Articles published in 2000

Below is a summary of articles written by Elder Neil Phelan for the Malvern newspaper. They are numbered according to publication order. To see the complete article simply click the title. You can also jump to other newspaper article collections using the menu on the left or search for words in the Google search engine. Soon we will complete a topics page, to help you find articles that way. 

#68 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

“Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  Quench not the Spirit.  Despise not prophesyings.  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.  Abstain from all appearance of evil”- I Thessalonians 5:16-22

One of the great themes of the Bible is starting over.  To begin afresh with a heartfelt desire to do better is a most profitable endeavor. It is one of the most wonderful opportunities that God’s grace affords the believer.  It is by His grace that we recognize our need for improvement.  It is by the same grace that we will be able to accomplish the task. Surely, we all have many areas that need improvement.  As one of our songs declare:

“Oh may we all improve, the grace already given;

And wear the crown of perfect love, And show we’re heirs of heaven!”

Paul closes out his letter to the brethren at Thessalonica with several Christian encouragements that we might continue in or…

#69 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS (Part 2)

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS (CONT.)

“Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  Quench not the Spirit.  Despise not prophesyings.  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.  Abstain from all appearance of evil”- I Thessalonians 5:16-22

With his “Quench not the Spirit”, the apostle here warns us of a fault that must be common among God’s people.  To quench the influence of the Holy Spirit is something that we are all prone to do.  The thought is very suggestive.  It presents one throwing water upon a fire that is providing light and warmth.  The result is darkness and coldness.

Many times it is fear that drowns the flame within; sometimes it is pride or some other inward struggle.  The heart must be searched as we consider the source of our greatest hindrance.  The Thessalonians were persecuted from without and fear had gripped the hearts of many, hindering their fervent devotions.  This fear…

#70 New Year's Resolutions (Part 3) 

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS (CONC.)

“Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  Quench not the Spirit.  Despise not prophesyings.  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.  Abstain from all appearance of evil”- I Thessalonians 5:16-22

The Apostle further calls upon us to “Prove all things”.  This means to “try” or “examine” what has been preached.  Is it truth or “cunningly devised fables”?  Is what has been preached the wisdom of God or the wisdom of man?  Did it come from scripture or from the minds of men?  God’s true ministers would encourage his hearers to compare their teaching with God’s world.  They would encourage every believer to own a Bible and search it out.  Paul’s “prove all things” means, “Don’t be taken in” by false apostles or false doctrine.  Prove it!

Apparently, there were those at Thessalonica who were prone to believe any thing that they heard.  Luke compares them with the…

#71 WHY JESUS CAME

WHY JESUS CAME

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins”-Matthew 1:21

Three glorious truths were revealed to Joseph from his angelic messenger, three certain “shalls” became wonderful words of comfort.  Had mortal man spoken these words, Joseph might have wondered concerning the truth that was revealed concerning his present plight.  But the truth from God’s messenger set him free from his worries concerning Mary and the Child that was to be.  Surely, it must remain a comfort to sinners today who seek comfort from the law that they can not keep, “he shall save his people from their sins.”

The “shalls” of the angelic messenger will reveal much.  It tells us that the thing is certain.  God will have His way, He has predetermined the outcome.  Satan and all of his forces could not change even one of these glorious truths.  Though Herod would be moved to destroy Him; though Pilate would agree to His death; God’s…

#72 “DISCIPLESHIP, A NOBLE PROFESSION”

“DISCIPLESHIP, A NOBLE PROFESSION”

“So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple”-Luke 14:33

Being a disciple of Christ is the most noble profession that a person may ascribe unto.  In God’s eyes, it is more important that being a famous movie star, a successful athlete, a corporate executive, a millionaire, a president or a king.  While the merits of man will be covered by the sands of time, it is the disciples and their humble testimony that God has recorded in His word, a testimony that will shine throughout eternity.  

This word, “disciple”, is used to describe the followers of Christ more than any other term in the New Testament.  While the word Christian is used but three times in the New Testament to describe the followers of Christ, “disciple” is used over 250 times.  This is the word that Jesus chose to depict His most ardent followers.  It must be important!  

The term “disciple” means learner.  Therefore, a true follower of…

#73 “THE TREASURES OF THE SNOW”

“THE TREASURES OF THE SNOW”

“Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? Or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war”-Job 38:22,23

In His treatise upon creation, God would ask Job and his friends if they had considered a gift that we all may enjoy: the “treasures of the snow.”  By this religious exercise, Job and his friends would find their hearts stirred and their actions rebuked as they were reminded of God’s wisdom, His majesty, His sovereignty and His power.  For just a moment, let us enter with Job and his friends into just a few of “the treasures of the snow.”

