Winchester 1873

A few days ago a Winchester model 1873 rifle was found in Great Basin National Park.  This rifle was manufactured in 1882 and is estimated to have been sitting in the park for over 100 years.  It was found just leaning against a tree with a weathered and cracked wood stock and a rusted barrel and action.  This model gun is known as the gun that won the west.  The original price for the rifle was $50 which was a substantial amount in 1882 (probably several months pay).  Records indicate that the rifle left the factory in 1882, but there are no more historical records on this specific rifle.

There are many questions that remain after finding this rifle.  How long has it been sitting there in the park?  Who owned it?  And most importantly to most, why was this valuable rifle just left sitting in the park?  There are many theories that come to mind.

Perhaps the owner of this rifle laid it against the tree to rest for the night and was attacked in the night by bears.  Perhaps the owner of the rifle had been attacked and wounded by Indians and escaped to this hidden position where he leaned the rifle against the tree as he died.  Perhaps he had camped at that spot that evening and left the next morning forgetting his rifle leaning against the tree.  Perhaps he had a heart attack and died in his sleep as he camped by that spot.  The owner of the rifle might have been a good and honest man fighting for peace and protecting his family from the wild west.  Or the owner might have been an outlaw who was robbing stage coaches and killing innocent people.  He could have been a leader in the US army or he could have been a business man headed out west.  He could have been a cattle rustler or a Cherokee Indian chief.

There are so many questions surrounding this rifle.  It is like one man said, “If only this Winchester could talk”.  It is probably more interesting to discuss the “what if’s” then it would be to actually know the truth.

The reality is we don’t know what really happened and probably never will, but there is one thing about this situation that we do know.   We know that just as the rich man in Luke 12:20, his soul has been required of him.  Whether he died at the hands of another person, at the hands of an animal, at the hands of health, or just died of old age…his soul has been required of him.  It no longer matters that he owned “the gun that won the west”.  It no longer mattered where he was heading that day or what he was planning to do in the future.  What matters more than anything in the world to this man is whether or not he died faithful to God.  Romans 2:4-11 describe that either we have a hard heart, refuse to obey God, and will face His wrath in the end, or else we follow God, seek for His glory and will be rewarded with eternal life.  There is no respect of persons with God.  2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

Many times we are so concerned with the details of this life that we forget what really matters.  Sometimes we want the fancy cars, houses, and toys so much that we forget what really matters.  The reality is, the material things that we treasure so dearly in this life will be here long after we are gone.  Someone may someday find one of these material things that we treasured so dearly and say, “I wonder”.  Yet at that point the ONLY thing that will matter is whether or not we lived faithful to God!


Do I Really Want To?

This question might initially be confusing. Certainly one could not answer the question until they understood the object of the question. It is also true that there are many things that a person might wish to do, but they really do not want to do them! Some individuals wish that they had their own small business, but they will not invest the time, money, and work to start a small business. They wish for a small business, but they do not sufficiently desire one enough to sacrifice for it to be a reality. Usually there is a direct correlation between one’s real desire and one’s efforts.

A student in a home Bible study once said, “I would like to think that there is a little bitty piece of Heaven for me.” When the student was taught that he needed to repent and be baptized to be saved (Acts 2:38), he responded that he had done a particular evil to another individual and he would never repent or be sorry for that evil because he was just getting even (Acts 3:19; Luke 13:3). Another student said that he understood what the Bible taught that he must do to be saved, but he responded that he would never do that because such obedience would not be accepted by his family (Matthew 10:37). These individuals wished for Heaven, but they did not desire Heaven enough to pay the cost.

The question for consideration is, “Do I really want to go to Heaven?” Heaven is not found just by entering the correct gate, but it is entered by also following the correct pathway. Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Many people come to the “gate” of the way to Heaven, but they do not desire Heaven sufficiently to finish the “way” to Heaven. Sadly, some become Christians by being baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26, 27), but they fail the trip on the road of life towards Heaven. The fact of one’s baptism alone will not save any individual. Christians are required to be active  laborers in the way that leads to Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:58; Hebrews 4:11; and  Hebrews 6:10)!

