The Elon Challenger


New Hope, Alabama

Seeking to challenge your interest in things

spiritual & eternal (Eph. 6:10-18)

Volume 16 Number 4

December 2018



Table of Contents

The Conversion of the Ethiopian ————————————————- Mike Johnson

Make Time ————————————————————————– Author Unknown

Where Are Your Priorities  ———————————————————–Jim Mickells

Things to Remember ————————————————————- Author Unknown

God Is Unchangeable ————————————————————- Carrol R. Sutton

You Must Do Your Part ———————————————————- Author Unknown

Food, Gimmicks, and Recreation——————————————————— Jeff May

Things People Wouldn’t Give Up for their Soul ————————-Richard C. Gordon

Enthusiasm——————————————————————— Dudley Ross Spears

Subjective Interpretations Of Feelings and Experiences.——– Dennis Abernathy


The Conversion of the Ethiopian

Mike Johnson

The conversion case of the eunuch from Ethiopia is one of the more familiar conversion cases in the Bible.  We know the facts are accurate because they come from the inspired Word of God (II Tim. 3:16-17).

Acts 8 is where the conversion is recorded.  The account takes a natural division.  First, verses 26-29 tell us about the bringing together of the preacher and the sinner.  Next, verses 30-35 reveal Philip “preaching Jesus” to the Ethiopian, and then verses 36-39 tell of the response of the eunuch.  Consider some important lessons to be learned from the conversion case.

We see the importance of the individual. Philip, according to Acts 8:5-25, had been preaching in the area of Samaria.  This was a populated area and was a place where Philip had much success.  Yet, an angel of God spoke to Philip and told him to go to the road between Jerusalem and Gaza.  There he met the eunuch and preached to him.  Thus, Philip was sent from a populated area to preach to one person.  This shows us that God views each individual as important.  He wants salvation for everyone (II Pet. 3:9).

A religious man needed to be saved.   The eunuch was a religious man.  He had been to Jerusalem to worship God (v. 27).  Nevertheless, he still needed to hear the truth and obey Christ so that he might be saved.  Such was also the case with Cornelius who was a God-fearing man (Acts 10:2, 22) but was an unsaved man (Acts 11:14).  It takes more than being a religious person to be saved.

Preaching Jesus meant preaching baptism.  Verse 35 says that Philip “…preached unto him Jesus.”  After hearing “Jesus preached,” they came to a certain water, and the eunuch said, “See here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?”  This helps us to see that preaching Jesus involves preaching baptism.  The Bible tells us that baptism is necessary for salvation (Acts 2:38).  Many claim to “preach Jesus,” and yet they hardly ever mention the subject of baptism.

The proper mode of baptism is seen.  The Bible teaches that baptism is a “burial” (Rom. 6:4, Col. 2:12).  The word translated baptism means “immersion.”  The case of the eunuch (Acts 8) is in perfect accord with the rest of the Bible’s teaching that baptism is a burial or immersion.  They came “unto a certain water” (v. 36), they “went down both into the water” (v. 38), and they “came up out of the water” (v. 39).  The language is quite clear if immersion is being described.  However, it is difficult to understand if sprinkling or pouring water is under consideration.  Sprinkling or pouring water on a person’s head is not baptism at all.  The Bible teaches that baptism is immersion or burial.

He confessed Christ.  The eunuch was not required to confess and memorize various articles of faith or to pledge allegiance to a denomination before his baptism.  No, he simply confessed Christ (Rom. 10:10).  Many are guilty of adding conditions before baptism that the Lord does not require.

He was baptized immediately.  The eunuch did not have to wait for the church to vote on him before his baptism.  He did not have to wait for others to decide to be baptized so that they could have a big baptizing day.  He did not have to tell his experience.  He simply responded to God’s Word and became a Christian.  He was baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-4, Gal. 3:27).  Have you ever read in the Bible where one had to be “voted on” before he could be baptized?

The conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch serves as a pattern for us today.  Each individual is important to God and worthy of our teaching.  Our teaching must center on Christ and baptism cannot be ignored in salvation.  Most important, we must follow God’s will explicitly and not take it upon ourselves to change His will for our convenience.


Make Time

Make time to think – it is the source of power. Make time to play – it is the key to freedom and relaxation. Make time to read – it is the gateway to knowledge. Make time to worship – it washes the dust of earth from your eyes. Make time to help and enjoy friends – no other happiness matches this. Make time to love – if you do not, it will fade away. Make time to laugh and pray – these are two things that lighten life’s load. Make time to be alone with God – He is the source of everything.