HIS WISDOM AND MAJESTY

Last week, we beheld one of the many splendors of God’s creation: “the treasures of the snow”.  In just a few moments, the earth was canvassed with tons of beautiful, downy crystals of ice.  We are told that no two snowflakes are identical.  Who, but God, could invent such a thing.  Man must mass produce many…

#74 "Making Melody in Your Heart"

"MAKING MELODY IN YOUR HEART”

"Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord"-Ephesians 5:19


The singing of "spiritual songs" is a vital part of the worship service.  It is not a prelude for the sermon, nor did God design it as a time allotted for the gathering of the congregation.  It is not a time that God winks at.  It is worship in and of itself.  If we miss this portion of worship we have missed much, for many times the unction of he Holy Ghost may be felt as genuinely during the song service as during the prayer and the preaching.  Though we should never replace preaching and prayer for this mode of worship alone, it is important that we understand the necessity of it.  

SPEAKING TO YOURSELVES

It has been said that there is something wrong with people who talk to themselves.  But in reality, that is what we are doing when we sing the songs of Zion.  "When you sing", writes Paul, "you are Speaking to yourselves". …

#75 How we are born again

"HOW WE ARE BORN AGAIN"

"The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit"-John 3:8

Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, has come to Jesus by night making his confession, "We know that thou art a teacher come from God."  He came at night, fearing his privileged position among his Jewish brethren.  He preferred his seat in the synagogue above fellowship with Christ.  But a confused teacher we find him to be concerning how we are born again, "How can these things be?"

Every expression that we find in the Bible concerning the new birth reveals God's sovereign act of mercy when one is born again.  They depict man as passive, dead in sin, unable to make a spiritual movement until the Lord comes with healing in His wings.  In our scripture today, Jesus uses "Born again".  Paul uses quickened(Ephesians 2:1), regeneration(Titus 3:5); and translated(Col. 1:13).  Peter also uses…

#76 "The Sovereignty of God"

"The Sovereignty of God"

And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion isan everlasting dominion, and his kingdom isfrom generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth arereputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and amongthe inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou? Daniel 4:34-35


The book of Daniel is a book about the sovereignty of God.  Each chapter reveals how God overrules the designs of angels(the armies of heaven) and men(the inhabitants of the earth) as He brings His sovereign councils to pass.  It reveals that history is really HIS STORY unfolding unto an expected and predicted end.  Though our text is taken from the confession of a heathen king, I could find no better scripture to depict the sovereignty of God…

#77 "THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS"

"THE PURSUIT OF HOLINESS"

"But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy"-1 Peter 1:15-16


The desire to do better, the pursuit of holiness, is an evidence of grace.  I believe this holy desire is found in the bosom of all of God's children.  Some curse it; many try to ignore it; nevertheless it remains.  It will not go away.  In regeneration, God has written the command upon the heart.  Our feeling is confirmed by scripture.  I can not make such a statement because I am not holy.  Only God can make give such a command.  Nevertheless, the command has been made and our joy is found in the keeping of it.  

The commandment does not mean that God expects perfection; that we can live above sin for, "If we say that we have not sinned, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us"-I John 1:8.  Nor does it mean that every child will obey.   Consider Lot.  His later conversation was worse than his first. …

#78 "THE OLDEST HERESY AMONG CHRISTIANS"

"THE OLD HERESY"

"And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved"-Acts 15:1

In Acts 15, we find the apostles disputing over one of the oldest heresies among believers: salvation by works.  The false apostles had disturbed the flock and taught them, "Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved"-Acts 15:1. 

This is a dangerous doctrine.  It split the Baptist denomination in the early 1800's.  David Benedict's, "Fifty Years Among the Baptists", reveals the changes brought into the camps of the Baptists in his day.  Prior to this split, there was one Baptist faith in this country.  They embraced the great doctrines of God's grace.  To divide God's people is Satan's desire.  I find many today who know of distant relatives that were numbered among those old believers.  I dedicate today's article to their faith, hoping their posterity will search it out and return to the…

#79 SALVATION

FIVE PHASES OF SALVATION

"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved"-Acts 4:12

When we speak of salvation, we speak of Christ, for in Him we find salvation in every form and fashion.  The very name, Jesus, means Saviour: one who delivers; one who saves.  Whether we look for salvation from the evils of this present life, or salvation from the eternal consequences of sin, Jesus should be sought very diligently as the object of our faith because, "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved"-Acts 4:12. 

