Browse Month: February 2016

Deliberate Sin

Church of Christ Scripture Readins, Bible Lessons and SermonsRead Hebrews 10:26-29 Is this scripture telling us that if a Christians sins, that there is no hope for us? Note what these verses describe as the ‘deliberate sin’ for which there is ‘no more sacrifice”:

– It is described as a continuing action (keeps on sinning)
– It is compared to a rejection of Moses’ law
– It is said to be trampling the Son of God underfoot
– It is treating the blood of the covenant as an unholy thing
– It is insulting the spirit of grace

In life, nearly all sins are deliberate – we know what we should do or not do, but for some reason end up violating what we should have done. Even the apostle Paul struggled with this – Rom 7:15 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” And what about the failures of Peter? Jesus had told him to be on guard, that he would deny Him three times, but when confronted at the home of the High Priest, Peter did exactly what Jesus knew he would do, even denying Jesus with an oath (Matt 26:70-72). Surely this was done deliberately – is this the kind of thing the Hebrew writer was referring to?

We often find ourselves, like Peter, scared and weak and in a hard place – under pressure we give in even though we know better – it was deliberate. But this is not what the Hebrew writer is speaking about. The passage in Heb 10:26 is referring to one who has chosen to turn his back on Jesus and continues to do so as his regular style of life. It is not referring to one act, but to a continuing pattern of disobedience. When one rejects Christ and His sacrifice, there is no other way for the person to be saved. Acts 4:12, John 14:6

When a person who was once a Christian turns back into the world and rejects God’s way – there is no more sacrifice to cover his sins. The blood of Jesus provides cleaning for those whose walk is ‘in the light’ – 1John 1:6-7 “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” Now what does “walk in the light” mean? Does it mean that we never sin or fail? The very next verse says – 1John 1:8-9, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

What the Lord demands is that we confess our failures, ask for His forgiveness, and get back in the light of His word. It is when we refuse to repent, refuse to return, and go our own way that we are guilty of the deliberate sin of Heb 10:26. This is the same warning that is given by Peter in 2 Pet 2:20-22.

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Equal Rewards

Church of Christ SermonsOur society seems preoccupied with the idea that everyone who participates in some event, class, or activity should receive the same reward. If they do not, the complaint is that they ‘feel bad’ or ‘left out’ and that it is wrong to reward only those who win the contest or finish their work correctly. Yet the Bible teaches clearly the idea of rewarding the good and punishing the bad. That is what heaven and hell are all about.

In the beginning, God made a covenant with Adam that if obeyed, he would be cared for, and if he disobeyed that he would ‘surely die’. (Gen 2:17) God gave Israel laws and told them that he would reward them for obeying and punish them when they disobeyed. (Deut 28:9-15) Abel had his sacrifice accepted, while Cain’s was rejected. Cain had his feelings hurt, but God was more concerned with his spiritual state than his feelings. God told Cain in Gen 4:6-7 “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

Paul writes in 1Cor 9:24-25. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” Paul points out that we must do whatever is necessary to receive the prize of salvation. It is not given to everyone who shows up for the race, but to the one who makes the effort to win it.

The idea of rewarding everyone equally, regardless of how they do is anti-God. It stifles any incentive to try to improve, to increase our abilities, or perform better. The scriptures tell us to “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” (Luke 13:24) and again “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to the things that we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if ignore such a great salvation?” (Heb 2:1-2)

Teaching a child that they will be rewarded equally no matter what they do is rooted is the devil’s lie to program out heaven’s rewards and hell’s punishment. One who has grown up with the “fairness doctrine” of rewards will reject God’s authority to Judge or have the opinion that ‘we are all going to be in heaven anyway, because that would only be fair- God wouldn’t condemn some people to an eternity of punishment. He is too good and loving.’ We see this attitude throughout our society today. Not only is God’s authority to judge questioned, but all authority is being rejected. There will be many at judgment who will be very surprised at their eternal home. Jesus said in Matt 7:21. “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Church of Christ Mt Healthy Ohio

Church of Christ Doctrine




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Defending Against Temptation

Church of Christ SermonsWhat are some of the defenses we can use against temptation ?

