The Elon Challenger
ELON CHURCH OF CHRIST
New Hope, Alabama
Seeking to challenge your interest in things
spiritual & eternal (Eph. 6:10-18)
Volume 15 Number 12
Table of Contents
A Lesson from Luther———————————————-Mike Johnson
The Gospel————————————————————Frank Himmel
Predestination —————————————————– Kyle Campbell
Would You Like to Be a Christian? ——————————E.R. Hall Jr.
Brief Exhortations ——————————————–Chadwick Brewer
Baptism of the Holy Spirit ———————————-Lynn D. Headrick
Who Is a Wise Man? ————————————-Richard D. Thetford
A LESSON FROM LUTHER
Luther was quite slow from a mental standpoint. He was well liked in the community and was easy to get along with. However, some of the young men in the community just could not resist having some fun with him from time to time. At the little store where the guys always “hung out,” they would play a little game with Luther. They would say, “Luther, here is a dime and here is a nickel. Which one do you want?” Luther would always choose the nickel, which was, of course, the largest coin in size. At this point, the boys would all get a big laugh.
A few years later, one of the young men who had moved away returned to his hometown for a visit. Eventually, he made his way to the little store. He saw Luther at a distance and asked someone if people still played the little game with Luther and if he always chose the nickel. They told him that people still played the game with him from time to time, and “Yes, Luther still always chose the nickel.” The young man then called Luther over and played the game, and, as usual, Luther chose the nickel. However, the young man felt a little bad about it this time (maybe he had matured some), so he decided to explain things to Luther. “A dime,” he said, “is smaller in size than a nickel, but is worth more in value. A dime is worth ten cents while a nickel is only worth five cents. So you should always choose the dime.” Luther looked at the man very earnestly and said, “I know that, but if I choose the dime, they will stop doing it.”
The boys thought they were so smart and that Luther was so dumb. Who actually showed a lack of intelligence? It certainly was not Luther. He was getting the nickels and was smarter than they thought.
The story about Luther illustrates a very important principle. It teaches that things are not always as they appear. A person, an idea, or a concept may appear to be unintelligent and useless to some. However, a person’s view is not correct simply because he thinks it is the correct or enlightened view.
There are a lot of people today who view preaching and God’s Word as foolishness and as a complete waste of time. They may not even believe in God. These people may even think of religion as a crutch and of Christians as ignorant and unenlightened, thinking of themselves as intelligent and enlightened. Many may not actually express these ideas, but they show their belief in them by their lives. They have little interest in spiritual things but instead serve such things as pleasure, lust, riches, and greed.
Some people were like this in Paul’s day. They thought of themselves as wise and thought of preaching as foolish. I Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” In verse 21 he said, “. . . it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” We are saved by the “foolishness” of preaching. Preaching, of course, was not actually foolish. Paul came to them with the very simple message of “Christ crucified” (vs. 23). Yet, Paul said that the world by its wisdom knew not God (vs. 21)
The word “gospel” means good news. Mark called his book “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). It is the good news that Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth and gave himself as a sacrifice on our behalf. Through His blood we can have forgiveness of sins and be reconciled to God. His death is the means of our salvation, and His resurrection is our assurance of who He is. What shall we do with the gospel?
Hear it and believe. Peter said, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe” (Acts 15:7).
Obey it. Paul warned that God will one day “deal out retribution to those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).
Preach it. Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16).
Defend it. Have Paul’s attitude, who said, “I am appointed for the defense of the gospel” (Philippians 1:16).
Hold it fast. “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).
Never be ashamed of it. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:16-17).
Live worthily of it. “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).
Are some people predestinated to be saved while others are predestinated to be lost? If this true, would it make any difference for one to do right if he is predestinated to be lost?
Predestination is definitely a Bible topic, but not in the way which espouses that every individual has been handpicked by God to be either saved or condemned. The critical question is, “Did God predestinate the man or the plan?” God predestinated a system of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. God did not set up the popular system of predestination for the following reasons:
- It would make God a respecter of persons. (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Ephesians 6:9)
- It would make God responsible for the damnation of the wicked. (Ezekiel 18:21-23; 33:11)
- It would deny that God wants all men to be saved. (Mark 16:15-16; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; Titus 2:11-14)
- It would refuse to accept that Christ died for all men. (Hebrews 2:9; 1 Timothy 2:6; 1 John 2:2; 4:14).
- It would reject the free will choice of man. (John 5:40; Matthew 23:37; Revelation 22:17; John 24:15).
- It would make the call to repentance hypocritical. (Matthew 11:28; Acts 17:30; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11; Acts 10:34-35).
