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Cracker Jack Dreams

January 2nd, 2009

“When I was a child I spoke like a child, I thought like a child,

I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I gave up childish ways”

(1 Corinthians 13:11)

Back in the days, the cousins and I would run across the open field to Foley’s little grocery store. Pyapp, my grandfather, who himself lived just across the street from this store, would see to it that we all had 15 cents. Once inside the store, we could smell everything from fresh fruit, to garlic Polish sausage. Immediately, we were confronted with decisions. A comic book-15 cents. A small brown paper bag full of assorted candies-penny-a-piece. And, then there was the classic box of Cracker Jack-15 cents. The prize inside was often the cause of not a little delight. Of course, one usually got a plastic monkey, or the like. But, on one very special day we received the prize of a small magnifying glass. Wow! Every time, thereafter, when we broke open a box of Cracker Jack we did so with the hope of another magic glass. But, this avid hope was often dashed against the rocks of another plastic monkey.

The Bible is full of stories of people holding on to their plastic monkeys. Always holding out for a Cracker Jack dream; though all too often winding up with another plastic monkey. Look around, consider those near to you. Now, they’ll never admit it-but their hearts are frequently consumed with plastic monkeys (Mark 10:22; James 1:23-24).

“Seek the things that are above” (Colossians 3:1).

-Robert M. Housby

Why Some Misunderstand 1 Corinthians 11:22 (and 11:34)

August 3rd, 2008

“What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?”

(1 Corinthians 11:22)

From time to time, the subject of eating in the church building arises. Invariably, to study 1 Corinthians is to encounter the passage. Some have read Paul, here, to mean simply that one should never eat in the church building, period and, to do so is a sin. But, is that precisely what Paul intended to convey to the churches of Christ? We think that this position is in error and has caused a definite division.

1. The so-called, “Non-Institutional” group is responsible for advocating the no-eating-in the-church-building position. Also known as, “Anti-Churches,” due to their opposition to Bible classes and congregational support of orphan homes through collective church offerings. This group also often insists upon using one cup to distribute the fruit of the vine.

2. They have forced 1 Corinthians 11:34 into a proverb type. But, it is definitely not a proverb! 11:34 is a historical narrative remark by Paul to meet a specific Corinthian problem, where the Lord’s Supper was being confused with the common meal (1 Cor. 11:20). In 11:21, he states the problem. Then, Paul asks in order to teach-“What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in?” (11:22). Paul cannot commend this practice (11:22). He proceeds to cite how the communion was initiated and meant to be perpetuated (11:22-26). To do otherwise is to engender a profane practice (11:27-33). His solution is to avoid mixing the common meal with the Lord’s Supper.

3. Acts 20:11 should studiously be consulted in conjunction with Acts 20:7. Notice that after they had worshipped together at Troas, they shared a time of food and conversation. This Christian tradition is known as the “love feast” (see Jude 12-tais agapais).

-Robert M. Housby

Lack Luster Lord’s Supper?

December 9th, 2007

Does Observance of the Lord’s Supper
Every Lord’s Day Diminish Its Design?

“Do this in remembrance of me”

(1 Corinthians 11:24)

We recently encountered a view of the Lord’s Supper which essentially tries to justify the denominational practice of observing the emblems less often than weekly. The rationale for this view goes something like this—To take the communion every week is to defeat its purpose as being a special observance.

The above view fails to appreciate the following scriptural information:

(1) The Lord, himself, designed this communion memorial and the apostles by inspiration transmitted these directives to the church (Acts 2:42). It is, therefore, not a matter open to the discretion of a board of deacons or church bishops to negate what is already in place (see 1 Cor. 11:23; 14:37; 4:17).

(2) The frequency of the Lord’s Supper must include the apostolic traditions which have been set forth in the New Testament, not traditions which were super-added hundreds of years later (see 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 4:1-2).

(3) The Lord’s Supper coincides with the Lord’s Day; that is a weekly participation (see Rev. 1:10; 1 Cor. 11:17,18,20; 16:1-2; Acts 20:7).

(4) The Acts 20:7 reference is even stronger in Greek than in English, though the English is quite adequate to convey the truth that the reason why they came together was to partake of the communion.

The idea of observing the Lord’s Supper annually; quarterly; or, bi-monthly is a departure from the New Testament. This kind of arbitrary reasoning challenges the Lord’s revelation on the subject. One might as well try to argue that praying done weekly diminishes from its being special; or that singing, scripture reading; or preaching detract from the Lord’s design. So, “pray without ceasing” and remember the Lord as often as you come together.