To go to Heaven, each person must decide how much they want to go to Heaven. To go to Heaven, one must have a true desire that is more than a wish. To go to Heaven one must love God above all others. Heaven is a place that is only for those who truly love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9). To go to Heaven, one must put God’s kingdom first in this life (Matthew 6:33). To go to Heaven, one must do the will of God (Matthew 7:21). To Go to Heaven one must, love his brethren (1 John 4:20, 21). To go to Heaven, one must live, die, labor and work for the Lord throughout life (Revelation 14:13). To go to Heaven one must overcome the world (Revelation 3:12). To go to Heaven one’s name must be written in the book of life and his works must be according to the things written in the New Testament (Revelation 20:12).

These are only a few of the many things that a person must do if they really desire to go to Heaven. Going to Heaven does not occur because of an afterthought but because of forethought. One is not going to go to Heaven because at the last minute he got right with God. He is going to go to Heaven because he is always ready. After delivering the parable of the ten virgins, Jesus said, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13). No person knows when Jesus might return to call the righteous home and to send the wicked into eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46). No one knows when death will knock with an immediate call at one’s life’s door. The uncertainty of these things allows God to truly measure how much one desires to go to Heaven.

Do I really want to go? If one really wants to go to Heaven, they will be ready, not from the practices of yesterday or the intentions of tomorrow, but because of the reality of today! If one is not ready to go to Heaven today, they do not really want to go to Heaven! If one really wants to go to Heaven, they will be ready today.

David Dalton

Jesus The Son of God

The Son, the second person of the Godhead, was certainly the Son of God and the Son of man.He was the Son of Man as He was born into this world as Jesus the Christ who was Emmanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23). Jesus attested about eighty five times that He was the Son of man in the biographical books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The testimony concerning His being the Son of God is much different in these same books.

The phrase “Son of God” is found in the introduction of the book of Mark. Mark wrote, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). John also briefly mentions Jesus as the Son of God in a quote from John, the baptizer, who made a declaration of this fact when Jesus first appeared in His work (John 1:34). Nathanel is recorded as asking Jesus if He is the Son of God in John 1:49. John alone has Jesus testifying five times concerning the fact that He is the Son of God.

The strange testimonies concerning Jesus being the Son of God came from a most unlikely source, the devil or his angels. According to the chronology of the texts, these were among the first to testify concerning the deity of Jesus. Evidently, at least twice during His wilderness temptation, Jesus was addressed as being the Son of God by the devil (Matthew 4:3, 6 and Luke 4:3, 9). These statements were only made to Jesus who was alone in the wilderness. As Jesus began to do miracles, the testimonies that came from the world of evil spirits seemed to increase. Two Gergesenes who were possessed with devils (demons) cried out, “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God?” (Matthew 8:29). Luke says that one of these men, “When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not” (Luke 8:28). On another occasion, Jesus healed the multitudes and the unclean spirits, “fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God” (Mark 3:11). On this occasion, Jesus “straitly charged them that they should not make him known” (Mark 3:12). Luke 4:41 records, “And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.”

Sometimes men asked Jesus if He was the Son of God. Jesus’ answers to the question varied according to the intent and heart of the person asking the question. When the  unbelieving scribes, Pharisees, and priests asked Jesus, He answered, “Ye say that I am” (Luke 22:70), and on another occasion at His trial Jesus simply did not answer (Matthew 26:63) and later responded, “Thou hast said…” (Matthew 26:64).

Many who lived during the life of Jesus on earth stated their belief that Jesus was the Son of God. Some of these individuals made their statements after great or disturbing events took place. When Peter walked on the water and was later saved into the ship by Jesus, the storm ceased. Those who saw these events proclaimed that Jesus was the son of God (Matthew 14:23). John, the baptizer, after he saw the Holy Spirit come upon Jesus, said, “And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:34). Martha, in discussing matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, said, “I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God. . .” (John 11:27). One of the most convincing testimonies came from the centurion who was responsible for the crucifixion. After seeing the events which occurred at Jesus’ death, he proclaimed, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).

