and winds came and beat upon the two houses, but the weathering of the storm is quite different for each house. Both houses were exposed to the same harsh elements, yet the one built upon the rock is the only house which stood firm. In our lives today, we too face the harsh elements. The rains to come are things such as sickness, loss of job, stress, death, divorce, an unfaithful spouse, and so on. There is not one of us exempt from the rains but how we build our house, our lives, will determine how we weather the storms. In the book of Joshua 24:15, Joshua stated that he and his house would serve the Lord. He decided to be wise and build his house (his life) upon the Lord which is the rock foundation. All that is of this life is but for a fleeting moment and will quickly pass away. How we build our lives today will determine how well we can enjoy the time we have upon this earth and where we will spend eternity. So, I ask you today, is your house, your life, built upon solid rock? If not, will you not make a change in your plans and reposition your life to a solid foundation by obedience to the gospel of Christ? For all who read my articles, rest assured the rains will come but the outcome of your house falling or standing is dependent upon the choice you make today. Christ stated in Mark 16:16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved he that believeth not shall be condemned,” this is the foundation upon which to build. The rains are coming, are you ready to weather the storms? Only a firm foundation can hold the house together. Until next week this is the Scriptural Truth. Tommy O’Kelley Minister Subligna Rd. Church of Christ (706) 638-1129 or (423) 413 – 5319, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The New Year is here and with it our new resolutions. For many, myself included, one of the resolutions on their list is to be rid of unwanted pounds of weight. It is so easy for us to pack on the pounds because of the difficulty of walking away from good food. When we think of excess weight and the delight of eating good food I believe we can certainly make spiritual application. When one considers sin there is no doubt it can be very appealing to us all. When Christ was tempted by Satan he was tempted in all manners as we are. In the beginning Satan tempted Adam and Eve appealing to the same fleshly desires as he did with Christ and as he does with us. In the book of 1Jn 2:16-17 the scriptures state, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abides forever.” You see Satan knows our weaknesses and does everything he can to have us partake. He appeals to us through our physical fleshly desires. It is like placing a big juicy hamburger or hot apple pie before us and telling us to eat and enjoy. We do this in our physical intake of food and it is certainly enjoyable. We do not stop to consider that with each bite we take in all those calories. Calories which our bodies do not burn off and they turn into that unwanted excess weight. As one partakes of sin it too is enjoyable and we do not consider the weight we are putting on as we continue to feast upon what Satan has to offer. I want to encourage you to push away from Satan’s buffet bar of sin he offers and dig into the healthy word of God. Let us all exercise our spiritual lives and shed those unwanted pounds of sin. The scripture tells us of only one way to do this as recorded in Acts 2:28. Until next week this is the Scriptural Truth. Tommy O’Kelley Minister Subligna Rd. Church of Christ (706) 638-1129 or (423) 413 – 5319, email email@example.com
Can A Faithful Christian Celebrate Christmas?
Unless otherwise noted, all scriptures are taken from the King James version
During the Christmas season, questions invariably arise regarding the nature of the holiday and the Christian’s response to it. The many and varied questions usually derive from the one central question that serves as the title to this article. Before giving consideration to the question at hand, let us address some false accusations that are often made against the Lord’s church.
It is frequently asserted that churches of Christ do not think the birth of Jesus is important. Such could not be farther from the truth.
- The birth of Christ facilitated God’s plan of salvation for fallen humanity. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). Obviously, had Christ never been born, the blood would not have been shed!
- The birth of Christ was in fulfillment of predictive prophecy. Hundreds of years prior to His birth, it was foretold Jesus would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:8-10), in the city of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), etc. Each prophecy came to pass exactly as foretold, irrefutably proving inspiration of the Biblical record (c.f. 2 Timothy 3:16).
- The birth of Christ facilitated the abolition of the Old Testament law. “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14). Through His birth and sacrificial death, Jesus became, “… the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises” (Hebrews 8:6).
Another false accusation is that we do not want to honor or remember Christ. I am aware of no religious group more conscientious of remembering, honoring, and serving Christ than faithful members of His church. In accordance with the teaching of scripture (Matthew 26:26-30; 1 Corinthians 11:23ff) and apostolic example (Acts 2:42; 20:7), we commemorate the Lord’s sacrifice every first day of the week by observance of the Lord’s Supper.
The matter of whether or not a Christian can celebrate Christmas lies in what one means by “celebrate.” If by “celebrate”, one means to enjoy the secular, non-religious aspects of the Christmas season, yes. In his book, “Piloting The Straight”, Br. Dave Miller noted:
“In days gone by, Christians understood that God permits participation in national festive holidays as long as unauthorized religious activity does not enter into the observance.”1
In answer to this query, the scholarly Guy N. Woods wrote:
“… it is not possible to determine in what month, or on what day the Saviour was born and inasmuch as there is neither precept nor example for its observance, faithful Christians do not keep it as a religious festival. While some today do regard it as such, many people consider it as no more than a holiday around which many family, social and national traditions have gathered, and there is in it for them no religious implications … Christmas, when thus regarded, is simply an occasion when gifts are exchanged, families get together, and hearts are warmed by the happy festivities.”2
If objection is rendered on the grounds that the holiday is of Catholic and/or pagan origin, one would then be compelled to explain their acceptance and continued use of the calendar whose days are steeped in similar objectionable origins. Sunday derives from the sacred day of the sun. Monday, the sacred day of the moon. Tuesday is the day of Ares (the Greek God of war). Wednesday is “Woden’s day” (a chief idol of mythology, Odin being the Norse counterpart). Thursday is Thor’s day (the Norse god of thunder). Saturday comes from Saturn (the ancient god of seed sowing). Consistency and intellectual honesty demands the person who objects to one object also to the other.
