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

Obedient to That Form of Teaching

Romans 6:17

Romans 6 is a critical chapter in the New Testament. It discusses the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian. It concisely explains why this difference exists and what happened in the life of a Christian to bring about this difference. This chapter can be summarized in the following two verses:

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18).

Paul was writing to Christians in Rome. Previously, they were “slaves of sin.” But at this time, they were “slaves of righteousness.” How did this change occur? They “became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which [they] were committed.

To better understand what Paul was discussing, let us do a brief overview of this chapter.Continue Reading

The Sect That Is Spoken Against Everywhere

Paul in Rome

When Paul came to Rome as a prisoner, he was permitted to meet with the Jewish leaders in that city. The apostle used this opportunity to explain why he was there – not as an enemy of the Jewish people but that he was suffering “for the sake of the hope of Israel” (Acts 28:17-20). The Jewish leaders had not heard about Paul, but they had heard about the church.

They said to him, ‘We have neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren come here and reported or spoken anything bad about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere” (Acts 28:21-22).

The church was this “sect…spoken against everywhere.” Why was this the case?

When we study the book of Acts, we find several reasons why the church was “spoken against everywhere.” As we follow the same pattern that they followed, this will often happen to us as well. We will be “spoken against” by others. It is not that we should seek out trouble or conflict. Paul told the Romans, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). However, we do need to be prepared for this reality.Continue Reading

The Message of the Gospel (Sermon #38)

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The Message of the Gospel (Sermon #38)

We’re in between season 11 and season 12. During the break we’re posting audio sermons each week instead of the regular episodes. The sermon for this week was preached on October 28, 2018 at the Eastside church of Christ in Morgantown, KY.

If you found this episode to be useful, please share it with others. Also, if you enjoyed the podcast, please leave a rating on iTunes or Stitcher. This also helps others hear about the podcast. Thanks.

The Message of the Gospel

Romans

In his letter to the Christians in Rome, Paul described the gospel as “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). This verse is often thought of as the theme of Paul’s letter – and for good reason. However, it is also important to note the first few verses of this letter as they introduce this central topic.

Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:1-6).

Since the gospel is “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16), we want to be prepared to talk to others about the gospel – especially those who are unfamiliar with it. The opening verses of the book of Romans provide us with an outline to help us do just that. Let us break down these verses and see how they help explain the message of the gospel.Continue Reading

Great Days in History (Part 6): The Day of Judgment

Great Days in History

Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

In this sixth lesson, we will be discussing the day of judgment. Like the second lesson, this may seem like a bit of a jump to go all the way from the day of Pentecost to here. However, we are not skipping so much as we are going to be summarizing the time between these two days.Continue Reading

Great Days in History (Part 5): The Day of Pentecost

Great Days in History

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).

The day of Pentecost – called the Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10) – occurred fifty days after the Passover (Leviticus 23:15-16). This was to be observed every year by the Jews; however, this lesson is not about the annual event, but one specific day – the day of Pentecost following Jesus’ ascension.Continue Reading