Thoughts On The Pope And Government

By Jack Glover

Some may think this disrespectful. I do not intend it to be so. I am watching some of the great ceremony in Washington, D.C., for the pope and having some thoughts concerning it.

I have watched other greetings of heads of state in the past. I have not seen this type of ceremony for any of them, at the White House and certainly not in a stadium with a 75-foot altar. Many thousands of people are gathered there along with much pomp and ceremony. It is a beautiful sight.

We live in a free country. I am thankful for that blessing. I am thankful for freedom of religion, but there is a problem, an inconsistency, with this freedom in our country, and I am looking at it right now.

If I, as an elder in the church of Christ, wanted to make arrangements to hold a meeting like the one going on at present with the pope, I would be denied and probably laughed at for such a notion — separation of church and state, you know.

My questions and thoughts are, why does this separation apply in certain situations but not in all? Obviously, I am watching a religious ceremony, with prayers, teaching, many mentions of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit and communion. Why is this allowed and supported by our government but I can’t read, or in some cases even have, a Bible in a school? If the pope can teach scriptures, and scriptural principles, why am I not allowed to confront false doctrines in class books in our schools? Why can I not ask for God’s blessings at a ball game or graduation, but the pope can ask blessings at a government supported religious event?

You say that the government is not supporting this event, that it is the Catholic church. I beg to differ. This event has cost thousands and probably millions of taxpayer dollars for security and other things, and is supported from our president on down.

Do I dislike the pope or Catholics? No! I am just wondering why our freedom of religion is being snuffed out in about any government-built building or associated event, but the rules change in this type of situation. What happened to my right to confront teaching that is obviously against the scriptures, in state- and federal-supported class books, while the government allows evolutionary teaching by professors, school teachers, etc.

Freedom of religion is a right that I, as well as the pope, have under the Constitution, and I should be able to exercise it without government interference. God tells me to preach the gospel (Matt. 28:19-20). That is what I want the freedom to do.

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Tis The Season Without Reason

By Jack Glover

They call it Black Friday. It’s a day when many seem to transition from one holiday season to another. Many find it exhilarating to get up very early and join the crowds fighting for bargains. Some lose all reason, manners, patience and kindness to their fellow man for an understocked bargain. It’s the beginning of a season without reason.

Before you conclude that I’m a brother to Scrooge, let me say I like the holidays. There are many things to bring joy and happiness when families and friends can be together.

The Christian, however, faces many conflicts during this season. Christians are to be people of sound thinking (II Tim. 1:7). They are to use sound speech (Titus 2:8) and sound words (II Tim. 1:13). The example they set is always important (I Pet. 2:21).

To the Christian, this is truly a season without reason. The Bible speaks nothing of the date of Christ’s birth or celebrating the same. There is no historical evidence of when Christ was born. The early church, under inspired apostles and leaders, did not celebrate Christ’s birth; they celebrated his death by partaking of the communion that he instituted just before his crucifixion (Matt. 26:26-30).

This day, like others holidays, is man-made and without scriptural precedent or reason.

Each day the Christian is tried by the events, songs, decorations, skits and comments of others to participate in religious actions of the period. We need not be unkind, but we do need to speak as the oracles of God (I Pet. 4:11).

There are times that seemingly innocent activities can lead others to believe what is not true. Such was the case with eating meats offered to idols (Rom. 14:15-23). We must not become a part of unscriptural activities that send the wrong message to those around us.

Titus put it this way: “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. … In all things show yourself to be … sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.” (Titus 2:1, 7-8)

This season is a part of our culture and life. We probably could not get completely away from it no matter how hard we tried, but we need not lie or participate in things that teach falsehood or set the wrong example. Just like any other activity in our lives, we must make decisions based on what the scriptures say. This would be true of any holiday.

So enjoy the family visits, the children and grandchildren, the blessings of food aplenty, and the gift of life for another day. Remember, these things are right and do come from God.