1) Self-respect – when Nehemiah was tempted by Shemiah to hide in the temple in order to save his life, Nehemiah said: Neh 6:11 “But I said, ‘Should a man like me run away? Or should one like me go into the temple to save his life ? I will not go !’” We know ourselves and we have to live with the consequences of our actions.

2) Our Christian identity – we are children of the King, children of God, chosen people (Col 3:12) We have a responsibility and a reputation to uphold, not just for ourselves, but as the representatives of God.

3) Consider the effects of sin – what will this do to the relationship with my family, friends, or with God? What physical effects will this have on me and others – diseases, suffering, financial difficulties, and the spiritual consequences of an eternity in hell.

4) Prayer – Jesus told his disciples to pray to overcome their temptation (Mark 4:38)

5) The presence of Jesus – He is always with us; the Holy Spirit dwells in us – how can we sin against the one who died for us ?

Although God permits Satan to tempt us, He has placed limits on the temptation and always provides a way for us to escape – 1Cor 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you are able to bear. But when you are tempted, He will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” Have you sought the ‘way out’ when faced with the pressure of temptation ? Do you feel the presence of God with you at all times? Have you prayed for His help in times of testing? (Ps 107:1-6)

Satan is no match for the Lord. Hide yourself in Him and you will find the armor you need to win the fight. Eph 6:13-18 “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions withal kinds of prayers and requests.”
Use the defenses the Lord provides.

Church of Christ Mt Healthy Ohio

Church of Christ Scripture




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Check It Out!

Bible Scripture TruthThe scripture says “Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good” 1 Thess 5:21 The Bible invites those who question it to test what it says. Jesus said in John 7:17 “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” In other words – check out what is taught. Try it out to see if it is true. Christianity isn’t afraid of evaluation, in fact it invites public scrutiny. (Acts 17:11)

In contrast, many religions of the world don’t see truth as something that is subject to evaluation and testing. They want truth to be a matter of personal conclusion and nothing else. When asked what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ they will claim not to be sure. This is designed to make them look humble. But these same individuals want you to believe what they believe. If you state your belief in the word of God as absolute truth, and Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven – you are looked upon as intolerant or arrogant. But it is not arrogant to state your belief and present the evidence to support it, and then invite scrutiny.

The truth is that these other religions do not want to defend their beliefs or offer proof. They castigate anyone who wants to question what they teach or to debate the evidence. Consider the following: suppose you are stranded in the desert with no water and you come across two people . One says “I have water and here is the evidence for it being pure and clean. Test it for yourself.” The second person says “Don’t listen to that fellow who wants you to test everything. I have water, I think. It may be poison, but I’m not going to allow you to test it. Just trust me and let’s drink it together and see what happens.” Who is the truly arrogant person here?

There is such a thing as false humility. Paul wrote in Col 2:23 that some had a ‘show’ of humility, but were not truly humble. Many religious teachers seem humble, but ask you to believe what they are saying without any evidence or allowing the subjective testing of their beliefs. This is the height of arrogance.

If someone says to you , ‘I’m not sure – you may be right and I may be wrong’, then you need to ask them –‘ then why are you living the way that you do? If you may be wrong or if you are not sure, then why don’t you give up what you are doing and teaching others?’ How can you ask someone to believe what you do when you cannot offer any evidence of its truthfulness? We as Christians need to clearly state what we believe and invite others to examine the truth of the scriptures for themselves. Christians have no fear of rigorous examination of our beliefs, but those who believe only because someone else ‘told them it was so’ have everything to fear! (1 John 4:1)

Cincinnati Church of Christ Cincinnati OH

Church of Christ Beliefs




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Can A Sinner Pray For ……

Bible-Lessons.jpgThe “religious world” teaches that God will accept a person if they pray for certain things, but what does the Bible say?

Can a person pray for …

-God to love them? Read John 3:16 and Rom 5:8 it is redundant to ask God to love us in light of these verses.