God chose a plan of salvation through Jesus (Ephesians 1:3-14). We cannot control who will obey no more than God can. God in His sovereignty could control man like a robot, but He chose not to do so. Whatever happens to us, it will be determined by our individual response to God’s predestined plan of salvation.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (1 Corinthians 5:10)
WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE A CHRISTIAN?
E.R. Hall, Jr.
If the title of this article appeals to you, how does this sound to you? Just simply follow the teachings of Christ found in the New Testament. “And for this cause He (Christ) is the mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth ” (Hebrews 9:15-17)
When we search the New Testament, we find no denominational organizations existed whatsoever. We simply read of people hearing the gospel, believing it, repenting of their sins, confessing Christ to be the Son of God, and being baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. Whereupon, the Lord added the saved to His church (Acts 2:36-47). As the gospel spread from Jerusalem, these Christians assembled together in congregations in various places. The only headquarters these early disciples knew was Heaven, where the Head, Jesus Christ, is (Col. 1:18). These local churches were under their own elders (Acts 14:23) who were given the responsibility of feeding and overseeing the congregation (Acts 20:17, 28;1 Pet. 5:1-3).
The worship, we read about in the New Testament, was something that was participated in; not a spectator event. For example, on the first day of the week they ate the Lord’s supper and heard preaching, Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-29. Also on the first day of the week, every one of them gave financially as they were prospered (1 Cor. 16:1,2). The worship was carried on by every Christian singing (Eph. 5:19) and all would pray as others would lead (1 Cor. 14:15,16). No solos, duets, quartets, or choirs. All things were done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40) as every Christian was involved in worship. No one could perform their service or worship for them.
Without complicated expensive organization, the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven (Col. 1:23). The disciples were known as Christians (Acts 11:26) and they wore no sectarian names. One thing is strikingly noticeable about the worship we read about in the New Testament: They sought to impress God and only God. One thing we see throughout the Scriptures is that God is always pleased with obedience to His will (Mt. 7:21). Nowhere in the New Testament do we find the first Christians appealing to social or recreational activities as a work of the church. Their only appeal came through the presenting of the gospel for they recognized it as “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16).
What about you? Do you ever study your Bible and read about things the church, of which you are a member, doesn’t even do or they are doing things the New Testament does not even mention? The time is far spent that we all should despair of involving ourselves in things the New Testament does not teach and to realize denominations are not necessary and only has and continues to cause division. We should all desire the simplicity of being only a Christian and letting the Lord add us to His church.
Have you ever wondered if it could be the same today as it is revealed in the New Testament? The answer is a simple but resounding, “YES”! In fact, there is probably such a group of people meeting within minutes of where you live. They worship and serve God in the same way the early disciples did. Christ is their ONLY Head and the New Testament is their ONLY creed. They are not members of any human denomination, they are simply a congregation, or church, of Christ. They would like to share Christ with you and with all the world.
YOU, TOO, CAN SIMPLY BE A CHRISTIAN and serve God without belonging to any denomination, bound by no denominational laws or obligations. If such appeals to you, please contact us or visit the services the church engages in on a weekly basis. If you live too far away for this to be practical, contact us and we’ll do our best to put you in touch with others who are simply Christians and doing things according to the will of Christ.
If you believe that the gathering of the church on Sundays is about you, then fellowship halls, basketball teams, bake sales, and so much more are perfectly reasonable.
But if you realize the true purpose is to worship, glorify, and magnify the Alpha and Omega, then you’ll easily realize that those things simply do not belong.
BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Lynn D. Headrick
The Bible speaks of baptism in water (Acts 8:36-38), the baptism of suffering (Lk. 12:50,51; Mk. 10:38-40), the baptism in fire and the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11). This study concerns baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Baptism in Fire
While this study is devoted to a discussion of baptism in the Holy Spirit, a word should be said about baptism in fire. Matthew 3:11 and Luke 3:16 mention Holy Spirit baptism and baptism in fire in the same sentence, and they indicate also that Jesus is the administrator of both of these baptisms. However, the two baptisms are distinct. Tongues, “like as of fire,” were so distributed that one tongue “sat upon each” of the apostles when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4), but this was not the baptism of fire. . It was a physical accompaniment of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
What, then, is baptism in fire? John the Baptist accused certain Pharisees and Sadducees of being the “offspring of vipers” and urged them to “flee from the wrath to come.” They were compared to an evil tree which does not bring forth good fruit and is consequently “cast into the fire.” John further affirmed that Jesus would burn the chaff with unquenchable fire, (Matt. 3:7-12). The apostle John said, “But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolators, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).
The conclusion is that the unrepentant, the chaff, the disobedient, receive the baptism of fire. This will occur at the end of time and is tantamount to eternal punishment in the lake of fire. This, obviously, is hell itself. Indeed, we do not want to be baptized with the baptism of fire.
