March 25, 2023
Dr. Harvey Floyd was my Greek teacher at Lipscomb as well as having him for many important Bible classes like Romans. I recently came across an interview of Floyd from the Gospel Advocate (October 1993). His words are still instructive though said over twenty years ago.
My greatest emphasis in life is to convince everyone of the complete authority of Scripture. If churches of Christ ever abandon submission to God’s written Word, we’ve lost everything.
Restoration only makes sense with an authoritative source. Without the guidance of Scripture, life becomes a sea without a shore.
Today’s religious leaders are far too interested in trendiness. They float from one fad to another without any clear emphasis or substance. Instead of the Bible, they fill their teaching with insight into “many things, of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings” very entertaining, perhaps, but not distinctively Christian.
In the past, you could accept that our brethren were inerrantists — that cannot be assumed today. We are moving into a vague religiosity instead of a passion for restoring New Testament Christianity. This is more dangerous than anything else.1
Rodney Stark gives a memorable illustration of the loss of confidence in the authority of Scripture in his book, The Triumph of Faith. After World War I, the majority of missionaries to Africa came from the United States. At that time, ninety percent of these American missionaries came from Congregationalists (today known as the United Church of Christ), the Presbyterians, the Methodists, and the Episcopalians. By 1935, they were only sending half of all American missionaries. By 1948, it dropped down to 25 percent, and today, the number is only 4 percent. Stark explains: Why the decline? The liberal denominations stopped sending missionaries because they lost their faith in the validity of Christianity.2
If there is one thing Floyd taught me, it is that there are good, satisfying reasons for believing in God, the Bible, and the resurrection of Jesus. When questions are raised about our faith, you only need to search for answers, and they will be found. Making fun of faith is nothing new (“a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles”), but the wisdom of God is always stronger. It is a vital thing to learn submission to God’s written Word.
— Russ Holden
1 Gregory Alan Tidwell, “An Interview with Dr. Harvey Floyd” Gospel Advocate (Oct. 1993):14. The quotation in Floyd’s interview is from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.
2 Rodney Stark, The Triumph of Faith, Kindle location 2260.
Leave a Comment » | Bible authorative, Dr. Floyd, religious fads | Permalink
Posted by Russell Holden
March 21, 2023
There are amazing things going on in the spiritual realm when the word of God is read or proclaimed. There is an ongoing interaction between the word, the devil, and human hearts that cannot be seen, but is very real.
Jesus revealed this profound three-way interaction in a parable. He tells us that the word of God is like seed that is sown, and human hearts are like the soil. Some will hear the word of God with little interest and little attempt to understand. For these, Jesus says, “…the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in the heart.” (Matthew 13:19 NAS95) Satan is very real, very active, and very dangerous. He will gladly snatch away the word before it can ever germinate in the heart.
Some will hear the word and accept it joyfully, but only for a while. For these, Jesus said, “… he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.” (Matthew 13:21 NAS95) Isn’t it tragic that in times of trouble, some will turn away from the very thing they need most? We see it happen today—people turn away from God when life gets difficult instead of running to Him all the more.
Some will hear and accept the word, but then it is choked out by thorns. Jesus said of these people, “…this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22 NAS95) Worry and the love of money and pleasure have a powerful blinding effect on people. Worry will stop us from trusting the promises of God. The pursuit of riches and pleasures will cause us to feel self-sufficient and uninterested in blessings from God. In the end, no fruit is ever produced.
And yet, there are those who will hear the word “…in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” (Luke 8:15 NAS95) These are the ones who bear fruit for God, “some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” (Matthew 13:23 NAS95) These are eager to hear, eager to accept, eager to live the word of God. They hold on to the life-giving word of God with all of their might. They are richly blessed, and they bear much fruit for the Lord.
What is the lesson for us? Jesus said, “So take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him more shall be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him.” (Luke 8:18 NAS95) We have a choice before us today, and every day concerning how we will listen to God. May we always listen with good hearts and hold fast the word in our hearts.
Leave a Comment » | Luke 8:11-18, Matthew 13:18-23, Parable of the Sower, power of the word of God | Tagged: Hearing the word, Parable of the Sower | Permalink
Posted by Scott Colvin
March 15, 2023
What is the source of ongoing strife and turmoil in the home? Our home life is supposed to be a source of great blessings, but sometimes it is more of a source of stress, anger, and contentiousness. Husband and wife cannot seem to get along. The children are disrespectful to their parents and constantly fight with their siblings. Mother and Father have grown weary of their children because of their behavior and have “checked out” mentally. Problems such as these are common in the world and even within the church. What is the source of these problems, and what is the solution?