– Robert M. Housby

Your Church Membership: Not the Watered-Down Version

July 2nd, 2006

“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks,
slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit”

(1 Corinthians 12:13)

We are living in a society that attempts to devalue Christ and his church. There is a real tendency, these days, to water-down the gospel. When Paul wrote that baptized believers were “made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:27) we are persuaded that he did not mean watered-down benefits. Nor, does God intend that we return to him watered-down service. The basics of church membership mean—

1. The baptized are the members (1 Corinthians 12:13; Acts 18:8). Only the washed are justified in the name of the Lord and the Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6:11). The Lord adds people to his church at the point of baptism (Acts 2:41,47)—not before. Immersion in water for the remission of sins is essential (Acts 2:38; 22:16). To break with the plan of salvation is to dilute the message with the traditions of men (Mark 7:6-9).

2. All members are the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). When Paul told the early church that they were the body of Christ, he affirmed (1) that they belonged to Christ and, (2) that they now had a function (1 Corinthians 12:15, 19). We are aware that the Lord, himself, went about doing good while in his earthly body (Acts 10:38). In the same way, the body of Christ, the church, was meant for good works (Ephesians 1:22; 2;10; Romans 12:3-8).

Christ and his church are one“For we are members of his body, of His flesh and of his bones” (Ephesians 3:21; 5:30-32). If, today, you find yourself out of touch with the body of Christ—perhaps you have forgotten just how important church membership is—may these reminders serve to re-dedicate your service in the body, which is the church of Christ.

-Robert M. Housby

“Easy Come – Easy Go?”

July 3rd, 2005

“You were unmindful of the Rock…”

(Deuteronomy 32:18)

“…For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased…”

(1 Corinthians 10:4,5)

It is written: “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth” (Deuteronomy 32:18). The apostle Paul wrote concerning the children of Israel, “…with most of them God was not pleased” (1 Corinthians 10:5). Today, people in general and Christians in particular, are influenced by the “spirit of their age.” That is the reason why Paul wrote: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed…” (Romans 12:2). The term “world” in Romans 12:2 is aionion; and means “age,” the spirit of the age, or by implication, what is currently and culturally normal. One such norm of our world is the, “Easy Come and Easy Go” mentality. In other words, little invested and little lost. Commitment is under discussion.
The Rock is God’s chosen designation of stability for his people (Deuteronomy 32). Be mindful of your Rock today; and the Rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:1-22).
“Easy Come and Easy Go” was not written of the soul.

-Robert M. Housby

Planting the Lord’ s Church in Cape Girardeau, Missouri

June 12th, 2005

“You are God’s field”

(1 Corinthians 3:9)

What a tremendous thought to envision the Lord our God laboring in a field, and to know that that field is His work among men. The apostle would say to the Corinthian church, “You are God’s field” ( 1 Corinthians 3:9). By extension of this same imagery, we may speak of the planting of the Lord’s church in our own community today.

1. We are standing in the very field and heritage of the early church. This would include the legacy of Paul, Sosthenes, and Apollos, for example (1 Cor. 1:1; 3:6).


2. While our human labor is certainly not of a meritorius kind
(1 Cor. 3:7), still, it’ s said to have “wages” (1 Cor. 3:8).


3.
Concerning these ” wages,” 1 Corinthians 3:8 relates that ” …each will receive is wages according to his labor.


4.
Notice the unity and camaraderie involved in doing church work: ” …He who plants and he who waters are one” (1 Cor. 3:8).


5.
Comprehend, also, that God is interested in church ” growth” ( 1 Cor. 3:7).


6.
In fact, God is the supreme giver of church growth (1 Cor. 3:6,7).

Yes, we will come rejoicing bringing in the sheaves. Be assured, God does know of your labors, and he will never forget every little thing you do in his name. You are God’s field! And, may you do with your acre what he expects; nothing more and nothing less.