THE ETERNAL PHASE

Concerning our eternal destiny, salvation began long before man appeared upon the scene.  This phase of our salvation occurred in heaven, in eternity past.  Therefore, man is passive in this phase of salvation.  It involves God's foreknowledge, election and predestination: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of…

#80 "THE LITTLE FOXES, THAT SPOIL THE VINES"

"THE LITTLE FOXES, THAT SPOIL THE VINES"

"Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes"-Song of Solomon 2:15

The church of Christ is a noble vine.  It is the place where noble fruit is born, the tender grapes of God's spirit: "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance".  Since this is a love song, we should know that the fruit the vine bears is in proportion to the love they have for their great husbandman, Christ. In his "Song of Songs", Solomon relates the many earthly distractions that will attend such fellowship, distractions that rob us of our joy and the fruit that may abound in our lives.  Such are the "little foxes that spoil the vines."

I have never seen a BIG fox.  The biggest fox is still a small creature.  But what mischief such a small creature can cause among the vines.  They come out at night, unexpected and unnoticed, and gnaw on the vines of the tender plants hindering the flow of sap…

#81 "THE NECESSITY OF PREPARATION"

"THE NECESSITY OF PREPARATION"

"And five of them were wise, and five were foolish"- Matthew 25:2

The parable of the ten virgins presents a noble occasion, a wonderful opportunity.  The Bridegroom is paying a special visit to His bride and her attendants.  Five of them were wise: they prepared for His visit.  Five of them were foolish: they had not prepared.  That was their foolishness.  The parable is to the bride of Christ, the church in every age.  Let us learn from our Bridegroom the "Necessity of Preparation."  

WISDOM TEACHES US TO PREPARE

In 1976, the Hoosiers basketball team went undefeated capturing the NCAA title.  When interviewed by 60 Minutes, their leader, Bobby Knight was asked, "Why is it, Bobby, that your basketball teams at Indiana are always so successful?  Is it the will to succeed?" "The will to succeed is important," replied Knight, "but I'll tell you what's more important-it's the will to prepare.  It's the will to go out there every day, training and building those…

#82 "PLEADING THE PROMISES"

"CLAIMING THE PROMISES"

"Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me"-Psalm 119:49-50

Here we find the psalmist in the posture of prayer.  From his language we find that his soul has been severely afflicted by something or someone.  But in the midst of his affliction he has found comfort.  Hope has arisen in his heart because he has read something in scripture, "thy word", that suits his particular need: he has found a precious promise and he claims it as his own.  He has found a promise and claimed it as his own!

GOD'S PROMISES

I love God's promises.  His word is packed with promises to His children.  Peter refers to them as "exceeding great and precious".   One man counted them and said that there were 7,487 promises of God to man.  Another said that there was a promise suited for every trial and affliction.  There are promises for husbands, for wives, for families, for nations, for…

#83 "IN THE VALLEY"

"IN THE VALLEY"

"And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water"-Genesis 26:19

Wells of springing water are seldom found on the mountain top.  We must descend into the valley.  Such we will find in our spiritual exercises.  Though we all love the mountain top experiences, we cannot live there, the air is too thin.  I have met those who claim they dwell there all the time.  But I can not claim such an experience.  Through much digging some water may be found upon the mountain, but "springing water" will be found in the dark valley.  Have you been there? 

The mountain is the place for celebration, but the valley is the place of learning.  It is in the valley that we learn more about God and His Son, as well as ourselves.  It is a place of spiritual eyesight.  No one wants to be in the valley.  It is a frightening place.  For there dwells doubts, fears, depressions, guilt and sorrow.  But all of these may be assessed accurately and disposed of properly…

#84 "A HAPPY OCCASION"

"A HAPPY OCCASION"

"I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord"-Psalm 122:1

I can not think of a better occasion than the one David has before us.   This beautiful expression of his love for the Lord's house is found in one of the short 'Psalms of degrees'.  There are fifteen Psalms of degrees and they were thought to have been sung by Israel as they journeyed toward the temple in anxious anticipation of meeting Jehovah in worship.  Today, let us imagine that we are walking together, tribe by tribe, singing with one voice and one heart, "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord."

