A Short and Powerful Sermon

[Article written by Matt Nevins. Originally published in his email newsletter “The Lamp.”]

I remember learning about the prophet Jonah as a young boy. The emphasis was usually on obedience to God when looking at Jonah trying to flee the presence of the Lord. Certainly this account is a good example to consider what happens as a result of obedience and disobedience. Yet there are other grand lessons that can be learned if we rewind the clock and consider what happens before the choice of obedience or disobedience is made. Let us consider the message that is given which requires the decision of an individual. We will not look at the message given to Jonah which caused him to make a decision, but rather the sermon Jonah presented that called for a city to repent.
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Of What Kind of Church Are You a Member?

Church building

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus promised to build His church. In Acts 2 we read about the establishment of that church. Throughout the book of Acts, we see how the church grew from its beginnings in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. The New Testament as a whole provides us with a picture of the church our Lord purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28). Several times, we read about a congregation being rebuked for problems that existed there. It can be profitable for us to consider the issues that affected these churches and compare them to the church where we are members. Every problem in every congregation in the New Testament will not be discussed in this article. But as we look at some of these, think about the congregation where you attend. Notice if there are things there that may need to be addressed as well.
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A Famine in the Land

Drought

How much importance do we place in the word of God? Do we appreciate the seriousness of our responsibility to know God’s word? God said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). There are many passages we can read to show the importance of knowing God’s word. In this article we will notice one such passage that shows the importance of God’s word and the results of being without it.

‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord God, ‘when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and from the north even to the east; they will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, but they will not find it. In that day the beautiful virgins and the young men will faint from thirst. As for those who swear by the guilt of Samaria, who say, “As your god lives, O Dan,” and, “As the way of Beersheba lives,” they will fall and not rise again’” (Amos 8:11-14).

This passage begins with a parallel between the word of God and food in order to make the point that His word sustains us in our spiritual life in the same way that food sustains us in our physical life. This comparison is also made in the New Testament when the word of God is referred to as “milk” and “solid food,” or “meat” (1 Peter 2:2; Hebrews 5:12). Those passages teach that the word of God is designed to cause us to grow and mature as Christians. Other passages also show the importance of the word of God. Without the words of Christ, we cannot obtain eternal life (John 6:68). Without the gospel, we cannot be saved (Romans 1:16). In the same way that food nourishes us physically, God’s word nourishes us spiritually.
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What About the Thief on the Cross?

Three Crosses

When talking to others from various denominations about the subject of salvation, we can see that man has many different ideas as to how one is saved. Some will tell you that in order to be saved, you just need to receive Jesus into your heart and accept Him as your personal Savior. Some will say you need to pray the “sinner’s prayer” and ask God to forgive you of your sins. Others will tell you that as long as you believe in God, then that is all that is necessary to receive salvation. Usually no passage is cited to prove their assertion. When one is, it has been taken out of context and misapplied. When we study the New Testament, we see one consistent message showing what man must do in order to be saved. We must believe in Christ, repent of our sins, be baptized in water, and live faithfully in service to God from that point forward (John 8:24; Mark 16:16; Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Revelation 2:10).

When pointing out these things to others, a question will often come up – “What about the thief on the cross?” Notice what Luke recorded:
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They Think It Strange

The Christian life is different from the life of one in the world. Paul told the Christians in Rome: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). While Paul was giving his defense before Agrippa, he used that opportunity to try and “persuade” the king “to become a Christian” (Acts 26:28). The statement by Agrippa showed that he realized that Paul was trying to convince him to become a Christian. The very fact that he had to be persuaded to become a Christian shows that living as a Christian requires one to be different from the world. In writing to Christians, Peter said that the ones who knew them before they were Christians would “think it strange” that they do not live in the same manner that they lived before (1 Peter 4:4). Why would they think it strange? What is it about the Christian life that is different from the world? We will notice a few points from the context surrounding 1 Peter 4:4.
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Plain Bible Teaching

[Article written by Matt Nevins. Originally published in his email newsletter “The Lamp.”]

It becomes frustrating trying to study religion, especially the many denomination of the world. The source of my frustration is the changing attitudes and philosophies used by the religious world. Yet God is unchanging in nature, and so is the message He has revealed. Many groups claim to follow the Bible, but not only the Bible. Catholics, Mormons, Baptists, Home Churches, and certainly other groups have written their own creed books that are used in addition to the Bible as canon. These groups plainly show that the Bible is insufficient and that God was not able to deliver the whole gospel. However, the Bible teaches that “all things pertaining to life and godliness” has been “once for all delivered to the saints” in the days of the New Testament (2 Pet. 1:3, Jude 3). God has revealed what He desires and we can see how plain the message is in its nature.
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Understanding Sin

[This article was written by Matt Nevins.]

There is at least one thing that everyone has in common – sin. Paul plainly observes, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). It is sin that severs us from God (James 4:4). The severed relationship is a consequence of sin, and is evident from the beginning with Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:15-17; 3:22-24). Because of the forbidden desires one wishes to fulfill, thus yielding to worldly desires (1 John 2:16), sin is produced which ends in a separation from God (Romans 6:23). Understanding sin and its nature, we will become appreciative of the grace God has extended to us.
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