Where Are Your Priorities

Jim Mickells

It was a 99° September day in San Antonio, when a 10-month-old baby girl was accidentally locked inside a parked car by her aunt. Frantically, the mother and the aunt ran around the auto in near hysteria, while a neighbor attempted to unlock the car with a clothes hanger. Soon the infant was turning purple and had foam on her mouth.

It had become a life-or-death situation when Fred Arriola, a wrecker driver, arrived on the scene. He grabbed a hammer and smashed the back window of the car to set her free.  Was he heralded a hero? The lady was mad at me because I broke the window, Arriola reported. “I just thought, what’s more important – the baby or the window?”

This story illustrates one who failed miserably to distinguish between what was truly important and something that was relatively immaterial. As Christians, we must make sure that our priorities are in the right order as well. Do we put the Lord first at all times? Many place Him first some of the time, but not all of the time. If we fail to have our spiritual priorities right, the results will be disastrous; we will lose our souls.

Notice a few of the passages in the Bible that teach us about our priorities.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37).

“Then He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.’ And another also said, ‘Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:59-62).

“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs’” (John 21:15).

Do we really put the Lord first in our lives? Is He our number one priority? If He is, there will be certain things obvious about the way we live.

Attendance. We will be present at all of the assembles (Heb. 10:25). Sunday night worship and Wednesday night Bible study are very important to those who really love the Lord. When it is time to assemble, those who value their relationship with God are always going to be there.

Studying. If our priorities are right, we will spend several hours each week meditating upon the word of God (Ps. 1:2). It is not hard to see what we value. Do you spend more in studying the Bible or watching TV? Do you read the paper from cover to cover each day, yet fail to spend an adequate amount of time reading the Scriptures? Answer these questions truthfully and you will see what is really important to you.

Giving. I have heard brethren say that we need to give until it hurts. The Bible teaches no such thing. It does tell us to give as we have prospered, not grudgingly nor of necessity but cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:6-7). If under the Old Law the Jews gave 10%, should we not at least give back to the Lord as much as they gave? If our priorities are right, giving as we have prospered will be no problem.

Visiting. All of us are busy each day. We get up each morning and head out to our jobs, returning in the evening tired from working all day. It is so easy to just relax and never call nor visit someone who is sick in the hospital or the weak Christian who has been missing services. Those who are devoted to the cause of Christ will exert the energy and find the time to make that call or visit (Mat. 25:31-46).

Where have you placed your priorities? If you have put the Lord first, notice the promise that He has made. “So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time-houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions-and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).


Things to Remember

The value of time

The success of perseverance

The pleasure of working

The dignity of simplicity

The worth of character

The influence of example

The obligation of duty

The wisdom of economy

The improvement of talent

The joy of originating

The power of kindness.

                  – Pulpit Helps


God Is Unchangeable

Carrol R. Sutton

Daily we witness changes around us in both the plant and animal kingdoms. We also witness weather changes, which in turn produce changes in temperatures, As these changes take place, it becomes necessary for us to make changes in our eating, sleeping, working and playing habits as well as in our dress. Changes in styles and fashions and models are occurring frequently. It is interesting to note that most people are fickle. Certainly, men should change from sin to righteousness, but very often men change from right to wrong; from truth to error. Changes are often produced by gossip, lies, and false doctrines.

In Malachi 3:6, we read: “For I am the Lord, I change not. . . .” Although man is subject to change, we are assured that God Is unchangeable. This does not mean that God’s will for man is the same today that it was under the Mosaic age. In fact, we learn from Hebrews 7:12 that the priesthood was changed, and “there is made also of necessity a change of the law.” We are now under the New Testament. (See 1 Cor. 9:21; Heb. 9:16- 17; 10:9-10; Jno. 12:48),

God is unchangeable in Character. He cannot be tempted with evil. He is holy. The Psalmist said: “Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the Lord our God III holy.”



You Must Do Your Part

No man can save himself from his sins, but everyone must turn to the Lord, in His appointed way, and look to Him alone for salvation. The Lord Jesus Christ and He alone, has authority to forgive sin and save souls.

In the conversion of man, there must be cooperation between God and man. God presents the evidence to prove that Jesus Christ is His Son, but man does the believing. God offers the motive to induce man to repent, but man does the repenting. God persuades man to confess His Son, but man does the confessing. God appeals to man to be baptized, but man chooses to be baptized. God provides the strait and narrow path, which leads to life everlasting, but man must walk in it.