The source of these problems is that one or more people in the family have stopped heeding the voice of the Lord. When the Lord and His word are at the center of the home, peace and harmony will abound. The question is, are we listening to His voice? Are we seeking His wisdom? Listen to where the wisdom of God will lead us: “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver and her gain better than fine gold. She is more precious than jewels; and nothing you desire compares with her…Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.” (Proverbs 3:13-15, 17-18 NAS95) What will the wisdom of God bring into all aspects of our lives, including our homes? Pleasantness, peace, happiness, and life. But if we choose not to listen, if we choose to go our own way, we will only hurt ourselves and rob ourselves of His blessings. We must hold fast the wisdom of God!
God designed human beings. He designed marriage. He designed the family. If we will listen to His voice, our homes will function beautifully, and blessings will abound. Sure, difficult times will come, but in those times, we will find that our homes will be a place of comfort and solace rather than a place of additional stress and turmoil. May we all experience the blessings in our homes that God intended for us to enjoy.
Leave a Comment » | children, family, parenting, Proverbs 3:13-18 | Tagged: God's design for the family, Wisdom for families | Permalink
Posted by Scott Colvin
March 7, 2023
Spirit-filled Christians will sing praises to the Lord. Listen to the connection between the Spirit and singing in these words: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord…” (Ephesians 5:18-19 NAS95) Being filled with wine leads to dissipation (wastefulness, debauchery), but being filled by the Spirit leads to (among many other things) singing of praises.
Similarly, Christians who are filled with the word of Christ will sing praises. “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16 NAS95)
What kind of singing will those who are filled with the Spirit and the word offer? It is singing which speaks to, teaches, and admonishes those assembled. When we sing together, we are reminding one another of God’s word and what God expects of us as His children. Singing is a mutual teaching experience, and it should engage the minds of those gathered.
The Spirit-filled, word-filled believer will offer singing to God that not only engages the mind, but also the heart. Perhaps at times, we have been guilty of singing the words of hymns that we know well while our hearts are disengaged. But true worship is about offering our hearts to God in praise and thankfulness. Worship is to come from our innermost being. Many try to create a meaningful worship experience by focusing on external things—a great sound, great lighting, great visual effects, etc. But true worship doesn’t come from external things. It comes from the heart. I am convinced that the most meaningful songs in God’s eyes, and the most beneficial songs for us, are the simple songs of praise that come from a grateful and reverent heart.
One might look at our simple worship and think that there’s not much to see—and they’re right. But the question is, what is going on that you can’t see? What is going on in the hearts of those gathered? In the spiritual realm, there is meaningful, uplifting, powerful worship coming from thankful hearts that are filled with the Spirit and the word. Let us worship God with all our hearts this Lord’s Day.
Leave a Comment » | Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:19, Holy Spirit, sing, singing, Spirit, word of God, worship | Tagged: singing and making melody, worship in spirit | Permalink
Posted by Scott Colvin
March 2, 2023
Some people make me nervous when they quote scripture. It is because what they seem to mean by the verse doesn’t seem to be what the verse appears to mean in context. For example, consider Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17, ESV)
What some seem to mean is that their impulses are so Spirit guided, they don’t need to worry about what scripture says. Now I’m not opposed to feelings and impulses. When I have impulses to give, serve, or speak a good word for Jesus, I’m endeavoring to act on those impulses. I do believe in God’s providence to put opportunities in our way. But feelings are not a test for truth. Hopefully our feelings flow from our acceptance of truth and are tested by truth.
So, what does Paul mean by freedom? It is helpful to look at other places where he explains his concept of freedom.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1, ESV)
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13, ESV)
For Paul, freedom in Christ is freedom from the bondage to law which condemns us when law is used as a means to salvation. We can’t be saved by our perfect law keeping (by merit), because we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Our freedom in Christ is also the freedom not to sin. We have forgiveness of our sins by the atoning death of Christ, so our past burdens are removed. We have spiritual help in the present to aid us in the battle against temptation and to grow in Christian graces. Paul warns Christians of the two paths in life that we still face: “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace…. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:6, 13, ESV)
Freedom in Christ is not freedom to do as you please and ignore scripture. Scripture, after all, is the Spirit’s inspired message. It is freedom from perfect law keeping and merit when we accept God’s grace in the atoning death of Christ. It is freedom from the bondage to sin, when we find and use the spiritual resources that God has richly provided for our victory. The journey in Christian living has taught me that this is true Christian freedom. The freedom to be the human being God intended me to be for there is found love, peace, and hope.
Leave a Comment » | 2 Corinthians 3:17, freedom, freedom in Christ, Galatians 5:1, Galatians 5:13, grace, Romans 8:13, Romans 8:6, salvation | Tagged: bondage to law, Christian freedom, freedom from sin, grace, sin | Permalink
Posted by Russell Holden