Jesus is still the son of God. John wrote the book which carries his name for the purpose of defending the deity of Christ. John began with the Word being God and being with God in the beginning (John 1:1). John pictured the Word as coming into the world as man (John 1:14). John then proclaimed Jesus as God by the record of His life, His miracles, His death, and His resurrection. One can still know the Son of God today. John wrote, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:30, 31). Knowledge of the Son of God comes as one reads, studies, and knows the truths of God’s word.

David Dalton

The Sermon that Killed

A variety of comments are often made to the preacher about the sermon as he stands at the door. Sometimes people comment that the sermon really “stepped on their toes” or that they “enjoyed that sermon.” Sometimes others more frankly will say, “I did not get much from that sermon” or that they did not like a sermon. One should recognize that since sermons are preached for different purposes, they are not meant to be received in the same manner. Sermons are to reprove, rebuke, and exhort (2 Timothy 4:2).

Sermons that “reprove” are sermons that provide evidences for that which is believed. The first explanation of the term “elegcho” is to convict (Thayer). This means to present the evidences that will cause a person to be convinced of either a biblical truth or a personal wrong. A lot of sermons should be preached to convict people of biblical truth such as the necessity of obeying the gospel, the truth concerning Christian worship, or the evidences for the existence of God. Sermons should also be preached that convict individuals of personal wrongs. When individuals live immoral lives, refuse to submit to God, or commit other public sins, these should be addressed in an effort to convict the individuals to change their ways. Without a doubt these sermons of conviction will be received in different ways because of the variety of individual needs that exist within a congregation.

Other sermons are designed to “rebuke” or to correct the things which are wrong. These are sermons that censure or admonish one to make necessary changes in their actions. The term used here can practically be defined as the telling of a fault (Strong G1651). The sermon might address doctrinal faults, moral faults, congregational faults, or individual faults. Often these sermons are not pleasant for the individual who listens nor for the individual that delivers the sermons, but such is the nature of God’s expectation that such  matters be addressed. Rarely do such sermons receive warm reception and high praise at the back door, but these are most often the thoughts which prick the heart and might possibly end in repentance to the salvation of the soul.

Some sermons should also be sermons that “exhort.” Exhortation involves bringing a person near or “alongside” for the purpose of inviting, invoking, or beseeching them (Strong G3870). These are sermons that encourage people to continue doing the right things. These sermons also exhort for individuals to go beyond or to grow further in righteousness. Individuals that are extremely lacking in spiritual growth often do not recognize these sermons as encouragement but as sermons of rebuke. Individuals that are walking righteously graciously receive these lessons with thanksgiving as they are exhorted to grow in the specific matters that are discussed.  Sometimes a sermon just seems to put people to sleep. It is difficult to ascertain why this is the case, but such has been happening as long as there have been preachers in the church. Paul, an apostle and early proclaimer of God’s word, was preaching when Eutychus fell into a sleep and then fell from the third story and was killed (Acts 20:9). Eutychus was blessed in that God restored physical life to him (Acts 20:10). It is unlikely that an individual today will fall to sleep during a sermon and fall to his death. One should hope that such will not happen today because there would be no immediate resurrection as there was in Eutychus’ case! However, it is the case that those who fall to sleep during the worship of God could wake up to an eternal resurrection and find themselves spiritually condemned to the second death. The danger of sleeping in the worship becomes an increasing danger because the individual who sleeps often becomes defensive and protective of his “right” to sleep. Instead of recognizing that it is wrong to sleep, many who practice such just increase their practice as if it is justified in some way before God simply because they are just so tired! Some “church” sleepers practice their art of sleeping during the singing, praying, and other worship acts also. Since God requires man to worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), the sleeper cannot be worshiping God while he is asleep! One’s physical presence alone in the assembly does not demonstrate worship to God. Maybe the case of the sleeper today and the case of Eutychus are not far apart! Maybe it is not the sermon that kills but the sleep that kills?