EVIDENCES

To be anxious to meet in God's house is an evidence of grace, a mark of spiritual maturity.  Some might say, "I don't know if God loves me or if He even knows that I exist."  What wonderful evidences we find here!  It means that God has done something special for you.  The desire to be in God's house comes from the drawing influence of the Holy…

#85 "OUR VICTORY IN CHRIST"

"OUR VICTORY IN CHRIST"

"O death, where isthy sting? O grave, where isthy victory? The sting of death issin; and the strength of sin isthe law.  But thanks beto God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ"-I Corinthians 15:5-57

Our Lord Jesus has never failed in anything He has attempted.  We see figures of Him in David as He stood before Goliath; in Sampson as he pulled the walls down upon his enemies; and Moses as he led his people safely to the promised land.  Our Lord stood before many cruel enemies: Herod; the high priests; the mob; and Satan himself  all they bent their powers to destroy Him.  But the climax of the battle was yet before Him.  He must face death and the grave.  

Death and the grave are cruel enemies.  They are no respecters of age or persons.  Death robs the cradle, the home, the hand and the heart.  From the tiny infant to the hoary head, both rich and poor, bond and free, death and the grave claim their victims every day, every hour, every…

#86 "THY WORD IS SETTLED IN HEAVEN"

"THY WORD IS SETTLED IN HEAVEN"

"For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven"-Psalm 119:89

What is your opinion of the Bible?  Do you question its authenticity?  Do you read it with a skeptical eye?  Do you wonder if some of the passages have been tainted through the ages or if they are really supposed to be in there?  Do you feel that some of the statements are archaic, that they do not meet the needs of our present day?  Have you been led to believe that some of the writers were prejudice concerning race, religion or gender?  I am sure that these questions, and many more, plague God's people as they read the greatest Book that has ever been written.  We must not allow Satan to plant seeds of doubt in our minds.  Let us approach God's word with confidence and trust knowing that God has spoken to us through His word; He has not changed His mind; He is not going to change His mind; what is written is written for our good; the matter is settled in God's mind and it should be in ours…

#87 "THE FAITH OF OUR FATHERS"

"THE FAITH OF OUR FATHERS'"

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good report"-Hebrews 11:1,2

Faith is a powerful weapon.  It is a part of the Christian armor.  Paul refers to it as the "Shield of faith".  As the warrior would hold his shield before him as he advanced in battle, the Christian holds his faith ever before him as he marches though this world.  Simply put, faith is believing that God will do what He has said.  That is why faith is so powerful.  It attaches itself to God by one or more of His promises.  This eleventh chapter of Hebrews is appropriately titled, "The Faith Hall of Fame".  As we read it, we discover that it was by faith that the Saints of old, the "elders", attached themselves to God and obtained a "good report".  Let us learn from our "elders".  

UNDERSTANDING BY FAITH

"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God"-v3.  Faith goes against our natural…

#88 "THE FAITH OF OUR FATHERS" (part 2)

"THE FAITH OF OUR FATHERS"(Cont.)

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good report"-Hebrews 11:1,2

Today, let us continue to learn from our "elders" as we examine other faithful men and women found in our "Faith Hall of Fame".  Great encouragement may be found in this little chapter as we see how God's people, in other ages, overcame great trials by their faith in God.  Let us begin with Noah, from whom we will learn that fear and faith work together for our good.  

BUILDING BY FAITH

"By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house"-v7a.  Though many will scoff at God's little children for believing in things that they can not see with the natural eye, the greatest feats that have ever been performed were accomplish by faith.  By faith, Noah, the amateur ship builder, constructed a boat that survived the greatest storm this earth has ever…

#89 "THE FAITH OF OUR FATHERS" (part 3)

"THE FAITH OF OUR FATHERS"(Cont.)

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good report"-Hebrews 11:1,2

From our faith hall or fame, we have learned from our "elders" that faith enables us to do many things.  Thus far we have learned that we offer by faith; we please God by faith; faith teaches us to fear God; and today, we learn from Abraham that we obey by faith, "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went"-Hebrews 11:8.

FAITH IS UNCOMFORTABLE TO THE FLESH

Living a life of faith is not a comfortable lifestyle.  Though we may talk about being faithful, if we are honest, we find ourselves surrounded with many doubts and fears when put to the test.  Consider Noah's experience.  Abraham was called upon to do something that was very uncomfortable to the flesh.  Leave all that he knew.

Imagine that!  God…

#90 "THE FAITH OF OUR FATHERS" (part 4)

"THE FAITH OF OUR FATHERS"(Cont.)

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good report"-Hebrews 11:1,2

Not only did Abraham's great faith enable him to obey God as he walked away from all that he knew, it altered the way he looked at life. After his conversation with God, Abraham could no longer call earth his home.  He resided as a stranger,  "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God"-Heb. 11:9-10.  Sojourn means to reside as a stranger.  Though Abraham enjoyed the earthly promises that God had made him, he looked not upon them as permanent.  He began to feel a little uncomfortable here.  He no longer saw earth as a permanent residence!