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Sin

By Jack Glover

It is evident that we have different attitudes toward sin. Actions that at one time were considered sinful are now readily accepted. Why the change? Do we have the authority to decide what is sinful? If so, could not each person, or nation, determine what will be considered sinful and what will not? Is that what we are doing now?

A wise man once said, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Prov. 14:34). If sin is a reproach (disgrace), why is it so easily accepted? Why do we justify it by calling it by other names? How do we determine what is sinful? Where did the idea of sin originate?

The concept of sin is a Bible subject. If one wants to understand (or define) sin, he must go to the Bible. Government is from God, but government does not determine what actions are sinful and what ones are not. Parents are from God, but parents do not decide if one is guilty of sin. Sin defined is “transgression of the law,” or lawlessness (I John 3:4). When we violate God’s law, we sin.

When we understand this, we do not seek answers from other men to determine if an action is sinful. It does not matter what man may think, only what God thinks. Government may make laws instructing us that we must accept certain actions that are sinful. It does not have authority to do that, as “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Does God know when we sin or justify sins of others? The answer is yes: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good” (Prov. 15:3). No man can sin without God knowing it. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). As David found out, sin eventually will find you out (II Samuel 11-12), many times with severe consequences.

What can we do about sin? We must speak out and stand against it in all forms. We must not condone it in ourselves, family, government or anywhere. Many seem to be afraid to let their voices be heard against it.

We can obey the one who has made it possible to have our sins forgiven — Jesus, the Christ. “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1). You notice I said “obey” because obedience to all teachings of the Bible are required.

Remember, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). Sitting quietly by while sin takes over all around us is unacceptable.

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Salvation In 30 Sincere Seconds

By Jack Glover

Yesterday, while watching a parade, I noticed a lady circulating through the crowd and passing out something. After much time had passed (long parade), I felt a tap on my shoulder, and the lady handed me a small tract with the title in the headline for this article.

The tract continued:

Did you know that it only takes 30 sincere seconds or less of your life to assure you have a place in HEAVEN for all ETERNITY? This is SERIOUS BUSINESS for you and for me … so PLEASE READ HERE and you will find THE VALUE DEAL OF ALL ETERNITY!

When it comes to a serious matter such as: Eternal Life – or – Death, Heaven – or – Hell, there is only one place to go to get THE TRUTH.

The tract then quoted John 8:32 and II Tim. 3:16 before making the following points:

Then came the question and a suggested answer to it:
Continue reading

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Growth

By Jack Glover

The church grew quickly when it began on the day of Pentecost, by 3,000 souls (Acts 2:41). A little later, another 5,000 conversions are mentioned (4:4). Then we read of multitudes being added to the church (5:14) and of the number of disciples multiplying in Jerusalem exceedingly, including “a great many of the priests (6:7). When the persecution became great in Jerusalem, the believers simply scattered to other places, preaching the gospel and making more disciples (8:1).

The church also grew during the American Restoration Movement as people accepted the plea to return to “speaking as the Bible speaks.” During the 1950s and 1960s, it was said that churches of Christ collectively grew the fastest in the nation.

It seems that things have changed. No longer does our growth astonish anyone. Why do you suppose that is? There was an interesting study in the February issue of The Christian Chronicle that raised the same question. A chart with figures from 1980 and 2006 showed a decreasing trend in many areas and slow growth in others. I think most of us would have to agree with the assessment of a slowing growth in the church.

What has happened, and what can we do to reverse this trend? The study mentions various reasons (or suppositions) as to why growth has become a problem. There is some validity in all of them, but I don’t have space to list them here. I encourage you to read the article. Though I agree that we have a problem with growth, some of the reasons why concern me:

  • The Word alone is not enough. There seems to be an indication that old-time preaching is not enough in today’s society. While it may be true that our nation is becoming like Sodom, and is developing many traits that have destroyed other nations, that calls for more plain, gospel preaching, not less. It was God who chose to put the power in the gospel and to save by the foolishness of preaching (Rom. 1:16-17; I Cor. 1:21-25). Let me suggest that we may find other methods to grow in numbers, but we will just make crowds, not Christians. It was plain, non-compromising preaching that caused the church to grow in the beginning, and it will still work because it is God’s plan. Should we consider that when we began trying other methods to attract people, it caused our growth to slow, or stop, because we were no longer distinct?
  • Continue reading

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Family

By Jack Glover

God created the family (Genesis 1-2). He created man and then woman as a “help meet” (suitable) for him. Then came the instruction to be fruitful and multiply to replenish the earth.