David Dalton

Thankful for the Teachers

Bible teachers exist because of the will of God. Early in the New Testament church when there were no accomplished teachers, God sent the Holy Spirit to teach the apostles (John 14:26). The apostles where given the word of God which they put into written form. From the very start of the church, Jesus commanded that the gospel be taught to the entire world (Mark 16:15). God commanded the early church to establish a teacher training process. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul encouraged Timothy to commit the word to faithful people so that they would be able to teach other people. One of the qualifications of an elder is that he must be a teacher of God’s word (1Timothy 3:2). While it is the case that women are not public teachers where men are involved (1 Timothy 2:12), women are admonished to fulfill their role in teaching other women (Titus 2:3, 4), children (1 Timothy 2:15), and even to some degree in instructing individuals to obey the gospel (Acts 18:26).

All of these early practices of the church show how important teaching is to the church. Unless one is taught God’s word, they cannot obey the gospel (Mark 16:15-16). Unless God’s word is taught, they cannot be encouraged to become faithful again when they have gone astray (James 5:19, 20). If one is not taught, they cannot become more mature in Christian living or in knowledge of God’s word (1 Peter 2:2).

Teachers are very special people. They spend many hours in studying God’s word in preparation of their lessons (2 Timothy 2:15). Their studies bring to their knowledge information that they could never have learned in any other way. Teachers then take what they have learned and, in their love of God, their love for the souls of others, their love of proclaiming the truth, their love of seeing others grow spiritually, and their love of teaching, they teach others. Teachers in the children’s classes often use visual illustrations and handout papers that take additional time to prepare, but they spend the time because they understand that the message is very important. Teachers understand the necessity of being in their classrooms before their students arrive so they practice arriving at the building earlier  than most other people arrive. Teachers also know that often they must go back to their rooms after the worship to make sure they have their materials and that the room is ready for the next class time. The class teacher also spends time reflecting upon their lessons in a personal manner. They pray, they seek proper understanding, they apply the principles to their own lives, sometimes they repent, and sometimes they are just thankful to God for the opportunity they have had to grow.

The Bible class teacher sometimes has to deal with things that are controversial. They must stand the ground of truth against error being spoken by individuals in the class (Jude 3). The teacher of children’s classes sometimes has difficulty with children under their care and they must seek the help of the parents (Ephesians 6:1). Sometimes the Bible class teacher works against the great disappointment that they are the only one in the class that has even made any preparation for the lesson. The parent has not prepared for the adult class and they have not exhorted their children to prepare for their classes. In spite of what others have not done, the Bible class teacher continues to spend hours preparing lessons to guide, instruct, encourage, and bring their students to maturity. The Bible class teacher faces the ultimate discouragement when they see their students texting on their cell phones,  reading material other than their Bibles or class materials, drawing pictures, passing notes, or sleeping. The class teacher wonders how God can be pleased with such things occurring? What does the teacher do? They continue teaching, working, studying, and praying that the message of God will get through to all that are in the class and that they will obey God.

It is the Bible class teacher that often has the first opportunity to teach God’s word to the child. Sometimes children come into Bible class from homes where no one is studying God’s word. Sometimes children come into Bible class because a grandparent, uncle, aunt, or friend has brought them. What an opportunity for the Bible class teacher. The Bible class teacher is always read to teach the untaught soul!

Every Christian should be thankful for the Bible class teacher. Older Christians will probably remember the influence that some Bible class teacher of the past had upon them. The younger students should be thankful for the Bible class teacher that is ready to teach them. All should consider, where would the church be if there were no dedicated Bible class teachers? Thank you teachers for being teachers!

David Dalton

Denominational Twists

Those who are in denominationalism have for years tried to turn and twist scriptures to “prove” their false position.  Peter declared that people who do such twisting of the scriptures do so to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16).  The examples addressed are actual examples that denominational people have used in defending themselves.

Some present the claim that Jesus is the Vine and that denominations are the different branches that attach to the vine.  This is a misuse of the illustration of Jesus which is recorded in John chapter fifteen.  In this text, Jesus first proclaimed that He was the true vine and His Father (God) was the caretaker or farmer (John 15:1).    Jesus proceeds by telling how the branches are treated according to the fruit which they bring forth.  Some branches are removed because they do not bring forth fruit, and some branches are pruned so they will bring forth more fruit (John 15:2).  Jesus continues to speak about how branches are cleaned (John 15:2, 3), how they must abide in the vine (John 15:4, 5), and how they are removed and burned if they do not produce (John 15:6).  The distinct clarification of what the branches represent is stated in verse six which says, “if a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch.”  The people of denominationalism are twisting the scriptures to make them say branches are denominations when the scriptures plainly show that the one true vine (Christ) is made up of men who are cleansed and are obedient to His word.