-acceptance by God? Read Acts 10:34-35 and Eph 1:6-7 Sinners do not need to pray for God to accept them, rather they need to obey the teachings of Christ to be accepted by God. Read John 14:23

-salvation? Read the account of Saul in Acts 9:3-19 and Acts 22:6-16 When Ananias found Saul praying, he stopped the prayer with the command to be baptized in order to have his sins forgiven. No one was ever told in the Bible to pray for salvation. There is no record of a ‘sinner’s prayer’ anywhere in the Bible. Salvation is found when a penitent person is baptized – Read Acts 2:37-40

-God’s grace? Read Titus 2:11-12 God’s grace has been given to us in the gospel. We cannot pray for some other way when God has already told us what to do in His word. Read Mark 16:16 and 2Cor 5:17-21 And how do we get ‘into Christ’ and find this promised grace ? Gal 3:26-27 “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ.”

What then is the sinner to do? Accept the word of God, believe in Jesus and obey the commands of the scriptures. The power of salvation is in obedience to the commands of the scriptures, not in prayer. Read Rom 1:16 and in Rom 6:3-4 “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him in baptism in order that , just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

Will you follow the clear scriptural teaching today? Do not depend on what some man or some preacher has told you – read it for yourself. We will answer only to God for our responsibility of knowing and following the instructions that he has given us!

Consider this:

If Jesus had gone to heal Lazarus when Martha and Mary asked, it wouldn’t have been a new kind of miracle. Everyone already knew that Jesus could heal the sick. Lazarus had been dead four days, everyone knew this. According to Jewish belief, the spirit stayed around the body three days in hope of returning, but at four days – there was no hope. Martha even said “there will be an odor”. Imagine the shock when Jesus called Lazarus from the grave and he came out alive again. No one could deny the great miracle that had been done and that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. There is a reason why God acts on His own time frame. May we learn to wait for the Lord’s perfect timing.
Note: Jesus had to specifically call “Lazarus, come out” otherwise all of the dead would have been raised!

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Clear Vision

Bible Scripture TruthMatt 6:22-23 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness.”

The eye has been called ‘the window of the soul’. If the window is clean, clear, and undistorted, light passing through it will be unchanged. But if the window is dirty or distorted, the light passing through is affected by those conditions. What Jesus is teaching is that the light that gets into a man’s heart depends on the condition of the spiritual eye through which it passes.

What makes a good spiritual eye? First, the eye must be honest. Prejudice distorts vision, makes us blind to the facts, and prevents clear, logical, unbiased decisions. Jealousy can color our vision too. It distorts words and actions so that even innocent things seem suspicious. Conceit can also cloud the vision. It keeps us from seeing ourselves as we really are and others as they truly are. Rom 12:3 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

Second, the eye must be generous. The Greek word for “good” used in this passage is ‘haplous’ which means generous or liberally. Jesus is teaching that we are to be generous in our judgments of others. We are to seek the best in people, not expect the worst. We are to be generous in judging the motives of others. To presume to know the motives is to make oneself God – only He knows men’s hearts. 1 Cor 4:5 One whose eye is bad has a hard time living happily in this world. They are always envying another’s success, begrudging another’s happiness, and closing their hearts to other’s needs. There grows in them a root of bitterness and resentment that robs them of happiness, joy, and contentment. A person with bad eyes is always suspicious and wary of love. But worst of all, the person whose eye is bad cannot fellowship God , for God is the embodiment of love, forgiveness, and generosity. We cannot live in harmony with God if we have no fellowship with people. (1 Pet 1:22, John 13: 34-35)

Is your eye clear, pure, and undefiled? Is your heart filled with love for God and for those made in His image? Or is it darkened by suspicion, selfishness, and resentment? Do you need to come to the Great Physician and have your sight corrected ?

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By Bread Alone

By Bread Alone
By Bread Alone
In Luke 4:4, Jesus said that we cannot live by bread alone, but by every word of God. He made that statement while he was being tempted in wilderness by Satan. After Jesus was baptized ‘to fulfill all righteousness’, He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where for forty days he underwent temptation by the devil. While there, He had nothing to eat and afterwards was hungry (Luke 4:2).