One must readily concede that the etymologies of these words have changed dramatically with the passage of time, their current meanings having little, if any, commonality with their pagan origins. Br. Miller remarks:
“Christians are not responsible for the connotations associated with the long-forgotten origins of a given practice. Rather, what God holds us accountable for are the current cultural connotations”1
If one so desires to erect a Christmas tree, decorate it with ornaments, string lights from their home, etc., purely for aesthetic enjoyment, what scripture do they violate?
Granted, Christians should be wary to safeguard their influence (c.f. Matthew 5:13-16; 2 Corinthians 3:1-2). One would be wise to refrain from any action that associates the Christmas holiday with unauthorized religious activities (i.e. “candlelight services,” “religious plays,” “angels,” “religious ornamentation,” “Christmas trees in houses of worship,” “nativity scenes,” etc.). To participate in things that attach and/or endorse a religious significance to the holiday is to go beyond that which is written (c.f. 1 Corinthians 4:6; 2 John 9). With the erudite words of Br. David Lipscomb I heartily agree:
“We do not believe there is any harm in a social gathering and the interchange of presents and kindly offices among members of the church; but I would never make the impression it was done on the birthday of the Savior nor as a religious service.”3
If, on the other hand, by “celebrate”, one means the observance of the birth of Christ as a religious devotion, we must render objection. The word “Christmas” (a derivation of the proper name “Christ” plus “Mass” – a rite or commemorative ceremony) did not come into existence until the eleventh century (a thousand years after our Lord came to this earth). The truth is well stated by Br. Guy N. Woods:
“The observance of Christmas, as a religious holiday, did not originate in the apostolic age, and is thus without divine sanction.”2
Br. David Lipscomb noted:
“The Bible never authorized any celebration of the birth of Christ. To engage in worship not ordained by God is sin. This we regard as beyond dispute.” 3
Br. Dave Miller adds:
“As a religious holy day, it is unauthorized. Scripture repeatedly stresses religious observance of Christ’s death (Luke 22:19; Acts 2:42; 1 Cor 11:26), but makes no provision for the observance of Christ’s birth. To observe Christmas as a religious activity is to identify one’s self with religious groups that worship God vainly (Matt 15:9). God wants his people to appear to the world separate and distinct from counterfeit religion (2 Cor 6:16-17).”1
If God had intended for His children to celebrate the birth of Jesus, surely He would have given clear and concise instruction to do so. We have no instruction. We have no apostolic example. The scriptures do not reveal the date nor the time of our Savior’s birth. As Br. Lipscomb astutely reminds us:
“About the only thing certain about the time of the Savior’s birth is that he was not born at Christmas time. This is regarded as certain.”3
Contrast this with the death of our Lord. Jesus Himself instituted the Lord’s Supper as a memorial (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:14-20). We have clear apostolic teaching (1 Corinthians 11:23-29). We have approved examples by the early disciples (Acts 2:42; 20:7). Faithful Christians honor, reverence, and remember Christ, not by commemorating His birth, but by observing His death in accordance with the teachings of scripture.
Be it noted that Christmas is not “religious” unless the observer makes it so (evidenced by the millions of atheists who celebrate the Christmas holiday; what deity do they seek to honor?). A Christian violates no precept or ordinance of scripture through the observance of non-religious activities but must exercise caution not to manifest a religious disposition toward the holiday. Can a faithful Christian celebrate Christmas? As a holiday, yes. As a holy day, no.
- Miller, Dave, “Piloting The Strait,” Sain Publications, Copyright 1996, Chapter 25 “Religious Holidays”, Page 258-261
- Woods, Guy N, “Questions And Answers Vol. 1”, Freed-Hardeman University, Copyright 1976, Page 203
- Lipscomb, David, “Questions Answered”, Gospel Advocate Company, Copyright 1921, Page 107
We are at a time of the year when many folks are at the Mall, Walmart and other places shopping for that gift to give someone Christmas morning, I want you to read a made up illustration and ask you to please read this article in entirety and consider the point of my article. Suppose while out shopping an evil, blood thirsty group where you are holds everyone hostage. All the shoppers are panic stricken not knowing what to do. The evil group states their demand of a single life to be given in exchange for the release of everyone else. As time passes you notice your child is missing and is in the grasp of the evil mob. The final words of your child to you and all the hostages are “Remember Me.” The hostages are free, the ransom requirement met by your child on behalf of everyone there. Everyone is devastated by the event but the words of “Remember Me” race through everyone’s mind along with the question of how often should your child’s sacrifice be remembered? In 1 Corinthians 11:24, Christ made this statement “Take eat, this is my body which is broken for you: do this in remembrance of me.” Christ instructs His apostles and the entire world to remember His sacrifice to redeem us from sin. As the reading continues, notice these words of remembrance, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he comes.” How often then should the sacrifice of Christ be remembered, or is there a standard? In Acts 20:7, the scripture states, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread…” These early disciples broke bread the first day of every week as instructed to remember Christ’s death. Many people today only partake of the emblems representing Christ’s body and His blood a couple of times of year, usually Easter and Christmas. Most will say this is done so it does not lose its meaning or becomes boredom. A question to consider, going back to the illustration given, how often would you want your child remembered for their sacrifice of love? God’s Word tells us how often to remember His son’s sacrifice and His story is A True Story. Until next week this is the Scriptural Truth. Tommy O’Kelley Minister Subligna Rd. Church of Christ (706) 638-1129 or (423) 413 – 5319, email firstname.lastname@example.org