FAITH ALTERS OUR AFFECTIONS

Having been touched by the divine hand and moved by the…

#91 "THE FAITH OF OUR FATHERS" (part 5)

"THE FAITH OF OUR FATHERS"(Cont.)

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  For by it the elders obtained a good report"-Hebrews 11:1,2

As we continue our study in  faith's hall of fame, we find that men are not the only ones that God calls upon to exercise faith.  Many faithful women have graced the halls of time with their uncompromising love for God.  Several we will discover in this chapter of faith.  Today, let us consider the faith of Sarah, the wife of Abraham, "Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.  Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable"-Hebrews 11:11,12.  From Sarah, we will discover the strength of faith. 

THE STRENGTH OF FAITH

Faith is a powerful force.  The confirmation of this power…

#92 Come Apart as Rest a While

"COME APART AND REST A WHILE"

"And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat"-Mark 6:31

Tuesday was a beautiful day.  The sun was shining, the birds were singing and there was a crispness in the air which reminded me of fall.  A couple of the brethren and myself had met that morning to enjoy a time of fellowship and get a little R & R around the golf course.  We had only played a couple of holes and I already felt as if I had been on a vacation.  I could not have felt more relaxed had I been 1000 miles from home.  As we enjoyed the beauty of God's creation and some brotherly fellowship I thought about the practical instruction that Jesus gave to his disciples, "And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat" –Mark 6:31.  This suggestion came at a…

#93 "THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE MOST SURELY BELIEVED AMONG US"

"THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE MOST SURELY BELIEVED AMONG US"

"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those thing which are most surely believed among us"-Luke 1:1

A few weeks ago, I began a series of messages entitled, "The things most surely believed among us."  I began with the doctrines of grace.  Our first message was on the great subject of election, taught by the apostles and handed down through the ages in scripture.  The first thing we noticed about election is that it is unconditional.  

UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION

What does the Bible mean when it declares that election is unconditional?  It means that God did not choose a people, love a people, and redeem a people based upon their performance, ability or any good works that He foresaw.  It shows us that God chose His people in spite of their sin and redeemed them from their sin.  In types and shadows, Jacob and Esau are the examples that Paul uses to prove this, "For the children being not yet born,…

#94 "THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE MOST SURELY

"THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE MOST SURELY BELIEVED AMONG US"(Continued)

"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those thing which are most surely believed among us"-Luke 1:1

Among those things most surely believed among us, we will find the doctrine of predestination listed among the beautiful doctrines of God's grace.  C.H. Spurgeon once said, "I question whether we have preached the whole counsel of God, unless predestination with all its solemnity and sureness be continually declared."

The biblical words, "predestinate" and "predestinated" are translated from the Greek word proorizo which means: "to predetermine or declare before"  Surely, God is able to do that.  If God were not able to orchestrate the affairs of men and angels, how could He bless men to prophesy future events before they came to pass;  and how could Christ have fulfilled the many messianic prophesies concerning Himself?  Men will allow the almanac to predict the proper season to plant…

#95 "THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE MOST SURELY

"THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE MOST SURELY BELIEVED AMONG US"(Continued)

"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us"-Luke 1:1

The doctrine of total depravity is another of those things which are most surely believed among us. This doctrine teaches the total inability of man, not born of the Spirit, to do anything good or acceptable in the sight of God.  While the humanistic view of man will present every man with a little good in him, a biblical examination will give us a report quite the opposite.  

PAUL'S AUTOPSY OF MAN

In Romans, chapter three, Paul performs an autopsy on the natural man and gives us his report.  He begins by saying, "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one."  No matter what kind of math we use, that is a big zero.  Then Paul begins to examine man from head to foot:  "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way,…

#96 "THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE MOST SURELY

"THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE MOST SURELY BELIEVED AMONG US"(Continued)

"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us"-Luke 1:1

The doctrine of limited atonement is also found among the doctrines of those things most surely believed among us.  When we say limited, we do not mean that God is limited, nor are we saying that the mediatorial work of Christ upon the cross was incomplete.  Limited atonement means that the atonement of Christ was limited only to the objects of His grace, those chosen and loved before the foundation of the world. 

