Unlikely Converts

Men on the subway

In the following passage, James described a scenario in which two individuals visited the assembly of the church. After they arrived, the brethren treated them differently based upon their appearances.

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?” (James 2:1-4).

James warned these brethren that they were not to treat others differently based upon their appearances. He explained in the next verse that “God [chose] the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom” (James 2:5). Yet they treated the poor as if they were unimportant. By this kind of treatment, they were putting a barrier between these individuals and the salvation that the Lord offered to them – all because they made a judgment about them based upon their appearance.

Sometimes when we think of evangelism and converting the lost, we might have a picture in our minds of the type of person we could see being receptive to the gospel. However, if we are not careful we could subconsciously reject or overlook some who might have otherwise been interested (the single mother, the person with tattoos, the immigrant who speaks broken English, or, in the example given by James, the poor man who cannot afford nice clothes to wear to the assembly of the church). Sometimes the ones who are converted to Christ are not the ones we would expect.

The New Testament contains several examples of individuals who would have been unlikely converts because they did not fit the mold of one who might be considered a good prospect. Yet they obeyed the gospel and became disciples of Christ. Let us notice some of these in this article.Continue Reading

The Limitations of Man

Man on a mountain

The word of the Lord came again to me, saying, ‘Son of man, say to the leader of Tyre, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Because your heart is lifted up and you have said, “I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods in the heart of the seas”; yet you are a man and not God, although you make your heart like the heart of God’”’” (Ezekiel 28:1-2).

Man has been made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27), but man does not share all of the attributes of God. In the passage above, the king of Tyre was condemned because he arrogantly thought of himself as being equal with God. He had certainly made great accomplishments in gaining wisdom and acquiring riches (Ezekiel 28:3-5), but God would prove to him that he was just a man: “Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of your slayer, though you are a man and not God, in the hands of those who wound you?” (Ezekiel 28:9).

We must recognize that as human beings, there are certain limitations that are placed upon us. Understanding this should cause us to be humble and to submit to the will of God. In this article, we are going to consider some of these limitations and see, in contrast, the greatness of God.Continue Reading

The Christian’s Boast

Man in front of waterfall

In the first half of Romans 5, Paul explained how Christians have been justified by faith and by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross (Romans 5:1-11). In this passage, Paul used the word exult three times (NASB). This is not a term we commonly use today. The King James Version uses three different terms instead – rejoice, glory, and joy. The word means to boast about something (Thayer).

Usually we would think of boasting as something that we should not do as Christians. Yet it depends on the context. Paul told the brethren in Corinth, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31). If the word of God indicates that we are to boast, glory, and rejoice in something, then we can and should do so.

In this article, we will notice the three things Paul indicated in this passage in which we are to boast.Continue Reading

Practicing Church Discipline

Empty pews

Church discipline is often not a pleasant topic to discuss and is even more difficult to practice. Because of this, some congregations hardly discuss it at all. Then when a situation arises that requires it, they are either unsure how to proceed or they ignore it altogether and hope the problem simply goes away.

However, while church discipline is often difficult and painful to practice, there are times when it is absolutely necessary. Furthermore, the Scriptures show us that when it is done for the right reason and in the right way, it is actually for the good of the congregation and of the one from whom the church withdrew fellowship.

In this article, we are going to consider several passages in the New Testament that talk about this topic; but we will use Paul’s instructions in 1 Corinthians 5 as the outline for our study.Continue Reading

“Follow Me”

Jesus Calls the First Apostles

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

In the Great Commission, Jesus told His apostles to go out and make disciples. A disciple is a follower of Jesus. Therefore, the Great Commission was about finding people who would follow Jesus.

This is also what Jesus did while on the earth – He made disciples. But while His apostles would call people to follow Jesus, He would tell them, “Follow Me.

There are a few examples in the gospels in which Jesus offered this invitation – “Follow Me.” In this article, we are going to look at these statements in the book of Matthew and make some applications.Continue Reading

What Has This Year Taught Us?

Masked couple

With a global pandemic, lockdowns, economic woes, a contested Presidential election, and more, this has been quite an unusual year. While the wise man noted that “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9), from our perspective it can seem like we are living in unprecedented times.

As the events of this year have unfolded, there are some important truths that have been highlighted. These have always been true, but they are more apparent in light of recent events. Let us briefly consider a few points.Continue Reading

Why People Do Not Receive Jesus

Scribes and Pharisees

He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:11-12).

When Jesus came and preached to the Jews, many “did not receive Him.” What does this mean?

Some today might explain this as receiving Jesus as their Savior and inviting Him into their heart. Certainly, we must see Jesus as our Savior; however, this is about more than that. This is about receiving Jesus as the Son of God and obeying Him as Lord. John said, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). To believe in the Son is to accept that Jesus is the Son of God. To obey the Son is to recognize Him as Lord – the one with the right to rule over us and expect us to do His will.

In his gospel account, John recorded certain events in Jesus’ life. The purpose of this record was to produce faith in us (John 20:30-31). Yet today, many are like “His own” who “did not receive Him.” Why? People today will often reject Jesus for the same reasons that people did during His time on earth. We will not be considering an exhaustive list of the reasons why people refuse to accept Jesus, but will notice some of the reasons recorded for us in the gospel of John.Continue Reading