Some present the claim that the one body or church of Christ is made up of many members.  They say that the “many members” are the denominational churches.  According to their argument, if one is a member of any of the denominational churches he is a member of the church of Christ because all the denominations are members of the one body.   This again is a misuse of scripture.   The statement that is used is found in 1 Corinthians 12:12.    The first problem with this argument arises in the very next verse which states that by one Spirit all are baptized into the one body (1 Corinthians 12:13).  This statement would exclude all denominations which do not believe that baptism is necessary for one to be saved!   It would also require that entire denominations be baptized into one body!  The text does confirm that the body is not one member, but many members make up the one body (1 Corinthians 12:14).  The text explains that each member of the body has specific functions (1 Corinthians 12:12-24).  If the members represent denominations, entire denominations would have one specific function in the church!  The text teaches that there is not division in the body (1 Corinthians 12:25).  This would not be true if the members were different denominations.  Denominations by definition are divisions!  Paul in continuing the illustration says, “Now you are the body of Christ and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:27 KJV).  The New King James Version says, “Now ye are the body of Christ and members individually.”   Paul had already explained that each member was placed into the church according to God’s placement (1 Corinthians 12:18).  He explains that placement of members into the body in differing roles as being apostles, prophets, teachers, and then those who had specific gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:28).  The text has explained its own illustration.  The members were individuals who functioned in differing roles.    It would be ironic if this section of scriptures included denominational divisions following the different teachings of men which Paul had already plainly condemned such in this same letter (1 Corinthians 1:10-13).

Others state that Jesus said “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold.”   The misuse of this piece of a statement of Jesus belies the true meaning of the Master.   Jesus made this statement before His death on the cross and before the church was formed on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:47).  He could not have been speaking about denominational churches being added to the true church because the true church was not yet formed.  Jesus’ reference is obviously to the fact that Jews and Gentiles were separated by the Law of Moses (Ephesians 2:11-16).  There were Jews who were obedient to God in the Law of Moses and there were Gentiles who were obedient to God in their own laws without the law

(Romans 2:14, 15).  The Jews and the Gentiles who would obey Him in the New Covenant would both be brought into one fold.  Jesus then proclaimed that there would be one flock and one shepherd (John 10:16).  This bringing together in one flock would occur because they would hear His voice.  They would hear and obey His will and come together in one.  This one is the one body or the one church (Colossians 1:18).

While denominational people spend of a lot of effort trying to support the divisions of denominationalism, the New Testament is clear concerning the church.   Jesus promised to build one church (Matthew 16:18), the saved were added to the church (Acts 2:47), the church is the body of which Jesus is the head (Ephesians 1:22, 23; and Colossians 1:18), and the unity of all in Ephesians 4:3-6 requires only one body or church.

David Dalton

Christ’s Desire

Most people who claim to be “Christian” would not think about taking control away from Jesus Christ.  However, religion has, for the most part, practiced the removal of Christ from His exalted rule.  The Revelation vision states that the Lamb (Jesus) is the “Lord of lords, and the King of kings” (Revelation 17:14).   Paul taught that Jesus is the “only Potentate, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15).  These declarations certainly qualify Jesus to be the head of the body, which is the church (Ephesians 1:20-23 and Colossians 1:18).  If Jesus is the head of the church, His word should certainly be taken in to consideration in religious matters!

Jesus promised to build His church (Matthew 16:18).  When one gives consideration to this promise of Jesus, he must conclude that Jesus promised to build only one church.  He did not promise to build a plurality of churches.   In the building of this one church, Jesus was fulfilling His and the Father’s desire to bring all the believers together in one group (John 17:20, 21).  In Jesus’ illustration about shepherding, He said, “there shall be one fold, and one shepherd’ (John 10:16).  When Jesus made this statement,  He was promising that the Jews and the Gentiles would no longer be separated, but that they would be brought together in Christ’s body, the church (Ephesians 2:11-16).  Christ therefore died so all men could belong to the one body, the church.