ATONEMENT

Atonement means to 'restore to divine favor'.  God's people were adopted from the fallen family of Adam and placed in the redeemed family of God, a place of divine favor, by the redemptive work of Christ upon the cross.  The Old Testament day of atonement is a type and shadow of our day of atonement as Jesus, by His one sacrifice, forever put away the sins of His…

#97"THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE MOST SURELY

"THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE MOST SURELY BELIEVED AMONG US"(Continued)

"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us"-Luke 1:1

Irresistible grace is most surely one of the things believed among the Saints in every age. Grace is simply unmerited favor; blessings bestowed upon the undeserving. Irresistible means that the objects of God's grace are completely passive in the blessings and benefits bestowed.  It must be that way.  How else could proud and stubborn rebels ever be brought to the place that they would call upon God and reverence His Son?  John Newton, the writer of the beloved hymn, "Amazing Grace", was arrested by the Holy Spirit while at sea engaged in the ignoble profession of slave trading.  He was not attending a church, nor was he sitting under the sound of the gospel when his heart was convicted concerning his sin.  That power was irresistible.  The divine influence of the Holy Ghost convicted…

#98 "THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE MOST SURELY

"THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE MOST SURELY BELIEVED AMONG US"(Continued)

"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us"-Luke 1:1

We conclude our exposition of "those things which are most surely believed among us" with a brief view of the glorious doctrine which concerns the preservation of the Saints.  This doctrine highlights the fact that all of the elect of God shall be kept by God and shall be eternally saved; though they may walk in darkness and disobedience, losing their joy of their salvation in their timely existence, they can never be lost eternally.  Jude addresses his epistle to such a people: "to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and Called."  

I can think of nothing that comforts God's people more than knowing they are in Christ Jesus and that they shall never be removed from such a position.  How did they get in Christ?  They were chosen "in Him before the…

# 99 "A PLAIN PATH"

"A PLAIN PATH"

"Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies"-Psalm 27:11

Here we find David in a fervent posture of prayer.  It seems that many decisions are before him and his mind is uncertain as to which way to turn; which road to take; which option to choose.  This circumstance we will all find ourselves in from time to time.  It may be yours today.  Let David's prayer become our own.

 The first thing we notice about this petition is David's plea for Godly instruction: "teach me".  In his "Treasury of David", C.H. Spurgeon writes, "This prayer evinces an humble sense of personal ignorance, great teachableness of spirit, and cheerful obedience of heart."

It is wisdom to realize that we have a lot to learn, and that God may still teach us many things regardless of our age or position in life.  From The great fountain of wisdom may be found direction for every decision.  Our inability to decide is an indication of our need for the arm of our Beloved. …

#100 "CONSIDERING"

"CONSIDERING"

"The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider"-Isaiah 1:3

Isaiah was called to prophesy against God's people in a very sad time.  They no longer considered Him.  To consider means to understand, to exercise the mind towards. Though the ox had a mind to consider his owner and his gentle commands; the ass considered the storehouse of provisions that were found in the master's crib; God's people no longer exercised their mind towards their maker.  They had forgotten the fount of their blessings.  Jehovah was no longer considered in their daily activities.

Considering requires an exercise of the mind which springs from the heart.  The infidel will describe the Christian as a shallow minded person who is willing to believe anything and everything without a shred of evidence.  God did not hold such an opinion.  He did not call upon the infidel or the unbeliever to consider.  They were not capable.  He called upon…

#101 "THE CROSS OF CHRIST"

"THE CROSS OF CHRIST"

"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 2:4

Do you have areas in your life that you are ashamed of, areas you wish were not there: sins committed; words spoken; moments wasted in vanity and pride?  If you do there is great comfort to be found at the cross of Christ.  It was there that Satan received his deadly blow; the place where One suffered that we would not have to.  It is the place of forgiveness; full pardon; complete atonement and redemption from sin.  Let us be ashamed of our sin, but never in the cross of our Lord. 

I love the apostle's illustration of the cross.  In that day, the writer composed his documents with a quill and ink.  When a mistake was made, the method used to remove it was a blotting out of the ink on the page.  Such is the language that Paul uses as he describes Christ's atonement upon the cross.  Our sins were blotted out,…

#102 "Seeking God's Face" (Part 1)

"SEEKING GOD'S FACE"

"When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee,Thy face,Lord, will I seek"-Psalms 27-8

If your heart has been stirred to seek after God you are in good company.  Josiah, while he was yet young began to seek after God;  Job said, "Oh that I knew where I might find Him";  Solomon wrote, "I will seek him whom my soul loveth"; Ezra prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord; and Jehoshaphat set himself to seek the Lord.  Great blessings were found in their lives and powerful testimonies exhibited in their behavior.  The Bible is full of God-seekers.  Today, let us join their blessed company and seek God's face while He may be found.  