The Promise of Baptism in the Holy Spirit
“He shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 3:11; Mk. 1:8; Lk. 3:16). Please observe that this baptism is a promise. God has never commanded anyone to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, but He has promised this baptism to certain individuals. The context of the passages noted in this section of this study indicates that the baptism in the Holy Spirit was for the apostles of Christ. A further study of these passages gives no evidence that this baptism has anything to do with saving anyone from sin.
The Administrator of Holy Spirit Baptism
John 1:33 says, “…but He that sent me to baptize in water, He said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon Him, the same is He that baptizeth in the Holy Spirit.” It is obvious that Jesus is the administrator of Holy Spirit baptism. Keep this fact in mind as we consider the baptism of the commission recorded in Matt. 28:18-20. This baptism is administrated by those who teach or make disciples of all the nations. In addition to this we read of Philip baptizing the treasurer of Ethiopia (Acts 8). Christ is the administrator of Holy Spirit baptism and men are the administrators of water baptism. The two baptisms are not the same. No human being can administer Holy Spirit baptism.
The Purpose of Holy Spirit Baptism
First, let us notice the purpose of Holy Spirit baptism in the case of the apostles. To the apostles Jesus said, “But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you” (Jno. 14:26). The apostles were thus enabled to teach all of the truth by divine inspiration and did not have to rely on fallible human memory. When the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit people could “see and hear” (Acts 2:33) that these men were miraculously endowed with power from on high in fulfillment of the prophecy made by Joel (Acts 2:11-21).
Second, we need to consider the case of Holy Spirit baptism at the house of Cornelius. Peter observed that the Lord baptized the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Later, in Jerusalem, certain Jewish brethren contended with Peter, “saying, Thou wentest into men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them” (Acts 11:3).
Peter explained that the baptism in the Holy Spirit of the Gentiles was the same as the baptism in the Holy Spirit of the apostles which took place on Pentecost. The Jewish brethren then “held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life (Acts 11:18). The purpose, therefore, of the baptism of the Gentiles in the Holy Spirit was to convince the Jewish brethren that the Gentiles were acceptable to God and so must also be acceptable to them if they were to be in fellowship with God. Henceforth the gospel was diligently preached to both Jew and Gentile.
- Holy Spirit baptism and the baptism of the great commission are not the same, as indicated by three facts (a) the two baptisms have different administrators, (b) the two baptisms have different subjects, and (c) the two baptisms have different purposes.
- Holy Spirit baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit noted in Acts 2:38 are not the same, because the gift of the Holy Spirit on that occasion was conditioned upon one’s being first baptized in water for the remission of sins, and such is not the case with reference to baptism in the Holy Spirit.
- Holy Spirit baptism is not the same as the gifts of the Holy Spirit or spiritual gifts, since spiritual gifts were given by the laying on of the hands of the apostles whereas the Lord is the administrator of the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:1-11; Acts 8:14-19).
- Holy Spirit baptism cannot be scripturally in vogue today because it has served its purpose. Now there is “one baptism” (Eph. 4:4), the baptism in water for the remission of sins. We must be baptized with this baptism if we are to be saved. This is clearly seen by reading Acts 8:35-39; Rom. 6:3,4; 1 Pet. 3:21.
WHO IS A WISE MAN?
Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:24-25: “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.” The wise man is the one who hears the words of Jesus and then “does what He commands of us.” The wise man is the one who is always prepared for Jesus everyday of his life, as the 5 wise virgins were in Matthew 25:1-12.
How do we become a wise man? First of all we must turn from worldly wisdom and rely on the wisdom of God as Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 3:18. We can only learn to do that through our own study of the scriptures as Paul told Timothy to do in 2 Timothy 2:15. When we learn what we are to do through our diligent study of God’s Word, we will then strive to walk carefully in the ways of the Lord. Paul wrote: “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph 5:15). It is a commendable thing for one to be wise in the ways of the Lord because when we are, then we will be able to enter into eternal rest with our Lord (Matt 25:1-10). Are you striving to be wise in the ways of the Lord? The destiny of your soul depends on whether you are or not. Why not strive to be wise in the ways of the Lord today?
The Elon Challenger is published monthly by the church of Christ meeting at 4021 Hobbs Island Road in Owens Cross Roads. The mailing address is PO Box 149, New Hope, AL, 35760 where any comments, questions, or requests for further information can be sent. The Challenger is also distributed monthly to the Elon congregation as an eight page, paper publication. The editor is Mike Johnson.
The website address is www.elonchurchofchrist.com.
Evangelist & Editor: Mike Johnson