Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 9, 1961
NUMBER 27, PAGE 2,14a

From A Preacher's Note-Book

James W. Adams, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Doing And Destiny

"What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (Matt. 19:6) These are the words of Jesus with reference to the marriage relation, but the principle is of universal application. Man should hesitate to lay unholy hands upon to separate, that "which God hath joined together" in any realm.

God has joined doing and destiny, eternal destiny. This has not pleased many theologians, hence they have labored long and diligently to separate that which God has joined together. Some make man the unwilling victim of divine choice, either reprobate or elect, but without the power to change his divinely decreed destiny. Others choose to suspend destiny on the bestowal by deity of miraculous regenerating power upon the suppliant. Still others make faith alone, simple trust, without acts of obedience to God's will, the determining factor in the destiny of the soul in the world to come. However, God, in His word, has inseparably linked together doing and destiny!

Jesus says, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord. shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21) The Hebrew writer says of Jesus, "Though he were a Son. yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him...." (Heb. 5:8, 9) James warns, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hears only, deceiving your own selves. For if any man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." (James 1:22-25) One of the last admonitions of Inspiration is: "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." (Rev. 22:14)

Furthermore, human destiny is said to be decreed at the final judgment on the basis of what man has done in this life. "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." (John 5:28, 29) "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ: that every one may receive the things done in the body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (2 Con 5:10) "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." (Rev. 20:12)

Let none be deceived, doing in this world and destiny in the world to come are inseparably linked together. It behooves us, therefore, to be diligent in doing the will of God while we live that heaven may be our destiny when we die.

Rome Or Babylon?

There are three ancient cities that have come to represent three states or conditions of man's relationship to God. Jerusalem, by virtue of being the birthplace of the church of God upon this earth has come to represent the state of being "in the truth." Rome on the other hand, by virtue of being the habitat of the "Mother of Harlots," has come to represent a state of apostasy or error in religion. The term Babylon, besides being the name of a city, means "confusion," and to our mind represents a third state — a state of "extremism." Some brethren have back-pedaled so fast from Rome that they have bypassed Jerusalem and have wound up in Babylon.

A quest for authority does not involve the individual in the responsibility of finding detailed instructions for every act of Christian work or worship. Many scriptural activities of the work and worship of the church are justified in the realm of generic authority rather than specific. Some things are explicitly authorized. Some are implicitly authorized. Fleeing from the doctrine of direct spiritual influence in conviction and conversion, some have reached the absurd conclusion that the Holy Spirit is the word of God. Retreating from the organized, denominational Sunday School, some have accepted the no-class theory. Shying from the sectarian, pastor system, some have repudiated the right of a church to employ and support evangelist to labor full-time with a congregation in its program of teaching saint and sinner. Repudiating the right of churches to support from their treasuries human institutions to perform their responsibilities in the field of evangelism, edification, and benevolence, some have rejected the right of human institutions, involved in any sense with work that is also done by the church, to exist. For instance, some who repudiate the right of churches to support from their treasuries human institutions of secular learning in which the Bible is also taught have reached the point of rejecting the right of such institutions to exist at all.

It seems to this writer that one can stay out of Rome without winding up in Babylon. Let us not allow the citizens of Rome to pressure us into by-passing Jerusalem and ending up in Babylon. The choice is not between Rome and Babylon, but rather between Rome and Jerusalem.

The Miracle Of Man

A favorite sport among self-esteemed intellectuals these days in to "de-bunk" the miraculous elements of the word of God. Specific creation, the virgin birth of Jesus, His resurrection bodily from the grave, and the marvelous miraculous manifestations of His earthly ministry are held up to scorn and ridicule. Each of these is rationalized and denuded of all semblance of the supernatural. Yet, should we grant their contention with reference to all these matters, they would still be confronted with the necessity of explaining by rationalization the miracle of the man himself. Rationalism must always find an adequate cause in the natural order of things for every effect. Any given man in history must be accounted for on the basis of time and circumstances which produced him. We have never heard from the lips of a skeptic a satisfactory explanation of the man, Jesus, nor have we ever read such from the pen of an infidel. Let the man who denies the deity of Jesus show the causes which produced him. Let him account for His marvelous teaching on the ground of adequate natural causes. Christians may with confidence rest their case here. Nothing in His Jewish parentage, nothing in His "peasant rearing," and nothing in the culture and learning of His time furnishes a rational basis for the explanation of the man and His message. We confidently challenge the self-styled intellectual to grapple with the miracle of the Man and His message.

"Know The State Of Thy Flocks"

"Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not forever: and doth the crown endure to every generation...." (Proverbs 27:23, 24)

It is an egregious blunder for one to infer the present and the future from the past. Men and nations have suffered disaster through the ages for such false reasoning. Men stand in bread lines whose grandfathers lived in mansions. Sons of kings have often, in history, bowed their backs to the slave-master's whip. No great nation has ever existed on earth that sooner or later did not know the heel of the conqueror.

Brethren make the serious blunder of assuming the scripturalness of present activities among the churches on the basis of past fidelity to the word of God. The present state of a congregation is often judged on the basis of its fruitful and loyal past. Liberty and wealth among nations and men are preserved only at the price of "eternal vigilance" and persevering diligence. Scriptural practice and Divine approval are bought at the same price in the kingdom of God. Because churches of Christ have once been known for their fidelity to the Divine will does not mean that these same congregations will forever thus be loyal.

Our only hope for continued loyalty to God and the Divine will is "eternal vigilance" and persevering diligence. We must indeed "know the state of our flocks" and look well to them. Let us not assume that such is our heritage without effort to that end on our part.

In our day, "our" flocks are large and seemingly fat. But does this outward prosperity indicate the true "state" of these flocks? Does God look on the outward appearance, or does he look on the heart? The answer to this question is self-evident. Men have often erred in this matter. They have been prone to judge according to outward appearance rather than by the inward state of the soul. The story of Lazarus was told by Jesus to emphasize this truth. The Rich Man was wealthy, reputable, and satisfied. Lazarus was poor, diseased, and miserable. In Hades the Rich Man lifted up his eyes, being in torment, while in Abraham's bosom, Lazarus was comforted. The church in Laodicea was "rich, increased with goods and had need of nothing" outwardly speaking. In God's sight, she was "wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked," and nauseated the Lord. (Lk. 16:19-31; Rev. 3:14-18) Let us then be "diligent to know the" real "state of our flocks" recognizing the fact that a wealthy past does not insure a prosperous present or future nor does yesterday's throne prevent today's or tomorrow's serfdom.