WHY WE SEEK 

If you will carefully notice David's language, it was God that made the first move.  David was invited into the awesome presence of God's face.  Paul was struck down on the Damascus road as he was ushered into the divine presence of Jesus; Peter was approached by Christ as he washed his nets; Nathanael would ask…

#103 "SEEKING GOD'S FACE" (Part 2)

"SEEKING GOD'S FACE"(Continued)

"When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee,Thy face,Lord, will I seek"-Psalms 27-8

Here we find David in a most profitable venture: he is seeking God's face.  Seeking is a active pursuit.  It requires patience; diligence; integrity; sincerity; and desire.  It seems that we seek Him most when we have the greatest needs.  Yet, it is a comfort to know that He encourages us to do so.  But how is such a thing done?  How may we seek the Creator of all things, the Holy One that dwelleth between the cherubims?  I must place my hand over my mouth for lack of knowledge.  Let us learn from those with skill and wisdom in such matters.

HOW WE ARE INSTRUCTED TO SEEK

Daniel was a man of skill and wisdom when it came to spiritual things.  Let every seeker learn his methods: "I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes: And I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession….."-Daniel…

#104 "Seeking God's Face" (Part 3)

"SEEKING GOD'S FACE"(Conclusion)

"When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee,Thy face,Lord, will I seek"-Psalms 27-8

Seeking God's face is a most rewarding experience.  According to the writer of Hebrews, "he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him"-11:6.  Diligence is the key.  That means that there is a craving for God's presence which sets the soul to searching. In every pursuit, diligence has its rewards.  Athletes who are diligent in their training are the ones who excel; students who are diligent in their studies become high achievers; businessmen that are diligent in the workplace are most successful; and those that diligently seek God's face are those who enjoy His presence the most.  That, I believe, is the greatest reward we could hope for: to find Him; To feel His presence; enjoy His favor; and experience the blessings that accompany His fellowship.  Let us consider some of the reward's that every diligent seeker may expect, but first, let us consider…

#105 HOW OUR THINKING AFFECTS US

HOW OUR THINKING AFFECTS US

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things arehonest, whatsoever things arejust, whatsoever things arepure, whatsoever things arelovely, whatsoever things areof good report; if there beany virtue, and if there beany praise, think on these things"-Philippians 4:8

Though many things have changed since the days of the apostle, some things have not.  One of those is how our thinking affects us.  Paul gave the Philippians a catalogue of things to think about for their profit. I will give our readers, in the year 2000, the same list for their own good and edification.  As I will endeavor to show you,  how we think is very important to our health, both naturally and spiritually.  God knows it, that is why He inspired the apostle to chronicle such meditations.  Satan knows it, that is why he is bending all of his influence to encourage us to think otherwise.  Consider with me, for just a few moments, how our thinking affects us.

THOUGHTS ARE…

#106 "A DAY OF PRAYER"

"A DAY OF PRAYER"

This last Wednesday, at the request of one of the students, I was blessed to attend the flagpole prayer service at Poyen school.  Many students, faculty, parents and ministers were present as the students prayed and read some scripture.  We all sang "Amazing Grace" together.  One of the other ministers turned to me and said, "We don't need the music for this one" as we all lifted our voices together and sang praise to our God.   One of the students was called upon to read a scripture.  As she opened her Bible I wondered which one she would read.  Tears came to my eyes as she read, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land"-2 Chron. 7:14.  Quite appropriate!

One of the things I liked about the service was the fact that there were no preachers or denominations trying to get recognition for all the…

#107 "COMFORTS FOUND ON A LATE FLIGHT"

"COMFORTS FOUND ON A LATE FLIGHT"

A few weeks ago, while preaching in the state of Georgia, I was returning home Saturday night in time to preach at my home church on Sunday morning.  As I approached the ticket counter I discovered that the plane was held up due to weather and we might not make our connecting flight.  I thought of Paul, and how many times his trips were delayed, not due to plane connections, but due to shipwreck, stonings, beatings and all manner of persecutions.  I found great comfort in knowing that even though preachers could be hindered from preaching at a desired place, God would not allow circumstances to affect the eternal destiny of His people.  That is why I love the doctrine of election.

I have learned that there are many people who love the doctrine of election.  When my wife and I first heard it preached in clarity we walked outside the meeting house and I said, "I believe what that man preached".  To my surprise Marilyn said, "I've always believed it."  The…

#108 "Innocent Blood"

"InnocentBlood"

"These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood"-Proverbs 6:16,17.

God is a God of love.  All love emanates forth from His divine presence. Yet, there are many things that God hates.  Seven of those things are given to us by Solomon in order that our thinking may be adjusted to think, not like the world, but like our Holy Father's.   Today, we focus our attention upon just one of these principles: the shedding of "innocent blood".