Most of us are “starving” if dinner is a little late, and missing a meal altogether is a big deal – imagine forty days of nothing to eat. Jesus must have been in an extremely weakened state physically and mentally as well. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to be mentally alert when you are really hungry? Nutritionists have said that if a person is to be sharp mentally, they need a good breakfast in the morning and a good lunch to sustain them throughout the day. Yet the devil comes to Jesus at His weakest physical and mental state.

Satan loves to attack us when we are in our most vulnerable situations. Knowing Jesus had the power to do so, Satan tempts Him to use His power to ‘turn these stones into bread’. (Luke 4:3) But as weak as Jesus was, He resisted the temptation as He did in all cases, by turning to the word of God. Scripture was the source of Jesus’ strength to fight temptation and it must be ours also. It supplies everything we need for life and godliness (2Pet 1:3) and furnishes us for every good work (2Tim 3:16-17). And notice the attitude of Christ in His answer to Satan. Even though He was very hungry, He recognized that the material things of the body and this life are secondary to the spiritual things and to the will of God.

And after Jesus had experienced and practiced this attitude, He taught it to the people. He told them not to worry about the material things of life, but to seek first the kingdom of God and that all the necessities would follow. (Matt 6:24-33) Our greatest goal is to do the will of God. Yet most people seem to have the priorities reversed. They spend their lives in pursuit of the physical and never give attention to the spiritual. Jesus told about a rich man who He called a fool for his attitude toward his possessions. (Luke 12) He was a fool for being solely concerned with the physical and not being ‘rich toward God’.

Christians are not always free from this priority problem. Sometimes material things start having a great priority in their lives. And sometimes, if we are not careful and watchful, they take over our lives and fill our hearts. (Matt 13:22) Where Christ and His word once were most important, now this world and its concerns have taken over. Paul said that the love of money has caused some to wander from the faith and pierce themselves through with many sorrows. (1Tim 6:10) If we want to please God and overcome the devil, we must strive to put the will of God first and material things second. Do not live by ‘bread alone’, but by every word that comes from God!

Cincinnati Church of Christ Cincinnati Ohio

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Crossroads

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In every course of action, we are confronted with choices. We cannot stand still, we must go one way or the other. Matt 7: 13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

In these verses, Jesus lays out the choices for our soul. We can choose the easy way or the way of discipline. We recognize that it takes hours of sweat, work, and practice in our world for people to gain certain abilities. To us, it may look easy, but we did not see all the hours spent trying to master that skill. To believe that there is an easy way to reach success is to believe the lie of Satan. We must choose between the long way and the short way. While an idea may come in a flash, it is a fact that great writings, engineering advances, or other major ‘breakthroughs’ are the result of years of patient and trying work. Just as an original product goes through changes until it reaches the perfected form, so we as Christians take time to mature into the finished product that God intends us to be , reflecting the image of our Lord.

When James Garfield was president of Hiram College, a father came to enroll his son. He asked for a shorter curriculum than the regular one. “The boy could never take all that in” explained the father, “He wants to get through quicker. Can you arrange that for him?” The future president answered “Oh, yes, he can take a short course; it all depends on what you want to make of him. When God wants to make a squash, it only takes him two months; but when he wants to make an oak, it takes a hundred years.”

Many people today want instant spirituality – but it doesn’t happen that way. There are no short cuts; it takes time and practice to grow a strong faith. Heb 5:13-14 Do we want the disciplined way or the undisciplined way? How many athletes have been lost by abandoning their discipline. It takes discipline to succeed – 1Cor 9:24-27. We must choose between the thoughtful and the thoughtless way. We know in our hearts that the easy way, the undisciplined way, the short way does not produce that results we want. Yet we believe the devil’s lie that even though it has never worked before, maybe for us it will. We live in a generation that wants things NOW, that feels they deserve things NOW, that they are entitled to what others have taken years to achieve handed to them NOW. James 5:7-8

All of us are on one path or the other. We cannot refuse to choose, for in doing so we have already selected the ‘easy’ path. Which way are you in? John 14:15, Mark 16:15-16

Provided by: Arlington Church of Christ in Cincinnati, OH

Non-Denominational Churches in Cincinnati




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