The family is to be made up of one man, one woman and children who come from that relationship. The scriptures also contain instructions to children as to their responsibilities to parents. We see God using the family relationship in many ways in the Old Testament, especially in His plan for man’s salvation through the birth of Christ. The importance of family to individuals and society cannot be overemphasized.

In our society, we often sacrifice the happiness of family for the pursuit of riches, prestige, position, fleshly desires and other such things. Often we realize, too late, that family is more important than all the things we have put before it.

At this time of year, we have a tendency to turn our thoughts to those we may have not shown proper respect for all the rest of the year. We sing “I’ll be home for Christmas,” and that is good thing. We buy gifts for those whose birthdays, anniversaries and school events we have either forgotten or paid little attention to all year. We go home to see Dad and Mom but visit little or not at all other days of the year.

We all look forward to the holidays each year, as they provide us a time to be with family, and that is good, but it is important to make family first the other days of the year also. Our children are with us every day, but that will not always be true. Do you realize that when most children leave for college, they do not return home? You will only have them those few years, and they will pass quickly.

To the children who now have families of their own, take time for your parents. The time will pass quickly, and one day you will get that unexpected call. Enjoy your family now, it is the most precious possession you will ever have.

My wife and I are enjoying our children and grandchildren now. We hope you are able to do the same. We wish you a happy holiday. Excuse me now while I take time to play with my grandchildren.

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If The World Hates You …

By Jack Glover

Those who serve Christ must continue to live on this physical ball we call the world, even though living here we are instructed to not conform to worldly practices (Rom. 12:2). We are in the world but not of the world.

Jesus perceived that His disciples would not have the approval of the world and warned them to remember they would not be the first to experience being hated. He also had suffered the scorn of the world, although many of them claimed to serve God.

If the world hates you, [a]you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you (John 15:18-19).

Living in the world with all its temptations is difficult. We, like the earlier disciples, will experience various forms of ridicule when we do not become associates with worldly people and their sins.

Peter said, “In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. (I Pet. 4:4) John admonished, “Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you” (I John 3:13). So what reaction should we have when worldly hate comes our way? Should it be one of expectation or disappointment?

It seems plain that we should not expect the approval of all our neighbors, friends or work associates. Approval of family is even too great an expectation (Matt. 10:21). But when we face the disapproval (hate) knowing they hated Jesus first, it should bring a reaction of joy — “and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame” (I Pet. 3:16)

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Hypocrisy

By Jack Glover

Jesus used the word hypocrisy often. He used it in reference to the scribes and Pharisees as recorded in Matthew 23 for several of their doctrines and actions. They were deceptive to the point of not only leading others astray, but themselves also. Notice some of Jesus’ condemnations:

  • “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.”
  • “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”
  • “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.’ You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.’ You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.”
  • “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”
  • “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.”
  • “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

Hypocrisy is a big danger in the church today. As in the days of Jesus it is easy to deceive ourselves. We profess to serve Christ yet ignore some of His most basic teachings.

Concerning our actions, Jesus said: “But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops” (Luke 12:2-3).

Hypocrisies are listed among things that we are to put away while seeking the spiritual milk (I Pet. 2:1). The wisdom that is from above is without hypocrisy (James 3:17). Our love is to be without hypocrisy (Rom. 12:9). Hypocrites are said to have a beam in their eyes, which makes them unfair judges (Matt. 7:5). Those who allow their traditions to rule are said to be hypocrites (Mark 7:8-9).