Innocent bloodis bloodthat flows through the veins of people who have done no sin; they have committed no crimes; they have slandered no one; they have not dishonored their Creator.  Innocent bloodis bloodthat flows through the veins of people who can not speak for themselves; they have no voice; they have no choice; no vote; no platform; no defense.  If you will look the world over you will find no bloodmore innocent that the bloodof the unborn…

#109 "BROKEN FENCES"

"BROKEN FENCES"

"For the law was given by Moses, butgrace and truth came by Jesus Christ"-John 1:17 

Moses stood in a precarious position: he stood between God and His people.  His job was unpopular: he must give God's people the law.  If you will read the law that was given to Israel, you will understand Moses' plight.  The law restricted; it laid responsibilities upon their shoulders; it represented a big NO, you can't do that!  Who likes that word?  Yet, maturity will tell us that NO is a word that protects and gives boundaries of safety.  But, even then, it comes across a little crass.  The law will never make us feel good.  It was not designed to do so.  It was given in love from a loving Father to protect His children and keep them from harm.  When we see that principle we appreciate it.  Allow me to illustrate God's law.

A few months ago our family was given a Labrador puppy.  Kokimo is his name.  I could go into great detail about his chewing habits and my golf shoes but our main…

#110 "THE ATTITUDE OF PRAISE"

"THE ATTITUDE OF PRAISE"

"But ye area chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light"-1 Peter 2:9

To the scattered strangers, Peter sends words of great encouragement.  He reminds them, that even though they are scattered and persecuted, they still have reason to rejoice: they are chosen, elected to live with God in glory; they no longer need a high priest to offer sacrifices, they are of royal lineage and can offer spiritual sacrifices themselves; they have been made holy by the blood of Christ;  all of which sets them apart from the world in a special and peculiar way.  Thus, even in their present plight, they should show the world their riches by the their attitude, the attitude of praise.

The attitude of praise, that Peter suggests, is of great importance to God's people.  It is an expression of Christ, what He has done for us and our appreciation of…

#111 "STORMS"

"STORMS"

"And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full"-Mark 4:37

Here we find the disciples in much the same circumstance that we will find ourselves in from time to time: they were in a storm.  Life is full of storms: big ones, little ones, short ones, long ones.  This one was a "great storm of wind".  As experienced seamen, they had done all they could do.  Panic and fear gripped them.  They go for the Master.  

A few years ago, I was deep sea fishing off the coast of Houston, in the Gulf of Mexico.  We were about ten miles out, a beautiful sunny day, when suddenly a little black could appeared on the horizon.  It appeared relatively harmless.  Closer and closer it came, when suddenly, it was over us.  The world turned black, the wind blew the forty-footer mercilessly, thunder deafened the sky and lighting pierced the waters.  I well remember the feeling of helplessness.  Such are the storms of life.  Things become cloudy and dark;…

#112 "REST FOR THE SOUL "

"REST FOR THE TROUBLED SOUL "

"Come unto me, all ye that labour 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"-Matthew 11:28,29

Before us we have a glorious invitation, not for a physical rest, but more importantly, a spiritual rest.  To find rest, we must have peace and here we find great consolation, our invitation is from the Prince of Peace.  Let us begin by noticing those to whom the invitation is given and conclude by observing the place that rest may be found for the troubled soul.

ELECTION DISPLAYED

The glorious doctrine of election is beautifully displayed in our text.  It is for God's people, His chosen, that this rest is designed.  As the writer of Hebrews so faithfully describes, "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God"-Hebrews 4:9.  Election takes the portals of heaven out of the hands of men and denominations and gives it to the Holy Spirit who…

#113 "UNTO THEE, O GOD, DO WE GIVE THANKS"

"UNTO THEE, O GOD, DO WE GIVE THANKS"

"Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto theedo we give thanks: for thatthy name is near thy wondrous works declare"-Psalm 75:1

Many years ago, a relative of mine received a wonderful gift.  His college tuition was paid by an unknown source.  Though he had several ideas concerning the source of the gift, he never really knew the identity of the person who cared enough for his future to bestow such a valuable gift.  Thus, as the circumstances dictated, he was unable to properly thank his benefactor.  God's people are not found in such a circumstance.   If our eyes are open and our hearts are a-tune to the giver of every good and perfect gift, we know well the source of our blessings and comforts: "Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks".  

THANKSGIVING DAY HAS A BIBLICAL PATTERN

If you have a good encyclopedia and it remains untouched by the evil mind you will find recorded therein: "Thanksgiving Day is a day set aside each year for giving thanks to God

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