-Robert M. Housby

Categories: 1 Corinthians, Bible, New Testament, Outreach Tags:

The Contender

May 1st, 2005

“…I do not box as one beating the air”

(1 Corinthians 9:26)

 

In the new television series, The Contender, Sugar Ray Leonard and Sylvester “Rocky” Stallone bring their expertise to a group of common, everyday men and their families. These men are battling as underdogs for a better life. The apostle Paul, himself, uses a boxing illustration in 1 Corinthians 9:26. He is expressing how serious and committed he is to the cause of Christ in his own life. He is not “shadow-boxing,” as it were, he is a Christian, contending in the very arena of reality itself.
In the story of the Jews, Jacob plays a major role. Jacob was the son of Isaac and Rebekah. The Bible tells the story of how Jacob was born, struggling in the womb (Gen. 25:22) and holding on to his twin brother’s heel (Gen. 25:26). Genesis 25:23 plainly expresses that these two brothers would be two nations (Gen. 25:23). Later, in the life of Jacob, he is found wrestling with an angel in a symbolic action that would change his name from “Jacob” to “Israel” (Gen. 32:28): “What is your name? And he said, Jacob. Then he said, Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed…And there he blessed him” (32:29).

The biblical basis for contending is relevant (Eph. 6:12; 2 Cor. 10:3-6; 2 Tim. 4:7):

1. May our prayer be the prayer of Psalm 35 – “Contend, O LORD…” on our behalf and for our welfare (Ps. 35:1,23,27).
2. May we contend for the gospel (Philippians 1:27).
3. May we contend for Christ and His church (Eph. 3:21).
4. May we contend for our families (Eph. 5:33-6:4).

The Contender is more than a made-for-television series. The Contender is in you.

-Robert M. Housby

Categories: 1 Corinthians, Bible, New Testament Tags:

The Greek Games and the New Testament

August 15th, 2004

“An athlete is not crowned
unless he competes according to the rules”

(2 Timothy 2:5)

Paul’s style of speaking and writing often reflected familiar things of the Greek world. One such area, in which Paul alluded on numerous occasions were the Greek games (1 Corinthians 9:24,25; 2 Timothy 2:5; Ephesians 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7). To Paul, these games served to illustrate discipline, rules, personal integrity, and joyous victory. Paul tried to communicate the gospel in terms of this very Greek mentality (1 Corinthians 9:22).

Although the Olympic games are usually associated with Athens, Greece, or the Corinthian Isthmian games, there was a gaming atmosphere fostered even in Palestine by Herod the Great. In a city of Samaria, Sebaste (Acts 6:5), Herod built a stadium out of personal devotion to the Greek games. The New Testament scholar, Merrill F. Unger states that: “Herod supported the Olympic games, and even offered rewards for the 192 Olympiad” (Archaeology and the New Testament, p. 150).

The popular Greek historian, Edith Hamilton, and others, have observed, “The Greeks played, but the Romans watched.” Perhaps, it is this spectator mood versus the participation mode that James had in mind when he wrote: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life…” (James 1:12).

The crown of the games was a simple garland of olive leaves, or pine needles. The crown (stephanos) of Christians is an imperishable wreath from the thorny brow of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 5:4). Herod did not compete by the rules; while the Romans merely watched. Watch the Summer Games of Athens. But, participate in the eternal gospel of heaven.

— Robert M. Housby

Baptism for Remission of Sins

July 11th, 2004

“And Peter said to them, Repent, and let each of you be
baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness
of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”

(Acts 2:38, NAS)

The following excerpt is taken from brother Walter Scott’s periodical, TheEvangelist (Vol. VIII.Cincinnati, Ohio, December 1, 1840. No. 12) reprinted by College Press. We are including it in this week’s bulletin to assist in the teaching of persons currently under the influence of Calvinism, Baptist, or other denominational error regarding the role of Christian baptism. The article is impressive because it is written a learned Baptist scholar, Dr. John Gale:

“…I would note to you that one use, and end, and design of baptism, was for the remission of sins; of this we are assured in the express words of scripture. Thus in 1 Corinthians 6:11, after the apostle has enumerated a great many abominable sins and vices, which exclude the unrighteous from the kingdom of God, he adds, “and such were some of you; but ye are washed, i.e. in your baptism you are purified and cleansed from all guilt and pollution of these sins… .Thus saint Peter says to those being pricked in their hearts, and convinced by his preaching, inquired what they must do, Acts 2:37,38… And so again, chap. xxii.16, baptism is said to wash away sins… The scriptures shew us, that Christ instituted baptism for the remission of sins”

(Sermons of John Gale, London, 1724)

We prefer, “a thus saith the Lord,” or a word from an apostle. However, there are many in the world, who, because of their allegiance to their particular denomination, will hear only one of their own speak, we offer the words of Dr. Gale.

May all come to accept the words of scripture without human amendment (Rev. 22:18,19).

 

– Robert M. Housby