The Sunday Visitor


Food, Gimmicks, and Recreation

Problems arise as we strive to serve God faithfully, but God has given us a tree — the tree of Calvary, to be used in such situations, just as Moses cast in the tree at Mariah to resolve the problem of the bad water (Exodus 5), and Elisha cast in the tree branch to resolve the problem of the lost ax head (2 Kings 5). Cast in it, brethren! See the difference it makes.

How ashamed we ought to be if we think people are drawn to Christ with food, recreation, and entertainment. There’s enough power in the tree (of Calvary). Jesus Himself said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself” (John 12:32). The man who sees his problem will come to Calvary’s tree for his remedy. He needs nothing else. He desires only “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

The use of such gimmicks is a direct reflection of our lack of faith and trust in the word of God (Romans 1:16). What is the difference in this and in using creeds, robes, incense, instrumental music and other such gimmicks to make the worship “entertaining?” Are we at worship to please ourselves or God?



Things People Wouldn’t Give Up in

Exchange for Their Soul

Richard C. Gordon

Possessions (Mark 10:17-22).

Pride (Luke 18:9-14).

Past (Acts 7:51-53).

Prejudices (Romans 10:1-4).

Power John 11:47-48).

Popularity John 12:42-43).




Dudley Ross Spears

How enthusiastic are you–no, not someone else–YOU, about the growth of the church? Enthusiasm means, “intense or eager interest; zeal; fervor.” It sometimes appears as if this is one of the greatest failings of the people of God. Too many, including preachers, have the attitude of doing as little as possible or just enough to “get by.” However, fervency and zeal are the elements of growth and warmth in any combined effort. They are especially essential in the Lord’s work. The church is to be made up of those who ought to be “zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). Words like fervent, zeal and excited should describe our lives in the service to our Lord.

  1. Fervent in Love. Peter wrote, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto the unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” (1 Pet. 1:22). “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Pet. 4:8). Fervent love “covers” the flaws and imperfections in the lives of others. Fervent love does not unmercifully expose a flaw in another. Fault finders are not fervent lovers.

Albert Barnes on this verse: “True love to another makes us kind to his imperfections, charitable toward his faults, and often blind even to the existence of faults.” Nothing can cover sins in the sense of forgiveness but compliance with God’s law, but we may cover one another’s faults by dealing with one another in such a way as to lead one to comply with God’s law.”

  1. Fervent in Spirit. The apostle Paul wrote, “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11). “Spirit” in this verse is the human spirit in each of us. We are to be deeply excited about our responsibilities. It is our duty to do what has been commanded by the Lord (Lk. 17:10). The commands of the Lord are not “grievous.” (1 Jno. 5:3).

The church can and will grow in proportion to the love and spirit with which we go about fulfilling our individual duties as Christians. Thus we can ask ourselves if we are as fervent and zealous about our personal work on non-Christians as we should be. What about our fervency and zeal in visiting the sick and needy? How fervent in spirit are we in giving of our means to do the Lord’s work? How fervent and zealous is our attendance and many, many more questions.

An English writer, Joseph Addison, once wrote: “There is no greater sign of a general decay of virtue in a nation, than a want of zeal in its inhabitants for the good of their country.” Modifying that statement without altering the thought: “There is no greater sign of a general decay of virtue in the church than a want of zeal in its members for the good of the church.”


Subjective Interpretations Of

Feelings and Experiences

Dennis Abernathy

Did you hear the story of a farmer who decided to quit farming and become a preacher? When asked why he made such a decision, the farmer said: “God called me to preach.” When asked how God called him to preach, he said he saw clouds in the sky one day that looked like the letters G, P and C. He interpreted the clouds to mean “Go Preach Christ.” When asked how he knew those letters didn’t stand for “Go Plow Corn,” the farmer was speechless. This illustrates the problem of basing religious beliefs on subjective interpretations of feelings and experiences. You still have to assume what the feelings mean.

A young Mormon elder once told me to pray and ask if the Book of Mormon was from God. When asked how I should expect God to answer, he said: “I asked God if the Book of Mormon was true and I got a warm feeling.” He had no answer when I asked him how he knew a warm feeling meant “Yes it is,” instead of “No it isn’t?”

Concerning religion and the salvation of our souls, we need something more definite than subjective interpretations of vague feelings of clouds in the sky. Thank God, we have that in the Scriptures. When we read the Scriptures we can understand and know precisely what God is telling us to do. So, my friend, don’t look to vague feelings or mysteriously interpreted experiences to know God’s will. Look to the Scriptures! Think on these things.




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


Evangelist & Editor: Mike Johnson