A study of the beginning of this church which Jesus promised to build shows that only one church was built.  In Acts 2:36-38 men were taught what to do to be saved under the New Testament covenant.  When these individuals gladly received the word of God and were baptized (Acts 2:41), they were added to the church (Acts 2:42).  These individuals were not added to churches or even the church of their choice, but they were simply added to the one true church.   This church was the church of the saved which Jesus purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28).  Additional churches could serve no righteous purpose since the one true church was the body of the saved individuals.

A continued study during the growth of the first church shows that it continued to be only one.  Although congregations or gatherings of the one church took place in many locations (Romans 16:1-16), they still all were instructed to teach only the doctrine of Christ (2 John 1:9), to practice His approved worship (Colossians 3:17), and to walk in the truth so they would maintain fellowship together and fellowship with Christ (1 John 1:7).

As the early church grew, some individuals tried to divide into different religious groups.  The one true church at Corinth was plagued by men who desired to practice such denominational division.  These men wanted to divide themselves according to the names of different men (1 Corinthians 1:12).  The inspired apostle, Paul, by the authority of Christ, instructed them to stay united by speaking the same thing, by not dividing, and by keeping the same mindedness and judgments (1 Corinthians 1:10).   He reminded them that it made no sense to divide into different groups since Christ was not divided, since men were not crucified for them, and since they were baptized in the name of Christ and not the names of the men (1 Corinthians 1:13).

As the one church continued to grow, some men still sought to practice doctrines and to worship in ways that were contrary to the will of Jesus Christ.  The one true church was continually warned about these men.   Paul told the congregation which met at Ephesus that false teachers would come and would teach false doctrines to make disciples for themselves (Acts 20:29, 30).  The apostle John warned the true church to be discerning about the doctrine which individuals taught and if they taught something contrary or different than the doctrine of Christ to have nothing to do with them (2 John 9, 10).  Paul warned the congregation which met in Rome to mark the individuals which caused division, which disobeyed the doctrine of Christ, which served their own selves, and which gave fancy speeches to deceive the members (Romans 16:17, 18).  The purpose of marking such individuals was to avoid them (Romans 16:17).   Jesus also addressed this problem of digression from His word by reminding the seven churches of Asia that if they did not repent of their evil ways He would remove His light from them (Revelation 2:5).  This meant that they would no longer belong to Him or to His church.

The denominational divisions which exist in the world today are not of God.  Denominations are not a creation of God, but of man.  Since Jesus died to put the Jews and the Gentiles together in one body (Ephesians 2:11-16), since He prayed for oneness (John 17:20, 21), since He promised to build only one church (Matthew 16:18), and since He instructed the apostles and teachers of the first century to teach against all division; He is not pleased with the divisions of denominationalism.  Jesus’ desire is for all men to return to His word which is the standard for the judgment of men (John 12:48).  Such a return would not be unity in a diversity of beliefs, but would be a return of all men to the one faith of the New Testament (Ephesians 4:3-6).

David Dalton

Why Do “Bad” Things Happen?

One does not live long in the world until he comes to the conclusion that bad things happen in the world.   Then the question follows, “Why do ‘bad’ things happen?”  Some modernists and atheists proclaim that if there really was a good God that He would not allow “bad” to happen.  Those who make such an argument are ignorant of God and the Bible.

Sometimes “bad”” things happen because of God’s punishment for man’s sin in the Garden of Eden.  God created the world to be very good (Genesis 1:31).  The world existed in this “good” state until the serpent tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3).  Once sin occurred, God punished man and woman with different types of suffering (Genesis 3:16-19) and death was pronounced upon mankind.  With the pronouncement of death, came disease, accidents, and all the things which cause death (Genesis 2:17 and 3:24).   Therefore, sometimes “bad” things happen because of the continuing punishment that God has placed upon all mankind.