The above passages and many others define hypocrisy, and the message to us is that hypocrites do not please God. They have a destiny that none of us want (Luke 24:51).

Hypocrisy in the church comes in many forms. We must be aware it exists, many times knowingly. We face false teachers who know they are false teachers, as well as brethren who cannot get along and speak evil of one another. Others have deceived themselves into believing what they want to believe on certain subjects.

Make your own applications, first to yourself (remember the beam) and then to others. Jesus described the scribes and Pharisees as being “like concealed tombs, and the people who walk over them are unaware of it” (Luke 11:44). The big problem with hypocrisy is its deception of both the hypocrite and those they teach. If we do not see the danger, then we will not deal with it, and deal with it we must.

The prophecy of Isaiah was true in his time, and unfortunately still holds true in many cases: “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men” (Matt. 15:8-9).

Let us be aware!

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Civil Government And Evil

By Jack Glover

In speaking of the Christian’s obligation to government, we often quote Rom. 13:1. “Let every soul be in subjection to the higher powers: for there is no power but of God; and the powers that be are ordained of God.”

We are certainly right in stressing the responsibility one has to follow the laws under which he lives. Peter stated it this way: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king” (I Pet. 2:13-17). We must obey government unless its laws attempt to override God’s laws (Acts 5:29).

But there is another side to this issue spoken of in the latter part of Rom. 13:4, which says, “But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” The Christian should not only obey government but should expect government to protect him from, and to punish, those who practice evil. God expects that of government, just as he expects you and me to obey laws.

It is in this that we see a failure in our current government, no matter the political party. Yes, it does protect us from some evils but not all. In fact, it encourages some evil by the laws our elected officials pass or by ignoring sinful actions.

Why does our government even bother to discuss stem-cell research, abortion, homosexuality, gambling, drunkenness, fornication, adultery, sorcery and many other sins under the guise of entertainment, tax sources, freedom of expression, lifestyle, women’s choice, etc.? Seldom do we hear a member of Congress or the president appeal to sin as a reason for opposing an action or proposed law when that is what God expects of them. In reality, they ignore the biblical description of sin and appeal to man’s reasoning, philosophy, the Constitution and other sources for failing to stand against things that are evil.

I recognize that some may think this teaching strange in our free society, but it is just as scriptural as Romans 13:1. It only requires reading a couple of more verses to see that government’s obligation to society is as great as society’s obligation to government.

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Godly Or Ungodly

By Jack Glover

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord [e]knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalms 1 describes two classes of people. One is blessed; the other will perish. Those who will be blessed are so because their delight is in the law of the Lord. Those who will perish are ungodly and will not stand in the judgment.

Paul said when Jesus returns it will be in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God (ungodly) and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (II Thess. 1:8). Other scriptures make like statements.

The world is filled with ungodly people who perform ungodly acts. It has been that way from the beginning. Enoch prophesied, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (Jude 1:14-15).

Each person has the choice to be godly or ungodly, but he cannot be some of each. We live in a nation that boasts hundreds of different forms of religion. All claim to be godly. In light of the scriptures, is that even close to being a possibility? It is unreasonable to think all can be godly when each one teaches a different gospel. Their doctrines are fraught with teachings of man that came from various sources.

Jesus told the Pharisees, “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men'” (Matt. 15:7-9). And to those who listened to the sermon on the mount, he said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” (Matt. 7:21).

Saying and doing are two different things. God requires obedience, not lip service. As the psalm says, the godly “delight in the law of the Lord,” not doctrines of men.

The lack of respect for God and His word has led our nation (and many others) toward ruin. We are a people who do not delight in His word. Although we say we are godly, many of our actions say differently. We think we can toss God out and still call on Him in times of difficulty, trouble or disaster. Oh, how we deceive ourselves!

Remember, the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. Peter said, “For the time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God: and if it begin first at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous is scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?” (I Pet. 4:17-18)

The reward is to the godly.

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