Sometimes “bad things” happen as a consequence of things (sins) people do themselves.  Sometimes these things are intentional and sometimes they are unintentional.  If one uses drugs or tobacco which are harmful to the body, the consequence will be loss of health and suffering (Galatians 6:7, 8).  Sometimes people use drugs and tobacco without understanding what the consequences will be and sometimes they know what the consequences will be, but they use them anyway.

Sometimes “bad” things happen because of consequences caused by other people.   A person who commits murder brings suffering not only to the murdered individual, but to all the family members involved.  He also disturbs all of society as they lose their peace and security.  Since God created man with volition or choice, man can choose to do things that will bring suffering not only to themselves, but to others.  Bad things happen because of jealousy, envy, hate, and other sins of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).

Sometimes “bad” things happen because of accidents.  A person might do something without thinking about the results and get hurt.  Someone might get hurt because of carelessness or an accident.  A person might climb a ladder which he has not carefully placed.  When he falls, his suffering was brought about by his own carelessness.

Sometimes “bad” things happen because of the consistent laws which God has placed in nature.  One of the most trusted laws of nature is the law of gravity.  Without gravity, objects would float away into space, planetary motion would not exist, and day and night would end!  God placed natural laws into operation so the universe could function consistently.  God does not turn these laws on and off for the convenience of man.  If a man working on a tall building falls off the roof of the building, God does not suspend all the laws of gravity so the man’s life will be spared.  It does not matter if the man is a good man or an evil man.  God, who is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34 and 35), does not shut down the laws of gravitation and send the universe into chaos to spare the man’s life.  One of the greatest evidences for God’s existence is the design or consistent order of the universe.  In the same respect, God does not change the laws of motion.  If he did change the laws of motion, planes would not be able to fly consistently, cars would not go down the road properly, and a hammer would not even drive a nail.  With this said, God does not change these laws of motion and force when someone is distracted and drives outside their driving lane into an oncoming vehicle.

Sometimes “bad” things happen because of trials or punishment.  This is shown distinctly in the book of Job.  God allowed Job to be tested by Satan (evil) (Job 1:12).  God still allows the Christian to be tested (James 1:2, 3).  God corrects those whom He loves (Hebrews 12:5, 6).  This correction seems “bad” to some people, but it is designed to bring the person closer to righteousness and therefore closer to God.

Sometimes “bad” things happen because God allows man to have choice.  God created man with choice so the evil could be defeated by Christ (Hebrews 2:14).  Since God made man with true choice, man has the ability to do good or to do evil.  When man chooses to do evil both he and others suffer from the evil which is done.

David Dalton

Bodybuilder or Worker

One guest on a late-night talk show recently was a body builder.  After interviewing him, the host asked the body builder if he would show his muscles off to the audience.  The body builder beamed with pride, stood up, and began flexing his muscles.  After several minutes the host turned to the body builder and said, “Those sure are some huge muscles…what do you use all of those muscles for?”  The body builder just ignored the host and continued flexing his muscles for the cameras and the audience.  The host again asked, “what do you use those muscles for?”  The body builder still smiling remained silent and continued flexing for the audience.

Even though the body builder never answered the question, the answer was obvious.  He did not use his muscles to do any useful work, but only to show off to those around him.  At times we as Christians can fall prey to the same attitude as the body builder.  God has given us all talents which are to be used in His kingdom and for His glory (Matthew 25:14-28).  We are to use those talents and abilities to lead others to Christ and to glorify Christ and His Kingdom.  In contrast it is easy to enjoy the attention that we might get from using our abilities and talents.  When this happens, serving God quickly becomes more about the attention I am drawing towards myself than the glory I am bringing to the Kingdom.  As it ends up, sometimes we have built up great and strong muscles (talents), and all we do with them is show them off instead of using them for work in His Kingdom.

On the flip side of this coin, I have met many people who you would not think of as strong people.  They don’t show off their muscles.  They don’t attract attention to themselves.  Then at some point a situation arises where strength is needed and I am surprised at just how strong they really are.  People like this have built their muscles by using them day in and day out working in a factory lifting heavy boxes or working on a farm loading bales of hay.  Their muscles don’t look as big or pronounced as the body builders, but they are able to accomplish a lot more work.  Their muscles are a result of a continuous life of work that most people never see.  These people are not trying to build and show off their muscles, they are just trying to get a job done.

Many Christians work daily in the Kingdom and have developed many talents that other Christians never even realize they have.  These Christians don’t “show off” their talents and they don’t want any attention drawn to themselves.  They are just striving to accomplish the work that is before them in the Kingdom so that God will be glorified.

These two situations are seen in the story of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:10-14).  The Pharisee prayed to be seen of men.  He glorified himself and all of the things that he had done without once thanking God for anything.  He was so proud of himself and his accomplishments and he wanted others to see those accomplishments.  (Luke 18:10-12)

Then we are told of the publican.  He stood afar off, not wanting the attention to be drawn to himself.  He begged God for forgiveness realizing that he was nothing without God.  He approached God with humility placing the glory on God instead of on himself (Luke 18:13-14).

Let us always seek to be workers, not body builders in the Kingdom of God.  Let us continually plug away working in the Kingdom and bringing God the glory.  Let us remember that we don’t have to tell everyone when we do something good…because God knows!

–Daniel Dalton

The Undesirable Chocolate

A Sunday Bible class teacher stood before his large teenage class one Sunday and as he began to teach he held up a new, unopened Hersey’s candy bar.  The eyes of the whole class lit up as they watched him with hopeful expectation of getting to eat the candy bar that the teacher was holding.  After a few minutes of class, the teacher held the candy bar up high and asked the student in the very back of the room if she wanted the candy bar.  She was very excited and quickly said that she wanted it.  The teacher than told her that she could have it, but to remain seated and he would pass it back.  The teacher then slowly unwrapped the candy bar with obviously no concern for touching it.  Then he handed it to the student in the front of the room and told him to pass it down the row.  The unwrapped candy bar was passed all the way down the row being handled by everyone on the front row.  He then told them to pass it down the second row the same way.  Half way across the second row it was dropped on the floor, but they quickly picked it up and brushed it off.  The girl in the back who was to eat the candy bar was not nearly as excited about it by this point.  Then it was passed down the third, fourth, and fifth rows until it came to the row the girl was on.  When she finally got the candy bar it had been handled by about 20 people and dropped on the floor once.  The girl, who once was very excited about eating the candy bar just looked at it now with her nose slightly curled.

We understand the importance of purity when it comes to physical things.  No one wants to eat food that is not clean and pure.  We would not use bandaids that we found laying opened on the ground.  We won’t take medicine that is 99% correct.  We realize that each one of these situations can be very dangerous.  It only takes a slight impurity to cause major health problems in our physical lives.

Yet so many times we don’t stop and think about what minor impurities do to our spiritual lives.  We will refuse to be involved in what we consider major sins and we will draw the line somewhere, but a lot of times we are not that concerned about minor impurities.  Most of the time we don’t even want to call them sins, we just say that is something we shouldn’t do or something that we need to work on.  What we don’t realize is that any minor impurity in our spiritual life is sin (1 John 3:4) and that any sin will separate us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2).

It is no wonder that Paul instructed Timothy to be an example in purity and instructed the older women to teach the younger women with all purity.  It is no wonder that John told of the hope of living with God in eternity and then said that everyone that has this hope purifies himself (1 John 3:2-3).  It is no wonder that purity is one of the things which we are to think on as Christians (Philippians 4:8).  It is the pure in heart that will see God (Matthew 5:8).

Purity is of utmost importance in our lives.  Even a just a minor impurity causes us to be impure and in need of forgiveness.  Even the minor impurities will cause us to be lost.  This purity comes when we turn and obey the truth that God has given us (1 Peter 1:22).

There is a reason that we are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:16).  We are called to be holy so that we will have a home in heaven.  We are called to be holy so that our example and influence will not be tainted in the world.  We are called to be pure and holy and that is how we must live!

The chocolate bar wasn’t worth much by the time it got to the back of the room.  It was no longer pure because it had been tainted by the hands of everyone who passed it back.  Let us always strive to keep our lives pure so that our soul is right with God and our influence with others is not tainted!

–Daniel Dalton